"Mom," Stacy yelled. "Tell Jeff he can't keep that gross slimy creature in the house."
"What gross slimy creature?"  I asked trying to be heard above Blue's howling. "Why do you always have to upset your sister and get that dog started howling Jeff?"
"Oh Mom," Jeff grumbled. "It's just a little lizard. I found him in the corn crib this morning when I was feeding the cows. I'll keep it in my room and Stacy wont even have to look at him."
"No way," Stacy shrieked. "That ugly little monster will manage to get out in the middle of the night and slither up the hallway to my room then get in bed with me."
"Stacy's right," I said. "No lizards in the house and that's final."
"Sometimes I wish I didn't have a sister," Jeff muttered, snatching up the box that contained the lizard. "I can't keep anything in my room. Stacy should have to get rid of that dumb bird she keeps sitting on the table next to her bed."
"I don't want to hear anymore about it," I said firmly. "Birds are entirely different."
Jeff went about the day doing his chores. He didn't mention anything about the lizard but shortly after he thought everyone was asleep that night he crawled from his bed, stumbled over his number nine size shoes, crept across the room and opened his bedroom door. He tiptoed down the hall, grasped the stair banister then groped his way down the steps. He sauntered across the living room floor and opened the door. The creaking noise sounded like a baby frog trying to croak for the first time.
"Whew," Jeff whispered, his face turning white. "I was almost sure that would've woke everyone. I'll leave the door open so I wont make any noise coming back in."
He stumbled across the yard, rocks digging into his bare feet as he crossed the driveway. He covered his mouth to muffle his yelling because he knew if he didn't he'd wake everyone in the house. He gritted his teeth together tightly determined he wasn't going to get caught.      
Finally making it to the huge half dead oak tree he crouched down then quickly looked around to make sure no one had noticed him. He rose up slowly, rammed his hand into the large dark hole in the tree and pulled out the box with holes punched in the top.
"Are you all right Simpson?" He asked, squinting and trying to focus his eyes on the lizard. "You're living in the house with me and no one will ever know you're there."
He gingerly made his way back across the driveway as he held one  hand over his mouth to keep from screaming as the rocks pierced his feet. He held Simpson tightly in his hand.
"Oh no," he spoke softly. "The wind must've blown the door shut. I hope it didn't lock."
He tried turning the doorknob but it wouldn't budge. He pushed and shoved the door but it wouldn't move. "I'd kick it," he mumbled but I'd probably break my toes."
"What'll we do now Simpson?" He said shivering. "I can't stay out here all night. I bet my face and feet have already turned purple from the chill."
He propped up against the door trying to think of what to do next. Simpson stared at him with his jet black beady little eyes and licked out his long skinny tongue as if to say I told you so.
The door suddenly opened with a jerk and Jeff fell inside on the doormat. He still grasped the lizard in his hand.
"Did you really think you could sneak that lizard in the house?" I said. "I knew you were out there all the time."
"I should've known I couldn't pull one over on you Mom," Jeff smiled sheepishly. "Crime sure doesn't pay. You always get caught sooner or later and it was sooner in my case. I guess you'll have to live in that old hollow tree after all Simpson."
And after the episode with the lizard. Jeff decided that Mom was a lot smarter than he thought, and there was no way he could outwit Mom.

Copyright © 1998-2001, Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.