Sunday, October 13, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 41 (UNEDITED)

Here is ALL of Chapter 41. 

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...as of now I do need to give that page love) to read the Prologue-Chapter 40 before proceeding to Chapter 41.

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 41

Dorothy stood at her window, staring blankly out.  All she could see was him, the young gypsy man waking up in that black forest.  She could hear the name he called out as he stood.
Sebastian.
At that moment, the little boy whom she had seen wandering in the woods after she had gone to sleep appeared in her mind as did the name.  Sebastian.  Then she saw the older boy again.  Heathcliff…or exactly how I’ve always imagined him everytime I’ve read Wuthering Heights…and the little boy…he looks like a younger version of this young man…
The words of the younger boy came back to her:  “I can’t find my brother.”
Everything suddenly began to piece itself together when the phone on her desk rang.  Dorothy’s head snapped around, jolted by the shrill ring.  It stopped on the second ring as she heard Violet answer.
“Cletus!” she heard her grandmother exclaim.  “How are you, dear?”
Cletus?  Dorothy felt her heart soar at the thought of talking to her cousin but something felt off.  She pulled the curtains on her window shut and retreated to her desk.  The image of the young man in the black forest and the little boy wandering seered though her mind.  And Cletus…
Dorothy heard her grandmother ascending the stairs.
Violet appeared in the doorway and said, “Honey, Cletus phoned and wants to speak to you.”
Dorothy smiled.  “Sure, grandma.  Thanks.”
Violet returned Dorothy’s smile and began to retreat back toward the stairs when something else occurred to Dorothy.  “Are Grandma and Grandpa Whitman home yet?”
Dinner was in a half hour and it was strange for them to not have returned home by then.  Violet turned back to her granddaughter with her brows furrowed.
“No dear, they aren’t,” she replied in a tone that implied that she too thought it odd.  “But supper is in a half hour so perhaps they will return in that time frame.  Can you make it down the stairs on your own yet?”
“Actually, I think so,” Dorothy said.
“Well, I’ll have your grandpa follow you down just in case.”
“Thanks,” Dorothy replied.  She picked up the receiver as her grandmother retreated back to the stairs.
“Hello, Cletus!” she said in the most cheerful voice she had spoken in since the first incident at the Fleming place.
“Hi Dorothy!” he said.  “How are you feeling?”
Dorothy started to reply when she saw the black forest again.  She saw the young man she knew as her version of Heathcliff pull out a dagger as he surveyed the twisted brush a few feet from him.  The giant red moon gave everything a blood tinged glow.
“Dorothy?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Cletus,” she said as the scenario faded.  “I’m just overwhelmed by everything.  I mean, I’m coping much better than I was originally…”
“It’s alright,” he said.  Dorothy could hear the touch of sympathy and concern in her cousin’s voice.  There was a pause before Cletus asked, “So how are things with Carl?  Is he treating you well?”
Dorothy smiled at the protective tone in her cousin’s voice.  “Yes, Cletus.  He does.  Very much.”
“Good,” he said.
She was having difficulty telling him about the plans she had with Carl.  Instead, she asked, “So Cletus, how about you?  Have you found a special girl yet?”
“Well…” Cletus stammered.
“There is, isn’t there?!” Dorothy cried.  “Cletus, I’m so happy for you!  What’s her name?”
She expected Cletus to answer her right away and was surprised by the silence that was at the other end.
“Cletus?”
“I’m sorry,” Cletus said slowly.
“About what?  What’s wrong?  You know you can tell me.”
“I know…but…Dorothy, do you promise you won’t laugh?”
Dorothy flinced, dumbfounded.  “Of course.  Trust me, I’m not in any place to laugh at anyone these days.”
Cletus paused again before saying, “Well, I have met a girl but I don’t really know her name.”
“Oh, you mean you met her out somewhere and just didn’t get her name yet?”
“That’s just it.  I haven’t really met her,” Cletus said.
Dorothy felt chills begin to prickle her arms as she saw “Heathcliff” appear in her mind’s eye again.  “You mean you’ve only seen her around town?”
She heard Cletus inhale deeply before replying, “No.  I don’t see her when I’m awake.  It’s only after I’ve gone to sleep that I see her.  She’s pretty and I feel somehow connected to her.  But she’s younger than me.”
“How much younger?” Dorothy asked as her heart began to race.
“A couple years.  She looks to be maybe thirteen.  I know that’s very young, especially since I’ve turned seventeen.”
“What does she look like?”
“She has light brown hair but other than that, she looks very much like someone who comes from a gypsy family.  In fact, one of the times I’ve seen her, she was in what looked to be a camp of some kind.  She was sitting beside an old woman who looked to be maybe in her seventies.  I’m guessing that woman was her grandmother or something like that.
“So I’m standing there in the middle of what looks like this gypsy camp and watching this girl who is sitting beside this old woman and painting this very intricate mural on a wooden drum.  I think it was some version of The Last Supper.  Anyway, the old woman looks up from her sewing and directly at me!”
