The Boogie Man
I hadn't been watching Jason for very long, only a few months. At eight years old, I had grown accustomed to Jason's fertile imagination, and delighted in his crayon depictions of monsters, and war scenes of human space explorers fighting aliens, space ships, undiscovered planets and creatures that he had invented himself. If he wasn't drawing, he was playing with his toys, and making elaborate cities and manned the towers and archways with his action figures, and if I didn't speak to him, Jason was completely lost in his world, the one he had fashioned himself. Jason was, for the most part, a very normal boy. He loved to play, was sweet and funny, obedient and mannerly, and always willing to include me in any fun filled fantasy that he had come up with. It was fun to be around him. Jason never caused me a single problem...that was, until it was bedtime.
You would think that with so much energy, and imagination, a child with so much creativity would relish bedtime, and use it as a chance to explore the world he could create just by thinking it. But this was never the case. Bedtime for Jason was excruciating for him as much as it was for me, because it was always a battle. I dreaded putting Jason to bed, and even looked forward to the times I would get a chance to watch him without putting him to bed, because Jason alone was a pleasure, just a right down awesome kid. But we were on opposite sides of the playing field when I had to put him down for the night. He would cry, scream so loud it set me running down the hall and up the stairs to find out what the problem would be, and as usual, there wasn't a problem. I made deals with him. I would stay until he fell asleep, but he would always wake up, make a thousand excuses for getting out of bed, and hang around in the living room until I literally had to drag him back into his room, and make him go to bed. Jason always looked so hurt that I could have the cold heart of a snake to make him go to bed, and he would plead with me to let him stay up. He told me, more than a few times, that the boogie man was in his room at night. In fact, Jason had lots of facts on the boogie man himself, which just made me raise my eyebrows at the details this child had attached to a figment of his imagination.
According to Jason, the boogie man didn't like sound, and hated the light. And the one thing that would make him leave would be if Jason could scare him first.
"How do you know all this, Jason?" I asked him once.
"From experience...but no one believes me." He had said.
"What would do you think would make the boogie man leave forever?" I asked him.
"To scare him so bad, he would never come to my house again." Jason answered.
"Wow..." I whistled, "How are you gonna fill such a tall order?" I asked him.
"I don't know. I'm still working on it." Jason replied. I thought after I had talked to him about his woes, he would be more cooperative around bedtime, but it never failed. Jason became more and more anxious and combative the closer bedtime came. I could handle the outbursts of screams, and I could even handle the excuses for getting out of bed a million times. What kid doesn't do that? I remembered doing it myself, lots of times. The few times I had wanted to give in, I knew that Jason's parents would be upset with me if I had let him stay up, especially after they had explained to me that Jason was defiant about bedtime, and that I was to, under no circumstance let him stay up, so, no deal.
The guilt alone was unbearable, and on a few occasions, I would go up and check on him, and hear him crying in his bed, with his covers over his head. It became such a problem, that I spoke to Jason's parents about it when they came home one night.
"As usual Michelle, another outstanding job." Mr. Logan said, handing me thirty dollars.
"As usual, Jason is a pleasure. I wish I could find a part time job that was so simple and pleasurable." I smiled.
"Well, if you do that, then we lose a four star babysitter." Mrs. Logan said, returning my smile with warmth.
"Jason's in bed, although, I don't think you will find him sleeping. He was just down here a few moments ago. He said he had to get a drink of water. Oh, next semester, I won't be available until Spring. I want to take the summer and go back home to see my family." I said.
"Oh, Jason's gonna miss you. He really likes you Michelle." Mr. Logan said.
"I like him too. He really is the nicest kid I think I've ever babysat. You must be really proud to have a little guy like that."
"Yep, we're pretty proud of him." Mr. Logan said, disappearing down the hall.
"You know, Mrs. Logan, I was just wondering, why is Jason so afraid of going to bed." I asked. There was complete silence for a few moments, and at first, I thought I had just blown my babysitting job, until she finally turned around and smiled at me.
"I'm sure by now you are aware of the incredibly vivid imagination that Jason has." She said.
"Oh yeah, we've been to the moon, and had lunch with some alien visitors that are friends with Jason, among other things." I said.
