Brent gripped the large butcher knife tighter. Someone was coming down his street. His heartbeat quickened with anticipation, as the sound of footsteps coming closer filled him with excitement.
From the shadows he saw a woman dressed in a raincoat, pausing on the sidewalk about a hundred feet away under a streetlight. She lifted her purse and looked inside. Her pace resumed, then she stopped, opened a gate, and climbed a short set of steps to a landing. She found her keys, unlocked the door, and disappeared inside the brownstone.
Brent was totally demoralized. He hadn't seen her face, but she would’ve been the perfect victim. Then more footsteps drew his attention from those shadows to the end of the block. He saw a figure cloaked in darkness. He could tell it was a tall man, wearing something black. Whoever he was, he moved like someone walking a dog. However, Brent didn't see a dog or hear one barking. Every few houses, the man in black stopped and peered into the yards along the street. About fifty feet in front of him, Brent finally saw the man clearly, when he stepped under the streetlight and stopped. He was a uniformed police officer. He whistled a tune as he passed, without seeing Brent hiding behind the shrubs.
Brent frowned at the close call. Until he’d seen the uniform, he had considered this second person the perfect victim too.
Footsteps. Wow! Another woman walking fast, almost running. He wouldn’t let her escape this time. He gathered his nerve and got ready.
As she reached his hiding place, Brent leaped from behind the large shrubs. But, to his chagrin, his foot caught in a crack in the sidewalk, and he fell headfirst on the ground in front of her. The woman couldn’t see the butcher knife pinned underneath him.
She looked down and recognized him immediately, even in the dim light from the windows of the nearby houses. She’d seen him countless times in the park only a couple of blocks away.
"What in God's name are you doing out here at this time of night?” she barked. “Which house do you live in?"
Brent was embarrassed and too scared to speak.
"Tell me right now. I'm not leaving here until you do," she ordered, fuming.
He stood, pitched the knife backward into the shrubs, brushed himself off, and pointed to the middle of the block.
When Brent didn’t move, she raised her voice. “Don’t just stand there!”
He led the irate woman to where he’d pointed and stopped at the gate leading to his house.
"Go ahead,” she ordered sternly, tapping her foot. He opened the gate, stepped inside, and stopped abruptly, as if hitting an invisible wall.
“Go ahead,” she repeated impatiently.
Brent started to sob loudly and seemed paralyzed with apprehension.
The woman stormed past him, climbed the short set of stairs, and rang the doorbell. A light came on inside. They heard the sound of footsteps coming from the back of the house.
The door finally creaked open, and a young woman in a nightgown stood in the doorway. Puzzled by the stranger on the landing at such a late hour, she asked, "Can I help you?”
The stranger said indignantly, "I was taking a walk, when your son jumped from the shrubs and scared the wits out of me. I thought you should know, if he scares the wrong person, he might get hurt."
"There must be some mistake. My son is only eight years old, and he's been in bed since 7:30. When did this happen?"
"It just happened, and your son is not in bed. He's standing behind me."
An innocent voice, barely more than a whisper, spoke timidly, “I'm here, Mommy.” The little boy stepped from the shadows into the light, so his mother could see him.
"What are you doing out of the house at this hour? How did you leave without me seeing you?"
Brent remained silent as his mother and the woman waited to hear his explanation. He finally said, “I couldn't sleep. There’s a bogeyman in my room."
"Which is it?" his mother scolded. “Was it the bogeyman or you couldn't sleep?"
"I saw the bogeyman, and then I couldn't sleep."
"How did you get outside?" she prodded.
"I climbed down the tree next to the balcony."
"Haven't I told you the bogeyman who lives outside at night is much bigger and scarier than the one who lives under your bed?”
"I know. You told me." Brent stood, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, as if he needed to pee.
Brent’s mother apologized to the woman. "I'm sorry, ma'am. I’ve told Brent a million times not to climb down the tree and not to go outside after dark without his father or me. I'm so sorry he frightened you, and, rest assured, he will be severely punished."
"I thought you should know he was outside, and I was afraid some bad person … or maybe the bogeyman might kidnap him."
