15 Nov When the Hand of Glory Rocks the Cradle of Doom, Everybody Sleeps
“When the Hand of Glory Rocks the Cradle of Doom, Everybody Sleeps”Written by Troy Harkin Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 9 minutes
Dr. Allen returned to his office and found Donald Anthony Lowe; male, 24, biochemistry student (all according to the patient profile that Allen’s nubile and exceptionally talented receptionist had insisted the man fill out in the waiting room) looking out of the 14th-floor window of the Liggon Trust building, and scanning the sidewalk below. The man, Donald Anthony Lowe; male, 24, biochemistry student, seemed unaware of Allen’s presence.
“Mr. Lowe,” said Allen as he stood at the office door.
“It’s not out there… is it?” asked Donald Anthony Lowe; male, 24, biochemistry student as he turned towards Allen, revealing a tired, drained face.
“What’s not out there, Mr. Lowe?”
“Yeah, the sofa I’ve come to tell you about.”
“No. No sofas. Just a few chairs, a coffee table and the magazine rack. No sofas though.”
“Are you sure?”
“Quite sure, Mr. Lowe.”
“Well, it could have followed me, you know.”
“I don’t think there’s much chance of a sofa getting by security now, do you, Mr. Lowe?”
Donald Anthony Lowe; male, 24, biochemistry student did not answer. Patronization was not high on his current list of priorities.
“Well, how about you have a seat and we’ll begin,” offered Allen as he sat himself behind his desk.
Lowe slowly walked from the window to his designated seat; a small armless black couch. Lowe eyed it suspiciously. He eyed everything that way in the past few days. As Lowe stiffly reclined he thought of a childhood prayer that his mother had taught him. It went, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”. Lowe felt it was a dumb thing to think of, but he couldn’t shake the notion that it was a necessary safety precaution.
“Well, where should I begin?” he asked.
“Strangely enough, it seems you’ve chosen a very popular opening. At least half of my clientele begin with, ‘Well, where should I begin?’ and then there’s another school of thought altogether that jump right in with, ‘Ever since I was a young child…’, but since we’ve cleared up that bit of business, why don’t we just move on by telling me why you’ve come here?”
Lowe inhaled deeply, cleared his throaty and began. He had replayed the incident in his mind continually since its occurrence, searching for a loophole from insanity, but this was his first attempt to verbalize the events. Allen reached into one of his desk drawers and pushed the play and record buttons on his discreetly placed cassette recorder.
“You see, less than a week ago I was leading the happy-go-lucky life of a student. You know, a few assignments here and there – the odd party. I was basically a pretty easy goin’ guy – until that damn sofa came into our lives.”
“What sofa is that?”
“Well, there were the three of us – Bruce, Marty, and me – we went to the University of Lynwood, and we lived in this apartment a few blocks away from the school. Then we get this sofa, and it kills them, just like that.”
“The sofa killed your roommates?” asked Allen as he lit a Camel.
“Yeah. Murdered them. It got the movers, too. And now it wants me. It wants me real bad.”
“You say the sofa wants to kill you. Why is that, Mr. Lowe?”
“Look, how am I supposed to know why a sofa goes around killing people? Christ! You’re the shrink. You’re the one that’s supposed to know why people do things, or why pieces of furniture do things, as the case may be, and is!”
Allen was only momentarily taken aback by Lowe’s sudden outburst. With analytic countenance, Allen studied Lowe, who had paused to gather his thoughts. Crossing his arms, Lowe stared at the ceiling like a man pondering the Gordian Knot.
“Look, Doc, I don’t doubt you’ll lock me up after this, but at least I’ll be safe from it in a rubber room. Besides, I’m paying a hefty coin for this mind fuck, so if you don’t mind I’ll tell my story my way.”
It had been a long day for Allen; a grueling session with a psychotic hermaphrodite, an accountant who believed the dogs of the world were plotting to kill him, and a happily married man who was seeing reruns of ‘Toast of the Town’ in his Quaker Oats. So if Donald Anthony Lowe; male, 24, biochemistry student didn’t want to waltz with him it was honky-dory.
“Fine,” Allen said, making himself comfortable in his chair.
Obliged, Lowe returned his gaze towards the ceiling and began his tale a second time.
