Cloaky places deserve applause.
Johnny did not like rooms with mirrors. He had a superstition that any mirror somehow collected his image, later to be released forensically and used in evidence against him. Johnny was a burglar and his own evidence for such a superstition was the famous occasion when an actual burglar many decades before was found inside a burgled house’s mirror just as if he were Alice trying to escape back from her nightmare into the real world. To weigh two nightmares in the balance, as that famous burglar must surely have done, he needed to turn a blind eye towards the general rule that all nightmares were equal in nightmarishness. To him, there always seemed a lesser evil, as if evil were relative. That famous burglar soon learned the error of his ways because prison in his day and age was a dreadful experience from which many of the inmates could only escape by committing suicide.
So, Johnny, once he was inside any room that he was intent on burgling, did slide and sidle with his back to the wall and then turned any mirror to face in its opposite direction by stretching out his hand to the edge of the mirror-frame so as to twirl it surreptitiously before it could capture him as its own property. Johnny did not want to become a famous burglar.
One rare day, Johnny found himself in a room with ostensibly no mirrors. He looked warily from corner to corner. Then with growing confidence, he strode into the middle of the floor where he made a few outlandish signs of contempt for Fate, then bowed to an unseen audience. He may not want to be famous, but he was a born entertainer. Silent applause was however all he ever received. He soon concentrated on the business at hand. There was no money to be had from miming to nobody.
There were oil paintings, jewellery-strewn dressing-tables, and other items that set his mouth watering. He was greedy enough to carry away more than he could carry away. And he often wished he had more than one pair of arms.
I was inside the wardrobe as Johnny rifled the room in which the wardrobe stood. The wardrobe, I knew, was the most valuable antique in the room, but being so large, he would probably miss seeing it. The door’s wood was randomly knotted with an image that if one imagined hard enough could be turned into a dark human shape. This shape went straight through to both sides of the door. I couldn’t see it, however, as it was too dark within the wardrobe where I was stationed trying hard not to breathe for fear of discovery. It was no wardrobe for any Alice or Lucy to explore as it literally led nowhere. Hard done-by children had often complained to Uncles and Aunts that this wardrobe was the most boring wardrobe they had ever encountered. Little did they know its value as an antique.
There were many cloaks and suits hanging up against me. I could sense them in the darkness. Mothballs, too, in all the various pockets. I went to hold my nose for fear of sneezing. But I could not find my nose. I could not even find things to use with which to find anything! If any sneeze could sound like ice shattering like glass, then I must have had the worst cold possible.
I heard Johnny stop in his tracks. He was evidently surrounded head and foot with undivided swag. A mound moving clumsily doorward, except it was the wrong door in his urgent haste.
A child peered out from among the cloaks and coat-hangers - and applauded.