Danny Dormer rode his red and white bicycle down Nightjar street. The trees stood tall on the pathway, watching the boy carefully through slitted eyes as stones skipped beneath his tyres. He changed gears with the roll of his lips, pretending his red max was a 1984 Harvey Davison Electra-glide. He was always fond of his fathers bike. Black and gold with oak stripes running down each side with black leather padded seats and seemingly unscratched — It was a devil in disguise. The way it glistened under the oil of an excessive polish entranced him, he hoped that one day he would be able to take it to the streets and go for a ride — He’d take it down the Kentucky 65’ just to see them jaw drop and loose their wheat strands from there mouths — The chain clinks under the pressure of the fifth gear and Danny is torn back down to reality as he tears the gears down with the twist of his left wrist — knowing quiet clearly this is the only bike he will get to ride for a very long time. The tender smell of water drenching hardened soil overpowers Danny’s senses as he cruises past Mr Buckley, a tender old man standing fragile and stripped down to his mint green boxers in the front yard, hose in hand, watering the yard to avoid it burning under the harsh sun that hovered above Fort Wayne, Indiana during the summer.
‘Afternoon Mr Buckley.’ Danny shouts, voice little and innocent, lifting his right hand to wave at the elderly man. Though Mr Buckley lost most of his hearing back in Vietnam and probably couldn’t tell the difference from the hose stream, to the yellow stream flowing down his left leg. Danny cringed - old people were gross. A sense of peace flooded Danny’s mind — seemingly unaware of his future he took the street bend into Hummers Court. His knee’s lifted higher as he quickened the pace, sitting back on his tattered white bicycle seat in his red cardigan and tanned shorts, green school-bag strapped high on his back like every grade one student, he needed to fit in the best he could, lets face it it was never easy being a six year old in the public schooling system. He can see it, the distinct pale yellow shacked house hidden behind that of a rusted out tin shed with a red roof. If it were truely red he could never tell - It could’ve been rust, but it strained his neck too much to ever take a good look. 2-3-4 he counts down the houses before making a sharp turn. His front wheel met the dusted dirt driveway as a single stone bounces up to ping off his metal frame, like a wind chime signalling the winds arrival - He was home. The all to familiar clink of spanners and car drills erupted in his ears as he skidded to a halt outside his fathers scrap metal shed, composing of decomposing corpses of old cars, crashed motorbikes and the unforgiving smell of petrol.
‘Dan.’ Jack grinned, wiping his black hands off on a white rag - Their mother would be horrified if she came out here - before rusting Danny’s soft brown mop of hair that bowled around his scalp.
‘Is it that time already?’ Toby chirped tired and sarcastic, looking for the watch he did not have on. The black oil now died into his blonde quiff.
‘Don’t you go hoodin’ around son - ye uncle was good for that and ya know what happened to him?’ His father, Bob Dormer, formally known as ‘Robert’ was a wise man though stress had seemingly made him age quicker and parted his hair faster than Moses parted the Red Sea. Though he had a point, Uncle Steve had taken off one afternoon to go to a friends house to “pick the mushrooms” and never made it home, but made his home under the back wheel of a Coe Further and the rest was history.
‘Yes Sir.’ Danny spoke, voice low and tender. The boys never knew their uncle, but they knew his life met a tragic end. Danny couldn’t even begin to wonder what it would be like to loose a brother - sure his brothers got on his nerves, but he would never drive them away, he loved them and they loved — Jack set the electric drill on the car, leaning over the bonnet of the 1957 Chevrolet pick up truck, before backing off.
‘Ya know, one day Dan you will never work on this car and that makes me sad for you.’ Toby pipped.
‘I could work, I know how to …’ The young boy began to argue.
‘No son - Too young for your own good. Perhaps one day I will teach you.’ His father began, wiping his painted hands on the shared cloth, showered in paint chips from where he was sanding back the car getting it ready for repainting. (What colour he could not tell, anything but yellow would be great) Thought Danny The fly screen slams in the distance as a blonde haired boy bounces off the porch steps and runs across the stretched dry landscape.
‘Here comes trouble.’ Jack huffed as Danny watched his smile grow wide before turning around and watching as William came to a sudden stop five feet to his right, tossing a rugby ball hand to hand. Will was the second youngest of the four Dormer boys. A snob nosed child who lived int the the echoed mockery and shadows of his older siblings demanding to be noticed and respected.
‘Who want’s to play touch football?’ He bounced on the balls of his feet, eager and impatient.
‘Well’ Jack began looking back and forth between the small boy and his fathers car, ‘Tob’s and I are a bit tied up at the moment.’ Will frowned. ‘But perhaps Danny will play with you.’
‘I don’t want to play with babies?’ Will snapped.
‘I’m not a baby!’ Hissed Danny
‘Now son he’s only three years younger.’ Will put his head down seemingly defeated and ready to head back to the house. Jack and Toby share a glance with there father before Bob places his spanner down on the red roller table to his left and sighs.
‘You know what …Go, get out of ‘ere. I’ll finish up.’
‘Don’t need to tell me twice sir!’ Jack smirked and shut the bonnet of his fathers car.
‘Thanks dad!’ Will cheered, grinning ear to ear - quiet literally, he had that kind of smile. Jack and Will have already taken off across the paddock, tossing the ball between themselves. Football was a major part of Jacks life, being the main quarterback on his football team at High-school he dreamed of making it big and playing at the Super Bowl. He was a dreamer, but he was determined and he had a shot.
‘Go Toby before I change my mind.’ Bob waved his son off.
‘Thanks Dad.’ Toby scoffed, grin etched on his face as he tore his black gloves off and tossed them on the work bench lining the shed wall. It was hand crafted and welded together on a steal frame - Their father was a very handy man for his age. Helping their father in the late afternoons were their priority whilst the youngest boys were at school. Without another word Toby slid over the rusted bonnet of the vehicle and began to take off after the boys.
‘And take Dan with you!’ Bob called after his son, causing Toby to turn and bounce backwards on a backwards jog.
‘Come on Dan!’ He yelled back before Dan began to jog after the boys.
‘Go get ‘em son.’ Bob softly mocked knowing well that his youngest was a little different from the rest of his sons. Danny was soft and easy to torment and often fell victim to his brothers mockery and torment. He was only six years of age and didn’t know any better. Jack is the eldest of the Dormer boys, fifteen and had the world at his feet, Toby is the middle child born two years after Jack with dreams of following in his brother footsteps and joining the football team in his senior year, and Will came in at second last at the ripe age of nine having no current aspirations but to copy his older brothers and fit in with there games. They were an odd bunch of kids with twisted destinies, whether or not they ended up in the same place one could never tell, but it would not be a smooth journey.
The grass wavered beneath there bare feet, shoes long forgotten across the stretched landscape of there home. There house use to belong to a farmer and his misses before they both passed and their children had to sell there cattle in order to pay to keep the property afloat until they themselves fell into bankruptcy and put the house on the market. The Dormers purchased the house for twenty-eight thousand with a landscape stretching approximately one-hundred acres, it was huge. A four bedroom, two story house, dated in time in which was perfectly situated from the boys school at a riding distance, there life was perfect.
‘Will, pass the ball! Pass the ball Will!’ Danny called, voice pitching with the blessing of his youth. Will ignored him and tried to run for the goal post made out of Toby’s black sneakers stretched 5 metres apart. Jack touched him and Will handed over the ball to Toby smiling.
‘Good boy Will.’ Jack praised, and Will blushed, sweat beading on his forehead he loved to get praised by his older siblings, it was the acceptance he longs for from the moment he gets up in the morning, till the moment his eyes close at night. Toby runs for the try line, Danny and Will on the defence, running back and forth before Toby makes an off pass to Jack and watches Danny graze Jacks green plaid shirt with the tops of his fingers. Jack keeps running and places the ball down over the line.
‘I got you! I got you!’ Danny wails at the top of his lungs.
‘No you didn’t!’ Jack scoffs, raising the football in one hand and sending a disapproving look to his brothers.
‘I did! I did!’ Danny turns, looking for Wills approval.
‘Dan you grazed thin air, you didn’t touch Jack.’ Will states.
‘Thank-you Will.’ Jack laughed, smiling at Danny’s tactics.
‘I’ll tell mum!’ Danny threatened, face red in frustration and embarrassment of resorting to this level but he hated an unfair game and was more than willing to go grab his mother who knew nothing about the game but knew how to hand down one hell of a discipline for upsetting him.
‘Oh Dan you’re such a fibber.’ Toby scoffed, not believing his brother would do such a thing and even if he did, he was not afraid of his mother. With little fear in his heart, Danny turned back to the direction of the house and walked back with intention to whinge to his mother about his brothers unfair tactics — perhaps it came with being the youngest, no one understood you and no one actually wanted to play with you because you were just some stupid kid. Except Danny Dormer was not a stupid kid, he had a heart of gold and only one desire - to be liked. On a second thought he desired the company of friends in which he did not have due to the fact that other children perceived him as weird and voiceless. It was true, this outspoken little boy barely had a voice at school in fear of how other children would see him. He marched up the wooden rack steps, wood worn out and now frail for they had lacked treatment over the years before tearing the white metal fly-screen open and dashing inside.
‘Mum!’ He announced his arrival, letting the door rock back on its hinges three times before slamming against its white painted frame, all the whilst keeping a stern eye on his watchful brothers, letting them know he was serious.
‘Yes dear.’ She calmly spoke, pealing the potatoes over the kitchen sink beneath the 6pm sunlight. Mary Dormer was a pleasant woman with the patience of a saint considering she’s raising four boys.
‘I, Toby, Jack and Will -‘ he began
‘Jack, Toby, Will and I.’ She corrected, education was a major motto in there house.
