It was not the run-down, creepy-looking house one would imagine or even expect to find when you hear of a house of terror. It was not even the house at the end of the block that no one wanted to pass, but when you have to go past it, you suddenly become Usain Bolt, the fastest sprinter in the world, to get away from it.

It was two houses down from mine. It had a mango tree in the front, and next to the gate, there were beautiful flowers, and they smelled lovely too, and the house and yard were always well-maintained.

I told my mom that it was not a good idea for me to be the paperboy in our neighbourhood, but no, she insisted that I get the job. You see, old Mr. Harry was retiring, and he told my mom that he would recommend me for the job if I wanted it. He had this job for over ten years, but I didn’t want a job. I didn’t even see why I had to get a job, but she said it would teach me responsibility and womp, womp, womp, just because I was with a couple of my friends when they super glued one of my classmates’ bicycle chains. I told my friends not to do it, but they didn’t listen. I can’t force them to do anything. It wasn’t my fault. So, why did I have to pay? Besides, who reads newspapers anymore, anyhow?

Still, here I was at fifteen years old, with a paper route I didn’t want, and on my third day on the job. I was going to attach a trailer to my bicycle and do my deliveries that way, but I was afraid that someone might ride away with my bike when I was at someone’s gate with a paper. I abandoned that idea, so I walked and pulled the trailer behind me instead.

It was Friday afternoon, and my best friend Geoff and I were going to chill out and look at the first episode of season two of a new favourite Anime, Mr. X. However, I had my paper route to run, so Geoff offered to help, and as we had hoped, this cut down my time by half.

“Last house to go,” I said to Geoff as we approached the house two houses down from mine.

We were both dressed in jeans and t-shirts.

Usually, I would unlock the chain link gate, walk up the steps and drop the papers in front of the door. I did that because the old lady who lives there with her son has terrible arthritis in her knees, and Mr. Harry said it would help her out a lot.

“I’ll do this one,” Geoff said, and before I could answer, he grabbed the last paper in the cart and threw it over the gate.

“I have to take this one to the door,” I said, letting go of the trailer’s handle.

I headed for the gate.

“Why is this house so special?” Geoff asked, “we didn’t do that at the other places.”

“Yeah, I know, but don’t worry about it. I’ll be back in a sec.”

I entered the yard, grabbed the papers from the ground, and ran along the short, concreated pathway that led to the wooden stair. I was about to drop the newspapers in front of the door when the door was suddenly flung open. I lifted my eyes, and there was an elderly lady with a black walking cane in her right hand. She was wearing a floral dress and wore large clear eyeglasses.

“I have a tip for you,” she said, “but you came rather early today. Will you come in for a second? I have to grab my purse.”

“Thanks,” I said, in my deep but sometimes high-pitched voice, “but you don’t have to give me a tip.”

“I know, but having extra money never hurt anyone, especially teenagers,” she said, smiling and exposing evenly white teeth.

I unexpectedly returned her infectious smile.

“Okay,” she continued, “you stand inside my house to keep my two cats from running through the door while it’s open.”

I nodded and stepped in as she backed away from the door.

“Say a word, and the old lady gets it,” a voice said when I stepped into the house.

My hands instantly flew into the air as I slowly turned to look in the direction of the voice. No one was there.

“I’m warning you. The old woman will get it.”

My eyes lowered, and on a round white table was some machine that I had never seen.

Then I heard laughter coming from the direction that the old lady went. So, with my hands still in the air, I turned, and there was the old lady, slapping her left thigh as her entire body shook with laughter.

She made her way to a long floral upholstery chair and sat down, and I slowly lowered my hands.

I stood looking at her as her laughter grew louder.

What sounded like a gunshot ran out, and I ducked, praying that a bullet did not hit me; I fell to the ground. While there, even though I did not think it was possible, the old lady laughed even louder as she threw her upper body face down into the chair.

I scrambled through the opened door, down the steps, and through the gate.

“Run!” I called out to Geoff.

I grabbed the trailer, and we bolted down the empty road.

We were at my home within seconds, and after dropping the house keys twice, I finally opened the front door and bolted it behind us.

Geoff, breathing as heavily as I was, wanted to know what had happened.

I opened my mouth to answer, but I didn’t get the words out because someone was gently shaking me and calling my name.

I slowly opened my eyes and saw my mom standing near me.

“You dropped to sleep,” she said, smiling down at me, “it’s almost time to leave for your first day as the paperboy.”

I looked at her smiling face and almost into tears.

The End

A. M. Linton is a wife and mother of two. She is also the author of Torn Between Love, Religion and Responsibility, A Little on Puberty for Boys and A little on Symptoms Associated with Menopause. A few of her short stories were also published in The Barbados Advocate Newspaper.

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