Two: Unexpected Phone Call
CHAPTER TWO: UNEXPECTED PHONE CALL
March 23rd, 2001-
The night passed uneasily to Kelley, constant repeating nightmares of the blonde girl and her friends and others like her, it wasn't the first time she was harassed like that. It happened at least once a week, sometimes it was new faces, sometimes it was old ones, but it was always someone. Joseph had suspected something like that was going on but until yesterday he had never seen her be a victim to this. It was one thing to think that something like this was going on, but it was another to actually see it happen, he felt utterly lost. Kelley in his mind has been always strong at will when she needed to be, but maybe that was it, she's had to be too much and had simply given up. When Kelley did awake after only about two hours of sleep she, saw that her clock read 6:45am, the alarm had not gone off. It was weird to her at first because she always set it before she went to sleep, including last night, she didn't know why it had not gone off. Then it hit her, Joseph. She didn't know why he would come into her room while she was sleeping and turn her alarm off, unless he wasn't planning for her to get up.
She got out of bed and walked into the kitchen where she saw Joseph having his morning coffee “hey” he said in a thoughtful voice. Kelley was hurt, just by looking at her face Joseph could tell this, it wasn't all that hard to be perfectly honest, and that’s what worried him most. He wanted so desperately to help her, but he didn't want to crowd her either and to be fully honest with himself, he wasn't sure how too. In his heart he knew if he did that it would only make things worse.
“Hey” Kelley replied. “Did you turn off my alarm?” She didn't mean it in a rude way, she just wanted to know why he did it.
“Yeah,” he said as he took another sip of his coffee. “I called the school, I would like you to take a few days off, you look kind of rough. I thought that maybe you could use it.” Kelley walked over and she sat beside him.
“You didn't have to do that.” She felt like she didn't have the heart to tell him that she hated being given special treatment, for any reason. Even if he happened to be right about her needing a day to herself. He meant well and she knew that, she just wished she was stronger than she was, and maybe she wouldn't need to be treated differently.
“It's the least I could do, after your parents... Kelley I know I am not your father, and I know that you'd be better off if he were still alive.”
Kelley looked slightly hurt and confused at him saying this. Then she spoke “As far as I am concerned Joseph, I have two fathers,” he wrapped his free arm around her. It was hard for Kelley to say that, but that didn't mean that it wasn't true. She had honestly asked herself if her parents had lived would she have a better life, and truthfully she didn't know. All she knew was that this man and his wife took her in, out of the goodness of their hearts and gave her the best life that they could. She couldn't have asked for anything more than that.
“I love you,” he said softly, as if to speak to a newborn child that couldn't even understand the words that were spoken, but could understand the bond between them.
“I love you too.” She meant that with every inch of her heart, both he and Karen, if only they knew how much.
Joseph then finished off the rest of his coffee and told her “I have to get to work.”
“Be safe” Kelley said.
“I will, take it easy today.” Joseph then walked out of the doorway and he closed the door behind him, she didn't see Karen so she guessed that she had already left the apartment building. Kelley was alone, and now that she was, she wasn't really thinking of the blonde girl or any of her friends, people like them were very common with Kelley, what wasn't so common to her was the little girl that she saw at the school. It was not the first time that Kelley had seen a little girl about that age, but it was the first time she had ever seen one disappear like that, pretty much before her very eyes. It was something that happened in a dream, a very weird and vivid dream.
Kelley remembered every single detail about the little girl without a name. Her flowing brown hair with the red ribbon, her snow white dress and the black dress shoes. She looked at the table for a piece of paper and when she found one she grabbed a pencil from the small basket on the counter top and began to draw the girl from the waist up. Kelley was very talented at drawing, Joseph and Karen never had the extra money to put her in some kind of lesson, not that she needed them. Karen would show her little tricks when she could, but it was more Karen who learned from Kelley. Her drawings were unbelievably lifelike and realistic. If you didn't know better you'd swear that you were looking at a photograph of a real life person or place, depending on the situation. She drew for hours, trying to get her likeness just right, this was not a picture that she intended to ever to show to anyone. It was just something she had to have, with everything that was going on she wanted to make sure that she didn't imagine this little girl. She had never done that before, see things that weren't really there that is, but that didn't mean she wasn't. With the amount of stress she goes through and lack of sleep she got on a daily basis, it was entirely possible, and she knew it. If she had the drawing and she saw the little girl again and happened to be with someone, they would be able to verify if what she was seeing was real or in her head.
