Tag: vacuum

Charlie’s Room: A Hiking Guide

Yet again, Charlie read the entry in the guide book out loud. “… beyond the footbridge, the trail descends, switching back and forth along the sides of the adjacent hills…”

Isaac smiled and looked down at the book they were reading as a bedtime story. He hadn’t read any of it, because Charlie was busy reading to himself, excited about the hike.

“…and then we get to the water fall. We’ll have a picnic there, right?” Charlie asked.

“That’s right. Now it’s time to go to bed.” Isaac put the book back into its place on the shelf.

“What?” Charlie sat up and looked down from his loft bed. “But we haven’t read a story yet. We always read a story.”

“We read the story of tomorrow’s hike,” Isaac said.

“That’s not the same thing.” Charlie crossed his arms. “Besides. I read that. You have to be the one who read the bedtime story. It’s the rules.”

“I don’t remember there being any bedtime story rules.” Isaac chuckled as he stood up.

“There’s rules, because that’s how we always do it. I won’t get to sleep without a bedtime story, and then I’ll be tired for the hike tomorrow.”

“It’s late,” Isaac said. “I’ll turn the light out and let you try to sleep. In a half hour, I’ll check on you. If you’re still awake, I’ll read you a few pages.”

“I’ll get to bed quicker if you read to me now.”

“We’ll see.” Isaac turned out the light and left the room. When he returned fifteen minutes later and peeked inside the room, Charlie was already asleep.

The next morning, Charlie was the first one awake. He ran around the house, filling the end of Isaac’s dreams with herds of elephants. As he’d been dreaming of building card towers, it was an odd way to end things.

Isaac shuffled down the hallway in his pajamas and looked at the bulging backpack Charlie was carrying looped over one shoulder. “It sounded like you were running a 5k inside the house. What did you put in your bag?”

“Stuff I’ll need.” Charlie held out the backpack, and Isaac looked inside.

“First aid kit, sunscreen, board game, towel, swimsuit, change of clothes…” He dug through the bag. “You won’t need all this for a day hike. We won’t be swimming, and there won’t be time for board games or card games or writing letters.”

“I was thinking maybe on the drive there…”

Isaac frowned. “You get car sick.”

“Fine, fine.” Charlie held out his arms for the back pack. “I’ll go through all this again. Are you sure we won’t go swimming?”

“It’s not safe to swim there.”

Charlie sighed and put his swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes in a pile. He added the games and the writing materials. “The guide doesn’t say all the stuff you can’t do.“

“Maybe there were too many things to mention.”

Charlie grinned. “Like baking cookies? Or going surfing?”

“Or playing golf or vacuuming or planting sunflowers…” Isaac added.

“Or petting dinosaurs or going ice skating or building a house…”

“Or forging a sword or piloting a UFO or traveling through time…”

Marianne shuffled into the living room, still in her pajamas. “Are you trying to pick a movie to watch? I thought we were going hiking today.” She looked down at the piles of things on the floor. “You know we can’t go swimming, right?”

“Or vacuuming or surfing,” Charlie said, kicking at the pile with his swimsuit. “The hiking guide wasn’t very helpful.”

“Vacuuming? Who would go vacuuming out in the woods?” Marianne shook her head. “I’m going to go get dressed. Can you clean up the stuff here?”

Charlie looked up at Isaac. “So what do I need to bring on a hike?”

“Am I your hiking guide now?”

“Well, you seem to know more about what I don’t need than the book did.”

“Honestly, I think you have most of what you need, except for the water and the picnic food. Let your mom and I take care of that.”

“Wow. I guess didn’t need a hiking guide.”

“Well, I think it made a nice bedtime story.”

Charlie frowned and zipped up his backpack. “No. I want a real story tonight.” He looped the bag over one shoulder and started picking up the piles of extra things.

Isaac picked up a few things to help put away. “Fair enough. We’ll save the hiking guide for special occasions.”

