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On Top of a Little Boy’s Bed, Bamberg, July, 1636
Joseph Drahuta knew how old he was—nine, but he also knew how old he felt—older.
First, there had been the entire Ring of Fire thing, when his entire life changed down to his underwear. Who would have thought elastic waistbands were such a big thing?
And socks! Who would have thought that even socks would change?
From toilet paper to a change in diet, he had grown used to the lack of television and no cell phones and riding horses instead of cars.
Then there had been his adopted brother and sister, which led to the whole sharing a bed thing.
Ulrich snored lightly beside him.
Joseph Drahuta was used to sharing a bed by now. It certainly was warmer on cold nights when there was no heating like he was used to, only creeping cold that seemed to be everywhere. In the summer, though, things were different. Joey turned toward the edge of his bed where it was cooler.
“Hey,” Joseph whispered, “do you still hear ‘em?”
The silence from under his bed was disturbing. The initial sounds, when they came, startled him even though Joseph knew well this ‘monster’ under his bed.
This ‘monster’ was, after all, the shortstop on his little league team. At least baseball had survived the Ring of Fire.
“Yes,” the monster answered, finally, “but not so loud and not so much. I think the tea was stronger this time. The tea tastes horrible.”
Joseph listened to Ulrich’s soft snoring. Ulrich was used to crowded beds and bedrooms and could sleep through almost anything.
“Momma says you’re . . . schiz . . . schizophrenic . . .” Joseph struggled but he had been practicing for some time. The word was even harder to spell but he could, at least, say it.
“I thought the voices were God . . .” the monster whispered with a certain determined reverence. “. . . if the voices were from God . . . the tea would not stop Him.”
“What do the voices say now?”
“The same. They are just softer now. I can pretend they aren’t real now. Playing baseball helps. You have to keep thinking in baseball. Thank you for letting me hide under your bed.”
“Sure,” Joseph stated, “any time. There’s a big game tomorrow.”
The silence from the monster under his bed was unnerving.