“I don’t think, that you would really want to hear what went on, or my honest opinion. So let’s leave it at that.” What is with this chick? Why does she have to be so damn patronizing? Yeah, sure you want me to tell you the truth. Bullshit!
The strange expression on his face as I was driving away was RECOGNITION!!! He knows I’m the guy that almost killed them. I’m screwed. I’m in for a world class beating.
My mind is sent into a panic. He can’t shoot you that would be premeditated murder. Besides, he doesn’t have his gun on him. And even if he did, I didn’t do anything to deserve it and there wouldn’t be anything to justify his actions. He can’t kick my ass; the door is blocking him from me. So really, what can he do to me? He’s all bark and no bite. Who does he think he is? The Hulk? Hulk, smash! Ha!
I put on my poker face. My eyes haven’t wavered from his for an instance. The corners of his mouth are up at the corner. He must have noticed my moment of panic. I can feel the corners of my mouth lifting into a sneer. Whatcha gonna do old man?
“Are you deaf, boy? Did you hear what I said? Well, explain yourself! I have half a mind to knock some sense into you.” Sure old man, I’d like to see that. You’d probably pull a muscle or something. The thought is so funny that I accidentally snicker. I immediately regret it. Crap! Did he hear that? I reckon he did. He’s pissed!
The door opens and the next thing I know he’s unbuckling me from my seat and dragging my ass out of the truck. Holy crap! He’s a lot stronger than he looks. I’m suspended in the air, pinned against my truck; he’s got me by my shirt. The way he’s gripping it I’m surprised my shirt hasn’t torn apart. He’s still smiling. This guy’s frigging insane!
“Do you think this is funny do you? You could have put my family and I in the hospital, prick!” He’s screaming in my face now, spraying me with spit. Now I know what Marimar felt like when I spat in her face accidentally on our date, it’s revolting. He’s shaking me viciously. Seriously, what is this guy on? Steroids?
“I’m going to —”
“Papa,” his wife calls out.
I’m saved in the nick of time by Mrs. Utt. I could kiss her. “Papa!” she bellows. She’s getting closer, but not enough for her to see me suspended in the air in the darkness.
Mr. Utt unwillingly puts me down, straightening my shirt in the process.
“Papa!” she calls out again, she’s only a foot away from us. He pats me on the back so that it appears like we were having a friendly chat as he turns to face her. Boy is he whooped. I bite my lip hard so I don’t laugh; blood bursts through the tear in my lip. The tip of my tongue wipes it away; it tastes of salt and iron. I concentrate on that. Better to concentrate on that than to think of the humor the situation is presenting.
“Walter, come on inside. It’s getting late.”
“In a minute, Alena, the boy and I are having a nice chat.” He pats my back hard this time.
“Well, I’m sure that he has a curfew he’ll be late for and we wouldn’t want you to get him in trouble.”
She’s given me a way out, now’s my chance. “Umm, yeah, my mom is going to be worried if I’m not home on time.” Like she’d give a damn. She stopped caring the minute she let that loser into our life.
“See. Good night, Sage. Drive safely.”
“Let’s go, Papa.”
“I’ll be with you in a moment. I’m just going to see him off.” He puts his hand on my shoulder, stopping me from opening the door. His fingers are digging into my shoulder. I resist the urge to shrug his hand off; intense pain. He must be hitting a pressure point.
“No, now, Papa!” She’s starting to lose her patience. Her tone is stern, different from the sweet tone she’s been using. Her eyes are now hard, they resemble onyx stone. She spoke each word with perfect clarity. I can hear the threat behind them, “Now, or you’ll be sleeping on the couch tonight”. He huffs a sharp sigh of submission. Without a word he releases his Hulk like grip from my shoulder and stalks to her side.
“Aren’t you going to say good night?” He freezes in place, his muscles flex, and without turning he mutters a good-bye.
“Night, ma’am, Mr. Utt.” I don’t waste a second getting into the truck. I start the engine and drive off without even bothering to put on my seatbelt. The way I see it is that it would be a nicer feeling to be struck by a car than by that lunatic. Dang, my shoulder is still throbbing. His strength made Bubba, my stepdad, feel like a twelve year old girl. I wonder if it would be suicide for me to come over tomorrow, just to spite him. Better idea. I’ll just call Marimar tomorrow, no, then I’d look like a coward and he’d think he won … I got it. I’ll call her and if she says her dad is home I’ll just ask her to meet me somewhere; if she says he’s not then I’ll come over, problem solved.
What a day that was, first I did everything humanly possible to ruin our date and then I almost got beat up by her deranged father.
