Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: EERIE (07/28/16)
- TITLE: Thou Shall Fear No Evil
By Lillian Rhoades
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This fat lady never sang, but if she had, it wouldn’t have changed a thing for my young mind not yet molded by logic. For me, rumor had long morphed into reality. The dire warning I’d received from schoolmates and neighborhood playmates had fallen on opened ears.
“Stay away. They do awful things to you once you’re inside.”
The fire red turban around the fat lady’s head, the multi-colored ankle length dress that did nothing to camouflage her rotund figure, much less her over-sized ankles, the long bangle earrings, extra layers of red lipstick and rouged cheeks, and a ring on every finger added to the longstanding myth and fueled my fears.
It would not be an overstatement to say that I wanted nothing to do with this bulky woman who reminded me of Jezebel, the evil woman whom I had heard about in Sunday School. My imagination carried the fat lady to a far lower plane than Jezebel. Since she was evil, she had to be a witch; only witches are evil.
The fat lady occupied the same spot of asphalt every day, just to the right of the entrance to a storefront that, from a quick glance, had a dimly lit interior. The stool she sat on was meant to hold a hundred pounds or so and no more. How it withstood a load three times that much only added to the rumors. It’s true; she had to have supernatural powers. Anyone else that size would have met the ground hard at the first sitting.
The storefront had a window with blinking lights on each side that displayed a sign: READINGS – COME ON IN,
Beneath the sign stood a large statute of a man with a goatee and a bright yellow, jeweled turban on his head. His right hand held to the top of a white ball, and with his left hand held high, his fingers mysteriously twirled around in the air. How could a statute move! Demons, witches, and evil spirits, that’s how. I entertained no other explanation.
When it was my turn to go to the local grocery store, I would “hug” the curb and run until I was certain to be beyond the reach of sinister spirits. Suppose there was a mysterious hand that could reach beyond the darkness and pull me into that eerie place? I might vanish forever and no one would ever know what happened to me. Perhaps the fat lady could grab me and pull me into the darkness.
It didn’t matter that several similarly turbaned head children often tumbled from inside the mysterious darkness to play on their plot of asphalt. If they had any connection to the fat lady who beckoned people to come in with a bent finger and an alluring smile, then nothing could have enticed me to go near them. Tag… Jump rope… Dodge ball…Nothing.
Then one day it actually happened. I didn’t see it, but school yards are known to make news in small print while rumors dominate the headlines.
Rumors and news got around, and I got it.
I heard it first from Jenna, my best friend. She got it from Mari who sat next to Jenna in homeroom and Mari got it from Nettie who claimed to have seen the whole thing from her bedroom window.
“Okay, here’s the story.” Jenna held up both hands, palms out. “Maybe not all of it, but as much as I can remember. Nettie said it was just after she got home from school. Actually, it happened right after she’d had a snack, after she got home from school, but before she walked the dog.”
“Come on, Jenna, we only have a thirty minute for recess, and you’ve already wasted five minutes of it. What happened?”
“You really won’t believe this, but I know it happened because Nettie said she saw it.”
“Well, You know the fat lady who sits on that rickety stool in front of that creepy shop where you can’t see anything inside with all that makeup on with that turban on her head and with that spooky hand in the window that keeps grabbing at nothing?
“Yes…What? Hurry up, tell me what happened.”
I waited for her to speak.
“Well…Nettie saw Pastor Tom talking to the fat lady outside the shop, and guess what? She came to church last Sunday and now she’s closing her store.”
This WAS NEWS! I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.
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