Being sound asleep, I failed to catch the streak of light that illuminated my room. However, the ensuing “Kra-Ka-DOOOOOOM” of thunder demanded its respect, jarring me out of my peaceful dream of tender kisses from voluptuous 70s blaxploitation film star Pam Grier. My brothers quickly jumped out of bed and almost tackled each other as they darted through the door, towards our parents’ room. Hoping to ignore and brave anything else the 2 a.m. storm conjured, I turned on my side, wrapping my pillow around my head, covering ears. Through my closed eyes, I picked up the next warning flash which was immediately followed by the thunder’s second declaration of power:
“Did you hear me boy? I said Krispety-Krunchity-Krap-Yo-Pants-DOOOOOM!!!“
I silently acknowledged that it had won as I joined my older sister Denise in the hallway on the short journey to see mom and dad. We created a wedge between the two of them as we joined our brothers, collectively piling on top and inbetween, all trembling in fear.
Somehow my father managed to make his way to a seated position before leaving the bed and exiting the room. Cool! Dad was going to go outside and beat up Thunder and Lightning. Yaaay! If anyone could do it, HE could!
Nothing doing. Wishful thinking. But he had an even better solution.
He returned to the room with my sister’s mattress and covers, which he placed on the floor, alongside their bed. He left again and returned with my brothers’ shared mattress, which he also placed on the floor at the foot and perpendicular to his bed. My mother climbed her way out and reset the sheets as he left and returned with pillows in arms.
He didn’t have to say a word. We rolled off of their bed, spilling onto the floor mattresses in sets of two: Terry & Craig (because they slept together) on one and me & Denise on the other.
And there we were, huddled up with each other as the thunder roared ineffectively against the protective bubble created by Kenneth and Lenora Davis. This was THEIR room, where the rest of nature was powerless and damn-near silent. The bowling tournament in the clouds raged on…
But it didn’t matter. With each explosion of light and sound, we curled up comfortably, listening to our father snore through it all. Funny, he could sleep through that but was up and moving with my great-great-grandfather’s rusty civil war pistol at the slightest tiptoe of a ninja mouse.
Like many song lyrics say, “we made it through the storm” and slept soundly until morning. An otherwise terrifying ordeal, through the simplest act, became yet another family-unifying moment. We weren’t babies anymore, but we were all cubs of my father and mother’s pride. And it was beautiful. Indescribably beautiful.
Of course there were storms in the following weeks, all of them quite tolerable. But it wasn’t long before one figured it was time to attack the Davis household again, and attack, it did.
Laugh if you want, it actually said “King Kong”. You weren’t there, so HUSH!
“Bring the mattresses, y’all!” my mother yelled invitingly as we excitedly jumped up, grabbing pillows. We took both mattresses out of our own room because Denise and I shared hers the first time and she hadn’t since quite forgiven me for the Fart Fest under the covers. There was no way she was going to let me sleep under HER covers again, even though she’d been known to produce a few “putrid poots” of her own.
Lesson for the day: Women don’t “fart”, they “POOT”. Or so they say. Either way, her flatulence still smelled like lemon-scented winos and old encyclopedias.
Anyway, she was stuck with me because I was the lesser of three evils. My brothers’ combined mushroom clouds were the justification for Garrett Morgan’s Gas Mask invention.
Thunder and lightning, not so frightening. Thanks, Mom. Dad.
These days, when it storms, I laugh. I smile. I think nothing but good thoughts as I look back on those times. It was just another way that our family solidified the foundation that my parents had established. We were safe, we were happy and we were together. I continue to smile as I think of the many times my own four sons came running to the master bedroom in my house, dragging their mattresses and seeking refuge from the storm. But it didn’t end there. Sometimes, on quiet nights, they still came. Sometimes, they did it just to do it. Just so we could all be together. It was a wonderful time that I’ll always cherish.
Especially knowing they never once crowded their parents’ King-sized island, depriving us of rollover slapping, wiggle room and a comfortable sleep…
…also because MY gas attacks had evolved over time and were now the greatest thunder claps, correction, BOOTY claps, of them all. And I haven’t even begun to talk about the snoring. And not just mine.
But that’s a story for another day…
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