Not even once. Which meant everything was going to be okay. That’s what he told me before the big, scary man opened the door and took him out of my bedroom.
Okay, it all happened like this. I was laying down in my bed, right over there, listening to Daddy holler at Mommy downstairs. He usually does that every night when he thinks I’m sleeping. I tried to go to sleep, I really did, but all that hollering was keeping me awake. Then, all of a sudden, I heard somebody knocking at my window, which is pretty weird because I know people are supposed to knock on doors, but not windows!! I got up out of my bed and looked through the window. A man’s head was there, hanging upside down!! He smiled at me, and said, “Hi, kid. You mind if I come in?”
He asked, which was very nice of him, but Daddy always told me to be careful of strangers. “Why is your head upside down?” I asked him.
“Because I’m on the roof, that’s why,” he said, still smiling. “And it’s a little cold up here, could you let me in?”
“What are you doing on the roof?” I asked. Daddy always told me that it was impolite to ask a grown-up too many questions, but since he was at my window, I thought it was all right this time.
“Look, kid,” the man said, “I’ll tell you if you let me in, okay? And I have a surprise for you.”
I loved surprises, just like on Christmas and my birthday. “What kind of surprise?” I said, trying to see it through the window.
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore,” the man said, smiling bigger.
“All right,” I said, unlocking the window and pushing it up. The smiling man jumped in almost before I could move away, and quickly pulled something shiny out of his coat pocket. It was a gun, and I got very scared.
“Don’t be scared, kid. This is the surprise I had for you. It’s not a real gun, it’s pretend. Like a water pistol, you know about them?”
I always wanted a water pistol, and a nice, shiny one too, just like the man held in his hand. “Cool,” I said. “Can I hold it?”
“Not right now,” the man said, and then there was a shout from outside.
“Yo man, you in yet?”
The man in my room rushed back to the window, and made a hush sound with his mouth, just like Daddy did when he wanted me to be quiet. “Yeah, I’m in. Keep your voice down, you want us to get busted? Hurry up and get down here,” the man said.
I kept my eyes on the water pistol; it looked like it was a lot of fun to play with. I wished the man would let me at least touch it. “Who’s that?” I asked him.
The smiling man never stopped smiling. “That’s my friend. He wants to come in too, is that ok?”
Before I could say anything, another man jumped through my window. I didn’t like this man as much as the other one. He was big, and scary. And he didn’t smile. His eyes looked all around the room, then at me, then at his friend. “We doing this, or what?” he said.
“Yeah, give me a second,” the man with the shiny water pistol said, then kneeled down so his face was close to mine. His breath smelled funny, sort of like the mint toothpaste I used to brush my teeth, but too minty. I figured he must really like brushing his teeth. “Ok, kid, listen to me now. We’re going to play a game, all right? You ever play cops and robbers?”
“I love playing cops and robbers!!” I shouted. The man clapped one of his hands over my mouth.
“Good, good, but you have to be quiet, all right? Now, we’re going to be the robbers,” he said, pointing to himself and the scary guy, “and later, we’ll switch, how does that sound?”
It sounded pretty good to me. I didn’t feel like sleeping anyway. “Can I hold the gun?” I asked.
“When it’s your turn to be the robber, ok? Now, here’s what I want you to do, I want you to pretend like I’m holding you hostage, you know how to do that?”
I raised my arms high into the air, just like I’ve seen them do on TV. “That’s good, that’s very good,” the man said. “And I’ll point the gun at you, like this, and we’ll go downstairs so Mommy and Daddy can play, too.”
I was glad he wanted Mommy and Daddy to play along; maybe it would stop them from hollering at each other. “You ready?” the smiling man asked me, while his friend opened up my door.
“Sure!” I said, and all three of us walked out of my room and down the stairs, the man with the gun doing a really good job at keeping it pointed at my head. When we reached the living room, Daddy stopped yelling from the kitchen and I heard his footsteps coming toward us. “Sweetheart, I told you it was time to go to-“
Daddy stopped talking when he came into the living room and saw my new playmates. His mouth opened real wide, and his eyes got real big. My Daddy always makes the best funny faces. Mommy walked out of the kitchen and stood next to him, doing the same exact face. They both pretended to act real scared, and I was about to tell them that it was okay, that it was just pretend, but the scary man talked first. Did I say I didn’t like him too much?
“All right, folks,” he said. For some reason, he kept looking at Mommy for a long time, and he smiled for her. “This doesn’t have to be a big deal. We’re here for the usual-money, jewels, stuff like that. Any kind of trouble, and my friend here will get real trigger-happy, you know what I mean?”
