The flickering of Christmas lights might have looked entirely out of place if not for the constant late spring rain storms and fog intrusion that made way along the foothills just outside the quaint town of Golden in Colorado. However, it was odd how the old string multicolor bulbs looked right at home amongst the ruin of the rundown old house.
Young and curious Britney Marrs ritualistically noticed them. She said to herself one night on her way home from work, “What the Hell, curiosity killed the cat, but I must know why the lights are on every frickin’ night no matter what time of year. I watch them switch on when I drive by. Three doors down, it’s pitch black but gets one house away, and BOOM, it’s 11:10, and they are on. I’m going nuts, I know it, but what I want to know more is why!” she pounded on the feeble door of the haunted-looking old place, debating about getting the crowbar out of her brand new 2019 Honda and just breaking in. She contained her emotions and just moved on.
Meanwhile, old George Gilbreth was on his unrelenting mission to upkeep his family's home. The care of the magnificent fish scale siding and detailed landscape his grandfather had placed with him devoured his thoughts. The beautiful pewter blue two-story home looked especially lovely during the holidays when George made it a point to decorate like a professional. Every light was straight and in its niche, even the tiny strand he found to showcase the small blue spruce in the front of the parlor’s bay window. The display was always magnificent and won a prize for best exhibit in 1965.
Every night it was always the same Britney drove by at the same time and invariably pounded on that door, oblivious to George.
A woman by the name of Evelyn McKee, competent spinster as she referred to herself, existed on the interior side and heard the pounding. It was once her Mother’s house, although, for Evelyn, there was no attachment. The consistent nightly banging on her front door was unbearable and made her desire to relocate. “Games, what a ridiculous game these neighborhood children play. Nothing better to do with their time, and, with no parent's attention so late at night, maybe I'll get lucky and see one get hit by a car as they run. Stay away, you little bastards, I say stay away!” addressing the unseen children on the other side of the unopened door. She knew they heard her as she could hear their insidious laughter.
Actually, Evelyn was terrified to open the door of the withering old Victorian. The house had only belonged to Evelyn’s Mother for a couple of years as she had inherited it from her deceased fourth husband, George Gilbreth. Evelyn's mother died suddenly from a sudden heart attack leaving Evelyn with the house and its history.
Evelyn, the house, and the lights were dwarfed by the overgrown branches of the ancient blue spruce that had grown into a hideous blockade just outside the front window of the uncared-for old place. “Nothing looks sadder than an unloved house. And God knows I have no love for this old hell hole. I would hire a bulldozer in a minute if I could.” said Evelyn as if she were speaking to someone. In this case, it must have been only the cat.
The big black Tom-Cat could see it all unfolding but had no power over it. Until that time, when Evelyn did open the door. The cat was as tough as he was old and must have been living in his ninth life.
One special evening Evelyn did open the door, but not until she had given the circumstance much thought. “It’s late afternoon,Ludicrous, and it’s almost dark but really it's still daytime and I am afraid to open my door, now that’s ludicrousness, wouldn't you say, you dumb old cat,” she asked the cat as she tried to pet his bony head.
The cat looked at Evelyn with disdain and hissed loudly-just open the door; you ugly old bat, he thought in his catlike way. Evelyn named the stray cat Ludicrous simply because she found it ludicrous that she would allow the cat, a black cat at that, in her home. The bully black alley cat had placed himself squarely into her existence because this was his forever home and he had felt a great desire to return. Evelyn said she disliked felines immensely but never bothered thinking about that fact and kept him without being able to remember all the details of the event.
Evelyn and Ludicrous merely existed together until the day she opened that door. “It is the strangest thing, such a weird occurrence, but I don't remember letting you in,” Evelyn admitted speaking to the strange adolescent girl seated on the sofa before her. She continued, “I felt a ridiculous desire to do it but can't for the life of me remember the act of doing so. I was thinking of my mother who died right here on the parlour floor on the first of December, precisely two years ago.” She was telling this information to the strange girl seated on her step-Father's green velvet upholstered sofa. Ludicrous purred softly and rubbed himself all over the strange visitor.
“Ludicrous, mind yourself, you horrendous cat!” Evelyn screamed as she hit the cat hard, making him fall from the sofa. The cat hissed loudly and firmly placed himself on the foot of their guest. The girl stroked his back gently as his purring sounded content.
As Evelyn looked at the unruly cat, she observed the visitor's attire closely. This girl was around 11 or 12 and was dressed to the nines in a vintage dress-A contoured pink dress, with an adorable jacket embroidered with a small butterfly pattern around the collar. Evelyn thought it had to be vintage, or she just stepped out of a fashion catalog from 1960- ridiculous, she thought, who wears something like that now? It’s 1985!
It was at that exact moment that the young and curious Britney Marrs started pounding on that feeble door in 2020. But Evelyn and her vintage guest heard it that night in 1985 as they both turned their heads to the door. Evelyn got up marched to nemesis door and opened it but this time no one was there. She returned to her seat with the most puzzled look upon her face. The girl returned to her forward stare never uttering a word. The only one who knew the entire truth was Ludicrous. His original owner seated beside him required his full attention.
