The Gray Gloved Hand
I’m afraid to go in because of the Gray Gloved Hand. Big, fat sausage fingers grasping from above and beyond the coat hangers, seeking me. It’s not my fault that it’s there; it just is. I went in for a railroad toy train and saw it reaching for me and I ran away and told Mommy about it. I ran away fast, because I was so scared.
She went to my room and opened the door and gave the clothes a shake and said that there was nothing in there.
But she’s wrong. It’s in there, alright. Later, when I saw it in there, reaching, I pinched my fingers closing the closet door so fast that it hurt and made me cry, but I kept quiet, not wanting Mommy to know what I’d done, think that I’d gone crazy or made a mess. I dragged a bucket of toys in front of my closet, to block the way.
It isn’t so bad during the day, but the sunlight never gets into my closet, it always stays dark, and I was afraid to go in there, so I moved my trains into my room, set them near my bed, but Mommy said that made a mess and made me put them back in my closet.
So I pretended to forget, so I wouldn’t have to look at the Gray Gloved Hand. I was too scared. Then Mommy got mad and put them in the closet and told me if I left my toys out that she’d give them to some other little kids who wanted them more and would take care of them.
I told her I was afraid of the Gray Gloved Hand, but she said there was no such thing. She’s wrong, but I can’t make her see that. I’m too little.
Because the closet never wants to close right, bedtime’s the worst, after Daddy’s reads me a story and Mommy’s gotten my pajamas and I’m tucked in with just a nightlight on the wall for company--a moon and stars glowing blue. I try during the day, push those doors shut, but they don’t want to stay that way, they always try to open up, just a crack, but in the dark, that crack looks big as it can be.
I imagine the Hand pushing out against the doors, forcing them open, fat fingers squirming and just waiting to grab me. I don’t ever see it doing that, I just see the closet doors open, and I know the Gray Gloved Hand did it. Pushed the bucket aside. It’s strong.
And at night, I’m afraid to run over there and shut the doors, so what I do is take my little red flashlight that I keep by my bed and I shine it on the closet when I think something’s moving in there. The flashlight sort of makes more shadows than there were before, because the closet doors have wooden slats in them, but I’m sure I can see that Gray Gloved Hand if it tries to come creeping out of there.
If it came creeping out of there, I’d go screaming for Mommy and Daddy and hope that they run in and step on it, squash it. But I don’t know if they’d even see it, so I’d stand there with my flashlight on it, in case it tried to run away, like some big, fat, Gray spider. They’d have to see it if I showed them.
I don’t know if there’s any more to the Hand, or if it’s just a Hand. A Hand is more than enough, if it’s scary enough. A Hand can do a lot of nasty things, if it wants to. It can be a fist, and can punch stuff, and punching hurts. I’d punch the Hand if it tried to get me.
But then I get sleepy, and I can’t stay awake and when I turn off my flashlight, I worry that the Gray Gloved Hand is going to come crawling out of there, maybe dragging me off someplace I don’t want to go.
Daddy gave me some glowy stars that he sits underneath a light and puts on my pillow before he turns out the light, says the stars’ll keep me safe, and I like playing with them in the dark, making them spin overhead or crash into my bed. If the Hand comes, I’ll throw the stars at it. Daddy put little glowy stars all around the top of the closet doors, so it looks like nighttime when I’m ready for bed.
I don’t know why the Hand picked my closet. Maybe it wants all of my toys. I put all the good ones in my toybox, so the Hand can’t get them. I leave all the baby clothes in there, so it can have them, instead. Old clothes I’ve grown out of. The Hand doesn’t want those, though. It just wants me.
I found a glove of Daddy’s, a brown one he wears when he mows the lawn, and I played Gray Gloved Hand with it, setting it on the dining room table and hitting it with an orange plastic ruler. Mommy asked what I was doing with that “filthy glove” on the table, and I told her what I was doing, and she said there wasn’t such thing as the Gray Gloved Hand, but I know that she’s wrong.
She takes the glove and puts it away and says it’s for outside, not for the dining room table, and that I should go play in my room, but I’m afraid to because it’s rainy outside and dark in the house and that’s what the Gray Gloved Hand likes. I bet it could come straight out if it was dark enough outside, and watching it storm outside the windows, the clouds look like they could turn into tornadoes and suck everything away. Thunder booms and lightning flashes, and I don’t feel much like playing in my room, but Mommy turns off the TV and says that she doesn’t want the storm to zap it.