It was now 5:00pm and Joseph would be coming home soon and not too much longer after that, Karen would be coming home as well. Kelley folded the drawing of the little girl that she had now finished and she put in her the back pocket of her jeans. Just as she finished cleaning up the phone began to ring, Kelley walked over and picked it up and simply said “hello?”
“Hello, am I speaking to a Miss Karen Stockman?” the male voice on the other line sounded older sand very calm, and maybe a little professional. As odd as it might seem, Kelley couldn't tell, she rarely answered the phone, either because she wasn't home or because it wasn't for her anyways, she didn't have much in the way of friends.
“No, I'm Kelley Stockman, her niece, she'll be home in about a half an hour, and may I ask what this is about?” She figured that she would just end up taking a message for Karen and just give it to her when she got home, it wouldn't be too much longer anyway.
“It's regarding the death of her brother Michael Brooke.” That was a strange answer considering he died in November of last year, the funeral had already come and past as far she knew, she didn't know Michael personally.
“What about it, it was to my understanding that he died several months ago.”
“He did, this does not regard the death directly, but a request that was left to Miss Stockman in Mr. Brooke's last will and testament.”
“Okay, what about it?” As far as she knew, this had been dealt with as well, Karen didn't get anything out of the will as far as Kelley knew.
“I am afraid miss, that this is a private matter, when did you say she would be available?”
“Later tonight, shall I have her give you a call?”
“Yes, that would be great, my number here is 867-899-5621, just ask for Donald.” Kelley grabbed a scrap piece of paper she found lying on the table nearby, picked up a pen and wrote down: Call Donald in regards to Michael’s will, 867-899-5621.
“Alright, got it. Was there anything else?”
“No, just the matter discussing the details of her brother's will.”
“Okay then, I shall have her call you when she gets in, goodbye.”
“Good day Mrs. Stockman”. And then Kelley hung up the phone. 'What did he mean? And why exactly didn't this Donald want me to know anything about what was in that will' was the thought that crossed her mind almost immediately after. It could have been as simple as it was a private matter and Karen was the only one who actually had a right to know about it, or it might be something else. She guessed that there was nothing that she could now except wait for Karen to get home and hopefully be able to find out what that was all about.
Around an hour later, both Joseph and Karen where home and Kelley told them both about the phone call that was meant for Karen. Kelley handed Karen the piece of paper that she had written Donald's number down on and Karen dialled the numbers and put the phone. It rang twice before someone picked up on the other line.
“Hello?” an elderly gentleman asked, Karen assumed she was speaking to Donald.
“Am I speaking to Donald? My name is Karen Stockman, I was told to call regarding the will of my Brother Michael Brooke.”
“Ah yes, Mrs. Stockman, I am Donald, how are you?” Kelley could hear Donald's voice from the earpiece quite clearly, 'was it really always this loud?', she wondered to herself.
“I am doing alright, and yourself?” From the sound in Karen's voice, it seemed to Kelley that she didn't want to make small talk and get straight to the point, she also wondered if Donald had picked up on that.
“Oh, I’m quite fine, thank you for asking.” Clearly he didn't pick up on it as fast as Kelley thought that he would.
“So what is this about my brother's will?”
“Well, it seems that he left you a rather large request. One that took a long time to settle in the courts, it appears that one of his ex-wives were attempting to claim ownership.”
“And what would this be? I was unaware that he had left me anything at all.”
“His mansion in Wyoming and a total of five million dollars of his fortune” Karen was speechless. She almost didn't know her brother, they hadn't spoken in years, he was ten by the time she was born and he moved out when he was seventeen and she hadn't spoken to him since. She had always assumed that there was a lot of bad blood between them due to their parents, they had one view on how Michael should live his life, and he had another. After he left they wouldn't allow Karen to make contact with him, maybe they also wouldn't allow him to make contact with her either.
“This is real?” was all she managed to get out. Kelley wasn't sure who was more shocked, Karen or herself. Joseph seemed to be the only of the three of them who managed to keep a level headed face during the conversation, but to be fair, she wasn't sure if he was listening.
“I can assure madam, that this is quite real.” Karen was still speechless. “I understand that you live in Los Angeles, I was planning to meet you at the house in two days’ time in order for you to sign the necessary papers and give you the key, will this be a problem in any way?”
“No, no two days is fine.” Karen said it so quietly that Kelley sitting three feet away from her barely heard it, she wasn't sure how Donald had heard it at all.
“You know where the place is?”
“Yes, I know how to get there.” It wasn't a place she had been to before, but when your brother that your parents keep you from ends up making a fortune in royalties from writing a book. You tend to take notice.
