Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sleep Is For The Dead


Henry opened his eyes and looked over at his wife. For reasons unbeknownst to him, she had her ear pressed against their bedroom wall. Sighing, he closed his eyes and prayed for patience. Then he asked, “What is it, Martha?”
“There’s something behind the wall.”
“There’s nothing behind the wall, Martha.”
“Yes there is. I can hear it scratching.”
“I’ll take a look in the morning. Now come back to bed before you wake the neighbors.”
Martha looked out the window. She could see the light on next door. She could also see the silhouette of the young woman who lived there. She was writhing up and down on top of another silhouette that lay under her. She quickly pulled the curtain before Henry got a look and it gave him ideas.
“I’m not going to be waking them,” she said. “but this scratching is keeping me up. I can’t sleep.”
“Well I can… or I was, until the noise from your mouth woke me up.”
“Hattie told me the other day that she got a strange feeling when she came to visit.”
“So did I… then my bowels moved and I was fine.”
“Henry Prescott Higgins, I’m being serious.”
“So am I. Your bran muffins do strange things to my system.”
 “Hattie thinks we have spirits in the house.”
“Spirits!” Henry scoffed.
“Yes, spirits. And if anyone would know, Hattie would.”
“I should know better than to ask,” Henry said, sitting up, “but this should be good. What makes Hattie such an expert on ghosts?”
“She had a near death experience.”
“When, and who’s the dumbass that pulled her back from the brink?”
“Last year, when she almost drowned. Don’t tell me you don’t remember, Henry. It happened while she was visiting over Christmas.”
Henry scratched his head, puzzled. “Last year at… Good Lord, Martha, are you talking about the Baptism?”
“That’s exactly what I am talking about. Pastor Phil nearly dropped her and she doesn’t know how to swim.”
“Well what was your sister doing getting baptized at her age? And she’s 62, Martha, don’t you think it’s about time she learned how to swim?” He snorted. “Almost drowned. The water was waist high, I think she was safe.”
“You never did like my sister.”
“And she never liked me, but what has her ‘almost drowning’ got to do with spirits being in my house?”
“Well ever since then, she’s been able to sense ghosts, which has been kind of a blessing for her.”
“How’s that?”
“She has dinner with Frank every Tuesday night.”
“I think maybe Pastor Phil did drop her and she hit her head.”
“You think she’s crazy.”
“I think her husband has been dead for ten years and if she’s seeing him across the dinner table from her on Tuesdays, she should be seeing a shrink on Wednesdays.”
“Fine. Don’t believe her, but when the ghosts, or zombies or whatever come out of this wall, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Martha, don’t ghosts usually haunt the places they’ve died?”
“Or been buried at. There was a girl got killed and the perv that murdered her, buried her by a creek. Her ghost haunted that place until they found her body and gave her a proper burial.”
“So? No one has died here, although I am about to expire from the sheer stupidity of all this. It’s two O’Clock in the morning. Come back to bed Martha.”
“How do you know no one has died here? Maybe someone died before we moved in.” She gasped, throwing her hand up over her heart. “Maybe someone was murdered in this house and buried here years ago.”
“My parents lived here before we did,” Henry said. “My dad built this house. No one is buried here.”
“What about your brother?”
“I don’t have a brother.”
“Well no, not now that he’s dead.”
Henry sighed. “Martha, I’m calling the doctor in the morning. I think he needs to adjust your medication.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my head. Hattie told me she had a clear vision of your parents holding a baby, and it wasn’t you.”
“So now she’s clairvoyant as well? Martha, I’ve often wondered, but never asked… until now. Does crazy run in your family?”
Martha put up her hand, hushing him. She pressed her ear to the wall again and listened. “Do you hear that?”
Henry tilted his head. He could hear a faint scratching sound. “It’s probably a mouse. I’ll call the exterminator tomorrow.”
“The hell with that.” Martha picked up the phone. “I’m calling an exorcist tonight.”
Henry took the phone from his wife. “We’ve lived here for nearly 50 years and there’s never been anything in the walls except for an occasional field mouse. Hattie comes to visit and I get ghosts and zombies.”
“Give me the phone back, Henry.”
“You’re not going to let this rest, are you?”
“I can’t rest until the spirits in this house are put to rest.”
Henry sighed. “Fine.” He handed Martha the phone. Then he took the cord and wrapped it around her neck, pulling it tight. Her fingers clutched at the cord. She made a few gurgling sounds and the scratching in the wall got louder. When he was finished and Martha was finally quiet, Henry lay her down. He knelt next to her and closed her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Martha. I love you, but you can only take so much crazy.”
Henry stood, relieved to finally be able to get some sleep. Before climbing into bed he turned and wrapped on the wall. “You and I are going to talk in the morning, Johnny. I know Hattie aint no clairvoyant, so the only way she could know about you, is if you told her.”
Martha stepped out of the wall holding the baby his mother had drowned years before. “Henry Higgins, keep your voice down. He’s finally sleeping.”
Henry looked at his bed, longingly. “At least someone around here is able to sleep.”
Word Count: 1,000

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