Evelyn's blurred observation couldn't see the child she was hosting was a recently buried corpse, even though the hem of her pretty dress still had a burial name tag pinned to it; after all, the string of pearls around her wrist was far from white. Ludicrous, on the other hand, could see this girl was his girl and she was a unique shade of chartreuse.
Evelyn was dumbfounded when she finally saw that it was indeed a corpse sitting on her sofa with her knees bent at an angle to cross her swollen ankles. Speaking in a confused way, Evelyn said before passing out, “A ghost on my sofa and the relentless pounding continues at my door.” The green girl sat ladylike, holding her cat, taking off her pearl strand bracelet, and placing it on the cat. She didn't flinch as the door slammed open, and George floated in.
George rushed to the girl and hugged her tightly. “Helen, my little sister, I have missed you. I'm so happy you finally returned to your rightful home!” He said as he hugged and squeezed a little more complicated, “my sister, it is a miracle that I can see and touch you again. And look at your cat Lucky; he looks the same as he did before those cruel boys killed you and him in the alley.
As Evelyn awakened, she could see the girl's dead eyes were staring straight forward as if beginning to speak but never speaking a word. It appeared to Evelyn that this ghost or whatever it was was mesmerized by the shimmering lights on the front yard evergreen that Evelyn’s mother had just hated between what she called this scary old house and the horrible Wheatgrass Cemetery across the boulevard.
“You didn't have to travel far, dear sister, as our cemetery is just across the street,” George said in a compassionate voice.
Evelyn spoke up with detest, “The arch across the entrance to the children's plots was easily seen from the front window of the pathetic eyesore of a house. My guess is the ugly pine was planted to intercept the cemetery view. I’m not sure what is in worse shambles; the cemetery, the tree, or this place in its entirety? Until Mother’s death, she would tell me she could see you, George, walking towards his house and never believed her!
It was always in the evening just after sunset, why it scared her to death.” Evelyn continued becoming so red you could see the veins popping out from her forehead, “Seriously, Mother had a heart attack at only 67 years old,” Evelyn was shaking her head while grabbing a tissue, then pointing her finger at George and continuing with a blaming voice, “I think seeing you walking did it. She was healthy in every other-a-y” grabbing her throat, she tried to say the word but could not. Her blood began to boil as two-pronged horns sprouted from her forehead. She rolled into a little ball and disappeared into a puff of smoke. Helen the girl smiled as Ludicrous, Lucky as she had named him all those years ago, rubbed his head on her shoulder as their mutual vision of George nonchalantly finished his illumination for the evening.
The following day Evelyn awoke in the exact place she had been sitting in a while visiting with her strange guests the night before. The stiffness in her neck and the pain in her back convinced her she must have had a whopper of a nightmare again. It was a frequent occurrence. After sleeping upright in the uncomfortable queen Anne highback, her head ached with the intensity of a three-day binge. Still, just before she gulped a handful of aspirin, she noticed, set before her was the cat Ludicrus but this time wearing the bracelet the strange girl had given him around his neck. Evelyn shook with fear realizing she may have seen ghosts the night before.
Evelyn put on her tattered raincoat and went outside to investigate. At the same time, Britney got out of her car to do the same. Only the gap in time made them both hesitate when they simultaneously saw George's ghost. Evelyn's eye followed the cord to the old strand of Christmas lights sitting on the boughs above her reach and breathed a sigh of relief, remarking the rotten old things weren't plugged in. But Britney could see a white masculine figure pick up the cord and plug it in just as he had done for the last 45 years of what he thought was a silly continuing dream.
It must be an infinite repetition, George thought when he heard Britney and him say the word dream simultaneously. Again and again, night after night, he realized there was no end. He realized the newest member of their nightly routine stopped and pounded on the door at 11:10 pm. It all began the night she spun out on the ice, hit the old pine tree, and died. And yes, every night, ever sense, no matter the date, Evelyn visited with George and his Sister and their cat Lucky as Britney pounded on the door, as only a wicked ghost would.
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I think it the story is perfect, I want more of it.
Thank you Alexis Blanchard! May I say, you have a great name for an author. I can't wait to read stories from your imagination.
A bazaar story I have not heard in any years. I liked the characters, although sometimes difficult to follow, forcing a read-over. My only suggestion would be to shorten some of the sentences with commas or periods. I look forward to reading more of your imagination.
Thanks for reading my story and for your comment. I bet your word ‘Bazaar” was a stand-in for ‘Bizarre’. If so, it is taken as a compliment as it fits my imagination precisely.
Thank you for this story. I found it interesting but also strange. There were too many characters and I could not place them all. The language was good but unneccessary difficult. However, the story had a different theme. Thanks.
The dearly departed and their experiences are wonderfully strange. Thanks for expressing your opinion by using such a favorable word. My creative prowess tends to float to strangeness as I am drawn to the subject matter. I love ghosts, darkness, murder or anything far from what is ordinary, usual, or to be expected.