His Lordship

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I’m Jason L. Secrest, an aspiring author and impoverished college student. Sometimes I blog. When I’m being real about real world things that other people also believe are real I post at wiseyetharmless.bogspot.com. Then there are the moments that I’m also being real, but in regards to a different real world where there is a real annoying talking demon in my basement and where my non-fake butler/valet/gentleman’s-gentleman knows Jujutsu. In those moment’s I’m Jason L. Secrest, Lord of the Manor, and I blog directly to you from my mansion study at whathowadsworth.blogspot.com.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Demonic Control Systems

Yesterday was Sunday; so let’s review with a short pop quiz on the good book. No cheating now…
           1.) Complete this proverb: "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling _____ in a wide house." 

           2.) The number of the beast is:

All right. Pencils down. You may grade your own work. The answers are “Beezle” and “404”. Don’t object, I can prove it.
A few years ago, I worked at a place that helped Troubled Teens to work out their lives. (“Troubled Teens is capitalized because when teens are involved, everything gets emphasis). Specifically, I worked in the boys’ home. I loved it and I built some deep relationships with the guys. However, anytime the words Troubled and Testosterone can be put in the same sentence look out. Now, I’m a great guy (can I say that? I’m humble too..) and I’m easy to get along with, but sometimes I’m also a push over, and I was getting pushed over from time to time. I didn’t mind so much, but it wasn’t helping our clients to get to the places that they needed to go.
What I lacked was better training. The company had some scheduled but it was weeks away. One of my coworkers, an ex-marine, noticed my severe need and pulled me aside for some one on one coaching in the art of De-escalation (military style).
I won’t go over every step of the De-escalation model, but I’ll give you the essence. In a tense situation people escalate. They back themselves into corners and don’t see any way out except for to fight out. De-escalation is the art and science of giving people a way to choose to walk out of their corners unharmed. Just as importantly, it is to be able to skillfully escalate your response without escalating the situation when those people choose NOT to walk away.  Fortunately, these concepts can also be applied to Demons. Take the following scenario:
It’s a beautiful summer day; perfect for hiking. You happen to know that there are plenty of nasty bugs outside, so you smother yourself in your DEET packed death spray. You yourself will die a year earlier because of it, but for now you are safe from West Nile Virus and Malaria.  At least, you think you are until you find yourself slapping yourself silly within moments of walking out side. Upon closer inspection you discover that you are drenched in sugar water. This is because Beezle has recently illegally downloaded and watched “The Parent Trap.”
You happen to be a pro at De-escalation, so you casually walk down to the basement and say, “Hey, Beezle, will you do me a favor and stop pirating shows? Particularly, will you experiment on me with the things you watch? Thanks. I appreciate it.” Here, you’ve given Beezle a chance to back down; a way to choose to behave. All you’ve done is make a polite request for compliance. The ball is in Beezle’s court.
That night, you have full feature nightmares about a dungeon and a cassette tape that delivers instructions to you. You must either crawl through burning coals or lose your leg. The dream doesn’t end until in a cruel twist of fate, both events occur. Surprise, surprise, Beezle pirated several seasons of “Saw.”
You collect yourself and walk calmly to the basement. “Beezle,” you say, as you admire the wing’s that he’s grown in tribute to Fantasia’s Bald Mountain, “If you ever do this kind of thing again, I’m taking your internet connection away.” Now, Beezle has a clear set of choices. He can escalate the situation, knowing the consequences, or he can choose to comply. If you’d just yanked the chord on the first or second offence, you have nothing left to leverage him with and he has fewer chances to comply. You win temporarily. He wins for the rest of the year while he puts dead mice in your light fixtures and partially developed eggs in your fridge. He doesn’t care. You’ve already taken the thing he loves most, and unlike Troubled Teens, you lack the power to restrain him. The key is to gradually escalate so that Beezle can choose to de-escalate the situation through compliance.
So, that’s what you do if you’re a pro. Unfortunately, I am not a pro. At least, not at the mansion I’m not. Granted, I was pretty ticked about the Swimming Pool Incident, but losing my cool won the battle, lost the war, and enraged the beast that lives in my basement.
The week that I cut the cord to the basement was a hard one for Beezle. It started hard for him. That Monday I woke to a blood curdling scream. I leapt from my bed with a start, gracefully bounded through my bedroom door and the hallway, hurdled over a couch, and skipped three steps at a time on the stairway to the basement. In my mind, there exactly one reason for a scream like that to emanate from Beezle’s domain. He must have successfully purchased, and be in the process of extracting, a soul. (I should mention, by the way, that there is a strict ban on human sacrifice in my home. If Beezle wants to do that kind of thing he’ll have to find another landlord.)
