Posted on October 28, 2010
Toy Stormy and the Forbidden Closet
I recall spending many nights with my grandmother at her old farmhouse when I was a child. My mother worked and attended classes to further her education, and my own father was hardly ever there for my sister and I. I can clearly recall playing with my Matchbox cars on the cold linoleum kitchen floor, as well as laying in a circle with Grandma and my sister playing outdated board games. Memories also arise of learning how to play obscure card games, and being granted permission to swear around Grandma at such an early age.
However, my most vivid, inerasable, recollections are of times when I ventured to the abandoned top floor of my grandmother’s aged house. The day that my grandfather died in his bed, the second floor had been abruptly deserted. My grandmother no longer slept upstairs, nor did she bother dusting the second floor. It basically became shut off and used only for storage. It was empty, and since all of the heat was turned off up there, it was quite chilling even in summer’s hottest months.
Human beings, even at the tender age of just seven or eight, are blessed to be born with a certain gift that enables them to sense or feel when someone or something is just slightly “off.” I remained apprehensive about walking up those creaky old stairs for quite a while after my grandfather’s passing, but curiosity got the best of me one particular afternoon. According to one of my cousins, stored in the closet of what used to be my grandparents’ bedroom, was a toy double barrel dart gun that was just paining to be played with.
When I covertly slithered near the abandoned room, the entry door felt like it hadn’t been opened in years. It was made of heavy oak, and nearly compromised my stealthiest of plans. It moaned in grief as I gently guided the hinges open. The fear of being caught was nowhere near as overbearing as the dreadful vibe that exuded from that room. The closet, also guarded by another heavy oaken door, seemed miles away. The once lively bedroom was now lifelessly bitter and desolate. There were no dead insects piled near the drafty weathered windows as I had anticipated. It was completely barren, except for particles of dust that had gathered on the weary hardwood floors. I had noticed that the dust particles had strangely settled most dense in the center of the room, and that they had formed a large rectangle on the brown hardwood. The floors actually looked rather shiny and clean everywhere else except for what appeared to be an outline of a bed.
I decided to go for it quickly because I knew that my grandmother would soon be searching for me, and I would’ve gotten into some serious trouble had she known that I was searching for a gun in an outlawed portion of the house, and in an even more forbidden closet. All of the grandchildren were well aware that this closet was home to many of my grandfather’s once most prized possessions. There was an expensive audio recorder, which he frequently used to record sessions of he and his band playing and singing. There were two guitars. One really old guitar with no brand name where the fret board had worn wafer thin from Grandpap repeating the same G-cord. The closet also housed a dwarf Dukes of Hazard mandolin-like guitar and of course the object of my desire, the double barrel dart gun.
I shuffled quietly across the dusty surface in my socks towards the closet door. I carefully toed around where the bed once rested not to disturb the rectangle remnants. My right hand trembled uncontrollably as I reached out to grasp the bronze doorknob. With a slight clench and twist of the antique Victorian protrusion, the heavy closet door violently swung open. To this day I swear my ears heard a whispered voice say, “Finally,” as the whoosh of air rushed passed my head. I jumped, with both frightened feet into midair to dodge a mechanical rabbit that burst from the closet and raced rapidly around the empty room. It circled me as if I were prey. I felt cornered, even though I was in the center of the room.
As it continued to encircle me, the once settled dust now began to form a cyclonic cloud around my figure. Through the particles I could see a slightly menacing grin upon its hideous ceramic face. The dust was beginning to consume me, I gasped for air. I thought that it would soon all stop because old windup toys can’t go on like this forever. However, the bunny sped around and around faster. I somehow gathered my wits and attempted to reach for the cursed ceramic toy. Its tiny rubber wheels burnt my arm.
I finally just kicked it into the corner of the room where it flipped on its side. The wheels continuously hummed like a router. I frantically searched for an off switch. I found a little black button and slid it to the left, the wheels continued to hum even louder as if to tease me. To make this bizarre experience even more odd, the audio recorder in the closet was now loudly reverberating throughout the room, “You are my Sunshine, My only Sunshine,” with Grandpa singing lead vocals. I tore open the cursed varmint’s battery housing, and of course there were no batteries. However, the compartment contained a fairly large pink gumball. Just then I heard my grandmother scream from the steps, “Brandon, what are you doing up there? Get down from there this instant.”
“You’ll never know dear, how much I love y-,” and the music abruptly stopped. The wheels of the wicked creature finally halted. A silent calm was restored in the room. I placed the tiny ball of bubble gum in my pocket, glanced once more toward the closet and saw the infamous double barrel dart gun. “It was just not worth it,” I thought, shaking my head.
The ceramic rabbit’s appearance has been forever ingrained in my brain. It had unusually large black hollow eyes that spelled pain and sorrow. There were bloody red blemishes stained brightly on the rabbit’s fake tan fur. It had only one unsettling round, rosy pink cheek, the other ingrained with black silt. An extraneous dark blue teardrop disturbingly rested where the bridge of the nose met the eye.
Later on that day, I climbed one of the large trees in the front yard of my grandmother’s farmhouse. Completely fearless of heights or elevation at that young age, I sat atop a thick branch and waited for my mom or dad to pick up my sister and me. I had forgotten about the tasty treat I had extracted from the ugly ceramic mechanical rabbit until I reached into my pocket. High above the lawn I popped the chewing gum into my mouth. Besides the fact that it was beyond stale, I could feel a wrapper, or paper of some sort clenching between my teeth with each jaw compression. What I pulled from my lips I will haunt me forever. It was a tiny piece of paper still partially folded.
This mysterious little letter when unfolded completely was not only shocking, it was personal. It was my secret. What I had read startled me to the point where I nearly lost my balance and fell twenty feet down. I released the note from my thumb and forefinger in disbelief, and watched it float down to the green grass below like a ghostly white butterfly. It settled on the plush grass momentarily but was then swiftly swept away by the breeze. Thus, giving friends, family members and all other people of this world an opportunity to hate me for a dastardly deed I had once committed.
I am often reminded of this dreadful, unnatural experience. Each time I enter a grocery store lobby, where vending machines attempt to lure children with brightly colored gumballs, I excruciatingly recall my terror. I become embarrassed and immediately turn off the song, “You are my Sunshine,” if I hear it. And lastly, if I continue to find furry bunnies every now and again with the stuffing sucked out strategically placed around my yard, I will probably need to seek psychiatric help; especially when each plush creature has been weighed down with; you guessed it, pink gumballs.
Sent in by Brandon Swarrow, Copyright 2010