The Mansion on Pine
Colin and Aaron were walking past the old Mansion as they did every day. They took the train to work in the city. The highways were more chaotic every day, they hated the hassle. Colin and Aaron went to high school together. They worked together at the same manufacturing factory. They had only finished high school three years ago and went straight to work to bank some money before they went to college. Colin’s dad worked at the factory and got them a summer school application in their last year of school and they both remained employed there.
They were great friends and spent a lot of time together. On their way home from work, they stopped to grab a coffee and walk the couple blocks home from the train station. Similarly, every day they walked by the old abandoned house and discuss what the house must have looked like in its day. They considered sneaking into the house to get a look. Rumour had it that someone was killed in the house, some say that the family was kidnapped and held for ransom, and others stated it was just run down after the original owners lost all their money gambling and abandoned the house. Three families had since lived in that house. Each family stayed no longer than three months and likewise, each family had incurred a strange tragedy that no one spoke of. Any time anyone started to dig up information about the tragedies, more bad luck occurred. Most people stopped asking questions and left the house to its’ own.
Colin read that the town finally bought the old house and it was set to be demolished in a few weeks. The lot next to it was bought up as well and the town had plans to develop a new residential neighbourhood. The planning committee decided on 20 townhouses and 10 single family dwellings on the oversized lot. All the fruit trees would be chopped down as well as the old maple tree that had been there for over a century. There were many town meetings to dispute the removal of the stately trees and the mansion home. The town seemed to do what they wanted and all disputes were dismissed and disregarded.
Aaron felt a real pull to the house. As they were walking past he kept staring towards the upper windows. He felt like he was being watched and his heart skipped a beat. “Do you feel like we are being watched?” Aaron said to Colin.
Colin laughed at his friend. “You’ve been reading too many ghost stories. Stop being over dramatic!” Colin said mocking his friend.
“Well, if you are not scared, let’s go in right now,” Aaron dared.
“I have to get home for dinner. You know, Sharon will call if I’m like five minutes late worrying and nagging. You know what she’s like. We were late two times last week,” Colin said.
His wife was very leery and didn’t like that Colin and Aaron were together every minute of the day. She wanted him home more. They had two kids and she was very jealous over all the time they spent together. Her jealousy drove him mad but he still loved her and the kids. He knew Sharon was worried that he’d leave her and find some new girl.
“You want to meet here at 11 tonight?” Aaron suggested. Aaron knew Colin would have a hard time leaving the house unless his wife was asleep. He’d have to do something pretty sweet to get out of the house without her.
“Hmm. As much as I’d love to, and you know I would but you know what she’s like,” he said with his head lowered showing his disappointment. Colin’s girlfriend got pregnant, at 17, in their last year of high school. They got married before graduation. It was tough for both of them being so young with children and having so much responsibility. Aaron had a new girlfriend every month or so. He had his own apartment a block from Colin.
“You know I’m going to have to find a new best friend soon,” Aaron laughed. He was joking, mostly. Colin was like a brother to him. They were inseparable for sure. Maybe they did spend a lot of time together but they got on so well. They rarely fought over anything. Sometimes they wouldn’t agree with each other but they respected each other’s opinions.
“Come on please? Go to bed early, do your business and sneak out. You know she sleeps early. If you fuck and cuddle she will be out in minutes,” Aaron said with a wink and a smirk.
“Are you pimping me out to my own wife now?” Colin said and shook his head. “I will text you at ten if I think I can sneak off. But you know, if she wakes up to go pee and I’m not there, we’re dead meat!” he reminded his friend.
Colin was a bit envious of Aaron’s freedom and ability to go where he wanted, when he wanted. Aaron had girlfriends but he would only allow them to stay over occasionally. He always made one excuse after another to make sure his pad stayed his own. Colin knew that Aaron didn’t want a girl to tell him what he should and shouldn’t be doing and with whom. Colin knew Aaron wouldn’t settle down for some time yet.
Ten o-clock came and Colin text Aaron, “Can’t come out to play.” Aaron half expected it anyway. Aaron put a hoodie on and made his way down the street and around the corner to Pine Street. He had three beer tucked into his pockets. He had one on the way there wrapped in a beer bottle holder with his favourite football team, the Steelers.
