When he heard the voice of Steve McGarrett, Stingpeesel started to tremble. He slipped out of the outlet’s electrical box without waking his brother, and squeezed out the hole in the baseboard. The 5-0 theme song played in his head, and he started to quietly sing it. “Duh-duh-duh-daah-daaaah-duuuh, duh-duh-duh-duh-duuuuuuh…”
He climbed up to the window and slipped behind the blinds. Geeneeba, about half his height, hung on to the side of the window peering in. She pointed to the hairpin, longer than her entire head, that held her hair in a straight line from ear to ear like tufts of silvery gray grass in a row. He smiled shyly.
Stingpeesel pulled up on the window’s handle, causing it to creak. Geeneeba waved furiously and pointed to the middle beam. Stingpeesel hopped up and struggled to turn the lock, gradually moving it loose.
He hopped back down and pulled the window handle, moving the window tiny-bit-by-tiny-bit until Geeneeba squished through. They hopped and danced, Geeneeba catching herself in the blinds and Stingpeesel stumbling and falling to the floor.
Geeneeba untangled herself and dropped next to him. They rolled behind the bookshelf shushing each other. When they were confident no one was coming, they giggled. “Yaready? Yaready? Yaready?” asked Stingpeesel. “Hawaii 5-0 is on. Yaready?”
Geeneeba straightened her hairpin, nodded, and smiled. “M’ready. M’ready,” she said. “You’re big. Can disappear us if trouble comes. M’ready.”
Stingpeesel blushed. “Yaready? Yaready?” He bounded across the floor into the hallway and Geeneeba tumbled behind.
They took the hall to the living room to come in behind the couch. The boy sat in a chair, his back blocking the screen from that side of the couch so they hustled behind along wall to the other side. Stretching just a little out of the back under the end table they had full view of the TV. Stingpeesel and Geeneeba grinned at each other and waggled their heads.
Then there was McGarrett. They stared in rapture. He ran out onto a roof, picked up a rifle shell and held it up, looking at it with grave concern.
The screen went dark and a line of hotels along the beach appeared as the tumbling toms in the 5-0 theme drummed, rumbling into the floor tom, the USS Arizona Memorial and a hefty drumbeat—oh, the ecstasy—a city scape, curling blue wave filling the screen and rapid hits on a floor tom, then rolling back into the power toms, a white surfboard soaring across, and trumpets. Oh rapturous joy, trumpets!
They grabbed each other’s hands and danced, each letting out a squeal and bumping into the end table leg.
“What is that?” growled the gruff voice of the house father. His face appeared above them and they vaulted behind the couch. “Hey, we’ve got rats.” The couch moved away from the wall.
Geeneeba cried and Stingpeesel screeched. “Quick under. Quick under,” he said. He slipped beneath the couch dragging his friend in with him, then shimmied frantically across the floor toward the other end, staying underneath as the couch moved back and forth. Almost there, the couch lifted off the ground, the father staring down at them, the son by his side holding a rolled up magazine and blocking the way to the hall, the mother and daughter back by the TV.
The mother screamed. “What are those things. Get ‘em. Stomp on them.”
Stingpeesel shot across the floor toward the dining room, flopping Geeneeba behind him. The mother screamed again. They ran into the kitchen as the couch thumped to the ground. They all yelled now.
“Gotta get to the hole,” said Stingpeesel. “Gotta, gotta.” He ran past the closet and turned into the hallway. The cat loomed in front of them. It lowered its body preparing to spring, and Stingpeesel dug his heels into the floor, skidding on the hardwood finish, pumping his legs to go back. Geeneeba flew past him like a snapped rubber band. He held her arm tight and she stretched almost to the cat. It leaped at her, but she snapped back, flying past Stingpeesel again and pulling him back out into the kitchen. He gained his feet and they both darted toward the back door, but it was closed, so they sped around the trashcan.
Feet stomped toward the dining room door, the cat’s growl grew near. Stingpeesel spied a box on a chair in the corner, the only shelter he could see. He waved Geeneeba to follow and grabbed a hand towel hanging from the oven handle, climbing to the top, then sprinted along the countertop to a broom in the corner. He grabbed Geeneeba, who wrapped around him as he held the top of the broom and pushed off the counter, propelling himself to the first chair by the table.
