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Little Sisters & Heartless Older Brothers

Lucky and Cherry lived on the second floor of an old two family house in Newark, New Jersey. Above them was the unfinished attic with its casement windows, which would be blown open by strong winds, and whose banging and clattering frightened the children. Below them lived old man Martin Shaeffer and his wife Rose, who was deaf and in incipient stages of dementia.

Friday evenings, the children’s parents would go out to visit friends or to see a movie. Teenaged Connie Francis, who lived across the street, babysat Lucky and Cherry for them. When Lucky was eight and Cherry was five, Mother and Father would trust Lucky to take care of himself and his younger sister if Connie were not available.

One Friday evening when Lucky was the babysitter, the two children were sitting on the couch watching a horror movie on television presented by an eccentric host who called himself “Zacherly.” Lucky liked to watch horror movies with all the lights out. Cherry did not like mummies and especially mummies that got up, walked around, and killed people. She did not like watching movies about mummies with the lights out.

In the middle of the movie, there was a loud noise in the attic. It startled the children. Lucky fetched his father’s flashlight and announced he was going to the attic to investigate. Cherry begged him not to go; however, Lucky insisted.

He opened and passed through the door that led from the kitchen to the rear porch, paused, and stoically advised his sister that if anything happened, she should go to her room, hide under the bed, and not make a sound. Cherry whimpered.

Lucky walked across the small porch to the attic door, unhooked the lock, and went up the stairs with only the feeble ray of the old flashlight piercing the darkness. Cherry could hear his cautious steps creaking across the attic floor. Then, there was a crash, a scream, and the thud of something hitting the floor.

Cherry heard slow, heavy footsteps. The footsteps moved across the floor to the steps; then, down the steps. Cherry scampered into her room, turned the lights off, and hid under the bed.

From under her bed, she heard the attic door open, and then the kitchen door was jerked open. She fought desperately to stifle her sobs as the footsteps moved across the kitchen floor and toward her bedroom.

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