“Do you want to watch a movie?”
“What?” I’m forwarded back to the present by Marimar.
“Earth to Sage, do you want to watch a movie?” The bite seems to be missing from her tone. I wonder what changed her mood. “I have that new DVD, The Girl on Fire. It’s about a sixteen-year-old girl in a dystopian future that has to fight among other teenagers to the death.” I look around at the turn of the century antique decorated room and don’t see a TV.
“Does the TV pop out of the wall somewhere?” I ask as I look around again to see where it might be hidden.
“It’s down in the dungeon.”
“Well, actually …” I’m interrupted by her mother who comes in to hand me my unwanted glass of water. “Thank you, ma’am”
“I’ll be in the kitchen if you want anything. Don’t be afraid to ask.”
“Will do, ma’am.” She doesn’t hesitate on exiting.
“You were saying?”
“Do you have a camera that records?”
“I have a camcorder, why?”
“We can see if we can get some footage of the ghost.”
“Okay, but I’m only going to do this to prove to you that my house is not haunted,” she says in her usual la-de-da tone. She’s so hot when she does that — in an irritating kind of way — the way she folds her arms and sticks her nose up in the air like she’s smarter than me.
“Are we going or not?” she asks, taking me out of my train of thought.
“Right, let’s get ‘er done.”
We head out the way we came in, past the front door and up the stairs. On the side of the staircase old paintings of an artist unknown are hung on the wall. When we get to the top floor I look around. There are school pictures and baby pictures of Marimar and Marisol on the walls. Marisol looks just like Marimar when she was a child in a black and white photo.
At the top of the stairs we pass what must be an extra bedroom and then come to two bedrooms across from each other with a bathroom at the end of the hall between them.
“This is Marisol’s and my bedroom,” she says as she enters in the one on the left. I linger by the entrance taking in her bedroom. It looks like a kid’s room. That reminds me … where are the kids? Ah, who cares? They’ve got to be around here somewhere.
“Why share a room when you have two other large ones?”
“They’re too big a space, and if we had separate rooms Marisol would still go in my room and sleep with me. I don’t mind, we’ve always been very close so we prefer it this way.”
The second I step into the room the hair on the back of my neck sticks straight up. I don’t know why, but for some reason I want to get the hell out of this room. But I’m not going to let Mar know that I’m scared. I’ll just make a fool of myself and she’ll just laugh at me thinking I’m a wuss.
I stay by the side of the doorway waiting for her to get the camcorder. Whoosh. A breeze sweeps past me. Upon entering the room a chill shoots up my spine. What the hell? I look over at Marimar but she doesn’t seem to notice anything. Must have been me. Still. I wanna go, now! For some reason I can’t explain, I feel like someone or something is watching me and it’s not Marimar.
“Where did I put it?” Mar says to herself as she looks around her room. “Oh, that’s right. I put it up in the closet,” she says as she opens the door and looks up at the shelf way out of her reach. “Can you get that for me?” she asks pointing to the top. You gotta be kidding me! Some how my legs carry me towards her; I pull it down. Suddenly my thoughts are deterred.
“Wow, this is worth, around five-hundred bucks!”
“My Tia Amparo gave it to me so I could record our trip here.”
“Cool, does it work in the dark?” I ask.
“Yeah, see that little button. It’s the night vision setting.”
“Sweet,” I say more to myself than to her. I play with the buttons.
“Why are we going to film in the dark?”
“Because it’s easier to capture a ghost’s energy in the dark. Do you have a basement? A lot of ghosts tend to hang around in basements.” Nice lens. Rich relatives, some people have all the luck.
“Mmm-hmm, but technically it’s a cellar.”
“That’ll do. Now we need a flashlight to cast some light so we don’t trip over anything,” I say, pumped. Mar turns and grabs a flashlight from her nightstand.
“Okay, since you’re the expert, is that all we need?” she asks turning towards me.
“Yep, lead the way,” I say, placing my hand on the small of her back. Yes, she didn’t evade my touch.
We go back down the stairs and down the hall, past the living and dining rooms, into the breakfast room, and finally into the kitchen. Mrs. Utt is putting some dough in the oven.
“That looks good,” I say bringing to Mrs. Utt’s attention that we had entered the room. She turns to look at me. I guess she didn’t hear us come in.
“You came right on time, I just happened to be making pan dulce today. Do you want to try one?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I respond.
“Have as many as you like. I have more in the oven.”
“Thanks, ma’am, don’t mind if I do,” I say as I reach for the bread and I take a bite. Mmm, I should come over more often. “Wow, I’ve never tasted anything like it,” I say, making sure I finished swallowing first.
