The Mirror’s Eyes
by Louise Dragon
His body tingled. Would the ghostly apparition appear, just like it always did?
Howard Grouper held the special glasses loosely in his lap . . . his mind wandering back to the first time he had put the accursed things on his face. Was it only this morning?
He felt tired and spent. His world was splitting apart and he didn’t think there was any going back now.
The glasses – old-fashioned Ben Franklin square lenses surrounded by speckled gold frames – were the coolest shades Howard had ever seen. He’d found them in old man Sanborn’s house when he’d stopped by to try and finagle a few bucks from his Mom this morning. Betty Grouper did special cleaning for the county – she liked to hold on to her money though. Howard had to really lay it on thick to get even a couple of bucks for gas.
While he had been spouting his spiel to Betty, Howard spied a brass cricket on old man Sanborn’s dusty hearth. Inside that big cricket he’d found those cool shades. Betty, by then, was grudgingly peeling a few bills from her wallet and probably didn’t notice Howard pocket those glasses.
The old man is dead, Howard had thought. He won’t need these where he’s gone to.
Once Howard’s old gray Spectrum had a little gas, he donned his cool new shades and headed to The Junction, a local pool hall and beer joint down the street, to spend the rest of Betty’s money.
“How’s yer Ma?” asked Junction manager Bobby.
“She’s okay.” Howard mumbled around his beer. “Down cleaning out old man Sanborn’s place, last time I seen her.”
“Old man Sanborn,” Bobby mused. “Folks around here say that crazy old bastard chewed on too much LSD in his younger years. I’ve heard tell he talked to people who weren’t there. Saw him some visions and heard him some voices, toward the end, he did.”
Howard sat up a little straighter. He pretended to listen to Bobby, but his eyes actually watched the mirror over the bar where a bent old man entered, stopped at the doorway and glared at Howard through opaque yellow eyes.
Howard whipped about on his seat, but the room was empty. He turned back to the mirror, but it showed an empty room as well.
Howard looked at his own reflection and noticed that the new glasses lenses had picked up a bit of light and reflected back at him with a shiny yellow cast.
He took the glasses off and rubbed at his throbbing temples. Howard’s stomach felt queasy, he pushed away the beer, half finished, and moved back outside into the bright sunshine. Again he donned his cool old shades.
Halfway home, Howard glanced into the rear view mirror, and slammed on the brakes. Old man Sanborn perched on his back seat, mouth moving, and finger wagging. Howard swerved, the car spinning crazily out of control and heading for the huge oak tree on the corner of Bunch Road. Howard had a split second to get the vehicle under control.
With the car safely pulled over, he turned to confront the old geezer, but nobody was there.
He ran his hand over the dirty vinyl seat, dispersing many old McDonald’s wrappers and empty Coke cans, but the seat was cool to the touch. Howard’s head throbbed. Old man Sanborn’s mouth had been moving in his vision through the rear-view mirror. Howard sensed that the old man was trying to tell him something. He put his glasses back on and made it home with no further incidents.
Old man Sanborn is dead . . . Howard kept telling himself. I can’t be seeing him, he’s dead. But a feeling of unease and dread lingered in the back of Howard’s mind like an unpleasant taste. He took off the glasses and stared at them . . . Could they have some kind of power? Was it the glasses that gave him the visions? Maybe these glasses drove Old man Sanborn crazy.
Howard’s mind went around and around trying to puzzle out his new problem. That’s when he got the idea.
He decided to put on the glasses again and watch through the mirror for old man Sanborn to show up. Perhaps then, things would start to make sense.
Howard sat at Betty’s vanity, the glasses held loosely in his lap.
Then he put the old glasses on and gazed into the mirror, his body tingling with anticipation.
A ghostly apparition quickly appeared at the edge of the mirror and made its way toward Howard’s back. As the light of recognition blazed a yellow beacon in Howard’s brain, he gasped inwardly and clutched at the only possible explanation.
I must be dead.
Author's note: The first two sentences of my #fridayflash story, The Mirror's Eyes are courtesy of #storystarters – a Twitter Application.