What I found shocked me beyond description. Beezle was curled in a corner of the room, cowering with an expression of horror on his face. He was pale, and his usually arrogant and condescending eyes betrayed fear. Confused, I looked frantically around the room. Nothing seemed out of place except for Beezle’s bone throne.
“What?” I asked, “What is it?”
Beezle’s voice was calm, contradicting his demeanor, “I have finally been found. It is only a matter of time, now, before terror rains down upon us.”
“Who?”
Beezle looked at me meaningfully and his tone chilled my blood as he said, “the Four-Hundred-and-Four Terrors”
My breath caught in my throat, but I managed, “The what?”
“The Void, The Darkness, Shorn. The deeper darker being which I once betrayed. I believe we have discussed him before.”
I’ll be frank. I nearly wet myself. Beezle is the most powerful, morbid, and frightening thing I’ve encountered; and he has been hiding like a small child from this other greater and fouler tempered entity for millennia. Over the beating of my heart I could barely hear myself ask, “What makes you think it’s coming?”
Beezle gestured dejectedly toward his computer monitor and said, “He has discovered my activities, halted them, and marked me.”
 I fearfully approached the screen and read, “404 – CONTENT NOT FOUND”
I laughed loudly in relief, causing Beezle to have an angry outburst wherein he described the numerous horrors that were about to befall my house and all within. None of them were family friendly, and I don’t dare attempt to describe them. In fact, I’m doing my best to suppress them. Until then I’ll be sleeping with the light on.
It took most of the day to convince Beezle that four-O-four errors are a standard non threatening part of internet life. He spent the rest of the day grumbling about symbolism and signs and all sorts of apocalyptic things. I was just relieved that the apocalypse wasn’t happening actively in my basement.
He eventually regained composure, but he still had nervous energy built up and I think he resented that I had seen him in his moment of weakness. I assume that these were the factors that led to what Wadsworth is now calling the Swimming Pool Incident, which deserves (and will be given) its own post. I didn’t say a word. I just cut the cord and that was that. I let Wadsworth explain the new “server not found” errors. I waited for complaints and obnoxious magical retaliations to flood through the vents shortly thereafter. Normally, I would have braced myself, but on that day I truly I didn’t care.
Vengeance never came. Instead, Beezle gave me the cold shoulder. Everything has been silent and almost peaceful – almost, in that the silence is violently tense. For days I crept around corners, tortured by the thought that Beezle might finally vent his wrath with some fearfully murderous surprise. Nothing happened for a full week. Then, just as I was starting to relax, things started happening. It’s like my Karma went bad or my Yin and Yang fell out of balance. I can’t pin anything directly on Beezle, but I know it’s him. He’s making surgical strikes against my peace of mind and well being.
My phone was the first thing to go. Will and I took a hike a few days ago with a friend of mine named Derek. We were fishing a stream that on one side had a quick current but that on the other had a few nice little pools. There was a nice little log spanning the length of one of the pools and we decided to go sit on it. We forded the stream, leaving most of our gear, backpacks included, sitting on the bank. Everything was fine and pleasant until a little snake poked it’s head out of a whole in the log, stuck out it’s tongue, and retreated. A fierce flash storm appeared out of nowhere. By the time we got back to the far bank, our backpacks were soaked, and my phone was fried. I’m on my parents’ family plan and my service provider is a small homegrown company that’s housed several hours away. Therefore, I’m phoneless for a while.
Shortly after my phone problem, Wadsworth got an urgent message from a friend or relative, calling him away for a few weeks. I can manage myself for a while, but I’m not good at taking random ingredients that happen to be lying about and making something edible out of them. My grocery budget is gone till the end of the month, so I’m scrambling to keep on top of things. I’m getting hungry and so is Will. I can tell, because he’s also getting extra attitude. I’m also suffering Wadswoth’s absence in other ways. He kept me organized. I’m starting to miss appointments and lose things.
Then there was today. I drove a few miles down the road to a church meeting, and when I was done the truck wouldn’t start. As luck would have it, everyone else had already gone. Also as luck would have it, a friend at church had asked me to deliver an important document to a neighbor before said neighbor left for the airport. I couldn’t call anybody – my phone is still dead and all of the numbers of people I would call are stored therein. I tried hitching a ride but only person who noticed my thumb was a teenage girl that looked at me like I was jack the ripper. After that, I just ran until I almost had a stroke. The neighbor was angry at the delay, but tried not to show it. Several hours later I caught Nathan on G-Chat. He picked me up and let me call AAA roadside service on his phone. Triple A is magic, by the way. They have the power to counteract demonic curses – for how long I don’t know, but it was at least long enough to get home.
Something else is coming up. I can feel it. So, what do I do? How do I get Beezle to settle down without giving up my authority? I can’t just give him back the internet without telling him between the lines that he can make me bend to his will if he misbehaves badly enough.  Any suggestions are welcome and wanted. I’m so desperate that I’m allowing anonymous comments. So, lay them on me…

