Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chapter 4 Blood in the Mortar Janet drove Abby to the house and parked in front. She got out and looked toward the front door. She heard Abby get out and shut her door. “Flame thrower,” said Abby. “Huh?” “Flame thrower. That’s what you’ll need for this lawn.” “It needs some work. It will be easier in the winter when everything is dormant and the leaves have fallen. Then you can see the flower beds.” “Flower beds? Where?” “Here’s one,” said Janet. Abby walked over to her and Janet lifted a sheave of weeds. She tapped a stone with her toe. “Jesus,” said Abby. “Two flame throwers and a plow.” Janet laughed. “I can see your eyes lighting up,” Janet said. “You already know where the roses go.” “We love dirt don’t we?” said Abby. “But this is huge. If you’re going to flip this house, you’ll have to hire lawn guys. You and I couldn’t fix this lawn in two years.” Janet shrugged. “How about the inside?” asked Abby. “I have a key,” said Janet. As they went up the steps, Janet wondered if Abby dressed the house the way she did when she first entered. Would she imagine the people, the furniture, the maids? Would she imagine the man? Would he wink? The door opened with a rusty creak. “Probably need a gallon of 3 in 1 oil,” said Abby. Janet let Abby lead the way, waiting to hear what she saw. “This room could use a skylight or something in the center. But what an awesome fireplace,” Abby said. The house groaned. “Jesus, that’s creepy. You sure this place isn’t haunted?” Janet saw the smile on Abby’s face. “Just old,” said Janet. Behind the fireplace, looking out through a hole, Daniel watched the two women. When the house shifted, he looked upward. “Both of them?” he whispered. He turned back and watched them move to the side. The woman named Janet held a small box that shot a red beam across the room while the other wrote down the numbers Janet spoke. Daniel knew they were measuring the house. Janet would be able to tell there were hidden passages. Would she tell the other woman? Daniel turned and walked down the hall that ran behind the fireplace, into the small room where Lenoir sat, and over to a panel on the wall. He opened it up and turned the main switch off. The house went dark. Janet and Abby froze when the few lights that had been lit went out. The light from the windows, although muted, provided enough for them to see. Janet looked over at Abby. Abby shrugged “What happened?” she asked. “I don’t know. I was looking for the power panel last time I was here but I never found it.” Janet considered telling her what she had found but decided not to mention it yet. Maybe later. “Should we go? Call someone?” asked Abby. Janet wanted to finish the measurements but she also wasn’t sure. “Let’s finish the measurements. It’s not that dark in here.” “I’d check the wiring before I bought this place,” Abby said. “I will. Now let’s go to the dining room.” Daniel waited until they were in the dining room then slipped out into the library through the sliding door. He took his tool box which included a hammer, just in case. He slipped quietly through the main room to the front door. He slammed it shut, then walked loudly across the floor. Janet and Abby turned quickly when they heard the door. They watched the doorway to the main room and waited. “Anybody here?” the heard. “I’m in here. It’s Janet,” Janet said. She saw the repairman walk through the door carrying a tool box. It was the same man that she met earlier. “Oh, it’s you,” Daniel said. He smiled to ease the two women. “Hi. I thought I’d take advantage of your offer to look around some more.” “I see. By the way, my name is Daniel.” Daniel stuck out his hand and shook Janet’s. “I’m Abby, Janet’s friend.” “Pleasure to meet you both. Sorry about the lights. I’m doing some work on the power so I had it shut off. Maybe you should come back another day.” “If we’re not in the way, we can see well enough.” Daniel set down his tool box and put his hand around the hammer. He paused for a moment then stood, leaving the hammer in the box. “Well just be careful where you step. I’ll be in the kitchen.” “We will. Thank you.” Janet watched Daniel go into the kitchen then turned back to Abby. “I met him when I was in here this morning. I was looking for the power box and he came up behind me. Scared the hell out of me.” “He seems like a nice old man.” “Let’s get these measurement’s finished.” “Wait here a second. Maybe he can tell me about the wiring,” said Janet. “Fine. I’ll get the rest of this room,” said Abby. Abby watched Janet go through the swinging door. She turned back toward the door to the main room to continue with the measurements. She placed the laser on the wall and pointed it across the room. She steadied it and looked at the number. She slipped the laser in her pocket and took the pencil from behind her ear and wrote the number on the pad attached to the clipboard. She heard a sound from behind her and through the door. She