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The Book of Ethriel, Chapter 1

The Book of Ethriel, Chapter 1

A Chapter by Clotilda Jamcracker
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Audrey Heisenberg was raised by her abusive con artist father. She decides to seek revenge with the aid of a diabolic entity that takes control over her body.

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In the game of life, there are rule books everywhere.  If you want to win, you have to figure out the rules and play by them.  But if you play long enough, you’ll find out that the people who are best at playing the game are really just cheating.  They have their own game and their own rules.  These rules are so far-fetched and complicated that nobody else can win. 

                But don’t you fret and don’t you frown.  Don’t let the corporate bourgeois get you down.  They bigger they are, the harder they fall.  And the masochist in all of us loves to see it when they do.

 

     Chapter one

Blessed are the crooks, for they shall lead lives of great excitement.


                 It was a sunny July Afternoon when Mortimer Nickleby sat down for tea and crumpets and Saturday’s copy of The Paisley Daily express.    He was sitting in the parlor of his newly purchased vacation home on Wigsby Island taking a long needed holiday when he heard the doorbell rang.  He pressed his hair down flat on his head, rose, and straightened his Louis Vuitton smoking jacket as he made his way across the mahogany parka floor, and opened the door. 

                There was a young lady standing on his door step who looked like she was on her way to a debutant jamboree.  She was wearing a pink taffeta dress that went down her leg mid-calf and showed no cleavage whatsoever.   However, back in the 1950s when this dress was made, the designers truly appreciated the female breast and designed a bodice that would accentuate the shape of each individual booby creating a sort of all holy shrine that paid its due homage to the shape of the female body.   Technically speaking, the dress was modest enough to wear to a senior prom, yet sensual and attractive enough to still entice the eyes of the opposite sex. 

Around her neck she wore a lovely genuine string of ivory pearls and was sporting a large pink sash with the words “Race for the cure.”  In her hand she carried a leather briefcase, which indicated that she was possibly going to ask him for money.  That’s the thing about money, if you’ve got some, everyone wants their fair share.  Nickleby wasn’t exactly the generous type, but this broad looked so peculiar; he thought he’d listen to what she had to say before properly slamming the door in her face.

                “Good Evening, dear sir,” said the girl, with a forced smile, and an odd tone of voice.  Nickleby furrowed his large thick mono-brow and stroked his chin.  “I daresay.  It’s not quite evening yet.  It’s only two thirty seven.  Shouldn’t you be saying good afternoon?” 

The girl at the door, was  none other than Rita Heisenberg, who greeted everyone with the Phrase “Good Evening, dear sir,”  no matter what time of day it was, whether the alternate party was male or female, cat or goat.  It didn’t matter.  The phrase was meant to catch someone off guard and break their pattern of thought, just enough so she could coerce their mind with going along with whatever scam she was trying to pull.  She was a master con artist; she’d been doing it since she was seven and a half and had been taught to do so by her dear father, Stanley.  She had a little sister, Audrey, who was a year younger, but was more of a cat burglar than a con artist.  Although she was quite skilled in her craft, she wanted out.  She had dreams and ambitions.  What she really wanted to be was a fashion designer … leaping from Rome to London... filling the racks of department stores with velvet trim and silver grommets. Ahh, there was nothing, in her opinion, like smell of fresh cut linen and bolts of chiffon on a hot summer afternoon or the smoke from a Cuban cigar as it billowed through the air at a Parisian Fashion show with tall slender models showing off their new faux pa designs.

Rita curtsied, cocked her head and smiled ferociously as she spouted off her practiced speech.  She did so in a perky manner that was so unlike her usual personality, that anyone who knew her would call it pure and unmitigated sarcasm.  “We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Doris P. Wopsil race for the cure.  The Doris P. Wopsil Institute of Greater Tackleton is the holder of the largest series of charity marathons in the world with well over one million participants as of date.  The Doris P. Wopsil Race for the cure raises significant funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrating breast cancer survivorship and honors those who have lost their precious b***s with this disease.  As we all know, there are a shortage of perfect breasts in this world, and it’s a shame to see any more lost.  Furthermore, my kind sir, I am collecting donations from generous philanthropists, like yourself, to sponsor my sister in next month’s annual race for the cure on our Great and Wonderful Island of Wigsby.  How much can I put you down for?  Three thousand, four thousand?”  She twisted her hair sensually and gave him her best gaga eyes, knowing full well, that he wasn’t looking at her face at all. 

“I’m afraid that I lost my wife to breast cancer just this past February.”  He said glancing in awe at Rita’s luscious front porch.”    She has willed to donate one million dollars towards breast cancer research. “Rita went cross-eyed and tried with much difficulty not to show her surprise upon hearing such a large number.  But her jaw dropped and she strained to push it closed.  “Oh, I am dreadfully sorry to hear about your dear wife, kind sir.  It’ a shame.  A crying shame it is indeed.”  She tried to appear as mournfully sorry as possible.

“Oh, Never you mind.  I never liked the old bag anyway.  It was an arranged marriage.  I love breast cancer; without it, I’d be a prisoner to that unholy succubus from now until all eternity.  Breast Cancer is indeed, the salvation of tormented men, in my humble opinion.”

