Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Old Lady Eldridge by Brandon Hooks - A story for October!
Devon Penny and Blaine Roby lived on Dubuque Street in the Gunter Grove neighborhood. Unfortunately, for old lady Eldridge, so did she; and she was about to become the next victim of the boys’ cruel pranks. Devon and Blaine were known throughout the Gunter Grove community as pranksters, and hard-core troublemakers. Their track record of activity was astounding when it came to the elderly. Any chance they could get, they trespassed, rang doorbells, and threw rocks at houses. They escaped detection from the police every time. Parents forbid their children to associate with the hoodlums, forcing Devon and Blaine to have no friends, and to cherish one another.
The boys’ favorite pranks included wrapping a house with toilet paper, or spray-painting the windows. When they were lucky enough to get hold of them, they set off firecrackers, waking the whole neighborhood. Ms. Eldridge of Dubuque Street was next on their list of elderly harassment.
The old lady lived all alone most of her adult life, and now three scrawny cats were her only companions. Perhaps it was self reliance which enabled her to keep active well into her nineties. Each day, her familiar figure, still upright and without the support of a cane, scurried the length of Dubuque Street, laden with shopping bags. This furthered their cause to terrorize her. The one thing they were in agreement on was that they despised the elderly, and this one was fresh meat for their undertaking. She lived in the establishment alone, and without a man protecting her honor.
There wasn’t a call for violence against her. The mission was easy and painless; make her aware of who ran the neighborhood. There method for achieving this outcome was to knock on her backdoor many times, and insult her with the vilest words possible. When this was done, they would hide in her storage shed, a structure that stood in solitude within the closed in, but well kept backyard.
Typically old ladies like Ms. Eldridge lived in ramshackle, neglected properties, like the one across the road from her superior abode. However, this singular old lady had bought and maintained a prestigious home with neat paint-work and tidy gardens. It was her retirement savings that did this for her. She worked many years of her adult life as CEO of an explosive, worldwide, law firm. Within two years of her retirement, she’d accumulated a vast fortune through the use of an IRA savings account. It was obvious that she didn’t see the need to put any of the money into her looks. She kept it saved and decided the riches outweighed the need to do something about the level of her comeliness. I can attest to you how unattractive Ms. Eldridge was by the actions of one particular neighbor when she was seen outside for the first time tending to her rose bushes. A neighbor running into the house as if a tornado was barreling towards him is a solid, reasonable depiction of her incapability to show the world a beautiful woman.
There were certain, concentrated parts of the house that fed her obsession. She washed the purple drapes that hung in the window frames twice a day! She seemed to nurture a fear of robbery, as was evident when she was continuously observed pulling at the bars on her windows like a mad-woman trying to escape from her own house. The front door was black, and so it remained, even after the weather had delivered punishment on its color and texture over the years. When it showed signs of dying into a light, dirty, brown, she would simply take out the old Sherwin Williams paint bucket, and drive the brush over the door with a fresh coat of black. The huge rose bushes flourished every day, singing its music to the world, and to old lady Eldridge’s lonely heart.
For three days during the week of the promised attack, the boys watched her house. When the fourth night arrived, Ms. Eldridge was gone. Her driveway was vacant. Maybe she was shopping for groceries, they thought amongst themselves. The entire day had gone by, and she never returned. They were too excited and carefree at heart to pay attention to the fact that it was after 1:00 am on Friday morning when she finally returned home.
They met each other Friday night by the street light at the edge of the crippled, abandoned house across the street from Ms. Eldridge’s dwelling. It was ten forty five, and all lights were off in the old lady’s house. They ran like marathon contenders to her backyard, and stopped at the back door. A gentle breeze tickled them as they stood at the door that divided an antisocial, old lady from the world.
There was silence behind the back door when they walked up to it, and then one of the cats whined softly, thrusting them backwards as if they had seen the old lady’s face for the first time. Then something else happened that stilled the currents of their blood. There were slow, heavy footsteps approaching the door. One step… two steps… a third step… and silence.
The cat screeched in anger as a loud thump pounded the floor. Devon held his chest, hoping he could slow the pounding of his heart.
Blaine whispered to Devon, “Pssss, get ready to run to the shed. I’m gonna knock ten, hear me, ten times. When I finish knocking run as fast as ya can. I will stand here and wait until she turns the knob. Then I will catch up with ya.”
Devon said nothing.
“Hey, don’t ya be an ole wuss like ya were a couple a weeks ago when the ole man pulled the gun out on us for trespassing and rolling his house.”
