The Monster’s Ball, by Kevin Lazarus

Kevin Lazarus on the streets of Carthage Falls

Kevin Lazarus in Carthage Falls

(From: The Dark Side of Carthage Falls, the Anthology – by Kevin Lazarus)

“Dude—that night when your step dad came in yelling at us, did he even ask why we were so scared?” Brett stared at me, waiting for my answer. Somehow, during our lunchtime discussion, of just about every gross thing we could imagine, Brett zeroed in on that night—and the shadow. We weren’t alone, sitting at our favorite table. Kelly and some other kid named Derek, who wasn’t there that night, were sitting with us—participating in the gross fest.

Irritated with Brett’s diversion, I realized what it was that had caused the course change. In my attempt to one up the other guys, I brought up the old man barging into my room, showing up in his BVDs. I figured that there were enough witnesses to that night sitting at the table; it would be an easy win.

Of course, Brett refused to concede. But the others were backing me up. That is until Brett decided to point out the fact that my step father was a little hinky—walking around like that—especially with a bunch of kids being there.

“I know he’s weird—what can I say—I didn’t pick him!” It was a mouthful to spit out all at once, but I was embarrassed. I didn’t want any of them to think that I was related to him in any way, other than by my mother’s marriage to him.

Anger flooded through me at Brett’s trickery—he knew how I felt about my stepfather. He knew that I hated him and that it would throw me off, bringing him up. Brett was pretty sharp that way. At this moment he could see I was pretty upset too. All of sudden he gave me a friendly nudge and said: “Tell the guys some of the things he does to you!”

I stared at him in shock, becoming angrier at his continued violation of my trust. It seemed to me that this kid didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut! It would’ve been one thing if he was sincerely concerned for me. But it seemed to me it was a peculiar fascination; like I was one of those bugs he’d trap and then torture mercilessly—all the while wearing that slight slip of smile—his sinister little grin.

The thought of revealing too much about my life was unnerving. But the prodding of my friends to “continue” was hard to resist. Somehow, my thoughts drifted past my desire for revenge against Brett, and with a long paused breath, started—hoping that I truly was in the company of friends.

My words faltered a little, awkwardly tumbling out of my mouth as I began to speak. “Well—one time he pinned me to the floor. I think he thought we were having fun, but I was stinking scared. He pinned my arms down and my legs so I couldn’t move—”

Kelly interrupted. “Aw, my big brother does that to me all of the time, what’s so unusual about that!”

“Shut up piss ant and let him finish!” growled Brett. “He’s not done yet!” Kelly zipped it almost instantly. He and Brett had had run-ins before so he knew Brett wasn’t kidding. Kelly leaned back and didn’t say another word.

“Go on—” Brett insisted patting me on the back.

“Well—he had this kind of sick, creepy look in his eyes,” I said. “It’s hard to explain, and he doesn’t have it all of the time, just some of the time—when he gets all weird about something I’m doing wrong.”

Derek squirmed a little in his seat, but didn’t say anything. He just continued to watch me intensely, listening like he didn’t want to miss a single word.

So I continued. “He leaned down real close to my face and whispered to me that he was going to take me down to Mexico and strip me naked and leave me there with the other kids. It’s like he really liked the idea, and I don’t think he was kidding!”

Derek’s lips wrinkled a bit with apparent disgust as he struggled to speak—he looked horrified. “He—he wasn’t in his BVD’s was he?”

Almost instantaneously the other two broke out in a chorus. “Oooh YUCK!”

 

“That would’ve been really sick,” I said, shaking my head and grimacing.

 

“Yeah!” Brett said flatly, “really sick!”

“So what happened next?” demanded Kelly, now more intrigued. “Did he do anything else to you?”

“Nah, not then, because my mom came in and I started screaming for her to make him get off of me.”

Kelly started eyeing me a little weird, as if he didn’t believe me. At least that was what I thought until he finally spoke up. “My brother doesn’t do that—I don’t think I like your old man—”

“He’s not my old man,” I growled, “he’s my stepfather!”

