Which brings us to where we are today, D.W. had received a call earlier that morning at his law office that would change his life forever. His secretary had interrupted an important conference call to tell him she had a very distraught man on the phone crying and mumbling.
She couldn’t make out much of what the man was saying but he specifically asked for “Dave”. D.W. thought to himself “Dave, now there’s a name I haven’t heard in years”.
He knew right then and there that it had to be someone from back home. He excused himself from the conference call and told Shelley, his secretary to patch the call through. From the sounds of it one of his childhood friends really needed him now.
The only question was, would he be able to help them. Most of his friends from back home had moved away, like he had done many years ago and made lives for themselves far away from the quaint little neighborhood they had grown up in. Some of them went on to be successful businessmen, lawyers, doctors and even professional athletes, but there were a handful of them that took a far different path. A path of self destruction that led straight to jail, or worse death, D.W. had hoped that it wasn’t someone calling for him to help them beat a murder rap. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it, after all he had spent almost ten years in law school but his specialty was dealing with trusts, wills, estate planning and arbitration. On very rare instances he even tried his hand at divorce law, these cases were mainly taken on as favors for friends but he had never lost one yet.
You see D.W. was cut out to be a lawyer, even when he was a child he loved arguing his point whether he was right or not was a completely different story altogether. He just liked to debate and argue his point with others. These are the traits that make a good lawyer great, they also are the traits of a natural born asshole but D.W. liked to think of himself as a great lawyer as opposed to a loud mouthed asshole that would argue with you until you were blue in the face. Verbally beating his opponents into submission brought D.W. a great deal of self satisfaction. But there was something about defending a murder, especially one that involved someone he knew on a personal level that left an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.
As he begrudgingly picked up the phone and said hello his heart began to beat feverishly and his palms began sweating profusely at the thought of what awaited him on the other end of the phone.
Through muffled sobs the man on the other end of the line spoke “Hey Dave, I really need you to come back home and help me out man, the shits getting pretty thick around here, I don’t think I can handle it by myself. I need ya buddy. Can you make it here today?”
D.W. immediately recognized the voice on the other end as his childhood buddy Michael, when they were younger he was one of D.W.s’ closest friends. But something in the way his voice trembled and quaked caused D.W. to squirm in his seat a little. Hearing Michaels voice triggered memories; memories that he had buried in the furthest recesses of his mind years ago, with no intention of ever retrieving them.
Instead of reminiscing about the carefree days they spent playing in their neighborhood, visions of fear and anguish invaded his mind. D.W. recalled one instance in particular when he and Michael had ventured to the far side of the neighborhood and came face to face with the one thing that all the children in the neighborhood feared the most…..The haunted house on High Street. The boys had stood just outside the old, dilapidated fence that encircled the house and stared into each others eyes. They didn’t say a word, they knew what they had come for and they knew that if they didn’t go through with it their friends would never let them live it down.
Throwing caution to the wind the boys scaled the fence and landed on the overgrown grass.
As they got to their feet Michael spoke “Man I’m freakin’ scared, what if the stories are true and there really are knives and axes flying through the air? What are we gonna do? I don’t wanna die but I don’t wanna be called a little scaredy cat either.”
D.W. stared him right in the eyes with a shit eating grin on his face before uttering a line he had stolen from a Saturday morning cartoon “Well are you a man or are you a mouse?”.
The two boys began laughing hysterically at the sad attempt at humor but it worked.
Michael stood up straight, puffed out his chest and replied “I’m a man dang it. I’m a man. Let’s get this over with. Probably nothing going on in there anyway; just our parents’ way of trying to scare us into staying away from an old abandoned house. ‘Fraid we’ll get hurt or something.”
D.W. agreed but still there was something about that house that got to him. Maybe it was the fact that he was raised believing that spirits, ghosts and all things of a supernatural nature did in fact walk among us. Some were good but there was that rare chance that you could run into one that had nothing but bad intentions in store for anyone brave enough to cross its path. D.W. tried desperately to put the thoughts of whatever being that inhabited the house was evil behind him and forge on with the task at hand, even though deep down inside he was kicking himself in the ass for ever agreeing to come here in the first place.
