Albert could hear him stop on the other side of the door. He sounded like an asthmatic, as if the exertion of climbing the stairs had caused him to wheeze.
Holding his breath, in case it might give away his location, Albert wondered what he might be waiting for.
Then Albert heard him try the handle. If he’d locked it, Albert figured, it would be obvious Albert was in the room, so he’d left it unlocked intentionally. The handle turned, an ever so small creaking noise told Albert the door had swung open.
This was the ultimate game of hide-and-seek. It’s good to know, when you crawl under a bed, that the floor is clean. Albert vacuumed his place religiously. No chance of dust under there setting off his allergies.
“Hello?” he whispered. “Are you in here?”
Albert wondered why he was whispering. It was just the two of them playing the game. And really, if either one of them was going to whisper, it would be Albert, the seek-ee. No need for the seeker to sneak around, hoping he wouldn’t be detected.
Albert held back laughing at the ridiculous question. But really, did he expect Albert to say, “Why yes, I’m here, hiding from you under the bed.”
Even though he didn’t turn on the bedroom light, Albert could still make out the feet stepping slowly inside the room. The bed sat opposite the door.
“If he gets down on the floor and looks under here,” Albert thought, “the game is up. But will he do that?”
Albert watched the feet move toward the closet. The slatted doors slid apart.
“Are you in here?” he whispered.
Again with the question only a fool was going to answer.
Albert could see the feet turn around, shuffle stealthily toward the bed.
“This is it,” thought Albert. “He’s got me.”
The feet stopped several steps in front of the bed. Yes, the game was over, but Albert held his breath anyway.
Two hands came down and rested on the floor. Then the head, tilted to the side, came into view. Albert could swear the eyes were staring right at him.
“Are you under here?” he whispered, seeming to look directly at Albert.
Albert his breath still. Could it be that without the aid of the overhead light, it was just a little too dark to be seen under here?
Slowly the head rose, disappeared, followed by the hands.
“Ah hah!” thought Albert, “he didn’t see me. Now he’ll be off to other parts of the house on a true wild goose chase.”
Albert watched the feet turn and shuffle toward the door. He wanted to laugh the superior laugh of the winner, but he refrained.
Then the feet paused at the door, turned back toward the bed.
“I saw you under there,” he hissed. “If you’re still there when I come back and ask again, you’ll be sorry if you don’t give me an honest answer. Very, very sorry.”And with that, the feet stepped out into the hallway and the door closed behind them.