So I sneak down to my room on tiptoes and reach for the lightswitch, which has a duck on it, and I flip the switch and my room is lit up and I can’t see the Hand. I was worried it might be perched on the shelf, ready to jump on my head, but it’s not there, though the closet doors are open, so it could be out there. I just don’t know.
I want to play trains, so I grab my flashlight and turn it on, and I sneak over to the closet doors and slide them open. They creak as I do that, and I can see my trains on the floor, in their box, and I know that I can’t pull the box out and hold my flashlight at the same time. I’ve tried that before, and I always end up dropping the flashlight. So I shine the flashlight in the closet, looking for the Gray Gloved Hand.
“Come out come out wherever you are,” I say to it, in case it’s listening. I know it is, because this is where it lives. The flashlight shines hanging clothes I grew out of, and Mommy hasn’t given away, because I’m going to have a baby brother, and they’re going to give my clothes to him. I think maybe if Mommy made the clothes go away, the Hand would, too.
I don’t see the Hand, so I put down the flashlight and reach for my train box, pulling quickly on it, keeping my eyes up, because that’s usually where the Hand goes. It likes to come down from on up.
The box comes out while thunder makes the windows rattle, and I still don’t see the Hand, don’t know where it went. Maybe it’s sleeping, but how could it sleep through a loud storm?
I get the trains out and drag them across the floor, and run back to get my flashlight. Then I see the Hand, crawling from the back of the closet, heading toward the open doors. It had been hiding behind the train box all along.
“Mommy,” I say. “Mama, the Gray Gloved Hand.”
But she doesn’t say anything. She can’t hear it. Maybe she’s in the bathroom. The Hand is between me and my bedroom door, because that’s where my closet is. I want to cry, I’m so scared of it, because it’s crawling towards me.
First I think I can lock it in the closet, but it runs out before I can do that. It’s running toward me, so I throw a train at it. It’s a little green plastic train like the ones I see from our car, when Mommy’s driving me to the playground. Big trains that go on forever.
But this is a little toy train, and it bounces off the Hand, which spreads its fingers wide as it runs for me.
I grab a toy train track, all brown like dirt and curved like a “J” and I hit the Hand with it. The hand is squishy, like it’s full of air, but it grabs onto the track and then starts running up the track toward me. I scream and drop the track and run out of the room. I scream for Mommy.
She was downstairs, doing laundry in the basement. She thought I was playing. I tell her about the Gray Gloved Hand, and she tells me there’s no such thing, and makes me go to my room with her so she can show me that there’s nothing there, that I’m just making it up.
We go in there and everything’s how I left it, except that there’s no Gray Gloved Hand. It’s hiding somewhere. I start crying and tell her that it was in there and was trying to grab me, but she says it’s just the storm and that I need a snack and maybe a nap.
So, she makes me pixie sandwiches--little sandwiches with peanut butter on them, on little bread--and gives me a cup of chocolate milk. And while I watch it raining outside and eat my sandwiches, I wonder where the Hand went, because now that it’s escaped my closet, it could go anywhere.
That makes me so afraid it’s hard to swallow my sandwich. I don’t want the Hand to get Mommy or Daddy or Jinx, my cat. Jinx is a black cat, with green-yellow eyes and she hisses at me sometimes, when she gets mad. I don’t do anything to make Jinx mad, but she gets mad, just the same. She’s a mad cat.
If the Hand gets out, Jinx’ll get the Hand. I just know it. But maybe the Hand could sneak up on Jinx. I don’t want that to happen, so I go up to Jinx, who’s sitting on the sofa, licking her paws, watching it storm. She gives me a look, then continues licking her paws. Jinx has claws, she scratched me once, on my arm, and made me cry.
“Watch out for the Gray Gloved Hand, Jinx,” I tell her. She pokes her nose toward me and sniffs at me. She’s not so mad today, meows at me, wants me to pet her. She gets up and walks past my legs, tickling my nose with her tail as she passes. Jinx lets me pet her head, starts purring. That makes me happy, because I like Jinxie, even when she’s mad at me.
“Jinxie, come with me,” I say. “Let’s get the Gray Gloved Hand.”
But Jinx doesn’t listen, just trots off. I run after her, which just makes her run faster.
