Gary was the one who dared Scott to go ring the bell on the abandoned Harron house. What happened was nobody’s fault, but the reason they went to the creepy house, set away from the other houses deep in the dark and unnaturally quiet woods, was because of Gary’s idea.

It was Halloween night, around seven. Billy and Scott were playing PS4 at Scott’s house, when Gary yelled to them through the window: “Hey you dumb fucks, quit sucking each other’s dicks and get the shit out here!”

Gary was pretty vulgar. His dad worked at the docks. Gary’s mom also worked at the docks, which Gary didn’t understand, because she wasn’t that strong. When Gary asked his dad what his mother did at the docks, his dad just said “she’s plowing in the big bucks.” Gary didn’t know what you’d plow at the docks, but his dad drank a lot, so Gary didn’t press him any further. Besides, Gary’d stolen some tens from his dad’s wallet a few minutes before he’d asked, and he didn’t feel like getting his ass whooped again.

Gary was freakishly tall for an eleven-year-old, with buzzed brown hair, and a face which always looked like he’d smelled a fart.

“What do you want Gary?” Scott said, adjusting his glasses. Scott was skinny, with shaggy red hair. He liked hanging out with Gary because he was entertaining. He hated hanging out with Gary because of how predictable he was. For instance, Scott knew Gary was about to say something about banging his mom.

“Your mom, but she’s on the rag!” Gary yelled, and he used his hands to mime blood gushing out from between his legs.

“Gross,” Billy said. Billy was unremarkable. He was just a typical eleven year old, so just picture that, and there ya go.

“Let’s go play ding dong ditch!” Gary yelled, and threw his hands into the air like a spastic.

“What am I, five?” Billy asked, shaking his head.

“Maybe that’s how many inches your dick is… hard!” Gary said, and poked his index finger through the zipper of his jeans.

“Gary, that was super gay,” Scott said.

“You wish it was super gay, you homo!” Gary said, and he turned around and started twerking.

“The fuck is wrong with you…” Billy said.

“Let’s just go play ding dong ditch, you know he won’t stop twerking unless we go with him,” Scott said.

“Wiggle with it! Go ‘head and wiggle with it!” Gary sang, and to Scott and Billy’s horror, he dropped it down even lower.

***

An hour later, Gary was bored of ringing doorbells, and running and hiding. Truth be told, Gary knew it was a dumb idea to play ding dong ditch, but he didn’t want to be home when his dad was drinking. The last time Gary had been home while his dad was drunk, he’d walked in on his dad in his mother’s underwear. His dad had slurred out, “I am beautiful, no matter what you say!” and Gary had ran screaming.

“You know what’d be really cool?” Gary said, and then belched for ten seconds.

“What?” Scott and Billy said in unison.

“If we-” Gary belched again for another fifteen seconds. “Woo, shit. My bad. Oh, uh, right, it’d be cool if we played ding dong ditch at that creepy abandoned Harron place over sorta near Smith street.”

“The one where that guy shot his wife, and then strangled his two little boys?” Scott asked.

“What? No, it’s the one where that lady poisoned her husband, and then propped him in a rocking chair facing the front window. Which house is the one where the guy shot his wife, then strangled his two boys?”

“The house over on Red Wing street,” Billy said.

“I thought that was the house over on Bigglebug lane?” Scott asked, scratching his head.

“No. What happened in the house on Bigglebug lane?” Billy asked.

“Oh, this little girl stabbed her parents to death, and then danced to Katy Perry for twenty-four hours straight until the police came,” Scott said.

“Okay, look, we are all in agreement an alarmingly high amount of people have been murdered in this town, but let’s just go to the Harron house, and ring the doorbell. Then we can go do whippits outside the Convenience Mart like we normally do every Friday night,” Gary said.

“Can’t escape that whipped cream dragon,” Billy said.

***

The Marron House was spooky, no doubt about it. Cobwebs cascaded down the roof in front of the large red front door, and the window through which they stared revealed dusty furniture and old peeling wallpaper.

“The story goes that nine years ago the Harrons built this house. They set it off from the rest of the town, deep in the woods, on purpose. They didn’t want anybody disturbing them. Mr. Harron was a writer, and Mrs. Harron was a teacher, so they needed a lot of quiet time between the both of them. Mr. Harron needed to churn out another book of monster erotica, and Mrs. Harron needed to grade her psychology papers. She taught psychology at the high school. My dad’s friend said one time that Mrs. Harron gave him a rim job, but I don’t believe Ted, ’cause he also told me he was abducted by aliens. I could give him the benefit of the doubt if it was one time, but Ted said they came back and abducted him twelve more times-”

“Gary, finish the story,” Scott shouted.

“What? Oh, right. So things were great, at first. Mr. and Mrs. Harron loved each other, or some horse shit like that — I don’t really know, I was a year old when this shit happened, remember? But, yeah, so things were good, I assume, or at the very least, better than they got the week before the shit went diggity down!”

