You can’t run from your fears, because their legs never tire…
The thought came and left as she read the last line Jerry had written in his book.
She keeps what she takes...
Bane and her terrible blade.
Was she still afraid of the ghost that had haunted her mother’s house way back when she was a child? Was she still creeped out by the house that had creaked and groaned, and howled during a particularly bad rain storm? Had that first year marred her for the rest of her life? Had their family’s move to Lincoln Drive caused her irreparable damage?
Or, had that disease followed them from their former house? Had the malignancy been in their family since the day her mother and married her father?
Instead, had the House on the Hill and its’ unlikely occupant, in the end, saved them?
She closed the book quietly not wanting to disturb her husband, Martin, as he slept in the bed next to her. She glanced at the digital clock, surprised and then, not all that shocked, to see it read 5:17 am. Even when they were younger and Jeremiah’s imagination began to run wild, his stories had always enthralled her. She wasn’t sure if it was because they’d grown up together and, by inference, knew more about him than any other person alive, except Myra, her sister-in-law. Or, maybe he was just that good. Despite the fact the topic made her feel uneasy, she had liked the story. It was well written, concise and depicted a fairly good picture of what had gone before. Though he had embellished upon a few things to spice it up a bit, there were instances where he had written the gospel truth.
Despite the lack of chill in her house, Valerie shivered. Of Bane there was no embellishment. Jerry had depicted the real Her.
Bane and her terrible blade…
Besides, after three previous attempts, this one, this novel had been the one that had received the most attention. His publisher was completely behind the book. The print marketing, the internet and social media blitz, the splash ads on Facebook – all of it was evidence of their faith in what her brother had put to paper.
She sat in her bed, her husband’s heavy breathing next to her, feeling more than a little bad for her reaction on the Sunday before. Maybe it had been over the top. Maybe she had been too hard on him. He deserved the recognition he was finally getting. He had worked hard to become a writer of professional stature. He had paid his dues, riding the ridicule their extended family sometimes threw his way when he first works hadn’t produced much viable funds for him and his wife.
Myra had been the main source of income for them for many years now. Her being a licensed psychologist and her ensuing successful practice had been more than enough to sustain them. They owned a nice home on the slopes of Eagle Rock beneath the 210 freeway. They drove nice cars and, most importantly, they were happy. If Myra didn’t have a problem over her husband’s lofty goals, then why should anyone else? Who’s right was it to judge him, or her? If they were happy, that’s all that mattered. They didn’t have any kids like her and Martin. It had always been just the two of them, so maybe they could afford to live a little more on the cuff than she and Martin could or Elijah and his wife Joyce. Her and her youngest brother had children, Jerry and Myra had dogs.
In addition to all of that, she knew her brother spoiled his wife. He did all the cooking, most of the cleaning, the laundry and made sure when she came home she had nothing to worry about other than rest. How many times had she heard her boast of his care of her?
Too many times, she laughed inwardly.
Besides, who really knows what goes on inside anyone’s marriage other than ones’ own? Marriage is so much like the abyssal ocean with never-ending thermoclines, some warmer than others, some as icy as death itself. If Myra wasn’t ok with it, Valerie was more than sure Jerry would’ve been doing something else by now.
She smiled at the thought of wily sister-in-law, the girl who had swept her brother off his feet when they’d been teenagers, the girl she had grown to love over the years. She must be proud of Jerry too. After all, she’d been there a most of those nights when things were bad, when things had turned violent. Myra had earned her stripes early to gain permanent entrance into their family.
She must be ecstatic over the possibility the book might make them independently wealthy.
…If everything goes well.
Martin stirred in his sleep. She reached out and placed a hand upon his shoulder, a thing she always did when he mumbled or looked like he was about to awaken. Like now, it had always served to calm him, banish whatever had been bothering him.
I had no right to be so mean to my brother at lunch the other day, she thought, a decision made. Tomorrow, I’m going to call him. I’m going to tell him I was wrong. I’m going to tell him the book was awesome, and I’m going to commend him on his bravery. Writing this story took courage – courage I never possessed. I’m going to tell him he got -.
Her thoughts stopped so suddenly she went rigid, shaking the bed, forgetting about Martin, who started in the middle of his slumber.
“Oh my god!” she said loudly, reaching over toward the nightstand, toppling Jerry’s book onto the floor with a hallow thump!
“Wha-what?” muttered Martin, half-awake. His head came up from the pillow he’d been laying on.
Valerie ignored him. She swung her legs about, her bare feet touching the thick carpeting of their bedroom, reaching for her cell phone and the book simultaneously. The awkward move over-balanced her. Though she was able to grab both items, she felt to the floor on her knees. Yet, she cared little.
She swiped at the Gorilla-glass of her smartphone, saying, “Dial, Jerry”, as she frantically searched for the correct page within the book.
On the fifth ring he picked up. “Jesus, Val, is everything ok?” he asked, worried.
In the background, she could hear Myra saying the same thing.
Too distraught to hear what he’d said, let alone answer, she vomited forth, “Jerry! Oh, Jerry! How could you?!?”
There was stunned silence from the other end.
“Jerry! Jerry, are you there? Did you hear me?” She was almost frenzied.
At her side, Martin sat up, a concerned look on his face.
“Valerie, what’s the matter?” Jerry asked flummoxed, annoyed now that she was coming at him for the second time in less than forty-eight hours.
“Jerry, why did you put the actual address in the book?”
“What?” He sounded surprised.
Had he not realized he’d put the real address just about every place in the book? Jesus Christ, it was the title of the first chapter!
“The address, Jeremiah! 1052 Lincoln Drive! You put it in the book! Don’t you remember what she was the last thing she told you right before she began to torment our father? Don’t you remember?!?” She was nearly screaming at him now.
She could only hear what sounded like someone being strangled.
Jerry had remembered, all too well.
“You take good care of that little woman of yours. I’ll be watching…”
“What if she’s still watching, Jerry? What if someone like Dad moves in? Then what, Jerry? What do you think she’ll do!?!”
“What’re you talking about? I didn’t put the address in the book. Do you think I’m that stupid?”
“Jerry, this is not the time for games. The address is stated time and again, throughout the entire book for Christ Sake!” She was close to tears she was so distraught.
It sounded like Jerry was mumbling incoherently through the phone.
Her mind was ablaze. “Do you have a copy of the book?”
More mumbling, then: “W-what?”
“Do you have a copy of the book?!?” she nearly screamed at him.
“Get it! Look for yourself. The address is everywhere, Jerry!”
Through the phone, she heard her brother fumbling about, rummaging, her sister-in-law’s muffled voice in the background.
In her ear, Jeremiah Favor breathed the only two words he could think of, “Oooh shit…” He trailed off, horrified.
“How could you, Jerry?”
“B-but, I didn’t, sis! I swear I never would‘ve put the actual address in the book. That would be… I don’t know… dangerous…”
“Jesus Christ, Jerry, if you didn’t, then who the fuck did?”
The silence that followed made them both sick to their stomachs.
Like he was seventeen again, Jerry cried. “What have I done?”
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