"Yeah..." Mrs. Logan sighed, "He really gets into what he's imagining, and his father and I believe that it's just so real for him, sometimes he can't tell the difference between reality and make-believe."
"That's interesting." I said, for lack of something more to say.
"We have him in therapy presently, but so far, we haven't seen too many results. Jason still thinks the boogie man is going to get him when he goes to bed." Mrs. Logan explained.
"I was just going to say that. I keep hearing about the boogie man. And I wanted to show you something too." I said. From my satchel, I pulled out several crayon drawings that Jason had drawn. I had been collecting them for two weeks. They were all the same.
"He says this is what's coming in his room at night." I explained, handing the pictures to Mrs. Logan. She took the pictures, and studied them for a moment, and then let out a tired sigh. She shuffled through a few of them, and as she did, Mr. Logan walked into the living room, and stood behind his wife, and looked over the drawings.
"Let me guess..." he started.
"Yes, Jason has been sharing his idea of a boogie man with our prized babysitter." Mrs. Logan said.
"Well, if I may..." I began. The Logans looked up at me with reserved annoyance.
"See, most children Jason's age aren't this consistent when creating or telling a story. Though it's not uncommon for a child Jason's age to have, say, an imaginary friend, the child and that friend are usually in a number of different scenarios, and go on thousands of self designed adventures, whereas something that has consistency and is real, doesn't change much. If you will notice, each picture of the said boogie man is almost identical, and added to that, Jason has yet to say of any adventures he's had with this nemesis. Be it them together as a team, or him fighting this boogie man. He's only said that scaring it before it can scare him, and that it hates the light combats this creature. Which leads me to think, that there may be some reason for him to be screaming in the middle of the night, seemingly for no reason, therefore explaining his reactions to his loathing of bedtime." I finished. The Logans looked at me like I had just developed a third eye in the middle of my forehead. Then Mr. Logan huffed so loudly; that his cheeks puffed out, and he smiled to keep from saying things that I was certain would no doubt not be in his usual nice or pleasurable character.
"You know, Michelle, I have no doubt that you will be one of the best child psychologist the world will ever know. I am certain that one day I will be tuning into your talk show everyday, but until you have taken my son on as a patient, let's leave the analysis out of it. All we need you to do it sit for him." He smiled, tight lipped and tense. I looked to the ground, then over to my things, and quickly gathered them up.
"Oh, Michelle, did you need a ride home?" Mrs. Logan asked nicely.
"Oh, no, it's no trouble, I was going to stop by a friends house anyway, so I'm just gonna catch the bus." I said.
"You know, it's really no trouble. I can give you a ride to anywhere you need to go." Mrs. Logan offered again.
"That's alright. Thanks for the offer though." I smiled. In reality, I was so embarrassed about babbling off like that, all I wanted to do was get out of there.
"So, we'll see you the night after tomorrow, at seven sharp. Are we still on?" Mrs. Logan asked, walking me to the door.
"You bet. I wouldn't miss it." I smiled.
"And Michelle...don't worry about Mr. Logan. Jason's night terrors have been challenging for all of us." She said, her forehead wrinkling with the effort to display no hard feelings. I shook hands with her, and nodded.
"I understand. Sorry for the impromptu analysis." I said.
"It's alright." She smiled. We said goodnight, and I headed to the bus stop a few blocks up. For some reason, I glanced over my shoulder, and happened to see that the curtains in Jason's room were open. There, against the glass, waving as I left was Jason. He looked sad, and abandoned in his room. I stopped, and smiled up at him, and waved. Then, in the next instant, he was gone. Even if they were stories, and even if I didn't have my degree yet, I knew I wasn't crazy for thinking that some of what Jason was saying had some truth in it somewhere...and I was going to get to the bottom of it.
Unfortunately, my scheduled appointment to babysit Jason was cancelled, and though I was greatly disappointed, and had to fight off some feelings of not being there for the little guy, I went to the library instead, and did some research on night terrors. Some of what I found did correlate with what Jason was exhibiting, but it didn't fit. What Jason was describing and his outbursts weren't while he was asleep. I had sat with him enough to know and enough to see that he had never been asleep when he screamed, or made excuses to get out of bed. If anything, Jason was trying not to go to sleep at all. He was undeniably on guard. When I got home from the library, I checked my messenger service and found that I had a call from the Logans. I played the message expecting to hear Mr. or Mrs. Logan's voice on the phone. Instead, I was a little shocked to hear that it was Jason.
