by Starsky Hutch 76
On Thursday evening, Brad asked his wife, “So, is Josh down for the night?”
“Uh-huh,” Lynn said, wearing a sly smile on her face.
“Really and truly down?”
“Last I checked, the little guy was sawing logs, so I’d say he was down for the night.”
“Hallelujah!” Brad exclaimed, rolling toward her. Times with his wife had been few and far between since their son Josh had developed a sudden fear of the dark. The boy had insisted on sleeping in the bed between them, which had put a serious cramp in their love life.
Brad leaned in to kiss Lynn, when he heard the words he’d come to dread every night. “Mommy? Daddy?” He groaned and rolled back over to see the small form of his son staring at them anxiously. “Can I sleep with you guys?” the boy asked.
“We’ve been through this, Josh. You’ve got to start sleeping in your own bed.”
“But there’s something in the dark!” Josh cried.
“There’s nothing there,” Brad said. “It’s your own imagination.”
“There is!” Josh whined. “I think it’s a ghost!”
“There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Brad said, irritation starting to enter his voice.
“What about the Spectre?” Josh said.
“The Spectre is just a man pretending to be a ghost to scare crooks,” Brad said. “Now go to bed.”
Josh brought his hand up to his face and began sucking his thumb the way he always did when he was scared or thought he was in trouble. Brad winced.
“Maybe just this once…” his wife started to say.
“No!” Brad said forcefully. “Then we’ll be saying it tomorrow night. Then the night after. It’s time to stop babying him. This ends now. Josh, go to your room.”
Josh whined and began to cry as he headed back to his room.
“He’ll be all right,” Brad said. “You’ve got to let him start growing up sometime.”
The alarm went off on Friday morning, and Brad headed to the bathroom to get ready for work. After he showered, he began shaving and said, “Honey, is Josh not up yet? Don’t you think you’d better wake him?”
“Oh, that’s right,” said Lynn. “The poor thing was probably up all night, and that’s why he overslept.”
“Guilt, guilt, guilt,” Brad muttered, dragging the razor over his face.
An anguished scream came from Josh’s room, and Brad yelped as he cut himself. “What is it?!” he exclaimed.
The only answer he received was Lynn’s cry of anguish as he watched his blood swirl down the drain.