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Haunted House Part 1
The hot sun burned his arm through the open truck window, and he felt hot and sticky. The traffic stretched far ahead and behind, and didn't seem likely to move anytime soon. The AM station gave dry reports of weather, but seemed to ignore the large traffic jam, or what might be causing it. Ronnie look over at his mom. She was equally hot and sticky, for sure, but seemed somewhat content, unhurried. . .the truck was in park, she was reclined a bit, hands folded in her lap, rather than on the steering wheel. She was fair skinned, more so than he was, with red hair and freckles. She had average build and was about 5'5" inches tall. Ronnie was also about that height, but only 14 years old. He guessed he would be taller. . . most people told him he had his fathers build. . .tall, stocky but muscular, not fat. He had not seen his father since he was five. He didn't know what had happened to his father, since then, that summer years ago, his mother put him in the truck, and drove away. |
He looked back out the window, and noticed their life's possessions piled on the trailer through the eagle eye of the rear view mirror, distorted and recognizable only as a lumpy blue tarp strapped down with different lengths of rope. This trip reminded him a bit, of the drive when he was five. Different truck, more stuff, but still, spontaneous and permanent, he guessed.
Two months earlier, his mother had been laid off from her Internet based job. . . he still had no idea what she did there while she was working. It had paid well though, and had flexible hours so she could watch him. The unemployment came for two weeks, then stopped. . .the company had gone completely belly up. They had scraped by on welfare for a few weeks, but with their nice middle class house in a good neighborhood, it was not enough. Then two weeks ago, Uncle Erik's lawyer came by. Uncle is a term used loosely. Mother claimed he was a crazy older man she had befriended in college. . . he had come by where she waitressed on a regular schedule. She had not known much about him. I thought there was more to it, but I didn't argue.
The lawyer said that Uncle Erik's house had been left to my mother, with the condition that it not be sold for minimum 5 years, that it be well maintained, and that she reside in it for that time. I was frustrated with this – new school, new house – and the house was in the middle of nowhere! But mom, she looked at is as opportunity knocking. . . they needed something. There was some money with the house. . .not much, just enough for maintenance. This seemed odd to me.
So here they were, leaving the New Jersey area and headed for the backwoods or North Carolina. Place is probably a dump, he thought.
"Mom, what's this place look like?"
"I don't know Ronnie. Erik never seemed wealthy, but the lawyer implied otherwise. He even said it was last estimated for insurance at $200,000 in value some time ago."
"Yeah sure, it still could be a dump. AND, it's in the middle of nowhere."
"Ronnie, we don't have a lot of choice right now. We'll have a place to live, I should be able to find some work, or perhaps start a small internet business of my own there. . . I wish you'd be more positive of it."
He didn't respond. The traffic ahead began to move. His mom finally showed some amount of her dismay at the traffic, be eagerly shifting into park well ahead of time. The breeze from the truck moving was a relief. The sparse interior of the truck was meant for work, not comfort. It had never had air conditioning.
The drive through North Carolina was attractive, he had to admit. More greenery and forest than he had seen in some time. . . and not too much traffic – thank God. There was no town at the expressway exit they took based on the Mapquest map propped in the center of the truck steering wheel. It didn't look like much of anything. The road was paved, but once away from the expressway, it was in disrepair. There were just one or two dilapidated houses around right near the expressway – the gas station there had only one pump, and a mobile trailer took the place of what should have been a convenience store.
"So north on this road, and I should get to here?" Ronnie was checking her directions with the attendant.
"Yes ma'am. Not much up there though, sore your map is right?"
"No, not really, but I think it is. Thank you."
"No problem ma'am. The gas will be 18 dollars." She handed the attendant a credit card. He laughed to himself, and tried to be polite.
"Ma'am we don't take credit card here. . .just cash, maybe a check if you are local, and I am a guessing yore not a local." She rummaged through her purse briefly. I left for the truck, taking my time, shuffling my feet. It really was too hot to move fast.
The remaining ride to the house was slow, uneventful, and there was little to remark on. There were almost no houses, or civilization at all. The town, Sneedville, was hardly that. Another gas station, a small store, a bar, abandoned buildings, a blinking red/yellow traffic signal at the crossroads. We turned left. Erik's Address was from this town. Sure enough a dilapidated building on the left side of the road claimed to be a post office.
