Happy is he who...writes from the love of imparting certain thoughts and not from the necessity of sale-who writes always to the unknown friend.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)





Friday, October 19, 2012

Entry # C5


“Tommy’s Decorations”
By
Gretchen Steen
Tommy Watson loved Halloween!

His mother, Janet, did her ‘magic’ and whipped up his bizarre costumes from scratch. His father, Randy, never missed trekking through the neighborhood on ‘trick-or-treat’ rounds.

Janet and Randy Watson died on Halloween … Tommy was thirteen …
*
The unmarked police car lingered at the curb of 13666 Compton Drive.

“I hate this job!” Officer Mitchell said to himself. Shoving the gearshift into park, he turned off the ignition and jammed the keys into his jacket pocket.

He straightened his uniform, slicked back his graying hair and cleared his throat. Stepping out of the car, he stuffed his clipboard under his arm and swallowed hard.

Floodlights whirled, alternating greens and yellows that bathed the cobweb-draped house. Sinister pumpkins, with their evil candle-lit smiles, lined the old wooden porch. Unearthed coffins, their lids ajar, complete with mottled skeletons were scattered over the front lawn. Some appeared stark white; others were in various degrees of age.

Mitchell surveyed the grounds and thought, Damn—decorations look so real … they’ve improved since I was a kid! Just too creepy!

Perched boldly on the lone windowsill a sleek black cat with fluorescent yellow eyes; its tail twitched in time to the haunting music.

“This place makes my skin crawl,” Mitchell whispered to himself as he approached the front door.

I’m supposed to be brave, yeah right … freaked out by decorations? People trim their houses to the hilt for Christmas. I guess others do it for Halloween. What’s my problem?

 Mitchell shrugged his shoulders; he didn’t have an answer. He looked up into the night sky trying to locate the off-pitched screeching sounds that surrounded him and echoed in his ears.

“What’s wrong with me?” Shake it off man!

The dirge-like music poured from the rooftop speakers as he opened the screen door and pressed the doorbell.
*
Tommy’s eyes darted back and forth, startled by the deafening sound of the long silent chimes. As he lit the last candle in the sitting room, they filled it with wavering shadows.

He sauntered to the door, looked through the peephole and turned the doorknob. It clicked like old arthritic bones.

“Trick or Treat … your choice, man!” Tommy greeted.

Something about this lanky young man was unsettling. Was it his Mohawk haircut? Or all the heavy chains that hung from his belt loops? Maybe it was the tattoo sleeves that covered his arms? Blake wasn’t sure.

“Thomas Watson? I’m Officer Mitchell. Sorry to bother you, but you need to tone down your music a bit. We’ve received a few noise complaints … I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Tommy’s frame grew rigid as he gave Mitchell a blank once-over look and replied, “Yes … Noise? I never thought of it that way. Would you like to come in and join my party?”

***
Dressed in white from head to toe, the attendants’ cold, unfeeling faces greeted Tommy when he arrived at ‘Driscoll Hall – Children’s Home for Boys.’

It appeared pleasant enough—from the outside.

*
“Master Thomas Watson?” asked the portly woman at the front desk.

Struggling against the orderlies, Tommy yelled back, “I’m not staying here! You can’t keep me locked up!”

The matron clenched her teeth, then burst into an evil grin and glared back. “You don’t have any choice. You’re ours until you reach eighteen—no ifs, ands, or buts!”

Tommy fought against the tightening grip of his restrainers, but he didn’t have a chance.

“Take him to his room and make sure the windows are locked as well as the door. If he doesn’t settle, just throw him in solitary … that’ll quiet him … it always works with these hooligan-types.”

The ill-tempered voice echoed down the long hallway and rang in Tommy’s ears. He kicked and screamed louder and louder. He spit on one attendant and tried to bite the other as they approached Room #1031. The number stopped Tommy in his tracks …

His tense body relaxed and the attendants’ grip loosened. Tommy silently stepped into the dreary room and looked around.

Paint peeled from the old metal bed frame. The linens were tattered and wrinkled; there was no pillow. In the corner sat a small table with rickety legs. A small lamp with a torn, gray shade sat next to a stash of books.  The worn out desk chair, with a missing a wheel, leaned up against a dull stainless steel toilet.

He moved toward the barred window and looked up at the full moon. He closed his eyes and envisioned his parents’ faces.

Tommy turned toward the door; his eyebrows furrowed as he grunted, “Go away … leave me alone …” He sat down on the edge of the bed as the door closed. He listened carefully and heard the lock click.
The rattling of the keys and the heavy footsteps in the hallway soon faded.

You’ll all regret this … he thought.

***

“Do you like my decorations, Officer Mitchell? They seem to multiply every year. People used to come … and those I recognized hated to leave; they’re mingling right now. Come … Mom and Dad would love to meet you …” Tommy stuttered with a broken-toothed smile.

The hair on Mitchell’s neck bristled as a razor-sharp chill crept up his spine. No, it can’t be … He thought as he followed Tommy’s lead and stepped through the door. Trick or Treat?

“Do you live here alone?” Mitchell asked.

Tommy turned and winked as he pushed open the sitting room door. “That shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not a kid anymore!” He hesitated. “Do I know you?” A glint of memory surfaced, “Of course I do!” he sneered. “Mom … Dad … we have another visitor …”

The essence of the candlelight and the lingering rotten stench grew in Mitchell’s mind. He stepped into the shadow-filled room and his stomach lurched. His eyes fixated on two coffins atop a black-draped table. This is sick!

“Look at me, Tommy,” Mitchell said as he dropped the clipboard and grabbed the young man’s shoulders with his trembling hands. “NO! Listen to me, they’re …”

Tommy’s eyes glazed over as he vehemently interrupted, “Celebrating Halloween with me, it’s our favorite holiday. You will stay and join us, won’t you?” he urged through a demented grin as he slashed away the polished badge.
*****

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