“Well—I don’t like him anyhow—he’s weird,” Kelly groused.

A little frustrated by the incessant interruptions, Brett snapped at everyone. “Will guys shut up and let him continue!”

I looked around the table waiting for them to settle, one-by-one their eyes focusing back on me. “Yeah—he gets a whole lot weirder than that. I woke up in the middle of the night one time and had the feeling that I wasn’t alone—I wasn’t!”

Derek’s eyes widened to where I could almost see all of the white of his eyes.

“At first, I didn’t know what it was that I was feeling and you know how your eyes are when you first wake up—I couldn’t see anything either.” I looked at Brett and Kelly. “You remember that light coming through my window?”

Brett just nodded, silent. But Kelly got a real serious squint in his eyes and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Are you crazy?!” he snapped. “I will never forget that night—EVER!”

“Well, as I began to see better, I just felt like I shouldn’t move, so I didn’t. But I tried to look around my room and—” I still don’t know if I just unconsciously paused or if I did it to be dramatic, but it drove them a little crazy.

“AND WHAT?” demanded Derek.

“And—I saw something—well—someone—”

Kelly’s voice cracked as he interrupted me. “Someone?!”

“Yeah—standing in my bedroom doorway!” I felt my throat tighten slightly as I revisited the image in my mind’s eye, and my friends could see it in my face.

There was a slight audible gasp from them. Brett was now staring at me intensely, completely mesmerized.

“So who was it,” Kelly stammered, “do you know?”

“Who do you think it was, you little worm—it was his step dad!” Brett snapped.

Attempting to keep things from melting down into a conflict I continued right on talking. “It was him!” I admitted. “But the really weird thing is—?”

“Yeah?” Derek squeaked nervously.

I choked a little as I whispered. “I—I—couldn’t see his face. He was standing in my bedroom doorway with that streetlight shining right on him through my bedroom window and—his face looked like some kind of shadow—even in the dark!”

Each of the other boys silently stared at me with obvious expressions of shock. Kelly’s lower jaw was hanging down far enough that his chin nearly hit his chest. I even think I heard one of them gasp once more.

“It gets even weirder than that,” I quietly added.

I pursed my lips tightly, while still biting my lower lip. Still somewhat uneasy about saying anymore, I was surprised at how liberating it was to unburden myself of my rather odd experiences at home.

With that growing sense of liberation, I launched into my next story. “Once, when he came home from work, and as he came through the front door, he was being all smiley and happy and all. But before my mom could even say “hi” he suddenly went all weird and got excited; claiming he had just heard something out in the garage.”

Kelly suddenly cut me off again. “Is that even possible? Your garage is like, way at the other end of your house!”

“Yeah—that’s exactly what I thought too!”  “He ran down our hallway and out the garage door—and I followed him. When I caught up with him, he went nuts claiming that he just saw someone crawling under the garage door. It was open far enough that I could’ve slid under it—but I didn’t see anyone. So then he went running out the side door outside, and we both ran to the front of the house. But there was no one there. He got all excited again, pointing down at the sidewalk where there were wet footprints on the cement, sure that they had been left by whoever had been in our garage.”

“WOW, that sounds so awesome!” said Derek, excitedly waiting for more.

“NO,” I said flatly, “the footprints looked just like the shoes he was wearing! He wears these pointy leather shoes to work, I know because I shine them for him. The footprint on the ground looked just like the shoes he was wearing!”

Brett’s eyebrows tilted with one brow dropping lower than the other. “What—does he think you’re stupid?”

“I guess—”

“So what happened next?” Derek begged.

“My mom went to bed. But then he did something else kind of weird. He turned out the lights and went into the kitchen and looked out the window waiting, like he was looking for something. Then he started acting strange again and wanted me to look out the window too.”

“What did you see?” asked Brett.

“There was this guy walking past the house way across the other side of the road. He stopped for a moment and stared at our house and then started walking again. My stepfather swore up and down that that had to be the guy—but—”

“But what?” Kelly asked anxiously.

