The doorbell rang and Daisy ran for the door, “I’ll get it!”
Dad was folding laundry in front of the TV, and he said, “Who are you expecting, Daisy?”
“What did we say about buzzing in strangers?”
Daisy stopped dead in her tracks, her mouth hanging open as she tried to remember.
Dad waited for a few seconds, and then gave her a clue. “Do we buzz strangers into the building?”
“Then why are you running to unlock the door if you aren’t expecting anyone?”
“It might be Michelle.”
“So, you are expecting someone.”
Dad rolled his eyes and gave up. The outer wall of their living room curved outwards from the rest of the condo building’s outer walls, and if Dad pushed his face against the glass and looked down, he could usually make out a figure standing in front of the door. So he got up and looked out the window now to see if he could see anyone he recognized.
The two figures weren’t familiar, and Dad was about to go back to his laundry when something made him stop and take another look.
He didn’t know who they were. But he knew what they were. Their nice Sunday clothes and flowered hats belied their true intentions.
“Daisy, you don’t touch that doorbell, do you understand me?”
“I said do you understand!”
Daisy jumped to hear Dad shouting at her, which he hardly ever did. He instantly regretted it, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
“Sit on the couch, sweetie.”
“I said, sit on the couch. Now.” He didn’t raise his voice this time, but let his tone convey all the seriousness of his command.
Daisy padded over and sat on the couch.
Dad watched her and noticed how much noise even her bare feet made on their hardwood floor.
“Put your feet up on the couch and turn off the TV.”
Daisy did as she was told.
Dad didn’t want the pastel-clad figures to see him in the window if they happened to look up, so he tip-toed over and sat on the couch next to Daisy, pulling her onto his lap.
“What’s going on, Daddy?”
“Nothing, sweetie. We’re just going to pretend we’re not home for a while, OK?”
“Because I said so.”
Dad took deep, deliberate breaths in an attempt to slow his heart rate, telling himself no one would be stupid enough to let them in. But even as he told himself this, he heard the buzzer that allowed them to open the door and walk into their building.
Dad held his breath and held Daisy close to him as he wondered who would have let those monsters into the building.
Then he realized it had probably been Doris. She was retired, so she was home all day and let absolutely everyone into the building. Dad had tried to talk to her about it on several occasions, and while she always smiled and agreed with him when he was talking to her, she never changed her ways. It was enough to drive him batty on the best of days, and this was decidedly not one of those. He hoped this time she would be the one to pay for her own lax security standards.
Doris lived in the unit directly below theirs. If the two pastel-clad figures decided to start at the bottom and work their way up, that would mean they would reach Doris’s door first. And if Doris answered, that would give Dad and Daisy plenty of time to make their escape.
Dad put a hand over Daisy’s mouth to shush her. “We’re playing the quiet game now,” he whispered in her ear.
She nodded, pressed two fingertips together, put them to her closed lips, and twisted her hand to one side, and then the other to mime turning a key in a lock.
Dad nodded, then went back to listening. Sure enough, he heard the front door to Doris’s apartment open and voices as she greeted her guests. They had her.
“All right, Daisy, now I need you to put on your shoes and grab your things so we can go, but I need to you to do it very, very quietly.”
“Because there are monsters right outside the front door.”
Daisy’s eyes widened and Dad felt a little guilty, but he reminded himself again that desperate times called for desperate measures. So he put a finger to his lips to emphasize his point and Daisy went about on tip-toe as she got ready to leave.
To be continued…