Jones didn’t miss a beat when he looked at Walt and said “that’s easy. I’ll take my crowbar up there, pry them open and see if any of those skeletons are wearing jewelry.”
Walt looked at him and said “you’re my kind of guy.” Jones knew that Walt was pulling his leg but he couldn’t help but wonder what he would do if there were caskets in the attic. After all, it could have been a possibility, given the history of the house.
He decided to do some research about the grand lady. He wanted to know more than “she was built by signers of the cessation from the Union and used to be a funeral parlor.” He had it in mind that there was more to her than he knew, or had been told.
He was seeing that strange light in the middle window more often and let his imagination run a bit wild. Perhaps it was a spurned lover, looking for revenge in the place between now and the hereafter, or maybe it was a poor soul who was taken before their time and can’t quite let go.
What he needed was to find some “old-timers,” who had lived in the small town, all or most of their lives. There weren’t many. Younger folks were buying up the old mansions on the block. They had new money and were beginning their own new history.
He decided to ask Mel, who described everybody as a “good ole boy.” Surely he would know some kind of good ole boy who was old enough to remember the past. Much to Jones’ delight, he did.
“You’ll want to go down yonder a bit, to the last house on the right,” Mel said. “I think that ole boy is still alive…at least he was the last time I heard him mentioned. He can probably tell you a little bit, and he may have some good stories. His name is Hiram Meaders.”
Jones took the short trip down the street and rang the doorbell. When no one answered, he rapped on the door. Just as he was about to walk away, he heard a voice call “just a darned minute. I ain’t no spring chicken, ya know.”
Jones was met by a toothless, jovial face, which he could only assume belonged to Hiram Meaders.
“Hello. Might you be Mr. Meaders?” Jones asked.
“I surely am but you can call me Hiram,” he said.
Jones said “everybody calls me Jones” and chuckled when Hiram, in a loud voice said, “what’s that you say? You’re alone? Well, that’s alright. Step on inside.”
Hiram extended a wrinkled, weathered, almost crippled hand and said, “I’m a little hard of hearing, so you have to speak up. Set down a spell and tell me what’s on your mind while I put in these darn hearing aids. They ain’t worth a flying flip but I wear them anyway.” He laughed when he said “I reckon at age 96, I should be glad that I’m still breathing.”
Jones explained that he had just bought the grand lady up the street. “I call it ‘the Manor’,” he said.
“Ah,” said Hiram. “The one that used to be a funeral parlor.”
“Yes,” said Jones. “I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the history of the house, besides the fact that it used to be a funeral parlor.”
“Well,” said Hiram. “As I recollect, that house has been standing for might near a century and some odd years and it’s changed hands a few times.”
“Ah, she was a grand lady, for sure. Come Christmas time, she was lit up and folks from all around town came to have a look-see.” His voice trailed off and he was pensive when he began to speak again.
“The last owner was a doctor. He was about as useless as these darned hearing aids. He didn’t care nothing about that house and darn near let her go to ruin.”
“I know,” said Jones. “It’s my intention to bring her back to her glory years.”
Hiram mused “kind of like a beautiful woman, ain’t she? A beautiful woman who has been ravaged by time…and much sorrow.” Jones agreed but quickly added “but I will give her a face-lift and she will once again shine like she is on Broadway.”
“Broadway,” Hiram echoed. “Ain’t never been there.”
Jones said “what was your profession, Hiram?”
Hiram began nervously twiddling with his hearing aid and said “oh, I used to have a little business but that was years ago.”
“What kind of business?” asked Jones.
When Hiram didn’t answer, Jones wasn’t sure if it was because he didn’t hear him or he didn’t want to answer, so he changed the subject.
“I was wondering,” he said, “if you knew about the people who lived there before the doctor and the folks who turned it into a funeral parlor. And you mentioned something about ‘time and sorrow’. Is there sorrow attached to the house?”
Hiram looked down and softly said “yep. Yep. There surely is but ain’t nobody speaks about it.” Then he leaned forward, looked at Jones and said “you seen that light yet?”
To be continued_____________________