“The apartment we lived in was a nice little place. And because Bruce lived there a year before Marty and I moved in, he had dibs on the bedroom. Marty and I just crashed out on the living room floor in our sleeping bags at night. Not the best sleeping accommodations ever. So we all decided it would be worth it to get one of those beds that folds into a sofa. There’s a name for those things – hide-a-bed, or something like that. So that’s what we decided we’d get. Me and Marty needed a bed, and the apartment was in dire need of something other than lawn chairs to sit on. Buckingham Palace it ain’t. So we checked out a few yard sales, discount stores, bargain basements, second hand, you name it. Finally found a good deal at the local Salvation Army store. It was nothing really spectacular, just a brown plaid davenport, nothin’ special. It had the odd cigarette burn and coffee stain, and a few weird dark leaves stuck under the cushion between the springs. Marty said it was Bell of Madonna, or something. He was a real green thumb, Marty was. But heck, we didn’t care about poison ivy. We just wanted a place to rest our weary bones, and here it was in front of us for only seventy bucks.”
Lowe unfolded his arms and ran a hand through his thick brown hair.
“So… we bought it. Bruce came over with his Dad’s pick-up to get the sofa. Trying to load that thing onto the truck was a real sonofabitch, lemme tell ya. It took the three of us plus the salesman from the Salvation Army a good twenty minutes to carry that damn sofa from the store’s back door to the truck, which was parked less than a yard or so from the door. That bitch was so bloody heavy, but after heaving and hoing for a while, we finally got it onto the truck. As we were pulling out of the driveway, I saw the Salvation Army guy laughing his head off, looking like a right loon. That guy gave me the creeps, but I put him out of my mind, for a while.
“When we got back to the apartment we prepared ourselves for the battle it would take to get the sofa to the third floor. But it’s the damnedest thing! The three of us rolled up our sleeves and got a good grip on the sofa, but when we went to lift it, I thought it’d float away. It’s like it had lost two hundred pounds minimum, on the ride over from the store. We carried the thing up the three flights of stairs as if it were a cardboard cutout. But, you know, once we got up to our place it was as if the thing was putting the pounds back on. Either that or the three of us had been zapped of our strength. We started grunting and sweating like stuffed pigs. I swear to God, I thought my back was gonna break there and then. We got the sofa into the apartment and put it against the wall beside Bruce’s stereo. As we let it down it settled into the hardwood floor with a sickly creaking sound. It was like the thing let out a sigh.”
Lowe’s face contorted grotesquely.
“That night, I had the worst sleep of my life. Marty and me didn’t do anything but toss and turn. And sweat, boy, did I sweat! The worst part was the dreams. I’d be just about ready to nod off, and then these really bizarre images would pop into my head. Beheadings, children being mangled and tortured, and Christ being hanged. Lord, it was awful. Then, around three in the morning, the smells came. Fish smells. From the mattress. When morning came, neither Marty nor I had gotten any sleep. And we both had splitting headaches. Well, we had early classes, so we folded the bed up, had some breakfast and headed to school. Bruce had no classes that day, so he slept in. But we should never have left him there,” Lowe was saying, shaking his head.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why is that?” interjected Allen.
“Well, we got back from school, Marty and I did, at about four o’clock, and there was Bruce, lying dead in the middle of the floor with his head cracked open like a melon. He’d apparently fallen and hit his head on the coffee table. But he didn’t fall. He was tripped. The sofa was a good three feet out from the wall. We called an ambulance to come and get him, and later on we pushed the sofa back against the living room wall. Marty and I talked about it that night. About what had happened. Neither of us came right out and said the sofa killed Bruce, but I certainly thought it. Marty, he was being practical about the whole thing. He decided he’d sleep on the hide-a-bed. Not me. I’d crash out in Bruce’s room. Some might think that ghoulish. But not really. I mean, isn’t it better to sleep in the dead man’s bed rather than the bed that killed the man?
“Anyway, Marty pulled the bed out and was tucking in, while I went for a shower, hoping it would relax me a little. The hissing of the shower blocked out any interruptions from outside and the warm, pulsing sensation of the water almost made me forget myself. But, of course, a shower can only last for so long. So 1 shut the water off, threw on my robe, and then went to the kitchen for a beer. And…”
“Yes, what happened then, Mr. Lowe?”