Nickleby put a hand on his hip and waved his other hand in a nonchalant manner and he spoke rather earnestly to her in a dignified manner. “I wanted to put the money to better use.  I wanted to start an intercity agriculture program to help keep kids out of gangs in Stockton, but if your sister finishes first, I’ll donate the one million dollars and personally give fifty thousand dollars to your sister towards her college education. “

“Wow, Thank you, kind sir.”  Said Rita, bowing modestly. 

“Oh.  But there is a catch.  I am also entering my son, Swidger?  I daresay, have you heard of him, my dear child?”

“Oh?  You’re son’s Swidger Nickleby?” She knew exactly who that was.  He’d been all over the news, lately.  Her smile went from perky to stressed turmoil.

 

It was an odd sort of scam and they’d pulled many like it before.  Rita would go to the door asking for donations and do some odd bazaar thing to distract the residents of the home Audrey was robbing.  Of course, she wasn’t stealing the family jewels or fine china; she took ordinary household products that people would just think they’d misplaced like shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, scissors, dresses, underwear, chocolates, pot roasts, curries, milk, granola, apples, and books.

Their father, whom they always called Stanley didn’t believe in making money the legal way, and he trained his two daughters to live off the land like a modern day version of the nomadic hunter and gatherer tribes.  He didn’t want to get his money in a way the government would find out about it, because he hated the government and didn’t want to pay taxes.  This was mostly because he believed the government might be looking for him.  He would never adequately explain why, however, and his daughters could only wonder.

They hunted down people who looked like they were living lavishly and Audrey would gather necessary items her family needed for life.  In the nicer houses this would have to be done while the family was at home to prevent a burglar alarm from sounding.  It was discreet; she’d never take anything valuable like a TV or stereo because nobody would call the cops for a missing stick of deodorant.  It wasn’t exactly a sanitary means of existence, but there you are. 

They didn’t have to pay any bills, because they would find somewhere to live for free.  A cave or a cardboard box was a nice discreet place to live, but they preferred to stay in someone’s home while they were gone for the weekend or squat in someone’s rental property or vacation home while it stood vacant.  This is legal in some parts of the world, but not all, so they had to be extremely careful to keep watch.  The owners didn’t like to come home to a house full of guests.  This happened more often than you would like and they had a special way of getting out of this sticky situation.

There was one downside to living in someone else’s house.  The rightful owners would return, and they would never call to let them know that they were on their way back.  These spontaneous arrivals were quite a nuisance, so the Heisenbergs developed a plan that would enable them to have ample time to escape without being seen.  They would put glass bottles in front of the driveway, when the owners arrived the bottles would crash and pop, sending a loud sound into the air, which the Heisenbergs would hear.  The scurrying about to clean up the mess and argument afterward was also a fringe benefit.  The longer they fought about where the bottles came from, the less risky their situation was.  If the bottles were removed quietly before they crashed into them, they were sure to be awoken or signaled by the loud crash of bottles that were placed right behind both the front and back doors. 

Nevertheless there is a saying that goes “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.  The same holds true for squatting.  Why, just this past Christmas season, Lucinda Pemberton of East Windsor Manor was just coming back from holiday with her husband, Gilbert, and two children, Alice and Jamison.  Gilbert quietly and confusedly removed the mandala of bottles from the driveway, and whisked into the house.  As soon as he heard the sound of the bottles crashing as he opened the door, he stormed through the house with a cast iron frying pan in each of his hands and found a girl in one of the bedrooms. 

“Aha!” he cried in great surprise.  “Who are you?  And what are you doing in my house?”  Audrey immediately started grunting, moaning, and drooling.  As Stanley crawled out a window unnoticed, Rita ran to Audrey’s rescue.  “I’m terribly sorry, sir.”  Rita had mastered the art of kissing but rather well, and always seemed to charm whoever she was speaking to.  They always seemed to believe whatever she said, no matter how ridiculous it may be.  “My poor sister has been missing for ages and I saw her jacket lying out on your lawn just a few minutes ago and well, I came in to find her.  She’s um…” Rita leaned closed and whispered to him as if what she was about to say was too horrible to speak loud and clear…”She’s…autistic, you see and although she’s quite bright, she tends to get confused.  She wanders off and can’t remember where she lives and so she just goes right into the first house she sees that looks remotely like her own. 

George seemed like he understood and put an endearing hand over his heart in utter sympathy.  “Oh, dear, I suppose it is an easy mistake.  After all, these houses do look alike down this road.  Why I sometimes pull into the wrong driveway, myself, from time to time.  And I know exactly how you feel.  I have a second cousin that’s autistic.  He’s always wandering off to go play poker.  He wins all the time.  They won’t let him play anymore and they’re always bringing him right back home, just to keep him out of the game.

They escaped that nasty situation, but close calls like that always left them nervous and on edge.  They’d talked about getting a dog to keep watch, but they weren’t so sure if that was such a good idea.  Dogs have to be trained, and when they’re puppies they piddle on the carpet and chew up the upholstery, and they reek to high heaven.

The place they were at now was a quaint little stone cottage with running water, electricity and a nice view of the ocean.  Rita was sitting on the floor with her legs crossed.  Audrey was sitting too, well sort of.  The way Audrey always sat down to do things was so odd that it requires a detailed explanation. Picture someone sitting on the toilet, and then remove the toilet. This is how she sat.  It drove Rita crazy when she did this, and was most likely the main reason why she always made fun of her little sister.  Nevertheless, Audrey insisted on sitting this way because she claimed that it made her legs strong and was a great way to build the muscle strength that she needed for running.  Her legs were quite strong from doing this and she could hold this position for hours without getting tired.  Rita could only do it for seventeen seconds before collapsing with sore legs that would ache for days afterward.

