The Light In The Middle Window – Chapter Four

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_____________________




The Light In The Middle Window – Chapter Three

Waiting for a reaction he didn’t get, Mel said “yep.  This used to be a funeral parlor.  Those three bay doors in the garage was where they parked the hearses.” Then he said “I’m sorry,  I’ve forgotten your name.”

“People call me Jones.”  Then as casually as could be, said “I guess that old Troy walk-in ice box was where they kept the bodies.”  Mel looked at him and said “go on.”

He got up and took Mel over to the little house, opened the door and showed him the icebox.  “Do you want to have a look-see inside?”  Mel took a step backward and said “nah, that’s alright.”

Mel again offered his services for the air conditioners and it was agreed that he would come check them out the next day.  “Now, I won’t be going anywhere near that little house, understood?”

Jones nodded his understanding and then with a twinkle in his eye said, almost as if musing to himself, “that might explain the light in the middle window.”

Mel looked at him and without moving his lips said “seriously?”  Jones said “seriously.  I don’t see it every night but I see it quite often.”

Still looking at Jones like he expected his head to do a 360° turn, Mel started to stroll back to his truck and said “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jones wondered if Mel would actually return after having been spooked by the icebox but the next morning, Mel and his crew showed up, just as he had promised.

Much to the dismay of Jones, Mel gave him some bad news.  Both air conditioners were more or less shot and needed to be replaced.  The summers were brutal there and Jones knew that it would be necessary to at least have some cool air at times, although he would continue to be frugal. A glass of ice-cold water and a fan were most times, all Jones needed.

The workers had the downstairs air working at the end of the day and promised a return for the top floor the next week.

That would prove to be a daunting task as the return was located in the attic, some twelve feet up.  Not only that, but the access door was just big enough for a slender worker to get through. That posed a problem in not only getting the old one out, but getting the new one in.

Jones let them work and sweat and probably curse when out of earshot.  He didn’t blame them.  He was silently cursing at the aggravation and of course, the expense.

They took regular breaks, having a smoke and spraying themselves with the garden hose.  During one of those breaks, one of them questioned him about the little house.

Jones delighted in telling them that the grand house used to be a funeral parlor and inside the little house was an antique ice-box.  He told them that he believed the ice-box was where they kept the bodies cold.  He offered to give three of them a peek and opened the creaky old door, now scarred by pressure washing.  He took them in, opened the ice box door and they ran out squealing like little girls.

The foreman, named Walt, laughed at them and said “that kind of thing doesn’t bother me,” yet he showed no interest in going into the little house.

After an eight-hour tour in the attic, he came down and said they were going to call it a day.  “We’ll be back at 8 tomorrow morning.”

Jones nodded and thanked them for their efforts.  As Walt was gathering up his equipment, he turned and said “what are you going to do with all those old caskets in the attic?”


To be continued________________