Peer pressure is a bitch, especially when it comes from your good friends….in the form of a dare. D.W. and his friend Michael had been dared by a group of boys they hung out with to go into the house and bring back something from inside to prove that they had actually been there, and lived to tell about it. The two boys accepted the dare to prove that they were not afraid of anything and indeed were the bravest ones in their crew. As the two boys gathered themselves together from the laughfest that D.W. had caused they slowly walked toward the front of the house.
The house itself was in a sad state of disrepair, the paint had peeled and cracked from years of neglect and thick spider webs had formed on the banister and window seals, making it look even more frightening up close than it did from the road. But the two boys pushed onward, finally making their way to the front porch, and ultimately to the front door itself. D.W. looked at Michael who gave a reassuring glance and a nod of the head as if to say that yes they were indeed doing the right thing. In Michaels eyes if they accomplished this task they would be heroes, hell they would be gods among their friends and no one would ever question their bravery again.
D.W. took the door knob firmly in his hand and twisted it slowly. The rusty old handle creaked and made all sorts of noises as it turned. Michael, sensing that D.W. might chicken out stood behind him and with both hands pushed him forcefully, swinging the door wide open.
As D.W. fell into the living room Michael scurried in behind him “See, what’d I tell ya? Just as I thought, no axes flying around, no knives shooting out of the walls at us; nothing but a run down old house that could use a serious cleaning”.
Michael was right about that, the house was filthy and disgusting.
It looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned in years and the little bit of furniture that was there looked about a hundred years old, at least to them anyway. The boys hurriedly scampered around the room, looking for something to take back to show the other boys that they had indeed been in the old house and nothing happened. It was just a house, nothing more, nothing less. Michael walked casually around the houses searching for just the right item to take with them.
He picked up an old candle holder and examined it before turning his nose up “Nah, it has to be something good, like a picture or something. You find anything Dave?” He said as he looked in D.W.s direction.
D.W. didn’t hear him or maybe he was lost in his own little world, you know it’s not everyday you get to go in some ones house, rummage through all their worldly possessions and take what you want.
Michael Yelled out “Hey dip weed did ya hear me?” This startled D.W. who by now had moved on to a fascinating curio cabinet filled with tiny little trinkets and a few dusty old photos. “What? Sorry man I wasn’t paying attention. What did you say?”
Michael bowed his head and shook it from side to side as if to say “Dumbass” before walking over to where D.W. stood.
The two boys stared at the curio cabinet for a few minutes before Michael snatched up an old picture frame and exclaimed “Here. This is perfect. Just look at the old hag in this picture. Man she looks like a witch or something, right?”
D.W. scanned the picture carefully; in it was a frail old lady standing in front of a tree pointing back at whoever was taking the picture. Her face was crinkled and withered from age but there was something calm and soothing in the way she was staring into the camera.
As D.W. tried to figure out the particulars of what was going on at the time that picture was taken he heard something cry out from upstairs.
Michael jumped with fear and quickly shouted “What the heck was that Dave? Some one’s in here with us. Oh man I knew we shouldn’t have come here”.
The two boys were frozen with fear, neither one of them could move. Then suddenly and without warning they heard the noise again, this time much louder than before. It sounded like moaning, not the kind that D.W. had heard coming from his parents’ bedroom but that of some one or something in pain.
D.W. snapped out of his fear induced trance long enough to grab Michael by the arm and shake him, “Let’s get the heck outta here man, we got what we came for.” He exclaimed.
Michael seemed to be in a state of shock. He stood motionless as a look of sheer terror crossed his face. Sweat beaded on his forehead before flowing down his face like a gushing waterfall. He was overcome with fear at this point and no matter how hard D.W. pulled and tugged on his sleeve Michael wouldn't budge. It was as if his feet had been cemented to the floor.
That is until a loud voice boomed throughout the house “GET OUT OF HERE. LEAVE THIS PLACE NOW”.
Hearing the ominous voice was all it took for Michael to snap back to reality. The two boys ran out of the house screaming and flailing their arms in the air. They hopped the fence and headed back to the clubhouse where their friends awaited them. As the two made a hasty retreat Michael abruptly stopped in the middle of the road. D.W. looked back just as Michael collapsed to the ground and began violently twitching.
