The Hall

Let me explain the layout of the apartment that Rob and I grew up in on west 12th. It was on the third floor, so not a bad climb up the steps. There were four apartments per floor and by today’s standards they were pretty large.

When you opened the door to the apartment. You were met by a long,narrow hall. To a young child, the hall appeared to be endless, with a distant light at the end , which was the living room.

All other rooms were positioned on the left side of the endless hall, to the right was just wall… The wall that separated you from the apartment “next door”. As You began the long journey down the hall the first room you came to on the left side was a dining room. It was a dining room until my brother Robert entered the scene. Then it became my room, as Rob replaced me in the small bedroom next to Mom and Dads.

Continuing your journey down the hall you came to the kitchen. Small ,but very functional with plenty of room for a small kitchen table. There was one window overlooking a narrow alleyway that separated our building from
another apartment building.

Leaving the kitchen you would next come to Mom and Dads bedroom , and walking through their room, you would arrive in a small attached room that served as my bedroom ,and now , Robs.

Making your way back to the hall, you turned left and arrived in the living room. This is the room you first got a slight glimpse of when you first entered the front door, about two miles back.

The living room was actually two rooms separated by a partition that could be opened and closed. When closed , the second half of the room served as our Aunt Fil’s bedroom. Aunt Fill lived with us until she married Uncle Jim , a few years down the road.

The other half of the room was the living room: sofa, TV etc. There was a nice sized window in the living room that looked out on to west 12 st. The sign for the Beatrice Inn met your gaze right across the street. More about that window down the road.

It was a wonderful apartment with plenty of good memories, but….. That hall… That damned hall.

I was never what one could consider a brave child, one could honestly say I was afraid of my own shadow. And, when I was “transferred ” to the room at the end of the hall, fear took on a brand new face. The face of that hall. I had the good fortune of having rather vivid, terrifying nightmares, and, as with most kids I would run to Mom and Dad’s room for comfort and protection from all the things that were so real in my dreams. Well, when I was In the small bedroom attached to my parents room, I could make it to their bed in three long strides and one loud scream. But now? I was at the end of that damned ,dark hall. No more quick help, no more three fast strides and safely in their bed. No, now I had to travel down the hall. Many times the prospect of that terrifying journey was worse than my nightmare , but No way I could stay in my room alone after one of those dreams. My only hope of survival was a terrifying dash down the hell hall.

Every room I had to pass on the left became the lair of the many horrible creatures that inhabited my dreams.I just knew that as I passed one of those dark , ominous rooms a skeletal hand would reach out and pull into God knows what. So, I ran, and screamed and banged into the walls on both sides of the hall because my eyes were obviously closed.

It’s a wonder Dad ever got any sleep , I had a lot of nightmares..resulting in a lot of screaming dashes down the hall.

I hated that hall.

Don Ortolano

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