Don’t Shelf The Elf
written by: Alisa Guttadauro
Lenny Paradiso kicked a rock in front of the old Victorian house his parents recently bought. He wasn’t thrilled about moving, especially to this old fuddy-duddy-looking town. The argument he had with his father that morning still rang in his ears. “Well, we wouldn’t have had to move if you’d get your act together!” Said his dad angrily, “This is the third school you’ve been kicked out of…and the last, because if it happens again – It’s the military academy for you next!” Lenny spit on the ground and scowled. “Lenny, for heaven’s sake, don’t spit! What will the neighbors think?” Frowned his mother as she carried in a box of knick knacks from the car. “And since you’ve nothing to do, grab some boxes and help us bring in the rest of the stuff from the car.” Lenny rolled his eyes, but followed her to the car. His mother handed him a box of Christmas decorations and warned him to be careful with them because some of them were antiques. As he quickly turned around he almost dropped the box as he walked smack into another boy around his age. “Yo, dude, what’re you doing!” He yelled. “Sorry!” Said the other teen, “My name is Charlie, I live across the street. My mom said I should come over and help.” “I don’t need any help!” Lenny hissed. Mrs. Paradiso clucked her tongue, as she came back to grab another box, “Lenny, don’t be so rude! Introduce me to your new friend.” Lenny made a face and threw up his hand, “This is Charlie from across the street, his mom said he should help.” Mrs. Paradiso smiled, “Oh how nice! If you boys can get the rest of these boxes, I’ll have some freshly baked peanut butter cookies ready in about a half hour.” Charlie’s face lit up, “That would be great, ma’am!” After his mother went in the house, Lenny snickered, “Geez, you act like you’ve never had a cookie before.” Charlie frowned, “Actually, my mom is pretty strict. She’s a health nut. Ever have a tofu cookie?” Lenny made a face, “No, sounds really gross.” Charlie replied, “It is,” as he stuck out his tongue. Lenny smirked, “Well, my parents are pretty corny, but my mom’s a great cook, so you’ll love the cookies.”
After they’d eaten a plateful of cookies, Lenny asked Charlie, “So what do you do for fun around here?” Charlie adjusted his glasses, “Hang out at the library.” Lenny almost spit out his milk, “Ugh, I knew it! I knew this place would be dullsvilles.” “Oh my, you guys certainly polished off those cookies!” Grinned Mrs. Paradiso. Charlie blushed, “They were delicious ma’am, thank you.” “You’re welcome Charlie, and you don’t have to call me ma’am. Lenny, why don’t you show Charlie your room? But first, please go up to the attic and get me there box marked, Kitchen, I think your father brought it up there by mistake.” Lenny sighed but said, “Okay.” In order to get to the attic, the boys had to go upstairs to the hallway and through a door next to Lenny’s bedroom. The door creaked loudly when Lenny opened it, and then slammed shut behind the two boys after they started up the old staircase. They both jumped and Lenny laughed, “Stupid, creepy old house!” “Yeah,” replied Charlie, “Sure is spooky, and it’s cold up here,” he shivered. Lenny picked up a flashlight his dad must have left up there and turned on the bright light, “At least we can see now.” “Wow, there’s a lot of old stuff up here, is this your folks’ stuff?” Asked Charlie. “Naw, just the few boxes with writing on them, I guess all this other stuff was left here.” The boys explored the antique items, murmuring to themselves. Suddenly, Lenny exclaimed, “What the heck is this thing?” He picked up an odd looking figure from an old wooden box marked, “DESTROY!” It looked like an old fashioned elf doll, but it had a sinister look on its face. It was dressed in typical elf fashion with a droopy hat and curled-up shoes made of velvet, the color of a dark cherry red. The only other item in the box was an old rolled-up piece of paper. Charlie came over to look at what his new friend had found and said, “Look there’s a piece of paper in the box.” He took it out, read it, and the color drained from his face. Lenny chuckled, “What, why do you look like that?” He grabbed the paper from the other boy, read it, and laughed, as he read it aloud, “Never ever shelf the elf, once he is down- You’ll see for yourself, Don’t make him angry, or he’ll make you cry, you may even be- The next one to die.” Lenny cackled as he looked at Charlie’s pale face, “You don’t really believe this crap, do