“Goodness…” was all Dorothy could say.  The old woman appeared in her mind.  She was a woman with a small, thin build with a dark complexion and thick black hair that was pulled up.  She wore a simple navy blue dress and a burgundy colored shawl.  Her dark eyes glistened, reflecting years of experience and wisdom.  They also told a sad story.  A story that Dorothy couldn’t quite see in detail but she could feel the pain the woman had experienced in her life.  Then she felt something else.  A familiar presence.  Carl’s presence…but not quite…
“I think she saw me, Dorothy,” Cletus said.  “Really saw me.  Her eyes were like two black stones but they were friendly.  I didn’t feel threatened by them.”
“I know, I can see her,” Dorothy blurted out.
“You do?” Cletus asked with uneasiness in his voice.
Dorothy sighed.  “Cletus, there’s a lot going on and so much I need to tell you.”
She started to say more when Gerard appeared in the doorway.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but your grandma sent me up to tell you that supper is ready.”
“Thanks grandpa.  I’ll be off in a minute.  Are Grandpa and Grandma Whitman home yet?”
Gerard shook his head.  “No, they’re not.  Your grandma decided to just go ahead and start.  They can join us or heat up whatever is left whenever they return.”
Dorothy could see a puzzeled look fill his eyes.  But there was something else there.  Something that she couldn’t place but frightened her.
Dorothy nodded and Gerard gave her a reassuring smile.  “Say hello to Cletus for me.”
Dorothy smiled back at Gerard as he retreated into the hallway to wait for Dorothy at the top of the stairs.  “Grandpa says hello,” she said to Cletus.”
“Send Grandpa and Grandma my love,” Cletus said.
“And you do the same to Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice,” Dorothy replied.
“My mother lights candles for your parents, Tahatan, and the priest every night so that they will find their way back.”
“Well tell her thank you,” Dorothy said as sadness began to fill her again.
“And thank you for listening and not laughing at me.  I haven’t told anyone else but you about this.”
“It won’t go any further than me,” Dorothy said.  “Cletus, do you want to call me tomorrow night?  After supper, maybe?  There are things I need to tell you too.”  She glanced over at the drawer that held Maxine’s diary.  Maxine…your real great-grandmother… the voice came at her like a whisper.
“Dorothy, what was that?” Cletus asked.
“What?”
“That whispering.”
Dorothy felt her stomach drop.  “You mean you heard that too?”
“Yeah,” Cletus replied.
Dorothy paused, her mind racing.  “Cletus, please give me a call tomorrow.  There is so much I need to tell you.  As soon as possible.”
“Okay,” Cletus said.  “Since our family doesn’t do Thanksgiving the next time we’ll see eachother is Christmas.”
“I know,” Dorothy said.  “Please though.  Phone me tomorrow.”
“I will,” he said.
After a final goodbye, the cousins hung up.

At the dinner table, nobody said another word regarding Cyril and Alice, but the Blakes were all thinking the same thing:  although their lack of presence was a little offputting, it was still nice to have a peaceful supper free of tension and Alice’s holier than thou demeanor.  At the end of supper, the Whitmans still hadn’t returned.
Dorothy helped her grandparents clean up the kitchen and dining area.  Violet was putting some leftovers onto dishes for Cyril and Alice to heat up when they returned home.
“Do you really think Alice even knows how to use an oven?  Or Cyril for that matter?” Gerard quipped.
Violet rolled her eyes.  “Gerard,” she said with a warning tone.
“I’m sorry, dear,” Gerard said.  “Couldn’t resist.”
“I’m sure they can figure it out if they really want dinner,” she said.
“Famous last words before they try and end up setting the house on fire,” Gerard replied.
Dorothy gave her grandparents a small smile, enjoying their banter.  She thought back to her conversation with Cletus earlier and of the diary that was up in her desk drawer along with her and Tahatan’s notes.  Part of her did not wish to go any further and just forget all she had found.  Maybe it will all cease to exist if I act as though it does not.
But she also knew that whether she wished to continue acknowledging things or not, her parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis were still missing and whatever the outcome would be, it was something that would need dealing with.  Then there were her plans with Carl.
Dorothy shifted her eyes away from her grandparents as she once again felt a small amount of guilt for lying to them.
Maybe we should wait…mom and dad could be found tomorrow…
But something ceased those thoughts and she grasped the counter as an image of the dark, hooded woman she had seen after passing out in the Fleming’s washroom appeared in front of her.
“Dorothy?” she heard Violet say.  “Dorothy, what is it?”
 “Sweetheart, are you alright?”  Gerard asked.
The image evaporated and Dorothy came to seeing her grandparents rushing to her aid.
“I’m fine,” Dorothy said, catching her breath.  “Just thought I saw something…”
“Why don’t you sit down for a minute and I’ll get you some water,” Violet said.
Dorothy sat down at the table as her grandmother filled up water into a glass.  She looked up at her grandpa Gerard who looked back at her with a knowing expression.
When Dorothy finished her water she said, “I’m going upstairs to get a shower.  I’m sure I’ll feel better after that.”
