Since it’s Halloween month, I thought this week I’d tell a “real” scary story.
When I was eight years old my favorite show was Little Orphan Annie, it came on every Sunday afternoon, and filled our dull day with adventure and mystery. It was our reward if we sat still and behaved in church, I had to keep myself from running as church let out to make it home and changed so I could hear the booming voice of the announcer, as he invited us to listen in on Annie’s next adventure. I had just sat down and turned the radio on and heard the tubes crackle as they came to life, but just as I waited for the deep voice of the announcer, I heard our newscaster, “Be on the look out for a late model station wagon with Canada plates.” The newscaster continued, “Be on the look out for a tall man, height about 6 foot 2, dark hair, age about 35, last seen wearing a fur coat.” The announcer continued, “Do not approach this man, but contact the local authorizes, he is wanted in connection to a murder of a family of five outside Vancouver.” The crackle started again when the announcer came back on, “we now return to our regular scheduled program.” The booming voice of the announcer started. I looked at my sister with wide eyes, “do you think he’ll come here Clarabelle?” My older and wiser sister rolled her eyes, “of course not Len, there’s no reason, why would anyone come to Moore’s who’s on the run? Be quiet I want to listen.”
We sat back and listened to the show, but all I could think of was the station wagon, I looked out the window watching for anything unusual, but all I saw was snow flakes, snow and more snow. I wished that Daddy and Momma were there, they had gone to New York city for the weekend, and all we had to protect us from the killer was our five foot two Nanny, who was no older then sixteen and no stronger then my sister Claribell. I looked at the door and wished we had a big lock, then I gazed out of the front window and I saw him, the tall figure in the fur coat, he was walking up sidewalk across the street and there was the station wagon. It couldn’t be true I thought, I called to the Nanny and she looked out, she sensed as I did that this was a real threat, she picked up my small brother, and quietly called my sisters and I to follow her. Just as we crept into the dinning room we heard the knob of the front door turn and the wood crecked as it gave way to open. Our nanny gave a gesture to remain quiet as we backed into the kitchen, we could hear the loud steps of the tall man walk through the hall coming closer, we could hear him walk up the stairs, opening the doors and closing, walking back down and entering the dining room, with steps more silent then I thought possible we backed into the kitchen cupboard, we squished in, with not room to move, I heard the door open to the kitchen and my heart pounded, I was sure he’d hear it, pounding like drums.
We each held our breath as we heard the steps pause at the door, but it wouldn’t give, we were so crammed in there was no room for it to open. The man gave one last tug and walked on, losing interest, we held our breath and waited as we listened, the steps grew fainter and at last we heard the front door close and the latch catch. Our Nanny squeezed us against the shelving as she pulled the door open. We all seemed to tumble out; we crept in and looked at the window, and saw the back of the man as he excited our gate.
We could smell he’s cherry pipe everywhere, a reminder that he had been real, with that Nanny asked Clarabelle to go next door and get the pastor, he’d call the authorities.
As Clarabelle leapt the fence to the parsonage and ran for the door, Nanny seemed to crumble to the kitchen chair, and sensing it was clear, Johnny let out a holler. Nanny patted him, trying to calm him, as I kept watch from the front window, peering just above the window ledge, crouched so if there was another passerby or our visitor returned he would not see me.
Minutes seem to stretch like hours, finally the pastor burst in, convinced that it was our imagination and sense of fear of not having Daddy at home that had created this crisis, then he smelt it, the cherry pipe tobacco, it seemed to linger in every crevice of the house.
We later heard on the radio that in deed the man had passed through Moore’s taking the back roads from Canada to the United States, he was caught that night and found guilty of killing the family of five, I wondered why he’d stopped at our house, but I always knew it was God’s protection that kept him from finding us, and of course my addiction to Orphan Annie that alerted us, but sadly after a real life mystery, it no longer held the thrill of life and death.
COPYRIGHT 2011 Stephanie Fitch – all rights reserved