Audrey dumped the contents of her backpack onto the hardwood floor.  There was a beautifully decorated candy box with a red velvet ribbon, which Rita grabbed and tore open immediately.  There was also a half-eaten pack of Fruit Stripes gum, which Audrey claimed, a beautiful black blouse with a butterfly collar and gemstone buttons, an almost full bottle of orange ginger blossom shampoo with matching cream rinse, coconut almond body wash, several brand new razors still in their packages, a half-eaten bag of sour cream and onion potato crisps, half a slice of chocolate raspberry cheesecake, half of a baguette, a box of crumpets, a package of brie and a full unopened jar of sweet juicy red maraschino cherries with not a trace of mold growing at the top like last time.

Rita bit into an oyster shaped white chocolate candy and moaned with delight because she was taken aback with the chocolaty goodness. 

“Is that all?” she smacked the candy like she was really enjoying it and rubbed her teeth clean, using her tongue as if it were a squeegee.  Audrey nodded and put a piece of gum into her mouth.  “What about make up?  I told you that I was all out of makeup and I need some more.  I can’t go door to door without makeup, I have to look glamorous or it ruins the whole effect.  Audrey sighed and started pulling random objects left and right from her cleavage and other hidden places in her clothing, jars of cosmetic powder and moisturizing creams, lipstick, tweezers, nail clippers, an oingo boingo cassette tape, a root beer scented ink pen, a few yellow jelly beans, which she ate immediately, a jar of peanut butter, and a can of sardines.  Rita raised her eyebrows and gave her look.  “Seriously, you have got to be kidding me.”  Audrey shrugged.  “What?  I’m an athlete, I need the protein.”

Rita rolled her eyes, picked up a jar of cosmetic powder, and read the bottom “Oh no.  This is tan, you got the wrong shade you idiot.”  She opened the jar, swirled a finger around and rubbed it across her face leaving a dark streak across her cheek. “Seriously Audrey, does this look right to you?” She pointed angrily at the brown smudge. “How many times do I have to tell you?  I’m fair skinned, not tanned.  How hard can it be?”

Audrey threw her hands up in dismay.  “It’s not like there’s a wide selection.  That’s the thing with rummaging through people’s houses, sure you’re bound to find everything you want, but it’s always the wrong color.  It’s not my fault.  I can’t help what other people are buying.”  Rita scoffed and grabbed a container of lipstick and shrieked because, it too, was the wrong color.  “Cotton Candy Pink?  You didn’t, really.” Rita groaned melodramatically. “When have you known me to wear pink lipstick?  Have you ever seen me wear pink lipstick?  I don’t think so.  I wear maroon, oxblood, and burgundy.  I do not wear pink, blue, green, yellow, fuchsia, or periwinkle.”  Rita groaned.

“I’m just going to have to buy my own makeup the good old fashioned way.  She leaned forward closer to Audrey and whispered quietly so Stanly wouldn’t overhear what she was about to say.  “Did you happen to find any cash?” “No.”  Audrey said, trying on her new shirt.  She stuck her arm up and smelled the armpit.  Stolen clothing has a tendency to smell from time to time. 

Rita bit into another chocolate, this time a cherry cordial, and spoke again while smacking quite rudely.  “Liar!” She said leaning forward with a scornful glare.

Audrey threw her hands up innocently.  “I am not a liar.”  Rita scoffed, still leering at her.” Last time you said didn’t find any money and I found whole stash loot in a loose floorboard.”
Audrey gasped.  “So that’s where it went.  You can’t just go around stealing my money!”

Rita folded her arms haughtily.  “What difference does it make?  The only reason you have that money in the first place is because you stole it and be quiet or Stanley will hear.”

“Hear what?” Stanley came trudging over from the kitchen holding a frothy mug of root beer.  Whoever owned the house must have really liked root beer, because there was nearly ten gallons of on tap.  It was too bad for them though, because Stanley had consumed most of it while sitting in front of the television watching stupid game shows.  He was a stalky man with a beer gut, and had nearly as much fur covering his body as a full grown ape.  

“Oh.” Rita said innocently cocking her head.  “Someone’s going to give Audrey fifty thousand dollars if she wins the marathon.

Stanley slammed his mug onto the wooden coffee table, spilling it all over some books and a set of keys.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!  That’s not even a real race.  How can she win a race that we’re not even going to have?”

Rita tapped her chin delicately with her long red fingernails.  “Oh.  I think we’re having the race after all.  I was talking to a guy today that offered to donate one million dollars to breast cancer research if Audrey wins the race.”

Stanley stomped his foot and waved his arms in an angry pouty sort of way.  “No way.  A race like that will be all over the news and we’ll get found out.  We’ll be sent to prison for sure for that sort of thing.  I told you.  We have to do things discreetly or we’ll get caught.  And besides, they don’t just hand you that much money cash, they wire it to a bank account and bank accounts can be traced, and taxed.”

