This is part one of a five-part short story called “1954”. It’s the story of a boy, Chief, who has become troubled by nightmares of a clown that murders him in his sleep. Maybe the love of his mother will make the nightmares stop…then again…maybe not.
Chief sat up in the bed, trembling and dripping in sweat. The covers were tangled around his legs and there was the strong, strong smell of piss in the air. Rodger, the border collie, was barking near his feet.
“What’s going on?” his mother said, flying into the room and flicking on the light. Pink rollers poked out from beneath her pink head scarf. “Chief, are you okay? What’s going on?”
Chief felt the tears on his cheeks before he felt the choking cries that were cutting from his throat in broken sobs. A jumble of words exploded out of him as he tried to explain to his mother what he had just seen.
The clown had been right there, at the foot of the bed, smiling at him with the crooked crimson chasm. Chief could still see the knife in his mind’s eye and could still feel the blade as it went into his chest, into his heart and into his lungs. His mother rushed to him and dropped to her knees beside the bed, wrapping him in a comforting hug.
“It was just a dream, honey. Nothing but a nasty dream. Calm down. It’s okay.”
It took her a while to notice the piss, but when she did, she was just as kind and understanding about it. Chief’s mother helped him climb out of bed and helped him pull of the soiled sheets, replacing them with a new, matching set that boasted the same cartoon superhero emblazoned across the top.
When the dirty bedding was safely out of sight, she came back and tucked Chief back in tight. Rodger jumped back up to his spot at the foot of the bed and curled into a warm little ball at the boy’s feet.
“Now, I told you those scary movies were a bad idea,” Chief’s mother chided him. “I told you that it was too late to be watching movies like that. I told you it would give you nightmares.”
Her tone was loving. Chief knew she was right. He wiggled down low beneath the covers as she pushed the edges in tight around him.
“Now go back to sleep,” she said gently, as she went back to the door and placed her hand on the light switch. “There’s nothing in here but that old dog and bucket’s full of my love, okay? More than enough to keep any boogie man away. I love you.”
Chief smiled as she flicked off the light and left the room, the door clicking quietly behind her.
She’s right, he thought to himself as the darkness overcame him. Mama’s always right.
Read Part II.