My suitcase waited for me by the front door. I’d spent most of the night weighing my options and ultimately decided to pack what I needed to get me through a few nights in a hotel. Since my conversation with Edgar, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this whole idea had been a huge mistake. Besides, what did I know about renovating a Victorian mansion anyway? The fact that it had belonged to my family for so many generations and I was the last one of our kind left to inherit it just felt doubly tragic. Truly, I had no idea what I was trying to hang on to.
And then there were the ghosts.
To be fair, I didn’t completely believe Edgar’s warnings about a sinister evil inhabiting the house itself. As far as I knew, there was no such thing.
But then, I’d felt that way about ghosts once, too.
All the same, I was more likely to believe that he’d used this story to rationalize the brutal murder of an innocent man. I still didn’t understand why he or Agatha had felt justified in ending Roger’s life but I had no intentions of sticking around long enough to hear Roger’s side of the story. Enough was enough. I had my own problems.
I dipped the roller in the paint tray and gently rolled it against the smooth wall I’d been working on for seemingly an eternity now. Another reason this renovation idea had been so insane – I absolutely hated anything to do with actually, well, renovating. Painting topped this list. It was mind-numbingly boring and gave me too much time to think. What I really needed was to do something that would distract my thoughts from the house and its otherworldly inhabitants.
“If only I could coerce them into doing manual labor for me,” I said to myself and laughed softly.
I glanced back at my suitcase for the umpteenth time as if I expected it to magically disappear before I had the opportunity to finish this room. Anything at this point was possible.
I would leave, I’d decided, as soon as I finished what I’d started in the living room. Unfortunately, it was one of the largest rooms on the main floor and I’d barely managed to touch it. That left me more to do than I had hoped. Once this room was complete, I’d put the house on the market and never look back, what I should have done in the first place.
The furniture had been covered in heavy white sheets to protect it but when I could no longer endure the silence surrounding me, I got down from the step stool to uncover the small television that I’d brought with me just so I would have some background noise while I worked.
I skimmed the few channels that I could get but there was very little selection. I settled on old TV show reruns. At least they were lighthearted. Really, it didn’t matter much as long as it served to stop the endless conversations running on repeat inside my head.
“Spending too much time with the dead,” I said as I returned to work, “It’s unhealthy.” An episode of the Three Stooges came on in the background while I hurried over the wall.
Evil. Murder. Bodies in the backyard. Ghosts in the Attic. Betrayal. Desperation.
The antics of Larry, Curly, and Mo couldn’t drown out my internal turmoil.
I glanced over my shoulder in time to watch one of the Stooges hit the other in a chain reaction that was somehow supposed to be funny. I’d never been a fan but I smiled at their antics anyway. Maybe I’d never given them a fair chance?
I rolled the paint over the wall with more enthusiasm. This could work, I thought. But when I went to dip the roller into the paint tray, it was gone.
“What the …” I was sure it was there a minute ago. I stepped down and looked around the room but there was no sign of it anywhere.
Gently, I set the paint roller on one of the sheets covering an old couch and did a quick search in the other rooms of the house, even though I knew it was fruitless because I hadn’t left the living room in at least two hours. I returned to the living room just as Curly smashed a cream pie in Mo’s face. I shook my head at the absurdity of it.
“Ugh!” I yelped.
The paint tray hit the floor with a clang as I put my hands up to my face in horror to wipe away white paint that was plastered against my face and hair. As I cleared my eyes, I noticed a young girl getting ready to knock me over the head with the roller. I managed to grab it just before it made contact with my scalp.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” I said, almost in tears.
Two others materialized next to the first and instantly they began hitting and pushing each other other almost mimicking the actions from TV.
“Seriously! Stop it right now!”
Ignoring me, they went about their fun, knocking over my step ladder and pulling the sheets from the furniture as they went.
I didn’t know what else to do so I walked over to the TV and slammed the off button. As soon as the Stooges disappeared from the screen, my uninvited guests flickered and disappeared from the room. I heard the echo of laughter and cringed as I expected them to reappear ready to hit me with something but after several minutes, I was left with only the silence and a huge mess to clean up.
Disgusted and now even further from finishing the living room than before, I marched up the stairs to take a shower. Ghosts were just no fun at all and I would never learn to be a fan of The Three Stooges.
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