“Well.  I think we can pull this one off.  We’ll have to find other people to race and find donors.  Audrey can get paperwork and whip up some kind of bogus institution for breast cancer.  It will look legit.  Then we won’t have to live like this anymore.  Hey.  We can move back to grandma’s house.  She died and left us the inn didn’t she?  We can move back there and run the inn.

“NO.  No way.  We can’t go back there?”  Stanley grabbed his mug, took a swig, and stormed off into the kitchen to watch more television on the little black and white TV.  Rita followed him.  “Why not?  Nobody’s lived there for years.”

“Because it smells bad that’s why.”  Stanley slammed his glass firmly down on the counter and looked Rita firmly in the eye.  ”And besides, we’ll get traced.  They’ll be expecting us to move back there.”

“No they won’t. We’re using false identities and we’ll change them back when we get to grandmas and pretend we’ve never left.”

“It’ll never work.” 

It did in fact work.  Nobody could resist donating money for breast cancer research in California.  The Heisenbergs knew that this scheme was bound to make them the big bucks.  Instead of pledges, each contestant had to collect a thousand dollars from generous donors.  The turnout was far more spectacular than they had ever imagined.  People came from all over the mainland to be there.  Channel eight news was there and had provided the pink t-shirts for all the contestants to wear.  The Pip Pop Ginger Beer Soda Company had provided balloons, banners, streamers, medals and trophies for all the marathon runners.  A huge line of vendors had set up tents all up and down the race track for viewers to purchase steaming hot roasted corn, giant grilled turkey legs, funnel cakes with powdered sugar, and frothy mugs of root beer floats.   As luck would have it, there was an antique car show booked on the island for that same weekend and every one of the fine automobile owners were not only rich, but generous and they all sponsored someone who was running the marathon.  It was spectacular.

The crowd roared when the announcer introduced the all famous Olympic runner, Swidger Nickleby, who waved to the crowd and posed gleefully to the cameras.  Audrey went cross-eyed.  “Swidger Nickleby?” Audrey said angrily through gritted teeth to Rita, who backed away rather squeamishly. “You knew didn’t you?  You knew and you didn’t tell me!  I’m running this whole race for nothing.”

“That’s not true, you’ll do great.   You’re in track at school and nobody ever beats you.  And besides, you wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I told you about Swidger Nickleby.”  She pinched Audrey’s cheek, gave her an encouraging smile and gleeful pat on the back and said.  “Oh Audrey, I know you’ll do fabulous.  Break a leg.”

When the starting gun fired, Audrey ran like the wind.  She passed everyone left and right and ignored the cheering fans that urged her to pace herself.  She knew she could do this; she’d been training for years to run a marathon.  Well, she hadn’t been practicing for the marathon, she’d been practicing just in case she got caught and needed to run from the police.  She was running so fast that she could barely grab the cups of water that fans held out for her to quench her thirst.  “I’ll show Rita.  I’ll show her.  And maybe she’ll give me a little respect once and for all when she sees how wonderful I really am.” 

As it turns out, Audrey ran over twenty six miles in one hundred and six minutes.  This was quite astonishing because it usually takes a person nearly five hours to complete such a marathon.   At first everyone thought she was dead, and it might have been better if she had died, because sometimes, dead is better, so it goes.

            Audrey had contemplated death on a few occasions.  This didn’t make her suicidal or emo or anything.  She lived a horrible miserable life and wondered from time to time if dead really was better.  So what if she died?  Then what?  Die, so they could stuff her in a box and throw dirt on her.  The worms would crawl in and the worms would crawl out.  The worms would play pinochle on her snout.  The maggots would crawl out of her nose and eat the jelly from her toes.  No.  This didn’t seem like something that she would be at all interested in doing. 

            She had walked down beautiful streets lined with stone cottages and huge gardens.  She had seen mansions with marble staircases, and women at dinner parties wearing long evening gowns and diamond necklaces.  These people were living fantastic lives.   They breathed the same air that she did; they drank the same water, and slept under the same moonlight night.  The only difference was that they knew something that she didn’t.  These rich people had unlocked some sort of secret that was enabling them to live such lavish lifestyles.  They had found some sort of a wormhole in time and were pulling sacks of money out of it.  Audrey decided that she would find one of those wormholes and she wouldn’t die until she did.  She was going to see Paris. She was going to see Rome.  She was going to ride in a Limousine and drink champagne.  She would change her life of misery into a life of luxury.

So there she was, just lying there on the ground underneath a crowd of people who had gathered around.  The paramedics tried for several minutes to bring her around until they finally gave up.  But just as they were putting her on the stretcher, she opened her eyes, smiled and said “Is it time for tea?”  Perhaps she had foiled the spirit of death by changing her name so often that he was confused and couldn’t find her. He had been looking for a girl named Audrey Heisenberg, and this girl lying on the ground was Rosemerelda Clementine.  She should not have lived that day, but she did.

As luck would have it, the Dean of the athletics department of Cambridge University was there and told Audrey that she could have a full scholarship to his college, if she chose to apply there.  Yes, he would grant her a full scholarship with room and board. This was one moment, indeed, that she was glad to be alive.    Yes!  She was alive, and not only was she alive; she was offered a chance for a new life.  No more would she have to break into houses looking for food and money.  Never again would she have to pull con jobs with Stanley and Rita.  No.  Things would be different now.  She could live in a dorm and meet girls her own age.  She could even get a friend or two.  Heck, she might even find herself a nice boyfriend who would bring her boxes of fine Belgian Chocolates and send her long stemmed red roses. 

