Thursday, September 26, 2013

PART 2: THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 38 (UNEDITED)

Here is Chapter 38.  Everything else will be coming asap.  

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-Part 2's Fifth Interlude before proceeding to the Chapter 38.

Also, check out some further character development in some excerpts from the second draft in the SAMPLES section. 

Otherwise, read from the word go :)  

CHAPTER 38

That afternoon, Gerard came in from working out in the garage when Violet came out to tell him that lunch was ready.  Cyril and Alice had gone out that day and the three Blakes couldn’t help feeling relieved to have them out of the house.  Dorothy had been able to make it down the stairs to join her grandparents.  The conversation was stilted but more pleasant than the night before.  Dorothy was also able to help her grandmother clean up the table.  Gerard had gone back outside to finish raking the leaves.  Dorothy looked out the kitchen window, watching her grandfather.  She noticed that her grandma Violet was watching her and giving her a small nod.
“I haven’t been outside in a couple weeks,” Dorothy said.
Violet gave her granddaughter a faint smile.  Dorothy went to the coat closet in the foyer and got her jacket out, slowly sliding it on.  The pain in her side was almost gone.
Dorothy opened up the front door and stepped outside.  The crisp, autumn air felt wonderful after weeks of being between a hospital room and inside the house.
The wind rustled the dark waves of her hair that brushed just below her shoulders.  She had thought about starting to style it again as she had only been brushing it out since the first time she had gotten out of the hospital.  The scent of the fallen leaves brought back memories of that night at the Fleming place.
Will I ever be able to just enjoy autumn again without being reminded of that? Dorothy thought.
Dorothy walked toward her grandfather who was raking at the side of the house.  The drying grass and leaves crunched beneath her shoes.
Gerard looked up as his granddaughter approached him.  In his seventies, he appeared about ten years younger with his build still strong, similar to his own father’s build.  His hair that had been black in his younger years was now a dark gray and his ruddy complexion set off the grayish-blue eyes he inherited from his father, Jonathan and grandfather, Charles.
Gerard gave his granddaughter a small smile.  “What do I owe this pleasure?” he asked.
Dorothy smiled back at him.  “Oh, I don’t know.  I just wanted to come outside for a little while.”
”Cabin fever?” Gerard asked.
“You can say that,” Dorothy replied.  She was able to kneel down and pick up a pile of leaves her grandfather had just raked.
“Oh be careful, sweetheart,” Gerard said and Dorothy stood back up and put the leaf pile into the garbage can Gerard was filling up.  “Don’t overdo it.  You’re still healing, remember.”
Dorothy sighed and looked over to the backyard that had been cleared of leaves.  She could see a heaping pile in the corner by the fence and immediately thought back to her childhood when Matthew would rake leaves into a pile that she, Linda, and Gail would take flying leaps into.  When her Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice would visit with their three sons, Dorothy and Cletus would have fun playing for hours in the large leaf piles.  For a moment, the world around her seemed to fade and she could see her father raking all the leaves in the yard into a large pile.  The aroma of pumpkin pie flowed out from the kitchen window as her mother prepared it for dessert.  Watching Matthew eagerly as he raked the last of the leaves where three little girls about six years old.  The little girls were Linda, Gail, and Dorothy.
Mr. Blake can we jump in now?!” a very impatient Gail cried.
Matthew’s handsome face looked at the three anxious girls and grinned.  “In a minute, Gail.  Have a little patience.”
Gail sighed and began pacing the yard.  Linda stood in her pink wool coat that matched the cap her blond curls poked out from.  She turned to the six year old Dorothy.
“Dorothy,” Linda said, “I really want to go in there but Betty Ann Smith told me that George and Carl said that there are a lot of snakes and spiders that hide in the leaves.  Is that true?”
Dorothy saw her six-year-old self shrug and then Matthew announced that the leaf pile was now ready for the girls to jump into.  Gail cheered and ran back over to her two friends.  Dorothy watched as the three little girls joined hands and ran over to the pile, diving in.
“Dorothy…” a voice called to her.
The aroma of pumpkin pie disappeared along with the images of her father standing watch as the three little girls jumped into the leaf pile.  The fragrance of the autumn leaves returned and the leaf pile at the corner of the fence now stood alone.
