Thomas Harris was a quiet little man and a steady worker. He could
be seen every Sunday morning at the little white church on the
corner of Ivy Lane. Most people knew him from his smile and happy
'hello' as he passed down the street on his way home each evening.
He seemed to be a good neighbor who liked to stop and chat now
and then and lend a hand if he could.
things were why it was such a shock when one night, he just packed
up his clothes and left his wife and his home, without saying
a word to anyone. Mrs.Abigail Harris was just as shocked as anyone.
She said she had never dreamed that she would wake up some morning
and find J. Thomas gone. Gone, as though he had never been there,
as he had taken all of his clothes and personal items.
continued to live in the little house on Ivy Lane and go to her
job and back home alone everyday. People felt sorry for her and
tried to comfort her but she seemed to want to be left alone.
After awhile she ceased going to church and was seldom seen anymore.
was in her early nineties when I first laid eyes on her. She was
a frail white haired nervous type old lady. The County Nurse had
given me her name and address and sent me out to see her as Abigail
now needed a caregiver and housekeeper.
seemed happy to have company although sometimes she forgot who
I was or why I was there. I cooked and cleaned for her and a few
years passed. I had moved in her spare room as Abigail had developed
dementia and needed someone with her twenty-four hours a day in
her home on Ivy Lane.
days passed by with little to do except for meals. Abigail slept
all day. That was because she screamed all night.. She would fasten
her eyes wide with fright on a painting of her husband that was
on the wall at the foot of her bed and scream with all her might
without hardly a break except to catch her breath. My job was
becoming a real chore, not to mention being so wearing on my nerves.
hit on an idea. Since it was her missing husbands painted likeness
that seemed to be her focus, perhaps if I moved it and she couldn`t
see it anymore, her screaming would cease and make life easier
for both of us.
was a beautiful landscape on the wall in the living room and I
took it down and hurried to the bedroom to switch the paintings.
On examaning the painting at the foot of her bed I found it to
be a lifesize painting in a really heavy ornate gold plaster frame.
I could not budge it from the wall so I decided give up for awhile.
I was tidying up the kitchen later, I happened to see Abigail`s
neighbor, Mr. Johnson, out in his backyard. I went out and explained
my dilema to him and he said he and his son would come over and
take down the painting and carry it to the livng room for me.
little later they appeared at the kitchen door. Mr.Johnson stepped
inside followed by his son, a younger version of himself. He said,
very nervously, that it was the first time he had been in Abigail`s
house since J. Thomas had left it. I told him how very much I
appreciated their help.
the way into the old woman`s bedroom I pointed out the painting
and told them not to worry about waking her because she slept
soundly. Mr Johnson examined the painting and sent his son for
tools as he said it must be screwed to the wall because it would
returned to my chores in the kitchen and waited for them to be
done. Just as I shook out the dishcloth and hung it over the rack
and was turning around, the younger Mr. Johnson burst into the
kitchen yelling for me to come quickly. Oh no, I thought, they
had awaked Miss Abigail..
hurridly followed him into the bedroom and saw the old woman still
sound asleep and Mr. Johnson leaning against the far wall , clutching
his chest and making whimpering sounds. He gestured toward the
painting and finally managed to tell me that it wasn`t a picture
frame at all.. It was a closet door.
I swung the edge of the frame outward to reveal a small room and
came face to face with J. Thomas Harris`s mummified grin, him
sitting on stacks of neatly folded clothing, for over forty years,
with a meat cleaver sunk into the side of his head...