Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chapter 5 Blood in the Mortar - Janet felt Daniel break their kiss. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. He was looking over her head. She saw his brow furrow and his head tilt like he was listening but she heard nothing. He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her back slowly and carefully, breaking the connection between their bodies. Janet felt cold and pulled to reconnect. Her body was screaming to feel him, all of him but he continued to hold her off. Then he stepped around her and went out the door. For just a second, he seemed to grow old before her eyes and then the door shut behind him. Janet ran her hand down below her waist to cool the fire. Then she noticed in the dark that there was no bed, no rug, no fire. She turned and left the room. She walked down the hall using her hand against the wall for additional support. Her legs felt weak. She went to the balcony and looked down. She saw Abby facing the fireplace but her head was turned and looking down beside her. Abby waited for an answer from the little girl. She saw the girl’s eyes shift up, open wide then she dropped her head and stood like all the others. Abby looked toward where the girl had shifted gaze and saw Janet standing at the rail of the balcony above the fire place looking down at her. Abby looked back to the girl but she was gone. She looked quickly around the room and all the women had disappeared. “There you are,” said Abby. She looked once more around the empty room and began to question what she had seen. It was just an overactive imagination spurred by the dull light. “I was looking for the repairman. I must have missed him.” Janet closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. She had to find a way to reign in her imagination. She went to the stairs and went down to where Abby stood. “Well?” asked Abby. “Well what?” Janet asked. She wondered if Abby had seen the man, Daniel, when he left the room. Or had he gone down the back stairs. “Are we going to finish the measurements?” “Yeah, let’s do that. At least down here.” “Kitchen next.” Abby led the way out of the main room and through the dining room. She pushed open the door to the kitchen. The stove was pushed away from the wall and the old man, Daniel was on his knees with his back to them. His head was behind the stove. “Is it okay if we take measurements in here?” Abby asked. Daniel pulled his head out from behind the stove. Janet stood still, wondering if her Daniel would be the face she saw. When he turned, she exhaled. Do names matter, she remembered her Daniel asking. No, she had said but now she wondered. Had she just taken the first name that had come to her in her fantasy? And why was she fantasying in this old house? Was she going crazy? “Have a ball,” said Daniel. “Just don’t trip over anything.” Janet took the laser from Abby and called out the numbers. As she did, she mentally subtracted the room number for the width of the main room. She didn’t want Abby to know if she found room enough for a secret chamber. Janet skipped measurements in the hallway. She could tell the length of the hall along the back of the house was the same as the width of the main room. Any hidden passages would be in the middle and she didn’t want Abby to have that number in her head. Janet led the way to the library. The dark carpet and dark paneling swallowed the dim light from the windows. The measurements were difficult with the bookshelves along the wall but when Janet looked at the numbers, she could see inches, feet of missing room between the dining room and library. Janet added the missing distance before she called out the number to Abby. “That should be enough,” said Janet. “Only one more room. And the upstairs.” “No. I have what I need. Let’s go.” Abby shrugged. It wasn’t like Janet. She was always meticulous in her work. And she didn’t look herself. She seemed to be miles away. “Are you okay?” Abby saw Janet blink and turn to her. “I’m fine. Why do you ask?” “You seem to be on a trip in your head.” Janet smiled. “Just running numbers. Sorry.” “Let’s go get a glass of wine and you can tell me about the numbers.” “Deal.” Daniel watched from the window as the two women walked down the steps and got in the car. He turned and walked over to the fireplace. The fire lit and the room brightened. Small groups of people appeared and talked among themselves. Daniel looked at his hand as the wrinkles smoothed out and the felt he muscle return to his old body. He felt the hair grow over his ears and fall to his shoulders. “They’ll be back,” he said to the fire. The house creaked. “Two. I owe you two.” The house groaned as beams shifted. “I know. I know. They can’t stop us. The woman will yours before she even has a chance to figure it out and Janet, well Janet… I can only take care of one at a time. I have a plan. You’ll see.” The interior of the house brightened. Daniel stuck his hands out to be warmed by the fire. Janet drove downtown and parked in font of one of their favorite cafes. Janet and Abby both ordered white wine. “Here’s to that old house,” said Janet. Abby lifted her glass toward Janet. “What’s that?” asked Janet. “What’s what?” “On your wrist.” Abby turned her hand to look and saw a smear of dirt on her wrist where her imagined girl had grabbed her. Abby dropped her glass. “What’s wrong?’ asked Janet. She stood and walked quickly around the table with her napkin. She dabbed up the spilled wine best should could. She saw Abby just looking at her wrist. Abby wiped at the dirt with her napkin, watching as it came off. “Are you okay?” Janet asked her. Abby looked at Janet then back at her wrist then at the white napkin now streaked with dirt. Abby started to tell Janet about what she had imagined but stopped short. “Sorry,” she said. “I though I saw a spider but it was just the dirt.” “You probably rubbed against something in the house. It needs a good cleaning.” “Yeah, I’m sure you’re right.” Abby rubbed her wrist with her other hand. Her mind was racing as she thought about the encounter. Be careful, the little girl had said but it was all imagination, wasn’t it, Abby wondered. “You know, Janet, I don’t think trying to flip that house would be such a good idea. It’s too big, too run down.” “You may be right. I just need to check the plumbing and electric. If it’s out of date and I’m sure it is, then there’s no way to justify fixing it.” “Good. I’d feel better if you just forgot about it.” “More wine…for you, not the table,” said Janet. Abby smiled. “Maybe two.” Janet drove home the long way purposefully missing the house on Berry. She wanted to avoid the temptation to complete the measurements and maybe search for the hidden rooms. She would return early the next day when the light was better and the electricity restored. That thought moved her to the question of Daniel. Daniel the repairman and Daniel, her imaginary lover. Why had she imagined that name? The repairman had to be in his late seventies and her Daniel was no more than thirty-five, her age. She realized even thinking of him caused her to heat up again. Home to a cold shower. What was wrong with her? Why was she suddenly so horny, horny enough make up some man? But what a man. She had used her imagination well. She pressed the gas pedal a little harder. She had to get behind closed doors. Abby watched Janet drive off. She watched her car until she rounded a corner and disappeared from view. Then she turned and looked in the direction of the house. It was hidden behind the buildings of downtown but she could see it in her mind. She saw past the driveway, past the front doors, back into the main room. She rubbed her wrist with her other hand. She turned back and got into her car. As she drove home, her mind kept returning to the house. She didn’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural but she couldn’t explain what she had seen and most of all the dirt on her wrist. Abby wondered way the images had come to her. At home, she went to her computer and tried to find any information on the house but other than the normal realtor stuff, there was little. Then she searched missing women in the area. This produced more information but she couldn’t sort it. Between the run-aways and the domestic kidnappings, it was hard to determine what the actual numbers would tell her. Her imagination had produced close to a hundred. She refined her search to teens, hoping to see pictures she could match to the girl she had seen. “Honey? Are you in here?” her husband called out. Abby jumped at the voice. “Yes. I’m in here?” Abby got up and went into the living room to greet him. They hugged and she gave him a quick kiss. “How was golf?” “Winner!” he said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out two, one dollar bills. “Good. We can go to Borneo.” “How was your day?” “I went with Janet to look at a house.” “Ah. How is she? Any new boyfriends?” “No. She keeps so busy she’ll never meet anyone. I think she is doing it on purpose. Afraid of the outcome.” “Shame. She’s a real worker and very smart. Hate to see her hiding.” “Well, if she does this next place neither of us will see her. She’s looking at the house on the hill. The one on Berry.” “The haunted house? Oooo.” “Stop it. Haunted?” “Indeed. When I was younger, we used to cut through the lawn. All of us were scared of it.” “Why?” “Kids stuff. Stories of people in the windows. Groans and screams and stuff.” “What kind of people in the windows?” “How would I know? I never saw any. Never looked. I did have a friend, Thomas Griong. He said he threw a rock at a window and it just bounced off. We told him of course it did, he threw like a girl.” Abby punched him in the arm. “Like a baby, I mean,” he said rubbing his arm. “What do you want for supper?” Abby walked to the kitchen and put the house away in her mind.

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