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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1772866
Short scary story about the power of will.
Jonah's Grin
Luis Padilla
    "You should never argue with a crazy mind you ought to know by now" Billy Joel

"Eat shit, momma" Jonah
Jonah's Grin


Jonah's bike was a Red Radio Flyer with a pull along basket and training wheels. Odd for a man well into his thirties to still need training wheels. But he did. Some say that the reason he needed them was because he suffered from an extreme case of autism. I really don’t think that’s the case.


I began working with mentally challenged adults at the relatively young age of twenty-two. By the time I turned thirty, I had opened up my own group home and called it, "Losiah's Beam.” Jonah was my very first patient and the one who had the biggest affect on my life. I can still see his cheesy grin. The grin looked super imposed on his face. The grin shouted youth while the rest of his face well, just shouted age.

I approached Jonah with my hand extended, "Hello you must be Jonah. My name is Lucas Anders welcome to my home.”

The shy man bit his lower lip as he feebly embraced my hand, "Hiya." Then he reached into his jean pocket and produced a crumbled piece of notebook paper. Jonah smoothed out the paper and nervously looked at it for a minute. Then he began to speak.

“Hello Mr. Anders, Thank you for welcoming me into your home. You can ex-..." he dropped his head in shame and said "I'm sorry."

It appeared to be a note of some sort. From the well-used crumpled look of the notebook paper, Jonah had been practicing to read it.

I held my hand out to him and said, "Oh that's okay, you don't have to read that. I'll take the note.”

The visible look of relief on his face filled my heart with joy. I smiled at him; then turned my attention to the note that was placed in my hand.

"Expect" was the word that Jonah slipped up on. The note began to get me angry as I read it. It read: "Expect me to be on my best behavior. I understand that this is your house, and that I am now under your watch. I promise not to yell in your house. I promise not to stay up too late."

I couldn’t believe that someone would write this. Let alone expect Jonah to read this out loud; how humiliating. I read on… “I will do what you ask, I promise not to cry while I sleep and I promise not to leave crap on the toilet seat.” The note was so degrading and embarrassing that I could no longer stand to read it.

I looked at him and said, "Who wrote this note Jonah?"

The man held his head low and said, “Mother, she said Jonah must read this. Yes, so that Mr. Anders knows I mean to be good." The man looked so tired and dejected. His youthful grin was all but gone.

"Well I'll tell you what Jonah; I want you to make me a promise"

"Okay Mr. Anders." His shoulders slumped. He looked like he was used to following orders.

"I want you to promise me that at my house you will have fun, fun, fun. I need you to promise me that you will never ever worry about the shit that's written on that note again.” I immediately regretted my wording. I should have never used a swear word in this man's presence. Swearing can sometimes set off those who are mentally challenged; causing them to feel intense fear. I cautiously eyed Jonah and much to my pleasure his grin was back.

He simply said, "You said shit." Upon saying the word, he began to laugh wildly. "You said shit, shiiiit, shhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

His laughter was infectious; I couldn’t help but join him. When I caught my breath I said, “Yeah I guess you’re right, I guess I did."

"You sure did. Momma told me never to swear. But I did. Sometimes I would go hide in the backyard just to swear."

“Well in that case I want you to make me another promise then.”

"Sure thing Daddy-o," Jonah said wearing that goofy grin.

"I want you to promise me that you will swear whenever you want"

This proclamation sent Jonah into another laughing fit. I, of course, had to join him. Jonah looked like a giant turtle when he laughed. Extra skin hung by his lips when he smiled.

"You’re bravo cool Mr. Anders."

And with that, we became instant friends.


Life was not always easy with Jonah under my care. His boyish charm is what endeared me to him. That boyish charm also frustrated the hell out of me. Sometimes Jonah would do things so childish. Like the time that he ran around the house dressed up like an Indian. Throwing Corn Flakes in the air in his improvised, naive, native "Pow-Wow”. But he always did it with that grin in place and that was okay by me. If his smile was spread across his face, everything was fine. But when it wasn’t, all was not well with Jonah. It was in the second month that I realized that Autism was not the only thing that made Jonah special.