Mom watched the odometer carefully, as the map said 4.2 miles to go, before that address. 4.2 miles came and went, they turned around – easy fit in a large truck with a trailer on a narrow road. Fortunately, there was little traffic. Still, they didn't see it.
"Ronnie, it's got to be here!"
"Its all a big hoax mom."
"Ronnie! That's not true. We must just be missing it."
" I am sure. . . " Ronnie was barely paying attention to the conversation. The unbroken greenery, narrowly hugging the road, mesmerized his eyes.
"We'll hit the post office back in town, they MUST know, they deliver the mail. . . "
"Probably. . ." he was still distracted.
"Can I help ya" The postal worker had a bellowing, in charge demeanor and voice. She looked worn and toughened by sun and life.
"Yes, I am moving into the area here, to this address in particular, and I can't seem to find it…."
"That address? Mighty strange, not knowing a place, and moving into it. . ."
"Well, yes I know, I inherited it, but must live in it, well, it's complicated."
"Fine. From the look of your truck, I believe yore movin' on in. I don' kno' the house atall, but I know the mailbox. Its right on about 4 miles down there, just a tiny driveway, all grown over, with a wood mailbox. . . homemade, and surely not federal regulated, but I don't push that too much out here. Can't see the house from there though. . . I never saw it myself. Never would know someone lived there, 'cept for there was always mail to be delivered."
"Yes thanks. . ." mother interrupted the ramblings of the woman, " I think I do remember seeing that place."
The truck was crawling along. Mother was hunched over the wheel, as her frame would barely allow, scrutinizing the greenery. I doubted that she had seen the driveway before, as she had said, but had just needed to end a conversation. Then, there it was. It was almost invisible. . .a dirt to track road, overgrown almost completely, with a graying wood mailbox. Mom turned in, and sure enough, the number 4652 was painted on the box. This was it. The over grown tree branches scraped at the truck, then yanked at the tarp. For once, I saw legitimate concern on mother's normally carefree face.
The Driveway was up hill, and a long drive. A mile? Two perhaps? He didn't know. Then the trees gave way to clearing, and lawn which, relatively recently, had been well maintained. . . and the house off in the distance. . .
Mom's chin dropped. This reminded me that mine was hanging low. The house was huge, mansion-like. . . it had lots of brick, and wood shingles with intricate towers, lots of windows, a complex roof, four stories, he thought. Maybe more, but he guessed just an attic above that. . .
"Wow, this is more than I had expected. . ." His mom stuttered.
"Yeah, its huge." There wasn't much more to say than that.
They both went to the front entrance, a set of very wide french doors, under a large porch. Mom pulled the keys out of the envelope, which she had received from the lawyer of Uncle Erik's estate. The second one worked in the door. It opened into a huge foyer. . . he guessed 20 feet wide, and 30 feet deep, with marble floors, and old, but expensive looking furniture off to the sides. Two staircases led up on either side. Doors underneath the staircase were he surmised, coat closets. Six of them, in fact.
Speechlessly, he followed his mother farther into the house. The foyer led to a parlor area, also furnished, a kitchen off that, not very large – it seemed out of proportion with a house that seemed designed for entertaining. A music room, off that, and two steps down, complete with a grand piano, various sitting rooms on the ground floor, and then at the other end of the house, a LARGE elevator. Mother pressed the button. Nothing happened.
"It doesn't work." His mom said, perplexed, but not worried. I ran over and flicked the light switch. . .
"Nothing does. . . I think the electric is shut off."
"Yes, I bet it is. We'll take the stairs."
The foyer stairs were also marble. . . carpeted down the middle. . . the carpeting seemed faded. The second floor was mostly bedrooms. Each was large, and unique, with its own bathroom. Each seemed to have its own era of décor. . . as one had been completed every ten years. The third floor had some rooms on it, and a bathroom, but had mostly large storage rooms, a huge meat cooler. . .you could actually walk inside it. . . but it was shut off, and a laundry room. The steps to the fourth floor looked completely unused. They were unusually wide, carpeted, and covered with a film of dust not seen in the rest of the house. They opened onto a foyer, with wide french doors on either side. The glass was dark blue, so you could not see through. Mother opened the doors to the left.