He stopped, looked around, up and down the streets and up towards the hazy window on the second floor. It almost looked like there was a light flickering beyond the window. It was likely a figment of his imagination. No one was about so he slipped past the wildly overgrown hedgerow and stealthily made his way to the front of the house. The paint of the old wooden house was chipped all throughout. There was a wrap around porch with a rickety wooden rocking chair. The cushion looked really worn out and faded. The windows were dusted with cobwebs and dust. There was an eeriness about the house. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as a cold wind blew through him. He went to the front porch and jiggled the front door. It easily gave way and opened. Aaron slowly opened the door as the door creaked noisily alerting any one of his arrival.
Aaron crept into the hallway after closing the door quietly. Just to the right was a sitting room with a piano that looked like it hadn’t been played for decades. Two small settees were covered with plastic to protect the material. Aaron bent forward and blew on the settee and dust scattered like snowflakes. Dust layered the coffee tables like blanket of fallen snow. \
“Hello, is anyone here?” Aaron quietly spoke. He almost expected someone to answer him back. The house had been completely abandoned 13 years ago. The Millers were the last known people to have lived in the house. Aaron had heard that they had two teenaged boys who had run away. After ten years and no leads the Miller’s abandoned their house. Up until recently, there was always for sale signs on the property. Aaron’s Grandma told him the house was haunted.
Aaron kept moving towards the back of the house and came to the kitchen. Oddly, the kitchen looked like it was recently cleaned, top to bottom. There was not one fleck of dust on the countertops. The kitchen still had an odor of lemon and bleach. He wondered if the kitchen was cleaned to show potential buyers coming through that the house could be habitable.
He opened the cupboards in front of him and was surprised to see canned food still lined up in the cupboards. Opening more cupboards he saw dishes and cutlery in drawers. It was as if the family picked up and left everything. He opened the stove, clean. He saw a microwave, clean. He moved to the fridge, clean with food in it. He shook his head. It was very puzzling to see food in the cupboards and fridge if no one had been living there in 25 years. Someone must have been in this house recently. There was fresh milk in the fridge and a loaf of bread on the cutting board, wrapped in a clean tea towel. Aaron put it up to realtors showing the house around. If the property was sold and the house was going to be torn down, why would there be the need to have the kitchen meticulously clean? Why would the living room be adorned with untouched dust, yet, the kitchen perfectly clean? Strange but there must be a logical explanation.
This two hundred year old house must’ve been the site in its time. The gum wood trim, the paper on the walls, that could have easily been a hundred years old, still had life to it. Gorgeous triangular shapes that had the feel of plush velvet. Hard wood floors creaked but had a quality that one wouldn’t find any more. Aaron pictured huge parties and ballroom dances in the garden under the large wooden gazebo. He gazed out the kitchen window that overlooked the gazebo and pond. It was a sight for sure. “Shame that they are tearing down the house. I wish I could afford to buy it. I would def sell my soul for a view like this one,” he said out loud with his head shaking in disbelief.
A gust of wind blew through the kitchen door that was ajar and slammed it shut. Aaron jumped out of his skin, heart pounding uncontrollably. He laughed at his own edginess yet the cold air sent shivers down his spine.
“OK, is someone here to fuck with my head?” Aaron said and paused half expecting Colin to appear around the corner. He took his rucksack off his shoulder and rested it on the kitchen work surface. No one replied so he inquired again, “OK that is funny. But I really just want to see the house before they rip it down. I’m not going to steal anything or damage anything. Just checking it out. The history and the workmanship of this house is outstanding,” he said as his hand slid across the wood bakers block island.
Aaron couldn’t see anyone about and assumed a gust of wind slammed the door shut. He turned quickly when he heard floor boards creak behind him. The door opened slowly as Aaron curiously wondered who was behind the door. “Colin?” he said with a stutter.
“No silly! It’s Maggie. I live in this house and try to keep it clean for the master. Everyone is out now. Fancy a brew?”
“Oh, hi Maggie. My name is Aaron. I grew up in this town and I thought the last owner moved out 13 years ago. I have never seen anyone coming or going. There is never lights on or cars in the drive. Most people assume that no one lives here. Did you know there is a tear down notice on the sold sign at the front. They are set to tear it down very soon. Or have you sold the house? You better get down to city hall first thing Monday morning and straighten this out. Oh by the way, I’m sorry I just barged in. I wanted to check out this beautiful home and I would have knocked if I knew someone was living here,” Aaron rambled on. His head full of questions and disbelief.
“I’ve watched out for this house for decades, love. I was hired on to keep an eye on the house for unwanted visitors or people trying to vandalize the house. Many rumours have been told of this house so I keep a close watch,” Maggie explained while fussing with the kettle and getting a plate of biscuits ready. “How do you like your tea love?”
