An excerpt from an as yet unsold novel, My Father My Friend.
The nice thing about my dad was that he was not only my father, he was also my best friend. I hope you’re one of the lucky ones who has a dad like that. If he’s magic, too, like mine, then you’re doubly lucky.
I guess I better explain about his being magic. He was that, but not quite the way you might think. It’s not that my dad could fly, or make rabbits appear from a hat. His magic wasn’t that kind, at least most of the time. He could do what they call slight-of-hand magic tricks pretty well, but that’s not what I mean, either, and I’ll talk more about that later. The kind of magic I mean is different. It’s the kind that comes from within, and makes every day exciting; it’s the magic that can make something as simple and normal as going to bed into an adventure.
The first time I remember something strange happening was when I met Floorzan. I must have been about four years old, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was in the living room of our house, just lying on the rug and feeling pretty good. We had just come back from my grandmom’s house, and I always loved to go there. My grandpop is a pretty neat guy, and grandmom always has lots of good things to eat, starting with a chocolate kiss, which I thought was the greatest food in the whole world. This day they gave a new toy, which I thought was wonderful, and which I was examining. It’s funny that I can remember everything else that happened, but I can’t remember what the toy was.
Then, from the heating vent on the floor, came a really strange yodeling noise. At the time I thought someone, or something was inside the floor. You might wonder why I was fooled so easily, but I was four years old, and for me, strange things happened all the time. After all, television sets and telephones talked, why not floors? For a while, I just stared at the vent, wondering what was going on. After all, it’s a surprise when something you always thought was a quiet part of the house begins to make noise. It’s more of a surprise when it begins to talk, which the vent soon began to do. When the first sound had repeated itself several times, I hurried over to the vent for a look. I was a little nervous about what I might find, but figured the vent, itself, would keep whatever was making the noises safely inside the floor. Besides, no one ever said the vent could be dangerous, and they surely would have if it was, right?
I strained to see into the vent, but it was pretty dark in there. In any case, before I could do much in the way of checking, a really weird voice said, “Hello?” You can bet that got my face back from the vent with a jerk. I would guess my eyebrows probably tried to climb into my hairline, too.
I suppose I should have been scared, and maybe I was for a moment or two, but now, I only remember being surprised and intrigued. In the interest of establishing communications I said a friendly “Hello?” I was still a bit unsure.
“Who’s that?” asked the voice, as though it had been expecting someone else.
“I’m David,” I informed the voice, intrigued, and wondering what it was. “Who are you?” I asked, turning the question around.
“I’m Floorzan,” the voice informed me, continuing with, “I’m hunting meeses. Where are you? I can’t see you.”
That set me thinking. In the first place I didn’t know what a meese could be. Added to that, I really wanted to ask the creature what it was. Four year olds aren’t able to handle too much at once, though, so I concentrated on the problem of where I was, informing Floorzan, “I’m here.”
My statement wasn’t too much of a help, I suppose, because he asked, “Where’s here?”
That, also, set me to thinking. I had never given much thought to the idea that the term “here” might not mean the same thing to someone else as it did to me, or that it wouldn’t tell them too much about where I was, especially if they couldn’t see me. I must have waited too long, because Floorzan prompted me with, “Are you in the floor?”
That made me giggle, that he could be so silly. “No,” I said, laughing, “Of course not.” Then, I had a thought and stopped laughing. I leaned close to the vent to ask, “Are you… do you live in the floor?” That was an intriguing possibility.
“Sure,” he answered. “Doesn’t everyone? Where else would—” He stopped, abruptly, and sounded scared as he said, “You’re not… not a Wallzan, are you?”
By then I was having a wonderful time so I lay down next to the vent and rested my chin on the back of my hands, asking, “What’s a wallzan?” It sounded as though there were a whole host of things about my house I didn’t know.
The voice first asked if I was sure I wasn’t a wallzan, then explained, “A wallzan is a tall thin creature who lives in the walls. Wallzans scare me, because they’re mean and rotten, and they eat floorzans whenever they can. That’s why I never get close to the walls, and why I use the vents to get from one floor to the other.” He was quiet for a moment, then asked, “What do you look like? Are you handsome?”