The truth also was that she also needed time alone to clear her head.
“Well, just yell for us if you need anything,” Violet replied.
“Thanks, “Dorothy said.  “Oh, and Carl is supposed to call.  If he calls while I’m in the shower, tell him I’ll call him back after I get out.”
“Of course we will, dear,” Violet said.
“Thank you.”
Dorothy and Gerard exchanged another glance before she exited the kitchen to head upstairs, taking the steps slowly but making it on her own.
She got to her bedroom and began to undress, looking ahead to going away with Carl on Friday.  There was a lot to do before then including deciding on a dress to wear and what she could get away with packing.  And we’ll need wedding rings…
She removed her last article, wondering just how they would be able to pull it off.  I also need to figure out where I could sneak out from without waking everyone.
Dorothy placed the clothing in the laundry hamper and turned to get her robe out from her closet.  It was then she got a glimpse of herself in her full length mirror.  The scar close to where her heart was began right above the small of her stomach and made a rough, jagged line up to the top of her left breast.  Its purple coloring was fading but it was still noticeable as was the large scar that was on the side of her right thigh.  Then on the left side of her waist, still covered with gauze that would need to be replaced after her shower, were the stitches that would be coming off on Friday morning, in time for her and Carl’s elopement.  Another large scar for him to see on me…
She could feel her legs growing weak as she imagined being naked this way with Carl’s eyes on her.  It sent shockwaves through her and she could feel a rush flowing down between her legs.  She remembered being alone with Carl the night they had gone to the Fleming property and how she had a different body at that time.  Something she had taken for granted.  And the idea of making love with Carl, allowing him inside of her in a way she had never done with anyone before was almost overwhelming to her.
Dorothy went to her closet, grabbed her robe and slipped it on, tying it in front.  I should probably style my hair tomorrow, she thought, raking her fingers through her dark hair.

Dorothy returned to her bedroom following her shower, feeling a little more clear-headed and sure enough, there was a note placed underneath the phone on her desk.  It read:

Carl phoned.
Love, Grandpa
P.S.- As soon as you get an opportunity,
please come have a talk with me.

Dorothy sat at her desk, setting the note aside.  She wondered what else her grandfather had to speak with her about.
She picked up the receiver and dialed Carl’s number.  He picked up after the first ring.
“Waiting by the phone, I see?” Dorothy teased him.
“Always,” Carl replied.  “Just so you know I took the phone into my dad’s study, so there’s nobody around to hear anything.”
“And your parents didn’t question it?”
“I just told them I wanted to talk to you without any distractions, which isn’t a lie anyway.  But honey I do need to tell you that I may not be able to visit you after school tomorrow.”
Dorothy felt a pang of disappointment.  “Why?”
“Well, to be honest…I’m going out to get our rings.”
“Really?!”  she asked, lighting up.  “But aren’t they expensive?  What kind are you going to get?”
“Don’t worry, babe,” he said.  “I got this.  And you’ll just have to wait til Saturday morning to see what they are.”
“You’re awful,” Dorothy said wryly.
“You love me anyway.”
There was a pause before Dorothy said, “You’re right, I do.”  She shuddered as she acknowledged the fact that she was sitting and talking to Carl wearing nothing but her robe.  “I’ll miss seeing you tomorrow,” she said softly.
“I know,” he said, “I will too.  But I need to get them tomorrow and I can’t cut class.  Obviously, I can’t run the risk of getting detention anytime this week when I need to make preparations.  But I’ll be by on Thursday and then Friday, we’ll be free and have the rest of our lives together.”
“It seems so far off,” Dorothy said.
“It will be here before you know it.”
“Have you told anyone?”
“No, baby, I haven’t.  Have you?”
“No.  I do feel bad about hiding this from our friends.  I mean, we’re hiding our very brief engagement and now our wedding.  And while I know leaving this soon was my idea, I can’t help wondering what would happen if my parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis somehow returned while we were gone.”
“I’m sure they would understand, baby,” Carl said.
“I know,” Dorothy said.  “But I know my father will be a little disappointed that he missed giving me away.”
“Are you having second thoughts?” Carl asked.
Dorothy drew in a breath and said, “No.  No Carl, I want to do this.”  I also have to, she thought for a reason she couldn’t place.
“Good,” Carl said, sighing with relief.
“But Carl, what will we do?  You know, after we come back married.”
“We could stay with my family and that would relieve your grandparents.  That’s usually what happens anyway when a couple is married and doesn’t have their own place yet.”
“Well you also know that Gail and I want to attend college in either Philadelphia or Wilkes-Barre a year following graduation,” Dorothy said.  “Many campuses do have on-campus housing for married couples and I’m sure she and Reginald will also take advantage of that as they both go.”
“I’m sure I can get a job in whichever area you choose to go to school in,” Carl said.
Dorothy grinned.  “Though knowing you, you’d probably need either a mid or night shift.  You’re not much of an early morning person.”
“Not night shift,” Carl said.  “I want my evenings with you.  Though I don’t know.  You may not get much studying done with me around.”
