The Adventures of Betty Byrd
The Mysterious Occurrences at Hollywoodland Senior Home
Betty Byrd has lived at the Hollywoodland Senior home for several months and under her tutelage, the senior residents have thrived and are expressing themselves through art. Even Bill Woggon, who had suffered a stroke, has returned to artistic form and has been creating new Katy Keene comics and paper dolls. All of this changes with the arrival of the very odd Mr. Ever B. Sharp, who somehow talked his way into a job as a gardener at the senior home. A troubling pall has been cast over the once blissful and joyful senior home.
First it was just a snip here and there that would appear on the bed linens and a towel or washcloth. But then in a few weeks the hem of Miss Emma’s skirt appeared to have been sliced and Ol’ Henry’s brand new shirt suffered a huge rip. Then there were the odd haircuts that appeared on several of the elderly residents. These seemingly minor mishaps could be explained away but the “accidents” were beginning to accelerate and the possible cause was the buzz of the dining room conjectures. Still believing the mishaps were purely accidental, one bright autumn day in October provided Betty and Bill with a huge shock when they entered the art room.
“Good heavens”, screamed Betty, “how did this happen?” as she surveyed the room full of slashed and trashed paper dolls and ripped pages, so carefully drawn out and ready to be published.
Bill Woggon just shook his head and silent tears of desperation coursed down his kind face. “Who would do such an unimaginable thing to all our hours of hard work?” he said, choking back the lump in his throat.
Blaze, who had been watching the sad scene unfold from above, swooped down to Betty’s shoulder with an educated guess. “I saw Mr. Sharp coming out of the art room very late," confided Blaze.
“But without proof, we cannot accuse him of the deed. Tonight I will turn invisible and break into Mr. Sharp’s room,” whispered Betty.
...after all the residents had gone to bed and the mansion went dark for the night, Betty touched the lower point of the star. Whoosh, and she was invisible. She crept into the attic where Mr. Sharp lived. She found an unkempt room filled with an abundance of candy wrappers, and the crumbs of cakes and cookies. “Hmm,” she said, “I guess I found out who's been stealing all the sweets from the kitchen”. In contrast to the messiness of the room, she noticed that Mr. Sharp’s collection of shears and sharpening stones were carefully laid out on his dresser. Next to these were scraps of fabric from Emma’s skirt and Henry’s shirt, various tufts of hair, and half of a paper doll that she recognized as a creation of Bill Woggon. “Are these trophies?” Betty wondered. As she was examining these objects, Mr. Sharp suddenly entered the room humming the tune to Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest”. The next moment took Betty Byrd’s breath away and she had to fight to keep from gasping and giving her presence away. Mr. Sharp morphed slowly and agonizingly into a horrible long limbed creature with a large scissor-like proboscis. He then took a sharpening stone and carefully filed the edges of his scissored beak. “Mr. Sharp is a kind of ‘Scissorman',” she thought, remembering the old German folktale (http://mythicalbeastwars.com/category/the-great-long-red-legged-scissor-man/). Betty watched as Scissorman leaped from the attic window and into the night. Suddenly, it all fell into place and Betty knew her enemy.
Unbeknownst to Betty Byrd, she was not the only one who had been spying. Ever B. Sharp had sensed that Betty Byrd, like himself, was not of this world and she might be endowed with special powers. While Betty was able to keep her powers hidden from Mr. Sharp, her weakness for mirrors was obvious. Sharp noticed how Betty paused for long periods in front of the mirror in the hallway and how she lingered, often in a catatonic state, at the reflecting pool in the garden. “Aha,” said Mr. Sharp to himself, "I shall entrap her with mirrors and dispatch her in the most gruesome of ways. What better way to demoralize the residents, than to kill their beloved Betty Byrd”.
A Short Story
By Susie Christian and Grace Wheeler
Copyright © 2015, Susie Christian
All Rights Reserved