‘Right.’ He took a breath and tried again ‘Jack, Toby will and I -‘ He had to think whether he actually got it right, but considering her silence he continued. ‘We were playing touch and I - I - I grazed Jacks shirt and he kept running and, and, and he tried and he denied and, and, and he won’t admit he’s out.’ Tears began to dwell in his eyes and he tried to blink them back as his mother rinsed the potatoes and dried her hands on her apron before walking over to the small boy and kneeling before him. Mary grasped Danny by the shoulders and looked him in the eye before declaring.
‘Son, not everybody will be fair to you, you just need to except it and move on.’ Her tonne was soft and unbothered, her words calm and cautious, for she knew her son was sensitive to the harshness of the elder boys. ‘Why don’t you go play in that wonderful cubby house your father built you.’ She smiled at Danny, wiping the stray tear that fell from his left eye - So they say the one that leaks when you are in pain - before getting up and clapping her son on the shoulder. Perhaps she was right, there was no use in trying to fix the situation, perhaps the boys would never change.
‘Thanks Mum.’ Danny declared, not looking at her as he perched his hand on the white metal handle of the fly-screen door ready to depart. Watching his mother return to the sink she picks up the peeler and continues her duties. Deciding the conversation is over he presses down on the handle, latch croaking before the door erupts in a screech as he steps outside, gently shutting the door in his wake. The boys are no longer watching but rather wrestling on a dried patch of grass, dust kicking up and thickening the air. It never rained in Fort Wayne, it was always sunshine and blazing heat. Squinting his eyes at the afternoon sun Danny makes his way over to his Cubby house caught between the boys play football field and their fathers car shed. It was his place of escape, his salvation, his home away from home. He stood before it, with a saluted hand to his forehead he glanced up at the blazing sun turning the leaves into nothing but silhouetted spots. Blinking back the black dots in his eyes he sighed, taking a deep breath he lifted his left foot and stood inside the sandpit that was the base of his cubby house. His father had built it for him when he was three for little to no reason other than showing love for his son with the spare time he had. The timber had been recycled, a grey and wet looking oak that he had gathered down by the lake - how odd looking it was, seemingly haunting but built from love he accepted it as his own. With his left foot perched on the bottom rung of the red painted ladder he prepares to climb. He bends his knee and prepares to lift himself off the ground, with a quick glance at his brother he is assured that they do not care what he is doing. Without warning or any sudden movement the sand shifts in a wave in the middle of the pit. Danny gasps at the sound and snaps his head to the sound. He jumps up a rung and swings off, gripping the rung with one hand as if he were sailing top-deck on a ship. The sand shifts again as he looks around for his brothers. Startled he looks down to see a hump of sand come to a still at the left hand corner of the pit, as if it were a shark lurking beneath the depths of the sea. In fear Danny takes a deep breath and leaps from the cubby house ladder to barely land on the dead grass outside the box enclosure. The ungodful thump of his fall alerting his brothers.
‘Dan, what’s wrong?’ Jack asked, stopping the boys as they wrestled on the hard soil, Toby shoving Will off in the disrupted moment. Danny stood up, dusting the grass blades out of his hands and assessing the red imprints they had left in the wake of his fall.
‘Dan?’ Jack questioned, worry beginning to take him over. He loved to torment his little brother, but also worried when he got hurt. ‘It moved, I swear!’ Dan finally gathered the breath in his chest to speak, heart racing and eyes wide. The boys strode over in Jacks footsteps to see what was the drama with there little brother this time. ‘What moved?’ Jack questioned, kneeling down and gripping Danny by the shoulders gently, brushing the dead grass from his red cardigan.
‘The sand ….’
‘Ain’t nothing but the wind Danny.’ Toby declared, dismissing his brothers claims.
‘Your brothers right. It was just the wind.’ Jack confirmed.
‘But it moved.’ Danny whispered, tears forming once again in his eyes. ‘Look’ Jack spoke, letting his little brother go and standing up, stepping into the sandpit barefooted and kicking the sand.
‘No don’t hurt him!’ Danny exclaimed, face red and eyes distraught. ‘Hurt who Dan, there’s no one here.’ Jack confirmed, glancing at the worried faced of Toby and Will.
‘The Sandman.’ Danny whispered almost embarrassed.
‘The Sandman?’ Will scoffed.
‘Oi that’s enough.’ Toby whispered to Will. Sure they knew that Danny was born with a wild imagination, but this was downright insanity.
‘There’s no such thing Dan, it’s all in your head?’ Toby began to walk away with Will by his side. Jack departs the sand pit, shaking the grains from between his toes. It was getting too late to play games with the young.
‘I’m telling the truth!’ Danny declares, chest heaving as he watches his brothers walk away from him, dismissing his claims.
‘Come on Dan, we’re done playing. It’s time to go inside.’ Jack puts his foot down on the matter, dismissing it officially like an older sibling would. Only Danny wasn’t lying and this wasn’t the end, but rather the beginning.
Craft glue stuck to the air making it hard to breath clean air as the mumbled voices of first grade children clumped together to form a single noise. Some threw paper planes, others were trying to lick the glue, whilst two twin girls with high ginger pigtails stuck pom pom balls on each other in an attempt to gain attention from their teacher Mrs Bentley. She was a larger Caucasian lady with fuzzy ginger hair, a heart of gold and a caring soft tone. Not once had she ever raised her voice or spoken down to any child in her class, which is why she was Danny’s favourite teacher here at Forest Park Elementary School. The sound of a yellow waxed crayon dragged rapidly back and forth over the surface the rough side of an A5 piece of paper. Danny sat by himself up the back of class, beside the blue class trays stacked in slots inside a plywood bench. Danny Dormer did not have many friends, in fact he didn’t have any at all. Pablo was his only friend, a Native American from Michigan, however he departed with his family two years ago in Pre-K and Danny had been lonesome ever since. It wasn’t that he wasn’t social it’s just nobody cared for his stories, so he kept to himself. Picking up the red crayon he draws a house in a brown tree, though messy it was still evident it was his cubby house back home. The distinct yellow sandpit had a hand emerging out of it and a hump in the sand - almost as if someone had been attempting to do freestyle in the constraints of a five by five sand pit. ‘Alright class.’ Mrs Bentley began, clasping her hands together. ‘We’ll stop right there. Why don’t ya’ll come join me on the floor and we can share what we all created.’ A heavy clunk of pencils in ten cans and the wet slap of paint-bushes on paper echoed across the classroom as Danny folds his paper in half and makes his way to the floor where he sits with his back against the teachers wooden desk . The children sit in pairs, all with friends and wait in anticipation for the teachers choice as to who dares to speak first. Anxiety settled in the pit of Danny’s stomach in fear of what the children would think of him when he told them his story. He believes himself, but by the reactions of his older brothers yesterday afternoon who was he to ever think his peers could understand. ‘Sherrie, would you like to share with us what it is you made?’ Clearly unable to put a logical explanation on the mass of gold glitter and glue splattered onto the nearly con-caved page. The little girl with long blonde hair stood before the class and declared the mass was of a dragon she saw in a dream and that the pink scribble of crayon was the trapped princess. Danny huffed, that was a story made up - he was telling the truth.
‘Thank-you Sherrie….um….Danny Dormer, how about you sweetie?’ He wanted to shake his head, run and hide before his anxiety swallowed him whole. She must’ve saw it.
‘Come on sweetie, it’s not that bad.’ Bravery stood him up and forced him out the front when his heart told him he was making a mistake. Slowly he unfolded the paper. It’s noise louder the ringing in his ears as he refused to make any eye contact with his class and opened the paper, baring his drawing. Silence.
‘Do you want to tell us a little about it.’ The teacher queried, soft and kindly as usual.
‘It’s my cubby-house.’ Danny began, voice shaking.
‘And this lovely yellow hand - what is that?’ Oh god he feared it, he could feel the beads of sweat begin to form on his forehead beneath his bowl fringe his mother had given him at the beginning of the year.
‘It’s my friend.’ The words came out quicker than he ever anticipated, softer than ever and truer than true.
‘And what is your friends name dear.’ Mrs Bentley smiled, the children began to giggle at Danny’s shyness.
‘The Sandman.’ There he said it, heart hammering and body shaking. There was a moment of silence and he hoped he had lived past the worst of it. And then they abrupt in a sea of giggles. He was a joke, nobody believed him and his eyes swelled up as his banks threatened to break. Jaws of pearly teeth swung back and forth in a belly full of laughter, there noise becoming one as the teacher smiled. He couldn’t take it anymore as he dropped the paper to the floor and bolted out of the room, there laughter following him, haunting him to the core. He was an idiot. Danny didn’t get very far, he sat against the pale blue lockers in the hallway just outside of his classroom and broke down.
‘Danny?’ Mrs Bentley began as she approached him from the hall, her red heals echoing down the hall.
‘I want to go home!’ Cried Danny with tears rushing down his face.
‘Come on sweetie, i’ll take you to Principle Figgins office.’ With that Danny rose and followed her down the hall, to the left and sat outside the door whilst she entered and briefed the man on the situation at hand. Mrs Bentley emerged left hand perched on the door handle, whilst her right extended down to the small boy.
‘Come in dear.’ Danny took her hand, suddenly feeling frightened and insecure about his story. What is he had made it up, what if it was all a lie and he was making a mountain out of a molehill? …But what if he wasn’t. He slipped off the matt blue chair and slipped between his teacher and the frosted door. His room smelt clinical and was cold to the hallway temperature. The kind of room that could send chills down your spine and pit the ungodly feeling that you are in the wrong, even when you did nothing.
‘Son why don’t you take a seat.’ Principle Figgins began, his Indian accent thick but comprehendible. Danny slipped back up into a torn leather chair, black in colour, with its padding tanned and falling out of a small hole by his left side. Danny wormed his finger in the hole, anything to keep himself from looking his principle in the eye.
‘This is quite a drawing. Can you tell me about it?’ Mrs Bentley left the room, closing the frosted door gently and returning to her class.
‘No.’ Danny began.
