I wrote this piece when my friend Lauren brought in another yet another great idea – write some flash fiction. She gave us the idea that a little boy was in bed, meant to go to sleep, but he couldn’t, for the very good reason that he thought there was something hiding under the bed! We did some free-writing from there and this is what I came up with…
Daddy kneels up from the floor, and looks at the figure in the bed looking back at him, sadly, sickly with that half smile Jake uses when he’s having his photograph taken.
“That’s Jake in the bed”, his inner voice says.
“If that’s so, who’s that under the bed?”
“It’s that wine you had. Barbara told you not to drink when you’re taking antibiotics. But you wouldn’t listen.”
“Now Jake” Daddy said to Jake in the bed. “Everything’s all right. There’s nothing under the bed.”
“Do you promise Daddy?”
“Yes Jake. I promise.”
“Check under the bed again. Just one more time. Call yourself a real father?” his inner voice says.
“Don’t be stupid”, Daddy says back.
“Jake, I really, really promise”.
“All right Daddy. If you really, really promise.”
“Jake, I think you’ve had too much chocolate and too much Coca Cola and your imagination’s run wild! Now you go to sleep and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“All right Daddy. Night night.”
“Night night Jake.” Outside he turns to close the door to Jake’s room but hears a voice say “Don’t close the door Daddy.”
“All right Jake.” But he pulls it to anyway.
As the gap between the door and the architrave narrows, the glow from the boy’s night lamp changes from rose, to scarlet , to vermilion to the deep red hue that blood takes on when the slaughterman’s slashed a pig’s throat, and finally, to black. Then there is no, was no, was never any gap.
Then there is offered up a driving, pitched buzz-saw noise that Daddy still hopes, still prays, still cries out to the ghost of his long dead Mother, to the voice in his head, because there’s no one else left to listen. Not even God hears now. But he prays, he whines in the time between the tearing fingernails of his sub conscience and the split second when he is mercifully dispatched into deep, dark dreamful sleep.
And that sound is the sound of Jake screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming…