Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rough Drafts

I've been tinkering with the idea of writing a short novella about the myriad of strange occurrences that my family has witnessed in our house. Growing up there, it seemed almost normal, though sometimes frightening, to say the least. In fact, I still have friends who would not spend the night in the house for fear of the ghosts.
So, I thought that just for fun, I'd publish some of my scribblings for public consumption on this site. Granted, they're still rough, and the project is far from complete, but I thought this might be a good way to not only get some feedback. So, I hope you enjoy...

Chapter One

The foremost tale, and one that will serve to properly imbue the rest of the book with the tone that is required, took place nearly a decade after we left off. It was the late 1940’s, and America was emerging from World War II. A young family, just getting their start, moved into the apartment upstairs. The father, a salesman, traveled frequently on business, and left his young wife to care for their two children. The solitude of not having her husband at home for long stretches began to wear on the young woman. Her children gave her much joy, but also much angst. She was forever trying to get both of them to sleep at night in the small apartment, fending off crying and tantrums that would certainly wake up the landlord downstairs. Alternately, her days were spent cooking, cleaning, and minding the children, with little time left over to relax. Coupled with this, the woman had battled depression throughout her life. Some days were clear and bright, while others dawned to low, dark clouds that showed no signs of retreat.

It was during a particularly cold and grey February that trouble began to stir. Her husband had been traveling throughout the South for the better part of a month, and the slate gray Ohio skies and never ending snow had practically trapped the three in their apartment. She treasured the brief, sporadic phone calls from her husband on the road, but lamented for the days when they were no longer necessary. It was after a week and a half without a call that the depression began to make way to despair. After a call to her husband’s office, she found that he was in Kansas City, and scheduled to go yet farther down the Mississippi before even considering coming home. As she hung up the phone, she began to cry. Her toddlers, confused by the role reversal, stood silently and stared as she sat down quietly at the kitchen table, head in hands.

After a time, the tears stopped and the children went back to play. But a veil had gone over her eyes, and her usually tender voice to her children was leaden and cold.

“It’s bath time, children.” She said without emotion.

The children were ushered through the bedroom, the kitchen, and past the stairway down to the door and into the bathroom. The claw footed tub, so large that the boy and girl could hardly see over the edge, was filling with water from the tap. Their Mother undressed them, without saying a word, and placed them in the warm water…

A salesman, fresh off the train from Kansas City, disembarked onto the platform in St. Louis. As he walked, he pulled his coat around him to fend off the cold. As he passed a newspaper stand, the proprietor, in his typical hawking fashion, beckoned with the headline of the day.

“Mother drowns two in Ohio!” he called, without realizing how tragic those words would be to the now curious salesman who stopped and turned towards the vendor. The proprietor, sensing a sale, continued;

“Horrible thing; two young kids like that,” he said. The salesman picked up the copy held to him and went cold. The byline was Medina, Ohio, and the children were his own.

-----------------------------------

The scandal that erupted took to the bustling village by storm. The Mother was swiftly and, some say, mercifully, spared a trial and sent directly to a mental hospital, where she lived the remainder of her days. The father, consumed with grief, anger, and disbelief, moved quickly out of the apartment and to another city in another state, far from those that had witnessed and reminded him daily of his tragedy.

As a tight knit bedroom community, the public wanted no part in a public excoriation or humiliation in their town, and so the matter was ‘brushed under the rug’, and as the months following the event faded into years, it was spoken of less frequently. As the years passed to decades, many who knew of the tragedy passed as well.

Today, there is nary a record of the event as it transpired; I know because I’ve searched the Health Department, the Newspaper Archives, and even the Courthouse records. But if you ask someone who lived through those times in Medina, a spark of recollection inevitably comes into their eyes, and they remember.

The only solid and staid reminders of the actual event are the house, the bathroom, and the claw footed tub that still sits there.


1 comment:

Nicole said...

freaky shit man. but cool topic. i have a few "ghost" stories from my dads side of the family that i have started to document in our family tree. i started working on ancestry.com. interesting but time consuming