One night I awoke to a loud bump. I quickly put on my bath robe and went to investigate. My hallway light was off and I could see a neon blue light coming from Jonah's room. I heard Jonah snoring; it was a rather strong snore. I began walking towards Jonah's room to shut the door when suddenly the hallway light turned on.

My heart about leapt out of my chest but no one was there. I was looking toward the one light switch for the hallway light only to find that no one was near it. Just when I was beginning to question my sanity, the light flicked back off. Then it turned on and off in a rapid fashion.

After staring at the switch for a moment I became convinced that there must have been a short in the fuse. I shrugged my shoulders and continued towards Jonah's room. When I stepped into his doorway, I noticed the strangest thing. Jonah was hovering over his bed, not only that but he was glowing in a neon blue light. And when he snored something else turned on and off.

I stood frozen in wide eyed amazement. What exactly was I witnessing right now? Perhaps in clever Irony the radio turned on and Art Bell's voice filled the room.

"In Nevada researchers are...- "The radio shut off, then turned back on. “They claim that
the salt that they found in…” The radio turned off and then came back on for the final time.
"But who knows how old those little minerals are? Let’s go to Tony in Georgia on the first time caller line.”

Jonah stirred as I left, shutting the door behind me. I never once told him about that night. I don't think that I needed to. Sometimes when we were laughing together he would get that look in his eyes. A look that said, "I thank you for not judging me."

I never once judged him but I also never really knew what he was, but I never cared. Jonah was simply amazing to be around. He was intelligent, adventures, boisterous and vivacious. Easily amused and easily tempered. He was a kid trapped in a forty year old shell and that bothered me. His childish nature is what allowed his mother to assert such an iron grip on him.

I met Jamie, Jonah’s mother only once. She called one day.

"Losiah's beam, Lucas Anders speaking."

A cold devilish voice answered on the other line, "Have you heard him snoring yet...Mr. Anders?”
I immediately knew who it was.

"What’s it to you if I did?"

"Oh don't be foolish Mr.Anders. We both know that you have. Haven't you Mr.Anders"
She enunciated her S’s in a snake like manner. She spoke with an air of authority and it was easy to see why a person like Jonah would be scared of her. That angered me.

"Have you heard him sleep-walking yet? Has he shit the toilet? Just wait and see what he does. Just wait and see what he is capable of. That boy is cursed.”

I had to interrupt. I felt as if my blood were on fire. "Listen here. What gives you the right to call here and spew your hate to me? You ought to be ashamed of your self."

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she let out a cigarette eroded laugh and said, "Right's, I have no rights.” She paused, laughed again, and said, “I signed them away and you’re the idiot who took him in."

"Whoa, if you ever speak to me about Jonah like that again I will be forced to....."

She interrupted, "Do what Mr. Anders." Her voice started as a low jeer and ended in a screechy laugh. "Anyways Mr. Anders no need to get off on the wrong foot".

I thought that it was a little bit too late for that, I hated her.

"I only called to give that damned child his bike...”

"He is a man Jamie. I suggest that you refer to him as such."

"Oh he has you wrapped around his fat little finger already doesn't he?" She was silent for a second then continued, "You’re such a fool. Be ready Mr. Anders I'm warning you. One day Jonah's going to lose that stupid grin then you’ll be sorry, very sorry indeed".

"No I have a feeling that I; unlike you, would never neglect a human being just because they lost their grin. You know what I think? I think that you’re a sorry excuse for a mother"

Her laughter interrupted me. She lowered her voice and said, “No Mr. Anders he is a horrible excuse for son."

I stood in silent horror and said, "You’re a heartless woman."

"Just meet me tomorrow at Elmhurst Park at 10:00 AM. Come alone, I don't wish to see him".

"Why would I meet you anywhere?"

"Jonah wants his bike. He wrote me a letter asking for it. I am moving soon that means no more letters and no more problems. Meet me there at 10." With that she hung up the phone.