‘You had quite the reaction in class, why do you think that was?’ Danny saw red, his chest heaved as he declared softly.
‘He is real.’ He closes his eyes and drops his head ‘I saw him.’ The principle shifts, his black suit jacket creaking against the varnished dark timber desk.
‘Who’s real son?’ He asked on an exhaled huff, brow creased and words tender.
‘The Sandman.’ Danny whispered.
‘Mr and Mrs Dormer I believe your son is disturbed.’ Mr Figgins spoke low and clear. Outside Danny sat in a plastic blue chair, hoping to God his principle wasn’t throwing him under the bus. There voices were mumbled through the thickness of the white and grey walls. Danny felt a ping of relief in his heart as he couldn’t bare the thought of seeing the disappointment on his fathers face at something so silly as “The Sandman.” — But he was real, he wasn’t make believe, he saw him. Why won’t anybody believe him.
‘What do you mean disturbed?’ Bob began, unable to comprehend the accusation.
‘Take a look at what he drew today in class.’ He unfolds the paper and slides it across the glass lining of the desk.
‘It’s his Cubby house, how is that. how is that disturbed?’ Mary began, frustrated that her son could be so misunderstood.
‘Take a look at the sandpit Mrs Dormer.’ She leans forward to see the hand reaching out.
‘Oh it’s nothing but child’s scribble.’ She babbles unconsciously, remembering Toby coming to her last night after dinner, concerned about Danny’s fit in the yard.
“He isn’t just lying anymore, he’s believing these lies he tells himself.” Toby whispered to his mother, swiping a blue and white checkered tea-towel over a floral plate.
‘He stated that this,’ Mr Figgins taps a stern finger to the yellow sketch aggressively, ‘Is his friend, who he has clarified is called The Sandman.’
‘That’s nonsense. I’m sorry sir, it wont ever happen again …He is a boy…’ Bob begins to babble irrationally, before Mr Figgins raises a silencing hand to the couple before him and tilts his head to the side signalling to let him speak.
‘He is not in any danger, for he is just a child. All I am suggesting is that you speak with Danny and help him become more social with other children. He is lonely and his imagination is wild. He is disturbed and needs guidance, please help your child before he gets hurt …more.’ It was difficult to comprehend that your child had no friends and was left to form a make believe friend in order to feel secure, though it was even more embarrassing for the parents to be lectured on there child’s behaviour. The click of the door startles Danny as his parents emerge with disapproving looks.
‘Come son, lets go home.’ Bob grouches, face red in embarrassment. Danny slips out of his seat, taking his mothers waiting hand and follows them out to the car. His mothers 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Station Wagon groans to life on it’s third twist of the key before Bob releases the clutch and rolls the tinged yellow wagon out of elementary carpark and onto the Motorway in silence. Danny sits taught in the back, voice unable to co-operate as he clings to the piece of paper in his hands wishing to be understood.
The key slipped into the lock and gave entry to the house. Three boys sit hungrily in the lounge room just off the opening hallway.
‘Mum, Dad - We thought you left us for good!’ Jack exclaims as he heads into the kitchen in his football shorts and college sport tee covering his back thick with the emblem of the Hawks printed on the back. He was proud he had been picked last November. Toby and Will follow in his footsteps - Toby shirtless and Will sporting a grey singlet.
‘No never, I dream it, but I could I ever - I doubt it.’ Mary jokes hanging up her coat as Bob shuts the door.
‘Where were you guys anyways. It’s late.’ Will grouched.
‘We had a meeting with Principle ugh what’s his name dear?’
‘Figgins.’ Mary chirped as they headed into the kitchen. She grabs her apron and begins to organise dinner.
‘What’d you do?’ Toby huffs at Danny who looks guilty standing under the archway on the kitchen between the hallway and living room. He does not answer.
‘He drew something of concern -‘ Their father began but was swiftly interrupted by Wills mockery.
‘Was it The Sandman Dan?’ Toby and Jack chuckle
‘Shut up!’ Danny hisses
‘Honey why don’t you go wash up and come meet us for dinner in an hour?’ Mary touches her son on the shoulder as he disappears upstairs in a heartbeat. Danny didn’t need to be told twice.
‘It’s just a phase boys, he will grow out of it …’ Bob stated. His voice stopping Danny in his tracks as he unknowingly crouches down on the polished step, perched on the second last step on the highest corner of the staircase, pleading the fifth for someone to believe him. ‘It’s something silly little boys do, they just don’t understand the consequences of there actions.’ Silly - is that what they thought of him. Tears begin to prick in his eyes at the realisation that even his own father thought him to be silly.
‘I hope he drops it soon.’ Toby states softly.
’ t’s So stupid. Never even heard of the sandman.’ Jack huffs, voice tempered and low. Deciding he had heard enough, he dashes up the rest of the stairs, his heavy footsteps alerting his family he was on the move, though they hoped they had kept there voices low. Racing to his room, tears stream down his face and at this point he doesn’t care if he is found in a wreck. He flicks the lights on, yanking his white shaded wardrobe doors open and parting his clothes before dumping himself down on the floor sobbing unforgivingly. Snatching the twenty-four pack of crayons off the toy box hidden at his feet he flips the packaging and pulls out a red crayon, followed by an orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Bunching them in his small fist he begins to scribble the colour in a small tornado against the back wall of his wardrobe. Adding a blue leg to the side of the swirled mess and a purple top hat to its head, he returns the colours to the packaging — keeping the purple in his lap, he takes it in his small hand and inscribes beneath the drawing four words that will tell his story forevermore. “I want to believe.”
‘Danny!’ The heavy pounding of footsteps echoed down the family stairway as Danny ran at his mothers call. He was starving. He had bled himself out with tears and misery and truth be told crayon really did make you hungry. His white school socks making him slide against the polished wooden floor of the hallway as he grips the archway and stops his pace immediately — Remembering greatly the last time he ran in the house. He had slipped on a journey from the staircase down the hall to the laundry when his head collided with his mothers centre piece draw in the middle of the hallway. There once was a Persian Cyrus rug that lay beneath it, however no amount of carpet cleaner could ever remove the crimson stain, so it was rolled up and taken to the dump. The smell of roast chicken and baked vegetables is in the air, alongside the heavy scent of oil and charcoaled vegetable remains. Even burnt, it smelt incredible. His mother was a good cook, but under the pressure of five starving men, four of which were growing - she often burnt things.
‘Surprised you came down Danny-boy. I thought for a moment the Sandman had returned.’ Scoffed Jack as Danny gripping his hands around the sides of the wooden chair, it’s coolness relaxing him before his heat overtook it and warmed it to its core.
‘Shut up Jack!’ Danny hissed, daring to say what he did next he could not control is lips. ‘He is real! I know it!’
‘Enough!’ There father glared from his maroon leather recliner, over the top of his silver framed glasses in the living room, placing his afternoon paper by his side and standing to attention. With no smirk in sight, he strode into the kitchen, his tall shadow over towering the boys through the dimly lit florescent room. ‘It’s not our fault he’s deranged.’ Will taunted from where he sat hunched beside Toby on the opposite side of the table. Frustration fuelled through Danny’s heart. He was not delirious, the Sandman is real, why couldn’t anybody believe him? He was not deranged, he was just — ‘He’s just a little different that’s all.’ His father perked, cupping his sons left shoulder and shaking him a little.
‘Different!’ Jack huffed, smiling sarcastically and removing himself from his seat beside Toby and heading to the fridge, ‘On a ‘nother planet if that’s what you mean?’ The metal clinking of bottles rattles through the kitchen as Jack tears the fridge from its seal, bottles shaking in fright before stilling on there racks. Any harder and he would of shattered the entire contents of the fridge. The louder sizzling of oil on a pan erupts like a volcano in the room as Mary removes the baking tray from the oven with red hand mittens. Grabbing the remains of a family bock of chocolate Jack breaks off a square and devours it. ‘Honey i’m about to serve dinner.’ Mary sighs, raising four boys was difficult, but even more so around feeding time. She was forever grateful that she never had twins and had set a pace between her children. Mary places the roast chicken in the centre of the table, its skin glistening and rough, before she places the vegetables on a floral plate supported on a bed of white serviettes and a black teapot of gravy.
‘Toby you want a drink man?’ Jack asks, grabbing two plastic bottles from the fridge racks, startling the others as they feared to be chosen and bled out. ‘Whatcha got?’ Toby spins around in he chair to look at Jack. ‘Cola or Lime?’ He raised the two plastic bottles in his hands by each handle as if he were a balancing machine at the local supermarket.
‘Lime!’ Will piped up, raising his empty blue and red Spider-man adventures cup. ‘Wasn’t asking you, but ok.’ Jack bent to place the cola back in the fridge before stopping, realising Toby had not yet responded.
‘Toby?’ He asked, looking at his blue eyed, blonde haired brother. It was a trait with all the boys, they all inherited the sky blue eyes, whilst only the middle children inherited their mothers beach blonde hair — Jack and Danny were left with there fathers light brown hair and hopefully not the baldness later on down the track. The thought of going bald rocked Jack to his core, for he loved his hair to dearly to ever depart it.
‘Lime’s fine man.’ Toby agreed, turning back round to the table to discover half the chicken had been torn apart and was now being devoured by the family.
‘What about Dan?’ Their father asked around a mouthful of chicken wing - he was a definite charmer with his small patch of hair that he had to comb over every morning to make the illusion that he had hair. The mans black lip moustache had more hair than the strands on his head.
‘Oh right.’ Jack scoffed, leaning between Will and Toby, grabbing Will’s cup and pouring him a full cup. ‘I forgot. I thought he fell into an imaginary land …Imaginary Dan, do you want a drink?’ Mockery was never far and for a moment, perhaps two he feared he would never live this one down. At home and at school his life was becoming a living hell of torment and laughter.
