Haunted Diary

 

As I pulled to a stop in front of an obviously abandoned two story house, Lori asked if I was sure it was the right place. I double checked the address. "Yeah. This is the place." We both stared at the greying farm house through the car's windows. "Looks like no one's lived here for years and years. Best cover your hair." I donned a baseball cap while she tied a bandana around her auburn locks. "Probably a few tons of cobwebs in there."

"Looks like it could use a lot more than cleaning," she said sliding out of the car, as I released the trunk. As I walked to the back of the car, I surveyed the grey peeling building. Someone had recently mowed the yard, but the walk was still choked with grass coming up through it. Even from where we stood, we could see the windows were coated with dust and grime. We each took a box of cleaning supplies from the car and walked to the door. "Gees, this place looks like it could be haunted," Lori murmured, as I placed the key in the lock. At first the door refused to yield, then slowly it groaned open. Dust hung heavy in the air, coating everything. Even though the power was on, the dust muted the light to a dim glow. We could see footprints on the floors from where the realtor had walked through with someone, inspectors I guessed. We sat the boxes down, and looked about the foyer where we stood.

"Damn, glad we came on a bright day," I said, watching the dust mites swirl in the thin rays that managed to seep in.

"This place gives me the creeps, Jan," Lori didn't look too happy.

"Afraid of some wee ghosties lurking about?" I lightly teased.

"Shut up! You know that talk creeps me!"

"Sorry, Lor," I chuckled. "C'mon. Grab a wand and let's tear down the worst of the webs, as we get our bearings." We began exploring, armed with extension dusting wands that allowed us to reach up a good 12 feet. Immediately off of the entryway was a very formal looking parlor. One wall was dominated by a fireplace whose mantle I guess was a good 15 feet long. In the corner stood a piano. The room was decorated lavishly, with paintings on the walls and statues here and there. The furniture was massive and impressive, even through layers of dust. We went through a doorway into a dining room. A long table and chairs, were positioned under a chandelier. A sideboard stood nearby. "Now that is weird," I said pointing out that the table was still set, and the remains of same ancient meal were still evident.

Through another doorway we stood in the kitchen. Pots and pans still sat on the gas range. Over on the table sat a coffee mug and paper, stiff and yellowed with age. I made a mental note to check it's date later. Right now, I was battling cobwebs, that I swear were trying to engulf Lori and me as we passed through. Lori popped open the next door on an ancient bathroom. The tub stood on clawed feet, and the toilet operated on what was known as a flush box. I reached up and gently pulled the chain, and was rewarded with a flushing sound. "Thank God it works," I murmered. Lori turned on the taps which at first ran rust but then cleared, on the sink. "I vote we clean this first," I said, "for obvious reasons."

"Why?" Lori cracks me up sometimes.

"Because sooner or later we'll need to pee, dipstick!"

Even she chuckled, "Oh, yeah..." Down the hall from the bathroom, we discovered another small parlor, which I guess, by today's standards would have been the family room. It too had a fireplace, but was much smaller than the first one. It's furnishings were not as grand either. It had a homey feel to it. This completed the circle and we were back in the entry way, looking up the stairs. "Probably bedrooms and storage up there," Lori said.

"Well, you wanna go up? Or handle down here first?" I glanced up at her, trying to gauge her nervousness. Lori does not like these kinds of jobs. She'd rather do offices or 'real' homes, as she termed residentials. When I had first mentioned this house she hedged, when I said to bring a sleeping bag as we might have to spend the night, she almost fainted. "Are you nuts?!" she cried. When I told her the sum they were willing to pay, she almost beat me to the car. 

I picked up a box of supplies and strolled back to the bathroom, while Lori started in the kitchen. I heard her playing with the old radio sitting on the counter. "Hey, Lor? Don't throw out that paper on the table, I wanna look at it later." Her muffled 'OK' drifted back to me. By the time, I had finished the bathroom, she was still only half finished with the kitchen. I paused in the doorway, "Hey, I'm going out to the car, then I'll come help you. OK?" I was smiling at myself, that I was a pretty smart cookie, because I had the foresight to bring a roll of toilet paper with us. I had just fetched it when I heard Lori scream. I bounded back into the house and winged my shoulder on the doorway of the kitchen. Lori stood hands to mouth , staring at the oven's gapping door. "Lor? What is it? You OK?" My heart was already pounding from my sprint. She pointed at the oven. "What is it? A mouse?" 

