Chapter 4: Cats and Hoarders
Ian was not expecting his younger brother to be awake, so when he finally opened his eyes to see Roderick sitting on his bed staring at him, he jumped and flailed, throwing the covers off of himself.
“Geez Louise Roderick!” he exclaimed, getting a hold of himself. Roderick couldn’t help but laugh.
“What? Not used to seeing me up this early?”
“...No. for a second I thought I slept in.”
“Nope. I just couldn’t really sleep.”
It was then that Ian realized that Roderick had his phone and was bouncing his knee up and down nervously.
“Roderick?” he asked slowly. “Whyyyy do you have my phone?”
Roderick smiled, running his fingers through his messy bangs.
“Because it has video.”
Ian’s eyes grew wide.
“Wait… You didn’t….”
“Yep. I did.”
At this, Ian was soon up in a frenzy, pulling on his clothes and scrambling to pull out the files and lay them on the bed.
“Ok. So what happened? What did you record last night?” He asked as he pulled a sweater over his collared shirt.
Roderick excitedly opened his mouth to tell him, when there was a knock on the door. Feeling rather aggravated at the interruption, Ian stood up grumbling to see who was there. Outside was the person he least wanted to see.
“Oh. Hello Miss uh… Miss…”
“Jordyn! How’s it going?!” Roderick exclaimed cheerfully, coming up from behind him.
Jordyn gave a curt nod a little impatiently.
“Yeah. Whatever. You guys are probably going to want to see this…”
The two brothers exchanged glances and then followed her outside.
“My car!!” Ian cried in horror.
Ian’s light blue Chevy Cruze was now covered in a drippy black goop like what they had seen before.
“Wait. This is your car?” Jordyn scoffed. “I thought it belonged to that receptionist lady who just disappeared! Ha!”
Ian scowled. He was really starting to detest this woman.
But for some reason, Roderick did not seem in the least bit surprised. His eyebrows furrowed forward as if he were thinking.
“Interesting…” he said a bit absentmindedly as Jordyn continued to laugh at Ian’s misfortune.
“Although less and less things are starting to make sense now…”
“What do you mean?” his older brother asked.
“Come on. We’ll hook your phone up to the laptop and I’ll show you the video I took.”
“Waaaait. You got something on video?” Jordyn prodded, suddenly interested, following them into their motel room without permission.
“Yeah. You know that teddy bear I picked up yesterday from the ghost girl attack?” he asked as he plugged in Ian’s phone.
“You kept that thing?” his older brother said in disgust.
Roderick smirked. “Don’t worry. I didn’t have it for very long.”
The older brother sighed in relief. “Oh good. You threw it away…” Ian didn’t like the idea of a nasty torn up piece of ghost garbage littering their living space.
“Wait. Did one of the ghost girls come back for it??” Jordyn pressed. The two brothers turned to look at her in surprise.
“What?! That’s absurd!” Ian scoffed. “Oh yes. A murderous psychopath sent one of his projections to retrieve a tattered piece of garbage.”
Roderick coughed, causing Ian to turn to him. His younger brother shrugged, causing Ian to groan.
“Don’t tell me. That’s exactly what happened…”
“Well, one of the ghost girls did come back for the bear… But I wanted to see if I was hallucinating or not, because I knew what I was seeing, and I felt her lift the bear out of my hands. And then-she looked different from before. There was none of that black goop stuff. She almost seemed like a normal little girl. So anyway, she fazed through the car, and writing started to appear. So, I got your phone and recorded it to see if it would show up on camera. Which, it did.”
With that, Roderick hit the spacebar, and the video started to play. Jordyn and Ian watched in silence as they read the message the little girl had left for them.
“Please help us? Then why the heck are they dumping crap all over my car?” Ian lamented, still mourning the mess that he would soon have to clean up.
“This is all very interesting….” Jordyn mused, pacing the floor.
“Oh, and Ian?”
Roderick ran his hand over the back of his head a little sheepishly, avoiding eye contact with his older brother.
“I uh… Also made a call this morning…”
Ian pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation.
“Please tell me you didn’t call that college buddy of yours…”
“I bet he heard the word “ghost” and dropped everything….”
“Yep. He’s on his way from Phoenix.”
“Another person? Good. We can use him as bait for the ghost girls.” Jordyn said nonchalantly.
“Joking.” the detective said seriously.
“Murder file number one: Jason Goodman.” Roderick read aloud from the passenger seat.
“Oh yeah. I’ve met his mom. She’s kind of skittish. The only investigator she let into her home was killed, so she’s been hesitant to talk to anyone since.” Jordyn told him, making a turn down a dirt road past some sagebrush.
“Well that’s a… bummer…”
Jordyn glanced at the man in her passenger seat, who was extremely focused on the documents in his lap.
“Pity Ian couldn’t join us.”
“Meh. It’s going to take him a while to get that stuff off his car. He can get very particular.” Roderick responded. “But who knows? Maybe he’ll find some clue as he scrapes it off. Has anyone taken the goop to a lap to see what it is?”
“Yes. But it isn’t recognized. In scientific terms, it shouldn’t exist. One of the investigators tried to explain all the science to me once, but it got real complicated and that is not what I went to school for.”
“So, what did you go to school for?” Roderick asked curiously.
Jordyn simply smirked.
Roderick could immediately tell that the house belonged to a hoarder. A very unpleasant aroma seeped out of the house, and trash and rusty appliances were strewn out into the dirt. As he stepped out of the car, a scrawny tabby cat came and rubbed itself along his legs. Some dead fairy gardens also were strewn about on the front porch.
