‘THE WHEELBARROW MAN’
When you were a kid, did you ever believe in the Boogey Man? Did you look under your bed before going to sleep at night? Did you wonder what that sound was … that grating, grinding, inhuman sound just outside your bedroom window? If you were quiet, sometimes you couldn’t hear it at all. It must just be your imagination. You tell yourself anything to avoid thinking that you are going insane - anything to avoid feeling that fear again. Well, let me tell you something: Once you hear the Wheelbarrow Man, the fear never goes away.
As I sit here at my table, typing on an ancient word processor, I wonder who will believe my story. Somehow it makes it more real to put it down in print. I don’t want it to be real. I don’t want to scare the children. But they are the ones who need to know, so that they won’t go insane, so that they will sleep at night again.
I am typing this by the fading light of a cheap plastic torch. I don’t want to wake the others. Nurse Dolores comes to check my room; she knows I’ll still be up. She knows the others will be sleeping soundly.
Nurse Dolores is the one who makes allowances for me. I think she sees my potential. She looks me straight in the eyes and tells me, ‘Honey, you got potential. I sense it in ya. I can’t let ya have the lights on, but there’s a torch in that cupboard over there. You may as well get something useful done if you can’t sleep.’
‘Can’t sleep?’ I whispered to her. ‘That is not my problem, Nurse Dolores. I keep telling you I won’t sleep.’
‘Okay honey,’ Dolores said, somewhat condescendingly.
‘I’ll be in for my pills in the morning,’ I reminded her.
‘Sure,’ she said. Then she merged into the blackness of the corridor and slipped away.
© Annette Hansen 2001