On the Wire

I’m not the only one that remembers him.

Lisa too saw him, sitting there.

We were watching TV. I remember it was a Christmas special, two Indiana Jones movies and then something only for the adults. Lisa didn’t like Indy and the Nazis and when the screen turned black she laughed, at first.

Dad looked for a torch to go downstairs into the pitch-black basement. Mom found candles somewhere and put them up on the dinner table, but every time she turned around they went out again. Lisa and I just huddled on the couch and watched the snow outside.

Dad found the torch. He went downstairs, guided by that strangely round light of the torch. A flickering light.

“This thing is broken,” he said, while taking careful steps with every flicker.

When he was downstairs he called up for mom to bring a candle.

I grabbed a blanket and went to the mild glow of the window. Lisa followed me and against my protests she slipped into the blanket too.

I shouted for mom, but she just went further down the stairs.

I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t just our house that was dark.

I heard them fighting, downstairs. Dad said something was broken. Mom said that he just didn’t use it right.

And Lisa grabbed my hand.

The only light outside seemed to come from the snow. I thought that snow was maybe so bright that it saved daylight, just like those glow stars dad had stuck above Lisa’s bed.

Instead of the twenty or fifty stars of the average night there were suddenly thousands upon thousands, drawing patterns in the sky. For the first time I understood why there were zodiacs.

“The sky is so beautiful,” I said.

Lisa pressed closely against me.

“Look,” I said.

She stayed quiet. She didn’t look up.

Her hand clutched mine tightly.

And I looked straight.

And then I saw him too.

He was dressed in all black, but his dark silhouette was visible against the stars that filled the rest of the sky.

“I’m scared,” Lisa said.

A large man, crouching on the telephone wire. Not even ten steps from our house.

“Mom,” I said.

The wire was swinging gently under him.

And he didn’t move. But I felt him looking at us.

“Mom,” I shouted.

“Just a second,” called a voice from the basement.

And Lisa began to shiver.

“Mom!” I screamed.

“What?” shouted mom.

And Lisa hid under the blanket.

“There is somebody outside!” I screamed.

I slowly pulled Lisa backwards, away from the window.

His head turned towards us.

I screamed.

Lisa screamed.

Footsteps ran up the stairs.

And he gripped the wire with a black-clad hand and pulled himself a step closer.

Lisa and I, still screaming, tumbled back towards the couch.

Mom reached the top of the stairs. The sudden light blinded us.

A scream came from my right.

The TV was back on.

Mom ran to the window and dad asked “What happened?”

“They said there was somebody outside,” said mom.

Dad ran to the front door.

“On the wire,” I said. “He was on the wire.”

“There’s nobody,” said mom.

Even from the couch I could still see the wire swinging.

Lisa just cried and I held her tight.

Dad went out the door.

“Hello?” he screamed.

“He was there,” I said.

“It’s okay,” mom said. “It was dark and you just saw things.”

“He was really there,” I said.

Then we heard dad laughing.

He came back inside, slammed the door shut and locked it, still laughing.

“What?” asked mom.

“I guess the power cut scared them,” he said. “It’s just a glove caught in the wires.”

“I’m not lying,” I said. “Lisa saw him too!”

Dad walked over and rubbed my head with a cold hand. Then he threw himself back on the couch.

“It was just a power cut,” he said. “Nothing to be scared off.”

Mom sat back next to him. Lisa quickly escaped the blanket and cuddled up between them, still crying.

“Don’t scare your sister like that,” said mom.

I just watched the wire, still swinging, and when I took a step closer to the window I saw him there, just for the fraction of a second, and then just a glove where a whole hand had been.

We found the glove in the morning in the snow. Black leather. Left hand.

“Ooh,” said dad. “Spooky!”

He threw it at me and I answered with a snowball.

Somehow I forgot it. I told myself that they were right and that we had imagined things. But Lisa didn’t forget.

She cried three nights in a row. Each time she cried alone in her first floor bedroom until dad came and checked the wardrobe and under the bed for her. But when he left the room Lisa grabbed his pajama pants and followed him to the big bedroom until they allowed her to sleep between them.

But whenever mom and dad asked her what was wrong she just shook her head and said she didn’t see anything.

Mom had a stern talk with me. She said I shouldn’t say such things anymore. That I should protect Lisa, not scare her.

“She saw the man too,” I said.

“She didn’t see anything,” mom said. “Else she would tell us.”

Mom and dad only stopped blaming me on the fourth day. In the morning dad brought the trash out.

And he looked up.

And he saw a second leather glove dangling from the telephone wire. A wire connected to the wall right next to Lisa’s window.

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