“Quit your whinin’.”
“Lucius, this isn’t right. What happened to forgive and forget?”
I hung a left on to the old country road towards the farmhouse. “I do forgive you, but a deal is a deal. You nearly got us killed.”
Lukus let out such a loud sigh I thought he was goin’ to start cryin’ right there in my pickup. “Forgiven isn’t conditional.”
I slowly turned on to the old gravel road that led up to the front of the house. “This ain’t about Jesus, it’s about fishin’. You scared the wits out of me throwin’ dynamite and runnin’ from gators. This ain’t hardly that dramatic. You just need to spend the night. Besides, Darla has promised you one of her famous breakfast.”
I stopped the truck, and Lukus turned my way. “I suppose you have a point. You will be here at six a.m. sharp, right?”
I squeezed my friend’s tremblin’ shoulder, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll make it five instead.”
He smiled and got out of the truck. I pulled back on to the road nice and smooth, drove a hundred yards back down the byway, turned off my headlights, and headed back towards the house. The moonlight could barely illuminate the open road, much less the woods, but I found an opening in the shadow of the trees and bushes, and I pulled my truck in and shut her down.
After easin’ out of the vehicle, I high tailed it towards the house like I was a cat with its tail on fire. By the time I got to the kitchen door to catch my breath, I could hear Lukus boots running towards the front door. With Lukus still out front, I knew I might get caught sneakin’ in, so I made my way to the bathroom window and hoped it was unlocked.
It took a little coaxin’, but I got it to slide up. It was about three inches up the pane when I peered in and listened. I could hear furniture movin’ around in the parlor. I reckoned Lukus was a mite more curious than me when it came to the belongin’s sittin’ in the house. I had just got the window all the way up when I heard him headin’ back towards the foyer.
I dropped down out of sight and prayed he wouldn’t come this way and close the window. I heard his boots comin’ my direction when a wind suddenly kicked up, and the bathroom door slammed. I looked up to heaven and thanked the good Lord for His sense of humor. However, a moment later, the bathroom door opened.
I held my breath as I listened to my friend amble around the room and then walk out. I dared to peek over the edge. Lukus had his back to me and was actin’ as timid as a mouse in a room full of cats. I slipped into the bathroom. My feet had hardly touched the floor when the window came slammin’ down and barely missed my fingers. I slid in behind the door right quick and dared not breathe.
I could hear Lukus headin’ my way at a determined pace. I panicked and did the only thing I could think to do. I slammed the door shut and prayed the old lock would still work. The bolt slid in easy enough, and when Lukus tried jerkin’ the door back and forth, it wouldn’t budge.
I reckoned Lukus decided he wouldn’t let a silly door beat him due to the sound of his boots runnin’ from the front of the foyer towards my direction. The rapid steps were replaced with a thud on the floor.
The window bein’ opened cooled down that bathroom more than I had anticipated as I could see my breath. I shivered and heard scratchin’ on the walls around me. I knew I was right about those mice, but they sounded a fair size larger than I had envisioned.
Between the cold air and the varmints, I decided it was time to risk movin’ on upstairs so I could get settled into my control room before Lukus found it. I slid the bolt open, turned the knob, and the door wouldn’t budge.
I was madder than a Baptist at a potluck when the casseroles run dry. I doubt there was a single door in this old house that wasn’t stickin’. One wrong yank and that old knob could pop right off, and all my hard work would go to waste.
I remembered the window and gave it a shove, but it was stuck fast. The scratchin’ seemed to be gettin’ more intense, and I did not want to be around when those rodents broke through and came streamin’ into the room. I knew I only had one choice. If Lukus caught me all my work would be for nothin’, but if I stayed here, he was liable to head upstairs, and it would be over anyway.
I turned the knob and tried to pop the door by shovin’ my shoulder into it. I reckon the old wooden frame gave just enough because it opened. I peered into the darkness and saw a body on the ground. Pullin’ out my flashlight I saw my old friend. I was panicked and reached down to make sure he hadn’t left us for Jesus. To my relief, he was breathin’ steady. I carefully stepped over him and made my way upstairs.