"Hi Michelle, this is Jason Logan. I wanted to tell you something, but I can't right now. Mom and Dad are downstairs with Grandpa, and if they knew I was using the phone with out permission, I would be in big trouble. But could you stay the night tomorrow? Call me back if you can. Bye-bye."
I smiled with the sound of his little voice on the phone. I even considered going over to take him to the park or something just for the day so he could have a chance to talk to me, but I didn't want Mr. and Mrs. Logan to think I was pumping Jason for information about his boogie man to do a thesis or something. I called him back that night, and told him that I didn't think I would be able to spend the night. Jason sounded disappointed, but the sound of Mr. Logan voice when I said I had just called to say hello was uncomfortable for me, so I didn't want to stay on the phone long.
"Michelle..." Jason whispered into the phone.
"Yes?" I whispered back.
"I think I know how to get him."
"You do?" I asked, interested.
"Yeah, but, I need your help. He's getting stronger." Jason whispered, then his demeanor changed and he said, "And then Grandpa came over."
"Clever kid." I thought. "Okay, Jason, I gather you can't talk about this right now, so I'll make it a point to do so the next time I see you. How's that?"
"I hope it's soon." He said, "Bye Michelle."
When I hung up the phone, I had the feeling I was skating on thin ice. When kids do odd or unexplained things, parents tend to take them personal, as if these oddities are a reflection of their parenting skills. I had no reason to think that the Logans weren't good parents, but I knew that the last thing they wanted was a college kid getting into their business. The one thing I had going for me, was that Jason honestly liked me. We were pals, and his parents knew it, and could plainly see how good I was with Jason. But I didn't know how long that would keep me around.
A week later, Mrs. Logan called, sounding harried and frustrated.
"Michelle? Yes, this is Mrs. Logan. Look, sweetie, Mr. Logan and I weren't going to hassle you..."
I knew that basically meant that they couldn't find another sitter.
"...but Mr. Logan and I have a business dinner that we must attend, and I know it's last minute, but..."
"I'd be happy to! What time?" I said.
"Well, could you be here around seven?" she asked.
"Certainly." I answered.
"Well, Michelle, I must insist on one thing before you come over. I don't want any of this boogie man stuff talked about with Jason. I am giving you strict orders not to discuss this or encourage it, and this is not only from me, but also from Jason's therapist. I don't mean to sound crass, sweetie, but talking about this to Jason only hurts him, it doesn't help." She said.
Once the Logans were out of the driveway, Jason and I ran upstairs to his room. He crawled under his bed, and pulled out a pencil box full of crayons, and a folder he had made out of yellow construction paper. On the front of the folder, in green crayon he had written:
It had been a week since I had seen Jason, and apparently, he had been busy. Opening the folder, he laid out several new drawings of the boogie man. All of them were the same. The same frog-like back legs, the same bulging, yellow eyes, the same upturned mouth that stretched from either side of an inconceivably large head, and talon-tipped, three-fingered hands upon forearms that were not unlike those of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I had seen Jason's drawings of this same beast frequently enough to know the perpetrator in question. Added to that, Jason had drawn a map of the house, and had written out a few pages of facts on the culprit.
"Here, Michelle, you need to read this." He said, handing me handful of notebook paper. As I took the pages, Jason continued to work with his material, and finished setting everything up for me.
"Hates light..." I read.
"Yeah I told'ja about that." He said.
"Gets energy from screams."
"I'll show you the stuff about that in a minute."
"Leaves slime behind."
"I didn't get a chance to get a slample of that." Jason explained.
"You mean a sample?" I asked, with a smile.
"Yeah, a sample." He corrected himself.
"Hides in closets, under beds, and dark a-i-r-i-a-s?"
"Areas." Jason explained.
"That's a-r-e-a-s." I corrected. Jason nodded his head as if to make a mental note.
"Here is where I found the slime the first time." Jason said pointing to the doorjamb of his closet.
