I hope those are the sounds of contented deep sleep I'm hearing from the other room. I hope I'm not busted.
We live in a three-floor house. Laura and I occupy the main floor, and we have a neighbor upstairs and one downstairs. The upstairs neighbor and we share a common entrance, since this used to be a single-family dwelling. We often hear him coming home late at night in the entrance hall, right on the other side of our nailed-shut bedroom door (we sleep in what used to be the house's living room), and prowling up the stairs to his apartment. The downstairs neighbor has his own entrance, but we share a common storage area in the basement, a narrow hall that runs the length of the house.
Well, down in that narrow hall is where I've been hiding Laura's present from Santa all week. Santa had me pick it up for him at Home Depot, him being busy with other things and not having much room in the sleigh and all, and asked me to stash it until the big night. I rearranged some boxes and nestled the big blue carton back in a niche, disguised it with some artfully placed bubble-wrap, and then stacked chairs on top and in front of it.
Tonight Laura was feeling tired and a little ill, so I read to her from Watership Down until her eyes grew heavy, and then I lay in bed beside her reading Black House to myself for another hour, until I figured she was good and asleep. Then it was time for Santa's little helper to go to work . . . since Santa had called frantically earlier in the day to report that he'd be just a little too busy to manage the transfer of the big box from the basement to the room we use as the living room.
I can get to the basement three ways: from the basement door out front, from the basement door out back, or from the staircase going down from the entrance hall. Reasoning that it would frighten Charlie, the downstairs neighbor, less if I were heard to be descending the interior stair, that's what I resolved to do. I dressed quietly, slipped my Red Knit Cap of Stealthiness down over my ears, and set out for the basement.
Only trouble was . . . well, when Laura arrived home from work today around 5:30 pm, her first words were, "Put on your coat! I need some help garbage-picking!" A block away, she had passed a nice cupboard with intact glass doors put out at the curb with the garbaage. We beat the other neighbors to it, and wrestled it home. Not sure where else to put it until we strip it, refinish it, and find a real place to put it, Laura insisted on leaving it in the entry hallblocking the door to the basement stairs.
All right, no problem. I can't believe I didn't wake her up with the noise, but I did manage to wrangle that cupboard out from in front of the door and down the narrow entrance hall far enough to get the door to the stairs open, despite the fact that one of the cupboard doors won't stay closed and swings out with a crash at the most inconvenient moments. Of course, the top of the stairs themselves were blocked, because that's where Laura likes to store such items as her ladder and a folding cart and roughly seventeen square yards of black plastic sheeting.
So I moved enough
crap stuff to get down the stairs. At the bottom, I could see light behind Charlie's door. I hoped that meant he was still awake and I wouldn't bother him too much as I moved heavy objects behind his wall.
Well, I got the chairs out of the way and got the big box scooted out into the downstairs hall and was just putting everything back when an only slightly worried-looking Charliethin young Asian fellow with spiffy horn-rimsventured out into the hall. I realized later looking in the mirror how menacing I might have looked, with my Red Knit Cap of Stealthiness pulled down very low (and it should be mentioned that I've been wearing the RKCoS every chance I get, ever since a waiter down at Sanford Diner told me I looked like a rock starno, that guy from Smash Mouthno, the Limp Bizkit guybut you get I'm saying something good, dude).
Fortunately Charlie is not one to confront nightwanderers with a baseball bat or a .38. We had a very pleasant conversation while I stood at the base of the stairs holding this big blue box that contains a 10-inch compound power mitre saw, my love's one true desire, all the while shrugging off the offer of help and worrying that the sounds of our voices through the open door at the top of the stairs would wake my sleeping beauty.
At last, after having invited Charlie to come up for a Christmas toast tomorrow, I hauled my quivering, compound mitre sawcradling arms up the stairs. I negotiated the
stuff crap at the top of the stairs and lugged the box into the living room (the current living room). I arranged the box in the corner with all our other presents on top of it, stuck a tag on the front that Santa had sent 'round labelled "To Laura, From Santa the Pagan Myth" (that jolly old elf sure has a sensayuma!), and added to the tableau as a last touch a 12-pack carton of the Sam Adams winter assortmenttwo bottles each of six seasonal varieties, including the Winter Lager and the can't-find-'em-separately Old Fezziwig Ale and Cranberry Lambicthat Santa sent over as thanks for helping him out of the mitre saw jam.
(I'm an ex-Mormon. I love having beer under the Christmas tree. Well, under where the tree would be if we had one, anyway. Santa left me to pick up the tab on the mitre saw.)
When I saw myself in the mirror, I quickly swiped the RKCoS from off my head, then I closed all the doors, replaced the cupboard in its stair-blocking position, and sat down at the keyboard to report this all. Now I will have a little Christmas fudge (hey, Santa's not coming to eat it), check that all the Christmas lights are functioning, check the locks, check the locks again, and then retire to bed with my sugarplum.
I hope I'm not busted.