            But the most wonderful thing of all about this offer was that she could get away from Stanley.  He screwed with her head and made her do horrible things.  He humiliated her and made her feel like a red-headed step child.  But not anymore; she finally had an escape plan.  She had been offered a chance to go to college.  Someone thought that she was wonderful and things were going to change once and for all.   Not just one person thought she was wonderful, thousands did.  She was on television.  Apparently, she had broken some kind of world record. 

            Stanley, however, was not cool with this “little stunt” she pulled.  With the media following Audrey around it was very difficult for them all to escape without being seen.  They packed up all their loot, and dressed like little old ladies from the red hat society; Audrey of course had to steal the costumes.  But as it turned out, she didn’t even get to wear one.  They tied her up, gagged her, stuffed her in a suitcase and checked her as baggage on the ferry ride back to the mainland.  This wasn’t all that bad, though, because she managed to escape.  She escaped and was going to find that college.  But Stanley found her first and gave her the beating of her life and tossed her haphazardly into the back of his beat up rusty old Mustang.  They he and Rita chatted away in the front seat like nothing had even happened.

“Don’t worry, my fine ladies.  I guarantee, this is the very last road trip that we will ever go on together.” Stanley honked his horn angrily at a brown station wagon in front of him and everyone in the car swayed every which way as he swerved to get around it.  “Whatever.  You said that last time when you bought that motel off that crazy Indian guy.”  Rita was flipping through her large Duffle bag for another cassette tape to listen to.  Her personal favorite was the Cure because she was a new waver.  Stanley scoffed.  “How was I supposed to know that place was condemned?  He picked up his can of Fosters Beer, drank the last drop, then rolled down the window and threw it out.  It flew backwards, bounced onto the road three times, and then hit the windshield of a rusty green pickup truck that was behind them.  Stanley wasn’t really a drinker.  The only reason why he was drinking it was because he made Audrey steal someone’s ice chest at the last rest stop they were at, and that was the only thing in it.

The driver honked his horn angrily.  Stanley stuck his arm out the window and flipped him off before continuing on with the conversation.  “Besides, it never would’ve happened if Audrey hadn’t of gotten us lost down some farm road way out in BFE. 

                Audrey pounded the seats furiously with her fists. “I didn’t get us lost.  I said turn right on Interstate 98 and you turned down farm road 98 and I told you not to turn down that road and you threw a beer can and hit me in the head.”  Audrey pointed intensely to a large scrape across her forehead.  Stanley cast her evil eye from his rear view mirror.  “Hey, I did no such thing.  Stop making up lies.  You’re an idiot and can’t read a frickin map!  And don’t you go around telling people I hit you, either.  You’re doing it to yourself.  You belong in a god damn loony bin if you ask me and one of these days, that’s exactly where you’re going to end up.  Isn’t that right cupcake?”  He smiled at Rita and playfully squeezed her arm.

 Rita, who was sitting shotgun, as usual, looked back at Audrey and smiled obnoxiously at her little sister.  It was that look that she gave when she wanted to send a telepathic signal that said “Ha, ha, ha… ha ha…ha.  I’m better than you and there’s nothing that you can do about it.”  Rita had straight brown hair and icy blue eyes.  She wore diamond studded glasses that turned up at the sides that made her look like a cat.  She wore a black tank top and a long black broomstick skirt.  On her upper arm she wore a brass bracelet that was decorated with ornate swirly whirls.  These had really been Audrey’s clothes, but Rita always helped herself to them without asking. 

                Stanley looked at Audrey again in his rear view mirror and noticed that the pickup truck was tailgating.  “Who the hell does that guy think he is?  The speed limit is 55 miles per hour and I’m driving 55 miles per hour.  I’m not getting a speeding ticket for going any faster just because this jerk behind me is in some kind of a hurry.”

                “Maybe he really has to go to the bathroom, or his wife is having a baby.”  Audrey hadn’t seen Stanley’s beer can crash into the truck just moments earlier, and it was just her nature to always give people the benefit of the doubt.  Stanley gave Audrey another dirty look from his rear view mirror. “Shut the hell up, Audrey.  Can’t you just shut up for 5 minutes?  Nobody wants to hear what you’ve got to say.  That jerk off needs to learn his lesson for riding on my bumper.”  Stanley slowed down until he was driving 33 miles per hour.  It was a small two line highway, and the truck had to quickly move through the other lane so as not to run into oncoming traffic.  Stanley sped up as it tried to pass him and he nearly caused an accident as the truck merged back into the right lane.  Then to make things worse he sped up and started following him while honking his horn like a maniac. 

                “Stop it!” yelled Audrey who was in tears and scared senseless.  Stanley stopped honking and swung an arm at her and tried to hit her.  Instead he knocked over his can of beer and nearly ran his own car off the road. 

