I awoke to the sound of feet in the hallway, probably just one of my family members going to the bathroom. My shoulder was scratching something fierce, although I couldn't figure out why. I attempted to examine it, but there was absolutely no light coming into my room from the window. It was pitch dark outside.
That was it! The darkness, the itching... It all made sense as my memory of the night's events came flooding back as the haze of sleepiness faded away.
After I bungled the entire Halloween pageant, Jem and I had walked home in the dark. I had left my shoes behind, but the school was locked up so by then it had been too late. In the very same black night I was sitting in now, I had tripped on a tree root. The chicken wire of my ham had crushed in on itself and scratched me up good. I had bled a little, and now as I lay in the warm darkness of my bed, it was scabbed up and itching.
I suddenly remembered why I had been awakened at such an ungodly hour by another scuffle of feet, this time accompanied by a muffled voice. It sounded like two people, like one of them had been gagged and was trying to say something. I nearly jumped and fell off my bed when my door opened up a crack, revealing an eye. Well, Jem's eye. When he saw that I was awake and noticing all the commotion, he brought his finger to his lips, noiselessly signaling me to stay quiet. He eased the door shut, and I could barely hear him as he padded down the hallway in the darkness. I didn't know what to do, heck, I didn't even know what was going on. So I just sat there. Waiting to see what was happening, wondering what was going to happen. I had no idea what it possibly could be, but at this time of night it could be anything. I supposed it might've been time to worry because Jem wasn't back yet, but I hadn't heard anything new. Just a few creaks on the floorboards directly outside my room, but those had to be Jem because he hadn't really moved. No, I told myself, Jem would come back. Why wouldn't he? I'm just getting myself worked up.
A minute passed. There were a few more creaks and groans from the floorboards, each one progressively fainter than the last. It sounded as if he was moving slowly down the hall, inching along like a turtle. Five minutes, I heard a small gasp. The creaks lead back to my room, and he swiftly opened the door, entering in the same motion. He had gone pale, and I could tell something was wrong from the terror in his eyes.
"Cal." He whispered. I was very confused.
"He's got her. Bob Ewell Scout, he's in our house and he has Cal. He must have taken her from her house. Why would he even know where she lived?" He said. It was obviously time to panic. I froze in my spot, not sure what to do. I was tired, the wheels in my head weren't exactly turning.
"Should we get Atticus?" I asked in a panicked, hushed voice. He contemplated.
"I don't see what else we could do. Stay here. Don't move, be quiet. Don't even breathe. Breathe, and you could be dead." He warned me. I almost brought up the fact that if I didn't breathe I would surely die, but now didn't really seem like the time. I nodded. He left the room on tiptoe, holding his breath.
I supposed Atticus's door was already open, because I didn't hear any squeaky hinges. I said a silent prayer, for Cal and for all of us. There were a few moments of silence. My guess was that Jem was having a hard time waking Atticus up, he slept like a log sometimes. Finally, there was a groan of complaint from the rusty springs of a mattress.
I heard a wild, raspy snicker from the living room. He must've known we were all awake. With the exception of Aunt Alexandra. From down the hall in Atticus's room, I could make out a hushed conversation comprised mostly of What's, Are You Sure's, and Son speak up I can't make out a word you're saying's. Guessing that Jem had gotten the point across, Two pairs of feet progressed down the hall. Jem came into my room, Atticus kept walking. I looked to my brother for an explanation.
"He doesn't anybody to get hurt, so he's goin' in alone." Jem said defeatedly. It didn't reassure me at all, but we didn't have any choice but to wait. An extreme tension filled the entire room, and the pressure became so great I thought my door and windows might burst open at any second. It sounded like there was talking down the hall, but not any sort of casual conversation. The words seemed angry, and from one half slurred. My breath caught in my chest; Mr. Ewell sounded drunk. I wasn't really surprised.
"Bob, put the gun DOWN." Atticus growled from the living room. I looked at Jem, my eyes wide with fear.
"Jem…" I whined.
"Scout, shut your trap. We have to stay quiet or he might come in here."
"But… Atticus is… A gun…" I mumbled, my words sticking and tripping over each other. I felt my face going red, I was flushed with fear. It was a small wonder that I wasn't crying, because we had feared since the trial that Mr. Ewell would be coming after Atticus.
"Scout, pull yourself together." Jem scolded. He saw that I was on the verge of tears. "If you start blubbering now, it could turn this bad for everyone." Jem continued. I could hear a woman crying, a horrible choking sound.
"You's willin' ter let this darky die for yah, Finch? Huh? Not so hiiiiigh and mighty now, where's your 'equality' and effort now, huh?" Bob slurred. He was threatening Cal now?
"CALPURNIA!" I screamed, pushing out of my room and through the hall. My judgment went out the window as I ran into the living room, ran to the maid who had practically been my mother. When I entered the room, she was in front of the open window. A cool breeze was wafting in. Her eyes were wide with panic, and a wad of cloth was stuffed into her mouth. Her hands and feet were tied together with messy yet strong knots. I had stopped in the doorway at the sight of this, and began to run to her.
At that moment, things began to go in slow motion and several things happened at once. Atticus, who was pressed against the outer wall, lunged and grabbed me. Jem had run in behind me, also trying to stop me. Through the tears that were now freely flowing, I turned to see Mr. Ewell raise a large gun, swaying drunkenly. He pulled the trigger. I shut my eyes as a horrible bang rang through what felt like the entire neighborhood.
