That night, they are staying with Lauren’s parents in Belmont because the man’s father is on a business trip. They spent the day seeing sights on the Freedom Trail. Tomorrow, they will go to Plimoth Plantation, then stay at their tiny condo in Bridgewater. The home in Belmont is a half duplex–the two main bedrooms face each other with a bathroom between; a small bedroom sits just off the living room, and a loft upstairs can sleep another person or two. The man and Lauren sleep in the second bedroom; Dad gets the small bedroom off the living room. The second bedroom is too small to fit Grant in his pack-n-play, so he is in the master bedroom with Leon and Marti.
In the morning, as the man is waking up, Lauren rolls over and says, “What do you make of this? After you fell asleep last night, I had this weird feeling someone was watching me. I looked up, and your dad was standing in our doorway.”
“Huh,” says the man. He rubs sleep from his eyes. “Did he say anything?”
“No. He just stood there for a while and then took off.”
The man shrugs. “Maybe he got lost on the way to the bathroom.”
“The bathroom is right there next to our room. He didn’t even go to the bathroom.”
“Ok, well, whatever.”
Lauren cocks her head. “Don’t you think it’s weird?”
“Him just standing there watching us sleep?”
The man rolls his eyes. “Look, my dad is not a creep. I have no idea what he was doing, but I’m sure it’s no big deal.”
“Do you think you should ask him about it?”
The man stands up. “I gotta use the restroom. And no, I don’t think we should ask him about it.”
Later, as they are cleaning up breakfast, Dad disappears for a few minutes to his bedroom. The man heads toward the living room, and Dad is coming back toward him. He signals to the man to come closer.
“Hey, could I talk to you for a minute?” Dad whispers.
“Sure,” says the man.
They step into the living room, and Dad whispers, “Look, I don’t want you to make anything of this to the Elliotts. They’re really nice people. But I pulled the comforter down on my bed last night, and there were no sheets on the bed.”
“Oh geez,” says the man. “That’s weird.”
Dad smiles. “I just thought I’d mention it in case they go to change out the sheets. I don’t want them to think I stole them or anything.”
“I doubt they would think that,” says the man.
Dad rocks back and forth. “I didn’t really want to sleep without sheets, but it was after all the lights were out before I realized what had happened. I came looking for you hoping I could just get you to find me some sheets, but I couldn’t figure out what room you were in.”
“Wait, did you come to our room last night but leave without saying anything?”
Dad nods. “Yeah, see, that’s the thing. I thought you had said you were in the blue room. So I was looking there, but I happened to notice the crib in the other room. Then I was staring into the blue room trying to figure out who was actually in bed. Then I got afraid that that was Marti and Leon’s room and they would think I was a big creep. So I just high-tailed it out of there and slept on the bed without sheets.”
The man laughs. “Well, this is a huge relief.”
“Oh, why is that?”
“Well, because actually, we were in that room, and Lauren saw you looking at us, and now she thinks you’re a big creep.”
Dad laughs. “Oh dear. Well, I guess we’d better tell Lauren. Can you go get her?”
The man hustles off to the kitchen and returns with Lauren. He says to her in a low voice, “So the good news is that, like I told you, my dad is not a creep. It turns out that your parents forgot to put sheets on the bed in his room and he was trying to figure out where he could get some sheets.”
Lauren smiles, then laughs. “We didn’t put sheets on for you?”
“No,” says Dad. “I tried to find Gordon, hoping to bother him and no one else. I thought you all were in the blue room, but then I saw the crib in the other room and I got afraid you all had switched rooms or I had mixed it all up and I didn’t want your parents to think I was a weirdo, so I beat it out of there and slept the whole night without sheets.”
“Oh good grief,” says Lauren. “The whole night?”
Dad nods with a smile. “Yeah. But don’t tell your parents. They’ve been just wonderful, and I don’t want them to feel bad. I was only going to tell Gordon just in case they thought I stole your sheets. He could tell them there were never any sheets to begin with.”
Lauren pats Dad’s shoulder. “Oh, we can tell my parents. They’ll think it’s funny.”
Now, they all head in to the kitchen together. Marti is rinsing each dish and handing it to Leon, who then puts each in the dishwasher.
“So Mom,” Lauren says, “we didn’t put sheets on Gordon’s Dad’s bed last night.”
Marti turns. “I didn’t? I must have.”
“No, you didn’t,” says Lauren. “And then Dad came looking to find some, got mixed up about who was in whose room, gave up, and went back to bed.”
“Oh, is that why he was up?” Marti says. She wipes her hands off with a towel.
“Yes. And he looked in on us, but he got confused about the crib in your room. So he went back to bed.”
Marti smiles. “Well, that’s good to know. I thought it was odd that he was up walking around but didn’t go into the restroom.”
“He was afraid you all would think he was a creep. Little did he know that I saw him and I was thinking it was really weird.”
The man puts his hand at the small of Lauren’s back. “Lauren wakes me up in the morning to ask me why my dad is creeping around our room late at night. And all I could say was that I know he isn’t a stalker.”
Dad laughs. “I didn’t want to tell you because everything has been so nice, and I didn’t want you to feel bad.”
“But I’m glad he did tell me so I could reassure Lauren that my Dad really isn’t a creep.”
Lauren rolls her eyes. “I never said he was a creep.”
“You said it was weird.”
“Well, it was weird. Except now it makes sense.”
Marti is laughing. Leon closes the dishwasher, then says, “I’m sure it was my fault. I’m sure Marti asked me to put out sheets for you and I didn’t do it.”
“He’s getting hard of hearing,” Marti says.
“What’s that?” says Leon.
“Funny, Dad,” says Lauren.