Never answer the door. No matter how many times somebody knocks, or what they say – I don’t care if they say they have a package, or ice cream, or a check for a million dollars – do NOT under any circumstances open the door. Even if they say they are me – don’t answer the door! I don’t care if they sound precisely like me, or if, when you look through the keyhole, they look exactly like me. Perhaps they took a voice-training class and learned to emulate my voice perfectly, and then took a photo of me and photoshopped it so that it looks like I’m standing on the front stoop, and then resized it so that it would fit over the lens of the peephole, so that when you look out, it looks like me really standing there, but really it’s a photo taped to the peephole with a voiceover master standing behind it who wants to do you harm, and you open the door and suddenly, bam! They’re in the house.
Oh, you think that’s too elaborate? You are so naïve, sweetie.
Now, let’s talk contingency plans. Say that somebody does, despite your wariness, breach the front door. If that’s the case, you use the rope we made to repel out the window, and as you’re repelling, you scream, ‘MY NAME IS BRIAN BENNET AND I AM NOT JOKING – A BAD PERSON HAS BROKEN INTO MY HOUSE AND I NEED HELP! THIS IS NOT A JOKE!’ and as you scream this over and over and over, you run across the back yard to the place where the fence is lowest, and let yourself tuck and drop – like we practiced, remember? – into Mrs. Anderson’s back yard. I have warned her that you might be coming. She’ll be waiting at the back door with the police on the phone, and her .22 loaded, unlocked and at the ready. Run to the left and behind her, she’ll shut the door and lock it, and the two of you will hunker down, far away from the windows and behind something bullet-proof, until the cops arrive. Got all that? Repeat it back to me.
I don’t care if you feel stupid. You won’t feel stupid when you’re still alive and every other kid in this subdivision has been butchered for kicks by the bad men.
Now, what if the bad people get to Mrs. Anderson and take her out first? If you get to her yard, and things seem eerily quiet, DON’T APPROACH THE DOOR. If this happens, and I really don’t think it will, but it never hurts to be prepared, run around to the side yard. Get out your cell phone – you have your cell phone, right? And you have 911 on speed dial? Okay, I want you to keep that cell phone in your hand at all times when you’re home alone. Never put it down – not to go to the bathroom, not to make a sandwich. You let your guard down for one second, and that’s what they’re waiting for.
Oh, you don’t think so? BAM! They will pounce. They are watching and waiting. These people are professionals – they know all your routines. You think that’s not true? You have no idea what desperation will drive people to. One day, you’ll learn. But not if I have anything to say about it.
Anyway, so you have your cell phone, and you’re in the side yard of Mrs. Anderson’s house, and you speed dial 911, and you say the spiel we practiced, just like we rehearsed it. Say it now! That’s right, name, location, problem, and then YOU KEEP THEM ON THE PHONE!
Keep them on the phone, and resume screaming ‘MY NAME IS BRIAN BENNET AND I AM NOT JOKING – A BAD PERSON HAS BROKEN INTO MY HOUSE AND I NEED HELP! THIS IS NOT A JOKE! THEY HAVE NOW KILLED MRS. ANDERSON AND I AM ON MY WAY TO MY PLAN C SAFEHOUSE, WHICH I WILL NOT REVEAL IN CASE THEY ARE LISTENING, BUT IF THERE IS ANY WAY YOU CAN AID ME ON MY WAY THERE, PLEASE HELP ME, THIS IS NOT A JOKE!’
And so screaming, you wind your way around four houses in the confusing, figure-eight pattern we practiced, until you get to Mr. and Mrs. Bringhampton’s house. You go to the garage door, and they should be waiting with their Berettas. They’ll let you in and release the pit bull, and all three of you will proceed to the bunker, where Mr. Bringhampton keeps his RPG-29 that is not technically legal, so don’t ever tell anyone he has it, but he’s a responsible, realistic citizen who realizes what we’re up against out here in Placid Pines, even if the government wants us to leave everything up to them.
Look, sweetheart, I don’t want to make you paranoid. I don’t think any of this is very likely to happen – for the most part, the world is a good place, and people are decent and kind. Everyone in Placid Pines is, at any rate. But we shouldn’t lie to ourselves – there are a lot of wicked, evil people out there who would love nothing better than to get their hands on my precious boy and harm him foully, and these people plan for years and are geniuses with massive amounts of resources and many evil and organized associates, and they will stop at nothing to infiltrate the elaborate webs of security I’ve gone to so much trouble to erect around you, and mess you up but good.
Or, too, you could just be knifed by some random crackhead when you go out to check the mail.
So, if you want to go over to Kevin’s house and I’m not here, don’t just walk over there. Call his mom and have her come pick you up, and use the safety word– NO, Brian, don’t say the safety word now! They could be listening!
Alright, now we’ll have to change it again. Here, I’m writing down a word – after you read and memorize it, I want to see you eat the evidence. Good boy.