A curious thing happened next. I heard no scream, at least not at first. What I heard before that was shattering glass. What I heard next was a scream, but it was not a female scream; not the scream from Cal I had expected. My father didn't scream, and Jem didn't scream. I opened my eyes.
He had missed. With all of his unsteadiness, the bullet had gone past Calpurnia's head. It had gone out the window, and straight into a window of the Radley house. That was the shattering glass, the scream was from whoever had been near the window; presumably Mr. Nathan. A cloud of blackness filled the room, causing me to cough and sputter. My eyes watered, stinging with whatever it was that was in the air. I looked over to where Mr. Ewell had been standing and saw the answer. With the force of the gunshot, he had been blown back into the fire. We hadn't had one burning in a while, but there was a mighty large pile of ashes piled in the fireplace. But there was something wrong, his eyes seemed dull. He was laying back into the hearth at an odd angle. I turned in Atticus's arms to face him, my face showing the question. Atticus took a brief moment to look at me, then turned to Jem.
"Take your sister back to her room. You stay there too. I need to sort all of this out." He said. He placed me down and patted my shoulder, sending me over to my brother. I cast one more longing glance over my shoulder, but Jem stopped me a pulled me out of the room.
"Come on Scout, let's go back to bed. It's still dark out, and you don't want Aunt Alexandra to scold us in the morning for falling asleep in our grits at the breakfast table." And so we walked.
Of course, we were both too anxious to even consider going back to sleep. Instead, we listened intently through the crack in my door. There wasn't much to hear, just Atticus helping Cal and apologizing. They talked briefly, but it was so hushed that neither Jem nor I could make it out. We didn't hear Calpurnia leave at any point, and my guess was that Atticus let her stay the rest of the night. Not much point in her going home now, not after she was almost killed and most likely beaten. Atticus made some phone calls. That was that. The house finally fell silent, and I slowly dozed off while leaning on the door. As sleep's heaviness began to settle upon me, I could feel Jem lift me up into my bed and pull my blanket over me.
The sun was high in the sky when we were awoken by Aunt Alexandra. More accurately, by her scream. Funny, I hadn't noticed it at the time, but she had slept through everything. Needless to say, the scene she saw in the living room surprised her. There was still quite a mess on the rug from the ashes, but that wasn't what she was hollering about.
Bob Ewell was dead. That, I figured out, was the reason his eyes looked so… Well, dead. When he had fallen into the fire, he knocked over the small rack of tending tools. Namely, the fire poker. He had fallen onto the small metal spear and impaled his lung. Doc says he died within a minute. It was a terrible thing to have witnessed, but I suppose I only witnessed it halfway. I had heard what caused it and seen the aftermath, but nothing in between. If this case had been somehow taken to court, I would've been useless. Regardless of whether I actually saw a man die or not, there was still a dead body in my living room. The doctor had covered him with a sheet, probably wile I was asleep. He was to remain there until the hearse arrived, because after all there was nowhere else to put him.
It got me thinking, what happened that night. There was a person, an actual human being, laying dead as a doornail in my house. Yet I felt no sympathy for him, not an ounce of sadness at all. I consider myself to be a well adjusted person, and most well adjusted people become sad when someone dies, even if it's a total stranger. But this man, this monster, this… father. I can honestly say that the only pity I felt was for his children, for Mayella. What was to become of them now? It wasn't as if they had any other family, or even friendly acquaintances. Because of his behavior, Mr. Ewell had completely alienated himself- from any neighbors, the town, even his own family. The entire Ewell group was just sort of swept under the rug and left alone, a problem for someone else to deal with. Now they truly had nothing. The worst part was that nobody seemed to care.
Cal had indeed stayed the night, and I entered the kitchen to find her fast asleep under a blanket in a rocking chair. Her left eye was mighty swollen, her lip was cut, and she had a number of scratches on her face. I could almost imagine how each one had happened, Mr. Ewell throwing her down into the gravel outside while grabbing her arms to tie her up. She wouldn't have been able to break her fall. That was another thing that I hadn't noticed last night. The main things that stood out in my memory were the sounds. Put the gun down, me screaming, the gunshot, the shattering glass, the scream.
Hold on… The shattering glass and the scream. The shattered window of the Radley house littered the side yard and glinted in the ironically cheery sunlight. Inside the house, everything was dark. I saw no outline at the window, no figures moving about in shadow. The entire property was permeated with a sense of stillness that I could feel even from my kitchen. Someone else in there had been injured last night.
For the past few months, Jem and I had had only one reason to believe that Boo was still in the house, still chained up in the basement or lurking just out of sight- we hadn't seen him carried out yet. Even then we weren't so sure, because of all the rumors spread about the poor man. In truth, none of us had ever seen him or heard him. He seemed himself a myth, one that was just happy to stay where it was and not do anything, thank you very much. But still, we had our doubts. If he was said to leave the house at night every full moon, then who was to say he hadn't run away to live in the woods?
That morning, all doubt was wiped away. Mr. Nathan was standing on the decrepit porch, holding the door open. Boo-no, Arthur- had to have been in there the entire time. If he hadn't been in there, there wouldn't have ever been anyone to give the white sheet being carried out a shape.