The challenge on (Fiction) Friday this week is to write about a character who likes the dark.
We always wondered about the elderly gentleman in the old house. The house wasn’t crooked, or cracked or black. It wasn’t covered in creepers, or circled by bats. No, it was an ordinary old house in the road where I lived. But the curtains were always closed, and sometimes they twitched. When it was dark outside you could just make out a faint light through the curtains, but it looked very dim inside. When you are nine years old your imagination takes you to all kinds of dark places!
I remember my mother telling me not to be silly. She said that the old gentleman hadn't gone out of the house since his wife ran off a couple of years ago and hadn’t been seen since. He just liked to sit in the dark and remember when she was there with him. We of course decided that he had in fact bumped his wife off and hidden her in the cellar.
And you know what little boys are like! We enjoyed scaring the girls with tales we made up about what went on behind those closed doors. One day they dared us to knock on the door then run and hide behind a bush over the road. They said he was bound to come to the door, then we could all have a good look at him. If the truth be known we were actually more scared of the mystery man than they were. I guess we made the stories so realistic that we began to believe them ourselves!
Anyway, in order to save face, we took up the challenge one day. My friend and I crept up the path from the road and banged the knocker as hard as we could then scampered back out into the street again and concealed ourselves as planned. We watched, almost afraid to breath. One of the girls began to giggle. She wasn’t finding it funny of course. It was a nervous giggle my friend and I said.
But nothing happened. The door didn’t open, and the curtain didn’t twitch. We decided to do it again later when it was dark, but this time bang a little louder. The girls took up their positions, and my friend and I rushed up the path again and banged so loudly that a couple of the neighbours began looking out of their windows. Fortunately they didn’t spot us!
Again nothing happened. No open door, no twitch of the curtains. And then we noticed there was no light on. It was never much of a light but now there wasn't the slightest glimmer. The following night we stood outside his house again just to see if his light was on, but it wasn’t. I thought I’d better tell Mum. Not about the door knocking thing of course, but about the house being in darkness. She called the police.
The police came, and then the ambulance. They had to break the door down just like the coppers did on TV. They were inside for ages and ages.
Eventually the paramedics brought a stretcher out with a body on it. It was covered up, even its face. We wondered if it was the body of his wife, and we half expected another stretcher to appear with his body on it. But it didn’t, and straight away two guys with hammers and sheets of wood boarded the smashed doorway up.
We never got to see the old man. We still thought that the house must have concealed a dark secret, but we were never to know. It remained boarded up for years. I don’t think I ever saw it opened up again. One day I’ll take a trip back.
But this time I’ll knock on the door and ask if the new people know anything about the mysterious old gentleman that lived there before them.