Drama Contemporary Horror

Lisa Jenkins, a twenty-two-year-old college student, decided to spend Halloween with her mom at her new house in Granbury, Texas. Unfortunately, the weather grew worrisome throughout the day, but she decided to make the drive from San Marcus anyway. Once there and settled in, she went to bed early and was awakened by a knocking. “Mom, is that you?” she asked, sitting up in bed. The rain pelted against the windows, a flash of lightning lit up the room. The reflection of herself, shown in the dresser mirror. When her mom didn't answer, she laid back down. Then another knock.

It sounded like it was coming from inside the house. Lisa got up and crept across the room. She put an ear to the wall. There was another bump. The sound came from inside the wall. Stunned, she jerked away and stared at the spot. Then, another knock, she took a step back and covered her mouth. Opening the bedroom door, she called out, “Mom, come here.”

Tommie Jenkins, an attractive fifty-something widow, came down the hall in her night gown. “What is it? Are you okay?”

“I heard a knock. It came from inside the wall.” The rain continued to pound the windows, then another flash of lightning. They both heard a clear knock inside the wall and turned to look, “What do you think it is?” Lisa asked.

“I'm not sure, but I'm definitely not comfortable with you sleeping in here tonight. Come and stay in my room. We’ll investigate tomorrow.” She led her into the hall and closed the door behind them. “It's most likely a loose clapboard outside, blowing in the wind.”

The morning sun cast a streak of yellow across the kitchen table. “Why did you buy this old place anyway?” Lisa asked, holding a cup of coffee with both hands, as she took a sip.

Tommie smiled, “This place was a steal. I got it for next to nothing. I’m going to remodel it and rent it out nightly and on weekends. People are flocking to Granbury. The history and legends alone are enough to draw people.”

Lisa stood in front of the mirror, tying up her ginger hair with a blue bandana. Tommie came into the room carrying a crowbar with an armload of trash bags and a small stepladder, “I don't see anything outside that could have caused that knocking. Let’s see what's behind the wall.”

“The sound came from there.” Lisa said, pointing at the space between the closet and the door into the room.

Tommie opened the door, leaned in, and looked at the side wall, then back into the bedroom. “Look,” She said, pounding her palm along the wall. “It’s more than the distance to the bedroom entry door.” She pointed toward the corner. “There must be a room or something between here and there.”

Lisa climbed and started ripping down a loose edge of wallpaper. Tommie tore more off with the crowbar. Before long, they had a pile of torn layers of wallpaper and an exposed second door. Tommie whispered, “Are there two closets or is it just another small room?”

Lisa asked, “Why would anyone cover a door?”

“Good question, and take off the door knob to totally conceal it?” Tommie said, as she used the bar to break open the door. The tiny space behind it was empty except for a photo face down in the middle of the room. On top of it was a dusty double-armed metal cross on a gold chain. The chain contained six red crystal beads.

Lisa stooped to pick them up, “What’s this?” They stood together and flipped over the photo.

Tommie smiled. “How cute.” A photo of a little boy, about three years old, standing in the backyard of the house. A man seemed to be looking on in the background.

Lisa screamed and let go of the photo. “Oh, my gosh. Did you see that? Look at the man!” Lisa's voice cracked.

Tommie gasped. “That’s horrible. How's it possible?” A cold chill ran up her spine. The man in the background was headless.

A knock at the door downstairs. “Hola?” a man called out.

Scrambling down the stairs with the picture in her hand, she shouted, “Hold on, I'm coming.”

Juan Hernandez, an elderly unkept Hispanic man, wearing overalls, a plaid shirt and straw sombrero said, “Señora, It's Juan.” He pulled open the screen door and stepped in. “Just checking to make sure you fared okay from the storm.”

“We’re fine.” said Tommie.

“Oh, did your daughter make it okay?”

“Yes, she did.”

“Well, if you’re okay, I’ll get on with my business and let you be.” He said, turning to leave.