The jolt threw them on the seat. They bounced to their feet and hopped to the next chair, then to the next with the box. Stingpeesel grabbed Geeneeba’s leg and whipped her into the box, then scrabbled over the top and into it with her. They curled up together into a tiny ball on top of some magazines and held perfectly still.
“Shusher now,” he whispered. “Shusher. Shusher. We’re tiny. We’re quiet.”
The footsteps clonked into the kitchen. “Did you see where they went?” said the father.
“No, Dad. Maybe down the hall or into the cupboards?” Cupboard doors opened and closed. “Look here. I think they knocked the broom over.”
“No sign of them, though,” said the father.
“Maybe we should look down the hall.”
Footsteps thumped down the hall, and it grew quiet. Stingpeesel started to relax with relief. “We go now,” he whispered.
A glass jar slammed over them, the air pressure batting Stingpeesel’s ears. They sprang to their feet and pressed their hands up to the bottom of the jar. It was immovable, the pink flesh of a hand pressing upon it and the boys giant face looming above.
“I’ve got ‘em,” the boy yelled.
Stingpeesel thrashed and beat upon the glass.
Geeneeba’s eyes widened into circles. “You disappear us now. Disappear us. Disappear us.”
Stingpeesel stared at her in horror. She cannit know, she cannit, cannit. He thrashed and banged some more, screeching at the little boy. Then stopped and hung his head.
Geeneeba grabbed his arm, tears filling her eyes. “You’re big! You say you can disappear us! You say! You say! But you cannit. Cannit, cannit, cannit disappear.” She sat against the glass and buried her face in her hands.
The boy slid his hand underneath a magazine, lifted it with the jar, and set it on the table, grinning and laughing. “Look at these, Dad! I think they’re elves!” He set a massive red hardcover dictionary on top.
The father walked in from the hallway. “Those are too small to be elves,” he said. “Maybe fairies or sprites.”
Stingpeesel stuck out his tongue. He leaned against the glass, crossing his arms, afraid, fuming, and humiliated. The man and boy stared at them and gabbled.
Geeneeba pulled the hairpin off her head, her hair falling randomly front and back, and she threw it at Stingpeesel. He ducked letting the hairpin bounce off the glass, spring up to the bottom and careen back to him. He caught it and frowned. He looked at it, then to Geeneeba, and smiled. “Chokey, chokey,” he whispered.
He pushed himself off the glass and stumbled, grabbing his throat. Geeneeba stared at him and frowned. “Chokey, chokey,” he repeated. He rasped and opened his mouth wide, pretending to gasp for air, then started banging on the glass. Geeneeba stood up and mimicked him, falling to the ground and grabbing his legs, wailing and gasping.
Man and boy chatted excitedly and stepped over to the cupboards by the sink.
Stingpeesel stuck the sharp end of the hairpin into the magazine cover at the lip of the jar and ran furiously in a circle, dragging it several times around the jar’s lip. He heard the sound of drawers opening and closing. He pulled up the circle of magazine cover that he’d cut away.
“Be flat. Be flat. Hurrylike. Be flat.” He laid down and made himself as flat as he could and she did the same. He pulled the paper over, spreading it evenly over the top of them, holding it in place. “Still now,” he whispered. “Still. Still.”
They waited, listening to the clatter and talk. Footsteps grew near.
“What?” said the boy. “What happened to them?”
“I don’t know,” said the father. “They’re gone.”
The jar lifted. Stingpeesel sprang to his feet, pulling Geeneeba with him, and bolted off the table tumbling to the floor between the man holding the jar and the boy, lid and icepick in hand. They both gasped and shouted.
Down the hall, the cat sat up quickly. Stingpeesel realized he still had the paper in his hand, so he threw it up in the air in front of the cat. The cat lunged for it, and they ran by him into the study and behind the shelf. They squeezed through the hole in the wall and lay inside, shaking and wheezing.
Stingpeesel finally caught his breath. “You chokey nice.”
Geeneeba sat up and grinned. “You disappeared us! You disappeared us! You’re big. You’re big. You disappeared us.”