©Sweeny, The Doll
– Short Story – By BR Chitwood –
Mr. and Mrs. Holcomb were looking in a toy shop at possible gifts for daughter, Kellie.
“Oh, isn’t this darling? His name is ‘Sweeny’, and his voice is so sweet… Kellie will love it.”
“You’re kidding, right? Kellie is all ‘GIRL’. I can’t see her playing with this guy-doll at all. She might like its voice – it is soothing, but Kellie would lose interest quickly with this slick-haired bozo. She’s more into the more etiquette-like stuff.”
“Frank, trust me on this one. I know my daughter, and she will be talking to Sweeny on a constant basis. You’re not around so much that you would notice. Lots of girls are wanting male dolls now…it’s ‘the thing’, some toy clerks tell me.”
“Well, Sweeny is kind of cute in his untidy ‘cut-offs’ and flaming red shirt, the sly smile…what are some of the ‘things’ he says in his taped repertoire?”
“His various conversational utterings are here in this pamphlet…”
“I’ve glanced at a few statements Sweeny makes, and I’m not sure the vernacular matches up well with Kellie…are kids really talking like this? About hugging, kissing, silly adult-like language?”
“Don’t go ‘archaic’ on me, Frank. Kids live in different generations and speak for the most part like others in their age group… We still must do our parenting, our monitoring of their lives so they don’t cross into dangerous areas of thoughts and deeds.”
“Well, Gerrie, you’re the ‘Mom’ and you know better about these things than I do. I just want the ‘best’ for Kellie. She’s so sweet, smart, and special and I want her world as free from the ‘ugly’ as we can make it, and I know you do as well. Go ahead and throw ‘Sweeny’ in the shopping basket. I hope they become really good buddies.”
(Night-time: Six Months Later )
Wearing new special PJs Kellie’s Mom made, Sweeny lay stretched out on his back next to his mistress on the opposite pillow, eyes open, alert, now and then glancing at his sleeping bed-partner. Only the plugged-in night light gave light to the bedroom.
“Kellie, psst, Kellie, are you awake?”
Kellie was in deep sleep, dreaming of a new boy in her sixth-grade classroom at school. Tommy was the new boy’s name, and his small desk was next to her desk.
Kellie’s eyes twitched and her body quivered under the bedsheet, and a small discernable smile appeared on her face. She liked Tommy at first sight and thought that rather unusual for her to like a new boy in class…girls, generally, yes, but, boys, a bit strange.
Sweeny’s closed eyes simultaneously twitched as well, and suddenly came fully open. In no way could he explain his awareness to his supposedly non-active environment – a male doll that for some inscrutable reason could remember a special ‘compound’ put inside his combination hard-rubber and polyethylene terephthalate head.
Sweeny only knew he did not like the ensuing disturbance within his tiny body, did not like where Kellie’s thoughts were taking her…he now knew about the new boy in her Sixth-Grade class, and he would not know how to explain it to anyone.
In some manner, Sweeny, with eyes aquiver, his tiny factory-made body thrashing beneath the sheet, caused the bed to rock and sway, made loud noises on the floor and walls. The noise became so loud it awakened Kellie, her mother, and her father.
Amid Kellie’s screams, the parents entered her room and saw lamps on the floor, wall plaster displaced on the walls from the bed-rocking, and other debris spread across the bedroom.
Then a silence so deep within itself came that frightened all in the room but Sweeny.
“Oh, My God! What happened in here, Kellie?” the mother asked.
“I don’t know, Mommy, but it woke me up. I’m scared, Daddy, Mommy.”
Sweeny lay quietly on his pillow, his eyes closed as though in sleep, but listening carefully to what was being said.
Kellie’s parents would not allow such paranormal thoughts to enter their mind, but they did believe their eyes and knew something dramatic and nerve-wracking happened in their daughter’s bedroom.
Kellie slept in her parents’ bedroom that night and the next three nights, only going into her room for showers and clothes changes. When her eyes fell on Sweeny, she thought she noticed angry eyes, and it scared her, but she finally accepted that her little mind was playing tricks on her…the scary episode could be explained in a sensible manner with a sane and understandable narrative.
While she could not understand her own reasoning regarding that night, Kellie remotely thought that Sweeny had something to do with it. Giving her seemingly crazy thoughts a rest, she would hold Sweeny and talk to him, but when she placed him somewhere away from her she sensed an anger showing on his face. Then, there came a sense of dread that would drive her out of the room, and she could also sense his staring eyes following her.
Her relationship with Sweeny she knew was over – from a pet toy to any kind of plaything. She could never, would never get over that one night-time episode and the ensuing moments of distress. She talked to her mother, convinced her that she no longer wanted to have Sweeny around her.
Gerrie placed Sweeny in the original box he came in, took him to the local park, and left the doll with the Park Director, Stu Bruner, to do with what he wished, gift it to one of the children who played there. Gerrie explained simply to Mr. Bruner that her daughter outgrew the male doll and had moved on…Gerrie felt a little ‘white lie’ would not hurt anyone.
The Park Director placed Sweeny on his office credenza and left for home later in the afternoon. It was odd, the Director thought as he left his office, the male doll’s face seemed strangely different from the time he was brought to him, and, he thought he had placed him in the middle of the credenza, but he was now sprawled toward the end of the furniture with a scowl on his pale face.
“Ah, I’m just tired… I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time, and those toy makers can now do so much with innovation in dolls…”
At the first traffic light, Stu Bruner almost ran a ‘red light’ which had just recently turned ‘green’, and Stu screeched to a stop, just missing the opposite flow of cars.
‘Darn, am I going blind? I could have sworn that light was turning ‘green’ when I came to it’…
Stu Bruner soon regained his normal happy mood when going home to family and pets.
At the next traffic light five blocks away Stu had to quickly brake again…something, a cat, a dog, an animal of some kind was crossing the road, but, damn, it looked just like that ‘doll’ Gerrie Holcomb left earlier at his office.
‘My eyes are going bad on me. Two lights in a row I’ve almost lost control. Not good, Stu, not good at all, but I could swear it was that stupid male doll. Then, again, dusk can tease the eyes to believe things that are not real. Lots of accidents occur at this time of the day’.
Again, Stu Holcomb managed to stay alert and began whistling his favorite country song – ‘Put your sweet lips closer to the phone’… (“He’ll Have to Go” – popular country song sung beautifully by Jim Reeves.)
As Stu Holcomb opened his private office door the next morning, he stumbled, almost fell to the floor.
His office, his beautiful mahogany desk, chairs, credenza, wall hangings, awards, trophies, plaster, everything was totally destroyed…but he heard the sound of a voice familiar to his ears – a radio announcer’s voice reporting the news of the day.
Stunned by the destruction, Stu stumbled to the area where the radio was normally setting on his desk, and, below, among the debris on the floor, he pulled the radio from the rubble, held it in his hands, and was about to replace it on the floor when the announcer mentioned names he knew…he cleared a place by the window and listened to a staggering news report:
“The cause of the fire that destroyed the Holcomb house is unknown, but there is a strange footnote to this tragedy – amid all the debris, in the corner of a child’s bedroom was the warped, demonic face of a doll, smiling and absurd in its countenance… To repeat the important part of this fiery news story, the Holcomb Family survived the midnight fire with minimal injuries and will undergo some psychological testing when they have been stabilized to a point where shock has been mitigated – and only God knows when that will be…”
©Sweeny, The Doll
By BR Chitwood – June 29, 2020
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