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The Dollmaker (ATSSC)

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posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 08:44 PM
Sitting meekly on her small bed, Riquetta clasped her hands and folded them neatly on her lap as she waited for the sound of footsteps on the wooden stairs that would signal the eventual beating at the hands of Dr. Otto. Her English had dramatically improved since her arrival in the Otto household from her native Haiti one year ago. However, Dr. Otto’s fury erupted fiercely when she struggled with the bible verse lessons. Once per week, Dr. Otto announced that her heathen nature must be purged and made her sit in the parlor with the black leather book and read a selected verse.
At times it went smoothly and other times she could not grasp the language. Riquetta was on the verge of finding a quiet beauty in the words of the black book and a god so foreign to her. Even in her limited knowledge, she knew Dr. Otto did not follow the teachings put forth so simply and found him not worthy to speak from the book.

Her cracked and chaffed ebony-colored hands bore the stigmata of her role in the Otto house. Cooking, scrubbing, gardening and cleaning from dusk to tropical dawn. Riquetta knew when she boarded the boat in Port-Au-Prince bound for Key West, Florida that this was the trade-off for her passage. She did not anticipate the cruelty heaped upon her small body in the name of some deity she could not conjure in her mind.

The footsteps…..are coming.

The door to the attic loft bedroom opens and Dr. Otto steps in. No words spoken between them. This has become a routine of sorts. Riquetta dutifully disrobes her blouse,lays with her stomach facing the bed and bares her bird-like torso like a demented genuflection.

The leather strap whistled as it cut the air bound for Riquetta’s back.
She bites the pillow casing…blood rushing to her lips.
The strap whistles again…..blood tasting like pennies under her tongue as she bites to control the pain.
Whistling strap……her back singes with the fury of a man totally delusional in his love for a god he knows nothing about.

Dr. Otto steps out of her room and Riquetta relaxes only when the stench of him had dissipated. She resists her natural instinct to perform the chants taught to her by her mother, a high ranking mambo in Haiti. Riquetta promised herself that she would leave that world and black majic behind. They have no place in a soul aspiring for goodness. She knew that, with just a few words, she could damn Dr. Otto and his family to the extent of forever. But, once again, she resists this inclination and the voodoo teachings drummed in her from infancy.

A bright spot for her was the Otto’s six-year old child, Gene, who wanted nothing from Riquetta but to hear her lilting accent and laugh at her wide smile. A withdrawn boy who kept to himself and received about as much parental love as the dog sleeping on the doorstep. The mother, Maria Otto, seemed to physically steel herself rigidly when little Gene clamored for the slightest affection from her. Riquetta felt sorry for him and gave him small treats when nobody was looking. He loved to draw and paint so Riquetta saved a week allowance to buy him a few oil colors and paper. To see his reaction, you would have thought she gave him the moon on a silver plate.

The house itself was a Victorian style abode set upon the sandy middle of Key West itself. A mansion in comparison to the one room handmade shanty Riquetta shared with her mother and two siblings in Haiti.
When the revolution fighting erupted in her village and she saw her brother hacked to pieces in the front yard, Riquetta knew it was time to flee for a better life in America. Her mother being a highly regarded mambo, or voodoo priestess, had contacts who arranged for her to board a trade boat laden with mango to Key West. From there she would meet Dr. Otto and work for him two years in exchange for room and board.
Riquetta vaguely remembered her excitement and anticipation on the boat crossing the ocean to her new home. No more hunger, killing, a bed to sleep in, actual clothing from head to toe like the painted women she had glimpsed in the glossy pages fronting the city shops.

The first night with Dr. Otto and his family did not go well. He insisted the Riquetta strip while he examined her for disease and lice. Due to the language barrier, at first Riquetta feared he would forcibly take her physical savings for marriage but that was not the case. It appeared she repulsed Dr. Otto and the disgust dripping from his speech mannerism when speaking to her could be understood no matter what language he spoke.

That first night, Dr. Otto set about nailing a crucifix to the wall in Riquetta’s room. Having never seen such an ornament before, Riquetta touched the man adorned on the cross. The sting of Dr. Otto’s hand across cheek was unexpected and she fell from the force of it.

“Never touch the Lord with filth on your hands! Stay on your knees before him” he said.

