Closet (short fiction)

Life in Rockwood

Caleb had been dating Rebecca Susan for a month before finally getting to third base. It hadn’t been an ordeal. It wasn’t as if he was only dating her to get into her pants. He liked Rebecca Susan a lot, but he was also ready for this. Had been ready for it for three weeks. Ever since their third date when she’d worn those torn jeans while singing the Pokemon theme song at karaoke night.

He slid those jeans down a few inches, waiting for her to say no, like she always did. And he’d wait, like he would. Because he liked her. Because there was plenty of time.

But, God, was he ready.

He stopped by reflex, only noticing then that she hadn’t said no yet. He glanced up at her, and smiling, she nodded. Kissing her bare belly, he saw her granny panties. Like it mattered. She ran her fingers through his hair and moaned gently.

Behind him, the closet door creaked.

Rebecca Susan shrieked, yanking Caleb’s hair. She huddled onto his bed, accidentally kicking him in the chin. He stifled a swear.

“Uh, don’t mind me,” said the bogeyman.

Rebecca Susan shrieked again.

“Goddamn it,” grumbled Caleb. “Dude, what did I tell you?”

The bogeyman shrugged apologetically. “I know, I know, but I have this thing that I really need to do, and I thought she wouldn’t notice if I just slipped out while you were, well, you know.”

The bogeyman never quite looked the same. His (or sometimes her) appearance varied according to the fears of whatever child he was frightening. Tonight, he was a lanky figure with a cow’s skull head and a body made of writhing white caterpillars.

“Caleb, what the hell is he talking about?” asked Rebecca Susan.

The night could be salvaged. Rebecca Susan probably wasn’t in the mood anymore, but maybe Caleb could get a hand job. If not that, at least he could keep her from breaking up with him, even if it’d only been a month, which wasn’t that serious so maybe breaking up wasn’t the right word.

She pulled her pants up and relaxed a bit. “Do you know this thing?”

“He’s my roommate. Sort of,” said Caleb.

“Hi.” The bogeyman waved, dropping a few wiggling caterpillars on the floor. “I’ve heard great things about you.”

He was making it worse.

“Don’t you have a child to terrorize?” asked Caleb.

“Oh, yeah. Nice to meet you finally.” The bogeyman, no longer seeing a need to be sneaky, walked out of the room. The front door opened and closed.

“What the hell, Caleb?” asked Rebecca Susan.

“It’s complicated,” said Caleb. “But he’s harmless, really. He just lives in my closet and comes out to scare kids at night.”

“That’s messed up.”

“He’s not a bad guy when you get to know him,” said Caleb.

“He scares kids.”

“That’s just his job. I clean out septic tanks. Somebody’s gotta do it, right?”

She hadn’t run out the door yet, but she was buttoning things back up. “Was he going to watch us?”

“What? No. He wouldn’t do that. He’s not that kind of guy.” He sighed. “I did say we should’ve gone to your place.”

She left, saying she’d get a ride on her own, slamming the door on her way out. Caleb said he’d call her, and she didn’t say not to, so maybe there was hope still.

He lay down on his bed. “Shit. I really liked her.”

The monster underneath reached up with its long, malformed arm and patted Caleb on the shoulder.

A scratchy voice crawled out from under his bed. “Plenty of fish in the sea.”

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