"You actually saw it there?" I asked.
"Yep, and it wasn't even night time." Jason said with pride. He was convinced he'd seen it well enough.
"It's not there now, though." I noted.
"Yeah, I know, I think it disappears after so long. It was there for the most part of the day though.
"Did you show your parents?" I asked.
"Well, when I saw it, I went and got Dad, but when I told him that the boogie man left slime on my closet, he got real mad, and told me I was grounded, and took my toys, and my video games." Jason said, with a huff. His blue eyes were wide and unfaltering. I looked around Jason's room, and for the first time since I had gotten there, realized that the reason why Jason's room looked funny was because his basketball shaped toy box was gone, and so was his video game console.
"So tell me, Jason, " I began looking at his closet, "Is this the first time you've ever seen slime in your room?" I asked.
"Yep, but that's because Grandpa left me this really cool thing that I used for a weapon...but it got me in trouble." Jason said.
"What really cool thing did Grandpa get for you?" I asked. Jason's eyes lit up and he raced out of his room, and across the hall to his parents' room. Digging in their closet, I had the lingering feeling like both of us were going to get in lots of trouble, and I looked over my shoulder half expecting to see the Logans standing there with angry expressions on their faces. Just as it was becoming unbearable, Jason exclaimed, "Here it is!"
It was an air horn. Jason pressed the dispenser at the top of the can, and the room was filled with a shrill blast from the horn. I covered my ears. Jason laughed, and hit it again and again.
"OKAY! OKAY! Whew! I'll be deaf as my dear old Granny if you don't stop that!" I laughed. Jason was beside himself with amusement, and he giggled quite happily, until his soft, curly hair trembled with the convulsions of his belly.
"Alright kid, what else you got?" I said, "Oh, and put that right back in your mom and dad's closet exactly the way you found it." I instructed. Jason smiled a little devilish smile, and did as he was told.
"Oooh! Michelle, I gotta show you this. This is why I think I can get him!" Jason said. Taking me by the hand, Jason tugged me to his room again. Plucking a crayon from his box, he quickly scribbled out a drawing of his boogie man.
"Okay, this is the boogie man..." Jason began. Then he took a blue crayon, and drew a circular scribble in the monster's belly.
"And this is the energy he gets from the little kids he scares."
"I see." I said. Using a black crayon, Jason drew the air horn his Grandpa had given him.
"This is the air horn Grandpa brought me. And this is why it kills the boogie man." Jason said. I narrowed my eyes in interest. Jason took a red crayon and drew red lines coming out of the air horn.
"It changes the energy that the boogie man gets." Jason said, looking up at me. I looked back at him blankly.
"I'm...I don't... I don't understand, you lost me, there." I said.
"Okay, Michelle." Jason said, huffing, "When the boogie man gets scared, he gives off energy too!" Jason said, his eyes wide with the hopes of my understanding his diagram.
"Okay..." I said, letting my voice trail off.
"Well, if he gets more blue energy, he gets strong, but it I scare him, and his energy is red, then it kills him. See?" Jason said. I looked at the paper, then back at Jason, then back at the paper, stammering, and starting to say things, but never really quite forming the sound.
"See?" he asked again, with a hopeful smile. I smiled, and opened my mouth to say something and then frowned.
"No." I answered with defeat.
"Aw c'mon!" Jason said, and slapped himself in the forehead.
"You know, Jason, even if I don't get it, you've got one heck of an idea here." I said.
"Idea?" Jason frowned. I saw the expression on his face and immediately tried to clean up what I had said.
"Well, I just mean that maybe..."
"You think I'm making this stuff up too! Don't you!" Jason said in a trembling voice. His eyes began to well up with tears, and his bottom lip jutted out and quivered.
"No, no, I think there is some truth in it, I am just trying to understand." I said in a calm and tender voice.
"All of it is the truth, not just some of it! And nothing bad happened to me, and no adult tried to touch me, and I don't have bad thoughts! It's just a regular old boogie man in my room! How come no one believes me?" Jason sobbed.
"But I do believe you, Jason. I do." I said, my face reflecting his painful expression. I felt so badly for him. I opened my arms to hug him, but he pushed me away.