"I- I dunno," she stammered. Lori only stammers when really scared or upset.

I grabbed a broom and carefully peered into the oven's yawning mouth. "I don't see anything but filth. What did you think you saw?" I looked questioningly at her blanched features. "Lor? Tell me."

Then color flooded her cheeks, "You'll think I'm a big baby... I ...well... I could have sworn I saw a head in there." Now, we have been friends for over a decade, and there isn't much we can't tell about each other with a simple look. I was there to help her through her divorce, and it was she who held my hand after I had been raped. We were truly kindred spirits, sharing each other's joys and sorrows. Her face told me she truly believed she'd seen a head in the oven. "Must've been a trick of the light or something... Nothing there now. Why don't you go bring in the cooler, and we'll have some lunch and a smoke?" I picked up the oven cleaner, "I'll get this started." I shook the can and leaned over to begin spraying the inside, and promptly let out a yelp of my own. I closed my eyes and shook my head. I did not see a severed head sitting like a Sunday roast, in the oven, I told myself. It had to be the power of suggestion. "Get a grip, Jan," I whispered to myself. Slowly, I opened my eyes and saw nothing more than an empty oven.

"You OK?" Lori's voice came from the doorway.

"Yep, must be the oven cleaner fumes," I lied as I started spraying.

We decided to finish the kitchen first, then to eat lunch. I ate my sandwich, while glancing at the yellowed paper, and Lori fiddled some more with the radio dial, until she got a station with rock n roll on it. " This paper is dated, March 15, 1936, Lor." Most of it was too faded to read, something about a labour strike, prices being unstable, rumors of war... hmm nothings changed much in 66 years. I carefully unfolded the paper to look at the bottom half, and froze. There staring up at me was the head from the oven.

His name had been Jonathan Whitaker, and his headless corpse had been found rotting in the back 40 by a field hand. Investigators had later found the head roasting in the oven. His wife, Emily, denying any knowledge of how it came to be there, had been taken in for questioning. Good Lord, an early day, Dahlmer? Lori asked me if there was anything interesting in the paper as I was gaping so, I said not much, then folded it and put it in the cleaning supplies box. Lori would freak if she knew.

I tested the dining room table for sturdiness before climbing up to clean the chandlier.

We had already cleared it, and Lori was tackling the dishes, in the kitchen. Since she is afraid of heights, it was logical, that though I was a good 4 inches shorter, it was me on a stepladder in the middle of the dining room table. I thought I heard Lori say something. "What?" I called out.

"What what?" came back.

"Thought you said something?

" "Nope."

I went back to cleaning. A few minutes later, I heard it again. Again Lori and I had the same exchange of words. The third time she asked me if I was getting high off the cleaning fumes and imagining things. I laughed and said could be. That's when I could swear, that someone pinched my bottom. I jumped a bit, and looked about. I shrugged it off, but felt as if someone was looking -no leering at me. I doggedly finished the chandelier and carefully climbed down from the ladder then slid off the table to the floor, dropping my rag as I did so. Grumbling I bent to retrieve the rag, then turned to lift down the ladder. Only it wasn't on the table , it was resting against the wall a good three feet away. That was a bit unnerving to say the least., as I could hear Lori singing off-key in the kitchen. I quickly joined her.

Together we tackled the small parlor, then the entry and grand parlor. Night was falling, and we brought in the sleeping bags and overnight cases. Neither of us seemed anxious to be alone, so we opted to stay in the small parlor. We didn't say anything about our unease, but I noticed neither of us closed the bathroom door all the way, and we seemed to have an awful lot about nothing to say to each other. 

We built a fire, and had dinner in front of it. Lori had brought the cooler from the kitchen into the parlor, while I was taking my bath. Both of us seemed to feel better as we had finally washed the cobweb's residue from our skins, and I know I had enough dust on me that the water had turned grey. We sat companionably in front of the fire sipping beers, smoking cigarettes and B.S.ing in general, as we waited to be tired enough to sleep. We decided that in the morning we'd drive into town and have breakfast and stock up for the day, which promised to be busy as we hadn't even touched the upstairs. 

We then entertained ourselves by poking through the writing desk's drawers. This was not part of our job. We were mainly just to make the house clean enough for some antiquing service to come in and shift through the things and auction it all off. That's when I found the thin red volume marked Diary. I flipped through it, then settled down to read what Emily Whitaker had thought about .


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