"Thank you for bringing him home. I really appreciate it."
The woman nodded and descended the landing to the sidewalk. Without another word, she sidestepped around Brent, opened the gate, and walked away.
"Okay, Brent,” his mother barked. “Get your butt in here. You won't be playing after school this week as punishment for going outside after dark."
Brent hesitated, knowing his knife was still lost in the shrubs in Timmy’s yard, five doors down the street. He decided to look for it later.
After his mother went to bed and all the lights were turned off, Brent couldn't sleep. All he could think of was the scary movie he'd seen on TV earlier that day. All his life, he’d wanted to be a fireman, like his uncle, or a policeman, like his grandfather. He never could make up his mind. He really liked red fire engines, and he liked the guns policemen wore on their hips. But now, after seeing the movie, he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. In fact, he didn't want to wait. He wanted to kill people, like the little boy in the movie. Right now. Tonight.
He got out of bed, opened the window, and stepped out on the balcony, just as he’d done earlier. From there, he was able to reach the limbs of the tree and used them to climb down. In no time, Brent had reached his grassy yard. It was dark and spooky, just like in the movie. But, he promised himself, he would not cry, no matter what.
He listened again for someone walking on the sidewalk but heard nothing but the moan of the wind. The branches of the shrubs in his yard quivered in the breeze, like fingers reaching out to grab him. He was scared, but he didn't cry.
He opened his gate, scampered down the sidewalk to Timmy’s yard, and crawled into the greenery. He couldn't see, so he felt along the ground under the giant bush until he felt the cold steel of the butcher knife.
His mother had told him never to play with the knives found in the middle drawer in the kitchen. She said he could cut off his finger with any of them, but that little boy about his age in the movie had a knife like this. Brent grabbed the handle cautiously and crawled back to the sidewalk.
The lights were on in the kitchen. He saw Timmy’s parents shouting at each other through the window, so he decided to return to his yard.
Upon entering his gate, Brent remembered what he’d forgotten earlier. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a mask, and put it on. He wished it was like the cool mask in the movie, but he didn't have one like that. All he had was the mask he wore last Halloween of Shrek, the ogre.
Brent heard footsteps coming closer on the sidewalk. His heartbeat accelerated. He was so excited he could barely catch his breath. He was very short and not as strong as a big person, but he had a plan he thought would work.
He opened the gate and tied the rope that worked as a latch to a bush to hold it open. Did he have the nerve to be like the little boy he saw on TV? That boy wasn't afraid of anything.
As the footsteps came closer and closer, Brent tightened his grip on the knife. He saw the shadows of the person on the sidewalk getting bigger. When they reached where he waited, he whispered, "Hello there. I'm only eight years old, and I'm lost. I can't find my mommy."
The little old lady recoiled with a startled expression on her face at first, but, when she saw how tiny Brent was, she knelt down and said, "Don't worry, little boy. I'll help you find your mommy."
Brent raised the knife, and, with all his might, he plunged it into the old woman's right eye. She looked down at him in horror and surprise, teetered backward, then fell onto the sidewalk.
He pulled the knife out of her eye and plunged it into the other. The woman's legs shook in a death spasm. She whimpered and then lay still.
He pulled out the knife, placed it on the sidewalk, and removed his Shrek mask, so he could see more clearly what he’d done to the woman.
He saw lights approaching on the street and scrambled a little deeper behind the shrubs so not to be seen. The headlights of the passing car lit the old woman’s upper body for a long unsettling moment.
Jumping jelly beans! he thought. Her face was all icky with blood and black tears oozing down her wrinkled face. A red circle had pooled under her head, and the dark hollow sockets where her eyes had been were the creepiest things he’d ever seen, even in the movies.
He didn't want to be a fireman or a policeman anymore. He wanted to kill people, like the little boy in the movie Halloween. No matter how fast men and women could run, Michael Myers could walk faster. The doctor had fired six bullets into his chest that would easily have killed Batman and Robin, but not Michael Myers.
Brent wanted to grow up to be just like Michael Myers. Now that he’d killed the little old lady, he was off to a good start.