Hat Rack

Terry woke with a startle. Sweat dripped silently from his forehead as he strained his ears and closed his eyes. Seconds went by. Slowly, Terry opened his eyes. Keeping himself propped up on his elbows, his tongue between his teeth, he leant forward ever so slightly. The bed beneath him creaked gently. Terry stilled immediately. Then moved again. The creak extended itself with Terry’s movements.

He smiled. Nothing but silence greeted his fear. A brief look around and everything was as it should be. The unfinished hat rack he had nearly pierced himself with stood with it’s wooden spikes straight in the air, the TV blinked red, and his pile of books stayed still.

Nodding his head a few times he slowly lowered himself onto his back. He pulled the covers up to his chin. Holding tightly to the quilt his mother had made him, Terry closed his eyes. His body did not relax for sleep.

He sighed at himself. “Stupid. You’re being stupid.” He rolled onto his side, his bed creaking once more, his body tensed even more. “Stupid!” He rolled over as quickly as possible, making the creaking bed sing.

This time his body relaxed.

The doorbell rang.

Terry’s body bolted from under the covers. His hand grabbed the baseball bat sitting next to his bed. His feet slammed to the floor. He stared at his door. A minute passed. The doorbell rang again.
Terry let the bat drop an inch as he turned his head to the right to hear with his good ear. Muffled speech seeped through the door.

The Girls.

Terry dropped the bat onto his bed. His one hand found his robe as the other found the door handle.

Piercing light shot through the doorway. Two women, dressed identically in blue dresses with pink flowers, stared wide-eyed.

“‘Bout time.” The taller one said.

“You sleepin’?” The blonde one said.

Terry stared at them a moment, not bothering with a smile, “No. What do you want?”

The girls exchanged a quick smirk.

The taller one stood straighter, getting to her full height of six feet, “I wanted to know if you wanted something.”

“And I wanted to know if you needed something.”

Before Terry could respond they dissolved into a fit of giggles. Terry’s face drooped. He pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Go away.”

They giggled again. The taller on looked down at him. “Aren’t you going to invite us in?”

“Yeah, where’s your manner’s Terrance?” The shorter one crossed her arms and shared a look with the other one.

“My manner’s left when I went to bed.”

“I thought you said you weren’t sleeping!” The taller one stamped her feet against the carpeted hallway.

“I wasn’t. I was trying to.” Terry rolled his eyes and stepped back allowing just enough room for the two ladies to squeeze past.

Shutting the door behind him quietly, Terry slowly turned around and sighed.

“Rough night?”

Terry stared at the bobbing blonde hair of his taller sister, “No, Patricia, not at all in fact.”

“Not at all? Then you should have had no trouble sleeping.”

“What does that even mean, Patty?”

“How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that. My name is Patricia.” Patricia turned away quickly and began staring at the Japanese drape on the wall.

“Yeah, her name is Patricia.”

“I got it, Karen.”

Karen turned her nose up and looked at the crooked ceiling fan. Terry stared at both of them, his mouth wide. His eyes scanned back and forth taking in their crossed arms and legs, their bright blue dresses.

“You two are unbelievable.”

The bed stood only two feet from where he stood but Terry felt the need to jump onto it anyway. He landed in a seated position and immediately grabbed his pillow into his lap. “Completely unbelievable.”

“What’s so unbelievable?” Patricia sat down next to him, she kept several inches between their bodies.

“Where were you guys tonight?” Terry blinked a few times before he gave them his full attention.

“You really want to know?” Karen asked, walking over to the table that stood alone in the middle of the room.

“Yes.” Terry bite back his tongue from answering further.

“Really?” Patricia asked leaning into his shoulder.

“Yes, I do.”

“Well it all started a few months ago when Harold, you know Harold right?” Patricia began.

“Yes I remember Harold. We met at that costume party last Halloween.”

“YES! That was the night!” Karen interrupted. A brief look from Patricia and Karen apologized.

“Well, Harold had this brilliant idea that Halloween should be celebrated more than once a year – after all people don’t  just die once a year, they die all the time, so we should always be celebrating that -“

“Isn’t that what funerals are for?” Terry interrupted. Patricia’s eyes flashed dangerously and she took a brief moment of silence before continuing.

“This is to celebrate all souls. Not just one. Anyway, tonight was going to be the first night.” She paused to pull a cigarette from her purse. Terry pulled a lighter from his bedside drawer and threw it to Patricia.

“Thank you. Yes, tonight was going to be the first night. So Karen and I got dressed up – Harold sent out invitations explaining what everyone had to wear. All the girls were in blue dresses with different flowers, and all the men were in black tuxedos.”

