In The Shed
Mr. and Mrs. Brown were my neighbors in the big city. They had lived at their home for more than thirty years, but unfortunately, with old age came Alzheimer’s. She tried to care for him, but his mind gave way to madness and violence. After several attempts to kill her, he was committed to a nursing home. Mr. Brown died a year later.
Alone now, Mrs. Brown’s daughter, boyfriend and her son moved in. The two worked while she took care of her grandson. Sometime later, I heard a commotion along my street. Her house was surrounded by police cars. I later found out her grandson suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and tried to stab her to death. Unhurt, she managed to fight him off and called for help. He was questioned by police as to why he attacked her and he replied, “The voices told me to kill her.”
They moved out in order to get the proper care for the boy. On her own again, she asked if I would take her garbage out and one day she thought she heard noises coming from the backyard shed and could I check it out. The shed looked more like a smaller version of the house, guarded by two trees. The lemon tree grew fruit with the most pleasant tang. The apple tree’s fruit however, were often dry, not very tasty. With the only door to the shed closed, I figured no one broke in; for what thief enacts courtesy. Inside the odors of dust, mustiness, and something else rushed toward me. Despite all the city noise, the silence was palpable. Stacks of boxes and rusted old tools appeared undisturbed as evident by the dust which covered everything. And at the far corner, there was an old shoe. Though coated with dust, I could tell it was a black wing tip, laces tied, and placed as if someone was stepping out of the shadows. But it only appeared that way. I informed her everything was fine.
That shoe brought back memories of my grandfather. A bitter old man who always barked out orders, who always threatened to hit me. He died when I was a child and lying in his open coffin, I dared my older brother to pull his black wing tip shoe to see if he would wake. He did it, but we ran and don’t know if he woke.
That night I dreamt my grandfather called to me. I couldn’t quite see him, but recognized that voice. “Where are you?” He said over and over.
A few nights later, Mrs. Brown asked me to check the shed again. My flashlight revealed everything was intact. My footprints upon the dust said nobody else had been in there. As I headed out the door, I stepped on what I thought was a rat, jumped, lost my balance and fell just outside the door. I shined the light on the object: The old black wing tip was set at the entrance. I closed the door without taking my eyes off it. I asked her if she’d been out there all the while knowing the answer.
Sadly, Mrs. Brown took ill sometime after and passed away in 2011. Two things happened since: Her house has been up for sale and I haven’t set foot on the property.