Scene 2

Melody twirled her eggs around on her fork, and let the dark, yellow yolk trickle down the utensil.

“So, why aren't these eggs all the way cooked again?”

Bernie sneered. “Because your mother thinks a runny yolk adds more flavor.” He was unshaven, and looked tired. His dark, thinning hair was more disheveled than normal.

“You know,” Lonnie began. “I'm never going to cook for you people again. And then where will you be? Starving, and sitting in dirty clothes in the dark.”

Bernie pointed at the pad of paper labeled “Grocery List” magnetized to the refrigerator. “Mm,” he said. “In that case, we will need to add lots more cereal to the list.”

Lonnie rolled her eyes. Also unshowered, she looked much better groomed and put together. “So, what was this nightmare you had last night?” she said, getting straight to the point.

“Oh,” Melody said, finally placing the egg into her mouth. “So he told you, did he?”

“Yes,” Bernie said. “HE did. Things sometimes just fall out of HIS mouth.”

Lonnie smirked, and dabbed at her husband’s face with her napkin. “Like that bit of egg just did, huh sweety.”

Bernie scowled at her.

Lonnie turned then to her daughter. “I would like to say that he was just concerned about you, but at the time it did seem more like town gossip.”

Melody’s eyes narrowed. “Well, for your information,” she said. “I was being attacked by a wolf.”

“A wolf?” Bernie raised an eyebrow. “Well, now don’t I feel a little shee...

Lonnie raised a finger at him. “Do NOT say ‘sheepish’, Bernie Jackson.” She rubbed his temples and whispered softly, “Shhhh. Go to sleep.”

Melody nodded and smiled. “Anyway, I'm still wondering about the trigger. Did either of you notice any howling off in the distance last night?”

Her parents raised their eyebrows collectively at each other to communicate some concern, but then just as collectively shook their heads.

“I thought maybe it was because I was reading something scary before I drowsed off.”

“Oooh,” Bernie said, rubbing his hands together. He loved scary stories. “What was it? Lovecraft? King? Koontz? Something about Vampires or Zombies?”

Melody rolled her eyes. “Don't be crass,” she said. “It was ACD.”

Bernie's eyes narrowed in confusion. “The band?”

Melody shrugged her shoulders, and squinted her eyes closed. “Arthur Conan Doyle?”

The full name didn't seem to make things any clearer for Bernie.

Melody closed her eyes. She couldn't believe her father was acting so stupidly. Everyone knew who Arthur Conan Doyle was.

“Really?” Lonnie said, pinching Bernie in the arm. “The band? He wrote Sherlock Holmes, you dolt!”

Bernie shrugged.

Suddenly, Melody’s stomach began to hurt. What if her father were having a stroke. That might explain things. It was possible for people in their late-forties to have brain hemorrhages, right?

She leaned forward and stared intently into her father's eyes, though she wasn’t sure what she was looking for. Especially in the darkness of the room.

“Mom,” she said. “Do we have a flashlight?”

“I know who he is,” Bernie said. “I’m not a total idiot. I’ve just never heard anyone ever call him ACD. Have you, dear?”

Lonnie sat down and began to eat her eggs. “I don’t know everyone in the world,” she said diplomatically.

Bernie was adamant. “It’s never been done,” he said. “Also, I can’t think of one spooky story he might have written that would cause anyone to have nightmares.”

“Huh?” Melody's eyes widened. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. “Every one of his stories is dark and broody. Okay, maybe scary was too strong of a word......why I am even trying to explain myself?” She turned to her mother, pleading with her eyes for help.

“Just give it up, dear,” Lonnie said. “Your father can go all day with no ammunition.”

“Well,” Bernie said, and raised his eyebrows as if waiting for a response.

“Well, what?” Melody wanted nothing more to do with this conversation. She was getting tired and crabby, already.

“What ACD story were you reading last night? Did it have any wolves in it?’”

Melody shrugged. “Hound of the Baskervilles. And I don’t know yet. I hadn’t gotten that far in the story.”

“Spoiler alert,” Bernie said. “It was a big dog and, except for the Zoo there aren't any wolves wandering around in Portland. Coyotes, maybe.”

“It could have been a coyote you heard,” Lonnie said.

“Maybe,” she returned, seeming skeptical. “You two are certain you didn't hear anything?

Bernie put down his fork. “I didn't hear any horrible noises until you started screaming from your bedroom.”

Melody stared off into space as though the dream were still affecting her. She then recalled the dream to her parents, at least what she could remember of it.

“I wouldn't worry about it,” her mother told her. “Sometimes dreams are just there to clean up the thoughts in your head. I'm sure it's not some ill portent.”

“Yeah, funny you should mention ill portents, though,” Bernie said before filling his mouth with an entire sloppy egg.

Melody suddenly looked up with mild if not slightly irritated interest. There was definitely something her parents weren't telling her? “Is there some homeschooling test that you forgot about?”

“No....” Lonnie's eyes darted around, suspiciously.

“Mother?” Melody began to rise from the table. “You're being awfully cagey about something.”

“Yes, dear,” Bernie said. “You know how your daughter don't like the cagey.”

“I may have forgotten to tell you your second cousin is coming over to stay for a night or two.”

“A NIGHT OR TWO!” Melody sat down in her chair gruffly and propped her head on her fists. “Which cousin?” she asked in a depressed tone, though neither of the choices were great ones.

Lonnie didn't answer at first. She looked over to her husband, who was smiling broadly.

“Well,” he said. “Go ahead and tell her.”

“What does it matter, Melody?” she said. “They're all good.”

“It's Jimmy, isn't it?” she said, scornfully.

“You should just be thankful it isn't both of them,” Bernie offered.

Melody groaned and hid her face under a pile of arms and hair. From under this mound came another query. “When exactly should I start being thankful?”

“I believe seven o'clock!”

Melody lifted her head. “WHAT?” she roared. “AS IN... TONIGHT?!” She sprang from the table.

Bernie snapped his fingers and pointed at her plate. “Breakfast,” he said.

“I am no longer hungry,” Melody informed him.

“So, I can have it then? I need you to say the words.”

Melody growled in her throat and turned towards the kitchen door. “EAT IT!” she exclaimed.

“Waitaminute. Just where are you going there, girly?” her mother asked, standing up from the table.

“I'm running out of time,” Melody said, hurriedly. Her face was already red and puffy as if from exhaustion. “I need to baby proof everything in my room.”

“He's not a baby,” Lonnie called out, but by this point she was only saying it to the swinging kitchen door. She turned to her husband. “The kid is five,” she said. “True. He’s a walking drool-pit of disaster, but how much damage could he really do?”

“I think this is a wise move on her part.” Bernie cleaned his daughter's plate by wiping it up with a piece of toast as though it were a dish rag. “Maybe we should start doing the same.”

Lonnie reached over and kissed Bernie on the nose. “Fine,” she said. “You can start by dirty-proofing the dishes.”

Bernie laughed sarcastically to himself. “I’m being serious here.”

“You're both being ridiculous,” Lonnie told him, stacking the plates and dishes neatly in the sink for her husband. She then handed him a bottle of soap, a washcloth and a towel. “Also, I shouldn't really need to coddle you by bringing you all of the supplies.”

Bernie rose from the table and grunted loudly as he took the two steps to the sink. He then turned on the water and began to fill a small, brown tub. “Two words,” he said, not bothering to turn to his wife. “Boba Fett Collector's Plate.”

Lonnie laughed. “Your math skills are about as good as your character assessments.”

Bernie shook his head. “Totally besides the point,” he said. “The boy is a menace, and that plate has yet to be replaced.”

“It was an accident, Bernie,” Lonnie said. “And it wasn't like that Star Wars plate was a family heirloom. I'm sure you'll find a replacement Bilbo Foot at a garage sale someday.” She came from behind and wrapped her arms around his chest. “Just think of the thrill you'll experience when you do!” She kissed him on the back of the head. “You'll probably even tweet about it.”

Bernie turned around to look at his wife through small slits in his face. “Bilbo Foot? Really? And don’t patronize me, lady. I have the death sentence on several systems.”

Lonnie laughed, and snapped Bernie with a towel. A sharp whack! filled the air, and a pain similar to that of a bee sting (Bernie's words), now occupied his once comfortably pain free backside.

The two then chased each other through the house until Melody yelled out for them to stop being so weird.

Bernie, grumbling under his breath, and then begrudgingly returned to his sink.

“Why do we have so many dirty dishes after one breakfast?!”

“Because you didn't do them last night like I told you.”

Bernie shook his head. “Well, regardless of how it happened....I suggest while Jimmy's here, we stick to paper plates and plastic silverware.”

Lonnie placed her hands on her hips. “I hope you both are not going to be like this when that poor little boy's here. I don't want you making him feel guilty about that one little mistake.”

“You're only saying that because he didn't break any of your stuff.”

“It's probably because you were making him nervous. Every time he moved, your eyes would get huge, and then you'd start to make that “yip” sound.

Bernie's eyes narrowed. “Yip sound?”

“Yeah,” she said, smiling evilly. “Like a little dog barking at the neighbors. Although in your case, I assume it was some unconscious response.”

“Okay,” Bernie said, grabbing the drying towel from her. “I get the point.”

Lonnie raised up her hands in acquiescence. “But by all means, put your precious collectibles away for a day or two. Just don't go nuts if he breaks a cup. I don't want him traumatized more than he already is.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Hound from Hell

by BMB Johnson

Scene 2

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