Halloween Fiction: the sculptor: 6 of 11

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Curled up behind the steering wheel, keys in the ignition, doors locked Thomas felt safe enough to sleep deeply, the victim of his exhaustion and stress.  He awoke only when he heard the moving van rumble up in front of his building.  Blinking, he had a vague, disconcerting memory of having a nightmare, but he shook it off – there were too many things to do.  Still bleary-eyed and disoriented, Thomas introduced himself to the crew of workers.

“Have you finished packing?”  one of the younger men asked, peering through the window as Thomas unlocked big angel altthe door.

With the question, Thomas reached back into his mind to remember the events of the night before.  Trying to stifle his sudden wave of fear, he rushed to answer, “I should only have one box left, I can pack it while you load the other boxes into the truck.”  Because, he reassured himself, none of it was real.

When he swung the door open, he gasped in terror.

There were sculptures everywhere.  Most of the boxes had been opened, clothes and books spewed across the floor.  Curiosity was frozen on top of a box, trying to remove the tape.  Viciousness was busy bludgeoning another sculpture, cowardice, by the door.  Mischeviousness held onto the hot water tap in the kitchen as a cold stream gushed into the sink.

For the moment, though, the were all still, unmoving, frozen in the middle of their mayhem.

Behind him Thomas heard the boss sigh sharply, “Is this what you think being packed should be, Mr. Darrow?”

Eyes wide, Thomas turned back to the man.  His look of shock softened the boss’ scowl.  “This…”  he squeaked, “This isn’t what it looked like when I left last night.”

The youngest man shrugged, offering helpfully, “Maybe some kids got in last night, and decided to mess with you?”

Numbly, Thomas nodded.  That must be it.  Someone in the complex heard about Moira’s situation and decided to play a cruel joke.

“If you want us to help you clean up this mess,” the boss rumbled, “it will be an extra charge.”

“Oh.”  Thomas nodded his head eagerly, “That’s okay.  If you all can pack up those sculptures, I’ll fix the rest.”

The men laughed at his eagerness to have them do the ‘easy’ job, at his obvious unwillingness to handle these lumps of clay.  When they saw the wide berth Thomas gave any piece he came across, it fueled their glee.   Still shaking their heads and chuckling they began wandering through the apartment, collecting the artwork.

Every so often, someone would sneak behind Thomas, brandishing a statue, and scream “Gotcha!” just to watch him jump.  With great delight, the youngest held a statuette to his neck and screamed, “Help! Help!  He’s trying to kill me!”

Thomas took all their ribbing quietly, he was too spooked for any shows of bravado.  Their teasing could not outweigh his fear.

It only took them an hour to find all the sculptures and pack them away.  After that was done, Thomas started breathing easier.  For his part, he had cleaned up the mess that had been left, “It must’ve been kids or something,” he kept whispering to himself, “someone trying to scare me, someone who knew about Moira.”

His rationalizations came easier given the spectacle that had occurred when Moira was taken to the hospital.  Police, emergency medical people, firemen, neighbors all cluttered in front of their door, talking about how the poor lady had gone mad.  Moira’s screaming had let everyone know what was happening.  Part of Thomas’ incentive to move was the persistent habit of the tenants in his building to snicker when they saw him, asking how his wife was, if any art had attacked her lately.  Before Moira’s hospitalization, he had thought that he had endured that cruelest people had to offer when he was a child and adolescent trapped in school with unfriendly, taunting peers.  ‘Adults can be just as bad,’ he reminded himself, as he heard the moving crew still joking among themselves about his apprehension, ‘even worse, because they are more practiced in cruelty.’

The repacking and resealing went fairly quickly and soon the movers were hefting the furniture and boxes into the truck.  Thomas picked up the box marked ‘Moira’s Journals’ and put it in his car.  While he was bent down over it, he stroked her name on the top of the box and whispered, “I can understand your fear, finally, sweetheart.  You lost so much sleep, you were in such a bad state, your hallucinations must’ve seemed so real.  I’d just never let myself get fatigued enough to have one like that.  And, if it hadn’t been for the movers, I might not have understood that someone had moved them, playing some kind of joke on me.  It would have been terrifying.  I can finally understand how you felt.”

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