That night I heard Jonah crying while snoring. My head felt dizzy and the room was spinning. It suddenly stopped. Two seconds later, I heard Jonah's bedroom door open. Then the toilet flushed. I lay on my bed for a moment. I fell back asleep soon after.


I arrived at the park at Ten-fifteen. Jamie stood on the grass with a beautiful Red Radio Flyer bike by her side. I waved at her. She pointed to the bike, made a rude gesture involving her middle finger, and walked away.

Jonah was excited to see his bike, but he also was a little bummed out that he did not get to see his mom. He lost his grin for a while. During that brief five minute period of time both of my Goldfish died. I, of course, had no way of knowing that at that time. I hadn’t noticed that his grin had disappeared.

He started to smile when I told him that I would take a walk with him while he rode his bike around the block. He was so easily amused, so easy to love. It's a shame that his mother was such a witch.

He rode by my side at a low level of speed. He looked so proud on that bike, dignified even. I had to admit that the Radio Flyer was one beautiful bike. It had a deep red color and the paint job was pristine. It seemed to gleam as Jonah carelessly pushed the peddles.

The only thing that was even remotely close to being wrong with the bike was the fact that it had training wheels. The training wheels were yellow and unsightly; making an irritating screech sound as he peddled along.

"Hey Jonah, how does the bike feel?" We were trekking down Webster Avenue.

"Bravo cool Lucas, watch me go".

The man let out a muffled chuckle as he sped up on his bike. I still only had too power walk in order to keep pace.

"Under the mountains and over the moon we go".

Jonah was clearly enjoying himself. His joy was written not only on his face, but also apparent in the nature surrounding him. Flowers began to bloom as he rode along merrily on the street. Bird's circled over head whistling us a cheery tune. It was utterly amazing everything was alive with Jonah's grin. I watched in awe, wondering how Jamie could ever treat this man in the manner that she had. What I was witnessing was amazing. Surely she must have seen this.

We stopped at the park and took rest on a wooden bench. I looked up at White-more hill. The day was absolutely gorgeous.

"Hey champ, you never told me that you were a world champion cyclist. That's a beautiful bike, where did you get it?"

A cool breeze swept through the air. Jonah's grin had dissipated and his old face looked sad as he explained, "Daddy gave it to me. He told me to always love it. He said this before he left me. Momma said it was my fault that he left me.” Thunder echoed over head. “She said he left because I am dumb. She said that if I could become not dumb, he might come back. But he won’t because I will forever be dumb."

My heart ached as I tried to console him. I was speechless. All the anger and rage that I felt towards Jamie had multiplied ten-fold. As caretaker to Jonah, I have access to his file. I know for a fact that his father died in combat. How could Jamie neglect to tell him that? How could she allow him to live with so much guilt?

"It’s okay buddy, you want some Ice cream?”

Jonah's red eyes seemed to clear when he saw the Ice cream truck, "Maple Walnut please." He looked at me with so much hurt in his eyes.

"Sure thing buddy, you can have whatever you want"

Jonah’s grin reappeared. It was then that I noticed that the cold chill and thunder had completely disappeared.


It went on that way for the next few weeks. Every time that Jonah grinned he radiated the world. But when he was sad, his environment became effected in a negative way. He was happiest on his bike. So I started looking for excuses to get him out riding it.

We would ride for hours. We talked about everything from popcorn to Unicorns. Always happy things, never negative. Weird things happened when Jonah's grin was gone.

One day, we were at our usual resting spot. The wooden bench at Webster Avenue’s park. The bench that over looked White-more hill. Jonah cradled a dead fly in his hand.

"Why did this fly die Lucas?"

His grin had already begun to dissipate. I immediately started to look for some sort of distraction as a cold chill swept through the afternoon's wind. Then I saw the distraction I had been so desperately looking for.

I pointed toward the top of White-more hill, "Hey look Jonah. Up there on the hill"

I watched as Jonah turned his head towards the hill. Immediately, his countenance changed. "Oh they are going down the big hill. Look Lucas that's bravo cool!"