~

DIRECTORS CUT: I wrote a long explanation of the de-escalation model and axed it in favor of a more condensed version. However, de-escalation is pretty cool, so I'm dropping it in here. If you don't care, then just skip to the comments.
DISCLAIMER: I'M NOT A PRO, I'M NOT A SHRINK, I'M NOT A MILITARY MAN - I can barely remember what the military man said, so take the following with a grain of salt, and if you intend to ever ever ever apply it, be sure to consult someone who knows what they're talking about. I just think it's a cool approach to a situation where you have both the need and the authority to calm a situation down - like if Beezle breaks into your house and holds your kids hostage...

The best way for me to explain this is with an example:
It’s 10:00 PM; time for bed. You make a loud announcement declaring that bedtime be observed. A TT (Troubled Teen) named Timmy is lingering on the sofa he shows no indication that he acknowledges the existence of either bedtime or you. He’s pushing the limits to see how far he can step out of line and be “OK.” A mental boxing match has just started and Timmy is testing your defenses with soft jabs. You quickly don your De-escalation Gloves and maneuver.
If you’re a rooky you glare at Timmy, raise your voice and spit out, “Timmy, get your but in bed now.” (You probably wanted to say “ass” but you’re in my scenario; so you don’t get to.) What you’ve just said is, “I am your Lord and Master. Obey or die.” It’s a challenge and Timmy can’t back down now without losing face, or self respect, or cool points, or whatever happens to be in that day. Instead, he’ll try to make you feel stupid about being so intense. The situation will escalate and no matter how it ends, it won’t be pretty.
If you’re a pro, you glance up and casually state, “Hey Tim, it’s ten, will you go to bed please?” or maybe you verbally “presuppose” that he’s going to do what you asked and say, “Hey bud, on your way to bed will you ______”. Maybe you do something equally casual and non threatening that says, “Will you please make going to bed be your decision?” You’re giving control to him. He can either choose to escalate the situation further, or to back down without injury. If he continues to ignore you then you change the request for compliance to a firm, yet calm and non threatening, instruction: “Tim, go to bed.” If that is ignored then you make a statement of imminent consequence. “If you don’t go to bed, X consequences will be applied.” If Tim continues to choose to escalate the situation, you apply the consequences.
Here we can count and see that Timmy has had four chances to choose to comply without injury. Every time that he escalates he knows that he is making the situation worse for himself. In other words, it’s harder for him to resist authority than it is for him to comply with it.
If Timmy is stubborn and keeps pushing you just calmly continue a two part cycle: make statements of imminent consequences. If he won’t comply apply the consequences. These consequences are always preplanned, immediate, and gradually intensified toward some ultimate consequence, depending on the situation.
If you started with “Tim, go to bed or you will be restrained and placed under constant surveillance,” then Tim get’s one chance to back down. If Tim repeats this kind of behavior often, then he becomes desensitized to the most intense consequences that you apply. He no longer cares if he escalates the situation because he’s been there before.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dumpster Diving

