THE CLOSET THAT HAUNTED BILLIE'S DREAMS

 

My friend Billie had nightmares for years, even into late adulthood, apparently because of a practical joke.  And the nightmares all had to do with this one piece of furniture.  The way he described it to me, I've never seen anything exactly like it, although I've seen all of the design elements in other kinds of furniture.  It was chest of drawers with three rows of three drawers, but on top was a sort of glass door cupboard or knick knack cabinet with a rounded top.  Draped over the top was an "Indian blanket", as his aunt named it.  All I could really get out of Billie about it was that it had a pattern, and tassels, not fringes,   It was also the aunt who named it a 'closet'. 

 

But the main feature of this 'closet' that troubled Billie the most, at the time, and later in his dreams was that it had what I believe they call 'claw feet' -- fancy carved legs made to resemble a claw like a chicken foot holding onto a ball, which in this case was apparently made of glass.  The whole closet thing stood about as tall as Billie when he was 13 and visiting his cousin, at what was to him a pretty fancy house in Philadelphia.  Fancy enough that he had a guest room all to himself.  Well ... himself and the closet from hell.

 

The trick was really quite simple, and although Billie understood it thoroughly, still the closet seemed to come up in all his bad dreams for years.

 

Billie's cousin (I don't know his name, so we'll call him 'little Johnny') had this battery operated cassette recorder.  Sometime before Billie's visit, Little Johnny made a tape that started with 1/2 hour of dead silence, then quiet creaking and groaning building over the course of five minutes of so to louder grumbling, and then louder growling, and finally, quite loudly and with sinister intonation:  " Billie ..  BILLIE JAKES ... I must be fed. "

 

So anyway, tape in hand, Little Johnny snuck in to the guest room deep in the middle of the night when Billie was sleeping, pulled out a few drawers in the closet, and left the tape recorder in one of them running on play, while he snuck back to his own room to wait for the fun to start.

 

First Billie work up and was conscious of some noise, but not quite sure what it was.  Then as he listened in the dark he said he thought at the time it must be a joke, but still, there in the dark the hair on his arms and neck stood straight out, and a kind of a chill shiver when down his back.  Just as he was fumbling the funny little bedside lamp on, that was when the cabinet was offering to eat him.  Maybe it was the way the lighting was, or that he had been woken from his own dreams in such a sinister manner, but the image of that cabinet froze itself into his subconscious dreamscape for years.  He told me as he looked at he cabinet, which he had already determined to be the source of the noise, but hadn't really noticed before, "the feet seemed to glow as if it were flying toward me, and the drawers were moving as it spoke".