The Clock with a House in Its Walls

Once there was a very large clock. It was a clock tower, really, the kind that towers over the buildings around it and has gears inside that would make lovely traffic circles. With how tall the clock tower was, I suppose it wasn’t entirely surprising that a house could fit inside.

What may seem surprising was that anyone wanted to live there at all. The clock chimed loudly every hour from sun up to sun down. The neighboring buildings were well insulated, but the poor pedestrians near the tower when it chimed usually complained that their ears rang for at least an hour afterward.

It was ten times worse inside the tower. The sound echoed off the walls and multiplied until even the gears started to vibrate and hum. Living inside the clock tower would be dangerous, unless you were willing to leave for a short time every hour.

So, why did anyone want to live there? Rent was cheap. Very, very cheap. Since the people in the house kept an eye on the clock, they lived there for free.

Free rent in the middle of the city? The Smith family was willing to overlook a few minor problems. Plus, there were no annoying neighbors, or any neighbors at all, and rats and pigeons never stayed long. Neither did any annoying guests.

Living inside the clock tower gave their parties and get-togethers a definite time limit. Everyone learned to be punctual, very punctual. No one overstayed their welcome twice if they stayed behind when their hosts ran out the door, down the stairs, and across the street before the clock started to chime.

And so all was going quite well for the Smith family in the clock tower, until one day, their mostly quiet life was interrupted by a visitor who didn’t mind the noise at all. They had the misfortune to be haunted by a ghost who decided that he could almost feel the vibrations when the clock chimed. As a ghost, he missed being able to feel things, so he decided to stay.

In-between the hourly chiming, the ghost chattered endlessly about all the things he missed about being alive. He was a lonely ghost, and was delighted to find a new audience that only ran away from him once an hour. The poor Smith family wasn’t sure that they could handle this new inconvenience.

But the rent was better than cheap. Free rent in the middle of the city is nearly impossible to find. And the ghost wasn’t unfriendly. He was just noisy and glowed in the dark.

They got used to the ghost. After a while, his endless tales became mostly background noise. He never stopped to listen to replies, so he had no idea that no one was listening to him, either. The way he glowed in the dark was fine too, kind of like a large, person-shaped nightlight.

However, things weren’t quite back to normal. Fewer people came to visit. A noisy ghost was a bit too much on top of the hourly evacuations. The Smiths mostly didn’t mind.

That was until the ghost invited all his friends to move in, too. That was much less fine. One ghost didn’t make that much noise or glow excessively. A houseful? Not so great.

Even though they didn’t really take up any space, the house felt crowded. The noise level was constantly at a dull roar. The house was lit up by the equivalent of a set of stadium lights.

If you have ever tried to sleep while attending a football game and sitting in the stands of the team that was winning, you understand the difficulties they were facing. The Smith family decided to hold a family meeting.

They invited the ghosts, as they would likely be attending anyway. Some of the ghosts stopped talking as the Smiths sat down at the table. Mr. Smith cleared his throat. “We would like to talk about an important problem. This house is much too noisy and too bright.” The few quiet ghosts shrugged and started talking again.

“Do you think we could vacuum them up?” the smallest Smith child asked. “I saw an ad for a vacuum that could vacuum up anything.”

The Smiths had no carpet, so they didn’t have a vacuum. But, Mr. Smith thought it was worth a try. The next time they ran out to avoid the clock chiming, they bought the vacuum from the ad.

It really could vacuum up everything.

Once their house was back to as normal as a house inside a clock can be, they buried the vacuum in a graveyard late at night. They said several prayers over the grave, just in case. And they returned home to a quiet, empty house.

And they lived happily ever after, rent free and ghost free. The End.

Charlie’s Room: Flying Brooms

Halloween was over, but Charlie’s costume was still hanging in his closet. “I can be a dinosaur all year,” he said. “Not just on Halloween. Dinosaurs can be part of any holiday. I can be a dinosaur on Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years… It’s not like vampires or pumpkins or witches. Those are just for Halloween.”

