Entry 8: Kids In The Closet: Monday July 18
A new work week. My first full one at Resurrection. I cornered Larter this morning and asked him about the playground. He acted like he didn’t know anything about it.
“I’ve only been here five years myself. And I’m not sure how much property the church owns back in those woods. The playground you found could belong to the city.” He went on to tell me that on my downtime I could read up on the church’s history in the library. “You do have the key, you know. There are a lot of records in there.” And as I was walking off to get to work, he thought of something else. “There is a woman who serves as unofficial historian of the church. Her family has been involved here since the early 1900’s, I believe. I could give you her phone number if you’d like to talk to her.”
I told him that would be good. Then I thought of something else I wanted to ask him. “Hey, remember that stray dog that hangs around?”
He chuckled. “Thorn in my side. That dog has been running around here for as long as I’ve been a member. He doesn’t seem to bother anyone, though. Just gets into stuff. I don’t think he bites or anything.”
“Thanks, I needed to hear that. I usually don’t like dogs, but he seems okay. I was just concerned, that’s all.”
“Oh yes, well, he’s fine, I think. Nothing to worry about.”
I nodded. “I guess I better get to working then.”
“I’ll bring you Mrs. Shiflett’s phone number before I leave. You’ll like her.” He grinned as if there was a private joke in there somewhere. I almost asked him what it was.
It was late in the afternoon when I heard the kids overhead again, just like the other day. I was fixing some mop water, when I heard the running in the hall upstairs. I went to check it out.
As I reached the top of the stairs, I could not only hear their shuffling feet, but their voices as well. There was a girlish giggle coupled with a boy’s laughter. When I entered the hall, I saw them right away. They were at the other end of the corridor, a young boy playfully chasing a girl around the far corner and out of my sight.
“Hey,” I yelled. “You kids aren’t supposed to be up here.” I could hear their giggles. I walked down the hall and rounded the corner, expecting to run right into them from the sound of it. But they weren’t there. The hallway was empty. “Okay, ya’ll come out now. You need to play outside, not up here.”
I heard another giggle, this time followed by a “shhh”, and it was coming from one of the rooms. I headed towards the sound and threw open the door.
It was a recreation room. There was a pool table in the center, a dart board on one wall, shuffleboard on the floor, and boxes of board games set against an old piano that looked like it had seen its better days. There were other smaller rooms branching off from this one, but I could see no one.
“Okay, I know you are in here. Come on out and let’s all go downstairs. You won’t be in any trouble.”
I checked the rooms. They were set up like classrooms. But they were empty. I was alone. And then I heard something. It was the sound of something falling over, like a box or other object. It had come from behind a windowless door in the corner. I walked over and grabbed the doorknob. It was warm. I turned it and yanked the door open.
It was a closet. Boxes were stacked up inside. Church robes and jackets hung on hangers. But no kids. I looked behind and all around me. I was fairly certain those kids couldn’t have got past me, but maybe they had.
I got ready to close the closet door when I noticed something on the floor right beside a box of cobwebbed hymn books. I reached down and picked it up. It was a small silver chain, an anklet with a heart. I turned the charm over in my hand. On one side was engraved the letters, “MM”.
When I went back downstairs, I looked for Larter to tell him I thought some kids had been upstairs again. I didn’t find him, so I pocketed the anklet and got back to work.
Now as I sit and write this, the anklet is here on the table before me. I think tomorrow if I get a chance, I’ll look in the church records and see if “MM” is a member. Then I can return the anklet and tell them politely not to be playing upstairs anymore unless there is a church activity going on.
The pastor’s words come back to me. “They should be playing in the playground.” And I wonder for just a minute, does “MM’ ever play there? But I’m too tired to think anymore. It’s been a long day.
Donna is in bed, sleeping peacefully. I should be in there with her instead of writing about mischievous kids and hidden playgrounds…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.