“Well—he was wearing tennis shoes.”

I waited for them to process what I had just told them. Derek just stared at me as if I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead. And I began to worry about what he would say to the other kids.

Finally, Kelly chimed in. “Well, I’ll admit that thing in the middle of the night is a little creepy, But I don’t know about the whole thing with the garage—you could have that all wrong.”

I must have looked really disappointed, because Brett suddenly gave me a friendly push urging me to tell them more. “Kevin,” he said, “tell them—you know—the hide and seek thing!”

Kelly and Derek shot each other an excited glance, one of profound curiosity and then back at me. “What ‘hide and seek thing’?”

Now, realizing that Derek might not be as discrete as I would hope he would be—possibly worse than Brett. I resisted Brett until he pushed me again. “Come on,” he declared more earnestly, “tell them what you told me!”

Suddenly Kelly started chanting, and then Derek and Brett joined in. “tell us, tell us—”

And like a bubble bursting, I blurted, “he likes to play hide and seek—in the dark—just the two of us!”

All three of my friends fell silent once more.

“Sometimes—he gets home before my mom, right as its getting dark. It always seems to be when she is going to be late getting off of work. And, he turns off all of the lights in the house so that none of them work. I try turning them back on, but somehow he’s turned all of them off so that I can’t. And then he just sits in the dark calling my name—”

Suddenly the school bell went off and all four of us jumped. Mrs. Palter came by and told us to “hurry to our classrooms.” Kelly and Derek leapt to their feet, almost as if they were happy to be leaving, and took off running while Brett dutifully patted me on the back and said: “Come on, we better get going—”

I nodded quietly and followed.

***

Mrs. Owens and my mom had agreed that I would stay after school for awhile until I was caught up on my school work with the other kids. So, I had to walk home by myself. The Sun was setting—

As I approached the orchard, I walked slowly past the opening of the trail. I stopped for a moment and stared at it, but I didn’t even dare consider going that way. That’s not to say the temptation wasn’t there, because it was. It was getting darker by the second and I wanted to be home now more than ever, the orchard was a shortcut.  But I knew better than to do it alone.

Memories of my invisible stalker were already haunting me. Yet, I took comfort in the fact that there were other kids—after school stragglers like me—going in the same direction. And, for a little while I was distracted by the fact that Carly was walking just ahead of me. Though I had no idea why “little miss perfect” was walking home with the rest of us losers.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I wanted to join her, it seemed too bold a move—so I didn’t. One by one, the other kids left the main road headed toward their individual homes. And finally, Carly did the same. But she did something completely unexpected. She stopped and turned facing me. A little surprised I stopped too and hesitantly waved to her. It was then that she did something else amazing—she waved back at me and smiled. As I watched her turn and leave, I now felt a little foolish for not having tried to walk with her.

***

The Sun had nearly set and my home was dark. Not a single light on in the house. And an autumn breeze tickling at the back of my neck only made a cold night, colder. I stood out on the sidewalk staring at my step dad’s car sitting in the driveway, as my entire body went cold. My mother’s car wasn’t there, she wasn’t home!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait him out, not in the cold. So I slowly walked up to the front door and opened it as quietly as possible. Reaching in, I flipped the light switch, but, as I feared, nothing happened. Another wave of cold blew through me, and then kept coming in waves with what happened next—what I heard next. His voice, strangely small and odd sounding, as he said only one thing—over and over again in the dark. “K-e-v-i—oh—K-e-v-i—come find me—”

TO BE CONTINUED…

New installment: THE DARK SIDE OF CARTHAGE FALLS, January 04, 2012

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Copyright 2011 Kevin Lazarus/DreamStream Productions Inc.

Kevin Lazarus NOW on SMASHWORDS! http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/creepystories

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One Response to The Monster’s Ball, by Kevin Lazarus

  1. rohmorgon says:

    This was really…creepy!

    Nice job with the boys – I think you captured their essence well!

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