‘No.’ It was a simple answer as he pushed around an oil burnt carrot. An answer that spoke louder than any sentence he could’ve ever strung together. He had had enough, he wanted to run away, far away and never come back. ‘No what?’ Mary frowned from beside her youngest son. Manors was something this family floated on and something that was never slipped under the rug.
‘No.’ Danny paused, not looking up from his plate, ‘Thank-you.’ He corrected himself, he was already under the pressure caught sandwiched between his parents at the dinner table over some stupid drawing he had pieced together in the final hour of class. Dare her ever have the balls to tell them he vandalised the back of his wardrobe too — Some secrets were best kept locked away. Toss the key to the bottom of the ocean, he would never tell them.
‘Better.’ Jack compliments Danny, all the whilst pouring Toby a drink and placing it down before him and taking his seat. ‘Oh I forgot, how rude of me! Does the Sandman want a Cola, or is he not joining us tonight?’ Toby scoffs, throat snorting as Will bursts out in laugher.
‘Jack!’ Mary grouched. She had had enough of this nonsense. ‘Enough!’ Danny cried, face red and small shoulders taught with rage. He couldn’t handle the torment any longer. Shoving back from his chair he pegged his fork at the elder boy, pieces of shredded chicken and peas scattering across the table. ‘Danny!’ There fathers voice boomed, gripping his youngest son by the left wrist, spinning him sharply and smacking his square on the rear. Tears formed in Danny’s eyes as the older boys turn red in an attempt to stall there laughter, Jack now biting his forefinger to avoid the outburst.
‘Go to your room!’ Danny bolted upstairs, this time not stopping to hear the muffled murmurs of his actions, he bolted to the room and slammed the door. ‘That boy is asking for all kinds of trouble.’ Bob remarked, returning to his bird, tearing it apart more viciously. Mary sat silent, her first instinct was never to hit a child when they had done wrong, but to rather speak to them as if they were human. Mary grew up on a farm and hitting was strictly for the animals — She was taught it was barbaric to his another being, especially a child.
‘’t’s not our fault he’s adopted.’ Will mentioned into his cup, his voice echoed like a megaphone across the table.
‘He is not! Enough of this, now eat your dinner!’ It was a direct order from there mother, one that couldn’t be denied. Though she was not frightening to the boys, they knew when they had pushed her limits and they were walking a very thin line. It was time to cut the rope. The table was thrown into an eery silence, nothing but the sound of metal clinks of cutlery on porcelain floral plates there grandmother had passed down to there parents on there wedding night. The walls were thin in the house as Danny Dormer lay on his white framed bed crying into his space bedding. Dark blue material blanketed the sky as he rested his head on the materialised planet mars. Perhaps maybe he was on another planet and that’s why the world could never understand him. Perhaps he needed to escape to another world, but the thought erased from his mind as quick as it came. Perhaps he needed to stop dreaming and come back to reality. He couldn’t leave his family. Simply because he was too young. He could not run away because he would be too easy to find. His parents would have authorities searching the globe if anything had happened. He was stuck with no where to go. He couldn’t run, so he buried his face in his bed cover, whilst his fist pounded his tanned teddy bear. He didn’t bother turning the lights on this time round. The soft roar on an impending storm voices itself outside and as he lifts his weary head, he stands and makes way to his window. The white drapes rustled on a tender breeze as he becomes a silhouette beneath the moonlight. The storm took over the night in a sea of black and grey, lightning rolling across clouds of misery as he sniffles and places his hand on the window. A simple signal as he lets his tears fall once again, listening to the rumbling growing louder, closer before shaking the house in a sudden crack. The rain settled in with a steady pounding on there paved rooftop as he departed and ran back to his bed. Laying down he allowed the rain to calm his tears and the darkness to pull him under to unconsciousness.
‘1,2,3 Hut!’ The harsh collision of plastic pads hidden beneath dirt smear material echoes beneath the morning sun, though Jack was somewhat disrupted, lurking in the back. ‘DORMER!’ - coach Flanagan howls after blowing his whistle. Jack shares a glance to his girlfriend, dressed in red and white cheerleading costume with curly blonde hair and her hour glass figure with her white vans tied neatly at her ankle. He admires her before heading to his coach. He could still smell her strawberry lip gloss on his lips from when they kissed beneath the bleachers in second period.
“I could kiss you all day.” He confessed as they hid, huddled beneath the concrete stand. Cradling her head in his large hands and bringing he closer once again. His knee etching up the side of her thigh, just lifting the end of her red and white cheerleader skirt revealing the smooth tanned skin that lived beneath.
“And I would not complain.” She admitted, taking him in for another kiss before crawling over his lap and running her fingers through his hair.
‘Coach.’ Jack greets, snapping himself out of his vivid memory. Strutting across the field to the sideline, he removes his white and red gridded helmet. Holding it by his side, under his right arm he stands by the red capped man. Coach Flanagan was a middle aged man with sharp features, looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in heartbreak ridge - he was one hell of a coach, training non-stop from sunrise to sunset seven days a week and hauling his team in on weekends for college practice. He was a dedicated man, dedicating himself to the success of the Blackhawks football team.
‘Son, I need you to listen to me.’ He begins, voice taught and nothing other than serious as he waved his left hand signalling the older boy to come close. ‘I need you to sharpen up son. I know she’s pretty, but girls ain’t going to get you into the big league state football team.’ Jacks mouth opened but his voice failed him as he kept an eye on the ache scares accompanying his coaches cheeks. He was a quarterback, had scored more tries in the summer last year than he could remember. He had a job, to make his father proud, but his heart had a purpose for football and a secondary love for Charmaine-Louise Hudson.
‘I know. I-I know coach. I’m real sorry.’ He stammered, ‘I’ll, I’ll get better.’ The harsh reality of plastic bashing against skin and bodies echoed in the background as the high-school trumpet back practiced there marching song. ‘You bet your heart on it kid, I ain’t loosing my prize quarterback to a girl.’ Coach Flanagan mutters, grabbing the chrome whistle on his chest tied around his neck by a florescent yellow lanyard. Jack glances over to his left, across the field and over to the change room entry.
‘Some girl she is.’ He mumbles, watching Charmaine do a rehearsed star jump, twisting the red tasted pom-pom in her handstand flicking her blonde pony tail off her shoulders. Had she of taken it out, her hair would wave down to her belly-button. She was every high-school jocks dream, but she was his and he would fight to secure his place — The whistle blows in his ear, startling him out of his admiration.
‘Form Up!’ Coach Flanagan ordered, heading over to the centre of the field. Jack allows himself to gather his thoughts, taking one last look at his girlfriend, she smiles and waves. Returning the wave he runs back onto the field, slipping his helmet back in place as he joins his team members.
‘What was that about?’ Dean Shanahan enquired. Dean was a dark skinned African American from Illinois who has been a close friend of Jacks since before pre-k. He kept his head shaved short and had awfully long legs for a fifteen year old boy, buy damn could that son of a bitch run.
‘Just piping about my girl.’ Jack smiled as he formed a huddle with the team, slipping behind Joseph Bradbury, Steven Nicks and George Kingston. He looked down as they crossed arms over each others back, feet were jogging softly of the green grass of there home-field of Blackhawks high. ‘Charmaine?’ Dean asks, taking her name up a notch on the last interval in surprise.
‘Yeah.’ Mumbled Jack, he could just hear his friend through the speaker holes in the side of his helmet. It was getting hot and he hoped they made a break for the showers soon. ‘Told me she would jeopardise my college career.’ Dean squealed in an engaging groan of confusion.
‘Ohhh dang son! Boy you’d better believe it’d be worth it!.’ He bounced before joining on the end of the huddle. ‘I’d die for a piece of white meat like that …’ Dean pauses, absolutely hating himself for the words he had just spilled ‘Not that I would try your girl Dormer.’
‘I’d like to think not.’ Jack chuckled, in all seriousness and jokes aside he loved Dean like he was his own brother.
‘Brother! I have respect for you!’ Dean groaned, but truth was, come rain or high Jack Dormer would fight for her if it meant having her all to himself. ‘Come on.’ Yelled the coach as they broke away and ran in an uncoordinated approach to there home side. Taking a glance over to the cheerleading squad he is met with the glowing smile of his beautiful girlfriend as she throws her head back in laughter. The sunlight reflecting off her perfectly white teeth. Jack Dormer knew nothing of what he thought about his future, in fact he was blind to the reality that it was only just beginning, just not in the way he ever expected.
June 20, 1989.
The sun rose gently over the mountainside of Fort Wayne Indiana as the rooster sounds the rise of a new day. Grass grew green with the slight period of rainfall in April before it dulled back under the harshness of the sun. The patio fly-screen launches on it hinges, rebounding off the pale yellow boards that was the outside of the house, screeching and huffing threatening to close as Bob Dormer sideway stepped his way out of the frame, two suitcases in hand.
‘Boys I’d like to get on the road sometime today!’ He barked, teasing but serious. He was already two hours behind schedule and if they didn’t leave by eight am sharp on the ticker, he feared they would have ti make two stops to Louisiana and heaven knows you don’t want to get caught in the wrong part of town. Backwards people caught in a western imaginary believing that if they swayed themselves step by step, shoulders hung high and held weaponry in there back pocket that they were classified a powerful person. That they had the right to shoot someone dead, just from the mental thought that someone looked them the wrong way. They were dangerous people - very dangerous indeed and Bob Dormer would not put his family in such a situation.
