The Gentle Stranger

“You must not tell anyone, dear child, what I am about to tell you.” The child’s left eyebrow peaked as if to say, “Oh I won’t tell.” Knowing full well he would leave this gentle stranger and tell the kid down the street within the hour, who would then tell the kid around the block. All before supper, of course. The gentle stranger smiled and revealed the most perfect white teeth the child had ever seen. With a wink and a sly grin, the child led the gentle stranger to a bench in the cool shade of a great oak. After they sat, the child turned to the gentle stranger and timidly asked, “What is it you would like to tell me?”

The gentle stranger took a deep calming breath and let it out as though preparing for a long adventure. Thus began stories that would forever be imprinted upon the mind of the child. The gentle stranger told of haunted houses, dark allies, black oceans. They were all so big, so dark, so chilling. Never before had the gentle stranger been in so much fear. With each story the child’s eyes grew bigger and bigger. Leaning closer and closer into the gentle stranger, as if to protect the clean air from such horrid stories.

Just as the child leaned close enough to accurately identify the gentle stranger’s odor as a potent mixture of cigarettes and booze, the gentle stranger sat up with a start. It was as if reality had hit with a jolt. The child jumped back in surprise and gasped for breath. Then, out of nowhere, the gentle stranger said, “But that’s not what I really wanted to tell you.” The child responded with a suspicious, “Oh really?” The gentle stranger leaned towards the child’s ear and whispered, “What I really wanted to say was…” At this pause the child took a tight breath and held it, while fearing what the “gentle” stranger would say or do next. The gentle stranger got really close to the child’s ear, swallowed, and harshly whispered, “I just killed Mrs. Brown down the street.”

One Response

  1. Amber Whitman