Devon nodded his head and said, “Okay, jus knock on the door so we can get this over with. I hate the way I feel about this. Old ladies scare the shit out of me!”
Blaine covered his mouth and chuckled. Devon stood away from the door, and prepared to make a run for the shed. Before Blaine could even conceive of knocking on the door, something occurred that almost forced Devon to heave. The old lady was talking to her cats! Her tone was sad and weary, and each time she spoke, the cats howled as if in answer.
“How could that young man do such a thing to me, my darlings? How could he physically violate me like that? He is a heathen destined for the pits of Hades.”
Blaine could feel a scream begin to form. Before he could unleash it, he pounded on the door ten times. Devon darted towards the shed as if his very own life depended on it. He shut the door enough to where he could still see the back door. Blaine stood there waiting for Ms. Eldridge’s arrival. Devon shut the door and sighed.
“Hey, ya ole turkey! Let’s see yer ugly face!” Blaine antagonized.
Man, it is hot in here! Devon thought.
A long time passed, and all was silent. Blaine was still at the door waiting to play the joke.
Geez, what was taking the old lady so long? He thought.
He felt himself getting hotter by the minute. A breath of wind, like a thief in the night, slapped the storage shed, causing him to jolt, and sending a ringing throughout the structure. Following this came the sound of soft footsteps, like someone slowly walking through a yard of leaves.
Well, it is about time, dumb ass! His thoughts screamed as Blaine walked instead of running to the shed. Typical Blaine; can’t even follow his own plans!
There was a dead silence as the footsteps ceased.
What was he doing?
He thrust open the door, and before him was The Grin! It was not the type of grin where the person is thinking, I’ve got you right where I want you now! No, this was the type of facial display where this person was preparing to delight themselves over a brutal murder. This type of person wanted to see their victim witness a small glimmer of eternal hell, and they wanted to be the one to make it happen! This was old lady Eldridge, the woman rumored to be lonely, but harmless. She now stood before Devon. In her right hand was a sword that he was all too familiar with. It was a 16th century Renaissance Sword. It was a deadly sword he had read about a couple years back while surfing the internet during his unhealthy obsession over swords. This time the sword was no longer the object of his fascination. Instead it was an object of horror, a long piece of European metal bathed in Blaine’s blood. She held his corpse up with the sword. Saliva dripped off her milky, white teeth as she uncoiled her enormous tongue and wiggled it.
My God, what was this thing, or should I dare even call her a woman?! He thought, as he was too paralyzed to waken the neighborhood with his screams.
Nothing else in the world mattered but that smile! He couldn’t remember if he even caught a full glimpse of her body. He knew that she must have been skeletal in her frame; by the way the corner of his eye captured her. There was a stream of white hair that flowed from her head, but his pounding heart had an intimate relationship with one thing; the smile! Her black eyes and cold blooded grin did all the talking, and that was enough to cause Devon’s heart to beat the walls of his chest. Her grin spread further and saliva dripped as if she were a famished animal, hurting for Devon’s blood.
Blaine’s face was pulled downward and apart as if a monstrous hand had pushed out of his throat and was stretching the mouth to escape. All his facial bones and nerves were shattered. His face remnants consisted of a cross between unimaginable horror and unprecedented shock at what had been done to him by such a harmless lady.
Devon watched as she threw Blaine’s corpse on top of the shed. She approached him with growing speed. As she stood at the door before Devon, she spit and cursed him. This time around her voice was weary.
“Young man, may I ask what you're doing in my yard this time of night… hmmm?” She asked as if she were just an annoyed old lady.
Devon fell to the side and hit the wall.
Ms. Eldridge grabbed him by the shirt and said, “Young man… hey!”
She slapped him across the cheek.
“Hey, I’m talking to you! What are you doing in my yard?”
Devon struggled to find the words. “I…”
“I asked your friend up there the same question and he had the same answer. Well, I had to just answer for him I guess.”
She held up the long, bloody, European metal and gave it an adoring look.
“These ere such nice, fancy weapons, wouldja say? Perfect for the disposal of heathen children.” She asked as she transferred the blade of the sword to Devon’s throat. His heart pounded louder. Eldridge’s ears pricked up like a dog hearing the sound of food hitting his bowl. Ever since she was raped by the bipolar 16-year old boy, her insanity had given her permission to hear everything! Now, her ears were in tuned to the pounding of his heart.
“Calm down there, young fella.” She said. “Yer soul is gonna be so stretched with terror before I can shove this sword into yer heart.” She said. “What good would it do me ta try and touch that heart when it is cold, scared, and barely functioning?”