“Damn it Audrey.  Look what you made me do!  You nearly got us killed and I spilled beer all over the seats.  You are going to clean this up young lady!”  Audrey was in tears and hyperventilating.  You would think that her father would give her a bit more compassion and understanding considering the fact that she had been dead for several minutes the day before.  He could have lost his dear precious child, and his means of income and well-being.  He didn’t want anyone to think that he was capable of making mistakes, and maybe he really believed that himself.  He didn’t make mistakes, Audrey did.  If it weren’t for Audrey, they wouldn’t be back on the run again.  You would think that he would have cherished her as his most prized possession, for she, in fact was.  Without her, he was nothing, and might be forced to go to work in a factory or something.  He didn’t care, though.  He hadn’t given the ordeal a thought.  He only lived for the moment, and at this moment, he needed someone to blame for his own errors. 

“Oh please, not again.  Come on.  What the hell is the matter with you?  Do you see Rita blubbering like a baby all the time?”  Rita turned in her seat and smiled maliciously.  She was wearing a pair of headphones, listening to music and looking at the latest fashions in Audrey’s freshly stolen copy Cosmopolitan.  She reached into her black leather handbag, pulled out a pack of Fruit Stripes gum, and put six or seven pieces into her mouth.  She smacked her gum furiously, blew a large bluish grey bubble that popped across her nose.  Then she pried it off her skin with her maroon fingernails and started the process all over again.  It wasn’t her gum, it was Audrey’s but she stole it from her like she stole everything else. 

After several hours of bickering and putting up with Stanley’s crazy driving, they arrived at granny’s house.  But it wasn’t really a house, now was it?  It was a huge three story 19th century Manor with an unusual gothic façade and black stone archway.  There were gargoyles perched on either side of the front windows and were completely covered with overgrown ivy.  An angry looking stone lion stood on either side of the front porch, as if guarding the place.   The dark mauve paint on the aged wood siding had started to peel. The windows were all dirty and a few of them were cracked.  The rosebushes were all overgrown and the porch was covered with dry oak leaves and garbage that had been blown in by many storms.

                Stanley popped the trunk of the car. “Audrey did you remember my briefcase?”

“What briefcase?”  She responded, confused.  Stanley was always asking her if she knew where certain objects were that he’d misplaced.  If they existed, she always found them.  But if he had fabricated the item in order to blame her for his own failures then there would be hell to pay.  She feared this was the latter.      “What do you mean; what briefcase?  The’ briefcase with all of our important documents, that’s what briefcase I’m talking about.  The title to the car, the social security cards, the birth certificates.”  She slapped her head across her forehead in hopeless dismay, and slouched down in her seat. 

                “What the hell do you think you’re doing?  Just sit down and mope while we’ve got business to attend to why don’t you?”  He opened the car door violently.  “Get out of the car!  He screamed so loud the windows on the car seemed to rattle.  Audrey started to tremble and found herself unable to move.  She was like a deer that had frozen upon seeing the headlights of a car about to strike her.  He grabbed her by the hair and forced her out of the car.

                “Such a little cry baby.”  He said in a mocking way, with a pouty lip. He gave her a shove towards the trunk of the car.  “I told you to grab the briefcase before we left the hotel and like a total fruitcake airhead you didn’t listen, did you?”  He was right up in her face now.  She was whimpering helplessly.  “Answer me!”

                Tears streamed down her cheeks.  She had ran a marathon in record time only yesterday, and her body ached all over.  Her head was throbbing, her throat was scratchy, and she felt like she had been run over by a freight train.  She had recently run faster than was humanly possible and her body was letting her know.  Tears were streaming down her face.  Life had taken another unexpected turn for the worse.  She hated Stanley.  She hated Rita, and she hated this place that they were about to live in.  She had tried to run away from them only yesterday.  It had been less than twenty four hours since she made the decision that she would no longer live with Stanley and Rita.  She had tried to escape from them, but now she realized that she was trapped. Nothing was going right with her life at all.  Things just seemed to be getting worse.

                She didn’t answer, she just kept whimpering. “Well!  Did you bring it or not?”  Stanley’s eyeballs were bulging.  His face had turned the color of red tomato ketchup, and huge veins started bulging across his temples like giant worms under his skin.  Audrey was sure that any minute now, smoke would start pouring out of his ears.  She finally managed to whimper a small whine and shook her head “No.”

                He threw his hands up in the air.  “Oh geez, great, you are such a worthless human being, you know that don’t you?  The keys to grandma’s house were in that briefcase.  Now how are we supposed to get in the house, without the keys, huh?  You got any ideas?”

                Audrey kept whimpering and said nothing as she chewed nervously on her Fruit Stripes gum.  She knew exactly what he was doing.  This was what he always did.  It was some sort of screwed up little trick he played so he could have someone to blame for his shortcomings.  He could have said “Well, Audrey, can you unlock the door to the house because I don’t have a key.  But this just wasn’t his way. 

Every time it was time for them to skip town, Audrey would be blamed for losing their important documents.  Stanley would always scream at her and complain about having to find some shady under the table person to get them new identification. Well, he always said that he had to “find” someone to forge new documents, but in the end, Audrey was that shady person who had to make the new documents.  Without her, he was nothing, but he didn’t let her know this. 

Audrey crawled back into the car, still sobbing and hyperventilating, and grabbed her Emerald green velvet bag.  She reached in and pulled out one of many sets of keys that had been carefully filed down to function as skeleton keys.  On her way up the steps she noticed a pile of leaves spin around briefly.  She found this quite disturbing because it was August, and there had been no breeze. 

