Vicky, Mollie, and I always liked going next door to hear Bob Blake tell us spooky stories. One of my favorites was about the monkey’s paw. He was very handy with tools, like his fish pond he build in the back and cardboard box dog house that was built below his work bench. But he was fun.
He liked Vicky, he like Mollie and most of all he liked me. He could tell spooky stories like know one else I knew. So when our mother said we could go over to his backyard to listen to him tell stories over the course of our summer nights, we were thrilled!
“Can we make some popcorn?” the three of chimed in.
“You know how scared you get Joan,” Mollie said. “You better not try to sleep in my bed.”
I envisioned myself all brave as I grabbed my favorite blanket. “I’m not scared Mollie.” I answered back. Together we carried over all the goodies and blankets. Chris and Bobby came out as we all settled in our spots under the covered patio. Jasmine draped downward filling the air with its sweet aroma. Next to the brick wall we would glide our fingers over the creeping ‘sensitive’ annual plant. It become all bashful and folded up with our touch. I was fascinated by this. How could a plant become all shy? “Joan, stop that. You’ll kill it.” Bob said as he came out from the garage with his chewed-up tiny cigar hanging out of his lip. “Let’s get started.”
We all snuggled in close sitting in a circle. The popcorn bowl sat in the center. Bob was to my left and Mollie was on my right. The story began about the legend of the monkey’s paw. His voice became deep and doomful with each passing moment. I pulled my blanket closer.
“Hey, Joan,” said Chris. “You look all scared.”
“Am not,” I said. “I’m cold.”
“Are you afraid the paw will come for you?” asked Vicky.
I shook my head back and forth.
“Are you afraid about having nightmares?” asked Mollie.
Glancing upward I shook my head back and forth. She knew better.
“Are you afraid to walk home in the dark all by yourself?” asked Bobby. This really was ridiculous because we lived right next door. But I was.
I shook my head back and forth pulling the covers even closer if that’s possible. Bob continued in his sinister voice. I slowly curled myself real close to Mollie. She always would take care of me even when she didn’t want to. She gentle wrapped her arm around me.
Just when he got to the part about the son knocking on the door, my mom yelled over the fence, “Bob, you have to send the girls home now.”
With a shriek in our voice we all chimed in, “No!” A silent sigh. A pounding heart. He stopped leaving ‘us’ hungry for more. The monkey’s paw did get me tonight. But I did sleep next to my sister to keep me safe just in case.