The neighbor’s tree was still blooming. It smelled lovely, but the pollen set off Isaac’s allergies if he spent too long outside. So, once again he volunteered to do the vacuuming while Marianne and Charlie weeded the garden.
Isaac sneezed as he walked into the front room. Charlie forgot to close the door again and all of that pollen-laced air was blowing inside. Isaac hurried over to close the door and sighed. He hoped Charlie didn’t inherit his allergies. They were no fun. He took the vacuum out of the closet and started running it in neat rows.
He started to sing along as he vacuumed. The vacuum kept up its steady one note accompaniment, until it ran over something that made the vacuum crackle and hiss. Isaac felt patted the poor thing on the back. “Did it go down the wrong tube?” he asked. The vacuum started to hum again.
“I guess you’re feeling better,” Isaac said. “Now where were we?” He turned the corner into Charlie’s room and stopped.
The vacuum hummed a little louder as it stood in place a little too long. Isaac shut it off and continued to stare. One of Charlie’s rain boots was floating in the air. It had a jagged hole in the heel.
As he watched, a piece disappeared and the hole got a little wider. Little bits of rain boot dropped to the floor. Isaac took a step closer. “Hello?” he said.
The floating rain boot moved further away. On the floor behind it, a hoof print was imprinted into a tee-shirt that Charlie left lying next to his dresser. Isaac took another step closer. The boot fell to the floor and the tee-shirt shuffled back.
Then he heard a thump thump of footsteps. The bookshelf swayed and a book fell. The footsteps thump thumped again. The clothes in the closet swayed and then hung at odd angles.
“Hello?” Isaac said again. He picked up the rain boot and frowned. Charlie had grown out of them, but he had planned to pass them on to the little neighbor down the street. Ah well, there was nothing he could do now.
The clothes in the closet swayed again, and Charlie’s new blue sneakers rose in the air by the shoelaces. “Not those, please,” Isaac said, stepping forward. The shoe dropped, and the clothes lurched to one side.
Isaac stepped forward slowly, pausing between each step. He held out the boot, trying to speak in a soothing voice. “Wouldn’t you like this nice boot back?”
The clothes shook. “Naaaaaa,” a voice said loudly.
Isaac stopped and dropped his hand. “Fair enough,” he said. “How about an apple?”
“Naaaaaa,” the voice said.
It sounded like a sheep or a goat, but there was nothing there. Isaac slowly reached out a hand. The clothes twisted again, and he heard footsteps and felt something brush by him.
Isaac closed the closet door. He looked around. He had no idea where it went. He needed help.
He went to get his phone, when the doorbell rang. He changed directions and answered the door. A young man in a lab coat was waiting on the front step. “Hello?” Isaac said.
“Hi,” the young man said. “Have you noticed anything unusual recently?”
“What do you mean?” Isaac asked.
The young man sighed. “I know this sounds crazy, but I’ve lost my invisible goat, and I’ve tracked it down to this neighborhood.”
“Invisible goat?” Isaac asked.
“I know, I know,” the young man said. “But believe me, I really have an invisible goat. Would you mind signing a non-disclosure form?”
“I think your goat is inside, eating my son’s rain boots,” Isaac said.
“Really?” The young man looked thrilled.
“Yes, come inside. I think it got in when my son went out,” Isaac stepped out of the way and sneezed.
“I’ll replace the boots,” the young man said. He followed Isaac down the hall. The rain boot was floating in the air again in the middle of Charlie’s room. The young man marched forward, pulling a leash out of his pocket.
The boot dropped, but the young man darted forward and hooked the leash onto nothing. It floated in the air. “Come on, time to go home,” the young man said.
He gave two tugs on his end of the leash. The other end started to move forward. “Naaaaaa,” a voice said.
The young man picked up the torn up boot and put it in his pocket. “I’ll be back tomorrow with the new boots and the papers for you to sign. Please forget you ever saw… I mean heard about this goat,” the young man said. And he left, the end of the leash floating in the air behind him.