When newly married Maurice and Elaine bought a rattletrap, fixer-upper-house for a song, they knew one thing for sure: the previous owners deserved a spot in the Guinness book of world records for promoting deferred maintenance.
Avocado-green metal kitchen cabinets with rusty hinges screamed of an era long forgotten. The porch roof sagged with the forlorn-looking swayback of an old mare. A maze of rat tunnels surrounded the foundation.
Still, on the day of closing, stars filled their eyes. They were homeowners: do-it-yourself-remodel-crazed homeowners! After the paperwork was signed, they headed over to their newly acquired, tumbledown castle.
Inside the house, a stiff wind threw spits of snow against windows that rattled in their casements like distant artificial thunder. As they climbed the stairs, the temperature dropped ten degrees.
A purple-painted bedroom was the one the farthest away from the stairwell, and thus the coldest. “What were they thinking? I mean who in their right mind paints over peeling wallpaper – especially with purple paint?” Elaine asked. “They had to be ca-razy!”
The couple stood in the doorway of the purple room where oily-looking cobwebs hung from the corners like blackened cotton candy. “Honestly. Purple? Maurice, what would you possibly DO with a purple room?”
“It was a music room, silly; I’m sure of it. It’s where the purple people eater hung out.”
“You’re insane. Purple people eater? Are you talking about that old song?”
“I’m talking about the one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater.”
“The pigeon toed, undergrowed, flyin’ purple people eater?”
“Oh yeah, you got it.”
They pranced around the creaky wood floor, mimicking the horned monster that liked to eat purple people – but lived to make rock-n-roll music.
“Remember? He played rock-n-roll music through the horn on his head?”
Insanity had been building ever since they decided to buy this junker-of-a-house, and now it was theirs, all theirs – the house AND the full-blown insanity. Elaine pulled two felt-tipped markers from her purse. “C’mon – it’s a contest. You draw your purple people eater on that wall, and I’ll draw mine on this wall.” Her eyes glinted. “Ready … set … GO!”
Maurice began to create something that vaguely resembled a dinosaur. “NO peeking until time’s up!” he yelled over one shoulder. “I’m calling time in exactly ten minutes.”
“You’re on, buddy!”
They scribbled furiously on the purple walls, each one designing a custom purple people eater with one eye, one horn, and a toothy mouth just waiting to crunch innocent little stick-figure people running across the walls screaming, “We wear short shorts! I like short shorts!”
Elaine’s unicorn-like people eater featured angel wings, a demure-looking single eye with long, curly eyelashes, and a horn with ribbons streaming out behind. Maurice’s tyrannosaurus rex version wore a football jersey, and had a Cyclops eye that gave off light like a motorcycle headlight. A horn resembling a tuba perched on its head.
“ Four … three … two … one … time’s up!” Maurice called. “Turn and look!”
“Aha!” They both exploded with laughter.
“Nicely done! It’s the ‘odd couple’ of people-eaters!” Elaine spun from side to side, bowing to the murals of artwork.
“Well, yours is the prettiest darn female-to-the-core purple people eater I’ve ever seen. Oooooooogha-oogha!”
“Wait! Quiet!” Elaine shushed him. “Maurice – do you hear something? Is that the wind?”
They strained, listening to the silence.
“I don’t hear anything, sugar-pie.”
“Are you sure?”
“You must be imagining purple people eaters over there in the closet.”
Elaine stared at the closet door and hissed a whisper. “Don’t be stupid.”
“Why not? Aren’t we stupid? To buy this tenement house in the first place? And draw purple people eaters on the purple walls? I’d say we’re insane. We’ve totally flipped.”
They both glared skeptically at the closet door, as if maybe something COULD be hiding in there. After all, C.S. Lewis discovered another world at the back of a wardrobe.
“I dare you to take a look. C’mon. Be a man.” She squinted her eyes. “Double dare you.”
“Alright. My backup - my purple people eater - is right behind me. I’m not in this alone. No fear, here. As William Wallace said, “Every man dies; not every man really lives.”
Maurice reached gallantly for the closet doorknob and turned it. “Elaine, remember this … “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!”
“Yeah.” Elaine responded with her own knowing, brave-at-heart look. “We all end up dead – it’s just a question of how and why.”
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