"It's alright. It's okay. I'll just have to prove it, or make it go away all by myself. But I know one thing for sure! When I'm a daddy and my kid sees a boogie man, I'll believe him!" he hiccupped with the sob, and wiped the tears from his face. Then he walked over to me, took my hand and led me to the stairs. Then he went back to his room and shut the door quietly. I stood on the other side of the door, and listened to his sobs for the better part of ten minutes. Then it fell silent. When I opened the door, Jason was asleep. I gathered his boogie man folder and put his crayons back in their box, and returned his things back into their hiding place. But I kept the diagram. Some part of me, deep inside, thought that if I studied it long enough, I could understand, or make sense of what Jason was trying to tell all of us adults.
The Logans returned home an hour later to find me asleep on the couch, and the house silent except for the low noise of the television. I had my school satchel out, and had been taking notes and developing my own hypothesis on Jason's diagram. I had fallen asleep trying to make sense of what Jason had drawn for me, and when Mr. Logan shook my shoulder gently, I woke up, and quickly tried to put my things back into my satchel before he could see what I had been working on. But it was too late. I knew he had seen it.
"Studying hard?" he asked, as I hastily put away my notebook and Jason's picture.
"Yeah, you know how it is." I said, trying not to blush, but my face was getting hot, and I knew my ears were so red they were glowing.
"What class is this for? Boogie Men 101?" he asked.
"Oh, that..." I stammered.
"You know, Michelle...I think you're a great girl. I really do. And Jason has grown attached to you over the last few months. It'd be a shame if you weren't able to sit for us any more. It'd hurt Jason too." He said in a fatherly tone.
"Yes sir, I know." I answered.
"Let's say this is the last we see of this, and I won't tell he missus what I saw here. M-kay?" he said, giving me a firm look.
"Alright." I answered, "But Mr. Logan, as crazy as all this seems, what if Jason was telling the truth?" I pleaded.
"Jim, honey, are you going to take Michelle home?" Mrs. Logan asked from atop the stairs.
"No dear, I think she's going to catch the bus." Mr. Logan said. I gathered my things, and walked to the door.
"No more boogie man talk...this is your last warning, Michelle." Mr. Logan said. I couldn't even bring my eyes to his when I left. All I could think about was poor little Jason, and how I would put us both in trouble if I pushed to get to the bottom of this.
The library is where I do my best thinking, but no amount of pondering and cross referencing could make heads or tails out of what Jason had drawn for me. As I sat, with my head in my hands, staring down at the crayon scribbles of an eight year old, I was startled by a voice in my ear.
"Eric! You scared the hell out of me!" I hissed in the quiet of the library.
"I saw you in here about an hour ago, and I didn't think you'd be here when I got out of the housing office. What's got you studying so hard?" Eric asked.
"Boogie men." I answered, seriously. Eric laughed. I didn't.
"What class is this for?" Eric asked, his brown eyes looking over the sketch that Jason drew, "Child psychology?"
"No, it's the kid I babysit for. He thinks there is a boogie man in his house, and it's so bad, the poor little guy flips out at night, and won't go to bed." I explained.
"Sounds normal to me." Eric said, his handsome face smiling into mine.
"Well, you would think, but his parents have him in therapy because of this." I explained.
"Oooh. Not good." Eric replied.
"You know what, though. Even if this kid is just suffering from an overactive imagination, the details in this are so interesting; I just can't let it go. I'm already on probation with his parents."
"Probation for what? What the hell did you do to the kid?" Eric asked in feigned shock.
"Well, the boy's therapist said not to discuss it with him because it only encouraged the behavior..."
"The flipping out." Eric nodded.
"Right. And I think what the therapist is doing is trying to get the parents to not encourage a need for attention through reinforcing bad behavior." I explained.
"He's an only child?" Eric asked.
"Yes. And he's eight." I added.
"So, what are the details of this thing?" Eric asked. I showed Eric the diagram, and gave him a run down on what Jason explained to me, and once I had explained it all, and ended the whole story with a defeated huff, I looked to see that Eric had a rather serious look on his face.
"What?" I asked.
"You don't get this?" Eric asked.
"Unfortunately, no." I said, blankly.
"This kid has either got to be exactly right, or an elevated prodigy with a knack for lying!" Eric said.