“Wait. Juan, you’ve lived in Granbury for quite some time, right?”

“Si. All my life.”

“Do you remember anyone living in this house who had a little boy?”

“The only boy who lived here was Fernando Menéndez. But, that was a long time ago.”

Tommie flipped over the photograph and pointed, “Is that him?”

“Si. Where’d you find that?”

“Upstairs, someone hid it in a small room with this on top of it. Tommie held up the double cross by the chain. Whoever hid it, wallpapered over the door to the room. To make it appear as if it wasn't there. Do you know who the man is in the background?”

He made the sign of the cross. “Si, that's the ghost picture of Fernando's padre. I'd heard about it, but never saw it. It’s cursed.” 

“What'd you mean?” Tommie asked.

“Fernando's dad used to travel to Fort Worth on business a lot. But, as it turned out, he had a señorita he was seeing there. When Fiona, Fernando’s madre, caught wind of it, she divorced him. She was a very jealous woman. Some say she was a Brujas Negras, a black witch, and she made a magic potion to put a curse on him.

On his way home one night, a flat bed truck was broken down in the middle of the road with no lights. No moon that night. Police said he didn't have his lights on, and he ran his pickup right underneath it. Cut his head clean off, and they never found it.”

Tommie raised her brows, “Oh my gosh, that's terrible.”

“It was awful, that's for sure. After that, people said the curse must have backfired. She’d see him wandering around at all hours of the night. Everyone thought she was crazy until she took that picture. Fiona used it to prove he was real. Seems that whoever she showed it to could see him at night too. I heard she kept it in a special place.”

“I guess maybe that’s why it was hidden away.”

Lisa glanced at Tommie. Their eyes locked momentarily. “Whatever happened to Fernando and his mom?” Lisa asked.

“They just got up one day, and moved away, and totally abandoned the house. No one ever lived here very long.”

Putting his hat on, Juan said, “I’ll be on my way.” Out on the porch, he turned and said, “You may be seeing him too now that you’ve seen that picture. Suggest you put it back exactly where you found it.” He made the sign of the cross and walked away.

That night, Lisa and Tommie sat together chatting on the sofa. Lisa said, “If this place is truly haunted or cursed, that would explain why you were able to get it for such a steal.” Tommie leaned forward to pour herself some more wine. Suddenly, she felt a presence behind her. A chill trickled up her spine. Her eyes widened. She glanced at a reflection in the window. Standing in the kitchen was Fernando’s headless father. She flipped around to look. There was nobody there.

“Mom, are you okay? What is it?”

“Nothing, I'm fine. I think my imagination may be running ahead of me.”

“Was it him? Did you see the headless man?”

“Maybe. But, there's nothing there now. Let's go to bed.”

Later, Lisa lay in bed reading. The soft blue glow from the e-reader screen lit the room. She heard something and called out, “Mom, is that you?” There was no response. Her pulse raced, and a shiver ran over her from a blast of cool air. With eyes wide and goose pimples on both arms, she slithered out of bed. She crept over to the newly uncovered door and put an ear to it. She heard what she thought were feet shuffling inside.

Jumping back, she put her back against the wall. Her legs began shaking and her body trembled. She covered her mouth so as not to scream. Lisa slowly pulled open the door to peer into the small room. Rummaging on his knees, patting the floor, was the headless man.

Tommie came to the door and said, “I heard you call out, are you okay?” Lisa put her finger to her lips, “Shh.” and motioned for her mom to come over. Looking at each other with their eyes wide, they took one another’s hand, and began backing away. The bedroom door behind them slammed shut. They both jumped but kept moving until their backs were against the door. Eyes wide in horror. They covered their mouths. Tommie whispered, “What’s he doing?”

He began pounding harder on the floor with both fists. His relentless beating of the floor managed to jar a board loose. He ripped it up and tossed it. He began to pull up more floorboards and threw them aside.

Lisa said, “I think he must be looking for something.”

