Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Prompt

My new life in this crusty old town was B-O-R-I-N-G.
And then I found this...


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  3. Sorry for the deletes. For some reason, the formatting is strange. I'll try again

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  7. Dear Diary,

    My new life in this crusty old town was B-O-R-I-N-G. It was like, so hick out in the sticks. Yuck!

    And then I found this old abandoned house on the far side of town. To tell the truth. I had ridden my bike out way past the parts of town I thought I knew (which isn’t saying much – I know, I know!) so I was a smidge lost, but not really. But me being me, I was curious, so I went to explore anyway.

    The grass and weeds had pretty much grown up and over the whole place, but somewhere far back on the property was this really old stone building with a weather-y looking green wooden door. I couldn’t tell for sure, but at least if seemed as it nobody had been around there for a long, long time. No tread or tracks in the dirt, and the plants and weeds and such seemed undisturbed. (I watch some of the forensic shows on TV so I know a little about the kinds of things you should look for. I’m not an expert, but still...)

    Anyway, at first I was scared, but then I decided it was time for an adventure, especially since I’d been so bored out of my skull since we moved here. So I pushed open the door. It kind of stuck at first, but then, although it was really creaky and stuff, it opened.

    It was really dark inside, so I went and got the little wind-up flashlight I keep in my bike bag. Once I could see around, I realized that the door must’ve been a back door, because I was in the kitchen of the place. It was all dusty and cobwebby and gross, but whatever. There was a huge stone fireplace in it with a metal arm that swung in and out for cooking in there, I guess. But since I wasn’t there to cook a meal or anything anyway, I decided to check out some of the other rooms.

    That next room must’ve been a sitting room or study or something, because there was this really cool antique roll-top desk in it. Most of what furniture was in the room was covered up in old grayish sheets, but the desk was not covered, which was weird - and which made me wonder why. It was pretty dusty too since it wasn’t covered, but there weren’t any handprints or other signs that anyone had been there in a while either. So, I set down my light and started looking through the drawers and cubbies. Except for a few dried up pens and a couple of sheets of blank paper, it was a dead end. That is until I tried to shut one of the drawers and it wouldn’t shut all the way.

    I jiggled it a bit to see if it was just off its track – but that wasn’t the problem. Something either was stuck behind the drawer or had just fallen behind it. I pulled the drawer out and saw something stuck there all the way at the back - and I couldn’t reach it. So, I went back into the kitchen because there was a poker at the fireplace.

    I took the poker and went back to the desk in the study. With the poker, I could reach the thing, whatever it was. and carefully I pulled it out. It was a letter in an envelope and the postmark was from 1923! It was addressed (in that old fashioned kind of handwriting in faded blue ink) to a Mr. Charles Donoghue at the address which I figured must have been the house I was in.

    I took the letter out of the envelope and started to read. It said:

    14th May, 1923

    Darling Charles,

    I cannot believe fate has given me such a happy chance in life.

    Of course. I shall gladly meet you at Mooring Bridge at 11:00. It is my dearest wish. I do regret terribly the sadness we shall no doubt cause to Eleanora, but in the end, I am sure she will manage well, and hopefully she’ll find another suitable man to marry. In the meantime, you and I - and our future baby - will be able to start our new life together as a cherished family.

    Until tonight, your loving Tess

    Wow! This was incredibly good! Too good, in fact!!! I figured there was something to this old town after all!

    So...after I left the house, I found my way back into the town proper, and headed to the library. I had to look this all up. I wanted to see if the local yokel newspaper back in 1923 picked up the story about how Charles Donoghue ran off with Tess Whoever. And also, to find out whatever happened to Charles’ wife Eleanora.

    The librarian, Mr. Flitter, was an old guy who smelled like mothballs. He set me up in a carrel and showed me how to work the microfiche machine. Who’d a thought they’d still have something like this??? You’d think they would just put it on the computer!

    But anyway, it took a little while, but I finally found something. Well, several somethings actually, and boy, let me tell you, it wasn’t what I ever would have expected.

    The upshot of all this...

    Apparently, Charles never showed up at the Mooring Bridge at 11:00 on the night of the fourteenth of May, 1932. (More about that in a minute.) But - the paper said that the body of a young pregnant woman named Theresa Billingsworth (Tess) was pulled from the river a day later. It also said that the cops figured she must’ve jumped off the bridge (or was maybe pushed?) Authorities were still investigating.


    Charles Donoghue was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head three days later. A caretaker discovered him in the basement of the Northside Presbyterian church.

    And ...

    The paper reported that Eleanora Donoghue told a few friends she was going Down South to visit her family, but she was never seen from nor heard from again.

    And finally...

    A later news article said that the postman told police he was given a special delivery letter for Charles Donaghue, but as Mr. Donaghue wasn’t home at the time, Mrs. Donaghue signed for the letter instead. He had no idea as to the contents, but recognized the handwriting as that of Tess Billingsworth.

    More tomorrow, Diary.
    Your friend,

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  9. RJ, excellent story! I love the voice, and the way it weaves in with the letter and old news items.

  10. What a nightmare, CN! I loved the refrain that kept repeating in your story as it built to a crescendo. The convention slowly allows your readers to come to a full (if not puzzling) realization as to what is actually happening. Wow!

  11. Lightverse, what a great approach! I loved the use of the letter and the detective work.

    Nevets, I must echo RJ...what a nighmare!!! I want to know what happens now, darn it.

  12. Utterly amazing. And never apologize for length! Such fun to read.

  13. I've deleted my comment on this post because the piece I wrote in response to this prompt has been modified, developed, and now picked up for publication by The Rusty Nail.