“Then I shall meet you there say three O'clock?”
“Sounds great, thank you Mr. Donald.”
“My pleasure, madam, and please, it's just Donald, bye now.”
“Goodbye.” And Karen hung up the phone, she was still in a little bit of shock from what she had just heard. It wasn't everyday day that someone gave her five million dollars, let alone five million dollars with a mansion on top of that.
“What was that about?” Joseph asked, concerned that his wife had just been given some very bad news from judging the look on her face. 'How could he not have heard?' popped up in Kelley's mind.
“It was about something my brother left me in his will” Karen answered.
“What was it?” Sounding just as confused as Kelley was when she first found out that it had anything to do with Michael’s will.
“His entire fortune of five million dollars and his house.” Like Karen, both Kelley and Joseph didn't really know how to respond to this. Karen simply hugged Joseph and then wrapped her free arm around Kelley, everything for them was about to change, nothing would ever be the same for them, and they could live with that. Things were finally going to be okay. Although this was a drastic bit of amazing news for them, Kelley couldn't shake the feeling that this was exactly what that little girl in the hallway was trying to warn her about. However, she wouldn't know for sure until she was on the door step of that house, which, according to the plans Karen just made, would be in two days from now.
Two days later...
The drive to Wyoming was a long, a fifteen hour drive by Kelley's count, the family really and truly couldn't wait to get out there and see the place for the first time. The car they were stuck in was a 1986 four door Ford Taurus packed with everything they could manage, which made the ride all the much more uncomfortable. Karen had only ever seen pictures that she had gotten in a post card when she was younger, the place most likely looked nothing like that anymore. The pictures in the postcards, however were beautiful, lots of open land as well as the house itself being almost as big as the high school that Kelley went to. Her parents and Michael never got along at all, if Michael hadn't left when he was seventeen she was positive that he would have been thrown out before the year was over. Michael had repeatedly tried to keep in contact with Karen from what she told Kelley, but that ended as soon as their parents found out. Simply put, he was never the son that they wanted him to be, neither was Karen, but it was either make peace with it, or lose another child forever.
They finally reached the small town where the house was located and the first thing that really stood out about this town was the old gas station and parked there was an old sports car, a 1971 Firebird if she was not mistaken. The bottom of the car was rusted from the rain and it looked as though the car was once a metallic black colour but in time it had faded away. The owner of the car was standing next to it, his hair was short and brown, it was no longer than an inch. The boy himself was fit looking wearing a red and black plaid jacket and dirty blue jeans and watched the Taurus go by. 'He can't be any older than twenty' Kelley thought, 'not too bad looking either.' That was the first real time in two years that Kelley had any thoughts at all towards a boy, most of the time they were either bullying her or trying to sleep with her. She never really saw the in-between, or even had a male friend since her parents died in that crash. There was no doubt in anyone's mind, including Kelley's own mind, that it had changed her. She tried to make sense of it by saying 'some people can just deal with change better than others.'
Kelley then noticed a line of trees, a forest was surrounding the town and just on the outside of the town where the forest started, the mansion stood. She knew it was big, but this place was huge, from what she could tell it was three floors tall and at least a hundred feet in length. They pulled in the driveway which stretched out almost as long as the street that they used to live on. The bottom of the stone building was starting to be overgrown with a type of moss, she wasn't quite sure what it was, only that it was green in colour. Someone had clearly been taking care of this place over the years, from pictures she'd seen, old houses like this one where normally fully covered in moss. It wasn't entirely possible for her to believe that this was her new home, and in a few short hours it would be official.
Joseph put the car in park and turned off the engine and they all got out of the car and looked at the place in awe. There was an older man standing at the doorway to the house, his silver hair was about half way down to his shoulders, and it seemed to Kelley that he was starting to go bald. “Donald?” Karen asked the old man. The old man's first response to her before he replied was to give her a small and friendly smile.
“Yes, madam, you must be Karen Stockman.”
“I am, and this must husband Joseph and our niece Kelley.” she replied and Karen, Joseph and Kelley all walked up to the house to meet him.
“Excellent, a pleasure to meet you all, shall we get started with the tour?” He then pulled a key out of his pocket and put it in the lock and opened the door which had a large pillar on each side of it. He walked in and the family followed. Just on the other side of the doors lead to a hallway and on the left side was a living room space that must have been twice the size of the entire apartment that they lived in. With two staircases leading to the second floor of the house, in the centre of the stair cases there was a huge archway, it must have been thirty feet tall at least, it connected to the others and went all the way up to the third floor. It looked like the entire inside of the house had been made of a dark stained oak, including the floor.