“I’m glad you like it,” she says with a smile.
“Mama, we’re going down to the cellar. Is that okay with you?” Marimar asks.
“Yes of course, but why do you want to go down there? There’s nothing but canning supplies, and … what’s with the camcorder?”
“I just wanted to prove to him that our house isn’t haunted,” she answers.
“Okay, have fun. Oh, and lunch will be ready in a few.” Mrs. Utt goes back to chopping away at the vegetables.
“We will,” Marimar says as she tugs on my arm, heading for the basement. As we pass the plate I help myself to another piece of bread. Marimar grabs the doorknob, but before opening it she turns to look at me.
“I have to warn you it’s going to be cold and since you don’t have a sweater —”
“That’s all right,” I say cutting her off. I turn my attention back to the door, waiting for her to open it. She growls in frustration, mumbling something incoherent. I ignore her, it was probably sarcastic anyhow. When she opens the door we step in. She turns on the light switch that must have just been installed.
“Way too bright,” I say reaching over to turn the light off. She blocks the switch with her hand.
“No, wait until I put on the flashlight.”
“You wouldn’t want to stumble down the stairs would you?”
“I’m not stupid; I would have waited until you lit the way.” I watch her as she flips the light on before closing the cellar door. She flashes the bright light down each step so that we won’t fall. It’s a long, old staircase that creaks every time you take a step. When we reach the bottom step, we sit. The only light coming in is from the flashlight. The cellar is basically a wide open space with long racks in the back holding a few bottles of wine and can goods. A few boxes of stuff lie here and there.
“There’s not much down here, like Mama said.”
“What does that matter? Ghosts don’t care; they haunt places and people, not particularly a bunch of canned goods.” Even with the little lighting I don’t miss the dirty look she’s giving me. “Before the camera starts rolling we have to be very quiet so we can catch any sound and or movement. Also, you’re going to have to turn the flashlight out.”
“Can’t we keep it on?”
“No, it might screw up our shot.” A sudden thought comes to mind that causes me to smile. “You’re not afraid of the dark are you?” I ask curiously.
“No, what am I seven?” she retorts, a hint of defensiveness in her voice. She turns off the light.
“Whatever happens, don’t turn on that flash light. Agreed?”
“Got it, don’t turn on the flashlight.”
I start the recording as we sit in silence waiting to catch something. Only the sound of our breathing is heard; one minute, two, three, four.… Five minutes elapse on the camcorder and still nothing.
“Nothing’s happening and it’s cold. Let’s go back upstairs and eat,” she whispers.
“Just one more minute, okay, and then we can set this down somewhere and go upstairs. I have an idea. Hey ghost, prove yourself! You don’t scare us!” I call out, hopefully provoking it.
“What are you doing? Don’t piss it off! You’re not going to be the one dealing with its wrath,” Marimar says frightened.
“I thought you said it isn’t real?” I say.
“Let’s just say that I’m wrong and you’re right for a second. Do you think it’s going to be happy that you bothered it, because I sure as hell don’t?”
“We’ll see,” I say.
We sit in silence again and wait.
A minute passes and I’m about to call it quits when I hear a small rustling sound. The hair stands on the back of my neck. I know Mar hears it because she moves to my side and grabs a hold of my arm. I can feel her body heat; smell her rose scented perfume or is that her shampoo? I would really be enjoying this moment if I wasn’t scared shitless.
I catch my breath. My heart is pounding as we wait to hear another sound. We hear a long scratching noise coming from the far side of the room. I face the camera in the same direction. Mar leans her head against mine as she tries to watch the small camera’s screen. Suddenly the scratching noise comes to an abrupt stop. We wait frozen with fear. All of a sudden there is a heavy thump and the clanging of bottles being banged into each other. I watch on the camera but I don’t see what’s causing it.
We’re both shaking at this point, or maybe it’s just me? I can’t be sure. The room has gotten even colder, just like upstairs when that strange breeze had rushed passed me. The exception being that our breaths are visible. Is this the same thing? Hiss. What the f**k was that? Things are being knocked over and being banged around. I chase the ghost with the camera. Whatever the ghost sweeps by is moving. It’s leaving a path and unfortunately it looks like it’s heading right at us.
We’re both too afraid to move. I got to admit, a part of me doesn’t want to go because what I’m capturing on camera is gold. Just as it is heading right towards us Mar does exactly what I asked her not to do. She turns on the flashlight, shining the light right across the lens, ruining what potentially could have been our best piece of footage. I hear the ghost running in the direction of a darkened corner at lightning speed, and before I can move the flashlight away from the lens, it’s gone.