Rita had already made her way up the steps and was looking into the windows.  “Wow, it’s been ages since we were here last.  “Hey remember that time you locked yourself in the bathroom and started screaming and the door wasn’t even locked.”  She laughed.  Audrey shot her a dirty look.  “It was too locked. “

“Whatever,” said Rita, sarcastically. She opened up her purse, pulled out her compact, made sure that she was still the fairest one of all and put it back.  Rita knew that she was divinely beautiful and snuck a peek at herself whenever possible in order to admire her silky smooth complexion.  Audrey bent down and slipped one of her keys into the lock.  She worked it up and down several times, and finally the doorknob made a few clicks.  Audrey opened the door.  “It’s about time.  It took you long enough.”  Stanley said as he shoved his way past her. 

                As Audrey walked through the doorway she noticed that the air inside was thick and muggy.    It was dank, musty and had an odd stench.  There was something not right about that stench. She’d smelled it before, but she couldn’t quite but her finger on it.  Rita stuck her hand behind one of the mummies that was positioned next to the wall, and flipped the switch, but it wouldn’t turn on.  “Aw man.  That’s just terrific.

“Hey Audrey, you’re going to have to go outside and hook the electricity up.”  When most people move into a new house, they call the electric company, the water company, and the phone company to hook up the utilities.  These law abiding citizens are charged a hook up fee of around a hundred dollars or so along with a security deposit to ensure that they will pay the bills.  Moving into a new house can end up costing nearly a thousand dollars in the first month.  This exorbitant amount of money was one of the main reasons that the Heisenbergs chose squatting as a way of life.

Audrey learned how to hook up their utilities herself, from a manual she read in a city library.  The book was one of those found in the reference section, for library use only.   All she had to do was run a few wires from her house, to the nearby houses.  If she managed to distribute the wires to around ten or eleven houses, their neighbor’s bills would only go up slightly and they would just think that the company had raised their rates or something.  Nobody would complain, and they could live free. 

Audrey was lying flat on her back on a very soft and luxurious Persian rug.  She was far too exhausted to get up and explore this wondrous place, she just didn’t have the energy or the brain power to muck about the neighborhood and fiddle around with hot electric currents.  That sort of thing required a good night sleep and a hearty breakfast with brain enhancing food like eggs that were packed with choline.  The only thing that she’d eaten all day was a can of sardines and a single maraschino cherry. 

 Rita slowly made her way across the ornately decorated Parisian style parlor and tore open the red velvet drapes, coughing from the immense dust that flew up into air. Cobwebs hung from the crystal chandeliers and the brass wall sconces.  They completely covered the shelves of bottles and wine decanters.  She cringes as she brushed a thick bit of cobwebs aside to crank open the windows.  Even though there was no breeze outside, she decided it might be nice to let in some fresh air.  There was still enough light shining into the house through the windows to see, but the sun was beginning to go down and they would need a way to see around the house.  Rita opened a drawer in a side table and pulled out a box of matches, and proceeded to light the kerosene lamps that her grandmother had used more for decoration than actual use.  Her grandmother hadn’t been alive to pay the electricity bills, so naturally it had been shut off. 

It had been a very long time since they had been to grandma’s Inn, and neither of them had ever remembered much about the house.  Grandma had been a bit of a sourpuss, and the only time they were ever allowed inside was when they needed to use the bathroom, and even that was a stretch for dear old grandma.  She never liked children and was afraid that Rita and Audrey would track mud all over the oriental carpets or smudge the tapestries with their greasy fingers.  She had fine collection of antique furniture with beveled mirrors, carved mahogany tables and wardrobes and dressers with detailed embedded designs.  These antiques of hers were rather valuable, and could not be replaced. 

The original owner of the inn had traveled the world collecting strange artifacts and had turned the parlor into a sort of miniature museum that would attract guests to the inn.  There was a shrunken head, a suit of armor, a life size human mummy and a small mummy of a mermaid.  In the corner was a life size stuffed two headed dog. 

“Rita opened the drawer on a Norwegian style wardrobe and found a picture album and started flipping through it.  “Do you remember coming here when we were little?”

“Not really,” said Audrey in a sleepy sort of voice.  She was halfway listening to Rita and halfway falling asleep right there on the floor.  She knew that at any moment, Rita and Stanley would ask her to get up and do something, and was taking whatever chance she could at going to sleep.  It wasn’t much of a cat nap, because Rita wanted to chat and reminisce about childhood memories. 

“Don’t you remember coming and sitting on the porch swing when we were kids? Grandmother would bring us those awful homemade lemon popsicles.”  Audrey smiled.  “Oh.  I remember those popsicles.  Those were so pretty.  She would always stick a sweet violet in the middle of them and I always wondered how she did it.  Those were so good.” Rita made a gagging sound in the back of her throat.  “Ew, gross.  Did you really like them?  She would never put enough sugar in them because she said that sugar was bad for you and it would rot your teeth.”  Rita furrowed her brow and opened her eyes to look at Rita.  “Didn’t she have false teeth?”  Rita flipped a page of the photo album she was looking at and nodded her head.

