Up All Night
By Landon Knepp
“The moose is back, shug,” Ron said with some fanfare. He’d see them out in the woods from time to time, but this was the first one to venture into their backyard. And it was his third visit.
“Well shoo him off before he has his way with my cherry trees!”
“But shug…” he began to protest, but let it go with a sigh. He’d just finished microwaving a bowl of Armour chili. A second microwaving always gave it a queer tang.
Shug was still in her SpongeBob pajamas, watching an episode of Mad About You on VHS. It was the one where they get locked out of their apartment.
Ron grabbed an aluminum pot and a serving spoon to scare off their visitor. The latch was stuck when he pulled on the sliding backdoor. He tried to fiddle with it quietly so shug wouldn’t hear and realize he hadn’t fixed it yet. Luckily it was the part where the Buchmans meet John Astin on the elevator, so the show had her rapt. When he stepped outside and gave the pot a couple good whacks, the moose just turned his head and stared. Ron took a few steps closer and banged the pot a few more times. Nothing.
All out of ideas, he turned back toward the house in defeat. But then he heard a voice call out, “Dickhead.”
Ron whirled around to scold the foul-mouthed youths, but it was still only the moose staring back. Probably just the TV, he reasoned. Though he’d seen that episode at least a dozen times and knew it was free of that kind of talk. He shook it off and went again for the door. “You heard me.”
Carefully looking all around to make sure there were no neighbors within earshot, Ron replied, “Now just what’s your problem here?”
The moose didn’t answer. Good and truly frustrated, Ron turned and marched straight to the backdoor. No provocation was going to stop him this time. But when he pulled on the handle, the latch was stuck. And shug was now fast asleep on the couch. He could pound on the glass to wake her, but she looked so peaceful. Craning his neck and peering into the kitchen, he saw that his bowl of Armour chili no longer had even the faintest hint of steam. “Ha! Dickhead.”
It a flash of tantrum that he instantly regretted, Ron chucked the serving spoon at the towering intruder, missing his target by several feet. “Sorry,” he said. “You’re being very rude, but that was still uncalled for.”
Ron walked over to the moose, whose antlers were beginning to shed, giving them the appearance of the rotting tree. It didn’t so much as flinch as he approached. “You know what?” Ron began. “If you wanna snack on the cherry trees, you help yourself. Shug will get over it.”
“Thanks, man,” said the moose.
Ron had never stood so tall.