by Shirley Bahlmann
Okay, so story ideas come from everywhere, right? Even a bunched up jacket.
I was not expecting the gray bundle of polar fleece on my back patio to be anything more than a forgotten jacket. But when I picked it up, I saw that it was circled around a couple of times with a jump rope and had a nubbin of fabric in front wrapped with duct tape.
"What's this?" I asked my 14-year-old.
He gave me a sideways glance and a mischievous grin. "A jacket."
I knew the ploy. "Yes, but why is it wrapped with rope and duct tape?"
"Because why?" (It really helps when you know all the right questions to ask. It wears down their defenses.)
"Because Jonathan (the 9-year-old kid next door) helped me tie up Michael (my 8-year-old son) and then we laid him on the neighbor's porch and rang the doorbell and ran."
"How did Michael like being tied up?"
"He was laughing, and he was saying 'you guys,' but he thought it was funny.'"
"What's the duct tape for?"
"We wrapped it around his hands."
"And who answered the door?"
"Melissa (a 12-year-old neighbor and Jonathan's big sister). She came running outside and the door closed behind her, so then I had to get a ladder and climb up to a window and open it, and it was scary because the ladder didn't quite reach and then I had to climb inside and walk through the house and let her back in."
Turns out this event happened last month. (Shows you how often I clear off the back patio. No pictures, please.)
The neighbors have since moved.
Can you blame them?