“What am I getting myself into being married to you?”
“A husband you loves you and a lot of fun nights ahead.”  Carl paused for a moment before he said, “Oh, while we’re living with my parents…would it bother you that my family does Thanksgiving?”
Dorothy thought for a moment.  It was true that the Blake family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.  Being from Ireland, it wasn’t a holiday that Charles and Emma had practiced with their family, even after becoming legalized citizens of America.  They both felt they didn’t need a specialized day to be thankful for the things they had.  When Jonathan had married Kimimela, it was learned that it was not a revered day for the American natives but a day of mourning and sorrow.  As a result, the Blake family, particularly the descendents of Jonathan and Kimimela, never took part in the holiday and fortunately, whoever married into the family respected that.  Instead, while friends and peers celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, the Blakes would also have a dinner but a smaller, quiet one.  For them, it was more a day of reflection than celebration.
The traditional practice of the Blakes had driven an even deeper wedge between Matthew and the Whitmans, who had wanted to have their daughter and granddaughter over for Thanksgiving dinner to which Liz declined and opted to instead respect the tradition of the Blake family.  This was something that did not sit well with Alice or Cyril.
Finally, Dorothy said, “Carl, I’m not going to stop your family from doing something they’ve always done in their own house.  I don’t really have a right to do that.”
“Baby, when we’re living on our own we don’t have to celebrate it,” Carl said.  “I love turkey just as much as the next guy, but after going with you and meeting Tahatan…that’s something I’d like to respect as well.”
“You know I can cook you turkey at any time,” Dorothy replied.  “It doesn’t have to be on Thanksgiving.”
“I’m sure it will be good, too.”
“Maybe I’ll make it the first time we’re in an on-campus house.”
“I look forward to that.”
A smile spread across Dorothy’s face.  It faded when her eyes went to the drawer that held Maxine’s diary and the notes that Dorothy and Tahatan took.  Her eyes then turned toward the copy of American Ghost Stories that sat on her desk.
“Carl,” she said, “there are a few things I need to tell you.  Before we get married.  But first, I need to look into some things a little more.”  That way if you decide to call everything off, it won’t be too late.
“What is it, baby?  Did you find more information on the Fleming place?”
“Sort of,” Dorothy said.
“Well what is it?”
“Carl, I really do need to go over some things a little more before I can explain it.  I’ll talk to you on Thursday about it.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t hurt for Gail and Linda to hear…”
“Alright, honey,” Carl said slowly.  “If that’s what you want to do.”
Dorothy glanced over at the note her grandfather had left her and then at her clock.  It was almost eight ‘o’ clock.  The last thing she wanted was to get off the phone with Carl but she also didn’t know how long the talk with her grandfather would take.  And it was imperitive that she had as clear a picture of things that she could get before she would be able to talk to Carl or anyone.
“Carl, I have to get off the phone,” she said.  “My grandfather needs me for something.”
Carl sighed.  “Alright, baby.  I’ll call you tomorrow after I get to school.  And I can again after dinner tomorrow.”
“Please,” Dorothy said, sounding more desperate than she intended to.
“I will,” Carl said.  “Don’t worry.  Don’t worry about anything.”
“I won’t,” Dorothy said as tears began to sting her eyes.
“Baby…is everything alright?”
“Fine,” Dorothy said, using her fingers to wipe her eyes.  “My grandparents just really need me right now.  But please, do call me tomorrow.”
After a short pause Carl said, “Sure honey.  But you know I’m here if you need anything.  No matter what.”
“Thank you,” Dorothy said as dread began to fill her.
“Well, goodnight sweetheart,” Carl said.  “I love you.”
“I love you too, Carl.”

Dorothy sat at her desk with her face in her hands, trying to force the tears back.    In a span of only two weeks the entire world had been pulled out from her.  What if Carl leaves me on top of it all?  What if my friends no longer want anything to do with me?  Maybe I am better to just leave.  Maybe I’ll ask Grandpa and Grandma Blake if they’ll take me back to Illinois or perhaps Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice will let me move in with them…
Dorothy wiped the rogue tear from her face and stood up.  She glanced back down at her grandfather’s note before putting on a pair of pajamas and slipping her robe back on.  She left her bedroom and headed toward the stairs, pausing to look into the darkness of her parents’ bedroom before heading down.  She found her grandmother in the kitchen going through a box of recipe cards.
“Your grandfather is in the study,” Violet said after Dorothy had asked.
“Thanks, grandma,” Dorothy said, taking in Violet’s serious expression before leaving the room.
Dorothy was crossing the sitting room and had stopped in the foyer, just across from the study when she remembered the ability some in her family had of being able to see into a person’s mind.  Tahatan had that ability and earlier today, I was even able to read Grandpa’s mind a little.  What if they know of my plans with Carl?  But if they did, would they object?  I’d like to think they’d understand…
Dorothy drew in a breath and slowly pushed open the study door.  She saw Gerard look up from what he was reading and regard her warmly.
“Come in, sweetheart,” he said.
“Thanks.”