“Oh, interesting. I don’t think many people know that someone is living here. I was wondering why the kitchen was tip-top! Um… milk and sugar if you’d be so kind,” Aaron answered.
“So you married son?” Maggie inquired and set the tea and biscuits in front of Aaron.
“Oh thank you so much. Chocolate chip is my favourite. I’m single. Not really interested in settling down just yet. I live a block or so down the street. Just off Pine on Oak Street,” he said savouring each bite of his biscuit. His moans of delight were a telltale clue that he was thoroughly enjoying his unexpected treats.
“I overheard you wish you could have a view like this forever. It is beautiful isn’t it?” Maggie said smiling. She busied herself with wiping down the work surface as they talked about the history of the house.
“Mmm. These are delicious Maggie,” Aaron said. It was getting late and he was a bit tired. He rested his head on his folded arms in front of him and yawned. “Sorry Maggie, I don’t know what has come over me. I’m a bit sleepy,” he said and closed his eyes.
“Bloody kids poking their noses about. At least this one has no ties. Last one had the Constables poking about for ages. Bloody kids,” she said shaking her head in madness. She let Aaron fall to the floor with a slump on the rug that she placed beside his chair. She brought the butcher’s knife up above his chest and slammed it through his chest. The knife pierced the body and blood oozed from the gaping wound. Blood spattered with the slowing of the heart as Aaron’s body lie there lifeless.
Maggie picked up the teacup and empty saucer and began washing them.
“Hello? Aaron? I managed to sneak out. I begged and pleaded and said I was meeting you here to check out the old house. She agreed after I said I found a babysitter for tomorrow night?” he yelled out. “Ah, you must be in there. I see the light?” he said to himself.
“Damn meddling kids,” Maggie said to herself and slipped into the pantry and through the wall leading to the maid’s chamber in a hidden part of the house.
“What? Aaron?” he screamed. He could hardly catch his breath. He fumbled with his phone and called Emergency Services. “Aaron, stay with me bud. The Ambulance is on the way. Hold on Aaron. You can’t leave me,” he stumbled over his words until he could hardly breath.
The following weeks were critical. They caught Aaron within seconds of his life. He had bled out so much that he needed transfusions. Constables and the Chief Inspectors searched for evidence. They couldn’t find the weapon or any trace of evidence for the crime scene. In the relatively short time from when he was apparently stabbed to the time the Emergency Medical Service arrived, there wasn’t even a drop or smear of blood to test. There wouldn’t have been enough time for someone to clean up. The whole thing was a mystery.
Demolition was on hold until clues were found. The yellow taped off area was heavily guarded.
Colin rarely left Aaron’s side. He was mumbling randomly one morning when he was starting to come to. Aaron was talking to a Maggie about biscuits. “Who’s Maggie?” Colin kept pleading for an answer. Colin knew every person in Aaron’s life. They didn’t know any Maggie’s. “Who’s Maggie?” Colin said holding Aaron’s hand.
“Hi Maggie. Yes I loved your biscuits. Thank you. I’d love another brew,” Aaron replied with his head turned in the opposite direction.
Colin continued to ask who Maggie was. Aaron was having an apparent conversation with someone. “Aaron! Look at me! Who the hell is Maggie?” Colin demanded. His hands grasped his pyjamas and he shook his friend. “Tell me! Who are you talking to? Was she in the house? Did she do this to you?” Colin screamed.
“Time to go? Ok. I’m ready. That view though,” Aaron mumbled.
The nurses came running. The heart monitor flat lined and they came running. “Stand back, please. You are going to have to leave the room,” the nurse said directing Colin to the door.
“No!” Colin screamed and fell with a slump to the floor.
Aaron’s heart stopped that day. No one quite understood what had happened. With so many incidents, one after another happening, once the Inspectors were satisfied that they wouldn’t be able to find any more clues, the house was torn down. All that remained was the old horse stable and well. The builders built new townhouses and homes around the stable. It would be used as a historical remembrance of those that had passed on the property. The town cleaned it up and began museum tours. Old furniture and remnants were on display for people to view. Ever since they opened the museum more strange events had occurred. Many felt that Aaron’s soul stayed on the grounds. Every time Colin walked past where the kitchen would have stood towards the old pond, he got shivers.
“Fancy a brew?” he heard over and over again. He swore he could hear Aaron’s voice. His wife thought he was crazy but Colin could smell Aaron’s cologne every time he visited.