Two teenage boys circled the top of the hill on their bikes. They wore backwards Celtic's hats. Judging by their baggy jeans and boyish features they were no older than sixteen.

"Yeah they are. Watch Jonah, look"

The boy in the front started to gather speed and the awkward teen in the back followed suit; though at a lower speed. Then the teen in the front slowed down and let the awkward teen ride past him. The awkward teen laughed and shouted out something that sounded like "Hell yeah,” as he passed the other boy.

The other teen then put the proverbial peddle to the metal and gained speed. He passed the awkward teen in a crossing pattern. "Eat shit John!" The teen shouted as he passed by. The awkward teen let out a laugh and tried to catch up. That's when I turned to look at Jonah.

His grin had stretched a mile. It looked like he tried to swallow a watermelon, width way. His smile was huge. He was glowing a neon blue light. His hands were open and the dead fly that occupied his palm started to stir. I watched in amazement as the zombie fly staggered to its feet and weaved through the air as if drunk. Then it flew out of sight, out of mind. It was gone as quickly as the wind on that cloudy April day.

Jonah hovered about three inches off the ground. "Ha-Ha! Lucas did you see that kid go fast? Oh very, very fast. He circled on his bike then he said 'Eat shit.' Oh my Jonah wants to do this...Jonah needs to do this..."

I was scared; Jonah would not come out of this grinning fit. The boy jerked in the air and screamed. "Jonah NEEDS TO...” Suddenly he started to cough violently.

"Jonah needs to... Do..." He was struggling to speak in between coughs.

"Stop Jonah, don't speak. Just relax"

The neon blue light began to flick on and off. “Jonah ....Need's...To...Do...This.” He twisted and turned in the air. Then he let out a huge gasp of air. Suddenly everything stopped; the levitation and the blue light.

Jonah turned and looked at me with that goofy grin on his face. "Can we have some maple walnut please?"

I exhaled a breath I didn’t even know I had been holding, and quickly regained composure. "Yes of course. You lead the way champ.”

"Aye, Aye, Popeye. You’re Bravo cool.”

He peddled ahead towards the ice cream truck. My eyes looked down to where he had been levitating. It was completely barren. There was zero evidence of grass, hell not even soil; just dirt.

He looked back toward me and asked, "Are you coming Lucas?"

"Sure thing," I said. I shook my head and followed Jonah to the truck.

That was the day I saw the true power that Jonah possessed. Not only did he have the ability to resurrect a fly; he also had the ability to destroy. That image of the barren spot of dirt will forever be burned in my mind as a reminder that Jonah was special, really special.


As scary as that afternoon was, it pales in comparison to what happened the following month. The weeks leading up to that day had been wonderful. But the nights were intense. The crying while he slept became more frequent.

By the middle of May, little bits of feces began to stain the toilet seat. But his grin remained. Well that was the case until that old topic of his bike was brought up. Then he lost his grin and so did I.

Jonah was on the couch watching as Tom chased Jerry around the table with a frying pan.

"Hey champ, do me a favor get your bike and met me in the garage. I have a surprise for you.”

Jonah hopped off the couch with his grin firmly in place. "Sure thing Daddy-o.” He ran towards his room, stumbling as he went. I had been thinking about taking off the training wheels for quite some time. And today was a perfect time to get that accomplished. Jonah came into the garage, grinning ear to ear, pushing his beautiful Red Radio Flyer. That's how I like to remember him, because what happened next makes me shudder; to this day.

"Hey champ!”

"Hey Lucas, what’s up Doc?"

"Not much, do you know what a screw driver looks like?"

"Flatly or squiggly?” The man said asked with such certainty that I was taken aback. It took me a second and then I understood.

"Oh, I'll take the squiggly one"

"Ookie dookie." He walked to my tool box and effortlessly produced my Phillips head screw driver.

He handed me the tool with an inquisitive look on his face. He saw his bike on my desk. "What are you doing Lucas?"

