Doll Story – Conclusion

Yep, this is it!  I did as I promised.  The story is done with this part.  I won’t stall or talk, just let you get to it.

___________________

There were hundreds of them.  She picked up one after another, thinking to herself how some were simply amazing in their appearance.  Her voice caught in her throat as she spied a fairly new looking doll lying on a shelf against the tent wall.  She picked up the porcelain figure and stared at it.  The face looked so much like Joey she nearly fainted.  The eyes were even the right color, colors in this case as Joey had one brown and one green eye.  The shape of the chin, the length of the hair, it was all correct.  She felt she should know.  After all, she had gotten into trouble twice for not paying attention to the teacher while she had been staring at Joey.

“Are you alright, young lady?”  The owner stared at her.

“Yes, Sir.  I was just noticing how much this doll looks like someone I know.”

“Is that right?”  He put his thumb and first finger to his chin, scratching and thinking.  He smiled and looked at her hard.  “I have several more in back if you like.  You see, I make some of the dolls myself.  Perhaps, I had seen your person last time I was here and his image came to mind.”  He started walking back to the back.

Janet thought about what he said.  It made sense.  She could not really think of anything else that would.  She turned and saw the policeman standing by the watches and knives table.  Feeling much safer, she followed the man to the back of the area.

Ducking under the door flap, she tried to adjust quickly to the darkness of the room.  There were other dolls lying around, as well as some cash on a table.  She turned to face the owner.  As she did, he brought his hand to his mouth and puffed.  Janet felt a small touch and, instinctively, looked down.  Her eye saw the small dart sticking in the doll’s side.  She looked back up.  The owner had recovered and was grabbing for her.  She panicked and did not cry out.  Instead, she threw the doll at his head.  He knocked it aside and grabbed her, putting one hand over her mouth.

“Shouldn’t have left it out.  Pride, I guess,” he said, more to himself than to her.  “Well, it will be okay, once I have taken care of you, I will pack up and move on.”  He noticed Janet’s eyes and the light change in them.  Looking over his shoulder he saw the flames start on the tablecloth where the candle had been knocked over by the thrown doll.

Forgetting Janet completely, he turned and ran for something in the back of the tent.  Janet saw that it was a doll sitting up on a throne.  She could not see well in the flickering light, but did think that the color of the hair and skin looked remarkably like the owner’s.  He grabbed the doll and turned toward her, his eyes blazing over the fire.  Janet found her mind again and turned to run.  As she did she saw the reflection in a mirror of the black man trying to get through the thick, building smoke.  His form falling to the floor was the last image she had before she tore through the flap and ran out of the tent.

When Janet’s parents arrived at the hospital, Janet was talking to an officer.  He walked off, leaving her alone.

“Janet!  Oh my God!”  Her mother wrapped her in her arms, covering the top of her head with kisses.  Her father put his hand on her back and tried hard to smile.

“I’m okay, Mother.”  She decided not to tell her mother of the doll owner who had tried to assault her and who had perished in the fire.  Her mother still had questions.

“Were you there when it all caught fire?”

“Yes, Mom.  Apparently, one of the flea market people was burning candles in the back area and it got out of control.”  Not a lie she thought, just not quite everything.

Her mother fussed and fumed over the whole incident for several hours.  When they got home, Janet was exhausted.  When her head hit the pillow, she was out like a light.  She did not ever realize until morning that she had dropped the Joey doll when she was leaving the tent.

* * *

The next day, Janet awoke, dressed, ate, and then signed onto her computer.  The local paper website had pictures of the fire.  Most of the tents and the contents were lost in the blaze.  Five people had died.  The owner of the doll table, a Mr. Rosen Barnem, had been labeled as the reason for the fire.  He had no family and had died at age 94.  94!  Janet’s mouth dropped open.  She had not thought him to have looked a day over 55.  She rethought her dinner plans, thinking that whole wheat and bran might just be in order.  Her mouth dropped again when she read that, of the other four bodies, only one had been local.  It seemed that Joey Destrum had been found lying next to one of the tables in the doll area.  He had died of smoke inhalation.  She stopped reading and cried for a moment.  Then, she was puzzled.  She had not remembered seeing him at the flea market at all.

Janet kept perusing and found several other local interest stories.  In the first, a local teenage girl had been found wandering out of the junkyard in the late evening hours.  She had been reported missing almost three days earlier, but could not remember anything about where she had been.  The second was a shorter story telling how another of the dead bodies in the tent fire had been that of a man from two states over who had been reported missing last month.

The third story was intriguing.  It seemed that a man had been found in a twelve-year-old girl’s room around nine o’clock on the same night as the fire.  The family had been to the flea market and had returned home and gotten ready for bed.  The father and mother had come running into their daughter’s room when she began screaming.  When they had gotten to the room, they saw a grown man sitting in the corner looking around as if crazy.  He had remained in the corner until the police had arrived to take him into custody.  He was reported as saying that he could not remember where he had been or how he had gotten into the little girl’s room.  The man gave his name and the police found that he had been reported missing nearly three months ago from a small town in Tennessee.

Janet stopped reading and stared at the ceiling in thought.

“It can’t be,” she said out loud.

Then, she began crying again, harder.  She realized that, if she were right, it was her fault that Joey had died.  Her body shook with the sobs she made for hours.

________________________

Namaste,

Scott

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