The rain stopped. Over the TV coverage of the storm I heard a voice calling from the other end of our home.
"I wish you would wipe off your shoes before you come in and out of the house! The floor is a mess."
Uh-oh. After it rains the boys and I always go outside, count the rainbows, splash around in the puddles, count the lizards basking in the road and if we're lucky a neighbor will zip through the water and splash us with his car. Getting soaked makes us happy. We leave so many muddy footprints on our living room floor it looks like a step diagram for ballroom dancers.
"Would you mind helping me mop?"
"I'll be right there - after I finish something - um - I'm working on. Outside. The rain stopped. I have to go work on it. Now. The thing I'm working on. Out back - outside."
I sprang through the back door and like my father and his father before him, I sought sanctuary in the yard. As a child I always wondered why dad spent my childhood raking the gravel in the driveway. He was a master when it came to appearing productive. If she paused from her exhausting burdens to peer out the kitchen window and I wasn't busier than a Cirque du Soleil juggler, I was doomed to do my fair share.
Listening for a tired, exasperated voice calling my name, I heard only the sound of a mop bucket filling with water. I hammered random objects on my workbench, dropped a wrench on my foot, spilled nails and gunned my power drill to create the illusion I was as busy as a bee on a Red Bull bender.
In spite of my clatter I heard an angel pleading, "Help me, sweetheart." A sugarcoated lariat tightened around my ankle and dragged me back to my responsibility.
That's how I ended up in our bedroom, wearing an apron, a feather duster in my holster, dutifully sweeping dust into a dustpan and thinking deep thoughts. Which cat left us the tiny mummified lizard head? Are those my toenail clippings? Dust bunnies look nothing like bunnies. How much floor cleaner do you have to huff to see bunnies?
I noticed she had left the room and was going through the archaeological dig that is Matthew's room. Packrats live in his closet and tarantulas nest in his hair.
This was my chance. Like Django I sneaked out through our bedroom door and scampered across the porch like a jackrabbit. I peered through the kitchen window.
Snow White must have moved onto another corner of our cabin. With no dwarves or bluebirds in sight, I slithered into our sparkling clean dining room, tiptoeing from dry tile to dry tile to - freshly mopped tile. I cursed as I slipped. Are those my muddy footprints?
I heard mopping, humming and my guilty heart pounding.
If Sherlock Better Holmes and Gardens sees this I'm dead. Distracted by a bowl of peanuts on the table, I sat down, cracked some shells and started munching while I sized up the scale of my disaster.
Mrs. Clean came in carrying a bucket of dirty brown water. The sight of me stopped her cold. Looking like a circus chimp I brush the peanut shells off my shirt and smiled my best "I have no idea how those footprints got there" smile. We looked down at the floor. We looked at each other. We looked back at the floor. She squinted at me.
I asked her," How's it going?"
She adds a vowel to the end of words when I'm in trouble.
There are three key lessons I have learned in life. "Don't tease rattlers"; "don't enter a wash when flooded"; and never ask this one, "Am I in trouble?" If you have to ask - you're in trouble.
I'm in trouble-uh.
My awesome telepathic powers kicked in. She was thinking, "If I were David's hands, what would I be doing right now?"
David's hands grabbed a mop. David's hands grabbed a bucket. David's hands went to work.
When we finished, Ellen said, "Our house looks beautiful. You did a great job, honey."
I feigned cheer and added, "I love cleaning the house - with you." Her eyes rolled like slot machine cherries.
With the sincerity of a misty-eyed Bill Clinton I said, "Things are so much easier when we work together." I bit my lower lip and smiled.
I volunteered to wring out the mops.
"You know this is futile, right? It's going to rain again."
Her eyebrows merged and turned up to form the letter "V".
"Am I in trouble?"
The house shook from the thunder overhead.
Contact editorial cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org