She shut the door and crossed over to the easy chair that was near the desk.  As she sat down, Gerard asked, “Are you feeling any better?”
Dorothy thought for a moment.  How much should she reveal?  But a look into her grandfather’s eyes immediately caused her to feel badly for want to hide from him.  She had no reason to not trust him.
“Physically, I’m feeling better,” she replied and noticed her voice shaking as she spoke.
Gerard frowned and then turned his gaze back down to the desk.  “A blessing and curse for our family is having the ability to see things.  And sometimes more than that.”
Dorothy felt chills prickle against the material of her flannel nightgown as her grandfather continued.
“When your grandmother and I received word that you were in the hospital and that your parents, Tahatan, and the priest were all missing…I could feel that this wasn’t a mere case of abduction and that those police investigators, as well-intended as I would hope they are, weren’t going to find shit when it came to locating everyone.”
Dorothy flinched at her grandfather’s words and she could feel her stomach turn.  “What are you saying, Grandpa?”
Gerard gave her an intense stare.  “I’m saying that it’s right for you to want to leave here.”
Dorothy’s heart lurched into her throat.  “Do you…?”
“Know?” Gerard finished and then nodded.  “I had a feeling.  I saw Carl’s eyes when he left tonight.  I didn’t need to be told anymore.”
“Grandpa…I’m so sorry!  I didn’t mean to lie to you and Grandma.  Honest!  But I can’t take it anymore and you, Grandma Blake, and even Grandpa and Grandma Whitman can stay here forever!”
“Dorothy,” Gerard said holding his hand up, “don’t apologize.  Under normal circumstances, I can’t say I would approve of such a thing.  But I actually think you would be better off now living over with the Turners, at least until more is figured out.  I think I can speak for not only myself but your grandmother and parents when I say that if you are going to live with Carl and his family, we would prefer you two being married.  And I wouldn’t see Carl’s parents disagreeing either.”
Dread began to fill Dorothy.  “Why, Grandpa?  Why do you say that it would be better?  Do you know why my parents disappeared?  Please, tell me!”
Gerard paused and drew in a breath.  “I have tried for the passed few nights to locate everyone.  I haven’t been able to get very far as my ability to mentally travel is not as strong as Tahatan’s and definitely not as strong as the abilities Howahkan, Sunkwa, or my mother had.  I have felt your father’s presence though I couldn’t tell you where he is.  Tahatan and Father Louis…they are also in a world outside of this one trying to locate your father.”
“And my mom?”
Gerard sadly shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I haven’t felt anything from her.  I’m sorry.”
“But she could still be alive, right?” Dorothy said.  “Maybe she’s somewhere you can’t reach.”
“Perhaps.”
There was silence between them as Dorothy recalled seeing her mother in the doorway of her bedroom as she sliced her own throat and wrists.  Her mother’s words came back to her.  “It’s better this way.”
Dorothy shuddered as Gerard asked, “Dorothy, what is it?”
She felt she had to tell her grandfather about what she had seen that night.  She still hadn’t told anyone of what she had seen her mother do.  Not even Carl.  I have to tell someone or I’m going to go crazy…
Just like your great-grandma Maxine…
“Sweetheart, is everything alright?  What is that?”
He hears it too, just like Cletus did…
Before Dorothy could bring herself to say anything, she burst into tears.
“Dorothy…” Gerard said as he went over to comfort his granddaughter.  He gave her his handkerchief which she used to dry her face of the tears that spilled down.
She sobbed until her body couldn’t take it anymore and her eyes were dried up.  Gerard left to get her a glass of water.  When he returned, Dorothy said, “There’s so much I need to say, Grandpa.  So much I haven’t told anyone.”
“What is it, sweetheart?”
Dorothy took a long sip of water.  She set the glass down and drew in a deep breath.  “I saw my mother the night everyone disappeared.”
Gerard listened as she revealed what had happened with her mother shortly after her father and Tahatan had left.
“She fell to the floor right by my desk and then just disappeared!  Vanished!” she exclaimed.
Dorothy watched as her grandfather’s face grew even more grim.  She could see his eyes shifting as though he were making a decision on whether or not to inform her of something.  Gerard set his mouth in a line and said, “Dorothy…did anyone ever tell you of how your Aunt Roxanne died?”
Dorothy shook her head.
Gerard steadied himself.  “Well, there’s no easy way to say this…but your mother’s sister had been found the same way.”
Dorothy shook her head in disbelief.  “No…”
“Her throat was deeply cut, almost to the point of decapition.  She was found by the pond that was in back of the house she and her husband shared.”
Dorothy’s body shook as she brought her hand up to her mouth.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry I had to tell you this and I can understand why your parents kept it from you.”
“Did anyone ever find out what happened?” Dorothy managed to say.
Gerard shook his head.  “It was ruled as an unsolved homicide and the case went cold.  As the case with my sister Willow’s disappearance did.  One thing I did find odd with Roxanne’s murder was that, according to your father, her husband was never questioned.  He and I would speak of this sometimes, when you and your mother were out of earshot.  Not that we had anything against Stu, but even when Willow disappeared the detectives stopped by our house a couple times to update my parents and ask them questions.  That’s normal procedure.  At least one would think.”
Grandpa, what do you think happened to my mother?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say I know.  But I can feel a dark presence nearby.  That is why I am not objecting to you leaving with Carl.”  Gerard paused briefly before he said, “And as much as it pains me to say this to you…I can’t say I trust Alice and Cyril either.”
Dorothy’s eyes widened and looked toward the study door.  “They haven’t returned yet, have they?  I didn’t see them anywhere when I came back down.”
“No, they are not back yet,” Gerard answered.  “Your grandma phoned the police as the Whitmans are out passed the town curfew.  Of course they are keeping an eye out for them and told her to phone them in the morning if Alice and Cyril haven’t returned.”
“Why don’t you trust them?” Dorothy asked, remembering Maxine’s diary upstairs in her desk drawer.
“Well first, the fact that they didn’t push the investigation with your Aunt Roxanne’s death the way you think a parent would if their child was found murdered.  Now I supposed back then I did try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps they were so grief-stricken they just wanted the whole thing forgotten.  People cope with tragedies differently, so who was I or anyone to judge?  But every now and then…I would think about the first day your father brought your mother out to meet the family and that would cause me to view the situation a little differently.”
“Why is that?”
Gerard gave Dorothy a small smile.  “Your mother…she was probably one of the sweetest, most polite young girls I had the pleasure of meeting.  But she was that when Violet and I met her.  A girl.  I wouldn’t have dared refer to her as a young woman when your father met her.  She seemed very sheltered and unworldly.  I could tell your father adored her and wanted to bring her out of her shell, which he did.  Little by little, she began to open up to us all more and it was nice to see her become more confident in herself.  Then, he went upstate to meet Cyril and Alice.  But he seemed so troubled the first time I saw him after his visit with them.  When I asked him how it all went, he went on about how Alice belittled her every move and that Cyril never did anything to stop it.”
“Sounds familiar,” Dorothy muttered.
Gerard nodded.  “I know, sweetheart.  Then, your grandma and I went up to meet them.  They would not come to our home, mind you.  We had to go to them.  Of course, we tried to be cordial but I could tell they had both already made up their minds that they were not at all fond of our family.  Especially when they saw me.”  Gerard indicated his American Indian traits.  “After that, your father wrote to your grandmother and I letting us know that the Whitmans did not approve of the union between him and Liz and forbade her from seeing him.  They were arranging for her to meet another young man whom they deemed as appropriate.  Therefore, Matthew stated to us in his letter that he and Liz were eloping.  I actually still have that letter.”
Dorothy’s jaw dropped at the shock she felt.  “But I’ve seen photos of their wedding…”
“That was the ceremony they had soon after for friends and family.  At that point, there was nothing Cyril and Alice could do.  Their daughter was already a married woman.  It was legally documented and sanctified by the Church.”
Dorothy was silent for a moment, taking everything in.  How much more was there to find out?  She then turned and looked back at her grandfather.  “You don’t think Grandpa and Grandma Whitman had anything to do with my parents disappearing…or Aunt Roxanne…do you?”
Gerard shrugged.  “I can’t really say that.  Only that I’ve never completely trusted them and now I’m feeling it stronger than I ever had.  I will say though that when I met Roxanne at your parents’ wedding, she and Stu were more than a little tipsy.  In fact, I could see Alice’s embarrassment despite her liking Stu and the Hawthorne family.  Anyone could see those two were a couple of the biggest lushes.  When Violet and I met them, we tried to be polite but they kept going on about talking to angels.  That was when Cyril had one of their drivers take them back to the hotel to sleep it off.  It struck me as odd that Cyril sent them back to the hotel so quickly.  After all, people drinking at weddings isn’t all that out of the ordinary and it wasn’t as though Stu and Roxanne were causing any real type of raucus.  But I did catch Tahatan looking at that entire family as if…well…as if there was something about them that didn’t sit well with him.  He liked Liz, but the rest of the family…he didn’t seem very sure of.  And yes, their mentioning talking to angels did make those in our family raise an eyebrow.  Those aren’t things we take lightly, given our background.”
“Tahatan’s grandfather left his body and never returned.  They say he was never able to find his way back,” Dorothy said.
“Yes, I remember that well.  I remember my mother trying to find him and to know avail.  They were twins, remember.  So it was especially hard on her.”
“That almost happened with Tahatan.  My friends and I…we could all see it.  The room was getting colder and there was something else entering the room.  But then my father recited this Ojibwe prayer and brought him back.”
“Your father still knows some old tricks,” Gerad said.
“You mean he knew more and he lost it?”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘lost it.’  Your father left his element, I guess one can say.  He ended up working in a more corporate, Wall Street setting and that can take a toll on a person, especially in these times.  Now I don’t fault him for doing what he had to do to provide for him and Liz.  And then later on, you as well.  But I feel that working in a setting like that can be very soul-sucking, leaving a person very little time or energy to stay connected with their roots.”