"Well, remember how you said that you wish you could go a little bit faster on your bike?"

"Yeah…” He said with his grin still in place. I turned the bike upside down, aimed the screwdriver for the screws that held the training wheels on.

"Well I figured out a way that you can.”

Jonah looked at me with boyish wonder, “You did Lucas?”

"Uh-huh it’s really easy Jonah. All I have to do is take this here Phillips head...”

"Oh you mean the squiggly?"

"Oh yes, the squiggly." He smiled and so did I.

"I take the squiggly and place them here on the screw,” I moved my hands towards the training wheel as I spoke. “Then I unscrew these, to give you more speed.”

Suddenly Jonah screamed, "NO!!" In a high pitched shriek. The screwdriver flew out of my hand, and landed on the ground with a thud. Jonah was shaking; his eyes rolling back into his head. Then a voice that was not Jonah's screamed from within.

"Don't you touch that bike," The windows broke as he spoke. "Put that bike down!"

That power behind the command sent me to the floor. The soil left behind was now on my mind. It was obvious that Jonah was in one of his destructive moods. I had to think and think fast. Jonah was standing in the corner with his head slumped and arms in front of him. He looked like Frankenstein trudging forward. Then he looked up and flashed a devilish sneer.

“I told you that you would not like him when he lost his grin. Mr.Anders"

I stared in horror as Jamie's face flashed before my eyes. I screamed and grabbed onto my ears.

Jonah let out a cry from within his body it collided at the same time with Jamie's demonic cackle.

"Jonah!” I shouted. “It's me Lucas, don't worry I am here. Can you hear me?"

"He can’t hear you now. Can you Jonah? Answer me; answer me."

Jonah's left arm shot up and grabbed a chunk of his own hair. Then he violently jerked his head up and down. Jonah, grimaced in extreme pain, but he continued to heckle like a mad man. He levitated again, only this time, considerably higher.

"Jonah if you can hear me, I need your help here.”

"Silence!" The demented voice screeched. Suddenly a gust of wind blew my garage door open. Lightning hit the tall Oak tree on my lawn with a sharp crackle it split right down the middle.

Think Lucas. I had to try to find a way out of here. Jonah was now glowing and a sharp spiral formed under his feet and it was growing by the second. I felt trapped. Even though I could run out of the garage, I couldn’t leave him alone in here with her.

"Jonah listen to me, it’s me Lucas! Fight her, you have to. Do you hear me?"

Thunder boomed. As a scared voice welled from within Jonah, "Yes Lucas, I hear you. Help me I'm trapped!"

I was violently thrown back down.

"Don't listen to him Jonah; Mommy's here."

"Pay her no mind, listen to me. I want you to be strong. Don't worry I am here and I'm not going anywhere."

The evil woman laughed, "He is mine Mr. Anders" Then she let out another growl.

"No…No, I'm not momma. I want Maple Lucas; I want Maple now."

I answered quickly, "Sure thing champ, we can go riding. You’d like that wouldn't you?"

Jonah's body violently jerked backwards. "Shut up, Shut Up, Shut UP!!" On the third 'shut up,' she violently threw herself against the wall.

Nevertheless I continued, "Then we can go to the Indian museum, we can do what ever you want."


Jonah's shoulders shot backwards and his neck twisted. Then he began to pant like a famished dog.

"That's it Jonah! Fight, Fight."

His body started to flicker. And I realized in awe that he was winning. He was regaining composure.

"That's it champ, get back your grin! Think of those kids going down the hill."

As soon as I said the word 'Hill' the room exploded in a bright beam of light. My tools flung all over the floor. My bottles of caster oil bubbled over and stained the concrete. And I noticed that the lightning had stopped.

"I told you that you wouldn't like him when he lost his grin. I'll be back…" With that, Jonah's goofy grin reappeared and birds began to chirp.


That night I laid in my bed awake unable to sleep for a fear of nightmares. Jonah had not snored yet and he only used the bathroom once. I knew he was sleeping because I had checked on him an hour earlier. He had been peacefully sleeping in his bed with his grin on his face. He looked so peaceful, so comfortable so I let him be.

