Bucket of Bones

Have you ever had a kid that liked a certain food so much they would do anything to get it? I’m not talking about candy, cookies, or other snack food. I’m talking about real food like what would be the main course in a meal.

It was the middle of the night when I woke to a strange noise. Being military might have made me hypervigilant, but this happened while we were stationed in Germany in the mid-eighties and I hadn’t been to war yet. This was government housing and generally very safe, so the sounds coming from another part of my apartment was alarming…unless, of course, there were kids.

I got out of bed very quietly and slowly made my way to the hallway before stopping to listen again. There was nothing for a few seconds and then I heard a different kind of noise. This sound reminded me of the sound of a mouse eating something off the floor, only a little louder and crunchier. Now, a mouse is something I could deal with, but we lived on the third floor and I had never heard of rodent issues in our housing complex. Besides, the sound was a little too loud to be a mouse.

I worked my way down the hallway and looked into the first bedroom. There were 2 boys sleeping quite soundly in that room. I moved on a couple feet before stopping to listen again. “Crunch, crunch, smack, crunch,” is what I heard a little ways ahead. I moved forward and peeked into my daughter’s room. I became alarmed when I saw the bed was empty and apparently, so was the room. I looked back towards the bathroom but the door was open and the lights were off. Next stop, kitchen.

I walked quietly but stopped when I heard the noises again coming from behind me. “Crunch, crunch, smack, crunch.” The sounds were definitely coming from my daughter’s room. I turned around and went back to her room to look closer. The night light was bright enough for me to see so I went inside and started looking around. The sounds stopped, so I figured I had been heard and stopped trying to be sneaky. I looked under the bed, behind the bed, and around the bed. Nothing.

Just when I was ready to give up searching her room and checking the rest of the apartment, I suddenly focused on her closet. A little sound of movement from behind the closet door confirmed my suspicion. There was something in there. Despite knowing I’d been heard, I moved quietly towards the closet door. I put my hand on the handle and yanked it open. There, lying directly in front of me, was the leftover bucket of chicken from our dinner, only there were very picked clean chicken bones lying around it. The bucket looked empty. Then I heard the whimper from behind the hanging clothes.

Part of me was very impressed. That leftover bucket had about a dozen pieces of chicken left that we were going eat the next day. All that was left were the clean picked bones. The other part of me was trying to be a parent. There was no way this was okay, but to dole out a punishment or yell would disturb the rest of the house. We picked up the bones together and I threw the bucket of bones into the trash.

Moral of this story? I’m at a loss…but it sure is funny now, 30 some years later.


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