‘I said move it!’ He calls into the silent house, hearing the rustled footsteps of his family running about upstairs, before the first sight of white lace ups can tumbling down the stairs in a perfect run, followed by three more sets as his boys bolted past him and ran to the car. Jack ripping the boot up on its latch and dumping his bags into the back compartment, tyres bobbing under the unexpected wait as Toby takes Wills and Danny’s ports and tosses them in. Mary’s high heels clunk as she steps out onto the porch as Bob shuts the door whilst she slips the key in place and secures there property. She was worried, leaving the house for so long. It had been six years since there last holiday and she liked to think her time was well deserved - though something felt off as she pocketed the keys in her grey cotton over-coat and followed her husband to the car. Taking his wife bags, he slams the boot of there pale blue, oak rimmed 1980 Station Wagon and steps one leg into the left hand side of the vehicle. Putting the key in the ignition, he flicks his wrist three times, the plastic olympic eagle keyring Mary had collected from a souvenir store called ‘Pluckies’ in western Virginia rattles against the side of the steering wheel before the car rumbles to life. 7:59 am on the watch as Bob pulls the car out of the driveway on onto Nightjar street, stones flicking beneath heavy tyres and ricochetting of the exhaust pipes before taking the turn off to Interstate 69 to Marion onto smoother bitumen. This was a holiday away from home, a first for Danny and a holiday none of them would surely forget.
The road was long and the air was dry, for the aircon had carked itself one-hundred and ten miles back. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do but to listen to there fathers classical ABBA cassettes whilst there mother sung along - ungodly out of tune. Danny Dormer sat on the window, behind the drivers seat resting his light brown mop on the window. The landscape was dry and dead, with the occasional green patch of shrubbery. It reminded him of an old western, where the lands were bare and the people his in up-housed saloons.
‘This song here boys.’ Bob began, raising his index finger in point, as they looked up into the review mirror to face there fathers dark bush eye brows and aged blue eyes. ‘Played the first time I ever met your mother. We were in the bowling alley. Weren’t we dear?.’ Waiting for the lyrics to begin, he glances to his wife for her approval, she smiles and rests her head on the back of the chair.
‘Oh Robert, how could I ever forget. You were such a hopeless romantic.’ Only she could call him Robert, and only she could mock him in such a way. ‘Take a chance’ by 1972 hit band ABBA begins playing and all the boys cringe at there parents shared romance.
If you change your mind, i’m the first in line. Honey I’m still free, take a chance on me.
He can still see it, clear as anything and with he rhythm of the familiar tune he allows himself to slip away with the highway road. A whisky scented wooden oak bar slick with the sticky scent of wet beer coasters and the waffling of piss scented public restrooms. Alone he sits in the corner in a bar, scooter of beer in one hand, eyes someplace else as he watches a beautiful blonde woman sit lonesome at the bar, her high heels intertwined by smooth legs whilst they tap to the rhythm of the beat of the music — or was it to the rhythm of his heart. He sat for the entire night, watching man after man leave and not offer her a dance, but rather take the two dollar red whore into the bathroom for dance in the cubicles. Across the room, a stranger, dressed in red flannel and denim jeans stumbles into the flashing red and green juke box, skipping the current torture of the weather girls “It’s raining men” and shifting the record to ABBA’s Take a chance on me and that night he took a change that changed his entire life.
“Excuse me my dear, but can I have this dance.” He slid in beside the woman looking desperately around for the voice whom had approached her. “Oh” Her lips open in a shock before she smiles at the man, welcoming him and taking his hand in hers as he leads her to the dance floor.
If you’re all alone and the pretty birds have flown, honey i’m still free, take a chance on me.
Toby grins at his fathers dreamy haze, he loved a good romance, but his parents carpool karaoke was something he wished he could avoid. Jack groaned, this car ride was becoming painful and there was still fourteen hours left till they reached Louisiana. Will silently hoped he would see a cowboy if he looked out his right hand side window hard enough, whilst Danny craned his head up to watch a bald eagle circle the air above clouds of cactus’s and dead shrubbery before vanishing into the suns harshness and returning to swoop the dusted roadside. It had been three months since Danny negotiated the tale of the Sandman and to this day he longed for his presence. A distant feeling told him in the back of his mind that his accusations were wrong and perhaps it was just the wind on that cold spring afternoon in February, but his gut told him otherwise. He wanted to believe that he had a friend and a friend in the Sandman he did. He was sure of it. Closing his eyes he allowed his head to rest against the leather wrapped doorframe. Its tanned surface and brown doorhandles were reflecting the sun and giving him a headache. In the mix of sleep and dreaming he could see him, colourful and dusted dancing in the darkness. His head bald and body shining as his entrancement pulled him deeper under moving eyelids. He was falling, falling through the blackness as if it were a never ending pit and his encouraging hand was a vortex, pulling him closer. A rough hand encloses around his left ankle, yanking his foot to rest under his fathers leather seat as a razor sharp face emerges though the darkness - No longer colourful but bare, colourless and hollow sockets for eyes - He jerks awake and perches himself forward struggling to catch his breath.
‘Woah Dan, you good?’ Jack startles from beside his youngest brother, drawing the attention of his entire family. Danny’s chest heaves as he dumps himself back.
‘Son you alright?’ Bob gruffs dropping his chest in shock on a breath he dint know he was holding.
‘Yeah, yeah i’m good.’ Danny lies, not knowing how to describe the feelings he had in the pit of his stomach. Dare he say it was fear, love, guilt, confusion - it was unrecognisable — The Sandman was coming and he didn’t know how to say it. He needed to warm them, but who would he be to ever believe they would take the word of a six year old boy who cried wolf. Maybe it was a bad dream, he thought to himself as he played his head back against the seat, starring up at the flocked ceiling.
Mid-day struck and the inside of the car was hotter than a thousand suns as they passed a brown billboard, left twisted from the aftermath of an obvious car accident declaring the area as Jefferson County. Jack wiped the sweat from his brow as will lowered his window cranking his arm round and round until the glass settled at half mast. The unrelenting flapping on the incoming traffic wind made it almost deafening to bare as the boys struggled to maintain there hair.
‘Dan move over a bit dude, you’re practically sitting on my lap.’ Grouched Jack as he shifted in his seat. Danny shifted. ‘I can’t.’ He began, flustered and hot, wedged in the corner of the four seater back seat. ‘There’s no room.’ Jack groaned ‘Well suck it in fat boy.’ Toby hissed as he shoved Will and fought for his own space.
‘Quit it!’ Will winged, wriggling and trying to get more room. ‘Boys, boys, boys!’ Mary yells turning around in her seat, seatbelt jarring against her collarbone in a soft burn.
‘That is enough!’ She points at them all as they stop instantly. “I understand it is hot. Danny wind down your window. We will stop for a break soon. Until then, I don’t want to hear it.” They looked at her, shocked and surprised that she had raised her voice at them, for she had never done such a thing on her own terms. The only time she ever yelled was when Danny did wrong and even then it wasn’t yelling but rather a gruff warning to let him know she was pissed. But now, flustered was an understatement. It had to be a good thirty seven degrees in the car, despite having the window down, the air was thick and this family road trip was growing painful as they drowned in pools of sweat and suffocated on the body odour of the two teenage boys caught in the middle.
Nine-hundred and seventy-five miles passed and the sun was beginning to break, the heat retreated behind a clutter of cloud or rose higher in the sun, out of harms way. It’s eye no longer watching the car as the heat became bearable. They had been out on the road so long the six o’clock sun did not see them as a threat, the could stop running if only just for a while.
‘How long we been driving?’ Toby asks rubbing his eye and clearing the sweat from his cheek. ‘Eight hours, op …Nine hours, almost ten son.’ Bob corrected himself flicking a glance at his watch before returning his eyes to the road and making sure not to hit those masculine-looking cactus’s on the side of the road. God knows those things had biceps and could probably curl a car.
‘Where are we?’ Inquired Will, voice tired and pitched. Too pitched for the small space of the crowded car.
‘Mississippi, 50 miles from Jackson.’
‘Jackson!’ Danny snorted, ‘Home of the king.’ He acknowledged.
‘That’s Memphis you fool!’ Jack hissed jokingly. Elvis Presley hung high in his upstairs bedroom in body length posters, the guy was a role model and his hair certainly inspired fifteen year old Jack Dormer.
‘How much longer?’ Danny whined, he loved long car trips but he was hungry and his head was beginning to hurt.
‘Yeah how much longer?’ Piped Will, excitement taking him over as he contemplated the mischief his brothers and himself would get up to when they got to there motel. All the forbidden candy and R rated movies Jack had packed - oh how he could not bare waiting another second.
‘Just under three hours, sit tight.’ Mary sighed, seemingly relaxed against the dull flow of the car fan. The boys groaned and settled back in to there seats.
The car doors slam in an un-coordinated melody as the boys groan and shift there feet in the gravel carpark of “Dixson’s Diner”. The red writing strung high on a billboard in the centre of the small Jackson carpark. The soft electric buzz hums in the silence as the boys stare up dreamily.
‘Dixson’s Diner aye.’ Bob admires as he claps his eldest son on the back and taking an encouraging step towards the double door entrance.
‘Hey it’s food!’ Jack erupted sarcastically following his family into the small diner. The air smelt dirty. A clean, chemical aroma hung like a stain in a white t-shirt, the kind of smell Jack assumed cleaners have been trying to scrub out for years, but to no avail have failed. The sizzling of a platter draws his nostrils away from he’s accusations as he watches the waitress, dressed in a pale green apron and white under-dressings deliver a large pizza to an awaiting family - suddenly this place didn’t seem so bad.
‘Table for six please.’ Mary stated to the waitress chewing viciously on a stale piece of bubble-gum, probably yesterdays judging by the hardness of her jaw movements. It had to be clay by now - thought Toby. The woman, her name badge scribing “Kirby”, looked Mary up and down, glancing at Danny before turning and grunting an unenthusiastic ‘Come this way.’ Before seating them at a booth in the far left corner of the roadside restaurant along the highway.
‘Dad! Dad!’ Will screeches, looking at the glossed menu in the table, perched on his knees on the leather padding of the booth.
‘William, inside voice.’ Bob silences his son, William was always good for speaking louder than the walls were accustomed, or speaking when he wasn’t required too.