The room streamed with sunlight, through many windows, and through several skylights. The fourth floor was actually one big room, at least on this side of the steps. In the center was a huge bed. Well, he though it was a bed. . .about 20 feet by 20 feet. It had blankets neatly arranged on it. The elevator door was on the far wall, and huge inset bathtub was set in the floor in the far corner. Near the tub, a chinese privacy screen stood. The ceiling was vaulted, to follow the roofline, and was 25 feet high or so, in some spots, only 8 feet high in others.
"Mom, can this be my room?"
"Ronnie, what do you need a room like this for. Its huge!"
"Well, its here. . . its just really nice, can I please?" he begged, sounding more like a 14 year old, than he liked.
She thought about it. Ronnie was not at all happy about moving, this was perhaps one thing that made him happy, she would let him have it. There was a very nice room down on the second floor that would serve her well. It had a king sized bed, but even that was dwarfed by the bed in this room.
"Fine Ronnie, if you promise to stop complaining about moving here, and make the best of it."
The relatively small fourth floor foyer also led to a very large, very well equipped kitchen, on the far side of the house. This kitchen seemed much more in scale with the house, but it was perplexing, how the house was laid out. The Fourth floor seemed cordoned off, separate from the rest of the house.
Ronnie lay down on the huge bed to take a nap. The air was a bit stuffy, but the long drive and unloading of all their belongings had whipped him. He began to doze off. His mom had traveled into town, to get their phone turned on.
His dreams were fitful. . . then he suddenly felt a presence, a weight upon him, and he woke, or he thought he woke, but the weight was still there. A thought came to him, like it was someone else's, "why is this bed so large. . .?" He was having trouble breathing, he began to sweat, it startled him, his heart raced, and then he awoke. . . a dream he thought. But it stuck in his head. Why was this bed so large?
School was pretty pitiful. Sneedville's schools were tiny. . .there were only 14 other people in his grade, and the school building was an old building from the forties, with leaky windows, and a stuffy musty feeling. His teachers were mediocre, and he was bored. He had always been a quick study.
The days had gone by, his mom had to drive him o the bus stop, the driveway was too long, other than that, his days were uneventful. He loved sleeping on the fourth floor, but his dream, that first day still bothered him.
Fall was upon North Carolina now, and it was cooler, though still warm, as you might expect. After school, one day, he laid down for a nap, on his huge bed.
He had the dream again, and once again, had a feeling of being awake, yet not. The weight was pressing down, but he calmed himself. "Its only a dream he thought!"
"Why is this bed so large?", again the thought he felt was not his was there.
"I don't know!", he thought.
Then he had the image of flying, and the weight he felt lifted. He looked down, and there, on the bed, was a body so massive, it dwarfed the bed. He understood then why the bed was so large. . . and it excited him, from deep down. He wanted to be that big. Had he always wanted that? Or did it just start? He didn't know.
He begged and complained to his mom about school. . . how bad it was. . .that he wanted to be home schooled. . .
"No Ronnie, you need a good education!"
"Oh please, mom, you are smarter than every hick teacher put together in that school."
"Ronnie, that's not true."
"Oh yes it is. I mean my English teacher says Ya'll is a proper contraction!"
"Fine!" he said and stamped off.
He had gained a bit of weight recently and he had been eating better. For some reason, he felt encouraged to eat. . . like someone was watching him, and just sort of delighting in him doing it. . . he couldn't pin it down, but he liked it, and he intended to spend more time in the house if he could. Finally his mom gave in on the home schooling thing, and he celebrated.
Slowly, but surely, he ate more and more. It just came naturally. He didn't try to do it. He hardly left the house. Sometimes he would go to the store, and he did have one friend from school that would visit. The weight came slowly at first. . . by the following summer, he was only 180 pounds, and 5'9".
All summer, he and Donovan, his friend, played video games and ate. Donovan didn't gain a pound. Ronnie weigh 220 by the end of the summer. By Christmas, he weighed 250, at 5'11"
"Ronnie, are you sure you should eat all that?"
"Leave me alone mom."
"Ronnie, hon, I am just concerned, you've gained quite a bit of weight. You sure you are ok?"
"I am fine."
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