She loved her little doll and would take it everywhere she went, it never left her side. It was a misshapen, ugly thing, the head bald in patches, one eye was half closed and the frilly white dress was motheaten and threadbare. No matter how many times her mother would suggest she needed a new doll, her stubborn daughter would never let it go. Mother hated it, hated the way it would glare at her at the dinner table, the way it leered at her with that perverse smile. Things weren’t the same since it had been unearthed from the roots of the old tree in the garden. Several times she tried to prize it from the child’s grasp as she slept, but it’d be gripped it all the tighter and, still sleeping, she’d spout vile obscenities. She protected and loved her little friend as a mother would a real baby. When bedtime came she’d snuggle up tightly with it, singing it a lullaby before falling asleep. That’s when she’d wake up screaming and crying. Her mother was always there when she woke. She would stroke her daughter’s hair and tell her she was safe now. Then she’d clean the bite marks and wipe away the blood from the little doll’s mouth,
“Why do you let her do this to you honey?” she’d ask with tears in her eyes.
“A mommy has to feed her baby, even if it hurts”.
Robert the Cursed Doll.
In the late 1800s, Thomas Otto and his family moved in to a mansion at the corner of Eaton and Simonton streets in Key West, Floridanow known as the Artist House. The Ottos were known to be stern with their servants sometimes even mistreating them. It was the treatment of one such Haitian servant that provides a twist in this story. This woman was hired to take care of their son Robert. One day, Mrs. Otto supposedly witnessed her practicing black magic in their backyard and fired her.Before she left, the woman gave Robert a life-like doll which stood 3ft tall, button for eyes, human hair (believed to be Robert’s) and filled with straw. Dolls that resembled children were not unheard of during this time, but this one proved to be special. Robert named the doll after himself and often dressed it in his clothes. Robert the doll became his trustworthy companion. He took it with him on shopping trips in to town. The doll had a seat at the dinner table where Robert would sneak it bites of food when his parents weren’t looking. Robert would even be tucked in to bed with the boy at night. Soon this innocent relationship took on a strange nature.Soon after, Robert chose to be referred to as his middle name Gene after being scolding by his Mother. He told her the doll’s name was Robert, not his. Gene was often heard in his toy room having conversations with Robert. Gene would say something in his childish manner and response could be heard in a much lower voice. Sometimes Gene would become very agitated, worrying the servants and his mother. She would on occasion burst in to find her son cowering in a corner while Robert sat perched in a chair or on the bed glaring at him. This was to be only the beginning.