‘Ohh they have chicken nuggets and chips. Oh they have pizza!’ Will exclaimed before shoving a hand over his mouth and silencing himself.
‘We aren’t blind Will. You don’t need to read us the full menu.’ Smiled Jack as he wondered what it would be like to be a blind man. How strange it would be. Would all your senses grow under the departure of another, would he become a superhero like daredevil. His heart lightened and his face grew a smile as he looked at Will, oh how he would love to be Daredevil, swing a cane and save people. He’d love to be a hero.
‘He’s just hungry, aren’t you Will?’ Their mother questioned, sitting across from the boys beside Bob, hands intertwined in a public display of affection. It was something they always did when ever out on the town, whether it was for there own insecurities Toby and Jack could never tell, or perhaps they just did it because they were simply inseparable. Mary and Bod dormer glanced down at the menu as a pretty cocktail waitress mazed her way through the sea of empty tables to make her way over to theirs. She smiled, grabbing her notepad and pen from her apron pouch as she can to a stop by the table-side.
‘Good evening, welcome to Dixson’s diner. Can I start you off with a few drinks.’ The lady was clearly flustered having run a muck around customers for assumably hours whilst she slaved to pay off her college tuition fees.
‘Oh no thanks, dear. We might just straight up order, if that’s ok with you?’ She nods, cheeks blushing in embarrassment for her assumptions.
‘Sure thing, what will it be today?’ He accent was smooth like her brown curly hair swung back in a high pony tail, she had to be from Southern Texas, Bob mentally noted as Mary ordered a large New York pepperoni pizza. The pen scribbled against the wax paper before she dotted it on a soft punch, lifting her green eyes and smiling at the family of five.
‘Coming right up!’ Before turning and weaving her way back into the kitchen. Pans and pots clanked together over the dinner as they waited patiently, listening to the chefs yelling. Mary cringed, for she had always believed that one must cook with patience in there heart and a kindness in there voice or else the food will taste like hate and guilt. Her mother taught her that from a very young age. Thirty minutes later the pizza came sizzling at hand and weaving between tables, before coming to land in the centre of their booth. The boys gasped as Mary and Bob said ‘Ah thank-you.’ Smiling wildly, they were surprised to say the least, the pizza looked amazing for such a run down joint.
‘What do you say boys?’ Mary encouraged her children manors.
‘Thank-you!’ They all chimed as the waitress smiled and said.
‘You are most welcome! Let me know if there is anything else I can get you.’ She departed, this time Bob caught her name tag.
‘Stacey, I’ll remember that. What a pleasant young girl.’ He remarked.
‘She was!’ Mary agreed as they all grabbed a slice of the pizza, watching as the cheese slid down, like an avalanche before quickly devouring it to avoid creating a mess. Such a delicious meal it was. Casting a quick glance at Danny, Jack was quick to see his youngest brother battling a string of cheese between his fingertips. He was too hungry to bother to help as he stuffed his face with another slice. It had been a long, hot drive and he had deserved his time alone. On the way out Bob ensured he left a ten dollar tip to the waitress who made his family’s night so memorable with instructions to pass it on to Stacey, though he had his doubt as Kirby continued to chew her gum and look unamused as she wished them a goodnight. Bob had suspicions the bitch had pocketed the money, but God be good, he had tried to do an act of kindness - even if it didn’t work out the way it did, he had set a good example for his children and that was good enough for him and his weary heart.
Dusted tyres ground against smooth roads as they travelled the final distance to there destination. It had been a long day and judging from the exhausted look on the boys faces it was clear that it had worn them out. The sun had long departed since they left Dixon’s Diner and headed onto Interstate two-hundred and twenty, heading southbound for Louisiana two hours ago. Luckily nobody had brought up a mix of digested pastry, cheese and pepperoni, so they had considered themselves quite fortunate.
‘Ya’ll want some music.’ Bob groaned from the drivers seat, his body quickly becoming nothing but a silhouette under the passing sun as streetlight rolled through the car.
‘Whatcha got?’ Jack responded, resting his head back against the seat, his ear grazing Toby’s shoulder.
‘Ain’t matter what I got son. You ain’t going to enjoy it.’
‘Try me Ol’ man.’ Jack sarcastically remarked as his father hit the cassette player in a series of plastic clanks before whipping the notch up on the volume as Grease began to play over the speakers.
“There ain’t no danger, we can go too far. We start believing now that we can be who we are. Grease is the word.”
‘Oh god!’ Jack smiled as the boys began to laugh. His father pitched his voice to try and hit the classical high notes of the BeeGees. What a time to be alive. The boys had no idea that this would be a time they would remember for the rest of there lives.
“Their lips are lying only real is real. We stop the fight right now. We gotta be what we feel.”
(If only )— Thought Danny Dormer as he plonked his head against the glass panel and watched his world fade behind him. The sun had long departed, turning his back on the world, allowing his flare-less twin to be the face of the night in all his dull luminance as they headed off Ronal Reagan highway and into the state of Louisiana. Danny played his head on the window of his mothers car as he casted his eyes upon the blue town directory titled “Welcome to Louisiana" a stranded deer stands behind the sign as Danny lifted his head to watch the creature as they go by, locking eyes with the wild animal. Something in it’s eyes told Danny it was not alright, that something had spooked it, legitimately caught it in the headlights and forced its soul to spill from its glistening black eyes as dried grass spilled from it’s open mouth. ‘How long now?’ Whined Will for the fifth time in the hour. ‘Look son!’ Bob pointed up out the front of the dash to a green sign on the right hand side of the road, written on it
“Louisiane motel 12.8 miles.”
‘How long is that?’
‘Twelve minutes kiddo.’ There father saved him before Jack ripped his head from his shoulders and made him feel his annoyance as they exited the highway and headed onto the main road in to town.
‘Danny what is it man?’ Toby lent forward noticing Danny was looking back out the window as if he had seen something and it was running after the car. Danny’s head snaps over to Toby, nearly taking out Jack’s head as he stares wildly.
‘There was a dear back there.’
‘Where!’ Will all but yells.
‘Oh Will.’ Toby grunts, sticking his left index finger in his ear trying desperately to stop the pitched ringing of his non pubescent brothers voice from piercing his skull.
‘Sorry.’ Will whispers.
‘Under the Louisiana sign. He was munching on grass.’ Danny explained, his innocence evident in his voice as he returns his gaze to the window.
‘We’ll be seeing a lot more of those bastards. It’s hunting season out here now. Folk’s with guns will be gunning for them come morning rise.’ Said Bob as he turned the vehicle onto a small gravel road narrowed side shadowed by the darkness of long pine trees. The car bobbed and grunted on stones before steadying itself. Danny rested his head on the window, watching the darkness seep into the gravel as the occasional orange street lamp casted a glow upon patches of gravel. Off in the distance Danny spots a flashing sea of light, moving in a way like a thousand firefly’s would back home in Indiana. It was getting closer, as they swirled down in clouds of blue, green, red and yellow. Like a miniature tornado erupted from the clouds. Beneath him he can hear the rumbling of the car engine as he furrows his brow to considerate on the colourful swirling mass before him. Edging closer he can see the figure now take shape as it stands on the side of the road, seemingly lost with a destination only it would understand. The Sandman raises a tender hand, hiding his face beneath the shade of a velvet top-hat as it waves the car past. A cloud of dirt blows across the road as Danny gasps in acknowledgement, smiling brightly before glancing back through the back window of the boot to see …..nothing but the cloud of dust the back tyres had whisked into the forrest.
‘What is it?’ Jack frowns as he looks over his shoulder in an attempt to see what Danny could see, but to no avail he saw darkness and darkness was all there was. Disappointed Danny slumped back around and sat front on, Jack soon following as Danny whispered on a soft pout.
‘I thought I saw him?’
‘Saw who …The Sandman?’ Will chuckled as Mary warned.
‘Boys enough.’ Not making a movement, but making her voice stern and as to be take as a warning.
‘He was there, he waved at me.’ Danny whispered as he looked down at his feet as the streetlamp caught his small white lace ups.
‘That’s enough Dan.’ Jack repeated his mothers tone.
‘Look boys, isn’t it the most beautiful sight you have ever seen.’ Bob gasped pointing through the dashboard. Danny jumped and looked out the window with hope in his heart that the sandman had returned and indeed his father had spotted his beautiful colours.
‘I can’t see! I cant see.’ Whinges Will and Danny as Toby and Jack dragged them half over there laps as they watched the Motel come into view. A hidden motel, stranded in the centre of a national park, was a beautiful sight. Even more beautiful when you had been on the road for fourteen and a half hours, longing for the comfort of a soft bed and the feeling to return to your arse.
The car rocks over a crushed concrete speed bump as it rolls it’s way into the gravel lined carpark, five car spaces from the high-rise, stop-poll sign of the Louisiane Motel. The car doors creak as they plummet there way out, Bob doing the honours of removing the ports from the back of the car and depositing them on the gravel for his sons to collect.
‘There we have it boys, the Louisiane Motel.’ Bob slams the car boot and locks the car as Jack, Toby, Will and Danny grab there bags and follow there parents heading to the reception bay. The building was dated in brown brick - the kind that had sloshes of dark brown that resembled the inner shell of a christmasy fruit cake, The building ran sideways, diagonally across the landscape on a single floor level and carried approximately seventy-five rooms. A majority of there resident were out of town truckers who longed for a place to rest up and feed them whilst they logged all things across the boarders of the United States. Though no one seemed to be here tonight. The rusted doorbell chimes and sways on a frayed piece of green string attached to the glass door as the Dormers enter the motel. The smell of dust and dirty carpet circles the air as a male appears from a doorway off the side to the counter.
‘Hello, you must forgive me I was fixing the air-conditioning. Ain’t a good way to kick start the summer in the blistering heat.’ The man chuckles as he slaps his hand on the counter before wiping his black hand on the backs of his denim clad thighs leaving greased oil stains on the crevices of his pocket lining.