From my first night in the mansion I have known that it has various secrets. Some I’ve discovered with little effort (Beezle made his presence known speedily), while I have probed at others with very little success. On rare occasions I stumble into something unexpected and surprising. Whether I am pleased by such surprises has been widely varied. For example, I recently stumbled upon a secret compartment containing a sum of money large enough for me to pay my tuition for one semester (have I mentioned that I’m a poor college student?). On another occasion, I discovered carnivorous toilet. I barely escaped with my life and gained a new resolve to pay better attention to phrases like, “Perhaps this restroom is best avoided, Sir.”

This week I made an entirely new discovery, and I’m not certain what to make of it. It’s got to do with the dumpster. You see, I was thinking about my recent troubles with William. I chronicled them for you last week, but let me briefly refresh your memories.

I took issue with Will’s evening bathroom habits. He took issue with my existence as an authoritative figure in his life. Changing the topic, he requested that a door be added to the dumpster to improve his access. I suggested that he take a room in the mansion. He took offence and left me wondering what was so compelling about living in a dumpster. I ended my thoughts by asking you, my readers, for your thoughts.
Nathan Major, a good friend and associate suggested, “When life gives you a kid in a dumpster, buy a new dumpster.” Beezle heartily agreed and promoted swift action on my part.

I appreciated the humor from Nathan, and ignored the sincerity from Beezle, and went on with life a little less stressed for a few days. However, I kept thinking about the conversation and Will and the things he’s dealing with as a teenager. I was a teenager a short time ago… I’d never go back to it – not if you paid me, not for the world. I remember having some weird notions and strange feelings about things; and how nice it was when somebody who knew better would just nod their head and go along with me for a little while.

I remembered Will’s birthday too, so I started making some phone calls to welders to see about getting a door on that dumpster. The first guy said, “you want what?” and wouldn’t quit laughing long enough to talk business. The next one was serious enough, but he also said that “it is a violation of state and federal law to modify a dumpster in a fashion inconsistent with its original design and/or intended purpose.”

Finally I ran across Stan of “Stan’s Odd Jobs and Custom Welding.” I asked for an estimate on cutting a door into the side of a dumpster and braced myself for another disappointment. After a long silence he drawled, “Wellllll, I guess I’ve been asked to do stranger things. I’ll jus’ come down ‘n’ take a look right now, if that’s ok wi’choo” (“wi’choo” translates from redneck to “with you” in standardized English).

Stan’s base of operations is close and I had just enough time to shove Will out the door on a fake errand and wheel the dumpster into the garage before Stan knocked on the door. I let Wadsworth get it, but I stood back in the hallway and watched the exchange (I enjoy watching Wadsworth work, it’s inspiring.)

Stan is average in height but stocky.  He has a dark tan, a wind worn face, and sandy brown hair that usually stick out in every direction. He had it covered it with a well used cap, but it didn’t help much.
When Wadsworth answered the door I watched Stan remove his cap respectfully and say, “This the place that wants a door in the dumpster?”

“Yes, Sir, Lord Secrest is expecting you.”

“And you don’t want me to do nothin’ in the basement, right?”

“No, Sir. That will not be necessary.”

“Good, ‘cause I’ve been here before. You know you got a monster or somethin’ down there? ‘Boilzees’ or ‘Beezus’ or somethin’? Worst customer I ever had.”

“IT’S BEEZLE, YOU TWIT, AND I DEMAND A REPLACEMENT OR A FULL REFUND FOR THE IRONWORKS YOU INSTALLED TWO YEARS AGO – YOUR ARTISTIC RENDERING OF ‘IMPALED SACRIFICES’ ISN’T NEARLY AS SATISFYING AS I ONCE FOUND IT.” boomed the vent in the great hall.