looked up from the pad and looked around the dining room. Shadows in the empty room, created by the dull light from the windows, gave it more of a funeral parlor look than the dining room Janet described. Abby turned toward the sound that had grabbed her attention and went through the door into the main room. She stood in the doorway looking at the room that appeared even darker than the dining room. She tried to imagine it at the height of its use but when she did, it became darker. The room filled with women, a lot of women but they weren’t engaged in conversation, they each stood alone with their heads hung down and shoulders slumped as they faced the fireplace. Their hair hid their faces and they appeared vacant of any animation other than standing. The clothes they wore hung from them wrinkled and loose. A few had no clothes at all and their white skin stained and streaked with dirt. Abby couldn’t help herself. She walked toward them then in between them looking for any that acknowledged her presence. Janet entered the kitchen looking for Daniel. Just one quick question about the electrical panel and then she could finish the measurements. Daniel was not in there so she continued into the back hall. “Daniel?” She didn’t see him in there. She looked up and saw a shadow crossing from the upper stair landing. He must have gone upstairs. Janet went up the stairs to the hallway. It was much darker up here. Only the light from the ends of the hallway provided illumination. She saw Daniel go into the first bedroom on the right, the master bedroom. Janet pushed open the door and felt a flow of heat and the aroma of a fire. She saw the flickering light from the fireplace. A large bearskin rug lay on the floor. Across the room was a king size bed with a black twisted iron headboard and covered by a quilt. On the edge of the bed, one leg cocked and on the bed, the other on the floor, sat Daniel. But it wasn’t Daniel. It was the man from the main room, the man from the stairwell. He sat silently with a friendly grin and his sparkling blue eyes. His long hair parted in the middle fell smoothly across his shoulders and reflected the light from the fire. He was wearing a jacket over a white shirt that had the two top buttons undone. Janet stood silently looking at him but noticing her heart beat increase. She could see how his shoulders filled his jacket and his chest pushed against the shirt and jacket. She smiled. “Hello, Janet. How are you?” His smooth voice washed over her like a fuzzy blanket. “Who are you?” she asked. “I’m Daniel,” he said. He stood from the bed. “Come on in,” he said. “Daniel is the name of the repairman.” “It is. Do names matter so much?” “No.” Janet took a timid step into the room. Daniel walked over to her and stood within inches of her. Janet had to tilt her head back to look up into his face. She could see the darker area of whiskers just shaved. The sweet aroma of white ginger lily came off of him. She felt his hand, soft, on her cheek and she closed her eyes. His fingers gathered her hair and moved it behind her ear. His finger traced the outline of it slowly and she allowed the tingle to race through her. Her mouth felt dry and her lips like cardboard. She wet them with the tip of her tongue. She felt his lips land lightly on hers. They stayed there without moving. She couldn’t help herself. She went up on her tiptoes and pressed against lips. She parted hers and reached up behind his head to pull him in. He joined her in the passion. She felt the electricity race through her reawakening her lust. Her tongue ventured out to touch his lips and then she found his, smooth, wet, teasing. She moved her hands to his shoulders to feel the muscles, hardened as he puled her tight. His chest pressed into her, hard but meshing well with her. She pushed her hips into him. She wanted to feel him respond as her hand dropped to his lower back. Abby walked silently between the women. There had to be more than fifty, more than a hundred. They were every size, every shape, every age from six to sixty. She couldn’t help to notice the matted filthy hair, the crumbs of dirt on them, and their silence. Abby could feel her heart pounding against her chest. Why she didn’t just run from the scene, she didn’t know. Abby bent down to look up into some of their faces. Their eyes were open but blank. She snapped her fingers in their faces and got no response. She turned and looked at the fireplace. Why were they all facing that way? She saw noting but an empty stone hearth and mantle. She looked up at the balcony. A cold hand grabbed her wrist. Abby turned quickly. A young girl in dirty pajamas and a filthy ragged teddy bear stood there looking at Abby. Abby could see the tears in her eyes. “Be careful,” the little girl said. Abby looked down at her. Be careful? “Who are you sweetie? Are you okay?” Abby asked her. “Be careful,” she repeated. “Be careful of what?”

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