Mystery of the Mask

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The idea was simple enough…

Get away from our busy lives for a while, and spend Thanksgiving with the whole family. Norris Lake, TN was chosen as our destination, and we start counting the days to our miniature vacation. On the trip: ‘Buela and Popio, Josh and Erin with crew, Chris and Kim with crew. 6 adults and 6 children – clearly the adults were outmatched from the start.

Kim and I left a day before everyone else to get things set up before they arrived. That meant driving through rain, and arriving around 1am. Apparently nothing creeps out Mrs. Kim Littleton (Kimleton) like a winding drive, deep into the hills of Tennessee in the dark of night. I don’t suppose it helped that the last few miles of our drive were on unmarked roads that didn’t show up on GPS or Google Maps. Despite a bit of late night wandering, we made it safely.

With the drive already keeping Kim on her toes, she was about to literally “be on edge” because this was the entrance to the cabin overlooking the lake. Trust me. The picture does not do this justice. It was so steep that Popio (AKA Ricky L) wouldn’t drive down for fear any ice or snow would have them stranded at the bottom of the hill. So, prior to even entering the house, he issued the now retracted declaration, “We are never coming to this house again.” Still, after cautiously making our way down the hill, we finally arrived in one piece.

Remote lake house, cut into the cliff, literally off the map with no cell coverage – it was exactly what we wanted. Excited to arrive and explore things, the kids easily awoke in the chilly air and began to investigate rooms and pick beds. Needing to be in town early morning for some final work before the holiday, I went to bed first leaving Kim to put the crew to sleep.

No surprise, the kids were up early the next day itching to play on the air hockey table in the game room. We’d taken notice of the eclectic wall décor and art throughout the house the previous evening, but one particular item really stood out as it was emphasized when Gavin made a special point to tell us this mask was “creepy.”

the mask

That first morning, I headed out to work in the land of mobile data coverage and Kim got everyone else ready before I picked them up for a run into town for supplies around noon. When we got back to the house that afternoon, something very peculiar had happened. Gavin’s “creepy” mask was missing.

Kim and I begin talking about this, and walked through all the various explanations for a how a random piece of wall décor goes missing.
– Did one of our kids break it and try to hide it? No evidence of that happening.
– Did someone break into the house? Nothing was stolen, and our tablets and electronics were in plain sight.
– Did a friend of the owners come to the house and borrow a few things or maybe some friends of the owners decide to play a trick on us?

So, with a bit of uncertainty swirling around in our heads, we called the owners of the house to let them know that someone may have been in their house and they should probably check with family and their cleaning service to make sure. By the end of the day, they hadn’t heard anything, so the mystery of the mask had begun.

Kim and I had another discussion about these scenarios, and we came to the conclusion it had to be friends of the owners in some way. That said, Kim felt a bit uneasy in the middle of nowhere with random things disappearing in the house.

The next evening, Josh and Erin arrived with their crew and ‘Buela and Popio showed up the following day. Sometime after dinner the first night everyone was present, all the adults were hanging out around the fire, and Kim could not resist telling her mystery of the mask story.

The discussion goes from logical to silly and mystical explanations. Josh takes this time to embellish the story with potentially spooky explanations and introduces new Tennessee sleepy hollow-like stories and characters. We all get a pretty good laugh out of the whole thing, taking special care to poke fun at Kim for her ongoing paranoia.

But, even after a good laugh and new stories, we still hadn’t solved the mystery of the mask.

the viewFriday morning begins like every other day at this lake house – mist rising off the perfectly peaceful lake with the sun trying to burn up the morning fog. We were pulling a few items together to play outside with the kids, and in our search through the drawers in the kids’ downstairs bathroom, guess what Josh finds tucked into the bottom drawer? You know it – our missing friend.

We laugh to each other about the silliness of the whole mystery, and Josh decides to play one final prank on Kim and anyone else upstairs. He puts the mask on his face, and creeps up the outside steps that connect the lower level to the upper level deck off the kitchen. Standing outside the kitchen window, he startles Kim and crew as the masked man.

At this point, you are probably thinking what we were all thinking – how the heck did that mask end up in that drawer? Well – we re-questioned all the kids, and 3-year old Gavin admitted that he had hidden the “creepy” mask. We think he pushed over one of the chairs in the pub area to climb up and take it off the wall.

So the mystery of the mask was solved, and we are left with extra “creepy” and very humorous memories of our mini-vacation at Norris Lake. Just be sure to take inventory of your wall décor if we ever come to your house. Gavin might just deem something too “creepy,” and you will have your own mystery on your hands.

the kids
Max, Gavin and Sophie looking at the lake.

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