Dear Diary… no, that sounds
dorky… O Tome of
Inner Darkness and Despair… ugh! Why did Mom buy me this thing, anyway? Oh,
that’s right. So I can explore my feelings. Well, I feel that this is a total waste of
time. She thinks I don’t have enough
friends, and that I need something to replace Dad when I want to talk about
“boy stuff”. What does she know about
it? It wasn’t her Dad that got sick and
died. No, Grandpa’s still playing poker
and trying to get lucky with all the ladies in the casino. That’s what
Grandma says. Are all casino ladies lucky?
That would be cool if they could give some
luck to Grandpa! Maybe then he could
come home again.
There’s nothing going on
in this town that I
need to talk to Dad about. Fourth grade
in Miss Santiago’s class is just like third grade in Mrs. Gray’s class.
Math and reading, reading and math. That’s all we really do. Sure, now we do fractions instead of just
dividing and multiplying, but otherwise, it’s all the same. None of the
other kids like me, but I think
they’re all stupid and disgusting, so that’s ok. The school counselor, Mr.
Adamson, says it’s because I’m over-imaginative and highly intelligent for my
age, and the other kids don’t understand me. That makes sense why Trevor Adkins
says I talk funny – he can’t understand me! I go across the street
to walk to school,
since everyone on this street walks on this side of Cemetery Road. What a great
name for a street, right?! All because there are three graveyards on the
same street! One of the caretakers even
lives on this street. I don’t know which
house, but I hope I get to meet him sometime!
I do kinda wish I could ask someone
smell across the street. The old house
there looks empty most of the time, with its brown, stained windowshades, and
swampy front yard. The black, iron fence
around it is always locked, too. I know
because the padlock on it is the biggest lock anyone’s ever seen! It’s
all black and iron, too. I bet it weighs thirty pounds, at least. It’s bigger around than Bobby Gallagher’s
fist, and Bobby’s the beefiest seventh grader in Wren Lake. Our Easter
ham last year was smaller than
Bobby’s fist. I think someone’s cat, or
dog, must’ve hidden somewhere over there and died, though. It’s
too bad the next-door lots are
empty. A neighbor surely would’ve called
someone to take care of the putrefying pet by now (I had to look that word up
just now – I like when words start with the same sound, although Mr. Adamson
says that’s the kind of thing the other kids don’t understand about me).
The house across the street is NOT empty! I just looked out my
window, and there’s a
light on in the house! I saw a flicker of a candle in the window, and then a
huge chandelier burst into flame behind it. There are a bunch of people in
there. They must be having some boring, adult party over there, because just
about everybody is sitting in a chair.
There’s somebody going around and checking on everyone, though. He
must be the butler. He walks over to each guest, bends over to
talk to them, and kind of…fusses over them.
Is that normal for a butler to do?
Wow. I just realized that all
those rich people… they must be rich, to have a butler… must not mind the smell
of the cat corpse too much, if they’re hanging out there and eating and
drinking stuff. Umm…wait. Ok,
Had to check something. Turns out
that nobody is eating or drinking anything.
Isn’t that what adults do at parties, though? Oh, except the butler. I could see him sampling whatever he was
offering to the guests. He would bend
over to talk to them, help them straighten their tie, or their hair, and pop
something in his mouth as he stood up. That
seems weird. I’m going to go look again…
Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod! I think one of the guests is dead! The
head of one of them just drooped forward
while I was looking, and they kind of … slumped. Hold on, hold on…
just hold on, Scotty. Maybe they fell asleep.
Old people do that, don’t they? Grandma is always dozing off, right
middle of a conversation, sometimes! I
bet if I checked again, the person would either be sitting up again, or walking
around trying to wake up. No, I still
haven’t looked again. I don’t want
That chair is empty now. Oh, and there’s an ancient rustbucket in the
driveway. I don’t know where it came
from. I’d swear it wasn’t there a few
minutes ago. It’s an old
stationwagon. I only know that because
Mom drags me to the car museum. She
thinks I should be interested in cars, because I’m a boy. The stationwagon
is backed in, so it looks
like it’s watching the street, standing guard.
I had to tell Mom about the high-heeled shoe I could see behind the
passenger-side rear wheel. I think the
butler was putting the dead lady in the back of the stationwagon. Mom said I
was letting my imagination make up
stories about old man Roper just because he works at the graveyard. I didn’t
know that was the caretaker’s
house! Did I just hear our front door
slam? Hold on a minute…
Mom’s going over there! She went and made up a fruit basket for the
psycho undertaker-slash-butler, and is delivering it to his front door! Oh,
and a big bee-tee-dubs… that chair the
dead lady was in? Yeah, it’s not empty,
after all… there’s a head sitting on the cushion! Sorry, Almanac of Evil, I
need to call the cops before Mom finds a way past that monstrous lock!
The front door just closed again. But I don’t think it’s Mom. She
didn’t answer when I called downstairs to
her. The police aren’t coming.
They laughed at me and told me I could get in
big trouble for making prank calls. You
know that sound of silverware scraping together as some hungry person sharpens
their knife and fork? I’ve never
actually heard it before. I hear it
now. It’s coming up the stair
Brown lives in the Pacific Northwest with his Guide Dog, Edison. His short
stories have appeared in five Black Petals issues, including the 25th
Anniversary issue (#100).