He knew the days were counting down, but when the day came, it was still a shock to James.
“Your grandma has passed away,” his great-aunt, Nora, told him over the phone just as he was watching the sunset.
“I’ll be on the next flight,” said James as he thought that now his grandma will be with his mother in heaven.
Now, he stood in her small, white house, looking around at the many belongings she had scattered throughout the house. James could hear Nora in another room, rummaging through her sister’s stuff.
“If you see anything, take it, please,” his great-aunt told him earlier when he came to the house.
At first, James thought it would be so wrong to take his grandma’s precious items. He felt like he was robbing from the deceased.
“If you don’t take it, more than likely it will go in the garbage,” Nora spoke not long after his thoughts of robbery. It made him feel much better to hear such words. He did not want all her stuff to go in the garbage. So many relics flourished throughout the house.
“They don’t make it like that anymore,” he said to his great-aunt as she looked at furniture, items on bookshelves, and even the design of the house. “So much character and care put into the making.”
“The house is close, or maybe a little over a hundred years old,” she told him.
James lived in an apartment that was built ten years ago. Built at a fast pace in duplication of the rest of the rooms.
James went into his grandma’s bedroom and started looking around a bit. He did not feel comfortable being in this room so figured he would look for a minute or two then get the hell out. James figured this room would have her most precious commodities.
He looked around, coming to one of her nightstands. There is a stack of photos that he picked up and rummaged through them. Pictures of when grandma was younger, with family, friends, and a couple of ones of a beautiful scene. But the one that stopped him is the picture of a young man. He had dark hair that was feathered back, brown hair, pointy nose, full lips, and a square chin. It did not take James long to recognize the familiarity between this man and his grandma.
“They must be related,” James thought, and turned the picture over to see if they wrote a name down. Down at the bottom he read, ‘Love you sister, Bill’.
Who is Bill? Who is the sister? James did not have a clue who this guy was, but maybe Nora did.
James walked out of the room and entered the room Nora was in.
“Who is this man named Bill?” he asked. “Do you know?”
Nora was looking at some earrings when James asked the question. When she looked up, her blank expression turned to one of sorrow.
“Where did you find the picture?” she asked.
“It was in a stack of pictures on a nightstand by her bed,” he answered.
“I am surprised she kept picture close by,” she said. “Didn’t put it in the closet with most of her pictures.”
“So, you know who this Bill is?”
“He is our youngest sibling,” she replied as her eyes watered.
“Your youngest sibling?” asked a confused James. “I didn’t know you had a brother. Grandma never spoke about him.”
“None of us spoke about him much except just between us siblings, and that was done rarely,” said Nora. “I guess the less talk, the less grief we would feel.”
“Not long after this picture,” she said, coming over and taking the picture to look at it more closely. “He disappeared.”
“Bill liked to take walks through the Grandview Woods. What many call the Spooky Woods. One day, he took his walk and never came home. Search parties were set-up with no success. To this day we do not know if he is dead or alive. We figure he is dead.”
“No one found anything in the woods that could be suspicious?”
“None of his stuff lying about, or anything out of the ordinary in the forest. He just disappeared.”
“Maybe he ran off to another part of the state, another state, or another country,” said James, having pondered that twice himself.
“There were searches put forth throughout the US, and to neighboring countries,” said Nora. “Bill wasn’t much of a traveler, so we figured his chances of being outside of this state slim.”
“I have heard of Grandview Woods, but never heard of it being called Spooky.”
“Bill’s disappearance in these woods isn’t the first time it happened, and not the last. Many people of all ages have disappeared in those woods for who knows how long.”
“I would assume Bill knew about it?” asked James.
“He knew, and was warned a few times, but ignored them. Bill wasn’t afraid of what that forest held.”
“Sounds like some bizarre, supernatural happenings if it has been going on for ages.”
“Possibly, but Bill didn’t believe in any of that hocus pocus,” said Nora as she sat down on the bed, continuing to look at the picture. “It either cost him his life or he is well hidden.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your brother,” James said. “Maybe closure will come one day.”
“We probably won’t know until after the good Lord takes us home,” she said with a grin.
James just nodded his head.
He went back to looking around the house, taking an item here and there, but his mind was elsewhere. The disappearance of his great-uncle Bill flooded his thoughts.
He finally went to Nora to ask her how long they had to take items.
“I’m going to be around a couple more days. Are you leaving now?” she asked.
“I’m going to call it a day. I can call you tomorrow and let you know what time I will be back over.”
James left the house and drove back to his hotel. As he headed back, he decided what he would do before going back to grandmas.
“I’m going to pay a visit to Grandview Woods.”