Ragtag Daily Prompt: NIGHTMARE
Dareen Burkholder was an old lady.
Her hair was white with flecks of red and gold and her eyes were dark brown and just a little cloudy. She limped a little and sometimes she asked her next door neighbors to help her clear the sidewalk in front of her house when it snowed and the cold was wrecking havoc on her joints.
Sometimes Dareen would stand at her kitchen window with her back to the living room window that was just down the hall and she would watch her dog, Cerbie an ancient and gray Mastiff, sitting on the patio with her face turned up to the sky.
Dareen and Cerbie were getting a long in years- how many no one could say.
One night Dareen was busy in her kitchen- she was loading her dishwasher and was about to scold herself for not starting the washing machine a good 15 minutes ago when Dareen heard four good hard knocks on her living room door.
Then the doorbell rang.
Dareen motioned for Cerbie to stay and she pushed the dishwasher door shut.
She stood there for just a moment or two when she heard the knocks again.
Those sharp raps meant business. You didn’t get to be as old as Dareen ( and Cerbie ) without learning a thing or two about knocks on your living room door. These particular knocks meant business.
” Cerbie, stay. ” she whispered. ” Just stay. ”
Dareen walked down the hall to the front door and as she did she flipped hallway and front porch lights on. Halfway down the hall she pulled her purple and yellow stripped walker away from the wall and then she opened the door.
She was out of breath and really, she hadn’t walked that far.
When Dareen saw the two young Police Officers and the police cars roaming up and down the street, she couldn’t help it. She put her hand to her chest and tried to catch her breath. ” What on Earth is this? ”
One of the Officers, a young woman who almost as tall as Dareen and a little less hunched over reached for Dareen but pulled her hand back when she saw the startled expression on Dareen’s face.
The other Officer told Dareen there had been an unfortunate incident on the corner,
” Not at the Hinkle house? ” Dareen said. ” Oh no, not there. They’re such nice people they shovel my walkway when it snows and Mrs. Hinkle runs errands for me on my off days. ” Dareen pointed down to her left knee.
The other Officer, a young man with a shaved head with the faintest scent of French fries lingering around his face asked Dareen if she had seen anything out of the ordinary.
Dareen said she wasn’t sure, her eyes you know weren’t all they used to be. As to her hearing…well, they worked just a tad bit better then her eyes.
” I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I’m a little concerned. Am I safe? ”
The Officers assured Dareen she would be. In fact she would probably see patrol cars throughout the evening and that if she had a cellphone it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep it handy.
Dareen looked a little less worried until she saw a gray SUV with ” Medical Examiner ” stenciled in brown letters on the door slide by. ” Oh, oh my goodness are they here for the Hinkles? ”
The Officers tried to not roll their eyes back up into their heads and assured Dareen she would be safe.
” So no one is going to get near my house. Right? I am safe right? ”
” No one is going to step foot in your yard Ma’am. ”
Dareen finally had her breathing under control.
She thanked the Officers and closed the door carefully behind them.
She switched the hallway lights back off, she pushed her dusty walker with the sales tags still stuck to the seat back in it’s place against the wall and she told Cerbie,
” Forward, good girl. Forward.”
Cerbie looked neither ancient or slow as she stood up.
Dareen opened the kitchen door and told Cerbie and motioned her outside, ” Good girl, geàrd, good girl. ”
” The washer. Blast it. ” Dareen went to the washing machine, pushed a few buttons and then changed her mind. She re-set the water to hot and set it for a heavy load.
Then she went to the dishwasher and opened the door.
On the top rack was a butcher’s knife and next to it was an ax. On the lower rack was a frying pan caked with the remains of caramelized onions, garlic and strands of bleached blond hair.
Dareen pushed the door closed, she punched the buttons and the dishwasher whooshed to life- she looked out her kitchen window and Cerbie turned and looked back at her.
They were both smiling.