Thursday, April 4, 2013

THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931: Section 4 (UNEDITED)



If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-THE TIME IN BETWEEN, Section 3 before proceeding to reading Section 4. 
Otherwise, read THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931: Section 4 from the jump :)



4
Quebec, Montreal, Canada
Plains, NY 
1867-1931

La Suerte had reached the Canadian port in early April of 1866.  Within the following month, Nicolae (or Luiz as he was known), Teresa, their children, and son-in-law would be settled among a cluster of small Roma villages off the coast.  Their small house was only a slight upgrade from the huts they had lived in back in Europe, but it did provide a little more room for the family.  Nicolae lived in the house with Teresa and their children Sebastian, Ferdinand, Stefania, Tatiana, and Manuel.  Anabel and her husband Vlad lived in a smaller house, next door.  Three months would pass and Anabel’s first pregnancy would be discovered.  What would normally be a time of joy for other prospective first-time grandfathers would only deepen Nicolae’s depression and heighten the near hatred he felt for Teresa. 
As Nicolae saw it, everything was a lie.  His life, his “marriage” (which he saw as not only a lie but also a colossal and cruel joke), it was all a sham.  He found it more difficult with each passing day to even feign a smile or a laugh in the presence of the neighbors and even his children.  He could barely stand to look at Teresa anymore and although he had love for the children, he also couldn’t help the fact that when he looked at them, he not only saw himself but her.  Teresa.  The woman who had driven the final nail into his coffin.  When he looked at his and Teresa’s children, it was a taunting reminder of what could and should have been and ended up not being.  During each of Teresa’s pregnancies, Nicolae was reminded of Eloisa and the fact that she was possibly carrying his child at the time of her death and how that child never had a chance to even be born.  He had wanted very much to be a father to his and Eloisa’s child as any child they would have had together would have been a result of their union and love.  But with Teresa, that was not the case.  As much love as Nicolae tried to have and did end up having for his children with Teresa, they had each been the result of Teresa’s deception and the dark truth that had been the cause of their ending up together.  But Nicolae also felt a tremendous amount of guilt for the times he had resented his children and now forthcoming grandchild.  There was part of him that knew it wasn’t fair to take his anger at Teresa out on them.  They were children and had no control over how they had come into the world.  They hadn’t done anything wrong.  They weren’t responsible for their mother’s and grandmother’s actions.  And Nicolae sat in the toolshed in the back of the small house near the Canadian coast on a late night in the spring of 1867, thinking about all these things.  Anabel was in her ninth month and would likely be giving birth any day now.
Nicolae sat, listening to the rush of the ocean’s night tides that were not too far in the background.  He had finally crossed that ocean and left Romania and the past behind: the death of his parents, being separated from his siblings, being a slave, losing Eloisa, and then losing his younger brother, Sebastian.  But in many ways, he hadn’t really left it or it never left him.  Nicolae had given his eldest son the name of his lost brother and his eldest daughter, his mother’s name.  Even the name he had used over the passed two decades, Luiz Akatsatov, had been his father’s first name and the surname had it’s origins in Moldova, the birthplace of his mother.  As for Eloisa, he still kept her ashes with him and intended on doing so until his death.  And his death, Nicolae decided, would be that very night and his final request of having his and Eloisa’s ashes scattered onto the Atlantic Ocean would be fulfilled so long as Teresa did nothing to sabatoge it…and who knew what Teresa would be capable of.  The sweet, though mildly irritating girl he had met in Aragon, Spain was gone, though she was brilliant when it came to putting up a front for the neighbors.
In the dim light of the shed, Nicolae turned his gaze upward to where he had secured the noose he had knotted out of rope.  His workshed provided just enough room for a person his height to hang.  He looked at the stool underneath the noose as he clutched the box with Eloisa’s ashes tightly.  Nicolae had carried that box with him since the age of nineteen and now at forty-two, it would all finally end with him being with the only woman he could ever love, the only one who had ever made him feel complete.  There was a cliff not too far from the house that dropped down into a query of rocks by the ocean’s edge.  Nicolae had considered this as an option, as he could jump from the cliff holding Eloisa’s ashes.  But the more he thought about it, the more he felt the way he was doing it was the better way to go.  The workshed reminded him of Eloisa and the nights they had snuck away to be together in the toolshed back in their slave village in Romania.  He wanted his final moments to be reliving his time with Eloisa in anticipation of finally being able to be with her again forever.  It was odd how he had left Romania to escape slavery.  Yet, here he was still, in a way, a slave.  He was not Nicolae Ganoush to anyone but himself (and sometimes, not even himself).  As far as those who knew him now were concerned, Nicolae Ganoush, his family, his past, where he had come from, none of it existed.
