Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Chapter 3 Blood in the Mortar Janet jumped and screamed at the voice behind her. She turned quickly. She saw a man standing there holding a wooden tool box in one hand and a small saw in the other. Janet pressed up against the wall in a panic. It took her a few seconds to regain her senses. “Sorry to scare you.” Janet wiped her hand across her forehead. She could feel it trembling. The man stood there quietly. His face was wrinkled and his gray hair short around the cap he wore. He was in baggy blue coveralls. His blue eyes sparkled though he wasn’t smiling. “That’s…that’s all right.” “Are you okay? Do you need to sit?” “No. I’ll be fine. Jesus, you shouldn’t sneak up behind someone like that.” “I didn’t know who you were. The door was open. I was worried there would be vandals inside.” “Who are you?” “I’m the repair man. Juniper Realty sent me.” “I’m Janet. I looked at the house yesterday and wanted another look today. I found the door open so I came in.” “Well I see you found the rotted drywall spot. That’s what I’m here to fix.” “Oh, okay. Sorry.” “Well don’t let me interrupt you.” “No, I better be going. I’ll make an appointment to come back.” “Tell you the truth ma’am. I’ve been fixing this house for more years than I can remember. She’s a fine house. Just needs some love. The seller is highly motivated. I think you could get her cheap. She needs a woman like you to brighten her up again. Here’s a key if you want to look her over without the realtor knowing.” “Well, thank you.” “I work cheap. I can help you with her if you decide.” “That’s nice to know.” Janet smiled in spite of her still shaking knees. She turned down the hall and went through the kitchen, dining room, main room, and out. Once she made it to her car, she turned to look at the house. The paint didn’t seem as faded in the light. Lenoir sat stuck in her wheel chair in the low light of her room. She heard the footsteps going through the house. She was afraid to call out. She had called out before but when she had, a cold dead hand from the dark had grabbed her throat and cut off her air. This time though, she had heard tapping on the wall. It came from the back hallway of the house she knew so well. Then the tapping had stopped. She had heard scrapping near the hidden doorway to her room. Then she saw a beam of light shoot through where the scraping had been. She could feel her old heart skip a beat. Then the light went out for a moment. She heard a woman scream and it sent chills through her. The beam of light returned. She heard muffled voices through the wall, one she recognized. She slumped back in her chair. She waited and hoped but her hopes were dashed when the door slid open. She had to shield her eyes against the light. She recognized the silhouette, her husband. He stepped through the door and it slide silently closed behind him. Lenoir watched him walk over to her. He took a seat on a short chair and looked up into her face. “Lenoir, darling. How are you today?” “You know how I am. Old and tired. Just let me go Daniel.” “You know I won’t do that. I love you. You’re not old at all.” Daniel reached out and touched her. “That’s not love keeping me locked up in here. And you, what’s it doing to you?” “Nothing. It’s doing nothing to me.” “You’re wrong. I’d rather die than live like this.” “Don’t say that Lenoir. I love you. I couldn’t live without you.” “I’ll be dead soon. Then what?” “Don’t talk like that Lenoir. She has kept you alive. She’ll keep you alive because I love you and I love her and you love me and she loves me. I just wish you would love her.” “Love this house? The place where I’ve been held captive? You talk like the house is a living person.” She heard the beams creak. “Don’t say that Lenoir. She is alive. She keeps us alive. She keeps us young.” “Why?” “Because she loves us.” “No, because you feed the demons in her.” Daniel flashed out his hand and slapped Lenoir then jumped up quickly and hugged her. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry my love. Please don’t talk about her like that.” The room got darker and Lenoir saw shadows moving across the floor toward her. They looked like tree limbs, or hands. One crossed her ankle and Lenoir felt the cold of the dead and it ran up her leg. She felt icy fingers probing in her head and she yelled for it to let her go. “Stop it! Stop it!” said Daniel. He was looking at the walls. “I’ll bring you another soon. You saw her. I’ll get her back.” The shadows froze in place for a moment and Lenoir continued to thrash in her chair. Then the shadows retreated slowly and Lenoir quieted. “Thank you, thank you. I promise.” Lenoir shook off the terror that had seized her brain. It had taken all her energy. “I have to go fix the door now Lenoir my love.” Lenoir felt Daniel run his hand down her arm to her hand that he lifted and kissed. Lenoir saw her hand once more looked young, the spots and wrinkles gone. Daniel had also reverted to a younger time, his hair long and his face youthful. He looked up at her and winked. She could see the sparkle in his blue eyes. “I’ll be back later and we’ll make love again, right here on the floor, or in the bed if you like. I love you so.” Daniel let go of her hand and she watched as the spots and wrinkles return. She looked at his old man’s figure as he went back through the door. When it closed, she still saw the beam of light from the hole, then that too was extinguished, along with her hope. Lenoir wanted to die. She had been locked up in here for forty years by her crazed husband who had made some deal with the devil. She had heard the dying screams of women he had enticed. He sacrificed them to the house. She lived because he loved her and had spared her. Lenoir would die someday but she didn’t want to die in this house. Daniel fixed the drywall and extended the latch so the woman wouldn’t be able to find it again. She was pretty sharp though. He had watched her through the false walls. She had already caught on to the mismatched dimensions. His secret rooms wouldn’t be secret long. But there was something about her. Something different than the women he had brought here for the house. He looked at the wall that stood between him and his wife Lenoir. He loved her but she wouldn’t live forever. Could he fall in love again? This woman had quickened his pulse. She was young, strong, and beautiful. When she came back, and she would, he would give her what she wanted and more. He would find out if she could replace his love for Lenoir. He left the job on the secret passage way and went to the main room. He entered through in his tux and top hat. He pulled the tips of his hair over his shoulders. He walked among the groups of people huddled in conversation and took his spot in front of the fireplace. Janet looked at the house through the windshield of her car then completed the circle and drove back home. She was still shaking inside but the scare had already faded and her mind was returning to the house. Had she really discovered a hidden room or did she just see a space between walls? A secret room would be an incredible find. Who knew what may be hidden in there? Even if there were nothing, the value of the house would go up extraordinarily higher as people wanted to own a mystery. She could even decorate it to fit people’s imagination. And the repairman… She reached into her pocket and pulled out the key. She would get her laser measure and get the exact dimensions. Then she would know the size of any hidden compartments. She looked at her watch. It was eleven. She could meet Abby for lunch and then go back to the house for the measurements. She picked up her phone and dialed Abby’s number. Janet sat at the table across from Abby. “So what’s the latest house news,” Abby asked. “Still looking.” “What about that rancher? I thought you were off to make an offer.” “I was but…You know that big house on the hillside off Berry Road?” “You mean that two story?” “Yeah, that one. It’s for sale.” “That would be a monster project.” “I know. I don’t know if I can pull it off but I thought I should at least look at it before settling on the rancher.” “If you don’t mind, how much are they asking?” “Too much, but I think I can bring them down.” “What’s the cost to fix it up? It has to be in the tens of thousands. That place has been empty for years.” “I’m going over there after lunch to do some measurements and pricing. You want to come along? You could help me price fixing up the lawn.” “Sure, why not. We better bulk up on some salad and a couple glasses of wine first.” Janet laughed at that and waved to the waiter. It will be nice to have a second set of eyes and a lookout for repairmen.