The Sweater

January 10, 2008
By Hannah Simpson, Palatine, IL

Looking back on the breezy but beautiful October day, turned horrid nightmare, I can’t help but wonder, what if my friends and I had done or said something differently? Could we have saved Johnny from the traumatic event he experienced?
We were in Matt’s basement messing around, like always, when Johnny called telling us he had a huge surprise. It seemed as if he couldn’t contain his excitement, at least I had never seen him this energetic before. We hurriedly met him outside of the house to see what he had in store for us. To my disappoint, all he had in his hands was an orange and gray sweater. Might I add, it was an ugly, moth-balled, macaroni and cheese orange and dirt gray button down sweater; however, somehow it seemed vaguely familiar. I eyed the sweater up and down then with a look of disgust and a raise of my eyebrow I said:
“You made us come upstairs and outside to show us a sweater?”

“No, no, no! This sweater is not just a sweater! When I tell you story behind this you guys all have to promise not to freak out, okay?”

I, from the start was pretty skeptical, Johnny always was a little unpredictable. But of course we all agreed to the terms he set out for us; we knew whatever he had to tell us was sure to be quite the adventure.

“When my dad got home from the station last week he told us they had finally arrested that crazy Mr. Conaghan that lives on the other side of town. They had suspected for a while that he was the one responsible for those murders years ago. After dinner that night my brother and a few of his friends decided to go over to his house. They went through a basement window but didn’t find much except for this sweater. The one he would always be wearing outside watering his plants when we would ride by.”

Ah ha! That’s where I had seen that sweater before. Somehow, just knowing that it belonged to nasty Mr. Conaghan made the sweater seem that much more unappealing.

“Okay…so what you are saying is you have a sweater from a man that is a supposed murderer and…?” said Mara.

“Well, if you let me finish and didn’t interrupt, maybe you would understand,” I could tell Johnny was getting aggravated that none of us were paying much to him. He went on to explain that his brother had told him that after they had found the mysterious sweater each one of his friends took turns wearing it each day. Five different people wore the unfashionable clothing item on five different days and weird things started happening to all of them! The first day his brother wore it and every time he looked in the mirror or at his own reflection all he could see was Mr. Conaghan’s reflection in the sweater, staring right back at him! The next day his friend Tony wore the sweater and throughout the whole day he felt like someone was following him but every time he turned around no one was there. When Phil and Collin had their turn his brother told him they got really violent and moody, threatening to “kill” anyone that got in their way. Lastly, when J.T. wore the sweater he immediately heard a man’s voice and could not last throughout the day. All the boys said the sweater mystery was a phenomenon they could not explain; it was something you just had to experience for yourself.
This had definitely caught our attention. Was this a phony joke or did the sweater really haunt anyone who wore it? I was dying to find out.

“So what are we going to do with the sweater? If you think I’m touching that thing you are out of your mind!” said Allison.

“Fine, if you are too chicken to take part in this you don’t have to, I for one want to see what really does happen. Is anyone else with me?”

“I’m out,” chimed Mara.
“Same here!” exclaimed Allison.

“Guys, it’s up to you, Matt, Tim, are you in with me?”

“For sure, I’m down!” I said.

“I guess I’ll do it, but I doubt anything is going to happen,” said Matt.

“Okay, here’s the plan: we start tomorrow. Me first, of course, after all I am the one that has the sweater. I’ll put it on right when I wake up tomorrow morning and after I run errands for my mom and finish work, we’ll meet back here.”

“Sounds good,” I said.
“Please be careful,” was all the girls offered.
The next day seemed to move as slow as a snail; why is it that whenever you are looking forward to something it seems as if the time will never arrive? It started getting late and I began to wonder why none of us had heard from Johnny.
For the next hour we sat around in Matt’s basement questioning each other. Maybe Johnny just had to stay for another shift at work? Maybe he just forgot to come to Matt’s after work? Anything we could think of to get our minds off of the stupid sweater and what it could have potentially caused.
“Johnny should have been home from work over two hours ago, I’m really starting to get worried,” whined Mara.
“Maybe the sweater really is haunted.”
“Of course it is! What did you think, Johnny just made up the story? That’s why I refused to take part in your guys’ stupid adventure,” Allison said getting angry.
“You guys are ridiculous,” cried Matt, “how could you believe in this stupid sweater. We are all going over to Johnny’s house so I can prove this to you.”
On the way over to Johnny’s all of us started gabbing nervously about Mr. Conaghan’s sweater; arguing over whether or not we believed in the hauntings Johnny had told us the previous evening. We arrived at Johnny’s house and I anxiously rang the door bell, hoping to see Johnny’s face at the front door, disappointingly.
“Hi kids, how are you?”
“Hey Mrs. Sarron, we were just wondering if Johnny had come home recently?” I was talking so fast that my words were running into one another.
“Actually, I have not. He told me he would be going to hang out with all of you after work?”
By this time I started getting really scared. My heart raced faster and beads of sweat started dripping down my forehead. Were we supposed to tell her about the sweater and the stories behind it? Should we just leave, go back to Matt’s and wait? I suppose I took too long to answer because right then Allison started confessing everything to Mrs. Sarron who just stared back at her with disbelief. Shocked, Mrs. Sarron told us she would have to talk to her husband and she would call over to Matt’s if any new news came up and that we should do the same.
On our walk back to Matt’s, every single one of us was silent with the exception of Allison who sniffled every few seconds. No one had any idea what we to do next; we all felt helpless. How could I let this happen? I should have known from the beginning we shouldn’t have trusted anything coming from Johnny’s brother Jeff.
About one and a half blocks from Matt’s house we heard an old man call out:
“Hello children, where do you think you’re going?”
Each one of us stopped dead in our tracks. We whipped our bodies around and Allison and Mara gave out the most ear-splitting scream I had ever heard. Standing there was old Mr. Conaghan wearing the ugliest, most moth-bally, macaroni and cheese orange and dirt gray button down I had ever seen.

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