“I… I don’t know.” Devon said.
She lifted his chin up and stared into his eyes.
“Hey, it won’t hurt that bad. I will make it a painless death. Promise.”
“Please don’t kill me. I won’t tell anybody…. promise!” He cried.
Ms. Eldridge’s mood suddenly changed. It went from cold blooded lack of remorse to vicious. Her face was dark with a contorted snare.
“Yer not gonna tell anybody, huh? Now, let’s see if I have this correct. You and yer friend up there come trespassing into my backyard, wanting to play a joke on me, which by the way would never work to begin with.
While she spoke she took the sword and pointed it to the back of the storage unit. Devon looked back and noticed the frame of a skeleton like body lying face down. The frame was youth-like in size. His heart raced so fast it managed to skip beats.
She smiled again.
“Yes sir. That was the last young 'un to try and outsmart me. Foolish boy!” She said.
“So, anyways, you and yer friend up there want to trespass on my property, and you say that you’re not gonna tell anybody what I have done!”
She stretched her neck and faced him as if she were preparing to plant a kiss on his lips. The irony of her pleasant smelling breath was tremendous.
“My boy, you will be the one that will be going to juvy. I just did what I had to do with an unruly boy.”
Devon couldn’t scream. Even the sight of another murdered boy couldn’t help him with it. He felt pale and weak. He never thought a person could literally be scared to the point of death, but it looked like he was the exception to the rule.
She withdrew her head from his face and pointed the sword at the area of his chest.
“I think I will shove it rigghhtt there.” She said with a wink.
His heart beat louder and he felt weaker. He didn’t care anymore. If she was going to do it, she needed to get it over with. His heart couldn’t slow down from the brink of destruction. It had been pumping its terror-stricken blood for what seemed forever. The adrenaline racing through his body kept him alive a little bit longer.
Ms. Eldridge quickly withdrew the blade and looked towards the driveway.
“Did you hear that?” She asked.
The sound of car doors slamming relieved him a little bit, but not long enough, when he realized that whoever was out there was in terrible danger. The old lady’s eyes rolled back in her head as she stretched her neck to see who was visiting this time of hour.
“Sssshhh!” She whispered to Devon as she scurried away from the shed and into the darkness towards the back door. The visitors were police officers.
“Hey, new guy. We’re just gonna try and ask this person here if they know anything about the robbery that took place around this area a week and a half ago. I know it’s late, but tomorrow I’m off, and the sergeant wants me to feel you in on how we question citizens who might know something about a crime in the area.” The chief officer said.
“Affirmative.” The rookie responded. They knocked on the front door. The shadow of the old lady turned and flailed in the dark near the back door. Devon’s head ached, and sweat saturated his palms.
It is a perfect time for me to get the hell out of dodge! He thought, but it was just that, wishful thinking that couldn’t come to reality because he was paralyzed by the events playing out.
It was as if he’d been chained and couldn’t move. The tides of blood in his stomach seemed to be sloshing around, as he felt his bowels move. He bent down and gripped at his buckling knees.
Must not have a panic attack! His mind screamed as if shouting at himself would somehow alleviate the doubt that was there. Hell yeah I was going to have an attack! My best friend lies dead above me while I stand here in these four walls of searing hell, worrying myself to death over two cops whose fates will be sealed by their own blood if I don’t do something to stop it!
The quiet night returned, and time passed by. A dog howled in the distance.
God, just let me die! His thoughts screamed again.
What followed next was the sound of a door slamming in the house. Trees bending slightly under the influence of a coming storm preceded screams from inside her house, like the cries of a tormented soul in hell trying to get the Almighty God to hear them all the way from the glory of heaven. Devon retrieved what was remaining of his strength, and flung open the door in a last attempt at escape. He ran into the throat of the night with a certain knowledge that would terrorize him for the rest of his life. He left behind two souls that didn’t know anything about the evil that lurked in the mind and heart of a lonely, violated, misunderstood woman.
Devon was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia and paranoia. He was the patient at Bryce Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where his parents visited him frequently. Over time he made progress and began to forget about the events that occurred that night. He thought about Blaine a lot, and wished he was still alive so that they could carry on their destructive pranks. Kids will be kids, the old saying goes, and these two boys were pure kids, immature, and reckless.
Ms. Eldridge escaped jail time for the murders on substantial proof of her insanity. She was institutionalized as a result, and would remain there. Devon never knew he could cry like a screaming baby, when one night he awoke to the door slamming, and seeing the Grin at the foot of his bed. He wasn’t sure if he’d caught a full glimpse of her body, though.