Dorothy turned back to see her grandfather looking at her with deep concern.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Dorothy turned to look at the leaf pile once more and then turned back to her grandfather.  “I'm okay,” she said.  “Just had a memory, that’s all.”
Gerard nodded, his expression saying he understood.
Dorothy stood, racking her brain as she tried to figure out how to approach questioning her grandfather about their family’s history, remembering that her grandmother had said that it was a very sensitive subject for him.  But there were things she needed to know.
Dorothy took in a breath and said, “I was talking to grandma last night.  She came to see me in my room after supper.”
“I know,” Gerard said.  “She told me.  She mentioned you might want to talk.”
Relief went through Dorothy.  She was grateful that her grandmother had taken the first step of breaking the ice for her.  .  “Grandpa…I know it’s difficult for you to talk about some things,” Dorothy began.
“Dorothy,” Gerard said, “I agree that we should talk.  It won’t be easy, but there are things that…given what’s happening…you should definitely know.  I don’t know if it will help, but if anything maybe it will shed some light.”
Dorothy swallowed.  She wasn’t sure how much more she could handle.  She was still coming to terms with what she read in Maxine’s diary the night before.  That Hugh and Melinda Singleton aren’t my real great-grandparents…
Dorothy pushed the thought from her mind as she needed to focus on what her grandpa Blake was about to tell her.  Gerard motioned for his granddaughter to follow him to the back porch.  There were chairs and a small table they sat at.  As if on cue, Violet appeared in the doorway with hot coffee.
“Thought you too may want something to warm you up while you’re out here,” she said.
“Thanks grandma,” Dorothy said.
“Thanks, dearest,” Gerard told her.  Dorothy watched as her grandparents gave one another a quick kiss before Violet retreated back into the house.  She could see the love her grandparents still had for one another even after all these years of marriage.  At that moment, Dorothy hoped that decades from that day, that would be her and Carl.
But will he still want to be with me after he knows everything?  Should I tell him anything at all?
“So Carl called this morning, I see,” Gerard said interrupting her thoughts.
Dorothy took a sip of her coffee.  “Yes,” she said.
“He seems very concerned about you.”
Dorothy smiled but it evaporated when she began thinking of her parents and Tahatan missing along with her new discoveries.  She decided to be direct.
“Grandpa,” she said, “if you can…what exactly is it with our family?  The Blake side?”
Gerard stared down at his coffee cup and Dorothy could see his thoughts racing as though he were trying to figure out where exactly to begin.
Finally he said, “Dorothy, my parents and grandparents were amazing people and loved their children and grandchildren very much.  There was nothing any of them wouldn’t do for eachother, friends, and other family.  May parents…I still have yet to see a relationship that even came close to theirs.  What they went through and how devoted they remained to eachother after all of that…it would have broken most couples.  I’m sure they had their moments of low points where their relationship was stretched pretty thin, but in the end…they deeply loved eachother and that’s all there was to it.”
Gerard paused to take a sip of his coffee before continuing.
“I was a small child when I lost my grandfather Charles and then a little later, my grandfather Howahkan and my sister Willow.  My mother had been strong for my father after Charles’s death.  But Willow’s disappearance followed by Howahkan’s sudden death really shook her.  Even as a kid I could see a change in her though she tried to conceal it.  Shortly after they gave Willow a headstone, it was discovered that my mother was pregnant again.  Of course, she and my father were happy and perhaps that was what everyone needed to move on with their lives.  My grandmother Emma was over a lot to check on my mother while my father was at work and for maybe a month everything was fine.”
Gerard stared up at the clouds that rolled by.  “But that wouldn’t last.  One morning when us kids were all at the schoolhouse and dad was at work, Grandma Emma went over to the house as she always did to help my mother with the washing and preparing supper.  She went into the house and found my mother on the kitchen floor, passed out and bleeding.  Thankfully, the town doctor wasn’t far away and he was able to get there quickly.  It turned out that mom had miscarried the baby and lost blood to the point of passing out.  By the time we all got home from school, my father had already rushed home.  Mom was going to be alright, but of course…losing a child is always tragic and difficult to deal with.”
Dorothy watched her grandfather’s expression.  She could tell by his eyes that he was also thinking of her parents.  In more ways than one, that last part applied to them.
Gerard closed in his eyes for a moment, opening them again before continuing.