“Don’t say ‘diggity down,'” Billy said.

“Fuck you. Anyway, then came the fateful week. It seems Mr. Harron had picked up an admirer at a monster erotica convention earlier in the summer, and he’d been bumping uglies with this fan for the better part of that year. And this woman called him on his cell phone, and left a message. Mrs. Harron got the message, and was madder than Hell!”

“Sorta like on True Detective?” Scott asked.

“What?” Gary said.

“Like how Marty’s wife Maggie checked his cell, and I think she found a message from this girl he’d been banging,” Scott said.

“I thought it was an ass picture she found?” Billy said.

“Oh, you’re right, it was an ass picture,” Scott said.

“For fuck’s sake, can I finish the damn story!” Gary yelled.

“Okay, okay, you big wuss,” Billy said.

“So Mrs. Harron finds out, and she starts poisoning her husband-”

“What kind of poison did she use?” Billy said.

“What kind of- look, I don’t know, the kind that kills you in a week! What kind of poison she used isn’t important to the story!”

“It’s sort of important. It provides an added level of realism, so the audience is that much closer to the narrative, and has to perform less mental gymnastics with suspension of disbelief,” Billy said.

“Christ, Billy, you’re a real loser sometimes, you know that!”

“Seriously, Billy,” Scott said.

“So any-fucking-way! Mrs. Harron poisons Mr. Harron for a week. He finally dies, and this is where it gets interesting. She drags his dead body to a rocking chair they have by the window. In life, Mr. Harron liked to sit in it, and read monster erotica. See what his competition had to offer, I guess-”

“I didn’t know monster erotica was lucrative back in 2004,” Billy said.

“I don’t…” Gary began.

“Well, monster erotica, or monster porn didn’t really take off until self publishing and e-books gained popularity. But, maybe I’m wrong-”

“Look, it’s my god damn story, let me just tell it how I tell it, so we can go ring this fucking doorbell!” Gary shouted.

“Hey, I’ve been listening this whole time,” Scott said.

“And I thank you, Scott” Gary said, glaring at Billy with a firey hatred for the boy’s wretched life.

“Okay. So, where was I? Oh, right. So, she puts Mr. Harron’s dead body into the rocking chair and it faces the window, until one day the mail woman happened to find the front door open. Mr. Harron’s mistress sent her own book of monster erotica in a package and the mail woman was just going to leave it on the front porch — except she caught this smell coming from inside the house. A smell of rot, like steak left out in the hot sun for a week, to putrefy and decay.”

“Like your mom’s pussy,” Scott said.

“Aw, dude! I’d expect that from Billy, but not from you Scott! Not from you, my precious Scotty-Scotty-Scott-”

“So the mail woman found the body and called the cops,” Billy said.

“Damn it! Yeah, that’s what happened, Billy. But they say on nights such as this, when it’s oh so dark, that Mr. Harron’s body can still be seen in the rocking chair, staring out his front window. And they also say that upstairs, you can still hear Mrs. Harron crying over her lost love. Oh, and the doorbell still works, for some reason.”

“What, why would it still work?” Billy asked.

“I don’t know, but Freddy Fitzpatrick told me he tried this bell here a few months ago, and it still works,” Gary said.

So, Gary and Scott and Billy made their way to the front walkway of stone. The Harron house seemed to stare down at them, a hulking predator biding its time, waiting for its prey to get within striking distance. A window shutter on the second floor creaked, moving ever so slowly in the a light breeze which blew through the trees.

“Well, one of you go ring the doorbell,” Gary said.

“Why can’t you do it?” Billy asked.

“‘Cause I… don’t want to, so one of you go do it!” Gary said.

“I’ll do it, sheesh,” Scott said, and huffed his way up the front walk.

Gary saw it all happen, as if in slow motion. When the ambulance, and the police and fire department showed up later, they’d rule Scott’s death was from heart failure, due to an electrical shock from the wiring attached to the doorbell of the Harron house. The police took statements from Gary, and Billy but Gary was the only one who told the cops the truth. Gary was the only one who told the cops what he actually saw.

Scott walked up the old wooden front steps, and peered into the window. There was a rocking chair, creaking back and forth as if from the breeze. But, none of the windows, or the front door, was open. Scott wondered with a bit of apprehension, how the chair was moving with no breeze. And nobody in it.

Anxious to get away from the house, from the front door, Scott rang the doorbell. And the bell rang, loud and clear. And, also perfectly clear, Scott heard a man’s voice on the other side of the door say “Come in, Scott.”

Before he was even sure what he was doing, Scott opened the front door. He looked across the front entrance room, towards the rocking chair, and there sat Mr. Harron. The flesh was missing in spots on his face, and Scott could see his cheek bone beneath. Most of his tissue was rotted away, and Mr. Harron was more bone than meat. A smell of decay, of putrescence, hit Scott’s nostrils, and he gagged. Gagged, and heard something walk up, right behind him.

“We don’t like company,” Mrs. Harron wheezed.