All a lie…
When Nicolae had killed Dimitri, Domn Anton Alexanderescu had wanted Nicolae hanged should he be caught.  Hanged or beheaded.  Now, here he was, about to die in a way the Domn would have liked to have seen him die.
The Domn…
Nicolae couldn’t help wondering at that moment what became of the Domn and his wife, Elsa.  The last he had heard about the Alexanderescu family, Lucinda had gotten married to the son of a Hungarian noble family (poor fool…God bless anyone who would end up with Lucinda Alexanderescu).  Nicolae hadn’t heard anything about the Domn or Elsa passing away, though that didn’t mean it hadn’t happened.  And trying to imagine Lucinda as a woman his age (only two years younger than Nicolae was) with a husband, children, and possibly even grandchildren proved quite difficult as all Nicolae thought of when he thought of Lucinda (other than her wretch of a brother) was the spoiled little brat who had gotten her hair pulled out by none other than Eloisa.  Yes, Nicolae did remember rather fondly his first time meeting Eloisa when they were still children. 
Nicolae closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall holding his box to his chest.  An image of him and Eloisa came back to him, the two of them on the mattress back in the shed in Romania, Nicolae seated with Eloisa in his lap with her legs wrapped around him.  There were no barriers of clothing between them as they clinged to one another with Nicolae’s head on Eloisa’s chest, hearing and feeling her heartbeat.  It was then that the tears began to spill from his eyes.  All the sadness, the pain, and anger he had harbored burst through the walls of the fortress he had built around him over the years.  Eloisa had been Nicolae’s last form of stability and when she died, his brother Sebastian had kept from completely going over the edge.  But then Sebastian disappeared and while Nicolae had been able to contain himself from going completely mad, everything he had lived for was gone.  All he had left were the nights Eloisa had come to him while he slept and Teresa had taken those away.  The nights Nicolae had spent with Eloisa after her death gradually grew more far between as he was close to Aragon.  He would see Eloisa, but it was different.  She was different.  It was almost as though she knew what was to come.  Now, it had been two decades since he had seen Eloisa and over those last two decades, many were the late nights when Nicolae would just sit with the box of her ashes hoping that somehow, that would make her come to him.  But it never happened.  He feared he had lost her, that she was angry with him.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered as his body shook from his sobs, “I’m so sorry…”
Nicolae began to have doubt that he would be seeing Eloisa on the other side.  And his parents.  And his siblings.  He didn’t even know which of siblings were still alive or which ones had passed on.  And then there was his brother, Sebastian.  In Nicolae’s mind, Sebastian was still only eleven years old and still never knew what had become of him or why he had disappeared.  And then his daughter, Olga had disappeared.  Vanished just like Sebastian had.  Over the years, Nicolae had tried to maybe find some form of clue in the incident with the cloaked figure, the dark labyrinth with a demonic version of Sebastian, and the incident with him being taken to the year 1956.  But the more he tried to get some reason and logic out of it, the more confused he became.  All he knew at that moment was that he wanted to see Eloisa and the rest of the family he had lost.  The family that had been forgotten and unnoticed by the rest of the world.  The letter Nicolae had in his pocket explained it all and while didn’t care if Teresa understood, he hoped his children would.
Nicolae’s crying had ceased and now he sat with his eyes still shut, knowing it was almost time.  He felt the presence of someone entering the room and sitting beside him.  A familiar presence.
“Nicolae,” a familiar voice whispered causing his heart to nearly stop.
It can’t be…though please let it…
He slowly opened his eyes and saw her sitting beside him.
“Eloisa…” he said in disbelief.  She was here after all these years.  He had aged but she was still eighteen and as beautiful as he remembered her.
“Yes,” she said, “I’m here.”
Nicolae’s first impulse was to throw his arms around her, but he stopped, remembering Teresa’s many deceptions.
“Please…it’s really you…?” Nicolae said, studying her face, her eyes for any sign that it was really her.
“It is,” she said bringing her hand to touch the side of his careworn face. 