Stan jumped and his eyes widened. He whispered behind his hand, “Does he do that all the time?”

Wadsworth nodded and said, “Frequently, Sir, yes.”

Stan licked his lips and raised his voice, “Now, Mr. Beezus, you agreed in writing that I don’t replace nothin’ ‘less I put it in wrong or it broke.”

A loud snap cracked out from the vent, and Beezle said, “OH DEAR, SOMETHING SEEMS TO HAVE DETACHED FROM ‘IMPALED SACRIFICES.’ THE POORY INSTALLED IRONWORK HAS GONE AWRY.”

Stan scowled. “Also, I inspect carefully for signs of intentional vandalism.”

“OH. DAMN.”

After a short silence Wadsworth said, “I trust that your business with Bezel has concluded. May I show you to the garage.”

Stan nodded, and I spoke up, “Thank you, Wadsworth, I can take it from here.”

“Very good, Sir.”

While I walked with Stan, his eyes wandered everywhere and he did a half turn every time he took a step. He caught sight of a particularly dazzling chandelier and let out a low whistle followed by, “What’s a place like this cost anyways?”

“Not much, surprisingly,” I said, “But that’s probably got something to do with the tenants.” I pointed to the basement. Stan nodded severely.

“YES,” Beezle piped up, “BETWEEN THE DUMPSTER-DIVER AND THE WOULD-BE SOCIALITE AUTHOR, THE ESTATE IS TRULY GOING DOWNHILL.”

“The little son-of-a-gun’s got a mouth on him don’t he? He’s worse than my sister. ”

“YOU PROBABLY FORGET HER NAME TOO, DON’T YOU?”

Stan shrugged, and we kept moving.

In the garage he spied the the dumpster up and said, “Well, let’s see what we got here… looks pretty standard.” He opened the lid and peered inside, “Metal’s in good condition; don’t see any corrosion at all. Should make for a pretty clean job. I think I can get ‘er done pretty quick. I think I’d charge you, oh…” he named a price, and I frowned at it.

“Stan,” I said, “This may surprise you, considering that I’m living in a mansion, but I not so well to do. I was basically given the place. Can we work out something a little cheaper?”

Stan scratched at the scruff on his chin and gazed at the dumpster. He folded his arms and worked his tongue around in his moth for a while. Finally, he looked back at me and asked, “You got yourself a Gardner?”

I shook my head. “Had one for a while, but I could afford to keep him on. Will’s been mowing the grass and Wadsworth handles the flowers.”

 “Well, I’ll tell you what: I’m lookin’ to pick up an extra job or two. You let me handle your grounds and call me first on any maintenance you need done an’ I’ll throw in the dumpster for free.”

 “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, Stan,” I said, “but I doubt I can offer you enough money to make it worth your time.”

Stan thought for a little longer and said,“Well, how about a cook? You got one of those?”

“Wadsworth does most of the cooking around here.”

“He any good?”

“I’ve never eaten better.”

Stan grinned widely, “Well I can’t cook to save my life. You have your Man rustle somethin’ up for me a couple time times a week and I’ll do your grounds for next to nothin’.”

I grinned, “I think we’ve got a deal.”

We shook on it, and he set up his equipment to work on the dumpster. Then he lifted the lid and said, “This’ll work best if I crawl inside. That way I can make the door flush with the edge of the floor.” He scrambled in. He let out a low whistle again and shouted, “Holy Moses! Wasn’t expecting that! This is some dumpster mister.”

Puzzled, I looked inside the dumpster. Stan was looking around him with the same look of bedazzlement that he’d displayed inside the mansion, but I didn’t see anything special: there were a few old suits, old news papers, yesterdays light refreshments, and that was about it. Everything looked standard.

“What’s so special about it?” I asked.

“Well Gee Wilikers; you ever been in this thing?”

“No.”

