Not that I need the crutches. My leg is fine now. The break was clean; the cast inconvenient but a nice attention getter; the crutches cumbersome and ugly.
I would have liked to have thrown the tall rigid walking implements into the trash. Or at least recycled them for some other poor soul to use.
But, sagely, I left my un-needed crutches standing in the foyer, by the front door.
. . . an eerie, chilly late October day, gray-skied with an errant orangey leaf blowing in the wind.
The kind of day I usually relish going for a walk.
But as I open the front door, I re-live how I broke my leg. I had been only five minutes from my house, in front of Mr. Barker’s abandoned 100-year–old mansion. The mansion next to the even older cemetery.
Where, seven weeks ago, I heard a scream so horrifying I immediately ran toward the mansion’s front door before thinking of dialing 911.
Now, I grab one of the crutches and leave my house, breathing in the crisp autumn air.
I must get that horrific image out of my mind . . .
Now, almost two months since my broken leg incident, I try to act casual as I stride past the cemetery toward the old house. No one else in the neighborhood is out and about. I’d been so lucky on that August afternoon when a neighbor heard my scream of pain and called 911. The paramedics arrived in record time, and yet, when they put me on a stretcher, moaning and claiming I’d seen something unimaginable in the old house, they took it as the ramblings of an injured woman.
Later, after I got x-rayed and casted, I called the police and insisted they check out Mr. Barker’s house.
“That place has been abandoned since old Mr. Barker died in ’08,” Officer Rodney Steer told me, as blunt as ever. Rodney Steer and I dated once. It didn’t go well, and he’s avoided me like the plague ever since. And I’ve avoided him like I would any unmannered beast.
“We thought it was abandoned,” I told Rodney with a hint of impatience. My leg throbbed, my head pounded, and I couldn’t remove the image of what I’d seen at the mansion. “Someone, or something, greeted me when I opened that front door.”
The pause on the other end of the line told me that Officer Rodney Steer thought I was off my rocker.
“And it wasn’t pretty,” I added, trying to sound as menacing as possible in my shaky, just-broke-my-leg voice. “Please, just go there and check it out.”
Officer Steer assured me a week later, when I called to follow-up, that he had visited the house, where the door was locked and boarded up, “as it has been since ’08,” and my imagination had just run away with me and down the stairs that broke my leg.
The memory of his patronizing tone leads me now to walk up those same granite steps. Call me stupid, but this time, I’m prepared. I hold a crutch in one hand to use as a weapon, and my wits to help me prepare for the sight I might see.
Additionally, I aim my cell phone in my other hand, ready to shoot a photo of the thing that might greet me at the door.
Not surprisingly, the mansion’s front door is not boarded up, and when I turn the knob, it’s not locked.
A scream commences from inside the house.
Of course, by now I’ve figured that the sound is not a scream, but a supplication – a plea – to enter and see what thrives within.
I know I shouldn’t. I beg myself to escape the pull that is urging me to take that first step into the threshold.
. . . this time, no one hears my screams.