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The Halloween Project 2019 Story 4: Good Bones - Part 1

"This house has very good bones!" Charlotte Blaney, the realtor said, "Look at the way it has withstood the test of time." "How old is it exactly?" Andrea, known as Andy, asked. "Exactly? Well, that's a hard one to answer. The front parlor, for sure, from the original building in 1784. The basement, of course. But much has been added on, almost all of it. The original kitchen was right where we're standing now. Could you imagine a big black cooking kettle in that fireplace? But the entire kitchen has been expanded several times and look at what you have now." She gestured with her arm and an outstretched palm. Granite countertops, a Viking range, cabinetry to die for. "Why has it been on the market for so long? What is it, eight months?" Rob, Andy's husband asked. "That's a perfect question. This is not just an old house, this is a very old house. It really should be registered as an historic house. It takes a very specific type of person, or persons," she nodded to Andy, "to fall in love with a house like this. It's got quirks, lots of old stories regarding people who lived here over the centuries, a back stairway, some dark corners in the basement and who knows what else. You can look up the history in the town library. But as you can see, the roof, the furnace, much of the plumbing is not only updated but state of the art." Andy looked at Rob, "I love it, I just love it. It's everything we've ever wanted and saved for." They moved in within the month. Chid-free, with Clooney, their Irish setter in tow, it didn't take them long to decorate and outfit the house exactly the way they thought it should be. An eclectic combination of historic, yet comfortable. Andy was glad that the entire sale and move in took place during the summer. Once late August rolled around she'd be back at her job at the middle school where she taught. The first week of October Andy's car was stolen from their driveway. Although the house still had a small barn in the back where they kept tools and a riding mower, there was no garage. Andy stood on the side porch for a long minute looking at the place she had parked the car last evening. Going back inside, she called Rob and turned to Clooney who stood and wagged vigorously. "What the hell Clooney?" The police took the report and asked the usual questions, "Did you leave the key in it? Was it unlocked?" "No," was the only response from Andy and Ron. Two days later the police reported that the car was found in New Haven, 20 minutes away. They concluded a joy ride by some kids. It was getting near to Halloween and although this was considered a very safe area they did live out on a country road, the nearest house 100 yards down. No damage to the car at all. A brisk October morning the following week, Andy stepped out and said, "Holy shit, this is not possible." The car was gone. This time it didn't show up and she had to put in an insurance claim for a stolen car. Her computer from school was in the backseat. The car was definitely locked. One week later Andy was in the kitchen preparing dinner and opened the silverware drawer. "Rob!" she called to the living room, "Did you use the spoons for something? The teaspoons?" "The spoons?" he tossed back, "No, why?" "They're gone," she replied. "They're gone?" he asked. "Come look for yourself," and he did. And they were gone. The following day after they both came home from work, Rob cracked a bottle of Cabernet that they had left on the kitchen counter, grilled a nice steak and they ate looking out at the multi-changing autumn leaves. "Let's open another," Rob suggested. "It's only Wednesday," Andy remarked. "Hey, you only live once," Rob made his way down to the basement where he kept a wine cabinet. "Andy?" his voice carried up passed the basement steps to her, "Would you come down here." She jumped up, wine glass in hand. Not far from the cooler, in the dank air of the stone basement, on the hard floor, lined up in perfect groups of four were one dozen teaspoons. "What the fuck!" Andy said. "Clearly, somebody is getting into the house when we're not home. It's the only possible explanation," Rob said. That weekend he mounted a concerted fortification of house security. Video cameras inside and out, special window and door locks. Alarms. While in town on Saturday for some supplies and shopping Andy ran in to Charlotte Blaney. "How's the house? Loving it?" Charlotte asked. "We've run into some problems," Andy replied. "I heard about the theft of your car. That was terrible," Charlotte commiserated. "Twice," "Twice?" There was more than a tinge of fear mixed with curiosity in her voice. Andy tried to explain about the spoons. A second before the end of completing the tale, Charlotte abruptly excused herself saying she had to be off, they were having a dinner party that evening and she had a lot of work to do. Andy hung in the street, almost mid-sentence, puzzled. It was on Tuesday that Clooney went missing. They both studied the recorded video, broken-hearted. At one point the cellar door opened. Clooney went downstairs. The door shut. Calling throughout the house, the basement, out in the yard, in the woods just beyond. Clooney did not come home. Rob strung high wattage bulbs on a couple of extension cords throughout the basement. There were no more lingering shadows, but there was no Clooney. The next day Andy went to Charlotte Blaney's office at Real Time Real Estate. "Andy, hi," Charlotte invited, but her tone was cold. "Charlotte, let me just cut to the chase. I remember when you were showing us the house that you said it had quirks and old stories about the people who lived there over the years. Like what.? Start with the very worst story." Charlotte shook her head and took a sip from her coffee mug. "Andy, there are no stories recently, or in the past 50 years. Every one who has lived there has not had a problem," she stated. "O.K. then before that, I'm not leaving without something," Andy demanded. "100 years ago, 150, no perhaps even more, people went missing. The original owner, Manasa Cutridge, and his entire family, wife and five children, simply disappeared. Some legends say it was the native Americans, some say disease, but they all say that no one was ever found. "Charlotte, now our dog is missing," "Your dog?" questioned Charlotte. "Yes! My car. Twice! Then our spoons. Now our dog!" "This is crazy," Charlotte said, "Someone must be playing a terrible joke on you. Do you have any friends that would do that?" "No, absolutely not! Our friends are..." she concluded, "normal." Andy returned home after dark. Rob's car was in the drive. She sat in her own car to think about the last few weeks. She scanned the yard, looked beyond the barn, keeping an eye out for Clooney. "Rob," she called out. "Rob?" louder this time. "Rob!!" she screamed to the silence within her home.

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