One day while my great grandfather was in the washtub as a boy, bathing and enjoying himself as the water grew cold, his fingers wrinkled, his smile made his mother frown. Suddenly his mother left him alone while he was splashing and having a good bath. She left in silence without scolding him for
“...splashing water onto the planks: they will rot!” which she always shouted angrily at him.
He looked up as the door opened and there stood a monster covered in fur. It said in a scary voice “When the planks rot I will come and drown you while you bathe. If you don't bathe I will eat you alive.” and then the monster turned and left.
A few moments later his mother returned, perfectly placid and dried him and dressed him up for supper. He kept trembling and weeping but his mother never asked what was wrong. Finally he told her of the awful creature.
“That was just Krampus. I left you in the cold water too long. He isn't real so don't worry. He is like a bad dream except while you are awake.” She calmly explained. He shook his head but couldn't really argue.
That night he was plagued by terror and the next day when bath time came he was sure not to even drip onto the floor planks. Every day after that he checked the floor planks to be sure they were not rotting.
When I first met my great grandfather I did not know this story about him. He got very angry with me when I spilled my glass of water onto his hardwood floor. As I got older I learned caution about not getting the nice hardwood floors of his house wet in any way. My grandfather and my father argued with him that the floors were waterproof, that a mop could be taken to them daily.
He died while I was very young. After he died my grandfather told me a story about my great grandfather. It was the story I have shared. When I told my own father this story after the death of my grandfather a few years later he laughed.
I had never thought it was funny. My father had known my great grandfather until after I was born and had lived with the old man's hardwood floors all that time. I wondered why my grandfather had never told my father. He had chosen to tell me but not my father.
I reached the late age of nine a year after autumn. It was then that I received my first twenty two rifle. I had a lot more nerve all-of-a-sudden and one day while my father was attending a neighbor's sick horse I took my own and the weapon to Great Grandfather' House. I arrived at Great Grandfather's in a dusky mid afternoon while a windstorm of brown and gold leaves and warm rain came. I wasn't warm in the rain wetness for long. I went inside and brought my horse.
I inspected the hardwood floors left untreated for a long time. They were indeed beginning to rot from a steady drip of rain in the drafty place. Boarded up and unsold Great Grandfather's had sat those five or six years. My horse was very nervous for some reason. I waited for a break in the rain and then took her to the shed. One wall was gone and a horse tether was already there. I gave her some oats out of the bag I had brought and threw a blanket over her and went back inside.
I was shivering and thought I had better go back out and sit on my horse and use the blanket but instead I lit some paper on fire in the fireplace. I got the place quite smokey but eventually I got the smoke to go up the chimney. Coughing and shivering I got a fire going and noticed some huge spiders scurrying away into the shadows. Nothing was blocking the chimney so I was in no danger of a chimney fire. I warmed myself up and ate some cheese I had brought. Night fell and I wondered what I was doing.
Then as I drifted into a light sleep I heard the sound of hooves on the back porch. For a brief moment I thought it must be my horse but quickly realized that was no horse making those footsteps. I grabbed my rifle and loaded in the twenty two rim-shot-style bullet into it.
The door swung open and there stood the monster Krampus. His fur was white and his horns glistened in the firelight. His eyes were pitch black with white pupils and a fog of his breath obscured his gaze. The one hand he held the door open with had long thick fingers with twisted yellow fingernails. His other hand formed a great fist, clenched in rage. His beard had dreadlocks dangling silver bells and his matted fur gave a foetid odor of potpourii, cinnamon and fermented beersteins. The most shocking thing was not his cloven hooves but the satyr that rode above his legs. He crossed the rotting floor planks in a clippity-clop gallop.
I fired the weapon and the bullet struck him in the shoulder above his heart. A fine and almost unnoticable mist of red blood mingled with the firecracker smoke of the little rifle. I could see some blood around the wound as he neared me. He was really pissed off and produced a wooden shoe in one hand and a switch in the other. He proceeded to beat me first with one and then the other.
I fought back by kicking his knees and swung my rifle until it connected with his jaw. The monster Krampus made a bleating sound that sounded like German profanity. Krampus spit out a bloody fang.
He planted a hoof on my chest and pinned me and tossed away his instruments to take my gun. With his eyes widening he devoured my gun bite by bite. I could hear the metal shrieking as he masticated. Then his eyes stared down at me.
One of Krampus massive hands gripped me and he dragged a washtub of icey water over to the middle of the floor. He plunged me into it and held me in the cold water face down trying to drown me.
Then he lifted me up into the air with ice water pouring off of me and bellowed a horrible and enraged blast into my face. I had stopped being scared moments earlier. I knew I was only imagining him and it was because I was so cold.
I sat shivering in front of the fireplace warming up. It had only been a dream. My rifle still leaned against the pile of dry wood, near where I sat. I felt refreshed and somehow much less brave than before. Soon it was dawn and I took my horse and we left for home.