you? Ouch!” Lenny dropped the doll, a small burn had formed on the inside of his hand. Charlies’s eyes bugged out as his mouth fell open, and then closed. Lenny cursed under his breath, picked up the doll and turned it around. There was a small sewn-in tag on the back of its collar. My name is Abner, was stitched on the tag. Then there was another tag on the bottom of Abner’s foot. That one read, Manufactured In Transylvania. “W-what is it?” Stammered Charlie. Lenny showed the other boy the two tags, and rubbed his hand where the burn appeared. “I-It burned you!” Gasped Charlie. “Nah, it’s probably just my allergies,” replied Lenny, “This place is full of dust! As if on cue, he started sneezing.” They both jumped when they heard the door open abruptly and Mrs. Paradiso shouted, “Are you boys okay up there?” “Yeah mom geez! We’ll be right down.” Lenny answered. Then he took Abner and threw the doll roughly back into the old wooden box and closed the lid, “Stupid piece of garbage!” He picked up the box his mom wanted, and the two boys went back downstairs.
Lenny put the box on the kitchen table and sucked in air, “What the hell is that thing doing here!” “Watch your mouth!” Admonished his mother, as she turned to see what Lenny was talking about. “Oh how cute!” She went over, picked up the antique looking elf doll from the kitchen chair and turned it over a few times. “Where did you find it?” Lenny looked at Charlie whose mouth was hanging open. Charlie shrugged and looked at his feet. “We…uh, found it up in the attic. B…but we left it up there in a box, with other old junk.” Said Lenny, feeling unnerved. Lenny’s mom looked at each boy and chuckled, “Well, it didn’t walk downstairs by itself, so you jokesters can admit you brought it down.” Charlie gave Lenny a warning look, “I-Uh, thought you might find it funny, since you like all of that old crap.” “Lenny, again, your language.” His mother frowned. Charlie spoke up, “Mrs. Paradiso, can Lenny come to my house for a little while?” The older woman looked at her watch, “Okay, but be back by dinnertime Lenny, and behave yourself. Say hello to your mother for me Charlie.”
“What the hell?” Lenny whispered to Charlie, as they crossed the street to Charlie’s house. “Maybe your dad brought it down?” Shrugged Charlie. Lenny made a face, “You saw my dad was outside working on the car, there’s no way he did it.” “Then how…?” “Hello boys,” Charlie’s mom Stella said as she put a laundry basket on the coffee table. Charlie said, “Mom, this is Lenny.” “Hi Mrs…” “You can call me Stella,” interrupted Charlie’s mother. Lenny just nodded, remembering what his mother said earlier about being polite. Then the boys raced up to Charlie’s room. After playing video games for a while, Lenny had to go back home for dinner. He punched Charlie in the arm, “Hey, you’re not so bad.” Charlie rubbed his arm, “Gee, thanks.” “Smell ya later!” Lenny laughed as he ran out of the house, and across the street to his own home. When he walked through the door, he froze in disbelief when he saw Abner sitting on the rustic fireplace mantle. He grabbed the little elf by the neck and stormed into the kitchen, “Mom!” Lenny’s mom came running down the stairs, “What is it? I was upstairs hanging curtains.” Then she smiled when she saw the little elf doll in Lenny’s hand. “Oh isn’t he adorable? I think he looks cute on top of the mantle.” “I hate it!” Scowled Lenny—“Ouch!” He dropped the doll on the floor and looked at his hand. There was a burn mark on his palm and a searing pain started. He stomped on the doll angrily. “Lenny for heaven’s sake, what are you doing?” “It…it burned me!” Replied the shocked teen. “Nonsense, that’s ridiculous, maybe there’s a pin in it or something and it pinched you.” His mom seemed to be fixated on the doll as if she was in a trance, “Now you be nice to your little brother.” “Wha…what?” Said Lenny, shocked. “Hey where is everybody, I’m getting hungry!” Lenny’s dad walked in from outside and washed the grease from the car off of his hands. Mom seems to snap out of her fog and said, “Oh, yes, I’ve made some soup and sandwiches, the soup is in the crockpot on the counter. She picked up the elf from the floor, brushed it off and said, “I’ll just put our little friend back on the mantle.” “Isn’t that a Christmas Elf dear?” Questioned dad, “It’s the middle of the summer.” Mom chuckled, “Well, we can all use a little Christmas magic all year long.” Lenny rolled his eyes and could have sworn the stupid thing smirked at him.
