It took a long time for Kid Joey's sister Ro to befriend the monsters under her bed, because at first she hadn't understood them. She'd thought they were just mean, and that they wanted to eat her, and even had bad dreams about them, at least until Gary Gargoyle had arrived to protect her.
And protect her he did, of course, but he also explained a few things to her. One of the most important of those explanations was that there were good monsters and there were bad monsters. He was there to keep the bad monsters away, and he did a good job of it. But she had been frightened of little teeny monsters who'd come in under the front door (she'd seen them in her dreams).
Well, when Gary inspected beneath her bed on the very first night that he'd arrived for guard duty in Ro's room when she was still very little, he'd found the ugly, but quite harmless little guys. Of course, who was he to call anyone ugly, right?
As it turned out, Gary explained to Ro the next morning, after she'd gotten the first good night's sleep in weeks, the little monster dudes under her bed were not mean monsters at all, and they certainly meant her no harm. They were sneaking into the house because it was cold outside and they simply wanted a safe place to cuddle up and keep warm.
When Ro had heard that, she stayed awake until she heard them scurrying into her room that night, and crawled out of bed, and lay down on the floor beside it to get a look beneath. She aimed her flashlight (which she mostly used for reading in bed) underneath her bed, as Gary watched over her.
There they'd been, caught in the rude light that lit up their faces and its brightness made them squint. Ro turned the light so it would not be right in their eyes and looked up at Gary who nodded.
"Go ahead and say hello," he encouraged.
She'd turned her face back to the little monsters and smiled, finding it hard to believe that they could be friendly, but trusting Gary's word. "Hi," she'd said. "I'm Ro."
The little monsters smiled back!
"I'm Belch! Burp and I are twins!"
Ro giggled at their silly names, and they all smiled back with their scary sharp teeth and their eyes glowing – red, or course because monsters had red eyes. It's true, but it's not a bad thing. Monsters are nocturnal – they are more active at night and sleep during the day. Red eyes see better at night, apparently, and they glow too, for the same reason.
Ro had tip-toed down the hall that night, into the kitchen, over to the snack cabinet, and swiped the box of graham crackers. Mommy said they were a healthy snack, so Ro figured they would be good for the little monsters.
They chowed down, their sharp teeth snapping right through the inside wrappers, and disappeared the crackers in less than three minutes. Ro's eyes had been wide, watching her new friends scarf the food, then belch like a bunch of little piglets.
But Gary Gargoyle had been right. They all said thank you, and not one of them scratched her with their claws or bit her with their sharp teeth. They smiled (rather gruesome little smiles, but they were meant to be friendly) and thanked her for her hospitality and asked if it was alright if they came in to sleep under her bed.
"Why didn't you just ask in the first place?" Ro said.
"Because you were scared of us, and we thought you would really freak out if we let you see us."
"Oh my goodness! So you were afraid of me because I was afraid of you?"
"That's the way it is all over the world, even with grownups. People are afraid of what they don't understand – sometimes even other people!" Belch explained, then, true to his name burped a big one. Ro laughed.
The little guys were so ugly they were cute.
And from that night forward Ro and the little monsters were friends. And Gary's shifts guarding her were easy and nothing bad ever happened in Ro's room, or for that matter her whole family's house.
Until now, Sir WHIP thought, wondering what was going on when all the little monsters crept out from beneath Ro's bed, and snuck down the hall.
Sir WHIP, flapping his wings, floated down to the floor by the door where he peeked around the corner at the little monster's line heading quietly into Kid Joey's room. When they were all inside he himself snuck down the hallway and peeked around the corner into his pal's room.
He almost laughed out loud.
Under Kid Joey's bed all the little monsters had gathered and broken into Kid Joey's stash that he carefully hid in his old backpack from kindergarten.
In the red glow of all their little eyes, Sir WHIP saw them feasting on Doritos, jelly beans all the way back from Easter, candy canes from Christmas, half a peanut butter sandwich from yesterday's breakfast, a couple of juice boxes, a half of a Milky Way bar, a pack of graham crackers, and half a bag of Cheetos.
Ro might have stashed warm blankets and pillows under her bed for the little monsters to keep warm and comfortable, but snacks ruled, apparently. Sir WHIP shook his head, and turned back to Ro's room, and ran smack into her toes.
"What's going on?" she whispered, checking over her shoulder to make sure all the activity in the hallway hadn't woken up Mom and Dad, especially since Kato had jumped down off of her bed, which was what had woken her up in the first place.
"Ummm…" Sir WHIP hesitated, his eyes straying over his shoulder into Joey's room where slurps and burps and chomps could be heard if one listened hard. Well, not all that hard. Monsters didn't exactly set records for table manners – or perhaps under-bed manners, in this case. Sir WHIP couldn't help smiling.
"Seems there's a little party going on in Kid Joey's room, " he said.
Ro's eye widened. "A party?" Sir WHIP nodded, still smiling.
"At three in the morning?" she said. And got another nod from the little dragon, and was surprised to see him chuckle. "My brother is having a party at three in the morning and didn't invite me? The little rat!" Ro's whisper was an insulted huff as she stepped over Sir WHIP (which always made him duck and cringe) and stepped softly, in spite of her temper, into her brother's room.
She found him asleep, of course, not having a party at all.
But there was a strange red glow seeping out from under his bed.
A monster glow.
No longer afraid of monsters under beds (even the mean ones were small and Gary kept a great watch so they never got in anymore), Ro dropped to her knees and leaned forward, cheek to the floor to see what in the heck was going on under there.
"Really? You swiped Jo's Cheetos? He's gonna have you guys for breakfast," Ro said, giggling at the little green dudes, orange cheese crust around their mouths and in between their teeth. They handed her a couple of Cheetos and a Twizzler and she nibbled, laughing, and Sir WHIP rolled on the floor behind her at the weirdness of the whole thing. He eased Kid Joey's door closed without a sound and the party swung on.
Finally, after Ro had scarfed the Twizzler and taken a couple of sips from a juice box, Kid Joey stirred above, and caught sight of his sister lying on her side on the floor next to his bed.
"What in the world?" he wondered aloud, and leaned over the side of the bed where a little monster held up a graham cracker, more or less as a peace offering for seriously denting Kid Joey's snack stash. Actually, the graham cracker was pretty much all that was left.
Kid Joey's jaw dropped, and he was a little peeved at first, but then he laughed in spite of himself. The entire space beneath his bed was filled with chattering, giggling, happy little monsters, powdered cheese crusted mouths, all burping and farting and licking their sharp little chops, rubbing their stuffed little tummies, and thanking him for sharing his snacks, though they hadn't really given him that choice but went right ahead, as monsters most often will, and helped themselves.
Well, they were monsters, after all. But they had meant no harm.
Kid Joey looked at Sir WHIP still laughing on the floor, and his sister Ro doing pretty much the same, and couldn't help the smile twitching at his mouth.
Soon he was laughing with all the rest of the little partiers, munching on the last graham cracker, little monsters jitterbugging under his bed while Ro sang "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" just as Nana Terri had taught her.
Down the hall, Mom and Dad snored on, sleeping right on through the biggest monster party of the year.