could hear it faintly, rubbing against the inside of his closet
door. He quickly dressed for school, ignoring it as best he could.
The soft rubbing had turned to a scratching sound.
the neighborhood was beginning to stir. Dogs barked and there
was slamming of car doors as people headed for work and to school.
felt like it was going to be a great day. Every day was a great
day.. it was the nights that were hell.
giggled knowing he was getting away with thinking that word. It
would be different if he had said it out loud and his mother had
heard it. There would be no end to the punishments she would come
gave one last look at the closet door and thought "Go to
Hell!" and quickly backed out of the room, ran down the hall
and took the stairs two at a time.
now, Frankie grabbed his pile of books and tried to make it to
the door before his mother's morning lecture and so-called prayer
for guidance for the day. He had almost succeeded.. almost.
she called as he was almost to the door, "Franklin Ross,
you can't leave yet. We haven't had our talk and our prayer. Franklin!"
The voice was demanding now. The 'answer me or you will be sorry
Mama, I'm here," Frankie said, sitting down at the table,
his books in front of him. He was always very uncomfortable with
these 'morning talks'. His mother always spoke of the transgressions
of the day before and what she thought the actions of the day
and the reprecussions thereof should be.
morning she lamented about how slow Frankie had been in doing
the dinner dishes and how ungrateful he was for all that she did
for him. Frankie's head was starting to ache and fear was welling
up in his insides, like nausea.
he heard the scratching start again upon the backside of the closet
door, ever so faintly. Frankie knew what it was.
mother was winding down now, asking God to help her do a better
job with the incorrigible child that her son had become and to
help her dole out the right punishments to fit his crimes.
to Hell', Frankie thought to himself, looking straight at her
as she finished up her prayer and said "Amen."
her son echoed, and again, very softly, "Go to Hell."
Frankie grabbed up his pile of books and finally headed out the
the air was crisp and sunny. Frankie could finally breathe freely.
He was starting to feel better already.
was chilly and he realized he had left his jacket on the chair
in the kitchen. Frankie groaned.. one more lamentation for the
the corner, his friend Jimmy was waiting. "How was it? How
was it last night?" Jimmy's eyes were big and full of concern.
"Is it still in there?"
Frankie said. "It's still in there. Still in that closet...
Still wanting to get out."
body shuddered as he remembered the night that it did get out.
It had stood by his bed breathing on him with its fetid breath,
sniffing him like a choice piece of meat before turning and going
down the hall.
had returned later and gone straight back to the closet. Frankie
remembered how quickly he had dove from the bed and turned the
key in the closet door lock.
father was missing the next morning. He was never seen again.
mother went overboard in her grief. She now spent all her time
praying and brow-beating Frankie so that he didn't turn out like
his 'family abandoning ' father.
boy knew that his father had not left of his own accord. He had
buried the key to the closet door beneath his unused clothes in
his very bottom drawer.
had loved his father dearly and missed him terribly but how could
he tell anyone what he knew about the closet?
eyes were wide and concerned. At least Frankie had one friend
in this world. The time they spent together was always much too
wasn't allowed at Frankie's house. His mother said he was a child
of ungodly parents and that the apple never fell far from the
to hell', Frankie thought again, to no one in particular this
day went much too quickly. The last bell rang and the six-graders
filed out to the street where the coatless boy felt the afternoon
chill. He really wished he hadn't forgotten his coat.
would be lamentations about that jacket being forgotten at morning
prayer tomorrow. His mother would see it as a terrible omission
on his part.
she thinks the fact that I am breathing is to be apologized for."
Frankie groaned and was dreading going home.
was no one in the house, as far as he could tell. His mother didn't
answer, but her car was in the driveway. She must have been in
the back yard.
being careful not to bang the screen door, went to find her so
that she would know that he wasn't late coming in from school.
She wasn't out there. The cold air reminded him again of his jacket.
was nothing on the kitchen chair where he had left it. She must
have found the jacket and removed it. Frankie's ears picked up
low stirrings coming from upstairs. He knew the sounds were coming
from his closet.
his mother hadn't taken his jacket upstairs to his room? She never
went up there anymore. If she had, then maybe she was still up
a cold lump of fear in his stomach, Frankie went slowly up the
stairs to look for her.
bottom dresser drawer was partly open. He knew she had found the
key. The closet door was closed with the key sticking out of the
lock. She must have wondered why it was locked.
trickle of fresh red blood was running from beneath the door.