There was something in Eloisa’s touch that he had forgotten that wasn’t there with Teresa, even when Teresa was at her most convincing.  He looked into Eloisa’s eyes, heard her voice and it all came back to him.  The genuine nature and love she had for him.  It was still there.  A look into Eloisa’s eyes told him that her love never died.  As it had earlier, every emotion Nicolae had harbored came out of him and he threw his arms around Eloisa.  She felt real.  He was really holding her again and she was holding him.  She wasn’t a dream!
“My Eloisa!” he cried, “why did you leave?!  Why did you leave?!”
They sat that way, silently holding one another for a while longer before pulling apart and looking at each other.  There was a sadness in Eloisa’s eyes as she looked at him.
“Nicolae, what happened to you?” she asked.
“I got old,” he answered.
Eloisa sighed.  “That’s not what I mean and you know it.”
Nicolae lowered his eyes to the floor, suddenly feeling shame as Eloisa turned hers to look up at the noose.
“Why are you doing this to yourself?” Eloisa asked with much sorrow in her voice.
Nicolae was quiet for another moment before he said, “Eloisa… can’t live without you.  I tried and I can’t do it anymore…please…just let me come with you.  After I lost the rest of my family, you and Sebastian were all I had left.”
“What about your children?” Eloisa said.
Nicolae shook his head.  “I don’t know.  Whenever I look at them, I’m reminded of what happened…of what Teresa did…especially after I told her more than once to please respect my boundaries!  And did she do that?  No!  She lied to me!  What little I had left she took away!”  Nicolae paused, trying to control the anger he felt brewing before he said, “I don’t even have my name anymore.  I hardly even know what’s real and what isn’t.  You know, the other day I was thinking of my brothers and sisters and I couldn’t even remember some of their names!  It’s all getting lost…all of it…”
Nicolae brought his hands to his face as more tears threatened to spill out.  Eloisa brought a comforting hand to his shoulder as Nicolae continued, “And my daughter, Anabel, is about to have a baby and the lies will continue.  Another generation begins with the lies.  There are times when I do think that after Sebastian disappeared it would have been better if I would have just revealed myself and turned myself in back to the Domn.  Especially if I had known that it would all have become this!”
“Your children are beautiful,” Eloisa said, “just like their father.  And they need you.  Whether or not you believe that.  Or want to.”
Nicolae turned to look at Eloisa.  She was the one who was still beautiful.
“It’s just that…when I think of what could have been…I just…wish it were our children and first grandchild instead of…”  Nicolae’s voice trailed off.
“You know I wanted that too, my love,” Eloisa said, “but they’re not to blame for Teresa’s actions.  I know you know that.”
And Nicolae knew she was right.
“But Teresa…” Nicolae began, “to say she’s crazy is an understatement.  But when the first child came…I couldn’t leave.”
“I wouldn’t have expected you to,” Eloisa said.
“I was afraid you were angry with me for betraying you.”
“I know it wasn’t your fault.”
“That night…Eloisa…I thought it was you!  Honest to God I did!”
“I know.”
Why did you leave?!  Twenty three years!  Why did you leave?!”
Eloisa looked down and then intently into Nicolae’s eyes.  Nicolae could see that she was trying to find the right words to answering his question.
“Nicolae…there is far more to the world around us than any of us know or realize.”  She paused and said with a hint of a tear in her voice, “If I could have come to you I would have.  I worry about you, Nicolae.  I know you’re not in a good place with Teresa.”
Nicolae thought of Eloisa’s words: There is far more to the world around us than any of us know or realize.  When one looked at it that way, everything made a little more sense.  Everything from Eloisa being with him even after her death, the adventure with the cloaked figure, being taken to the year 1956 for a short time, even Sebastian’s disappearance made a little more sense and a little easier to deal with, though not a whole lot.  Another thought occurred to Nicolae and he said, “I’ve also never forgiven myself for failing to save you that night.  For not being able to get to you in time when I swore I would always protect you!”
“Nicolae, you shouldn’t blame yourself.  There was nothing you could have done.  They had you restrained and it was the two of us against several of the Domn’s guards.”
“You didn’t deserve what happened to you.  And you were too good for what Dimitri wanted of you.  And as for him, please tell me he’s roasting in the lowest level of hell right now.”
“I can’t,” Eloisa said, “I can only tell you have to continue to be here…”
“Eloisa!”
“For just a while longer.”
Nicolae sighed.  “I don’t know if I can.”
