A Tiny True StorySubmitted by DaBeast at 2015-03-16 22:21:35 EDT
Rating: 1.5 on 6 ratings (7 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
"I don't like the man at the foot of the bed."
Mom was in front of the sink with suds running all the way up to her elbows. My brother stood beside the kitchen table. Mammaw sat between them. Their lively argument broke up and they all looked at me. "What did you say?" Mammaw asked.
I hadn't known that my brother would be there. We were both supposed to be in bed already. I glared at him. "The man at the foot of the bed. I don't like him." I glanced at Mammaw. "He's evil. Make him go away"
For a second, their expressions were blank with surprise.
My brother recovered first. His features twisted into a sneer, "Little girl's afraid of the dark."
"Am not," I declared and balled my hands into fists. I took a step further into the room.
Mammaw looked sick but said nothing. She put her hand over her stomach and turned away.
Mom flicked the soap from her fingertips and reached for the dish towel. "There isn't a man at the foot of your bed. Quit making up stories to stay up later. Go to bed." She wiped the soap from her hands and gestured toward an empty chair at the far end of the table.
A broad leather belt with a large, silver buckle had been thrown over the back of the chair.
My brother sent a giggle that snickered across the linoleum and nipped at my ankles. "Careful, little girl. There are monsters in the dark. They'll come get you." His beady little eyes gleamed with the thoughts behind them.
Mom took a step away from the sink.
"Fine. I'm going." I turned around and left the kitchen.
My brother had left his baseball bat leaning against the wall by the front door earlier that day. It lie across the room from the stairs that led to the second storey. I looked back.
Mom's shadow had receded and I guessed that she'd gone back to the sink.
I detoured and grabbed the bat before going upstairs.
The man still stood there, sentinel like at the foot of the bed. He turned his head to the left as I came upon him from that direction and when I crossed, his head turned back to keep me in sight.
I shook the bat at him. "Don't touch me or else."
He didn't react.
In all the times that he had come to stand at the foot of the bed, he had never uttered a word. He came and went without sound and his presence was never guaranteed. Sometimes, he was there and other times, he was not. There seemed no pattern to his appearances.
He wore a hat with a small brim and a crease running down the middle. I had no idea what it was called. His hair was close cropped and receding, his brow broad but his chin, narrow. He wore a coat that ended mid-calf, dark slacks with a razor crease, dark leather shoes and a blindingly white shirt. The narrow strip of material that dangled from his neck was almost like a noose. The gloves on his hands were leather and they reflected the light like leather but they never creaked like it. He was soundless, dark, and absolute.
I glared at him and slid the bat beneath my pillow. Then I sat on the edge of the bed and dusted off the bottoms of my feet before I pulled the blankets up to my chin and made sure I had a good grip on the material.
For long moments, I lie there and simply glared into the darkness. There was a little bit of guilt nibbling on my mind until I finally said, "OK, fine. I lied. You're not evil. But I don't know what you are and you never talk and it's hard to sleep when you're standing there looking at me. OK?"
He did not move or respond.
I sighed. Adults never talked to me.
Sometime later, I drifted off.
And sometime after that, I was brought right back to wakefulness when a rubbery, slimey hand latched onto my ankle in the darkness.
I let out a cry and tried to find the bat. It wasn't there. I ran my hands farther up and finally found it wedged between the headboard and the mattress. I pulled it free and swung it directly toward my ankle, knowing that it would hurt a lot if I missed and not caring a damned bit.
The bat cracked when it hit the knuckles of the hand that had hold of me. Someone cried out in the dark, an incoherent scream.
I heard the thumps of running feet from below. Someone was coming.
I hefted the bat and swung it blindly out into the darkness. "I told you what would happen if you touched me!"
Mom almost ran into the bat when she came into the room but ducked at the last second and grabbed it in her off hand on its way past. "What the fuck?" The flashlight in her other hand sent light skittering along the walls and ceiling.
I felt dizzy, automatically trying to track the light. My knees gave way and I hit the bed.
My brother sat on the floor, crying, and nursing what looked like a large, rubbery, green monster hand. I blinked and shook my head and looked again. Hadn't he gotten that for Halloween? I couldn't remember.
Mom found the lamp and fumbled with it for a few seconds until she was able to switch it on. "What the hell is going on in here? I am going to beat every one's ass!"
Apparently, my brother decided to make his prophecy come true. He had failed to realize that he had left his bat out or that I had possession of it.
I hadn't broken his hand but it was severely bruised and it turned a merry shade of garish purple within only a few hours.
Mom was, as always, true to her word, and she beat his ass for the prank, my ass for the baseball bat beating, and my sister's ass for sleeping through it instead of coming to get her.
The man at the foot of the bed had vanished when the flashlight came into the room.
No one else ever reported seeing him.
But I knew then that I hadn't seen the last of him.