The car fascinated Curtis and Seth. Riding with their parents, the brothers settled in the backseat. With one parent Seth would whine until he got to ride in the front. The night their mom announced a trip to get groceries Curtis didn’t even put up a fight.
“Hold on,” she said as they got in the car. “I forgot the checkbook.”
When she closed her door the dome light faded, leaving the brothers sitting in the dark driveway as she headed back to the house.
“It’s good you like to ride up there,” Curtis said.
“Because you don’t want to know what’s back here.”
Seth didn’t respond. He was too short to look over the seat, but he wanted to see what his brother had found.
“What is it?”
“A little guy lives back here at night, down on the floor. He’s got a hook for a hand.”
Seth froze. He strained his ears to hear any sound– any rustling. In his heart he knew the first sound he heard would be the hook scraping against something.
“And Seth,” Curtis added, “the hook is rusty.”
Seth didn’t cry when he heard this. He sat shaking until their mom returned.
He was silent the whole trip, walking through the grocery store in a daze. He stood mutely in the parking lot as Curtis and his mom loaded bags.
“Seth, Curtis hasn’t ridden up front in a while. Can you let him sit there just this one trip?” their mom asked.
Curtis slipped into the seat before Seth could respond. Sheer terror kept him from complaining as he climbed into the back. Their mom walked the cart back to the store.
“Curtis,” Seth gasped. “He’s not here!”
“Oh,” his brother replied casually, “sometimes he likes to sleep in the trunk.”