Monster in the Closet

   “There is – no shit – a monster in the closet.” I had mixed feelings about making this report to the group, so I delivered it in a soft voice. And of course they’re looking at me like I’m some sort of an idiot.

    We need to have good times, that’s all I know, a weekend-long, pagers on the patio de-stressing.

    I didn’t want them ragging me about it all night if it turned out to be untrue. But it was true, and I didn’t have the chips to prove it.

    “I thought you were getting the chips,” said Vinnie. Doctor Vinnie Boombah, named outta Rodney, he was ready to play, comfortable at the table with a beer to his left and a shot to his right and a MoonTrance Corona in front of him that he would nurse for hours once he lit it. That’s why Vinnie always got to sit at the prime end of the table, under the slow green fan. His cigars bothered the ladies. It didn’t officially bother the gentlemen, although speaking for my self, it got to me a little bit, even though I’m a smoker myself.

    “I thought you were getting the chips,” he reminded me. “All I got on me is big bills.”

    “There’s a…”. I started to repeat the reason why I had returned empty-handed, then thought better of it. Vicky and Donna looked at me expectantly. I decided I’d ask Steve to take a look in the closet. He had a lot of credibility with the group. I whispered in his ear, telling him there was a bottle of Jamesons in there.

    We discussed world affairs for a while after he departed. My crew, we love world affairs. People got an opinion on everything. Steve returned. He looked a little agitated, and headed to the open Evan Williams.

    “I didn’t see the Jameson's.”  He was clearly disappointed. “But, there sure as shit is a monster in your closet.” He poured himself a three-finger Mickey. “Goddamn ugly son of a bitch.”

    “Thank you,” I said.

    “Where we sleeping tonight?” the Annster asked me.

   “Hell. I don’t know. The guest room?”

    Vinnie changed the subject. “All I got is a couple of C notes. And three ones. You got no chips?”

    We do have chips, I told him, but we’ve got a little monster problem. See, this was disturbing even me, and I’m known to have a pretty cool head on my shoulders. It’s just that the world has gotten so strange lately…

    ”Is this the first time you’ve ever seen him? ...It,” asked Vicky, correcting herself.

    “I need chips,” says Vinnie, who as a matter of habit always has a couple C notes every time there’s a game. I think that motherfucker has had them in his wallet for five years running, if he’s had them a day. He needs to be punished.

    “Tell you what,” I say. “Either you go get the chips out of the bedroom for us, or you can use some Ritz crackers I got in the fridge. I’ll give you a stack of one hundred for a bill”.

    “When the fuck did we have to start worrying about this shit?” asks Steve. “Goddamn, we can’t even play a game of cards anymore?”

    “Come on” says Donna. “I want to see. We’ve never had a monster before. I’ve never even seen one up close.” She’s grabbing the Annster, wants to check things out. I guess maybe we should talk some more about world affairs. 

    “Well, you better get used to it,” shouts Brad as they leave. Snarling. This is the first time that he has spoken in quite a while. All night, except for hello. He is beginning to sound like a very old man.

    Vinnie is not happy about playing with the crackers. “What if I accidentally eat one of these things,” he asks me.

    “Goes to the house “ I tell him.


    “You loose a couple hands, Vinnie, and we can all eat ‘em. Everybody else brings playing money.”

    We hear a scream, and then the girls return. Vinnie has lit his cigar, and is looking sadly at the five piles of Ritz he has assembled. I’ve got a tub of that port wine cheddar in the fridge, and think seriously about breaking it out. So he eats a few dollars worth of chips, so what.

    “God. That thing stuck its tentacle up my sweater,” says Vicky. “Tried to cop a feel… well, he did!”

    “Tentacle?” I raise my eyebrow.

    “Yeah,” the Annster confirms.

    “He?” asks Vinnie, nibbling a cracker.

    I swear, the world has gotten so strange lately, you just gotta hide your surprise.

© 2003, Mark Hoback