“Yeah, she did.  She used to pull them out to freak us out.”  Audrey opened her eyes and started playing with the moonstone bracelet that she was wearing.  She spun it around and around her wrist.  “Oh.  That wasn’t really as freaky as the eyeballs.”  Rita rolled her eyes and waved her head around as a gesture of disgust.  “Oh  God,  That woman had a morbid sense of humor.  She would pretend to pull her own eyes out then hand us the eyeballs.  I swear.  I peed my pants the first time she ever did that to me.  Oh.  Do you remember the time she brought us out bowls of tomato soup?”

Audrey rolled onto her stomach and propped herself up onto her elbows.   “Do I?  She plopped an eyeball in each of our bowls just to freak us out.  I still have nightmares about that.  That was so disturbing.  I mean seriously, what kind of sick person sticks eyeballs in her grandkids soup.  I mean did she want us to grow up to be serial killers or something?

“I don’t know man”.  Rita continued looking at the photo album. “Hey look at this!” Rita looked at the photo album.  There were actual photos taken at a circus of sideshow freaks.  There were siamse twins, a fat lady the size of a baby elephant.  There was a tiny man, and a freakishly tall man.  There was a picture of a woman drinking from a wine glass that she was holding with her toes because she had no arms.  There was a man in a suit who appeared to be walking with his hands because he had no legs.  Rita turned the page and they both gasped and looked straight at each other, an 8 x10 black and white photo of a woman holding an eye in each of her hands.  There were no eyes in her sockets, just empty dark tunnels where her eyes should be.  “That’s demented.”  Said Rita who was looking with great awe and wonder.  “I wonder how she lost them.” 

“I wonder if it says on the back of the picture.”  The pages of the photo album were made of thick black paper.  When Rita tried to dislodge the corners of the photo from the slits they were resting in, the paper cracked and broke away.  She lifted the photo out and read the writing on the back.  “She has eyes and yet cannot see.  Margerie Wilcox, October 1928

“Maybe she owned this inn before grandmother bought it, and she died and someone forgot to bury her with her eyeballs, and every night she goes through the house searching around for her eyeballs, Mwa ha ha ha.” Rita smiled maniacally.  Audrey groaned and rubbed her eyes.  “Seriously, knock it off.  You’re going to give me nightmares.”  

 “I can’t believe grandmother could stand living here for so long, I mean she’s got mummies and shrunken heads all over the place.  Don’t you think it’s morbid to have a dead body in the house.  I mean, people go visit mummies in museums and stuff and they ooh and ahh over it on TV like it’s some kind of divine ritual, but could you imagine what would happen if we tried to mummify grandma.  They’d put you in the loonie bin.  I mean really.  That’s right up there with Hannibal lector on the creepy meter.” 

Rita looked around the room at all of the interesting artifacts with a calculating look on her face.  “Ooh, I don’t know, I think it’s cool looking.  We can charge admission. We can really get rich off this place, you know.”

“Oh no we’re not,” said Stanley angrily.”  He had been in grandmother’s office looking through her filing cabinet for a will, or a bank account number, but he didn’t find anything.  “I don’t want a bunch of weirdo’s snooping through my place of residence.”

“Oh, come on,” Rita closed the photo album and tossed it back into the drawer where she had found it.  “Don’t you think it would be loads of fun?  Just think of all the money we could make doing it.”

“Nobody wants to come here and see three or four weird things some idiot has in his front room.  There’s a bigger museum in the city with far more than this.  We’ll just sell these weird things and live off the profits.”  Stanley plopped down heavily on an antique chair that didn’t really seem strong enough to support his weight.  He took off his shoes and socks and left the smelly sweating things scattered all over the floor around him.  He pulled a pair of toe nail clippers out of his pocket and started clipping his thick yellow toenails, that fell on the dazzling Persian rug beneath his feet.  This was a disgusting habit and it drove Audrey crazy.  She couldn’t tell him not to do it, because he was her father and that would be disrespectful.  She hated him and thought he was disgusting.  She thought he was a sleaze ball and had no respect for him whatsoever.  The only reason that she kept her mouth shut about his vile habits was that she was afraid of him.  She didn’t like to be screamed at and slapped around, and that’s what she got from him if he was insulted in any way.  So she kept her mouth shut. 

Rita was disgusting too, and she behaved in pretty much the same way that Stanley did, but she wasn’t even aware that she was like this.  Rita found herself beautiful, clean and orderly.  This might have been because Audrey was always cleaning up after her.  Audrey decided after many long years that you can’t teach a pig to clean up after itself.  It’s a waste of time and it just annoys the pig.

Rita stood up, walked over to a very ornately decorated mirror, and admired herself in it.  “Oh.  I’d like to run this place like a bed and breakfast, you know.  It would be fun.  It’s cute.  It’s like we’ve got our niche in the market with these things.  “We can call it the odd ball inn.”

Stanley brushed some toe nail clippings off his brown polyester pants and put his nail clippers back into his pocket“. No.  We can’t.  The inn isn’t in my name I don’t think.  I can’t find the deed to the house.  And besides, once you start a business like that, the government just comes and sticks their greedy hands in your pockets and takes whatever they want. 

 



© 2012 Clotilda Jamcracker


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Added on April 24, 2012
Last Updated on April 24, 2012
Tags: Supernatural, horror, Stephen King, Carrie, The Book of Ethriel, novel


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Clotilda Jamcracker
Clotilda Jamcracker

TX



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My name is Clotilda, I love to read business, fairy tales and freaky stories. I love to write them too. I have a food forest in my backyard and a house full of kids. more..

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