“It was the fourth loss for my parents in such a short time and the second time they had to deal with the loss of a child.  Dad tried to be a pillar of strength for mom and for all of us children.  Emma was there for us all too and I can even remember James and Samantha Livingston paying us a visit.  Jesse Livingston and his wife Heather would also periodically visit my parents and bring their kids to play with us.  But mom…she changed…”
Gerard’s voice trailed off and a faraway look formed in his eyes.  He poured himself some more coffee.  Dorothy could see the pain that still lingered after all these years.
“How had she changed?” Dorothy asked cautiously.
Gerard looked intently at his granddaughter and said, “Her mood changed.  It darkened.  She no longer seemed interested in taking care of us kids or even being with my father.  Grandma Emma seemed to be doing more to care for all of us than she was and my father…you can tell it was wearing him out.  Mom wouldn’t eat, she lost a lot of weight.  And I know you’ve seen pictures of Kimimela Blake so you would know that she was a small woman to begin with.  She couldn’t really afford to lose much without looking emaciated, which she did.  Her appearance almost frightend us children as we thought she was starting to look like a skeleton.  Dad would try to get her to eat but had little success.  And then one night when we were all at supper…dad was trying to get her to eat, even if it was just a little.  And then…she turned and glared at him.  With the most hateful expression I had ever seen and then she threw her bowl of hot soup at him.  She then screamed at him to never tell her what to do again.  Even as a kid…when I saw her eyes in that moment…it was like it wasn’t even her in there.  Her voice was different too.  It was deeper.  More throaty.  And as she yelled at my father, the water pitched fell to the floor…from the center of the table and smashed.”
Dorothy felt her heart lurch into her throat as she remembered the hairbrush and the broken water glass from supper the previous night.
“Thankfully, Emma was there and was able to calm her down but my mother even lashed out at her,” Gerard said.  “My poor father…I could see the helplessness he felt.  My brother Chaska saw it too and to this day, we would both be able to swear that we saw a large shadow on the far wall…sort of human but not quite.
“Anyway, I know dad was hesitant about telling others outside the family about what was happening.  He even made all of us kids promise to not say anything.  I think that was because he was afraid of the authorities locking her away somewhere and we would all learn later that that was far from what she needed.  And even though by that particular time the whole witch-hunting thing had become outdated, there were still those out for blood and I think that my father also feared…well, he didn’t want to lose his wife and I’ll leave it at that.
“At the time, the house felt different.  Strange, though I didn’t quite understand what it was back then.  All I knew was that home no longer felt as safe as it did before and my parents, who for as long as I could remember could hardly stand to be apart for even the time dad would go to work, were now so distant from eachother.  Dad still tried to care for her but I could see his apprehension.  Not because he didn’t love her but, well, she just wasn’t her anymore if that makes any sense.”
Gerard took a sip of coffee.  “Well, mom was deteriorating and getting worse.  There were times when, despite her frail state, she would demonstrate a lot of physical strength.  More than a woman her size typically should and that frightened all of us.  Dad wasn’t sleeping and there were times I think he was afraid of going into their bedroom alone with her.  He would go to work and then come home and try to care for our mother.  I really became frightened when I noticed dad hiding all of our pistols and shotguns.  He was also leary of us having kitchen knives, sharp objects, rope, anything that tied within easy reach.  I didn’t quite understand it then, but later I realized it was because dad was afraid of mom doing herself in.  Apparently, she had gotten that bad.  Thank God that Emma was there but something needed to be done about mom.
“I don’t know what all happened.  Remember, I was just a kid then.  But somehow, my father and grandmother came to the conclusion that mom needed…well…an exorcism.”
“An exorcism?” Dorothy asked.  Chills prickled her skin.
Gerard nodded.  “I know it seems drastic and don’t ask me how they came to that.  To this day, I don’t know.  But apparently something happened and it was enough for them to think it was necessary.  Chaska and I were very nebby kids and during that time, we snuck out of our bedrooms a lot to eavesdrop on my father and grandmother while mom slept.  There was one night when we caught pieces of a conversation that dad and grandma were having with the priest of our parish.  That was the first and only time I ever heard my father cry.  I could tell me was in shambles as grandma tried to be strong for him.  There was talk of possession and our priest mentioning how there might be a waiting period before the Church could do anything.  Of course, my father protested that he couldn’t wait and my mother needed help that very moment.  And you know what?  Neither my grandmother nor the priest disagreed with him.
