prompt: Where are you? Also, please see the Author’s Note at the end.
Joey loved playing hide-and-seek. He was even willing to be “it” if that was what it took to get someone to play with him. Of course, he preferred to hide than to seek. This was because he was really and truly a hiding expert. More often than not, people would give up and have to call, “Olly, olly all in freeeeee” which would bring Joey, giggling, from his hiding place. Joey’s grandma and grandpa were always willing to play and always willing to be the seekers and Joey loved nothing more than an afternoon of game after game of hide-and-seek all around their house.
Joey’s exploits as the hider became stories Grandpa often told at the supper table after such an afternoon. Grandpa made every game sound like high adventure, but honestly, Joey’s hiding skills didn’t require any exaggeration to make a good story.
“Wait until you hear where Joey hid this afternoon,” said Grandpa. “When Grandma and I finished counting, we decided to search each room together so we could start at the perimeter and work our way into the middle.”
Grandpa had explained to Joey what perimeter meant earlier in the afternoon and Joey grinned to hear the new word again.
“We had already searched the spare bedroom, our bedroom, both bathrooms, the dining room, and the living room,” Grandpa said. As he spoke, he ticked the rooms off on his fingers. “I made a point of checking behind the sofa because, you may remember, even though Joey has become such a big guy lately, he was still able to slide into that little space between it and the wall. Remember how we couldn’t find him when he did that?” Grandpa shook his head in remembered amazement.
“Tell them what happened next, Grandpa,” Joey said, bouncing in his seat. He was so pleased with this story, he’d completely forgotten about his plate of Grandma’s chicken and dumplings, even though it was his absolute favorite.
“I’m getting to it,” Grandpa assured him. He looked around the table at the family. “We just couldn’t find him. We had already agreed the garage was out of bounds, so the only room left was the kitchen. Joey is much too big to hide in the drawers and he can’t fit in the cabinets without moving out some of the pots and pans. Grandma checked the pantry closet and he wasn’t in there, either.” Grandpa threw up his hands in emphasis. “Well, we had to call all-in-free and do you know where this clever guy was hiding?” He paused a moment and when no one guessed, he delivered the triumphant conclusion. “He was in the pull-out cabinet where we keep the garbage can! Joey put the can out in the garage while we were counting, hopped in the cabinet in its place, and used the hardware to pull it shut from inside.”
Well, after that episode, everyone was pretty sure Joey had hit his zenith. No hiding place could ever be as clever and difficult to figure out as that one had been. Everyone believed that until Joey topped it.
“I never thought he’d beat hiding in the garbage cabinet,” Grandpa said one evening at supper. “I really thought that was the most imaginative hiding place in the house. But Joey sure proved me wrong this afternoon.”
Grandpa described searching the house, not even omitting low shelves and corners thought too small for a five year old boy. Drawers were opened, curtains pulled aside, closets opened and clothing parted, all to no avail.
“Well, once again,” said Grandpa, “Grandma and I had to call all-in-free, even though we searched absolutely everywhere for nearly half an hour. So, I shouted out, ‘Olly, olly, all in free’ and that’s when Grandma heard Joey laughing from the spare bedroom closet.” Grandpa looked stern. “Now, you all know we had checked that closet. We checked that closet twice. But, when we looked in again, we could hear Joey laughing and my old army duffle bag was propped up in the corner.” Grandpa paused. “It was wiggling. Joey was inside the duffle bag! He stepped in, pulled it on like a sack in a sack race, drew the top mostly shut, and leaned into the corner so it looked like he was propped there.”
Joey was laughing again, just as he had that afternoon, as the whole family exclaimed in surprise and awe. Grandpa was chuckling, too.
“Joey did need some help getting back out of that one,” he said. “But you have to admit, this was really his best hiding spot ever.” He grinned and winked at Joey. “Yep. Our Joey has hidden talent.”
Author’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this is not an entirely fictional account. My son was, when he was small, a master hider when playing hide-and-seek. He did love to play it by the hour and his grandparents did often indulge him. At different times, he did get himself into the pull-out garbage bin (he needed help getting out again) and he did put on Grandpa’s duffle bag like a costume and prop himself in the corner of the spare room closet. His amazing antics only ended when he found he really was too large to safely get into (and out of again) some of the crazy spaces he favored.