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When I was five-years-old I had an imaginary friend. My father and I lived in a small house in the woods of West Virginia and didn’t have any neighbors with kids. There were only two other houses near ours and they were inhabited by elderly couples. My father wasn’t a very nice man and I never knew my mother.


I used to play in the backyard with sticks and a toy fire truck. My father didn’t have a lot of money so he never bought me new toys. He spent all of his money on alcohol. I can still smell his breath sometimes when I think about him.

I was playing with my fire truck the day I met Tim. I pushed the truck down the little dirt path behind our house and stopped a few feet short of the shack that sat out back. I was always scared of that shack but on that day I decided to go inside.

I entered the shack and it smelled of urine and rotten meat. The floor was littered with empty cans of soup and bottles of alcohol. There was a couch in the center of the room that had red stains on it. A belt hung on the wall across from me and a broken mirror to the right.

I walked through the room and looked into the bathroom on my right. The toilet was badly cracked and the wall that used to hold a sink was bare. My throat tightened and I was about leave when I heard him speak for the first time.

“Are you here to play with me?”

I turned to the only other room in the shack and looked for the source of the voice. I stepped into the small room and saw the boy sitting on the ground next to a broken window. His hair was black and matted to his forehead. He was naked other than a pair of white underwear that was grossly stained. I could see bruises on his arms and scars on his back.

“Hi,” I said.

“Wanna play?” the boy said.

“Sure?”

I sat down in front of him and pushed the truck to him. His odor was strong. He was sitting in his own feces and piss.

“I’m Tim,” he said.

“I’m Alex.”

I went and saw Tim every day that I could. We played with my truck and he seemed happy. I never asked him why he was there, I was just glad that he was. I didn’t have any friends so I was glad to have someone even if he smelled bad and scared me a little.

Tim changed every few months during that year. A few times he insisted his name wasn’t Tim. For a while he had blonde hair like me and his bruises disappeared. After a few weeks the bruises came back though. He changed back to having black hair eventually and I was happy about that. When he had blonde hair he wasn’t as fun.

Your imaginary friends never are the same are they? They are just your imagination on any particular day. I couldn’t create the same person forever. Eventually Tim told me his name was Blake. I didn’t like Blake so I was glad when he was gone.

After Blake left the shack was empty. I checked a few times each week for a month or two before finally giving up. My friend was gone. I was alone again.

My grandparents came and picked me up from home one day after that. I never saw my father again. My grandparents told me he had told them to take care of me. My grandparents raised me as their own son and my life improved greatly. They had many neighbors with kids for me to play with and I made many friends throughout the years.

I never forgot Tim though.

It’s been thirty years since my grandparents took me in. My son, Alan, has an imaginary friend now too. He calls him Tommy. Timmy and Tommy. Like father, like son.

“Dad, Pap and Meemaw are here!” I heard my son scream from the downstairs living room. He’s four-years-old today.

I’ve always been curious of where my father had gone and I’m not sure why it took so long for me to look him up but it did. I searched his name and a few newspaper articles popped up from local papers. My eyes burned in the light from the computer monitor as I stared with intense purpose. I don’t remember much about my childhood just bits and pieces here and there. And Tim, I remember Tim.

The articles were about a man charged with the kidnapping of four boys and the murder of three. The photo below the headline was of my father. There was a second photo to his left of the shack behind our old house. Halfway through the article were three photographs of the missing boys and I recognized them immediately. They were all of Tim. Well, I guess, they were of Tim, Blake and Roger (the other name he had tried giving me). I got dizzy and felt like I was going to throw up. I read further and tears rolled from my cheeks.

The fourth boy was never found, the article said. His parent’s called off the search after three years. He was taken on his fourth birthday. Below the article was the fourth child’s picture. Blonde hair like Blake’s, like mine.

The photo was of me.

The date on the article was from three days ago. The man had escaped from the local penitentiary after being locked away for twenty-seven years of his life sentence.

I heard the door downstairs slam. I ran to the window and watched as a black car with tinted windows and no license plate sped from my driveway. I bolted downstairs almost tripping over my feet.

“Alan!”

I reached the bottom of the stairs and fell to my knees. I grabbed my phone from my pocket and tried to remember the numbers to 9-1-1. I crumpled over in defeat and tried to catch my breath.

The last thing I remember before the cops arrived was the faint smell of alcohol.


Credits to: Suspense304

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