“Then I think maybe you should get in here. This thing’ll shock you better’n a cattle prod.”

I heaved myself over the edge and in the process started saying, “Now, what’s so –,“ I had planned to say “special,” but I was stunned speechless. I found myself standing in a ten foot by ten foot by ten foot room. The d├ęcor was as just as grand as in the mansion. A chandelier hung from the ceiling. The walls and floors were polished, white, and sparkling. I wasn’t sure if they were stone or metal or some sort of wonderful mixture. The room was fully furnished with a large wardrobe, an unmade bed, a messy desk, several tables and stands of various types, and a set of ornate furniture. The newspapers that as viewed from above had been ripped and strewn about were now precisely folded, stacked, and organized by date on a short round end table in the corner. Yesterday’s refreshments sat invitingly on a silver platter on a cherry wood coffee table. I turned around in a daze to find that the wall behind only remained vertical till just below my shoulders, after that it took a sharp me angled upward until it met with the ceiling. A large window was set in at exactly the same height that the dumpster lid would be, in fact I could see the hinges on the upper sill. On exactly the opposite wall was a softly glowing silver door with an engraved golden handle. I walked to the door and reached out to finger the handle.

Stan grabbed at my hand and growled, “You got bolts for brains? Who knows but that it opens into that monster's fireplace? When I installed that ironwork, I saw more’n one door just like it, an all of ‘em were in nasty places, so you just keep your hands to yourself until I’m out’a this dumpster.”

I stepped back quickly, thinking shakily of the twenty foot flames I’d seen in Beezle’s suite. I walked to the window, put my hands on the seal and looked out. Will was standing in the garage and he looked angry.

To make a long story short, Will was fairly upset about the invasion of his privacy. The phrase that best sums up his side of the conversation was, “I asked you to put a door in, not have a party in my bedroom.” I however, am proud to say that I remained relatively calm, and after many apologies from both me and Stan he finally let it drop. He was also very pleased with the door. Stan welded installed in from the outside by cutting a hole and installing a latch. Will let us check it out from the inside. Inside the dumpster the door formed as intricately carved oak set into a crystalline archway. Stan kept walking inside the dumpster and back out again inspecting his work. He’d swing the door from side to side on other side and more than once I heard him mutter, “How the hell did I do that?”

Will still won't tell me what the silver door is for, but if I ever find out, I'll fill you in.

-Jason L. Secrest

Monday, August 2, 2010

Starlight and Dumpsters

I've had an exceptional weekend. I couldn't have asked for better on my twenty-fifth birthday. I spent plenty of time with friends on during the week and went to my parents place for the weekend. There's been lots of food and games and companionship. There was also the boat.

My dad has a sporty sleek red and white boat. He got it a few years ago so that he could share one of his favorite activities from when he was a kid with us. The first time couple times out, I hated waterskiing - I just couldn't get up. All water skiing did for me was to flush out my sinuses with copious volumes of water. However, now that I've got the technique down I love it. Dad knows that, and the morning after I got home, he had my siblings and I up at seven. By seven thirty we were on our way to the lake.

I was groaning about the time - I'm not too much of a morning person, but my pops is wise about water. When we launched the boat the water was slightly rough, but not bad. By the time we propelled to the other side of the reservoir the water was a calm glassy mirror. I've never seen such perfect water before, and it stayed that way for as many hours as I had strength. We did everything - skiing, wakeboarding, slalom skiing, coasting around the lake soaking up the sun; everything.

Well, I'm not in great physical condition and it wiped me out. We'd planned to go spelunking in the afternoon, but I was so exhausted that we changed our plan to accommodate naps and a movie. I slept well that night, but I was plenty sore the next day. The night after, when I arrived back at the mansion, I was even worse. I was stiff and walked with a strange kind of half limp. Everything hurt. My legs, my arms, my neck, my gluteous maximus, and everything else was screaming for a Tylenol.