Lenny couldn’t sleep well that night. He kept twisting and turning. How could he sleep knowing that evil thing was sitting on the mantle downstairs. Then he almost laughed out loud at himself, “Really Lenny, you’re losing it man!” He decided to sneak downstairs and get rid of the little doll once and for all. He’d throw it in the garbage pail outside. He heard his father say earlier that the garbage man would be there tomorrow. He crept out of bed and slowly opened his bedroom door. He listened for a few moments, but didn’t hear anything so he snuck down the stairs as quietly as he could, put on gloves, for fear of being burned again, and grabbed Abner, roughly. Then he ran outside, opened the garbage can, and threw Abner in. “Have a fun time at the dump, you piece of crap!” He hissed. He slammed the lid down, made sure it was secure, and headed back into the house. He was halfway up the walk when he heard a rattling noise behind him, he started to turn around and his eyes grew big as he began to shout, “What the hell…!” Then everything went dark.
The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Paradiso came to start breakfast. “Oh my, Lenny, what did you do to your hair!” “I rather like it,” laughed Mr. Paradiso. Lenny’s once black locks were bright orangey red. He just smirked and didn’t say anything. The doorbell rang suddenly and Mr. Paradiso said he would get it. “Well hello, Charlie, what are you doing here this early?” “Lenny and I were supposed to go down to the creek to catch frogs, and he was supposed to meet me outside. You have to go early or…” Charlie noticed something on the mantle and slowly walked over to it. His mouth dropped as he stared at the elf doll. Its hair was black, but yesterday it was red, like his friend Joe’s sister’s. It had an odd expression on its face too. “What’s the matter son?” Asked Mr. Paradiso. He pointed to the doll. “Oh,” Lenny’s dad chuckled, “That old thing,” the Mrs. likes it and you know what they say, happy wife, happy life!” “Yeah but…” Charlie began, as he noticed something on the top of the wooden mantle. It was words. The words HELP ME, were scrawled out in the wood. Charlie’s eyes bugged out and just as he was about to point the words out to Lenny’s father, Lenny, suddenly appeared behind him. Mr. Paradiso said as he walked away, “I’ll go help your mom Lenny, Charlie can stay for breakfast.” Charlie’s words stuck in his throat as he tried to speak. Then the redhead hissed in his ear, “Hello Charlie, want to be friends?” Charlie’s screams were so loud, his eardrums began bleeding.
After the ambulance came to take Charlie to the hospital, and he started mumbling about an evil elf, and boys turning into elves, the attendants made a detour straight to the insane asylum, where they put Charlie in a straight jacket, for fear he would hurt someone or himself. The nurse on duty that night felt bad for the boy. Figuring he was scared and feeling alone she brought him something to keep him company. “Here you go Charlie, a little friend to keep you company, someone dropped this off at the nurse’s station, but I think you need him more than we do.” Charlie glanced at the little elf doll the nurse was holding, and started screaming again, as his sanity disappeared into the darkness…
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