“Do you think that’s why he never told me more of our family history?”
“That could be part of it.  But I also feel he tried to protect you for as long as he could.  I think he knew he had to tell you someday.  I remember him contacting me after you had that night terror when you were seven.  Of course he couldn’t tell you everything then.”
Dorothy began shivering at the memory of the creature and placed a protective hand over her injured side.  “It was the one that attacked me.  It came back…only this time I was wide awake.  Carl and his father saw it too so I know I’m not crazy.  And Cletus!  Now he’s seeing and hearing things too!  It doesn’t seem to be as much as mine, but still…Grandpa, is there a reason you don’t know what’s happening with Grandpa and Grandma Whitman and why they are not back yet?  Have you tried?”
Gerard sighed.  “Unfortunatly, I have tried.  But I can’t read anything.  It’s almost as though I’m being blocked from doing so.  But sweetheart, please.  After what happened at dinner yesterday…and what happened with my mother…I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid for you.”
Dorothy studied her grandfather, contemplating how to tell him everything else happening with her.  “How much do you know of Romania, Grandpa?  And the Fleming place not too far from here?”
“I know a little of both.  More of the Fleming property.  Talk about a place with a dark cloud over it.”   
“Are you familiar at all with the Alexandrescu family?”
“Sure.  They were a prominent family.”
“Well, I’ve seen them.  I’ve been to their castle…and for some reason, I think it connects with the Fleming place.”
Gerard listened as Dorothy told him of her experiences that began on Halloween and after both of her attacks.  She told him of the children she saw when she was thrown in into the closet up at the Fleming place before she had blacked out.  She told him of her dreamstate experiences and what she had seen, including the two gypsy boys and the dark-haired girl James Livingston tried to save from taking her own life.
“I think that girl is part of the Livingston family and I don’t know why I’m seeing her,” she said.
Dorothy then told Gerard of Tahatan’s findings on the possibility of some sort of underground tunnel or labyrinth beneath the Fleming Orphanage that led way beyond the property and then of her own findings that pertained to Lawrence Livingston’s story, The Child with the Black Eyes.  She paused when she came to Maxine’s diary but she was able to say, “I also think that there are connections between the Fleming place and my mother’s family.”
“You think so?” Gerard asked.
Dorothy fought with the difficulty of the realization.  “Tahatan found Maxine Fleming’s diary at the library.  I have to read more…but I think I found a connection.”  She stopped, drained but feeling better having gotten everything off her chest.  Perhaps this would make it easier to talk to everyone else tomorrow.  Especially Carl.
Gerad gently touched his granddaughter’s shoulder.  “Sweetheart, you look exhausted.  I know our discussions haven’t exactly been light as of late.”
“It’s alright,” she said.  “I’m glad we talked.  I do feel a little better.  That at least I’m not going crazy.  I’m still worried though and I don’t know what I’d do if mom…”
“I know,” Gerard said.
“But dad, Tahatan, and Father Louis are alive?”
“I could feel their essence which means most likely.”
Dorothy let out a sigh and looked at the clock.  It was almost 10:30.
“I better let you get to sleep,” Gerard said.  “You need rest if you are going to finish healing.  Your grandmother’s probably already gone up.”
Dorothy rose to standing and said, “Thank you, Grandpa.”
Gerard nodded.  “No problem, honey.  I know none of it was easy to hear but it’s better than leaving you in the dark wondering.  And I wouldn’t worry about Carl not understanding.  Give him a little more credit.”
“I know.  I’ve just been overwhelmed.”
“But Dorothy, please.  Watch yourself around Cyril and Alice.  That’s just a feeling I’m getting.  When Violet and I arrived here, the first thing I wanted to do was a smudging ritual on the house and maybe have a priest come.  But Alice made a scene over it saying that she didn’t want any Indian voodoo around her.  I smudged the house before you got here.  I was able to do it quickly while she was out of the house, but I think she knew.  If you’re going to leave with Carl…it’s probably not a bad idea.”
Dorothy nodded and hugged her grandfather.  “I love you, Grandpa.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
When she pulled back, she thought she could see tears forming in his eyes and was reminded of how Linda and Gail regarded her before they had left that evening.
Gerard gestured toward the door with his head.  “Go on, honey.  I’ll shut everything off down here and leave the porch and kitchen light on for Cyril and Alice.”
“Goodnight, Grandpa.”
“Goodnight, Dorothy.”
Dorothy left the room and stepped into the foyer.  She turned her head to see her grandfather with his right hand covering his eyes.
Dorothy returned to her bedroom, shutting the door as her heart ached for her grandfather.  Everything he’s been through in his life…and possibly more that hasn’t even been said…
Dorothy knew she had to get to sleep, but the diary of Maxine seemed to beckon to her.  She decided to steel herself and read some more entries.  She was still chilled by the last visit from her friends and then they way she and her grandfather had just parted.  There was something off and they all seemed to feel it.
Dorothy sat down in her desk chair and pulled the diary out.  She could hear Gerard ascending the stairs before heading down the hall to the guestroom.  Meanwhile, the master bedroom remained dark and empty.