“Oh, how come I didn’t hear about this?” Terry asked, a smile behind his eyes – he knew why.

“Because that night at the Halloween party you were a wet blanket and nobody wants to invite a wet blanket out again. Don’t interrupt.”

Terry shrugged, then nodded for her to continue. Patricia took a long drag off her cigarette. Karen fidgeted with her skirt.

“When we got to the place – a warehouse down on the south side – nobody was there. Karen thought we had the wrong address but then we got a phone call.”

“Not from a number we recognized.” Karen chimed in.

“Not at all – didn’t even know the area code.”

Nodding, Terry hugged his pillow to his chest, “Go on.”

“So, we answered it. It was Harold, but he sounded odd, like he was really far away. He told us to get back in the car and whatever we did not to go home. His voice was all muffled but I could tell he sounded concerned.” Patricia took another drag and rubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray. “Then we drove around for a little bit before we decided to see what our big brother was up to. And now we’re here.”

Terry nodded a few times while he bit his lip. The sisters stood in silence as the trees beat gently against the window. Without making eye contact Terry quietly asked, “What warehouse?”

“Over on Thirty-seventh and Cottage.” Patricia responded staring at her brother’s ear.

A visible shiver shot down Terry’s back. He looked up directly into Patricia’s eyes, “I know.”

Karen scoffed, her head shot back exposing her veiny neck. When her head returned, her eyes bored disdain.

“I did. I already knew.”

“No, you didn’t Terry.” Patricia, “You can’t have known. You didn’t know.”

“I did.”

“It doesn’t matter, does it? I can tell you right now, that I’m annoyed as hell about it all. I thought Harold was going to do something fun and dangerous – like what he did with the Jones twins last year.”

“Or the story he told about Burt Reynolds?”

They giggled again. Terry hugged his pillow closer to his chest. Chewing his lip till it bled, Terry ignored his sisters. He could see the warehouse in his mind. A six story tall building, entirely grey on the outside. Inside, he closed his eyes, there were scraps of broken wood and glass. Two by fours left in front of the first doorway. There were tunnels, it seemed, with a number of different rooms you could go through.

“Harold lied to you.” Terry said suddenly.

“Terry.” Patricia sighed loudly. She took out another cigarette to replace the dwindling one in the ashtray. “Karen, check your phone, you might have missed the call.”

“No. You didn’t. He’s not going to call.” Terry’s eyes remained closed, even while he spoke, he moved his head from side to side as though listening to far off music.

“I also told Kyle to meet us if he doesn’t hear anything.”

“That was a good,” Karen’s thoughts got lost as she searched her purse for her phone. Rummaging for a few seconds, she nodded once, and pulled out her phone, “idea. Good idea.”

Patricia smiled as though she heard and turned back to her brother, “If you’re done being an idiot, we have a request.”

“What happened to what I wanted?” He turned to Karen, “Or needed?”

“Medication?” Karen said.

Patricia laughed aloud once. The bark of a laugh brought a glow of pink pride to Karen’s cheeks.

“We need you to stay awake for the next few hours. I’m sure that won’t be hard for you, brother, but just in case you have one night where you actually aren’t a crazy insomniac, I want you, excuse me, we need you to stay awake until fourish. Okay?” She lit the cigarette and blew a puff before bothering to look at her older brother.

“Okay.” Terry stared at the smoke coming from his sister’s mouth, a frown deepening across his face. He turned slightly green. “Promise me one thing.”

Patricia sighed and rolled her eyes at Karen. Karen giggled quietly. “What?”

“Don’t do what Harold tells you to do.”

“I thought he wasn’t going to call us.”

Terry swallowed loudly, “He’s not. Just don’t do what he tells you to do. You can say you’ll do it, but don’t actually do it. Please.” He added softly.

Karen’s eyes never left her brother’s face. For the first time that night she wasn’t looking to her sister for a cue. Patricia’s eyes were also glued to Terry’s face. She exhaled smoke for several seconds, her eyes never wavered.


Terry nodded.

Patricia nodded back, though Terry was looking at the dirty carpet. She tapped out the rest of the cigarette and turned to Karen. “Come. We must go find Kyle.”

“Right.” Karen hadn’t stopped watching her brother.


“Right.” Karen jumped slightly and started to move towards the door, she tripped over Terry’s shoes at the foot of the bed. Terry’s hands already sat ready in front of her so she didn’t fall all the way forward. If she had, she would have stabbed herself with the unfinished hat rack.

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