Isaac put the book he was reading on the shelf. “It’s good that you picked such a versatile costume.”

“Yeah. It would be different if witches and wizards were real, though.” Charlie snuggled into his pillow. “If they were real, I’d get a flying broom for my costume and I’d use it every day, not just holidays. Do you think they’d ever invent flying brooms?”

Isaac settled back into his chair. “I’m not sure about flying brooms, but I saw a flying vacuum cleaner once.”

Charlie laughed. “Dad, that’s just silly. There’s no such thing as flying vacuums.”

Raising an eyebrow, Isaac asked, “Did you want to hear the story or not?”

Charlie stopped laughing. “Please tell me the story. I’m sure it’s five hundred percent true. Maybe even six hundred percent.”

“Let’s not get crazy. It’s only two or three hundred percent true.” Isaac and Charlie laughed, and then Isaac sat up a little straighter in the chair. “It all happened a long time ago on a dark and stormy night. I was driving home from a business trip, but it was raining so hard that I could barely see the road.”

“How long ago?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know. Several years at least,” Isaac said. “You weren’t in school yet, and I called you to tell you goodnight before I started driving.”

“So what happened?”

Isaac tapped his cheek with a finger. “Let’s see. The rain was pouring down and it was scary. I had to drive really slow so I wouldn’t drive off the road, and I couldn’t even tell if there were any other cars on the road. I knew I couldn’t keep driving like that.”

“What did you do? Charlie asked. “Did you find a place to stay? A hotel or a haunted house or something?”

“I decided to pull off to the side of the road and wait until the storm calmed down.” Isaac looked out the window. Moonlight glowed from a clear sky, so different from the storm he was describing. “Rain hammered on the roof of the car and the wind shook it. The sky lit up briefly, followed by the crack of thunder. Luckily, I was safe and dry in my car. I felt like I was all alone in the middle of the woods and that there was no one for miles and miles around. In some ways it was oddly peaceful.”

“There is a distinct lack of flying vacuums in this story,” Charlie said. “I feel cheated.”

Isaac laughed. “I’m getting there. As I said, I was in the middle of a terrible storm, but I felt safe and warm and peaceful, and so I fell asleep.”


“Really. And when I woke up, the storm was gone and the sky was clear, and a full moon was shining down, just like tonight.”

Charlie scooted to the edge of his bed to look out the window. “Wow. That’s pretty.”

Isaac nodded. “It is. And as I looked around, I realized that I must have made a wrong turn somewhere, because I had no idea where I was. So, I started my car and made a U-turn. And, as I paused, looking down the road to see if there were any turns ahead, something flew across the road, high enough to brush through the treetops.”

“Was it…?”

Isaac nodded. “That’s right. It was someone riding a flying vacuum cleaner. I only saw it for a few seconds, but I’m certain that’s what it was. The person riding it was all bundled up in a yellow raincoat with a matching hat, so I don’t know what they looked like, but the vacuum glowed in the light of the moon, and even from inside the car, I could hear it making that vroomy sort of vacuum sound.”

“But it wasn’t plugged in!” Charlie protested. “That doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t have been making any sounds.”

“It shouldn’t have been flying either, I guess, if you go by what normal vacuums do,” Isaac pointed out. “But, it was flying and vrooming, like a big metal purring cat. If big metal purring cats could fly, of course.”

Charlie laughed. “That’s so silly. I would like a flying broom, though.”

“I think it sounds a bit uncomfortable,” Isaac said.

“I’d add a bicycle seat, I think.” Charlie settled back under his blankets. “But since there aren’t any flying brooms, I’m glad I dressed up as a dinosaur. That’s what I’ll be thankful for at Thanksgiving.”

“You can be thankful for lots of things at Thanksgiving.” Isaac stood up and turned out the lights. “We can make a list later.”

“Okay. ‘Night, Dad. I love you.”

“Good night. I love you too.”