By: J.J. Cheesman
No matter how far I think back, that old man had always been in my life. As a young girl, my home would often be visited by Mr. Ahbta. He, my mother, and my father, were all very close friends. Every couple of days or so he would come around to play cards, or help with small projects around the house, or just to sit and talk. I can remember many late nights when he and my father would sit in the den for long hours playing chess, while my mother and I sat on the sofa nearby. As they played Mr. Ahbta would tell us stories about his home country, and he would say that his family back home believed that when we died, our spirits remained here on earth, clinging to the objects we cared for most when we were alive.
Mr. Ahbta was also a doll maker. He would bring some of his creations around sometimes to show them off. They were well-crafted, and made of fine-looking wood. Each one I saw had glass eyes, and they wore all manner of clothing. From fine suits and dresses, to denim suspenders and straw hats. To describe them best, would be to say that they reminded me of ventriloquist dummies, except without the holes in the back.
Personally, I hated them, I always had an admittedly irrational fear of dolls. So, when one Christmas, Mr. Ahbta visited, as he always did on Christmas, imagine my surprise when he brought me a gift. Of course it was a doll, what else would it have been. It was a male doll, if such a thing can be said, with rose red cheeks, a nice brown sweater, with matching slacks and dress shoes.
“Well Elizabeth, do you like it?” He had asked me when presenting the doll.
“Oh… yes, he’s fantastic!” I said. My mother and father were very aware of my feelings toward inanimate objects that mimicked people, and they stood behind Mr. Ahbta, both with expressions that said, ‘just go along with it’. I smiled and said to him,
“I love him.” And he beamed back at me.
“Good! His name is Alonzo! Treat him right and he will return the favor.”
For the rest of that day I had to endure while Alonzo sat not far by my side. The doll’s amber, glass eyes seemed to follow me everywhere I went. When Mr. Ahbta finally went home, I begged my father to take Alonzo away.
“I will” My dad said, “but whenever Mr. Ahbta visits, we have to put him back in your room.”
So that’s what we did for a long while. Alonzo spent most of his time in the attic, but when Mr. Ahbta would come and visit, my father would make sure the doll was back in my room. As time went on though, and I grew older, my fear of dolls waned. Eventually it seemed silly to keep moving Alonzo back and forth from my dresser to the attic, and I had actually grown a little attached to him at that point. So on my dresser is where Alonzo stayed for five years. Until the day Mr. Ahbta died in his sleep.
Jeffrey Saunders, the kid Mr. Ahbta had been paying to mow his grass for years, knew something was up when his front door went unanswered for one whole week. When Jeffrey told his parents, his dad took it upon himself to notify the police.
When the first responder showed up and entered the un-locked back door, he found nothing out of place, except for the hundreds of dolls they decorated every shelf of the house. When he entered the bedroom, he found Mr. Ahbta’s body. It was what he found on his shelves in the bedroom, that made the cop call for back up. There were hundreds of home-made DVD’s, all with dates that went back for five years. Every disc was labeled with one name, Elizabeth. When the police finished the investigation they called my parents down to the station to explain what they found.
I was on summer vacation, and so my friends and I were on a weeklong camping trip when all of this happened. My parents decided to let me have my fun, and didn’t mention anything until I got home. They sat me down in the kitchen table, and told me what the police found. Explaining that the position of the camera view, was in my room, on top of my dresser. My blood ran cold as they spoke, and I shivered as I thought about all of the times I changed in front of that doll. When they finished, I felt sick, and thought I might throw up.
“We’re sorry honey, but we had to tell you, but he’s gone now.” My mother said.
“Please tell me you destroyed that doll, and the camera inside.” I whispered.
There was a long pause of awkward silence, until my father spoke up.
“I was going to, but when we told the police about the doll and where the camera must be, they said they needed it for evidence.”
“So it’s in some evidence locker?” I said, a little angry.
There was another long pause, and my father again, broke the silence.
“Well… when the police followed us home and into your room so I could show them the doll… it was gone. We looked everywhere, under your bed, in your closet, and in the attic. We couldn’t find it.”
I was seventeen when my parents delivered to me that god awful news, and every day since then, when I wake up.
I hear the patter of feet, skitter across my bedroom floor.