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The House on the Corner

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.


Part I

“You’re a chicken, aren’t you?” Teddy Taps sneered in Frankie Button’s face.

“No,” Frankie said timidly as he averted his gaze away from the bully.

“Yeah, I bet’cha you are.”

Frankie bit his upper lip. As much as he hated to be bullied, he couldn’t stand someone challenging his courage.

“I bet you I’m not.” He finally said under his breath.

“Then prove it,” Teddy snapped. “You and me are going to go to that house on the corner and spend the night there. And if you can’t do that, I’ll tell everybody at school that the new kid is just a chicken.”

Now, the bully was tapping into a sensitive area. Frankie was the new kid. He and his family had moved numerous times. Father had a tough time getting along with others in a town – due to his peculiar habits and affliction.

He hated moving, never being able to connect with others, never getting a chance to create lasting friendships. He was lonely, thanks to Dad. And he was vulnerable – something he believed these bullies always seem to detect about him.

Frankie bit his lips as Teddy’s taunts sank deeper into his head.

Frankie bit his upper lip. As much as he hated to be bullied, he couldn’t stand someone challenging his courage.

“Better yet, when I find out exactly where you live, I will put a sign on your lawn letting everybody know you are a chicken. So what da’ you say? Chicken?”

Chicken this, chicken that! If he only knew what damage those words have caused. Although he promised himself he’d never give in to a bully’s demand, he realized that his own promise had to be broken, again.

He peered at the house in question. It was a two-story mess. The lawn was a weed jungle and the windows were boarded up. It was a place nobody wanted to enter. Even the pale, sun-beaten paint wanted no part of it. It peeled and chipped off, trying to escape the dying structure.

Frankie stifled a smile. Well, he thought to himself, might as well go for it since I do have an advantage.

“Okay,” Frankie said, turning his attention to the bully. “I’ll do it. I’ll go to that house on the corner.”

“They say it’s haunted,” Teddy snickered. “You think you can handle it?”

“Yeah, I can handle it.”

Teddy looked over his shoulder and gave a big grin.

“Hey guys, did you hear that? He thinks he’s not a chicken. He’ll do it.”

Several boys emerged out of hiding from behind a front yard hedge. All were giggling and snickering.

Frankie glanced at them. He had no idea that Teddy had friends. The bullies he knew from his past were always loners with something to prove. Teddy was obviously different.

The boys were as tall as Teddy, and just as rotund as he was. For a moment, Frankie thought they were clones of one another.

“Be here tonight at 8:00,” Teddy said. “That is if you still want to go along with this.”

“I’ll be there,” he said quietly. “You’ll see.”


Part II

The hour came. Frankie was in the place where he first ran into Teddy. He had been there for more than several minutes and began to wonder if the bully would ever show. Maybe it was a trick, he thought. He gave himself a few more minutes before he would return home.

Those few precious moments finally came. Frankie checked his watch and started to head home. He knew he’d have a lot of explaining to his father about this. He started to gather his belongings: a sleeping bag and a flashlight.

“Well, he didn’t show,” he said aloud after a sigh of relief. “Time to…”

“I’m here you little chicken!”

Frankie looked up to see Teddy, running down the street with own belongings: sleeping bag and a bag of cookies and candies. He looked clumsy and sounded like a locomotive as he tried to will his rotund body toward Frankie. He stopped in front of him, wheezing.

“So… you… did make it,” Teddy said in between gasps of breath.

“Um, yeah,” Frankie answered.

“Well, let’s do this.” Teddy said, still winded.

The two started for the house. Frankie had his flashlight ready, despite the streetlamps. They walked down smooth sidewalk. The path was well lit and easy to follow. That is until they reached a few houses away from their destination. The streetlights had burned out. The homes were dark and baron. Many had been abandoned.

" He stands eight feet tall. It’s said that he was killed by people who thought he was a goblin."

“Scared yet?” Teddy said.

“No,” Frankie said, flatly.

“You will when you see the ghost.”

“What ghost?” Frankie replied, holding up his watch between him and Teddy.

“They say the ghost is of a deformed man or beast. He has fangs, lizard eyes, claws, and scaly skin. He stands eight feet tall. It’s said that he was killed by people who thought he was a goblin. It’s also said his spirit haunts this place, ready to seek vengeance on anyone who crosses his path.”

The two made it to the house. They meandered through overgrowth and brush and made it to the porch, only to find the door padlocked.

Teddy fidgeted a bit. It was enough to get Frankie’s attention.

“Hey, haven’t you been here before? “ Frankie asked.

“Yeah, what da ‘ya think?” Teddy lied. “Just that I can’t remember where we enter.”

Teddy glanced down the row of boarded up window before he saw what he was looking for.

“That has to be the one,” Teddy said, “Come on.”

The two stopped before a boarded window.

“Come on!” Teddy growled. “Shine some light on it.”

In the presence of the light, Teddy hesitated ...and obviously thinking about something. This curious habit made Frankie suspicious. Is this the first time Teddy has been here, he wondered.

Finally, Teddy grabbed one end of the board. It wasn’t nailed in all the way. So, he took it off.

