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Here’s a couple of short stories I wrote back in 2004, for a writer’s workshop. The goal of the exercise was to write two short stories on the same subject, but told from different points of view. The leader of the workshop seemed pretty impressed.
THE LITTLE BOY AND THE THING IN THE CLOSET
Well, here I am in bed once again. I hate bedtime. Stalling just doesn’t seem to work anymore. Sooner or later, my parents put their foot down and here is where I wind up. Oh, it’s not so bad at first. I am pretty tired. The bed feels good and soft. What happens after I get settled in, is what I dread. My dad says I’m too old for a night light and I have to get used to a dark room. I guess he’s right, but it’s hard to get past this shadowy situation. Covering my head with the blankets, I try not to look. If I don’t look, maybe I won’t get scared. I turn over with my face to the wall and try not to think about the thing. This is nearly as bad, however. I can almost feel it creeping across the room. Shivering, I close my eyes. That makes it worse. Opening my eyes, I jump at the sight of the shadows on the wall. My head jerks around for me to see that it’s only tree branches at my window, silhouetted by the street lights outside. Settling down, I see out the corner of my eyes that I left my closet door ajar. I close my eyes, once again trying not to look. That thing doesn’t exist. Somehow, my mind makes me see the clutter of clothes in the darkness, as a big lurking monster. Not being able to resist, I look at the closet. To my horror, I see the shape of an arm with long clawed fingers, as well as the bones of past victims scattered deeper inside that little room of terror. When I see the shadow of a hairy misshapen head, I cover my face with the blankets. All I have to do, is turn on the light and this creature will disappear. As dad says, it’s all in my mind. Getting the nerve to get out of bed and head for the switch is another matter. Oh no! I can almost feel him crossing the room again. Jerking the covers down, I can see that nobody is creeping up on me. Once again, though, I’m scared to look at the closet. My dad says that I’ll grow out of this. I hope he’s right.
THE THING IN THE CLOSET AND THE LITTLE BOY
I just love this kid’s imagination! That and darkness is my domain. Every time he goes to bed, I get more powerful! To think that a few short years ago, I was just a tiny anxiety brought on by dim illumination. Having no shape or form, I was just a mysterious feeling of dread with no explanation. Now, I’m a full fledged fear, with gnarled, clawed fingers and a monstrous head looming in the shadows. He’s even recently given me the ability to leave this closet for short periods, until that pathetic little face looks up and steals away half my strength. The longer he takes to face me, the stronger I become. This kid has even provided me with the bones of past victims, cringing in the back of this little room of horror. All this is great, but I feel the need to expand. If only I could figure out a way to get him to talk about me with the other kids at school. All I need him to do, is plant a little seed of anxiety here and there. Once I get a foothold, then I can spread throughout the neighborhood, then the town, and then there’s no telling how far I can go! I might even be able to take my place among the great phobias of this century! Perhaps I would be listed beside my hero, Claustrophobia! I wonder if she started this way.
Back in 1963, (maybe 64) two little American boys were playing marbles in the sand. It was a small patch of sand washed by the rain from a cobblestone street in a little German village. Both boys were about five or six years old and of average size for their age. All of their attention was directed at their game, so they didn’t notice the four older German boys walking up the sidewalk. Now, since the German boys back in those days tended to play rough, what could have happened next may have been a misunderstanding. Whether he meant any harm or not, one of them smacked one of the little American boys on the back of the head and made him cry. As they kept walking by, the other American boy scrambled to his feet and shouted,”WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!” The German boy who did the smacking just threw his hand back as if to dismiss the younger boy’s outrage. Ignoring the fact that they were all a good two feet taller than he, the furious little American took a running jump and landed on the back of the German boy. His teeth immediately clamped on the German boy’s ear, and he did his best to remove said ear. The older boy howled in pain and began to spin and buck like a rodeo bronco. The other German boys tried to help remove the crazy little American, but by then the little guy who had been crying jumped into the ruckus swinging and punching. Then, as the German boy finally threw the American off his back, the landlady ran him and his friends off with a broom.
Now, that crazy little American boy who jumped on the back of that German boy and bit his ear? That was me. And the little American boy who got smacked? That was Benny … Jimenez. Yes, I’m mostly Caucasian and Benny was Hispanic. Now, don’t get me wrong. I also had many German friends, (one of which was the landlady). Yet, I learned at that early age, that I had more in common with Benny than I did with those German boys, (who also had light skin). Benny and I spoke the same language, played the same games, and had the same sense of fair play. The color of our skin was just a minor detail compared to all we had in common. At that young age I learned a lesson which I still reflect on as an adult. It has helped me realize a truth about all humanity.
No matter what our skin color, we really are more alike than different.
Okay, tonight I’ll probably miss “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” airing on ABC (but only because ‘Arrow’ is new over on the CW). Yes, even though I don’t celebrate Halloween, I tend to watch Mr. Schulz’s special each year. See, I have a problem with the “embracing of the darkness” that celebrating “All Hallow’s Eve” seems to bring with it. However, I don’t see that as the focal point of the Charlie Brown classic. Rather, Mr. Schulz seems to have presented a very profound study of those who hold Halloween most dear. And of all characters in his comic, he uses Linus as the vehicle of that study. Linus, (the one most versed in Biblical Scripture and Doctrine) is the one who believes and preaches about ‘The Great Pumpkin’. I wonder if Mr. Schulz was sneaking a lesson about the naivety (and maybe hypocrisy) of Christians celebrating Halloween. hmmmmm…