"Okay, wasn't expecting that." I said. Eric had pulled his backpack around to his chest and was digging through it, and pulled out his portable CD player.
"Okay, first thing's first. The slime that this kid."
"Jason, yes. The slime that Jason was talking about could very well be something called ectoplasm. It's a sort of ooze, or film that ghosts, or supernatural beings leave behind if they come into contact with something natural. Like a wall, a person..."
"Right! But as for it disappearing, I can't give you any feedback on that. But this whole thing about the energy? Check this out. Jason said that if he gets scared of the boogie man, it makes blue energy. But if Jason scares the boogie man, it makes red energy. Right?" Eric asked with an enthusiasm that I appreciated. It also made him that much more attractive.
"So far so good." I agreed. Eric proceeded to turn his CD player over, and take out the batteries. Setting the two double A batteries in front of me, he said,
"If I put these batteries in with the pluses and the minuses on the same ends, will my CD player work?"
"No, obviously." I replied.
"Why?" Jason asked.
"Because they'll cancel each other out..." I stopped. My eyes got huge, "Oh my god."
"What does a boogie man do?" Eric asked with a huge grin on his face.
"It evokes fear!" I said in a husky whisper.
"So if you scared a boogie man?"
"You would cancel it out!" I shouted.
"Bingo!" Eric shouted. Instantly, we were shushed by at least five people. Looking around and making apologies with my eyes, I turned to Eric.
"You are a genius!" I whispered. Eric smiled, and before he could say another word, I kissed him.
"It also appears that I am quite lucky." Eric said, his eyes softening on mine. I gathered my things, and thanked Eric again.
"I don't know if this is going to work, but I sure as hell am gonna try it!" I said in an excited whisper.
"Well, I don't know if this is gonna work, but...can I buy you dinner some time?" Eric asked.
"I thought you'd never ask." I smiled. I left in a hurry, without setting a date with Eric. But I knew I see him again. At that moment....I had a date with a boogie man.
When I called the Logans' home, Mr. Logan answered the phone.
"Hi Mr. Logan, this is Michelle." I said.
"Well hello there, Michelle, did we need you to sit for us tonight?" he asked in a business like tone.
"No sir, actually, I was hoping that I would be able to speak to Jason."
There was silence on the phone for what seemed like a full five minutes.
"I'm sorry Michelle, but I don't think that's possible. You take care now."
"Wait! Mr. Logan! What if I could prove to you that Jason isn't making this up?" I asked frantically.
"Then I'd tell you I know the exact whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa." Mr. Logan said with an annoyed chuckle in his voice.
"I am willing to bank my services for you and your wife on this, Mr. Logan. If I can't prove that Jason is telling the truth, then...then I wont...then I won't bother you or your wife, or Jason again." I said.
"Honestly, Michelle, we don't want to be rid of you so badly. It's just that Jason is going through a phase, and he's fragile right now...encouraging such wild stories to someone who is so impressionable, just isn't right. He's my son." Mr. Logan said.
"How do you think Jason would feel knowing I had more faith in him than you do?" I said firmly.
"That's preposterous!" Mr. Logan snapped.
"Well, prove it! If Jason is making this up, then we'll put an end to it tonight..."
"Tonight?" Mr. Logan's voice rose.
"Yes sir, once and for all."
"This is insane."
"He'll come again tonight. Jason needs our help." I said.
"What makes you believe there is a boogie man in our house, for the love of Pete, you can't actually believe that!" Mr. Logan said.
"No, but I believe Jason." I answered in a tone of finality. There was silence for a long time. I was beginning to think that Mr. Logan has hung up on me.
"Be here in an hour. God, I must be out of my mind!"
"Thank you so much, Mr. Logan. I'll keep my word, no matter what happens." I vowed.
"Marsha's gonna kill me." I heard Mr. Logan say, just before he told me goodbye. An hour later, I got off the bus and walked the two blocks to the Logan's home. Mrs. Logan opened the door before I even knocked.
"I just want you to know that I think this is absolutely ludicrous!" she hissed at me as I walked in the door.
"Marsha, that's enough. Maybe this will be the very thing to prove to Jason that the boogie man is all in his head." Mr. Logan said.
