Monday, October 7, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 40 (UNEDITED)

Here is Chapter 40. 

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section or scroll to previous posts (in case I don't update the CHAPTERS section right away) to read the Prologue-Sixth Interlude before proceeding to Chapter 40.

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

Otherwise, read from the word go :)  More coming soon :)



CHAPTER 40

Dorothy glanced out the window as Linda and Gail sat her missed schoolwork on her desk.  Above the neighboring houses, she could see the trees and their gnarled empty branches.  Most of the leaves had fallen and what had once been a colorful backdrop of reds, oranges, and golds was now a vast stretch of grey peppered with some evergreens.
How fleeting life is, Dorothy thought.
In her almost eighteen years, tree leaves were never something she had ever given much thought to.  But they have life.  A very short one…but the evergreens never die…they live through the cruelest winters and still come out when it is time for spring.  Then new leaves begin to grown on the trees…a rebirth of their life.
Dorothy was taken from her thoughts when Linda said, “Oh hey you guys!  I need to tell you!  I already told Jimmy but I haven’t told anyone else yet.  Gail, you might have to fill Reginald in.  Unless Jimmy already has.”
Gail nodded.  “Okay, what?”
“Yeah Linda,” Dorothy said.  “What happened?”  She felt Carl circle his arm around her waist and resting his hand on the small of her stomach.  She responded by placing her hand over his.
“Well, you remember how I told you about the antique store and how I couldn’t recall what the name of it was?  Well, I wired my grandparents and asked them the name.”
“What did they tell you?” Carl asked.
The three watched as a troubled look crossed Linda’s face.  “That’s where the problem is,” she said.  “They couldn’t tell me.”
Gail’s eyes narrowed.  “What do you mean?”
“I mean they couldn’t tell me,” Linda replied.  “They said that while there was an antique store in town, it wasn’t in the area I described.  In fact, it’s on the other side of town from where I was.”
“Are you sure you told them the right area?” Carl asked.
“Yes!” Linda said.  “It was on the same street as the Drugstore & Soda Fountain.  Maybe only a block away.  And my grandfather said that there aren’t any antique stores on the road but some of the outlets at the end are vacant.”
“And that antique store you went to was one of the outlets at the end?” Gail said.
“I believe so, yes,” Linda said.  “I know I said that the incident was a blur, but I know I didn’t walk very far from the soda fountain before I got there.”
Everyone was silent for a moment and Dorothy’s eyes turned back to the window and bare trees outside.  For a second, the sky had blackened and a giant red moon was in the background.  The trees were of black bark and their branches thick and gnarled as they were outlined by the moon’s red light.  Then she felt a presence.  A troubled one.
“Dorothy?”
As quickly as it had come, the giant red moon and black forest left her.  She turned to see Carl’s concerned eyes.
“Are you alright, honey?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said and turned to look at Linda and Gail who sat in front of her looking about as worried for her as Carl did.  “I’m alright.  Really.  Just lost in thought.”
Gail frowned.  “Why?  Did you find anything else out?”
Dorothy hesitated before replying, “Yes.  Yes I did.”  A lot more than I wanted to…
“Well?” Linda said.
Dorothy took in a breath and carefully worded her answer.  “I did read some of Tahatan’s notes and his findings offer some more evidence to the idea that there may be a lot more to the Fleming place than it appears.  In fact, it seems that Cedric Fleming knew about it and knew more of the property than even James Livingston did.  I’m not sure how much Margaret knew, but Cedric seems to be pretty sketchy the more I read of him.  And then there was Maxine…”
Dorothy’s voice trailed off as she tried to maintain a calm demeanor as she spoke.  She knew that there was no way she could tell her friends all of what she had read or even what her grandpa Gerard had told her.  It was all too much at this moment and still hadn’t completely sunken in.  Plus grandpa has more to tell me and I do need to read Maxine’s writings further before I come to any type of conclusion as to what is happening…
“Well, what about Maxine,” Gail said.
Dorothy paused, gathering her thoughts before she answered, “A lot of her entries are pretty tragic.  The diary begins when she is eighteen and is basically a tell-all of her relationship with Christian Andrews.  But then after she had to give her child with him away to him and his family, she stopped writing for a long time.  But she returned briefly to write of an encounter with two individuals named Pierre and Lila.  She describes as meeting them down below in the lower level of the orphanage which may also offer a confirmation of there being something beneath the property.”