There was no window to speak of. It was merely a blackened hole.

Teddy stood there for a moment, hesitant to enter. Finally, he craned his head to Frankie.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” he said, gesturing to Frankie to enter.

Frankie took a deep breath, appearing to build up his courage. He crept to the entrance flashed his light in it and entered. Teddy nervously gulped and followed the boy he believed was a chicken.


Part III

The beam of light cut through a dusty realm. The living room still had furniture covered with white sheets and a thick film of dust and cobweb. There was a dank scent of mildew in the air. Even the air didn’t give away its warmth to make the boys feel comfortable. They shivered, not because the coldness, but because of the eeriness of the place.

“So, where are we going to put our stuff?” Frankie asked.

“I don’t know, I’m thinking!” Teddy snapped.

Frankie couldn’t wait for him to make a decision. He worked the light through the room, letting the beam of light illuminate anything in its path. He came across a couch covered in a dirty white sheet.

“We can take a couch or the floor?”

“Let me see!” Teddy said grabbing the flashlight. He lowered the beam onto the couch Frankie wanted to claim for himself.

“I’ll take it; and you…” before he could finish his sentence, he noticed something peculiar about the couch. Something else was under the cover.

Teddy shuddered.

“You,” he said, trying to conceal his fear. “Go over there and find out what’s on that couch.”

Frankie shot him a look, but he obeyed. He crept up to the couch and wrapped a hand around a part of the oily sheet. After a count of three in his head – he yanked the blanket off. The dust dispersed in the air causing both boys to hack and wipe their eyes.

Frankie’s heart pounded like a jack-hammer. The heart-rate slowed. His vision returned. Frankie stared at the couch; on it were three old and musty pillows.

Teddy saw this as well. He let a big sigh of relief escape from his quivering lips.

“Man, just a pillow. I knew it all along,” Teddy said. “Bet ‘cha that scared you.”

“Just a little startled,” Frankie replied.

“Yeah, you were scared. I can tell.”

Frankie’s lips tighten as he narrowed his glance at his adversary. Just then to his side something caught his attention. He glanced at it. It was an oversized chair with a clean sheet over it.

Even in the ample light of the flashlight, Teddy knew what Frankie was looking at.

“Oh come on,” he said with a renewed confidence. “It’s just a sheet with pillows under it.”

Frankie took a deep breath. He approached it, cautiously.

Impatient, Teddy marched over to it.

“Am I the only one here who is not a chicken!” he said as he grabbed a handful of the cloth and pulled.

The cloth didn’t budge. Teddy yanked it again. It didn’t budge.

Then, from under the sheets there was a low moan. Teddy let go of it and stumbled back to Frankie’s side.

The sheet began rise and rise. It kept going until it towered over the two boys. Then, from the side, two green and scaly arms with claws emerged. Whatever it was grabbed the sheet and pulled it off.

Teddy gasped in fear. He fell to the ground, eyes wide and teeth chattering.

Frankie froze and stood his ground. Before him, he saw an eight-foot goblin with glowing reptilian eyes, sharp rows of teeth and a menacing snout covered in green scales.

The beast shot a look at Teddy, and let out an earth shaking roar.

Teddy had enough, he jumped to his feet.

“Mommy!” he screamed as he darted for the opening. He leaped through the entrance, hit the porch and ran screaming and crying all the way home.

The beast turned its attention to Frankie who was now calm and composed.

The beast relaxed and stood before the boy.

“I think that has to be the scariest one yet.” Frankie said.

“I wanted to make it make it special,” the beast said in hoarse voice. “That kid had a vivid imagination. It’s good thing you had that recorder placed in your watch. I probably would not have gotten all of the details.”

Frankie hung his head low. The beast took notice: “What’s the matter son?”

“Mommy!” he screamed as he darted for the opening. He leaped through the entrance, hit the porch and ran screaming and crying all the way home.

“Does this mean we have to move, again?”

“I can’t let bullies pester you,” father replied. At that moment, he began to shrink and morph. Within a few seconds he has a normal human being.

“Yeah, but when things like this happen we have to move. People get nervous and begin to suspect things. Next thing you know we’re in another town, living in an abandon house until another bully comes along. I just want a place I can call home."

The father ruminated for a moment. It was a tough decision. He hated running from one place to another. But reality was reality. He was different, and not accepted. His son, who was normal, was going to take the brunt of it.

The more he thought about it, the more he came to realize that his son was right: all this running around to avoid prying eyes or the sting of ridicule from the people was too much. As a shape-shifter he could control himself. The beast didn’t need to come out. Maybe it was time the two learned to be themselves and face the long road of acceptance rather than hit the road when trouble came their way.

“You know, this house is awfully nice if it was fixed up.”

Frankie’s face lit up: “Really?”

“Yeah, really.” His father beamed. “I think you can go to school and be really proud that you stood up to the goblin. I think that will be a start. And if they don’t like you, well, we’ll have ourselves.”

Frankie embraced his father. For the first time, he didn’t worry about bullies and moving. This time he was here to stay, even if it was the house on the corner.


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© 2014 Dean Traylor