Illustration by Dan Krovatin

he yellowed letter turned up among my father's effects, its crude penmanship reviving a chill I was certain I'd shaken years ago. Harsh memories unexpectedly flooded back of a dark river that had crested in my heart and threatened me as a child with unimaginable evil. The envelope was postmarked October 10, 1948, and mailed with a three-cent commemorative red stamp honoring Clara Barton. It had arrived in our mailbox all those years ago, misspellings and all. Even at age eight I had known where the double n fit in Cincinnati.
    “I seen you,” I read in the now faded ink before the poison letter dropped from my hands.
    My father had chased him down the alley, out of view from my bedroom window where I stood trembling. He had made his way into our cellar that last time. Through the coal chute, my father suspected, which might explain why his eyes and teeth were about all I had seen in the darkness as he spoke to me in the


Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

March 1995