The language difference and Dr. Otto’s psychopathic need to instill Christianity in Riquetta were the root cause of many beatings for her. The irony of it all was not lost on her.

After the bible lesson beating, Riquetta tended to the fresh wounds on her back with some herbs that she had secretly grown in the Otto’s garden. She was careful not to use any herb that may give off a smell as that would again exacerbate Dr. Otto’s ire toward her. He constantly sniffed her as though she gave off a contagious odor that may effect his orderly non-pagan household.

She pulled the covers back from the bed and gingerly lowered herself in the bed. No doubt it would be a restless night with her fresh lashings. Riquetta glanced at the man on the cross as she tried to put the throbbing pain to the recesses of her mind. She recalled the verses of the black book that the man taught of forgiveness and found them beyond her capacity. She would try…she would try this man’s way….for now.

Riquetta did not meet the morning with any renewed sense of fortitude as she expected. Her back wounds had bled and oozed onto her bed sheets which would require an extra washing along with the piles of family laundry facing her that morning. After dressing, she woke little Gene for his morning bath and breakfast. He fancied the way she made plantains with syrup and fried bread so that was what she cooked for him. After breakfast, he made his way outside to paint on the porch.


posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 08:48 PM
Maria Otto wafted into the kitchen as Riquetta rinsed the breakfast cooking pans.

“Riquetta, we’ve had a death in the family. Dr. Otto’s mother….please prepare the parlor for visitors. I’m going to tell Gene,” she said as emotionless as talking about the weather.

“Yes’ m’”, Riquetta replied.

She watched as Mrs. Otto walked outside and loomed over Gene and his painting project. After speaking quickly to Gene, his face fell and turned away from his mother. The emotional distance between them was visible and appeared it could not be bridged. Neither had the desire to even meet halfway.

Riquetta watched Mrs. Otto return to the house and retire upstairs. After she knew there were no eyes to see her, Riquetta went outside to Gene. She found him crying with his fists in his eyes.

“Gene, tell me why cry….”

“My Grandmama is dead. She played with me and gave me candy…..she talked to me about boats.,” he said through his tears.

“No cry…No cry” Riquetta had a thought .“Want to talk to her again? One time more?”

“What?” Gene looked at her puzzled through red eyes

“See her again? One time to talk to her again? I will do for you.”

“But she’s dead.”

“Yes, but one time I can get for you to talk her again….one time…again.”
Riquetta hoped she could recall the spell her mother taught her long ago for the spirit of a dead loved one to visit. She remembered it involved water, a glass under the bed, paper, a name written on it. If she thought hard enough she would remember and Gene would not cry. She had made a vow to herself not to utilize her voodoo upbringing but she just wanted him to stop crying.

“Well, yeah, I want to see her again.”

“I will do…tonight…you will see her again.”
His smile warmed her and made her forget the scabs forming on her back for a moment. In the other moments in between, she thought of the man on the cross and of……forgiveness.

The men and women in their finery paraded through the house all day paying respects for the dead mother of Dr. Otto. Hushed voices, limp hand shakes, rosewater perfume smells in the parlor. Riquetta noticed the face he wore before the people in his house was different than the one holding the whistling leather strap over her bed. One day, she thought, he will wear that face before me and all will be well. We will join in forgiveness.

After the visitors had left, Riquetta crouched scrubbing the steps when Dr. Otto burst through the back door and grabbed her arm, jerking her to her feet.

“How dare you bring your devil talk to my boy’s ears you filthy beast!” he screamed as he pulled Riquetta up the stairs to her room.

“No, no devil talk, no sir….not me!”

“Gene told me your going to help him talk to his dead grandmother…. This filth in my house will not be tolerated. This is the Lord’s house and I will not have you corrupt my child with this blasphemous nonsense!”

“No…he was sad…he cry so bad…just to stop him cry….I…..”

“Be silent!” he screamed.

They had reached the top of the stairs and he released her arm with a shove into her room.

“On your knees before the Lord!”

Riquetta’s heaving cries echoed in the room and she kneeled before the man on the cross. Dr. Otto slammed her door and she heard the lock click behind him. Riquetta stayed upon her knees until they tingled and fell numb after an hour in the same position. She knew the footsteps would be coming soon and her mind reeled with the possibility of what actions she could take to end her nightmare. She would try to remember the verses from the black book that spoke of forgiveness and recite them back to Dr. Otto. He would be proud of her and change his mind and put the same face on as he had put with the parlor guests.