“Alright, great-grandma,” she muttered, cringing slightly at the words.  “Do your worst.”
She opened the book to where she had left off which was Alice’s birth.
Jared says she resembles me, Maxine wrote.  And I do like the name the Singletons picked out for her.  Alice.  They were also thoughtful enough to have her share my middle name, even if spelled differently.
Dorothy stopped reading, taking a moment to breath before continuing.  The more she read on, the more it confirmed that the baby girl was, in fact, her grandma Whitman.  There were no more questions of it.
Maxine did seem to soften a little from the crass and vulgar woman she had turned into following her parents’ deaths.  Dorothy wondered again if and how much Tahatan knew of her grandmother’s parentage and how he had planned to break to her or if he was going to at all.  According to the entries, Jared and Maxine were going to return to the orphanage after staying with the Singletons for a week following Alice’s birth.
While it saddens me to leave my sweet little girl, this is for the best.  This is different from the time I gave my son up to Christian’s family as I have Jared now.  And Lila.  I can hardly wait to get home to her.  I have missed her with all my heart.
Dorothy looked up again, wondering if she even wanted to read further and discover who Lila was.  She remembered being at Alexandrescu Castle after her first time in the hospital and witnessing the beginning of what looked like Dmitri and Lucinda about to share another man between them.  Dorothy shook her head at the memory.
What’s wrong with only having one partner in life? she thought.
For Dorothy, Carl was more than enough.  But she kept reading and sure enough, the following entry gave more details on who Lila and Pierre were.
I never imagined I could enjoy a woman’s company, Maxine had written.  I met her through Pierre and was hesitant when I realized that she had a preference for women. It wasn’t long, however, before I began to enjoy her company immensely.
Pierre gave me comfort after losing Christian and the son that he and I had but it was Lila who truly brought me back to life and healed me.  She has shown me warmth I haven’t experienced since my first time being with Christian.  Jared understands and does not mind me seeing her and I love him for that.  Lila also understands that in some ways, I need Jared too.  Pierre gave me what I needed, more than once.  It is so wonderful to be free of Mother and Father.  I will confess that I do still think of Christian sometimes and have even considered writing him.  I still at times imagine what life may have been like with him.
Dorothy rubbed her eyes and looked toward the doorway.  She began taking Tahatan’s writings out from the drawer when she felt her eyelids becoming heavy.

Dorothy found herself in the red hallway again.  She walked down the carpeted hall, taking in the intricate gold designs on the wall.  She could feel an eerie presence hovering somewhere around her.  She looked ahead to find the end of the corridor, but it stretched far beyond what she could see.
Dorothy stopped when she came to a white door.  The same door she had stopped at previously, but this time a small stone gargoyle head adorned it.
I don’t recall that being here before…
The gargoyle seemed to breathe as it stared into her and for a second, it appeared as though it took on the shape of a demon head.  There was something keeping her from taking her eyes from it.  As she stared at it, the gargoyle’s eyes began to glow red and Dorothy felt her hand reaching out to grasp the doorknob.  She turned the knob and pushed it open.  A frozen, winter cemetery lay open before her.  A stone path led from the doorway of the corridor and out between the field of tombstones.  Dorothy stepped out, feeling her barefeet on the cold stone though it did not bother her.  She began walking up the path.  To her left, she saw a large statue of the Greek god, Pan.  The granite likeness was lined with white snow and its eyes seemed to watch her as the ancient god played his pipe.  Dorothy regarded the statue for another moment before moving away and up the path.  She never bothered to look back but she could feel Pan’s eyes on her.
She came to a small set of five steps with two short pillars on the side.  Dorothy noticed the stone owls that sat on top of the pillars as she ascended them.  When she got to the last one, she looked out to the sprawling graveyard that didn’t seem to have an end.  But then she noticed something.  The Livingston Mausoleum.
Dorothy walked over to it as quickly as she could, happy to find something that was familiar.  That was when she noticed the girl there.  The small darkhaired Livingston girl.  Despite the winter scenery, the girl was not wearing a coat.  Instead, the girl wore a short black pleated skirt that came to about mid-thigh (even for Bernice that skirt would likely be too risqué) with dark purple opaque tights and black lace up knee-high boots that looked like something out of the Victorian era.  The girl’s black sweater was fitted and had white skulls below the collar.  Her thick black hair hung down to her waist and her makeup was dark.
Well she certainly doesn’t dress like anyone I know…
Dorothy watched as the girl ascended the stairs to the mausoleum.  She tried calling out to her, but her voice seemed to get lost on this terrain.  Dorothy walked toward the girl, hoping to catch up to her.  She tried calling out again as the girl playfully weaved in and out of the pillars that lined the Livingston Mausoleum.  By the time Dorothy reached the large stone structure, the girl had already turned the corner.  Dorothy ascended the steps, walking down the pillared platform as she tried to catch up to the girl.  But she came to a halt when she reached the other side and the Plains cemetery stretched out before her.

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