It was a screwed-up family, people used to say. Everyone knew about the house on the end of the block. The big, three-story house with dirty, white paint and black, broken shutters. A black, wrought iron fence ran along the boundary lines.
Inside the home furniture looked as it had been standing for centuries. Tattered and raveled draperies hung at the windows and now showed slight color of once bright red flowers against a beige background. In the middle of the living room there stood a large, cast iron stove and to the side of that, rest a pile of wood. This obviously heated the entire downstairs.
As I glanced around I sensed death. I know that sounds strange, never having actually smelled death, but that was the best way I could describe it. I glanced back at the man of the house and he sat quietly in an over stuffed chair staring at me; puffing on a pipe. The curls of smoke gave a hint of color to the half-white, shaggy hair.
Two children that looked between the ages of 10-13 years old sat quietly next to their mother, who by the way, had a look of fear in her eyes. All three sat looking my way, as if waiting for me to pull out my hatchet and ask them one by one to stand so I could be-head them.
“Hi, my name is Ted Barnes. I work at the local newspaper here in Little Path, Kentucky. I have been assigned to the case here at the historical home. I want to get as much information about the beginning of time and the people who have lived here. I am putting a report together on the three oldest homes in this area. I am now going to start asking some questions. I only hope I will receive some answers.”
“So, tell me Mr. Quaker, how long have your family resided in this home?’ The wife and husband exchanged glances and quietly the wife answered, ” 7 years sir.” I wrote down the information given and went onto my next question.
“What is it that drew you to this part of the country? I was told that you came from up north in a quiet village?’ Once again the two parents looked at each other. The children glanced at their parents and for a moment; no one replied.
“Well, you see Mr. Barnes, work wasn’t steady. I had heard about the coal mines and after discussing it we both decided to make the move. Besides, we have family here, so this area isn’t all that unfamiliar to us.” The wife smiled, as if letting him know, he had given the correct answer.
I couldn’t help but wonder and begin to believe there was something hidden in this house. Perhaps a gloomy past, or a half-truth. I didn’t have any proof, but I pretty much go on gut instincts.
I asked some further questions and then asked if I could see the other rooms. Mom got up and started showing each room. The children followed. Dad sat in his chair waiting impatiently for their guest to leave.
We climbed the winding staircase. It was made of rich mahogany. The shine was gone and there was a direct dullness to the center of each step, as if there had once been carpet lining the beautiful stairs.
They entered each room, which showed bedrooms draped heavily with furniture of another century. The same type of floors as the staircase fed the floor and the drapes were barely hanging on hooks. In the daughter’s room, there was one doll resting on the bed. There was a rocker in the corner and a portable dresser.
In the son’s room, there were bookshelves lined with dusty book covers. Had anyone read one of those books, I wondered. Their was a three-quarter bed, a side-chair sat at the window. There was an airplane hanging from nylon strings from the ceiling. I wanted to go over and look at it, but the son immediately came in front of me and stopped me.
That brought more thought to what is going on here. What is this family hiding? I didn’t let on my concern show, but let Mrs. Quaker lead me through the rest of the rooms. I asked her, “What is in that room?’ as I pointed in the direction of the dark, wooden door.
“That is mine and my husband’s bedroom. No one is allowed in their, no one. That room is private.” “I can respect that mam. I won’t push you on seeing more. Your home has a lot of personality. I imagine you are very proud of what this home stands for.”
“It stands for family Mr. This house holds all our family members in it. That’s why we came here. We have to take care of our family.” Before I could ask any questions popping into my head, she hurried off, guiding the children down the long-winding stairs. I had no choice but to follow, but my mind was still stuck on what she said and what was behind that closet door the boy had kept me from getting too close. Was something or someone hidden in that room?