“I know you can,” Eloisa said, “the Nicolae I fell in love with could.  I think that’s why you did continue on even after everything that happened to you.”
Nicolae was silent as he took in Eloisa’s words.  It was true.  He had every chance in the world to end it and yet, here he was.
“Nicolae,” Eloisa said, “one other thing I can tell you is that when it is your time, I’ll be there.”
“Really?” Nicolae asked.
“Yes, really.  And while you’re here, watch your children.  They need you more than you realize.”
There was something in Eloisa’s tone that made Nicolae think that Eloisa meant more than him just being a present father in their lives.  Her eyes told him that too.  Nicolae’s thoughts immediately went to Andreas, his and Teresa’s first son and child who had died shortly after birth.  And then Olga, her disappearance still held so many unanswered questions and somehow, Nicolae knew that it all came back to Teresa and what she had done that moonlit night two decades ago.  He had just been running from it all.
Nicolae turned his body completely to Eloisa and said, “I love you, Eloisa.  Only you.”
“I love you too, Nicolae,” she said, “and you’re still as handsome as you were when we were together back in Romania.”
“Well, I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor,” Nicolae said with a small smirk.
 “I mean it, Nicolae!” Eloisa said with a laugh.  How he missed her laugh.
They were both silent then for a moment before Nicolae said, “Thank you.”
Eloisa didn’t have to ask ‘what for.’  She knew what he meant.  She also knew it was time to leave him, but not before saying, “Please look after your children.  Promise me.”
“I will,” Nicolae said, “I promise.”
There was a seriousness to Eloisa’s look and words that told that him that while she didn’t have all the answers, it was still imperitive that he listen to her.
“Just remember,” she said, “we will be together again when the time is right.  That, I can promise you.”
“Please wait for me,” Nicolae said.
“Always.”
Nicolae leaned forward.  He was hesitant as he didn’t know how Eloisa would react to him kissing her now.  They were apparently part of two different worlds now and he had gotten significantly older.  But to Eloisa, he was still Nicolae, the young man she fell in love with.  Eloisa allowed Nicolae to bring his lips to hers and she welcomed and returned the kiss, putting her arms around him.  It was as though no time had ever passed and for the first time in twenty three years, Nicolae felt the same happiness he had knew with Eloisa back in Romania.  For that moment, he was that same young man. 
They held their embrace for as long as they possible could, each one taking the other in and when they parted, Nicolae and Eloisa would gaze into the other’s eyes before she would be gone.  His Eloisa was gone again, but this time, instead of feeling empty, he felt complete and a sense of reassurance.  Eloisa had returned to him briefly to once again, give him what he needed.  Nicolae smiled at the realization and stood up. 
We’ll be together when the time is right.  That, I can promise you, her words echoed back to him.
Nicolae looked once more at the stool and noose he was going to do himself in with before removing them.  He unknotted the rope and carrying his box with Eloisa’s ashes, he walked down to the ocean’s shore and threw the rope into the ocean.  He then sat with the box as he watched the rope drift out to sea.  It was then he remembered the suicide letter he had in his pocket.  He took it out and unfolded it, reading over what he had written.  He thought about tearing it up and throwing it into the ocean with the rope, but decided to keep the letter.  The truth was the truth and that he couldn’t throw away.  He wouldn’t throw it away, though it would be almost another decade before he would break the truth, all of it, to one of his children.
Nicolae still sat along the shore, with one hand on the box of ashes and the other clutching the letter that held the truth, when the sunrise began to show itself over the horizon.  He wondered if there were sunrises where Eloisa was and if so, if she was watching it the way he was.  Nicolae knew that there would come a day when he would be able to find out and that if there were sunrises there, he and Eloisa had an eternity to share it.  But he also remembered the urgent warning in Eloisa’s eyes.  He remembered Andreas and Olga.
There is far more to the world around us than any of us know or realize.
The more he thought about it, the more it all began to hit him and make complete sense.
As the sun’s rays began to rise, Nicolae tightened his grip on the box and said, “Thank you, my love.  Thank you.”