The man holding the water pistol to my head laughed, pushing the gun closer to my head. It was hard, and very, very cold. My parents both gasped. “Please, don’t hurt her,” my father said. He should have been an actor, he said it so real.
That’s when the scary man took a bundle of rope out from inside his jacket and started tying my Daddy’s wrists and ankles up. Daddy just kept looking at me, and the gun. I think he wanted to play with it, too. But I had firsties, I called it. The scary guy didn’t tie Mommy up, he told her to sit down on the couch. She did, crying a little. I hate to see Mommy cry, but I knew it was fake; she was just acting, just like Daddy.
When the scary guy was done putting the rope around Daddy, the guy with the gun told him to bring him and me upstairs to my room. “But I want to play,” I told him. “Shut up, kid,” the guy told me, and he wasn’t smiling anymore. Now he kind of looked just like the scary guy.
“Do what he says, sweetheart,” my Daddy said.
“You shut up, too,” the guy who had tied him up said to him, then grabbed my Daddy and me and brought us back up the stairs and into my bedroom. He dragged my Daddy along, since he couldn’t walk with the ropes on his legs. When we got to my room, he threw Daddy down on the floor and told me to sit down. I did as he said, just like Daddy told me to, and he took out a little bit more of the rope and tied my arms behind my back, but left my legs alone.
“Please not the girl,” my Daddy said, rolling over so he could look up at me and the scary guy. The scary guy spit at my Daddy, which I didn’t think was too nice, and then we all heard the guy downstairs yell something, and my Mommy started crying more. Then there was a creaking sound, and Mommy started moaning. I thought she wasn’t feeling too good.
“That son of a-“ the guy in my room started to say, then stood up and slammed my door shut when he walked out. Daddy and I could hear him run down the stairs, and then there was more yelling. It sounded like it was between the two guys. It was quiet for a while, and then the creaking sound started again, and Mommy was moaning even louder.
Daddy’s face was getting real red every time Mommy made that sound, and he tried to get out of the ropes the guy had tied him up with, but he couldn’t do it. He looked at me, breathing real hard. “Everything’s going to be okay, Alexis,” he said. Alexis is me, by the way. “These men will just take what they want, and then they’ll leave us alone.”
I was going to ask Daddy if we were supposed to be the cops, when there was a loud bang from downstairs. I heard one of the guys laugh, and the other one say something, but I didn’t know what it was. Mommy wasn’t crying anymore, which was a good thing. I smiled, and said to Daddy, “Mommy’s feeling better. See? No more crying.”
Daddy looked at me. His face was really white and his lips were trembling. He was sweating a lot, too. I think he caught what Mommy had. “Alexis, I want you to listen to me, all right?” I nodded my head.
That’s when he told me about the screaming thing. He said, “This will all be over real soon, okay? I don’t want you to be scared, if Daddy goes downstairs, and you don’t hear me scream, that means everything’s going to be okay. You understand?”
“Sure,” I said. “Daddy?”
“What is it, sweetheart?”
“Do you think after the game is over, I can watch the Barney’s Christmas video?”
Daddy looked at me real strange, and started crying. I know he didn’t always like me watching that video over and over again, but I had never seen him act that way before. Usually he just did this rolling thing with his eyes.
That’s when the scary guy opened the door and came back into my bedroom. “Please, please,” my Daddy said to him, “please let the girl go. She’s just a child, for God’s sake!!” The guy didn’t say anything, he’s really not that nice at all, just picked up my Daddy and started carrying him to the door. Daddy looked at me the whole time before the guy took him out of the room and shut the door again. I think he wanted to make sure that I heard what he said about the screaming thing. He always looked at me that way when he wanted to make sure I heard something. I gave him a big smile and nodded my head. I would have given him a thumbs-up too, but I couldn’t, because my hands were tied.
After Daddy left, I was in my room alone again. I tried to whistle, but I still can’t do it like Mommy taught me. Maybe, someday, I’ll be real good at it. I thought I heard Daddy crying downstairs, which was still okay, because he wasn’t screaming. Then there was that loud bang again, and then another, and then it got quiet. Daddy wasn’t crying anymore, and Mommy hadn’t said anything for a long time. Maybe that banging sound made people go to sleep.
I heard footsteps on the stairs, and my door opened again. This time, it was the other guy, the guy who had smiled at me and wanted to give me the water pistol for a surprise. I relaxed a little, because I liked this guy better than the other one, especially since he was smiling again.
“Time to go downstairs, kid,” he told me. “We’re ready for you now.”
He helped me get up, and walked with me out the door. I couldn’t see the stairs real good, because somebody had turned all the lights off downstairs, and it was dark. But the smiling guy had a hand on my shoulder, watching me close to make sure I didn’t fall. I hope that they will at least let me turn the TV on, so I can watch my video.