I was a teen baby-sitter, hired to take care of two terrors---boys aged 10 and 11--- while their parents partied away the night. None of my friends would babysit at this house. The word was out among us. Not worth it. But I needed the money.
I remember the boys were still up and raring to go at 8 p.m. on a school night. Made no difference to them when they settled down. Made no difference to me, either, because I wouldn’t be the one to get them up in the morning. Mom and dad left with strict instructions for the kids to be in bed by 9 p.m. They could ‘play’ until then, have a bedtime snack, and then settle nicely into bed. They shared a bedroom.
Oh, I forgot to mention their black cat. Monster was his name. That’s because the poor animal had been teased and tormented by said two boys. Since I was a stranger in his midst, his yellow cat eyes stared at me with deep suspicion. “Just put him outside later,” suggested the missus who sensed my uneasiness. “He likes to wander. He’s used to spending the night out.”
For the next hour I was consumed with playing hide-and-seek with the boys. Not a great idea since it whipped them into hysterics. Did I mention Monster who trailed in, out, and between the boys as they hid in their favourite hiding spots? Always eyeballing me with those large yellow eyes. Whipping his long black tail back and forth. Finally, I called a halt to the game. Not only was I exhausted but the boys needed to settle down. Besides, there was an alternative reason for me wanting to wear them out. I knew the film classic “Hound of the Baskervilles” was on TV and wanted to watch the movie uninterrupted.
After a snack---and a story---for each one of course, they covered up their heads under their bedsheets to giggle. Monster watched all of this with a hands-off attitude only cats can convey. Won’t lie. Felt uneasy around that cat. Decided he would go outside before I began to watch the movie.
Finally, the hellions settled down. Went into the living room where the TV stood on a corner stand. Picked up and began to read the newspaper. Opened the pages wide. Felt uncomfortable. As I slowly lowered the newspaper, I saw Monster, sitting on the floor before me, crouched. Tail waving ominously. As if ready to pounce. Yellow eyes staring at me. Scaring me.
Turned on the TV, determined to see the film. Ever watch Hound of the Baskervilles? Scary. Looked around the darkened living room. TV tight in the corner, full length drapes covered wall-to-wall windows with opened side slats that overlooked a darkened ravine. Drapes began to billow into the room with the help of a sudden night breeze. Easy to imagine they were ghostly images, waving haphazardly.
Worse, Monster had emerged from his hiding place under the couch. Sat on the floor facing me. Twitching tail again. Stared with those hideous yellow eyes.
My own eyes moved from the TV screen: the poor devil running across the moor, demon hound howling at his back... to the staring yellow cat eyes watching me.
By the time, the parents had returned from their night of revelry, I was a basket case. I should have charged more.
I never returned to babysit. And they finally gave up asking me.