The Coffin Man

When I was a kid I had a peculiar babysitter. Her name’s Ada. She had this accent the same one used by the gypsies in this TV show I watched. She’d let me stay an hour past my bedtime, she’d let me have dessert BEFORE and AFTER dinner (whenever I finished my homework quickly), and she always had these stories to tell. Her imagination was vast and colourful. My favourite of them all was about this creepy, little fellow named the Coffin Man. She even made up a little nursery rhyme about it:

Listen closely

And listen well:

Never, ever be naughty

For he can always tell.

The Coffin Man sees you

Oh, he sees you true.

Be afraid of chains a-clinking,

Be terrified of bones rattling.

It’s the Coffin Man come walking

Pray, oh pray, it’s not you he’s visiting.

The Coffin Man wore a tattered robe with his face hidden by a mask, but the most striking feature of the Coffin Man was the huge, wooden coffin on his back bound to him by thick, iron chains. Ada said the Coffin Man roamed street after street, searching.

“Searching for what?” I always asked.

“Kids who are naughty. Kids like you,” she’d answer.

“What will he do with them?” I asked.

Ada, with her yellowed teeth and crooked nose, would wink at me and answer: “Put them in his coffin, of course. For all of eternity. Until now, the bones of the little children he took are still inside. That is why if you hear the sound of clinking chains and rattling bones…run!”