“That was when the priest suggested that there might be another way.  We could hear Father Marcus telling them about some group that was outside of the Church that performed exorcisms.”
Dorothy frowned.  “An independent group of exorcists?”
Gerard shrugged.  “That’s what it seemed like.  All I know is that two days later, us kids were sent to stay at Grandma Emma’s.  I remember looking out the window and seeing Father Marcus enter our house with a group of people I had never seen before and would never see again after that but that was the extent of it.  Though I do remember…that night…having a strange dream where I saw Father Marcus and these people standing around my parents’ bed where my mother laid.  Now, I’m no expert on foreign languages, but what I heard these people reciting seemed to be some old Aramaic language.  Possibly ancient Hebrew, maybe.  Not Latin like one would normally expect.  I saw my mother, thrashing and then she began to levitate and that was when I woke up.
“It was the middle of the night and when I looked out the window to our house, I could see strange lights flickering in the window of my parents’ bedroom.  I don’t know how I went to sleep, but I was somehow able to.
“It was another two days before we were able to return home and when we did, the house did seem different.  More peaceful.  Like the house itself had awoken from a horrific nightmare and the remnants were fading out.  The house smelled of sage as I assume my father did a smudging ritual to cleanse anything that might have been lingering.  My father looked like he hadn’t slept in those days and apparently, he had been able to convince the Blacksmith he worked for to let him off for those needed three days.  But as exhausted as he was, I immediately noticed relief in his eyes.  I never saw that group of exorcists again after that and Father Marcus never mentioned them again either.  Neither did dad, come to think of it.  But whatever happened, it worked.
“Mom slept for two days straight after that but even in her sleep she seemed more at peace than she had recently at that time.  Grandma looked after us while dad went back to work.  Finally, mom woke up when Grandma was there.  All of us kids were in school and dad was at work.  According to Emma, mom was immediately asking for all of us, especially dad.  We all came home from school to find our mother awake and back to normal even if she was still emaciated from eating poorly.
“I’ll never forget my father coming home and seeing my mother for the first time again since Father Marcus brought that group.  Even as a kid at the age of thinking that seeing dad and mom kiss is repulsive, I was pretty choked up at watching them together again in that moment.”
Dorothy stared down at her near empty coffee cup feeling overwhelmed all over again.  Finally, she managed to ask, “Did Kimimela remember anything?”
Gerard shook his head.  “She couldn’t recall much of anything, especially what had occurred with the exorcism.  In fact, she seemed terribly upset when she found out and apologized profusely to my father and grandmother.  She cried when she did remember throwing the hot soup at dad.  But my father never showed any anger with her over it.
“Mom began eating again and slowly began looking healthy again.  She was able to resume being a wife and mother and that Christmas, dad and mom renewed their wedding vows.  They even stayed at the same hotel my Grandpa Charles had put them up at thirteen years prior when they were first married.
“After that, everything did return to I suppose what we would consider normal.  But…I could always sense something lingering off in the distance.  Biding its’ time…”
Gerard turned back and looked at his granddaughter.  “Dorothy, that creature that attacked you…do you remember it?”
Dorothy froze, feeling her heart pound as she nodded.
Gerard took in a breath.  “Did your father ever tell you what happened to him when he was a little boy?”
Dorothy slowly shook her head.
“Well, when he was ten…he was attacked in our barn.  I hoped to God that it was nothing more than a wild animal…but when I got out to that barn and saw the animals all frozen with fear…I could feel that presence again…”
“What are you saying, Grandpa?”
Just then, the door opened and Violet stepped out onto the porch.  She looked from her husband to her granddaughter with a knowing expression.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but Dorothy has a visitor,” she said.
Violet stepped aside and allowed Bernice out onto the porch.

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