With four year old brilliance, I said, “I look like me, David, and of course I’m handsome. What do you look like?” Like all four year olds, I knew I was good looking, everyone told me so, especially my mom and grandmom.
Floorzan thought about that for a while, and then said, “Well, I’m very handsome, too. I have ten beautiful legs, and—”
I couldn’t let that statement pass uncommented on, so I interrupted with, “You have ten legs?”
“Of course. How many legs do you have?” He sounded surprised that I would ask.
“I have two,” I told him, firmly.
There was wonder in his voice when he finally spoke. “You have only two legs? How horrible. Did a wallzan catch you and eat the rest off?” He sounded as though he was really sorry for me, but I laughed.
“No,” I said, still giggling. “Everybody has two legs.”
“I don’t,” he pointed out. Then, in a voice that was just as assured as mine, he said, “I have ten, just like everyone else.” There was a sudden frown in his voice, when he said, “Hey, what are you? Aren’t you a floorzan?”
There I was on firm ground. I knew I was a boy, and told him so, but he only asked what a boy was, and when I told him I was a human, he asked what a human was. That had me stumped, but before I could say anything in response, he suddenly said, “I have to go now, I hear a meese.”
With that, he began the strange yodeling sound again, sounding as though he was going away. I called, but there was no answer.
Several days passed before I heard from Floorzan. This time I was in my bedroom, investigating the underside of my bed. It was much more interesting than the underside of the dresser, which was just unpainted wood, with scribbled pencil marks here and there. The bed had an interesting cloth that covered the bottom, and if you pushed up on it with a fingertip there was nothing on the other side, so it just stretched upward. There were holes marking the spots where I pushed a pencil through, trying to write on it, and I was wondering what was on the other side. I was trying to decide if I should try to spread one of the holes with my fingers, so I could find out, when, suddenly, from the bedroom heating vent, came the call of the Floorzan. By then I pretty much knew it was my dad. Impressed with my own deductive powers, I hurried to the vent, laughing as I said, “Hi Daddy.” I hadn’t figured out how he did it, but still, I knew it was him.
“Daddy?” asked the voice. “What’s a daddy? And who are you? I was looking for the David creature. Have you seen it?” He sounded confused, and I wondered if I could have been wrong about it being my father.
I was about to insist, when I realized that if I did, and I was right, the game would be over. I was having too much fun for that, so instead, I said, “You’re silly, a daddy is somebody who takes care of you. Do you have a daddy?”
As though I hadn’t questioned his reality, he went on with the game, deliberately skeptical of my assumptions—forcing me to think for myself, and challenging my tiny intellect to solve the problems he posed. Over the next few years I came to know and love Floorzan, in all his many permutations. There was Carzan, the creature who lived under the car seat, and Frank, the vent cleaning beast, who only came on Thursdays. There were many other creatures who lived under my floor, and I loved them all.
I never was able to catch my father at it, though I tried pretty hard for a time. He always heard me coming, or guessed by my silence that I was stalking him, and when I charged into the room where he was, he was always well away from the room’s heater vent, reading, or pretending to be asleep. If I mentioned Floorzan, he always denied that such a creature existed, claiming I had an overactive imagination.
Of course my friends thought my father was crazy, if he did it when they were visiting, but they all loved it too. I can’t wait until I have kids so I can do the same thing to them.
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Presented for no special reason other than that my last blog reminded me of the events that led to the writing of this story. In our house, Floorzan was a member of the family.
When my own children were young, the things presented in this and other sections of this story were part of the family’s daily life, though I was not nearly so benevolent and wise as Davy’s dad—nor did the events occur in as conveniently dramatic a way. Still, it was great fun, and if, you’ve children of your own, and hot-air heating, something that might be fun to try.
I suppose it also explains why my children tended to avoid dark places and hide when I came into the room.
I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, and got here from Facebook, pressing the “Share” button at the page bottom will let others know the story is here, and give them the chance to read it, as well.
And if my little story pleased you, I’m glad. There are other stories posted, as well. You and others like you are the reason I write. If it did bring a moment of reading pleasure, take a moment to rate it. Feedback matters to me. And if you’re in the mood for something a bit longer. make a stop to look at my novels, and read the excerpts to see if they please, as well.