“Jinx, wait for me! Come back!”
But Jinx just goes down into the basement, where I’m afraid to go alone, just because it’s dark and full of spider webs. Mommy goes down there all the time, and Daddy, too, when he needs to fix something, but I only go down there when they do.
The storm later stopped, and Daddy came home, and Mommy went to work, after making me dinner of macaroni and cheese and apple juice and some strips of bacon.
Mommy leaving always makes me sad, but I like playing with Daddy. He lets me jump on his belly and crawl over his legs. Watching Mommy leave for work, I ask Daddy if he’s seen the Gray Gloved Hand, and told him about it chasing me.
He took a beer from the ‘frigerator and told me the next time I saw the Gray Gloved Hand, that I should stomp on it with my foot, hard as I could, and then that would be the end of it. I asked Daddy if he could check my closet, and he said he could, and so we went into my room and looked around for the Gray Gloved Hand, but it wasn’t there.
“Mommy says it’s not real,” I said.
“Probably just a ghost,” Daddy said, drinking some beer. That made me scared all over again, cuz I hadn’t thought about ghosts. I knew about ghosts from TV, that they were scary, mostly. People would cry when they saw them. I didn’t want to see a ghost.
“A ghost hand?”
“Sure,” Daddy said. “Why not? I’ll tell you about the Headless Horseman, someday. I can imagine a Handless Horseman just as well. The way those Hessians waved their swords, I can see it happening, easy.”
“Headless Hessian?” I asked. I liked the sound of that word. Like Swabian, which I heard Daddy say one time. It was a funny word.
“Long story,” Daddy said. “Later. You’re too young.”
Then Daddy went and watched TV and drank his beer, eating dinner from a tray. Daddy was bigger than Mommy, and I felt safe when he was home, and didn’t see the Hand anywhere. The Hand didn’t come out all night. I was looking for it.
Daddy got me ready for bed, and I got scared again, thinking the Gray Gloved Hand would grab me for sure. I thought that all through my bath, and when I was brushing my teeth, when I got in bed with my Snuffy and my flashlight.
“Come out come out, wherever you are!” I said to the Hand, after Daddy had tucked me in. I shined my flashlight around the room, wondering where it went. I was scared of it. It was a big Hand, and scary, like a swollen bagful of gravel-colored grit, the fingers fat and wrinkly. It crawled like a spider, running fast on soft fingertips. That was how it ran.
Then I saw a shadow across my bed, and saw the Gray Gloved Hand, creeping up from underneath my bed, with the nightlight behind it, shining shadows in my face.
“Daddy!!” I yelled, jumping to my feet. The Hand ran for me, reaching my foot, and I tried to squish it, the way Daddy said, but it just bounced me off the bed, and I fell down, with the hand jumping on my stomach, crawling to my neck.
I was so scared that I screamed and grabbed the Hand with my fingers and pulled it off my chest. It squeezed shut, knocking my hands together. Then it crawled up my arms, trying to reach my neck. Its fingers were icy-cold, but it couldn’t hold my hands and crawl at the same time, so I grabbed at it again and then ran into the bathroom and threw the Hand into the potty, where it splashed and tried to get out of the bowl. Then I slapped down the lid and flushed the potty.
Daddy came in and said. “Whatcha doing, Sport?”
And I cried and told Daddy I’d flushed the Hand down the potty. Daddy made a face and said that it had better not be one of his work gloves, but I told him it was the Gray Gloved Hand, instead. So Daddy opened the lid, even though I told him not to, hiding behind his hairy leg.
“There’s nothing in here,” Daddy said.
“I flushed it down,” I said, taking a peek at the potty. There was just water in there. The Hand wasn’t in there at all.
“Good boy,” Daddy said. “Now wash your hands and get back to bed.”
I washed my hands and dried them on a towel and went back to my room. I closed the closet doors and Daddy tucked me in and told me not to worry about the Gray Gloved Hand anymore, that it was gone and that was that.
“Goodnight, Daddy,” I said.
“Goodnight, Sport,” Daddy said. “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
“I won’t,” I said, glad that the hand was gone.
In the morning, when Mommy woke me up, I saw that the closet doors were still closed. I told Mommy about the Gray Gloved Hand, how it was gone, and she told me she had made waffles for breakfast, so I was happy. I like waffles.