Verbosity21's Blog
Short Stories by Ralph Proenza– mostly Fiction, but some based on true events


[Base on true events]

When I was ten years old we lived in an apartment building that housed four families.  Its back yard was a wonderland to me and my friends.  There were many places for an ambush if we were playing “army.”  A South Florida coconut tree in the yard offered its branches and palm fronds with which we could construct a really cool hut as a hide-out. There were also many places under which we could look and find real interesting bugs, crawly things, and other treasures boys like to play with.

At the very back of the yard was a stone barrier – a partition that separated our yard from that of our more affluent neighbors.  It was not just a fence, it was more like a wall much like you’d think might surround an old castle…well,  to me it did.  The large stones were dark, weathered, mostly black and dull green, giving them a dreary ancient look.

The stones looked like they had been indiscriminately piled up by some industrious giant of long ago.  The wall was about six feet tall, much taller than me, but my friends and I could easily climb it, and did very often until the day I saw the FACE in the wall.

One early evening I was messing around by myself in the back yard looking for something to do.  My eyes came upon the wall and I thought I saw a face appear in the shadows amongst the stones.  I cannot remember exactly what it looked like because I took off running.  Yet it left an ominous impression with me that reeked of danger!

The next day after school I peered out the back door at the dark looming wall and found more mysterious signs that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.  There were dark red stains I had not noticed before on several surfaces that I knew to be the blood of some child caught by surprise while scaling the wall.  I saw deep dark crevices in the wall that in the shadows of dusk grew deeper and darker the longer I looked.  This monster face, this thing that surely lurked within the stones could easily reach out through the crags and pull a kid inside, and maybe eat him alive!  I had not heard any screaming lately, so the blood had to be old.  Perhaps it was time for the “thing” to feed again!  I avoided the wall the rest of the week, yet it drew me like a magnet.

Saturday morning came and I had the whole day to myself.  My entire focus was at the back of the yard.  I was determined to examine the wall in full daylight but not without a spear, made from a slim sapling tree whittled to a fine monster-piercing point, at the ready.  If I could find out more clues to the mystery of the thing in the wall I could tell a grown-up to do something about it.  I could really take care of the problem myself but I had no dynamite sticks at my disposal.

Truth always looks better in the light of day.  The morning rays of sun lit up the craggy surface of the large looming wall, and it shown a pile of rocks – just rocks!  There was a large flat rock that had natural circular markings approximating the eyes and mouth of an angry face, especially if you looked through the eyes of a ten year old.  The crevices between the rocks were way too tight for a hand to sneak through and grab a kid.  And the blood?  Somebody had cleaned a paint brush of some red paint long ago.  My fear of the wall had quickly evaporated as I saw an explanation for each of the perceived dangers.  Once again the wall became just a barrier – a boundary to be climbed, and to hunt down the soldiers of a mean enemy as I had done a thousand times before.

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