Yes, she thought, the man on the cross…he loves the man on the cross who forgives. I will tell him of the forgiveness….he will change and not beat me.

She heard the footsteps…….he’s coming.

Forgiveness….the man on the cross says……the black book says so.
The footsteps……

This time he did not come alone. The boy followed behind the looming shadow of his father.

“Let me show you how we deal with heathens who do not bend to the will of the Lord, son. Take your blouse off Riquetta”

The boy’s face showed fear and contempt but Riquetta saw an emotion in his eyes after the third lashing…….resolve. He did not care that she was being beat before his eyes. Forgiveness….there is none. The love he did not receive in this house had not spared little Gene. Riquetta knew he would grow to carry on the legacy of his father. Riquetta mourned the loss of innocence even as the welts rose below her ribs.

“He’s lost to me….,” she whispered to the man on the cross.

Whistling straps…..Riquetta had trouble breathing. Her eyes failed her and then blackness.


Riquetta stripped her blood-stained, threadbare dress and sat naked on the dusty floor. Before her, she lit three candles in a half-circle. In the middle of the circle, she placed the soft straw stuffing in pile. Riquetta began her chanting as she had heard countless times in ceremonies such as these in her homeland. Her hands moved and hovered rhythmically over the straw pile.
With this act, she knew her quest for goodness was abandoned and she allowed the hate for the Otto family to spill from her mouth and infuse her chanting. The gods she invoked fed from her hate and heeded her call like an old friend in trying times. Eyes rolling back, limbs and body given up to the dark spirit filling the circle…….she felt it enter the circle and her hands guided the darkness to the straw pile.

It’s here……enter……stay. The straw rose unassisted from the floor to Riquetta’s hands…..chanting…..whistling straps…bloody mouth….hate and vengeance in every strand of straw….stay here.

Riquetta felt her body jolt forward and tighten and then…….it’s over.

Riquetta quickly wiped the sweat from her body and dressed. She retrieved her sewing supplies and cloth remnants from under her bed and set to work with no conscience. Sewing, stitching, mending, fingers bleeding from pin sticks she could not feel.

Finally, it’s time for the straw…..breathing, waiting for a home. She uses the straw to stuff the body of her creation and is careful not to leave any behind. All must go in……


posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 08:52 PM
The sun is rising and she is finished. She sets her gaze on what she has made and commands it;
“You are there…..look at me” she says forcefully. The head turns to her and she finally smiles. Forgiveness is nothing but a fantasy written by dead men in black books.

She left the house quietly before the Otto family roused in the morning. The only mark she left in the house was the hand-crafted doll with a note pinned to it saying…..”A gift…..for boy Gene.”

Over time, Gene forgot about Riquetta but he would never, to his dying day, forget or let go of the doll made for him which he named Robert…..Robert The Doll.

The End.

posted on Apr, 25 2007 @ 05:32 PM
Flowed nicely sdp333, i felt like reaching through the screen and throttling Dr Otto.
Evil dolls creep me out though, except for Chucky, hes a blast.

posted on May, 2 2007 @ 02:55 PM

Originally posted by sdp333
“You are there…..look at me” she says forcefully. The head turns to her and she finally smiles.

Nice work 333!

Loved the link at the end. I'd never heard of the Robert doll, so to go and read the background AFTER reading the story...with the names Gene and Otto popping out at gave me the CREEPS to "know" how it all got started.

$10 says that in 10 years your story will be attached to the Robert doll as FACT. will have a little debunking blurb that says "actually this history was written as a short story back in 2007 by, now wildly rich and famous author, ..."

posted on May, 2 2007 @ 03:12 PM
Thanks Ess and Mojo......

I actually spent a good chunk of my life in Key West and know about Robert and all the stories thereto fairly well. After all the years I spent there, I only went to see Robert once....once was enough.

posted on May, 14 2007 @ 07:16 AM
That was a brilliant piece of work sdp, well paced, well written, totally draws you in from the word go. Really, really good.

posted on May, 14 2007 @ 11:49 AM
You certainly have a way with imagery and dialogue. Great story. Disturbing — but great.

I now feel the need to do something cheerful. You know, like pet a puppy.

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