~~~~~~~~~


Over in the states, the year 1867 was two years post Civil War.  During that time, Cedric and Margaret Fleming had been able to continue their two decade successful run of Nathaniel Fleming Manor and Orphanage.  The manor’s beautiful, Victorian era buildings sat in the patch of clearing amidst the woodland at the top of the hill, visible to the townfolk of Plains, many of whom saw the Fleming’s property as a great asset to the town.  James Livingston continued to remain an active member of the Board of Directors, keeping his promise of assisting Cedric and Margaret in anyway he could even after his retirement from running Livingston Publishing.  By now, James was in his early seventies and his wife, Samantha, had passed away five years earlier in 1862 at the age of sixty-two.  She was entombed in a mausolieum that James had built on a plot he had reserved for him and his family when the Plains Cemetery had been established. 
James had decided that it was officially time to retire from running Livingston Publishing after Samantha’s passing and had left it to his three sons, all of whom still lived in New York with their wives and children.  James’s second son, Samuel, had been the most enthusiastic about inheriting the company and had been the one to take over many of James’s tasks in running Livingston Publishing and the Library.  Jesse, the eldest, had a better mind for accounting and worked in the company’s accounting department and Lawrence was a creative writer and even had a few of his own works published under the name L.H. Livingston.  Jesse and his wife Heather were also expecting their first grandchild. 
The Livingstons had also kept in regular touch with the Blakes over the years.  Charles Blake had passed away at the age of 55 a little over a decade ago.  James, Samantha, and the rest of the Livingston family had attended the wake and burial, expressing his condolences to Emma, the Blake children and grandchildren.  James had also been one of those asked to give a eulogy for Charles.  In his eulogy, James recalled the day Charles had come into his Publishing Company, begging him for work as he had just arrived from Ireland with his wife and two small boys.  Despite the vocal doubts those in James’s staff had had in hiring the Irishman, James had ended up deciding to give Charles a chance and offer him a month’s trial which Charles had accepted with enthusiasm. 
“Anyone who has a problem with the way I run my business is free to seek employment elsewhere,” James had said to the protesting members of his staff.  After that, no one had argued, though Charles wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms at first.
James didn’t quite know what it was about Charles that he initially liked, but he would soon learn that the Irishman was one of the hardest workers he had ever seen.  Any task Charles was given, he would give his all to regardless of how minor the task at hand seemed.  When Charles’s month long trial was over, James had asked him if was able to read.  Charles said he was able to a little but would be willing to learn what he couldn’t do.  And he did so he could perform the filing job James had offered him. 
James had struggled to hold back his emotions when he concluded with saying that Charles had taught him that there were still men of intergrety in the world, men who value their work and family and men who are just honest and good men who appreciate what they have. 
“The world needs more like Charles,” James had said and then turned to the body of his friend who was laid out in the casket and through the lump that was rising in his throat said, “Godspeed, old friend.”
James had gone to Illinois to say goodbye to his friend, a friend he would greatly miss.  He would receive letters from Emma about the boys and grandchildren, especially after Samantha’s death, continuing the letter writing he and Charles had done.  Emma was a truly amazing woman and in some ways, she reminded James of his Samantha.  They had both lost the person they loved and now lived in an empty house with all their children grown and moved out.  They found communication with one another comforting.  Now, James also enjoyed a quiet, retired life.

1867 would also be the thirteenth year of Maxine Fleming being a classroom instructor there.  Maxine had taken the position of an English instructor when she was 20 years old and seemed to thoroughly enjoy teaching the children had taken to living in her dormroom rather well.  She had lived out the rest of her childhood in the upper living quarters of the main building with her parents.  At eighteen, she became an assistant classroom instructor to Christian Andrews, the English instructor at that time.  Christian was in his early thirties, married, and with two children.  He was one of the few employees of the orphanage who was living in a house off of the Fleming property in town.  It had been rumored among a few that Maxine had been very taken by Christian Andrews and her parents had even expressed their objection to her becoming involved with a member of the staff who was married with a family.  But as these things sometimes happen, the warnings went ignored.  It wasn’t long before Christian was responding to Maxine’s charms and the two began an affair, trying to be as descreet as possible.  It would carry on for nearly a year until the discovery of Maxine’s pregnancy.  Cedric and Margaret loved their daughter, but these were times when such an occurance would be considered scandalous and possibly even ruin the family and the business.  A deal between the Flemings and the Andrews was secretly made for Christian’s family to take the child.  His wife would take on the façade of being pregnant and Maxine would be sent to be with relatives until the child was born.  Even James Livingston was unaware of it all until some time after when Cedric had confided in him.  Cedric couldn’t help not feeling right about giving up his granddaughter to the Andrews famly, who had moved out of state after the birth, even if it was for the better.  He was concerned about the affect the ordeal had had on Maxine.  But she seemed to return from the incident rather well as she threw herself into her studies in becoming an instructor, which she did excel at.  But Maxine’s scandalous pregnancy wouldn’t be the only issue Cedric and Margaret’s Orphanage would face.