“Wow,” Gail said.  “Strange.  I wonder who those Pierre and Lila characters are.”
Dorothy shrugged.  “She really doesn’t say who they are.  Only that Pierre is handsome and that she liked both of their company.”
“Okay,” Gail said.  “Whatever that means.”
“But it doesn’t stop there,” Dorothy said.  “Tahatan had written that he thought Maxine knew more of her parents’ deaths than she apparently let on.  And her writings also confirm that.”
Linda’s eyes widened.  “Really?”
Dorothy nodded.  “Right after Cedric and Margaret died and before the strange entry about Pierre and Lila, Maxine wrote a one sentence entry stated that her mother and father finally paid.  For aiding in the separation of her and Christian, I would assume.”
Gail shook her head.  “So she was nuts and homicidal.”
“Well it didn’t say she did it,” Dorothy said.  “Just that she either wasn’t surprised or sorry by their deaths.  And maybe possibly that she knew of it as well.  But given what we’ve been finding, I suppose anything is possible.”
Dorothy stopped as she debated on telling them of her findings on Maxine having a child with Jared that had gone unknown for decades.  I could just tell them of the child and leave out the rest.
But she didn’t have to and was relieved when Linda broke the silence.  “I’m still wondering about the antique store and the shop owner.  I mean it looked like Anton Alexandrescu had stepped out of his portrait.  The only difference was the way he was dressed.  The clothes the shop owner wore did look like normal clothes and not the ones worn in the time the Alexandrescus were alive.  But do you think it was a great grandson or something of Anton?”
“It’s possible,” Dorothy said.  “As far as I know, his son Dmitri never had a chance to produce offspring.  Though given his choice of extracirriculars, that’s probably debatable at this point.  But it is known that his daughter Lucinda did get married and had children.  At least according to the history books.”
“Carl, you’re very quiet,” Gail said.  “Never thought I’d see the day.”
“Sorry,” he said.  “Just taking in what everyone is saying.  I’m still deciding on what to make of it all and why whatever it is targeted Dorothy.”
Dorothy felt her body tense.  Part of her wanted to just tell them everything.  But another part held her back.  I need to understand more before I even think about doing that.  Especially if I’m going to tell Carl.
Gail opened her history textbook to the page that displayed the portraits of the Alexandresus.  “Look at that,” she said.  “Such a lovely family.”
“Hey!” Linda said.  “You know with everything going on…has anyone ever stopped to wonder who the real parents of Nathaniel and Maxine were?  And by real I mean biological.”
All eyes turned to Linda and Dorothy felt her heart pick up pace.  Of course Linda was right.  Who were the real parents of Nathaniel and Maxine?  What was their lineage and would it have any relevance to what was going on?
“Well to find out I imagine it would involve a lot of hurdles,” Carl said.  “I doubt they would give out that information to just anyone.”
Perhaps.  Unless one was a relative… Dorothy thought.
“Well it is something to consider,” Dorothy said.
Everyone was quiet again when Linda spoke up.  “It’s almost time for supper.  And it’s getting dark out so I better get home.”
“Yeah,” Gail said standing up.
“Of course I’ll walk you two ladies home,” Carl said.
“Thanks,” Linda said.  “I know Jimmy also appreciates that.”
Dorothy rose as Gail and Linda came over to her.
“I can’t wait til you’re back at school,” Gail said embracing Dorothy.  “You are missed there.  And it was nice to visit you without Wardon Alice patrolling the halls.”
Dorothy smiled.  “Thanks.”
“See you tomorrow,” Linda said.
Dorothy noticed a trace of sadness in her friends’ eyes.  As though she’s afraid that this is the last time she’ll see me.  “I’ll be here tomorrow,” she replied, feigning confidence.
“Well since Alice isn’t here,” Gail said winking, “we’ll wait for you downstairs, Carl.”
“Thanks,” Carl said.  “I won’t be too long.”
After a final goodbye, Gail and Linda exited the room.  There had been something different to this visit with them, Dorothy noted.  Though she couldn’t place what it was.  Maybe they’re just overwhelmed by all that is going on.  I know I am.
Dorothy turned when she felt Carl’s hand on her arm.  Without saying a word, he pulled her into a tender but intense kiss.
“Oh Dorothy,” he said, pulling her to him after their lips parted.
