“Someone is on the roof,” Franny says to Fleegle in the dark of the bedroom. “Should we wake him?”
I look at their black silhouettes on the bed and listen to the silence. “No one is on the roof,” I say.
“Oh, good, you’re awake,” Franny says. “You need to go up on the roof.”
The clock glows 3am. “I’m not going up on the roof in the middle of the night.”
“Do you want me to get your slippers?” Franny asks.
Fleegle shakes his head. “He’ll need his shoes for going up the ladder.”
I pull the pillow over my head. “I’m not getting out of bed.”
Fleegle cocks his head to the side. “No, she’s right, Raud. Someone is on the roof. It must be Santa. Have you bought that heavy German beer he requested last year? Remember he said he was lactose intolerant after drinking milk for so many years.”
“It’s far too early in the season for Santa,” I say.
“But he’s been all over the grocery store. So has his buddy, Frosty the Snowman,” Fleegle says.
Franny stands up, her stance a little anxious. “Who is this Santa guy and why is he on our roof? What’s so special about the roof anyway? Is there something up there to eat that no one has told me about? Is that where Fleegle hides the caviar?”
“Nothing is on the roof. Go back to sleep.”
“You’ll be lucky if it’s Santa,” Fleegle says. “He might be able to help you with your gnome problem.”
“I don’t have a gnome problem, I have a sleep deprivation problem.”
“That’s what they all say just before it’s too late.”
I know I shouldn’t give credence to his theories by asking but I can’t help myself. Any insight into Fleegle’s thinking is always worth it. “Who is they?”
“People with gnome problems. Maybe Santa can broker a truth before the gnome’s relatives arrive and the conflict escalates.”
I push my pillow aside. “Relatives?”
“It’s probably already too late. There are several new RVs in the neighborhood. I think the gnome is already massing his forces.”
“An invasion of gnomes in RVs? Are there magic mushrooms growing in your yard, Fleegle?”
“What’s an RV?” Franny asks. “Is that where the caviar is hidden?”
“Go back to sleep, you two.”
Franny lies back down and soon both of them are snoring quietly. I lie there and stare at the ceiling. The clock now glows 3:12. It’s then that I hear it, the rapid patter of feet, like a child running in the attic. And then I hear it again, but this time it’s several children racing one another the length of the attic from one end of the house to the other.
Crap, I hope it’s not raccoons, I think and roll over.