“What could he be looking for? The picture and cross are downstairs.”

“I don’t know. Let’s get out of here.” She turned and grabbed the door knob. Twisting it, she sighed, “It’s locked.” They quickly turned back around to watch the headless man.

He lifted a hatbox from under the floor and walked out with it. He sat it in front of them and opened the box. With both hands, he reached inside. Trembling with fear, both Lisa and Tommie kept a wary eye on him.

This fearful moment began nearly sixty years earlier. When, just after one in the morning, Fiona Menéndez awoke to a banging on her front door. She grabbed her robe and scampered down the stairs. Clutching her robe, she peeked over the chain lock. “Si, what is it? What do you want?”

“Ma’am. I’m Deputy Taylor, I'm sorry to tell you your ex-husband has been killed tonight in a dreadful car accident.”

She gasped and put her hand to her mouth. “What? What do you mean?” Then after a few seconds she grimaced, “Good riddance. He was a cheater and got what he deserved.”

She tried to close the door, the Deputy put his hand out, “Ma’am, may I come in, please? I have more to explain.”

She snapped, “What else is there? He was a lying, deceptive man––no, you may not. ”

“Ma’am, your husband was decapitated. We searched through the car and around the vicinity. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to locate his head.”

“What did you say?” Her dark eyes locked on his.

“We're unable to locate your husband's head.”

“That’s too bad.” She said, before slamming the door and bolting it.

She scurried up the steps and woke Fernando. “Get up, put your clothes on. We don't have much time.”

“Madre, where are we going?”

“Come on, hurry.” She said, taking several short breaths.

Fiona, in her night gown and robe, carefully scanned the field near the site of her ex-husband's accident. Fernando was by her side. The smoldering wreckage from the incident that had taken his father’s life in the background,

“Madre, what are we looking for?”

She replied, “Shush. Keep quiet.” A flashlight in one hand and a two gallon galvanized bucket in the other. It squeaked as she stepped over the plowed rows. “Ah, there you are, you Hilo de puta (son-of-a-bitch).” She took a towel from the bucket and spread it out. Carefully, she picked up what Fernando thought was a muddy basketball and placed it on the towel. She wrapped it and dropped it into the bucket. With the heavy pail on her arm, she dragged Fernando by the hand across the plowed rows to her car.

When the headless body of her husband began to haunt her. Fiona, managed to snap a picture of him. She decided to visit a Curandero, a Brujas Blanca (white witch). “I’m seeking a spiritual cleansing from the ghost of my dead ex-husband. I put a curse on him. Now he haunts me.” She said, her voice quivering as she looked down at the dark callus hand holding hers.

“I can feel him. He is always close to you and your hijo. I know you used his head to make a Calavera for your black magic. That was a mistake. He is searching for it now. You must keep these items near the Calavera. The photo of him, along with this, she held up a Cruz de caravàca (a multi-armed cross) on a gold chain with six red beads. They'll prevent him from finding it. He’ll leave you and your son and search elsewhere, never remove these items, or he’ll return.”

Now, more than sixty years later, Tommie and Lisa are alone with Fernando's headless father, attempting to find his missing head. Lisa squeezed her Mom's hand tightly. Frozen, they watched as the headless man pulled a brightly painted skull from the hatbox, a Day of the Dead Calavera. He put it onto his shoulders. Slowly, it morphed into something alive. The room filled with a pungent odor. His eyes began to glow a crimson red as he glanced from Lisa to Tommie. He stepped toward them. With hands like ice, he pushed them apart. With a single knock of his palm, the door broke open. He turned back, “I knew it was here. It was hidden from me.” His voice, a low whisper that grew deep and husky like an evil growl.

Tommie whispered, “But, who would have hidden it?”

“Fiona.” He snarled, as he stomped down the stairs. “She’s in Hell, but I will find her.”

Copyright © 2022 by Chandler Wilson

December 10, 2022 16:02

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