The orphanage was an overall safe haven for children who had become wards of the state and the Flemings had aided in many successful adoptions.  But every so often, there would be a child who would go missing, never to be seen or heard from.  While these occurances were very few and far between, they were terribly disturbing and upsetting to Cedric and Margaret as they strived to provide a safe haven for these children.  The other troubling thing was that according to testimonies from some of the other children, the child in question would seem to have just vanished.  There one minute, and gone the next.  The authorities would work with the Flemings in searching for the missing child and finding any possible culprits.  But the missing child would never be returned. 
“Keep in mind that sometimes children do just run away,” a detective had told Cedric and Margaret after one incident.
It was obvious he was merely trying to make the Flemings feel better, but it wasn’t any use.  Cedric and Margaret didn’t like the thought of any child missing whether that child left at their own free will or against their will.  There had been one case when a shred of a bloody, piece of clothing had been found in the woods not too far from the orphanage.  Of course a police search was conducted, but in those days, there was only so much the investigators were able to do and eventually the case went cold.  The police had chalked it up to being an unfortunate child who had wandered into the woods and likely came face to face with a hungry animal.  Cedric and Margaret would implement more security and the following years would occur without incident until October 31, 1867 when Cedric and Margaret would be found dead in their living quarters. 
The coroner who had overseen the corpses had been unable to find the cause of death and ended up pronouncing it as natural causes.  Cedric and Margaret where into their sixties and such a thing was not uncommon.  But one thing he had found (and information that was also withheld from the papers) were the odd scratches on the bodies of Margaret and Cedric.  Cedric and Margaret Fleming were buried in Plains Cemetery alongside of their adopted son, Nathaniel, who’s body they had had moved to their purchased plot when they had set up residence in Plains.
The deaths of Cedric and Margaret would be very disturbing to James.  He had gone to see the coroner, who was reluctant to tell him anything at first, but eventually broke down and told James about the scratches.
“Animal scratches?” James had asked frowning.
The coroner shook his head and said, “Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to tell you.  I hadn’t seen anything like them before in my years of doing what I do.”
Although it was against the code of ethics in his profession, the coroner had given James his report on the Fleming deaths.  Later that night, James sat in his study, comparing the report given to the newspapers verses what the real report was.
I hadn’t seen anything like them…
In that moment, the ordeal with seeing the dark-haired girl fixing herself a noose that he had seen prior to the orphanage opening, and then what his son, Lawrence, had told him about the dream he had had about Nathaniel Fleming.
I saw Nathaniel Fleming kill you!
He also remembered the brief flash he had seen that evening in 1844 in his holiday home.  The night before he would alter his Will to include the Blakes.  He had seen her again.  The same dark-haired girl.  She had been playing the piano, a familiar piece by the composer, Paganini. 
As James sat regarding the documents, he thought he could hear the notes to the song playing on a piano, somewhere far away.  He removed his reading spectacles and rubbed his temples, trying to make the sound leave him.  But the more he tried to rid himself of the song, the louder it seemed to play until it was almost as though someone were sitting in the same room playing on a piano.  The song continued to fill the air and he could feel the emotion being pounded into the keys.  He noticed the chills that covered him and remembered what he had thought that night at the orphanage in room 17.
No logic…none at all…
James looked around as he felt the presence of someone enter his study.  But when he looked up, no one was there and the music had stopped.  The house was silent around him.  Empty and silent.

The Fleming’s orphanage would remain open thanks to Maxine.  The now thirty-four year old would recover quite well from the deaths of her parents and would also bring in her cousin (Cedric’s nephew), Jared Fleming to help her continuing to run the business.  In 1868, James would retire from being on the board, though he extended his help to Jared and Maxine if they would need it.  James would never share this with anyone, but he didn’t take very well to Jared.  There really wasn’t a particular reason James could point at, but there was something about Jared that James didn’t quite like.  Of course, there was the scandal among staff members that Jared and Maxine had been more than just business partners to one another, but James was bored with gossip at that point.  His final year of James’s life would be quiet despite gatherings with friends and family.  On a summer night in June of 1870, James would put his head down on the desk in his study after reading a letter from Emma Blake, shut his eyes and never wake.  He would be found a day later by his sons Jesse and Samuel. 