Wadsworth welcomed me home with warm yet stately salutations and promptly drew a bath for me. He suggested a cold one with ice as the "most effective remedy for the soreness of overtaxed muscles," but I'm too wimpy for that kind of thing so we went with a hot one. I napped for the rest of the afternoon. That turned out to be a poor choice, as I was exceptionally restless that night. Since I couldn't sleep I decided to go outside and enjoy the stars, and maybe stretch out my legs a little bit.

I lingered in the garden for a while, breathing the fragrant air in deeply; but the trees obscure much of the night sky, so I ventured out a little further. The nearby mountain range cut a black jagged path through the stars at the horizon. There are very few lights in my neck of the woods aside from the ones in the mansion house, and it was a cloudless night, so the rest of the stars were perfect and brilliant. I stuffed my hands into my back pockets and leaned as far backwards as I could without falling over. My back objected stiffly, but the stretching helped. Finally I lay down on the perfectly manicured lawn and put my hands behind my head and contemplated the eternities.

My meditations were interrupted shortly by a metallic banging sound from the back of the house. I figured it was Will, thrashing around in his "bedroom." Just like Beezle, he came with the house, and I've never quite understood why he sleeps in that thing. I don't challenge it though - he's an adolescent, and those can be wonderfully emotional, illogical, and unfathomable things.

Things went quiet for a while. Then there was more banging, followed again by silence. After not too long the motion sensors on the back patio blinked on, hurting my eyes. I shield them, and listened quietly to the dumpster lid rising the rattling of the metal as Will climbed out and the slam of the lid falling back into position. Will yawned and padded toward me across the cement of the pool.

I'm not sure how he didn't see me in the blinding 240 lumens of the floodlights, but he didn't. I was content to just lie in wait. I won't do that again. He walked within a foot of me, stopped, and started to relieve himself. I leaped up with a cry of surprise and alarm. He leaped to the side with the same frightened shout. Fortunately, I escaped the situation unsullied. 

We hurriedly turned away from each other. While he finished his business I asked, "Do you make it a habit to pee on my lawn?"

"I guess."

"You know there's a restroom in the house right?"

"This is closer. Besides, it's nice out here at night. I like the feel of the grass on my feet."

"Uh huh. Well, as nice as that is, I'm not so keen on the idea."

"Why do you care?" Will's voice cracked. It's been doing that a lot recently, "You didn't even know about it till just now."

"Because," I said, doing my best to keep my cool, "I sometimes like to lie in this grass. I don't like the thought of putting my back into your personal cesspool. So please, empty your bladder inside from now on."

"Fine. Whatever."

Will padded angrily back to the dumpster and opened the lid. As the lid closed back down on him he said something but I didn't quite understand it between the muffled sound and the echoes. I wanted to tell him to come out if he wanted to talk to me, but thinking that it was better to pick my battles (like what was a restroom and what was not), I lifted the lid and poked my head inside.

"What?" I said, "I couldn't hear you?"

He glared at me with one of the special teenage faces. It's the one that silently says all of the above, "Why are you such an idot? Why can't you just leave me alone? Nobody understands me, because like you they are all stupid. I hate your guts." I thought about just slamming the lid on him and letting him come talk to me when he wasn't being melodramatic. Instead, I decided to cut him some slack. It was late, we were both tired, he sleeps in a dumpster, and he no longer had the privileged of wiggling his tows in the lawn while he watered it.

"I said," he drawled, "'can we put a door on here?' I hate crawling into and out of it."

"I'm not sure. I'd have to call a welder about it. What if you just take one of the bedrooms? The mansion has plenty of them."

"No," he muttered, "I like this better."

"Why?" I'm afraid I let some frustration creep into my voice. He detected it, and read volumes into it.


"I just do! Never mind. Why did I even bother asking? Shut the lid please."

I took a deep breath, said 'Goodnight' and shut it. I went back to my bedroom and fell asleep trying to figure out what was appealing about sleeping in trash. I haven't had a chance to talk to Will since. He's definitely avoiding me. I've decided to go ahead and call a welder, but in the meantime I'm still stumped. What's so great about the dumpster? Any thoughts? If you come up with something brilliant, plausible, or even ludicrous with merit comment below. I've got to figure out how this kid ticks.