Lowe said nothing for minutes. He lay there licking his lips, not looking from the ceiling for a second. Then, again he spoke.
“When I went for my beer I noticed that the bed was folded back up and Marty was nowhere in sight. I assumed he had changed his mind about sleeping and went out for a walk. I thought Bruce’s death was probably weighing on his mind more than he was letting on. Forgetting my fear of that sofa, I sat down on it to drink my brew. A combination of squishing and crunching sounds came from underneath the sofa.
“I threw the seat cushions off the sofa and pulled the bed halfway out. Then I saw it. I staggered to the opposite wall, dropped my beer, and vomited. Under the sofa were the chomped up remains of Marty. Mangled flesh, unrecognizable organs, body fluids, bones – cracked into innumerable shards – all gnashed and twisted. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do, for Christ’s sake! What could I do? Call the cops and say, ‘Could you come over right away and arrest my sofa, officer? Why? It’s eaten my roommate!’ Right.”
Lowe’s voice cracked and he emitted a nervous little laugh.
“I ran into Bruce’s room and closed the door. I collapsed onto his bed and passed out. But some time during the night I was awoken by this racket coming from the living room. A thunderous banging that was in time to some Springsteen song. It sounded like a party.
“Slowly I got up enough nerve to open the bedroom door, but just the slightest bit, just enough so I could peer down the hall and into the living room. It was the weirdest fuckin’ thing I have ever seen, Doc. The thing, the sofa, was dancing. In the middle of the night, there it was dancing in the dark to Springsteen, on its side legs. Almost hitting the roof as it bounced around, throwing what was left of Bruce around the apartment, in a total helter-skelter fashion. I slammed the bedroom door and tried to barricade the door with a footlocker. I sat by the window for the rest of the night wondering how this had ever happened. Remembering that bastard salesman was laughing his head off after we bought the sofa. Wondering how it would get me. I sat there and watched the sun come up. At around nine, I called up Renco Movers, and told them to pick up the sofa in an hour and take it to the dump. They said they were booked for the day. I offered them three times the going rate. They said they’d be over in forty-five minutes.”
Lowe ran his tongue over his upper lip.
“Now I had to clean up the mess in the living room before the movers arrived. Everything was topsy-turvy. The coffee table was overturned, records were all over the room, and little chunks of Marty were everywhere, and the sofa itself was the only thing that was where it was supposed to be.
“I put all of the furniture back and mopped up the blood. I put the bigger pieces of Marty into a bucket and threw it down the incinerator chute. Things were pretty well back in order when the movers arrived. I held the door for them as these two big guys carried the sofa out the door. I was so glad to see that thing going. As they started down the stairs the sofa shifted a bit, and the mover at the top of the stairs struggled to keep a grip on it, and lost his footing. He tumbled forward and fell into a crazed somersault. His neck made an awful crack as he went down the stairs. In front of him, the sofa was doing a mid-air cartwheel and ended by landing with a thud on the mover at the bottom of the landing. They were dead.
“Things became really confusing after that. I had to talk with policemen, paramedics, and the employer of the movers, and my landlord threatened to evict me if I had any mote parties.”
Dr. Allen watched Lowe closely. Watched him bite down on his bottom lip and watched his body tremble. Allen had seen enough for today. More than enough, he thought. Allen leaned forwards and extinguished his butt.
“I think we should book for a series of sessions, Mr. Lowe. Is that alright with you?” Allen told more than asked.
“Whatever! Lock me up now, if you have to. Just don’t let that thing get me.”
“Fine,” said Allen, getting up, “I’ll just go and check my schedule.”
Lowe shifted restlessly after Allen had left and went over to the office window and looked down, down, into the streets below. He scanned the streets for the hide-a-bed. Thoughts of better times drifted out of the caverns of his mind, times before university, before high school, good times. Summertime. Comics. Sandlot ball. First kiss. Childhood dreams and childhood prayers.
Lowe’s tired mind was too occupied with such things to hear something enter the office. Something that got by the security guards of the Liggon Trust building. Something that was ready to pounce on Lowe and take him through the window of the Liggon Trust building. Something that wouldn’t give Donald Anthony Lowe; male, 24, biochemistry student the time to think of childhood prayers. But after all, when the hand of glory rocks the cradle of doom, everybody sleeps.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available