‘What can I do you for ya’ll tonight?’ Bob and Mary smile. ‘Ain’t no way to start the summer at all.’ Mary states blindly obvious whilst her husband jerks a nod in response. Any idiot that would opt to spend an entire summer in the blistering Louisiana heat would surely be five parts bonkers and six parts willing to dig there own grave —
‘We have a reservation under Dormer.’ Her hands were beginning to sweat in the warm temperature of the room as the boys shift under the weight of there bags, uncomfortable and growing heavy eye-lids. Glancing at the clock it is swiftly noted that it is eight and the boys were getting weary.
‘Ah yes.’ The man recalls, reaching beneath the desk fold to snatch up two sets of keys in a clank of metal on wood, rustling the keys in mid air, letting each one of them dance individually before he sets the on the desk in a horrid clunk and scrape.
‘The deluxe room is in the high court area just around the corner to your left. You will see a large grass area near the poolside. Thought it would be a lovely spot for a couples retreat.’ He winks at Mary, a solid yet creepy gesture that made her cheeks flush and heart grow one step colder in the embarrassment of being hit on by a man, mid sixties with three strands of hair covering the river of baldness that parted the middle of his scalp.
‘Oh thank-you that is awfully kind.’ replied Mary as she took the key from his awaiting palm, shifting her port in her right hand and grazing her left thumb over the yellow plastic key tag glancing at the black pen inscription of 601. ‘And for you lovely four young men, I have given you room 656, four doors down from your folks here….Here son.’’ He wings his arm back before tossing the keys over Bobs head to Jack who catches the metal strands of keys in an snapping catch and glancing at the red key tag of 656.
‘Thank-you sir.’ Jack nods with a stern voice and manors of a saint, though they all knew he was never completely like that.
‘Fine figure you have there son, you a football player?’ The receptionist perks, grabbing a toothpick and wedging it between his middle bottom teeth as he leans one arm against the countertop in an awaiting response.
‘Ugh yes sir.’ Jack said, ‘Ugh quarter back sir.’ Watching as the receptionist removed the toothpick from the valley of his bottom teeth, sucked the remains of food out with a pulse of his tongue.
‘Well Thank thee good lord above. Good man. You folks have a good night - Storms coming, and I am afraid we are smack bang in the middle of it.” The receptionist warns, voice serious as he snags up the blue hand cloth, pocketing his screwdriver.
‘We will sir, and you too.’ Bob and Mary murmur in a fight to say the same sentence as smoothly as possible before he departs with a nod and slips through the hallway doorway and out the back. The doorbell chimes on its string, metal slapping on a weak wooden frame as they depart the reception bay and head down to there room. Taking a left at the end of the wall of unconcerning doors, rushing water fills their ears as they near the poolside. A bean shaped pool, fixed with plastic beach recliners and the occasional lighting prod to illuminate the green scenery of shrubs and low palms are stuffed into the corner of the white metal fencing.
‘This way boys.’ Mary signalled as she followed Bob down the undercover concrete pathway. The tin overhaul barely lit with unrelenting and flickering florescent tubing. With a quick glance upwards it’s illness can only be diagnosed from consuming a stomach full of charred insects. Lighting splattered against the sky, bringing light to the darkness in waves of black and blue as Mary slotted the brass key into the her the room they called 601.
‘Jack you’re in charge.’
‘Oh sweet.’ Jack chuckles, feeling the surge of sibling power begin to take him into the dark side, but a stern warning glance from his mother told him this wasn’t a joke.
‘I’m not kidding Jack, behave.” She warned as there father shoved open their door and took their mother’s and his own bags inside. ‘Oh mum! mum!’ Danny piped,
‘Can I have the chocolate things they place on dad and your pillow. Please, please, please!’ The small six year old prodded, voice pitched and annoying. ‘It’s your’s and dads pillow Danny.’ Mary corrected, ‘And no you can not have chocolate this late at night. Vacation or not, go to bed.’ She was the stern voice of every mother in the whole 50 state’s of America. Danny pouts, suddenly feeling like this vacation had lost all its thrill.
‘Goodnight boys.” She steps inside, hand perched on the green door to there room.
‘Night mum.’ They chime as she closes the door in there face before a series of suspicious giggles erupt behind the door. Jacks eyes go wide in terror of realising his parents actions before hushing his siblings along the moonlit pathway, guiding the way to there room.
‘Come on, come on.’ The embarrassment clearly written on the fifteen year olds face as if he had just walked in on his folks having sex for the first time. He did not want to remember that. Shaking his head he clears his mind and wishes he could scrub it clean with a bar of soap. Taking a left at the end of the concrete covered pathway he ushers his siblings around the corner.
‘Jack.’ Danny whines and slows to a stop.
‘What Dan.’ He stops and shoots a glance back at his sulking sibling whom upon meeting his glance is struggling to support the weight of his blue suitcase, hugging it to his chest and swaying under the weight of it.
‘I can’t carry it, it’s too heavy.’ The small child whines, lip ready to pout and eyes growing distressed. (Fuck’s sake - no oh god no) Thought Jack quickly dismissing the action of the word fuck from his mind. (Why’d he have to be so weak and useless.)
‘Just put it down, it has wheels on it for crying out loud.’ Snapped Jack before composing himself and preparing to help his youngest brother.
‘But the handle is broken!’ Danny cries, before Jack snatches the small suitcase, almost rolling his eyes at how light it truely was.
‘There.” He hisses quite, ‘Now quit your blabbering, you’ll wake the residents.’ Danny nods, suddenly free of the weight of his heavy luggage as he ran forward towards the door.
‘Dan! Get back here.’ Toby grouches, frustrated and exhausted.
‘I found it! I found it.’ Danny jumps in pure joy as he looks up at the glossy dark green painted door, to the metallic numerals nailed into the old wood, reading 656 lit beneath the warm glow of a black lantern, dusted in strings of broken cobwebs hanging from the nob of it’s pointed beard.
‘Shhh.’ Will attempts to silence the squeaky high pitched enthusiasm of his youngest brother.
‘I’m going to kill him.’ Murmurs Jack as he surpasses Toby in a gentle manner as Toby scoffs.
‘You and me both brother.’ Before following Will and Jack over to the supposedly food door, despite the fact it was never truely lost in the first place and they all knew where they were going. Jack dumps his bags (and Danny’s) down
‘Ok, ok, everybody scoot. How am I meant to see where to put the key if all of ya’ll are hanging around and blocking the light?’ It was a question in which Jack was never expecting a response, but for the love of God above, they weren’t about to test his patience, so Toby hooked a hand on the back of Will’s cardigan and hauled him back in a sharp tug nearly sending the boy to the floor before sending a head jerk to Danny and telling him to come left. The key slips and scrapes across the metallic brass lock before Jack slides the key home in a relieving click.
‘Touchdown.’ He declares — One of his favourite lines to say whenever life went his way. With a shove of the door, the wood refused to bulge — That was until Jack wedged a shoulder into the rectangular engraving in the doorframe, the kind that lines every door in the entire of America, and practically took the freshly painted door off it’s hinges.
‘Just needed a little push.’ Jack declared reaching a hand into the darkness, running his hand along the side wall in a hope to find the light switch, though mentally prepared to feel the leather like skin of unknown and unwelcome fingertips enclose over his hand — Click. (Oh thank God) He thought, sighing in relief and hiding his fear of the dark once more. This place surely gave him the creeps, old motels usually did. Shifting his back against the now open door he waves his siblings in as the rain begins to tap against the tin roofed corridor, before watching as Danny nearly trips on the wall step in an attempt to look back at the sound he knew so clearly was rainfall — So useless Jack thought before shutting the door with a warm hand curled around the cold brass handle, sealing themselves from the outside world and the life they once had known. The thunder outside growls like a pack of hounds in the night as the rain begins to pour on a sudden clap of thunder. The room is huge. A double bed and three singles lay plastered against the back red and white striped wallpaper, with a small ensuite just to the right of the double bed and a spare room to the left of the deluxe space — This place was intended for large families and judging from the spare room, it was intended for families with children. Parents really did need there space sometimes.
‘This place was made for kings.’ Toby declared as he disappears into the ensue with Will at his heels.
‘Oh no way, they have the tube soap!’ Will exclaims, and judging from the hidden quick pounding of feet on tile, you could bet on it he was jumping in joy.
‘You’re a freak.’ Toby scoffs, emerging to see Jack dumping his navy blue duffle bag on the double bed, rightfully claiming it with a quick murmur of ‘Oldest gets the king bed.’ and ripping the zipper back through it’s teeth.
‘It’s a double but whatever.’ Will mocks, instantly regretting it the moment Jack shoots him a hard dagger glance, before whipping out five VHS tapes and fanning them out in his hands with a mischievous smirk. The Tv announces itself in a gush of static as everyone shoots a glance to Danny, siting up on the last single bed, remote in hand. The bed was pushed tight against the wall, it was any wonder how the maid could change the bedding to such straight detail. Jack felt almost guilty for creasing the sheets with his duffle so soon upon there arrival.
‘Yes!’ Toby’s enthusiasm is almost too hard to contain through the excited smile on his face as he looks at the titles. ‘Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th — The final, Oh children of the corn …Cudg-o.’ Will happily reads them out.
‘Cujo.’ Jack corrects ‘So which one will it be boys.’ A shuffle of bedding behinds him tells him that Danny is on the move.
‘Mum and Dad don’t like us watching that kind of stuff — let’s see what’s on Tv first.’
‘But Mum and Dad aren’t here right now Danny-boy.’ Jack shrugs off his brothers remark as if it were nothing but a pointless statement.
‘I know …but.’ Danny begins, his face red and his heart feeling the trust of what little his brother had in him face.