"And you, Jim, how could you! You know how fragile Jason is!" Mrs. Logan said.
"MICHELLE!" came a happy shout! When I looked up at the top of the stairs, Jason stood there glowing like a sixty-watt bulb.
"Jason!" I beamed. He ran down the stairs so fast I barely saw his feet move! He leaped into my arms, and threw his around my neck.
"We're gonna get him tonight, huh Michelle? And Mom and Dad are gonna help us!" he shouted with glee, "How'd you do it, Michelle, how'd you get Mom and Dad to help?" Jason asked, looking at me with his huge bewildered blue eyes.
"Actually, this was your Daddy's idea. He has faith in you, Jason. And so does your Mommy, and so do I." I said, looking at Jason's parents. I was really out on a limb on this one and I knew it. I had already prepared myself to be thrown out of the Logan household, told never to come back, and written off as a complete loon! But, I knew that no matter what happened, Jason would remember the one night that he and his parents, and his babysitter did a stake out for the boogie man. Dear God, I knew I had to be insane.
"Alright, Michelle, you're the ring leader in all of this! What do we do first!" Mrs. Logan said in a curt tone. Only the shinning eyes of Jason comforted me. Bending down to his level, I smiled.
"Well, actually, the ringleader here in Jason." He smiled at me with such pride, I felt a lump in my throat for a moment, "So it's your call, little guy. What do we do first?"
"Well, he won't come until bedtime, and the house has to be quiet and dark. He hates the light, and if we scare him really bad, it'll kill him! Then he won't come any more!" Jason beamed. Mrs. Logan rolled her eyes and huffed.
"Do you have a plan?" I asked Jason, and then prayed that he did!
"Well, everyone is going to have to sleep in my room. And we need more than one air horn, because I wanna scare him real bad! So Dad, you go get more air horns, and Mom, you get out the sleeping bags we take to go camping. Michelle, you come with me, and we'll go over the map of the house." Jason said, talking like a little general. As I walked up the stairs to Jason's room, I could hear Mr. and Mrs. Logan squabbling.
"...where to get air horns at nine o'clock at night, Jim, this is ridiculous!"
"Marsha, this is for one night! If you can just shut up, and humor the boy for one blessed night, then we'll be done with this! Michelle has a point!"
"Oh you would take her side! You little pervert! She is young enough to be your daughter, Jim!"
"Marsha, get your mind out of the gutter and go get the damned sleeping bags...I'm going over to home depot." Mr. Logan looked up the stairs at Jason and me. "You two keep all the lights on, and make lots of noise. We don't want to miss our chance." He said. He winked at Jason, and then looked to me and sighed. But then his face softened, and he mouthed the words, 'Thank you.' Maybe I would walk away from this with a bit of dignity yet.
At eleven o'clock, I was kneeling beside Jason's bed with my head under his Spiderman bedspread, while Jason was on his knees in the middle of his bed with a flashlight, going over the map with me. I was getting sleepy, but I didn't want to fall asleep and leave Jason alone. Mrs. Logan was laying flat on her back at the end of Jason's bed, with the sleeping bag all the way up under her armpits, and a look of sheer anger etched into her face even as she slept. Mr. Logan was on the other side of the bed with his hands beneath his head, staring at the ceiling. As Jason and I talked, we heard his father call him.
"You know son, it's getting late." He whispered.
"But it's Saturday, dad. You and mom don't have work tomorrow." Jason whispered back.
"I know...but you need your rest." Mr. Logan said.
"You have an appointment tomorrow, don't you, Dad." Jason said. I could see Jason's face register disappointment. Suddenly, there was another occupant beneath the Spiderman bedspread.
"I'm busy a lot, aren't I?" Mr. Logan said.
"We don't get to see each other too often do we?"
"Nah." Jason said, with a sigh. He looked to his Dad.
"Maybe I can do something about that." Mr. Logan smiled. Jason smiled back, and his father ruffled his hair.
At twelve-forty-five, Jason was asleep; his mother was snoring, and Mr. Logan and I talked to one another through the space under Jason's bed.