Dorothy tightened her embrace around Carl.  “I don’t ever want to let you go,” she blurted out.  This time, she wasn’t embarrassed by speaking uncensored.  She meant it with all her being.  I could lose him…  The thought came out of nowhere and while she tried to tell herself that it was because of her findings on Maxine and the Fleming place, something else told her that that may not entirely be the case.
“Dorothy,” Carl said quietly, “please take what I said into consideration.  About Elkton, Maryland.”
Dorothy turned her eyes to the floor and then back up at Carl.  There was an urgency that filled her.  An urgency she did not have an explanation for.  And it frightened her.  “Carl, do we need to wait until my birthday?” she whispered.  “I mean if there’s not a waiting period, they probably don’t need my birth certificate and the age of consent down there is sixteen anyway.  It is here, too.  And when my parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis are back, we can have a more traditional wedding.”
Carl stared at Dorothy.  “Honey, are you sure?”
Dorothy paused before saying, “Very sure.  Carl, I know it sounds crazy but I really do not trust Grandma and Grandpa Whitman.  Especially Grandma Whitman.  And it goes beyond her acting like a prison wardon.  I can’t explain it, but…”
“Baby, you don’t have to say anymore.  If you would like, we could do it this weekend.  Elkton is about a two and a half hour drive from here.  We could leave late Friday night after everyone has gone to bed.  Some of those chapels are around the clock, I believe.  How late do your grandparents stay up?”
“Well that’s the good thing,” Dorothy said.  “Grandma Whitman actually goes to bed before everyone.  She needs her beauty rest, I suppose.  Around ten ‘o’ clock usually for Grandma and Grandpa Blake.  But it’s Grandpa Whitman who is the trickiest as he stays up pretty late but I don’t think anywhere passed midnight.  At least I don’t think.”
Carl thought for a moment.  “Well, I can come at around two in the morning and we can take our time driving out there.  That will put us there pretty close to surise and we can go to a chapel anytime on Saturday.”
“I want to do it,” Dorothy said.  “I’ll just have to find the best way to sneak out of here.  I have to say I do feel terrible about sneaking out on Grandpa and Grandpa Blake.  I want to do it, though.  I want to be with you, Carl.  For always.”
“Me too, Dorothy,” he said and allowed his lips to linger on her forehead.
“And I’m sure Grandpa and Grandma Blake will understand,” she said.  “In fact, I know they will.”
Carl pulled back, holding Dorothy at an arm’s length and looking her over.  “Well you know if we pull this off, we’ll go back to school that Monday as a married couple.”
Dorothy smiled.  “I know.”
Carl turned her chin up and placed a soft kiss on her lips.  “I better go,” he said.  “I have to get Gail and Linda home before my parents expect me home for supper.  I could call you afterward, though.”
“Sure,” Dorothy said.  “As long as Grandma and Grandpa Blake answer the phone.  I’ll let them know you’ll be calling just in case I can’t get to the phone in time.  Now I’m really glad this phone is in my room.”
“I can’t wait to go away with you,” Carl said.  “I look forward to everything.”  A sly smile crossed his lips before he said, “And I do mean everything.”
Dorothy’s breath caught in her throat at the thought of what Carl was insinuating.  She tightened her grip on Carl’s forearms before rising up to kiss him.
“I’ll give you a call after supper,” Carl said after they parted.
With a final loving glance, Carl left the room.  She could hear her friends and boyfriend saying goodbye to her grandparents before exiting out the door.
Dorothy let out a breath and collapsed onto her bed.  She sat wondering if she and Carl really had the conversation they just did.  If they really did just agree to get married in three days.
I have to tell him before then.  About everthing, she thought.  I don’t want to lose him but I also don’t want a marriage beginning on lies.
Dorothy stood and walked over to the window.  She could see the sky darkening as Gail, Carl, and Linda faded around the block.  Then she remembered the vision she had of the giant red moon hovering above the black forest.  She closed her eyes, concerntrating until she saw him and her eyes snapped open.


Later that night, neither Dorothy, Carl, Jimmy, Reginald, Gail, or Linda would have a peaceful sleep.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I did want to add that I'm not entirely certain of what the age of consent was in the states of Maryland and New York in the early 1930s.  I wrote in sixteen for the first draft with a note to look it up later when I worked on the second and third drafts. :) 

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