Keyser's Stories: "A Final Visit"

A Final Visit

His colorless eyes took in the details of the room, noticing everything visible through the cracked closet door. He knew that there was a full moon tonight, but the humans had drawn the curtains before going to bed. The pitch-black room suited him well, as his kind didn’t need light to see, and he was especially gifted in that particular skill. An old wooden dresser stood against the far wall, topped with a recently cleaned mirror. A bottle of Old English furniture polish set on the left corner of the dresser, an old rag folded neatly by its side. On the wall to his right, a ten-year old television rested on a home-made stand. The queen-sized bed dominated the room, its headboard tight against the left wall. The wallpaper badly needed to be replaced, and the carpet was worn down by years of use. The sort of silence only experienced at this hour, when humans had fallen into the deepest sort of sleep, weighed on his ears, barely broken by the humming of the air conditioner and the tick of the old clock. Snuggled close together underneath the down covers, the two humans slept, happily unaware of their observer.

It had been twenty-three years since George had visited this particular human. He tried hard to remember its name, but names had never seemed all that important. He knew it started with a “w”, but that’s as far as he could get. With a resigned sigh, he decided to get on with the reason he had come tonight.

George eased the closet door open, his years of experience and a touch of his magic keeping the hinges quiet. He began his journey towards the dresser, taking his time, pausing at the foot of the bed to watch the sleeping humans. In his working days, he would never have moved this slowly, would never have taken time to think about the past as he did now. But he was retired, and he wanted to make this one last stop before moving on in his life.

He had been the best in the business, visiting the most children each night, giving them nightmares, creating fears that might last a life time, scaring them into their parents’ beds. He chuckled inwardly at that last thought, remembering times in which the parents had been, well, inconvienced by such events. He had been a role model to his kind and, in fact, still was, and, as such, he had made his millions teaching others to do as he did. Despite all of his success, one fact had stayed with him all this time.

His kind never showed gratitude towards humans, but it was this particular human who started it all for him. Without this man sleeping peacefully below him, George would have never been the success that he was. This human had been his forty-second visit, but his first encounter with a child that refused to be scared. He could still remember that visit as if it happened yesterday. He had sent nightmare after nightmare into the young boy’s dreams, but the boy kept turning them into pleasant images. He had woken the boy up, putting on his most monstrous expression, but the sleepy-eyed boy had looked at him and laughed! Nothing he could do had scared the boy, and it had been beyond George’s comprehension to understand why. In spite, he had taken the child’s teddy bear and stormed out of the room, disappearing into the closet.

From that day on, he resolved to find ways to avoid such failures and devoted himself to studying human fears and emotions. He had not only discovered the quickest and most effective ways to strike fear into the minds of children, but he had discovered the one thing that his kind had never experienced and, quite possible, could never experience. The quality that had allowed that child to counter his every effort became the one thing George strove to achieve.

Bringing his focus into the present, George walked to the dresser and gently sat the old ragged teddy bear on the dresser. He didn’t know if the man would remember it or if the human could ever grasp the meaning behind the gesture, but he knew he had to do it. He removed the envelope from his pocket and propped it up next to the teddy bear.

Returning to the closet, he paused once more at the foot of the bed, looking for the last time at the human that had changed everything. The man’s face, vastly different from that of the little boy George remembered, lay on the pillow. His cheeks had lost their baby-fat and grown to define an angular face. His rusty blond hair no longer lay unkempt, spilling into his eyes, but now sported a Caesar cut. He had a short goatee hiding parts of his face. But his essence was still that of the little four-year-old boy that George encountered all those years ago. The innocence of that boy seemed to have survived all these years.

George walked to the closet, stepped into its darkness, and closed the door behind him. He knew that the man survived on a meager income, barely enough to support his wife and himself. They wanted to have kids one day, but didn’t have the money to afford them. George knew that the couple could use the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars he left in the envelope on the dresser. It was the least he could do, considering all that the boy had unknowingly done for him.

An unusual feeling crept across his face, a straining of muscles he never knew existed. George felt his cheeks tighten and his lips stretch into an unnatural shape. It slowly dawned on him that he was doing something he never thought possible. For the first time in his life, George was smiling.

copyright 2005 Keyser520