After having stopped at what is now my old residence, picking up somethings to get through a few days. Andrew and I were once again headed out. Only this time we were heading for Randall’s estate. Silence scraped like sand inside the car as Andrew drove. Staring at my feet was all I could manage. After a few minutes passed I addressed Andrew, whose raven black locks draped over his face like a curtain, hiding any expression at all.
“Andrew, I’m really lost right now, but how is this all going to play out with my cousins and this big house? What happened to the staff that was working here? I will need to get the rest of my things.” The shakiness of my voice carried vulnerability with it. Andrew was after all a stranger and we were headed to the old house which gave me a tremendous case of the creeps.
In the gentlest voice came my response. “You shouldn’t worry too much, everything will be fine. I’ll make sure that all your things are moved straight away and the security codes have already been changed, everything is fine. There will be staff for yard work and maintenance as Randall instructed. He was a thorough man, leaving the decisions up to you about who you want to be there at Birchwood. I will stay there as I have been for some time now, unless you otherwise see fit.” He cleared his throat and we continued heading out-of-town on the winding dark roads that lead to the Birchwood house. Not so much as a glance was cast in my direction as he drove on.
The feeling of ease eluded me as we passed the last of the street lamps, left with only the blue iridescent hue from the dash. Nausea began to set in as the smell of the leather interior combined with Andrews sweet cologne. The situation that Randy had left me in began to come full circle in my mind. I fought the feeling, hunched back in the seat and began to prepare for the entrance into Birchwood.
The drive was nestled between the trees about 20 miles outside of town, was dark hidden. Randy was at least somewhat of a recluse. Andrew turned into the drive, which wound upwards beneath the overhung trees. The feeling of being consumed was lurking even as the darkness closed in behind us. The car came to a stop at the gated entrance, it was far from spectacular, no signs, only a small box on one brick wall and a large black iron gate. Andrew punched in the code and the gate rolled back. I could see the illumination from the house peeking through the trees. A chuckle came out of Andrew that caught me off guard and he looked at me with a huge smile.
“Sorry for that. I was just thinking of how you must feel. Since this is the first time you’ve been back here and in the dark with a complete stranger. What made me laugh was the fact, if it was me I would have probably pissed myself twice by now. Sorry but I had to clear the air.” Andrew, still laughing eased the car to a stop in front of the Randy’s huge old gray house.
Not highly amused I continued the conversation not really wanting it to stop. “Well, I trust Randy and if he left you here to help me then what choice do I really have, there are things I need to know, matters need to be cleared, but truth be told I am pretty scared and on edge. This house creeps me out and you have been staying here alone? Let’s just get this over with.”
“I’ll be honest,” Andrew expressed with a sigh, “I’m happy that you are finally here. This place is huge and has its own heavy atmosphere about it. Hopefully now that you are home it will lighten things up a bit.”
Exiting the car we each gathered things from the trunk. Following Andrew as he shifted the items and unlocked the heavy door. It felt as if my heart had dropped in my chest at the creak of the door as it opened. Shivers radiated up my spine. Continuing to follow him through the door and into the living room, we dropped the bags on the floor. Switching the lights on the feeling of unease once again came like a wave over me. The library was my second stop having walked over to the end case. It was still lined with heavy volumes of old books. Proceeding to step on the floorboard directly in the corner the case swung slowly out. Inside was a secret door secured with 3 keyed locks, this is exactly where I had wanted to be. Behind it would be where Randy’s secrets lie.
Closing the case I walked away, sat in his smoking chaise and began to weep.
There was a hand on my arm, a gentle shaking. Having fallen asleep, upon opening my eyes Andrew was prodding me awake. He had changed and was now in striped pajamas and a smoking jacket, he also shared my cousin’s grand style. His hair banded back revealing a chiseled face, he began rambling on and lit a cigarette. The hazy sleep that gripped me made it difficult to emerge and feeling all too much like a dream. Andrews words began to clarify.
“You fell asleep and I wasn’t about to disturb you. It’s 4am and we have lots to discuss. I’ve started some coffee and I have gathered the envelope provided to you yesterday and another of which we will discuss over coffee. Sorry I woke you, but you need to know some things and besides I woke with a bit of a spook.” He had looked a bit pale.
“Uh, thanks hadn’t meant to doze but I did sleep well. Now, may I have one of those smokes? Go on I’m listening.”
“I’ve been staying in what was the old butlers quarters down the hall from the master suite for several months now. Matter of fact last month when you came, I was here and I’ll not lie I watched the two of you while you walked outside. This place is old but I’ve never been scared here, not while Randall was alive, only now something is a bit different. I woke this morning to the creaking of the old rocking chair in my room, it was rocking by itself and there is no breeze of any kind. I shot up and grabbed my jacket and ran down here, didn’t even take the elevator. Sorry Jenna, I didn’t mean to alarm you.”.
Our conversation continued on over coffee. He explained about living with Randy, how they met and how he was here to help him with one of his so-called endeavors. That Randy felt that something had intensified since he went on his latest trip to Spain where he had brought back several items connected with some old inventor. Andrew told me about Randy also bringing back some journals, old ones and a large chest wrapped in leather, placing all in the secret room. It was after that trip that Randy had passed away, perfectly healthy, after all he was young only 53. Andrew explained that Randy had looked like the life had been sucked out of him, all that was left was an empty shell. Randy apparently had the old chest open at the time and a journal was splayed out on the floor when he found him. Andrew had inspected the chest but it had been void of anything except dust. Andrew broke the conversation to gather the information that was provided to me the day prior.
He returned carrying the envelopes and journal, producing a set of keys. Taking the brown cord sealed envelope from his hand the contents were displayed on the desk. In front of us were checkbooks, several sets of keys, a token of some kind and small blue vial. Already at the door of the secret room, stood Andrew. Handing me the keys, we commenced unlocking the locks. An overwhelming scent of old leather, electricity and aged, mildewed paper wafted up in my face as we entered. Unable to believe my eyes. It seemed that Randall had been keeping many secrets in this room. That sly devil, I was aware of many of his collections but they had surely grown to twice the size since I laid my eyes on them last. I halted in my tracks as Andrew exclaimed shrilly “Oh Shit, over there, look!”.
Part IV commencing soon.