“I can’t guarantee anything.” Jordyn sighed. “It’ll be a miracle if she even opens the door.
Roderick continued to glance around. He noticed another cat swishing its tail just behind a window. He smiled a little, and then picked up the cat currently rubbing itself up against his legs.
“I’ve got an idea.”
Knock. Knock. Knock.
A few sounds could be heard from behind the grimy blue door as the cat in his arms meowed incessantly, squirming and protesting its confinement. Roderick saw movement out of the corner of his eye, and turned just in time to see a curtain fall back into place. Finally, a chain clinked, and the door opened up a crack, revealing a yellowed blue eye staring wildly back at them.
“Excuse me ma’am, but I was wondering if this was your cat?” Roderick said politely, holding out the tabby. “I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be outside, and being a cat lover myself, I would hate for anything to happen to the poor fellow.”
The door opened a little bit more to show a wide eyed old woman probably in her seventies, with a dirtied white t-shirt underneath a purple fairy dress. Her matted white hair was haphazardly put up into a bun, and without a word, she took the cat from his arms and took a step back into the house.
“Are those your fairy gardens by the way? They are truly lovely. What kind of fairies are they?”
The woman paused, looking in between the both of them.
“Oh! I’m sorry! Where are my manners? My name is Roderick. I’m just in town for a few days. What’s your name?”
Jordyn stood off to the side, wondering where he was going to go with all of this, and how he expected it to bring forth pertinent information.
“Janice.” she said barely above a whisper. “And those right there are Alven fairies.”
“Really? What do Alven fairies do?”
Jordyn’s eyes widened in reluctance as the old woman proceeded to tell them about all the different types of fairies, and as Roderick egged her on. After a few minutes of this, some dusty camping chairs were brought out for them to sit in, and with reluctance, Jordyn joined them. What kind of private investigator was he?? This was just wasting time.
She rolled her eyes as they moved onto the subject of fantasy video games, and was about to just leave Roderick there with the hoarder lady, when the subject finally came up to her son. But instead of getting right to the point and asking about the murder, Roderick simply asked what his interests had been.
After what had seemed like an eternity, Jordyn looked down at her watch. Two hours. They had been there two damn hours. She began to regret getting involved with these new investigators, when all of a sudden, she realized that the old woman was crying. Wondering what she had missed, and suddenly feeling lost as she focused back on the conversation, she glanced back at the investigator sitting beside her.
He was listening intently, and responding genuinely, but she also noticed that he had just turned on a voice recorder that was resting beside his leg.
That sly dog.
The old woman in front of them sniffled.
“H-He was just playing his video games in the other room like he usually does.” she told them, petting her tabby cat a bit roughly. “I was watching the “Price is Right” in the living room, when all of a sudden, the lights flickered and the program went off. Then right there on the tv-those-those ghosts came up. I heard Jason scream, but when I got in there, I was too late.”
“I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you.” Roderick said sincerely. “What else happened?”
The woman used her cat’s tail to wipe the tears from her face, her knobby hands shaking.
“Well, there wasn’t any blood. Just that black stuff coming out of his eyes and hands and…”
Jordyn awkwardly shifted in her chair as the woman broke down in sobs. Roderick however, scooted his chair closer and put an arm around her.
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that Janice. Does it help to talk it out a little?”
“A little, but-after that last young man that came by here-and you both are just so nice and-”
“Don’t you worry about us. We’re here for you.” Roderick soothed, giving her a pat on the shoulder. Jordyn almost wanted to gag at the sappiness of it all.
The woman nodded gratefully.
“I think Jason might have seen something he wasn’t supposed to.”
Jordyn felt herself freeze.
This was definitely new information.
“What do you think he might have seen?” she asked hesitantly.
“He kept going on and on about some kind of conspiracy cock a doo or some big cover up or something.”
“A cover up of what?”
“Of the killings.”
“But what would that have to do with the ghost girls?” Jordyn pressed. The woman broke down in sobs again.
“Janice… Have you been in Jason’s room since the incident?” Roderick asked.
“It might be a good sense of closure for you. If you want, we can move some of the things out of there.”
Finally, Jordyn could at least see one thing the private investigator was trying to do.
If they could get into that guy’s room, they could possibly find some evidence or clues to go off on.
“Do you think that will help?” the old woman asked, squeezing her cat.
“I’m not sure Janice, but it can’t hurt to try.” Roderick smiled. “And don’t worry-we are right here with you...”
The woman nodded, and then stood up.
“Well, come on inside then. I’ll show you to his room.” She told them, leading them to the house. Jordyn couldn’t believe this. She had been here for a few weeks and had never gotten anywhere with this woman. How had Roderick done what she couldn’t?
As soon as the woman opened the door, she tried very hard not to gag at the putrid smell coming from inside, a couple of cockroaches scuttling out of the house and across the porch. Roderick seemed unfazed as he cheerfully followed the old woman in, but Jordyn stopped for a moment right outside the door.
The hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end. Instinctively, she touched her hand to her gun and slowly turned around, looking around at the random wood piles and other houses that lined the dirt roads. She narrowed her eyes, trying to shake the feeling that something sinister was out there-watching them. Hopefully, it wouldn’t hurt anything to worry about that later. So, trying desperately to breathe through her mouth instead of her nose, she followed Roderick and Janice into the house.