“Oh my god” Karen managed to gasp out in disbelief, she knew the house was big, but this was huge. Kelley was glad to know that she wasn't the only one who thought this place just a little more than a little overwhelming.
“This place is amazing” Kelley said. She was glancing over at the hand carved railing that each of the staircases had, this placed could have been straight out of a Disney princess movie.
“This is nothing compared to the rest of the house” Donald replied. The three of them all looked a bit shocked at what he had just said. “I think that the first floor is as good a place as any to start the tour” Donald then walked across the room and towards the archway. “This as you no doubt had guessed, is the greeting room and over to the west wall you'll see the living room with the walk in fireplace and lots of places to set up a comfortable living space.” The fireplace looked as though it was made entirely out of marble and cast iron. The room itself stretched up the first two floors and had three large windows, two of them being on ground level. “Moving on, down this hallway you'll find at the end is the dining space with a kitchen separated by a wall, it will be the second door on the right. The first door on your left is the indoor pool that your brother had installed Mrs. Stockman. The First door on your right is one of the house's three bathrooms”. They all took a quick look inside of the kitchen and dining room, it was hard to see the kitchen without going in, but once again, the size of the dining room was bigger than their entire apartment.
This was going to take some getting used to for all of them, the first thing being that they would have to learn to not get lost in this house. Donald walked into the dining space to lead them to a window which showed a fairly big field which was surrounded but a huge forest, the same one Kelley saw on the way in here. “The yard itself is three hundred feet in length and two hundred and forty feet in width, you are only able to see the East side from this window, but I like it. Most of the yard itself is surrounded by miles of forest, so your privacy levels in this place are quite high. That's about all there is to see on the first level, the door leading into the yard is at the end of the hallway.” Donald then turned around and went back into the greeting room again, only this time he went up the staircase with Joseph, Kelley and Karen following him.
The royal purple rug in the hallway really made the walls stand out, the lights in the hallway looked almost like they were candle holders. Perhaps around the time this house was originally built they were candle holders. “Donald?” Kelley asked. They followed him down onto the landing that lead to the second floor.
“Yes, Miss?” he replied, never losing his polite and friendly tone.
“When was this house built?”
“It was first built in eighteen twenty seven I do believe” She didn't know if it was the space of this place, or the beautiful woodwork, or the three bathrooms, but Kelley was starting to feel drawn into this place. It was like the memories of this place were trapped in the walls and were calling out to her. “The second bathroom is the first door to your left and the third one is the last one on the right. The second and third doors on the left is the bedroom and the one across from them is the master bedroom.
“What's that one at the end of the hallway?” Joseph asked. They all looked at the door directly at the end of the hallway. It was old looking, like it had never really been taken care of. Which was shocking because the rest of the house looked to be in almost prefect and in original condition. Why would this one be neglected?
“That Mr. Stockman is just the door that leads up to the attic. It was never done up as well as the rest of the house, but it was once a room to one of the most beautiful girls that this town had ever seen.”
“What is the third floor used for?” Karen asked interested.
“The third floor was added on in some of the earlier years of the house after a fire broke out on the second floor, when it was rebuilt, they added the third floor and never connected to the surviving section of the attic, which was made into her room, it's mainly used for storage space but could be made into guest rooms.”
“What was her name?” Kelley asked him. She didn't know why, but she felt compelled to ask Donald about this girl who lived in the third floor of the house, It was just the way that he spoke about her, it was almost as if he knew her.
“Her name was Jane, poor thing had a rough life” Donald replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I don't want to be the one telling you horror stories, but if you really must know, she was a young girl who lived here. She went missing when she was twenty one, she lived here alone, had a boyfriend from what I remember, police tried to find her, but never could and a few days after her disappearance, he went missing too, but as far as i know the case was never really closed.”
“You mean to say that he went missing as well?”
“That's right, he and two more of his friends. It was a pity that they never really did figure out what ever really did happen to her.” They had walked back to the entrance of the house where Donald handed Karen the key to the house and simply said “the house is yours to do with it as you will.”
“Thank you” Karen said. And Donald headed out the front door and down the stairs.
“So what now?” Kelley asked.
“Now, we start the life we were meant to have” Karen responded as she held the key tightly in her hand. It was in that moment that everything was going to change, if only they knew how much and in what way. If Kelley was thinking straight, she might have been able to sense that something didn't sit right with her about this, but all she could think of for the first time, was she might actually be able to put all of this behind her. Once and for all.
One year later...