James’s funeral had been a large affair with many politicians, artists, and others of importance in society had been in attendance, each remembering James for the work he had done for the state of New York and the small town of Plains.  What would have been the most important to James would be knowing that Emma Blake, her children, grandchildren, and new great-grandchildren had been at his service as well as their pleasant shock when they discovered what James had left for their family in his Will.  Following his funeral service, James had been entombed alongside Samantha and a statue of him had been built in front of the Plains Library in his honor, stating him as a founder of the town.

As for the Fleming Orphanage, Jared and Maxine would run it together for another ten years until the night of All Hallow’s Eve in 1880 when Jared would be found hanging by his neck in the fifth floor of the main building.  He had been living in the same living quarters that his aunt and uncle had lived in and it had been rumored that although Maxine had kept her school instructor’s dormroom, she actually lived up with Jared most of the time.  
On the night of Jared’s death, Maxine had been found wandering the grounds claiming to have seen her brother Nathaniel. 
“He had the Devil’s eyes!” she was rambling, “he was asking me to let him in!” 
Maxine was taken to a sanitarium further upstate and was reportedly going on about how the town of Plains was cursed and built near a hellmouth. 
The rest of the Fleming kin thought it best to close the orphanage down.  There had been one scandal too many and sponsors were threatening to pull their funding.  So it was done and the remaining children were moved around to other orphanages around the state. 

When the news of Jared’s apparent suicide and Maxine’s rantings had hit the newspapers, many assumed the story to be nothing more than a case of people who succumbed to the effects of alcohol (as Jared and Maxine were both known to have been quite the lushes at parties and events) and the pressures of running a business that proved to be more difficult than originally thought.  But what the papers didn’t report was that Jared’s body had been terribly mutilated.  The coroner knew the wounds on Jared’s body had not been self-inflicted like his father before him had been mystified by the small scratches on the bodies of Cedric and Margaret, this coroner found the mutilation on Jared’s body to not be like anything he had seen in the few years he had been practicing.  
Jared was quietly buried in Plains Cemetery along with his Uncle Cedric, Aunt Margaret, and his cousin Nathaniel.  Fleming Manor was officially shut down in the spring of 1881, close to what would have been it’s 35th year open.  
The buildings would sit empty over the years and what was once considered an asset for the town was now a gloomy eyesore.  Maxine would live out her final days in the sanitarium.  She would be found floating facedown in a bathtub at the age of 60.  Her body would be moved back to Plains where she would be buried with the rest of her family.



~~~~~~~~~

The years would pass and the people of Plains would eventually resume their quiet lives.  The Fleming’s property would go up for sale again, but by the the time a recession would hit the United States followed by the Great Depression in the 1929, the land didn’t hold the value it once had.  Of course, the local folklore didn’t do much to help matters.  The more superstitious did believe that the land up on the hill was cursed and refused to go near it.  Maxine’s original statements of the area being near or on top of a hellmouth remained.  Some who claimed to be mediums preferred to call it a wormhole that was a direct pathway to other dimensions.  Then there were the claims of the strange and unusual sightings, including those who said that they had seen the ghosts of Nathaniel, Maxine, Cedric and Margaret along with seeing Jared’s silhouette hanging in the fifth floor window of the main building.  Some even claimed to see the spirits of the children who had gone missing and had heard whispering coming from the trees at night and shadows lurking in the trees.  Maybe it was the dark cloud cast upon the state of New York and the rest of the country before and during the Depression, but the stories were many. 
Others laughed the stories off as being ghost stories used to take people’s minds off of the hard times of the recession and Depression and would dismiss the whispers as simply being the wind and the shadows as being either woodland animals or just some local kids messing around. 
There would be the occasional group of teens who would sneak up the hill late at night, daring a member of their group to stay for at least an hour on the floor of the main building where Cedric, Margaret, and Jared Fleming had met their end.  Sometimes they would enter the buildings in groups, breaking open the doors, or forcing open a window, running around and scaring each other.  Some would even find their way to some of the old rooms and end up giving into teenaged desires in one of the old bedrooms.  There would be one such outing on Halloween of 1931 that would begin as a fun night of mischief for a group of six friends but would hardly go as any of them would plan or expect it to.  And that would only be the beginning.

Read on to PART 2: Chapter 9.

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