Shadow Boy

Via Email

I read The Hallway Man on Stumbleupon and found your website. We had a similar story. My wife and I took on side work to make ends meet. This was back in the 90’s. We set up a Painting and Cleaning service and put an ad in our local paper. An elderly lady wanted a bedroom cleaned out and fixed up. After work I drove over to take a look. I found out her husband had passed away and her adult children lived in other states. We walked down the hall towards the only closed door straight ahead. She’s talking the entire time but she was hard to understand. I noticed as we got near the door a lot of light came out around it. She opened the door. Instead of turning the knob and pushing the door open, she held the side of the door and looked in as if she was trying not to hit something. Then she pushed the door completely open. There was a landing at the bottom of the steps just big enough to get the door open. At the top of the stairs was a large window. The evening sun shining right in. To look directly up the stairs you are looking right into the sun. Going up I missed my step twice. Once in the room it seemed more like a finished attic. Boxes were thrown around and marked with their contents. There were stacks of clothing on top of boxes sturdy enough to hold them. Just on the other side of the stairs was a set of closets with the sliding doors. She wanted the room painted and cleaned. All the boxes were to be replaced with plastic totes and stacked into the closets. The room had hardwood floors which she would pay extra to fix the scratches and clean it up. This would be one of our easier jobs and I gave the elderly lady a reasonable price which she accepted immediately. We were both happy and started down the stairs. Almost to the landing I heard the sliding closet door bump the wall. The lady looked back at me and mumbled something but kept walking until we were in the hall. I noticed when she closed the door she locked it. The door knob was installed to lock from the outside.

Saturday morning we picked up our supplies and drove over to the house. The homeowner seemed anxious for us to get started. She looked at the supplies we purchased and was adamant that she paid us for them now. We thought it odd but accepted her early payment. We followed her towards the door which she opened carefully as not to hit something behind it like she had done before. Just as we cleared the door she closed it. Going up the steps even the daylight made it difficult to look directly into the window. With our attention on getting all our supplies up the stairs, a quick shadow passed through the light. My wife stopped and looked up towards the room. “Hello”, she said hoping for an answer. At the top of the stairs we go left into the room. The shadow was blown off as a bird flying by the window. The day went on, I had the edges and corners painted and my wife surprisingly had everything put into totes and the cloths hung in the closet. She mentioned the pictures that were in old round frames. The glass was round and bulged out with round wood frames. The picture was a boy, probably from the 1920’s or 30’s. We were done for the day and while we made our way down the stairs we both heard the same sound of the closet door closing against the wall. We both hurried out the door into the hall. There sat the lady. She seemed worried and asked if we were coming back. “Of course, we’re almost through and we will be back Sunday morning and be done by the afternoon”, I told her. She seemed surprised by my answer and repeated several times “Oh, thank you”, “Oh thank you”. We get in the truck and start backing out of the driveway and my wife gasps. She’s pointing up at the bedroom window and covering her mouth with her other hand. She said, “The little boy in the picture was looking out the window”. I told her it was a spooky house the first time I went in and the lady won’t say anything.

Sunday morning I called to make sure it was O.K. to come over and she agreed. The drive over my wife was silent. As we pulled into the driveway she sat up and focused on the bedroom windows. I told her it was O.K., she probably just saw a reflection of the clouds or trees the last time. Once again the lady opened the bedroom door as not to hit something behind it. My wife made sure to get behind me this time. Her hand never left the back of my shirt as we quietly walked up the stairs. The plan was for me to start rolling the paint on the walls and she will follow behind to clean up the floors so we can seal them last. We were going along when the closet door made the sound of it closing against the wall. We both looked over but nothing was there. She didn’t take her eyes off the closet. Every time I would stop to get paint on my roller her eyes were fixated on the closets. We finished the painting and wiping the floors down. All the tools and cleaning supplies were gathered up and we walked towards the steps. I stood in front of the closet doors to let her go down first. At the truck we put the materials away and got out the floor sealer, mops and buckets. A high gloss wax would make the floors look great while covering the surface scratches. We carried our supplies in and there stood the lady. She was unlocking the door for us even though we were only outside for a few minutes. After her door opening ritual we were on our final step to finish shadowboyand get paid. I would pour the finish directly on the floor and we both mopped it around. We were going pretty good until the closet door hit the wall again. We were only feet from it and a few feet from completing our job at the top of the steps. It was too much for my wife. She went down the stairs and waited for me to finish the last small area of floor. I set the bucket on the first step as I finished the floor. That’s when my wife let out the same gasp as she did in the car. Both hands were over her mouth, she was white and her eyes looking in horror past me at the window. I was several steps down and turned to see a shadow of a little boy standing right in front of me. We were eye to eye for just that moment. He walked away into the closet doors. They made the sound of the doors closing but they didn’t move. My wife was already out in the hall before I could comprehend what just happened. I walked out in shock. I couldn’t put words together. We were out at the truck and all we could do was look at each other. The lady came out and gave me cash. I told her I didn’t have change. She said, “its O.K. you’re the first one to stay and finish that room. God Bless You”. As we backed out of the driveway my wife stared up at the window. In a faint whisper that almost sounded like relief she said, “Goodbye little boy”…


4 responses to “Shadow Boy

    • I’ve had this for a while but it was really long and went off into other directions. Microsoft Word did most of the grammatical and spell check work. It’s still kind of long, though. And thanks…


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