It was the middle of the night, and JD was wide awake. The rest of the family had been asleep for hours, and the exhausted little boy desperately wished that he could go to sleep too. He hated being alone in the dark while those awful words ran through his head over and over again. No way could he go to sleep when he knew that someone was outside watching. The boy huddled deeper under the blanket. Maybe the watcher would go away if he pretended to be asleep. He squeezed his eyes shut and pretended as hard as he could. It didnt work.
It was starting to get stuffy, so JD finally gave up and cautiously lowered the edge of his blanket. He peered into the dark room, just barely able make out the toy box in the corner and the closet door. He tried not to look. He really, really didnt want to look, but his eyes strayed over to the window anyway. Was that a noise? He lifted his head and listened carefully, trying to find the noise again, but all he could hear was soft, even breathing coming from the top bunk.
Oh no. It was him! And he was trying to get in the window!
Terror stricken, JD yanked the blanket back over his head and started screaming, Buuuck. Help! Help! Hes tryin to get me! Help!
A thud echoed through the house as two bleary-eyed adults collided in the hall.
Flicking the light switch, the men searched the room for signs of trouble and then stared down at the shaking heap on the lower bunk.
Buck knelt by the bed and pulled back the blanket.
Aaagh! screamed JD as he kicked at his assailant and tried to slide away.
Shhh, shhh Little Bit. Its okay. Its me, Buck. I got ya. Big hands wrapped around the boys waist and pulled him into a tight hug. Did you have a nightmare?
Arms that had been flailing wildly just moments ago wrapped tightly around the mans neck. No, JD sobbed into Bucks shoulder. It was the Winkie. I couldnt sleep, and he was outside. I heard him tryin to get in. Hes gonna get me. He squeezed Bucks neck even tighter, determined not to let the dreaded Winkie snatch him away.
Chris sat down on the bunk and soothed the frightened child, JD, theres nobody outside. It was just a nursery rhyme. Wee Willie Winkie isnt a real person. With that he shot a glare at Buck, who appeared to be struggling for breath in JDs tight grip. Served him right. He had warned Buck that trying to enforce the boys bedtime using that old nursery rhyme wouldnt work, but Buck had insisted. After all, it had worked for his mother. Of course, Vin had been quick to point out that they lived in the country, not a town, so they didnt have anything to worry about. Evidently JD hadnt made that distinction.
The distraught boy twisted around to look at the blonde man, But I heard him, Chris. He was tryin to get in the window.
No, JD, Chris explained patiently. What you heard was a tree branch outside the window. Listen.
Sure enough, JD could hear the soft tap of a branch brushing the bedroom window.
It was louder before, he insisted, not quite ready to believe that he was safe from the nocturnal peeping Tom. He was out there, and he might come back.
Hmm, in that case maybe youd better spend the rest of the night in my room, said Buck. You know Chris needs to get his beauty sleep. Wed best get to bed quick, he cant afford to stay awake much longer.
Both men were relieved to hear the boy giggle as Buck swooped him up, blanket and all, and carried him toward the door.
Wait! JD protested. Chris, what about Vin? What if the Winkie comes back?
Chris stretched up to check on the boy in the top bunk. Vin was still fast asleep. He grinned at the pair and said, Well fellas, I think Vin is safe for tonight. If all this ruckus didnt wake him up, nothing will. Smoothing back the blonde fringe, he planted a soft kiss on his sons forehead and shut off the light.
The ranch house was dark once again, and this time all of its occupants drifted off to sleep. No one heard the patter of little feet running down the driveway, and no one watched as a bobbing light disappeared into the night.
Wee Willie Winkie
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Tapping at the window and crying through the lock,
Are all the children in their beds, its past eight oclock?
William Miller (1810-1872)