I was beginning to love Jonah as a man would love his own son. I was also beginning to feel very worried for him. But most of all, I felt bad for him. His mother had complete control over him. Her chain was far reaching, enslaving him even at my house. She was an evil, despicable person. A vampire, who fed off the will of the weak; fed off his insecurity and weakness.

I have met a lot of those types in my life. It was always the same. The child almost always ended up with problems later on in life. Unless, the child grew strong enough to break the chain. There was no doubt in my mind that Jonah was a strong man. He fought valiantly today; but I also had a feeling that that fight was more of a stalemate than a win for Jonah. Sorrow pierced my heart as I thought about Jonah's situation. Oh how helpless he must feel. Sometimes I think that he only wears his grin for me.

I feel asleep with that thought. My sleep was twisted and short. I sprung out of bed as a loud bang woke me. "Jonah," I gasped. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. My eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness. I felt that something was wrong; horribly wrong. My leg was asleep; it felt like I was dragging about a piece of metal. I reached the hall way and my heart sank. The light was on and Jonah's bedroom door was wide open.

I ran to his room. Hoping that I was not too late. Hoping that he was okay. My stomach sank as I approached the door. I was positive that I would see Jamie hovering over Jonah's bed with a knife in her hand and an evil grin on her face.

But I was wrong. Jonah's room was empty. Lying on his bed was a crumbled; well handled note. I quickly picked it up and read:

Dear Jonah,
Your idiot father bought you a bike. And after much arguing he convinced me to let you keep it. But, one condition, the training wheels remain. You must never take them off. Only big boys are allowed to ride with out training wheels."

I eyed the note in silence. Then I understood. I walked to the window just in time to see Jonah peddling towards the park. His grin was gone. I would not follow. "Go Jonah, go Bravo fast.” I whispered as he disappeared down the street.


* written from the point of view of Jonah*

The hill was huge, Bravo big. But I had to climb it with my bike in hand. I have to be fast, bravo fast. I can feel mother coming. But the hill is hard to climb and my leg's hurt.

"Jonah what are you doing?" Her voice came from nowhere.

"Nothing momma… You just let me be.”

"Never!" the invisible voice screamed.

I had to hurry; I was almost out of time.

"Jonah, Jonah stop!"

"I’m not doing anything momma. Just going for a walk is all.”

"Don’t you lie to me Jonah," she was close real close. I could feel her in the air. But I couldn't stop I am almost to the top.

"Stop it, stop it, stop it now!' She screamed, making my ears hurt; they hurt real badly.

"No momma, I can’t do that.” I looked toward the bottom of the hill; it scared me. The Hill is long, Bravo long.

“Don’t you back talk me!”

Ouch! I felt a hot fire scratch my back. "Stop it momma you’re hurting me!" I sat on my bike.

"You filthy moron, you can't do that. I won’t let you. You hear me stop now!"

"No! No! No!" I scream and shake my head.

"You hurt Lucas, and Lucas is bravo cool. Your bad mommy, really bad."

She laughs, "You haven't seen the half yet boy.”

Suddenly my mother was right behind me. She shrieked and chased after me. Her fingers had turned into claws.

"Come here little boy!”

I began too pedal, but I was going to slow! She was catching up. I turned to look and she was getting closer. Her grin was huge, and her arms were outstretched. "Come to mommy" She screamed.

I peddled fast, real fast, bravo fast. My heart jumped as I began to pick up speed.

"Nooooo!" her horrible shriek made my ears ring. She dove toward me but missed. She was too late.

"Bravo!" I shrieked.

"Get back here Jonah, now!"

"Eat shit momma!" I laughed and held on tight as I went down the hill. If I looked back I would have seen her standing there melting and screaming away. But I was having too much "Fun, Fun, Fun" To even notice. Hell, I didn’t even notice my training wheels fall off as I made it to the bottom of the hill.
© Copyright 2011 LuisPadilla (iamsaye at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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