‘But what,’ Hisses Will,
‘You going to tell on us.’ As he snatches Cujo out of his oldest brothers hand in a swift jump. Decision had firmly been made with Toby nodding in complete agree.
‘Danny, perhaps you’re too young for this. Why don’t you go to bed.’ Anger fuelled in Danny like a spark in a warehouse full of fireworks, one inch aware from full destruction.
‘I’m not a baby, I can handle it. If I can’t watch it, Will should’t be able to either.’
‘Danny enough, you’re not joining us. Go to bed.’ Toby stares down his brother and all of a sudden his little heart could not argue anymore.
‘When I see mum, you will all be in trouble. You know how she is about this! You will all be in soo much trouble. You can’t, we’re not — You’re not allowed to watch violent movies —‘ Danny blabbers as tears begin to prickle in his eyes.
‘Enough Danny!’ Jack yells, sniffling the room to an eery silence, even the outside crickets stop singing in the rain, ‘You’re not watching.’
‘But!’ Cries Danny, throwing a hand towards Will.
‘No buts, no arguments. Go to bed.” Jack point’s to the spare room off to the side, dimmed to darkness with it’s white door ajar. Danny’s face scrunches up before going bright red as his tears threaten to fall.
‘You’re just not the favourite younger sibling Dan.’ Will teases, before Toby gives him a backhand slap over the back of the head leaving him to crouch with a swift ‘ouch’.
Deciding enough is truely enough, Danny runs into the spare room, shooting his brothers a displeasing glance before slamming the door shut in a solid thump, rattling the windows in his departure.
‘Don’t slam the doors Mister’ Jack warns as the boys chuckle. ‘What do we have boys.’ Jack glances at the chosen movie,
‘Oh I was totally hoping you boy’s would grow a pair and watch this with me.’ Toby deposits himself on one of the spare single bed as Will cracks open the bar fridge, grabbing a Cadbury CurlyWurly.
‘Oi Will chuck us one.’ Toby requests, lazily leaning up against his bed head in an unmotivated attempt to get up and retrieve his snacks for himself. Sometimes Will felt like his brothers were like zoo animals whenever food came about, they just lived to get fed.
‘Oi me too!’ Shouted Jack as Will gabbed three and tossed two to his brothers, leaving the fridge ajar.
‘Shut the door.’ Jack reminded him before he kicked it shut.
‘Thanks Willy Wonka.’ Toby murmured around a sticky mess of caramel and chocolate as Jack and Will took a similar position to Toby, reclined, ready and determined to watch the film suspended on the small box television mounted to the wall above the small kitchenette.
Meanwhile on the other side of the room behind a closed door, Danny Dormer sumps over to his bed. Not bothering to get changed out of his red cardigan and tanned shorts, but rather just flicks his lace up shoes off, kicking one beneath the bed (accidentally) before tearing the multi-coloured square-stitched quilt back and slips beneath the stiff ironed white covers, dismissing the itchy bedspread folded neatly at the base of the mattress. Above him, stands a plain push open window, it’s crochet white curtains hiding its fragile glass face like a veil on a bride. Beside him, a small draw, decorated with five hibiscus, their legs trapped in the confines of a glass vase, curved in the neck as if someone had laid a firm hand and squeezed it to near death. Beside the right corner of the tabletop stood a wooden rocking-chair, it’s ribbed backing casting a moonlit shadow to the tainted blue wallpaper, split in the middle by a varnished timber frame, running horizontal until it met the corner wall and ran around to the door jam before disappearing into the darkness. Through the paleness, his tears glisten with the despair whilst his mind races to piece where he went so wrong. A salted sob and the wet sniffle of running mucus echoes in the silence as Danny hides his head in the pillow, now warm with the overheated madness of his own thoughts ‘I want to believe.’ He sobs, turning into his pillow, his little fist twisting the corner in an act of trying to dispel rage as he wishes he could be anywhere but here, alone in an uncaring, stiff, scratchy motel bed. Outside the violins hum a symphony beneath the single spill of light of the slammed door he could still hear in his mind.
‘what do we have boys’
‘Oh I was hoping you boys would grow a pair and watch this with me.’ Did they even care that he was alone, upset and laying in eery darkness whilst they bask in the horror of a — a soft click followed by ridged creak of a wooden door on it’s hinges whispers in the silence of his cries. The kind of creak that belonged to hinges succumbed by dust and in desperate need of some WD-40. With a gasp he sits up, heart hammering in his throat as he watches the door push open. The curtains hollow out with a steady toss of the wind, before he swiftly turns around, panting aloud whilst he slips a hand beneath the veil and pulled the window shut with a confident slip of the lock at the base of the frame. (Just the wind Danny, there’s nothing there.) Gosh, Jack was right, how could I be such a fool to ever believe — The violins begin to harmonise with the rapid barking of the dogs as he bounces back down into his pillow, drawing the covers up to his shoulders, ducking his head beneath a pyramid crease and hiding in the darkness. There, safe and sound — He thought to himself, allowing himself to release that gust of breath he unknowingly was holding on to. In the darkness he pretended like it was like that time his father had taken him diving in the great lake and he had to hold his breathe so he wouldn’t drown — Except no one was drowning, and there was air to be taken in, and gosh he needed to breathe.
Come on Dan, be a man.
Though there was nothing to be a man about, he was six, and he was drowning in the lies of his own reality that were somewhat real. They’re growing louder now — the violins, as if he was the boat in Jaws, floating in the ocean as a great white shark lurked beneath the surface with a perfectly accustomed orchestra to accompany the isolating suspense of its arrival. Oh God. Perhaps it was silly to fight over something as silly as an R rated film, perhaps he should apologise, perhaps — (Creak). He clenches his eyes and dismisses his mind of all positive thoughts — Perhaps this was it. He wanted to look, lean right over the edge of the bed and check to see if there was anything laying beneath it. In the darkness, somewhere beneath this bed, a hand would emerge out and grab him at first glance of the eye — but he would not be so mad to indulge in this one way train to crazy-land.
Stop it Dan, stop this nonsense. There’s. No. Such. Thing. As. Monsters.
Just then in that moments, the rocking chair leans back on it’s heels as if preparing to sprint forward, out that door and into the hills.
Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look.
He clenches his eyes into crows feet, fists gripping onto the inside covers of the square-sticked quilt as if preparing to drag himself beneath and protecting himself from the creaking of the closet, the rocking creak of the chair and the — (Click) followed by a treacherous metallic twist of hinges that could only be described as the window lock unhinging before the curtains hollowed out in a fluttering whistle of wind through the fly screen protector. No. Danny thinks to himself as his breath begins to bare an unbearable heat, almost hot enough to not be satisfying the space of his lungs. He was suffocating. Unbearable heat and no he couldn’t do this no longer — It was time to be a man. With a symphony of violins amping higher, the sweat lingered between his fingers as he scrunches his hands against the crumpled sheets as he clenches his eyes shut and throws his head up in a sudden bravery. The chair begins to slow its creak to an inaudible shift of faded carpet on smooth, varnished timber. Suddenly the wind blows and then — nothing. Not a peep, not a creep, just the wind and nothing more. Deciding he was nothing more than paranoid, he snaps his eyes open to prove his brain wrong, though his throat constricts and his mouth prepares to scream as two illuminant grey eyes stare back at the boy, unblinking and pupils dark as it begins to rock back and forth on the rocking chair. The moonlight capturing it’s dull, sanded red head and flowing, transparent rainbow grained body down to its feet as they blend to the floor of impending blackness. Danny wanted to scream, to warn his brothers, to cry, to speak, to yell for them to come in, but the words could not find him. It was him, the one he spoke about so often, the candy coloured clown he called The Sandman. The tale of disbelief and the unmistakable reality of all that he believed was sitting right in front of him, rocking softly in an oak chair, just staring unblinkingly at Danny Dormer as if he too couldn’t believe the life he was seeing before his own eyes. With a gentle lean towards the child, Danny Dormer reclines his head back, arm at the ready to propel himself off the bed to the awaiting monster who lived beneath the spring piercing mattress, living off carpet dust and secretly awaiting the good meal of a delicious six year old boy. But he would not be so lucky, as the Sandman places a finger on the boys lips. Danny’s eyes unable to focus on anything but the swirling rotation of light blue grains of sand moving rapidly on his fingertip, grazing the tenderness of his lips and making them tingle as his lifeless grey eyes force the boys head back to the pillow with a soft and silent head tilt. ‘Go to sleep, everything is alright.’ It spoke, humbled and plausible, the words his own father always sung to him since the age of three. “A candy-coloured clown they call the sandman Tiptoes to my room every night Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper
"Go to sleep, everything is alright.” Danny’s mind begins to buzz in the confusion of the figure’s grey eyes as he begins to feel dizzy and lightheaded. The kind of light headedness where you feel a thousand miles away but trapped in the present as he stares, afraid and suddenly unable to move — His heart begins to pound, his throat begins to seize again as he tries to scream — nothing but pointless expels of voiceless air as the figure leans forward, it’s eyes unyielding as it smiles in the darkness. Teeth razor-sharp and bonelike, like a Chester-cat in a grey midnight mist as it throws itself forward towards the boy. The moonlight trapped in the window now glistening in the corner of the paralysed child’s eye, stricken in nothing more than total fear as The Sandman devours Danny Dormer.
“I close my eyes then I drift away Into the magic night, I softly say.”
The curtain blows apart on a desperate tussle of the wind, sending leaves of deep orange and brown circling up the outside of the room before getting trapped in the grills of the storm drain beneath the swaying eyelid of the open window as grains of bright coloured sand pour out through the bottom row of the fly screen, over the chipped white painted pane and into the storm drain below. Inside, the rocking chair begins to sooth its desperate rocking in an act of coming to terms with the horror that had just occurred as it realises, the small child it had tried to sooth, tried to protect in a bed of sadness was now gone as the sheets grow cold in there crumpled remains of his departure.
“A silent prayer like dreamers do Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.”