"We were lucky to have Jason." He was saying, "We tried for years, and when we found out that Marsha was going to have Jason, we were thrilled, as you can imagine. We wanted to have more, but so far, no luck. Jason's therapist thinks that Jason creates these things because he's lonely. He doesn't make friends very well at school..."
Mr. Logan's voice trailed off when I saw the closet door open. Just when I thought it was swinging open perhaps because of movement that Mr. Logan had made, I heard Mr. Logan stop short of finishing his sentence. Neither of us moved. Then a large, frog-like, leg stepped out of the closet, and the door opened even wider and birthed a massive green body, with small forearms, and talon-tipped, three-fingered hands. The room was dark, but when the creature leaned it's mammoth head out of the closet, the room lit dimly, with a pair of neon, orbed eyes, that sat a top of an upturned mouth that stretched from either side of the globular head. It literally looked like a frog that walked on its hind legs. It was so corny, I could have laughed, but it was so real, I could have lost my sanity right then and there, looking at it in all its living, breathing reality. Jason had been telling the truth after all. The creature tiptoed over to Jason's bedroom door, and crept out, walking soundlessly down the hall. Scrambling up to Jason, I shook him awake, and whispered in his ear. When he awoke, his eyes were wide, and his face was tense.
"Jason...it's here...what do we do?" I asked. Before he had a chance to reply, I heard a loud, guttural hiss, and then a click that sounded animal and intimidating. It induced a wave of fright that heated my neck, and made my heart thud against my rib cage.
"Whatever you do...don't scream. It will make him stronger. Then he'll just come back again." Jason whispered. Moving slowly, Jason got into an upright position, and leaned over the other side of his bed, and looked at his dad.
"Dad...do you have your air horns?" Jason whispered.
"Yes." Came a tiny reply, from who could only be Mr. Logan. But his voice was weak, and terrified.
"I'll go wake up Mom." Jason whispered bravely.
"No, no...stay right there." I said, "I'll wake her up."
The sound had come from the hall again. It frightened me so badly, I winced, and jerked back.
"What is it doing?" I asked Jason.
"It can't see you if you don't move." Jason whispered, "It's looking for me...to scare me. But it can hear good."
I made it to Mrs. Logan, and gently shook her. She woke up, and said, "What!" very loudly. Without talking, I frowned at her and tapped my index finger to my mouth. Sitting up, she looked around the room. Then she huffed, rolled her eyes, and sat up.
"I suppose we're suppose to ready our weapons." She said in a condescending tone. And dutifully, she put her air horns in her hands.
"Mom, don't talk...he'll hear you." Jason whispered. Mrs. Logan giggled. Suddenly, there was the thud of large feet, stomping up the hallway. A hiss rang out, and Mrs. Logan bolted upright.
"What was that!?" she demanded, "Jim call the police, there's an intruder in the house!"
"Mom, no! Don't talk." Jason whispered. The bedroom door was shoved open so hard, that the doorknob bounced off the wall, and in the doorway stood Jason's boogie man.
"What the fu-!" Mrs. Logan had started, but I clapped my hand over her mouth, and froze when the creature's head swerved over in our direction, and turned its huge head in an effort to hear. After what seemed like an eternity, the creature looked away. I glanced over at Jason, and he nodded his head. Mrs. Logan had seen the signal too, then Jason's entire bedroom was filled with the shrill, unwavering sound of air horns, loud and sudden. The creatures face had a momentary expression of trepidation before it leaped through the ceiling in blinding flash of red, and was gone.
There was silence for a long time. Then Jason got out of bed, and ran over to the wall, and flipped on his light. Right where the creature had disappeared into the ceiling was a great big splatter of slime. The four of us looked on in amazement.
"WE DID IT, DAD!" Jason shouted. Mrs. Logan screamed. He hugged his father, and after she had composed herself, Mrs. Logan went over and stood with her family. Jason was smiling and hugging his parents, and as the family recuperated from our brush with the unexplained, I decided my work was done here. I walked out of the bedroom, and down the stairs.
I whirled around to see Mr. Logan with Jason in his arms.
"Can we let you know if we need a babysitter again?" he asked.
"You certainly can. And Jason?"
"When I am a mommy, and my kid says he sees a boogie man...I promise I will believe. And thanks to you? I'll know what to do."