D.W. had gone to a neighbors house and called Michael's mother who immediately took him to the hospital for evaluation. Turns out he had some mild form of epilepsy or something that causes seizures and blackouts when he gets over excited. He was physically fine but in the days following the incident Michael began to slowly withdraw from his friends, even D.W. The scare must have had a tremendous effect on Michael as he was never quite the same after that.
D.W. had hoped that after all these years the phone call he was having now had nothing to do with that fact. There have been many reports of people suffering from blackouts that went on to commit heinous acts like robbery, and in extreme cases murder.
D.W. took a deep breath before finally responding “Hey buddy, haven’t heard from you in years. What seems to be the problem man?”
He asked as he let his guard down momentarily. Surely his friend just needed some “over the phone” legal counsel; hopefully he wouldn’t need to drive the 6 hours to Oklahoma City just to calm his once best friend down.
I mean they were once almost inseparable but after high school D.W. had moved away to attend the University of Arkansas law school and they slowly drifted apart. Last D.W. had heard Michael had gotten married to Tammy, a mutual friend that they had grown up with from the old neighborhood. As a matter of fact He had heard something about them having a few kids and they were for all intents and purposes doing quite well for themselves.
So why the frantic call so late in the afternoon? Something must have really gotten under Michaels skin for him to reach out to a man he barely knew now, asking for his assistance.
D.W. pressed on “So what’s eating you man? Is it something we can resolve over the phone, or maybe I can put you in touch with one of my attorney friends there in the city.”
D.W. crossed his fingers and hoped for the best, maybe Michael would go ahead and tell him to put him in contact with his buddy and save him the trip.
Michael stammered before finally replying “Y-You’re not trying to pawn me off on someone else already are ya buddy? After all we’ve been through? Come on man, you know me better than that. I wouldn’t be calling you if it wasn’t something important.”
D.W. felt ashamed of himself, Michael had a point, they had been very close as kids, so close that they, along with most everyone in the neighborhood thought of them as brothers. D.W. lowered his head in disgust, mostly at the way he treated his friend but more importantly for not keeping true to his credo: “Family and friends always come first, no matter what”.
Michael continued on explaining all that he had been through the last few months; a tough divorce with his wife, where she basically got everything but the clothes off his back, and the final blow that pushed him over the edge, the death of his mother. It wasn’t so much the death that caught him off guard as she had been sick for the last couple of years with cancer. He knew the end was near for her but she had lived a full life, raised a beautiful family and had no regrets. No, it was what happened after her death that made things hard for Michael. You see his mother wasn’t a wealthy woman but she had taken the stocks and bonds her husband had earned from slaving away for 30+ years at a chicken plant and parlayed that into a nice little nest egg, to be divided amongst her children in the event of her death.
This was her loving husbands final gift to her on his deathbed, enough cash to let her live out the rest of her years in comfort, not having to worry about paying the bills on time or whether or not she would eat that day. She could have used the cash for her own needs but instead she used them wisely and left the stocks and bonds untouched for many years, accruing as much interest as they possibly could. Michael explained that in the end his mother had left he and his sister a mini fortune of almost half a million dollars to be divided between the two.
That’s when the problem arose because Michael had gotten a bigger chunk of the cash and his sister was jealous. They say nothing separates a good family like greed, they were right. His sister had contested the will because she felt she deserved a bigger piece of the pie so to speak as it was she that spent the most time with their mother while she lay dying in a hospital room for months and months.
It wasn’t that Michael didn’t want to be there, he couldn’t be there as much as because of his job. Even though he was putting in 12 to 18 hour days he still found time not only to spend at his mothers’ side but also with his wife and kids. His sister Abigail had no one to answer to because she had yet to meet “Mr. Right” and start a family of her own. She also had the luxury of being able to make her own hours at work since she was a cosmetics salesperson.
Therefore she could spent as much time at the hospital as she wanted to and still go home and work from her computer, which she did. She had risen in the ranks as a Kristi Sue sales rep. and now commanded an army of fledgling salespeople who were willing and able to follow up on any sales she couldn’t go through with. As an added bonus she still got a piece of the commission even though she didn’t make the actual sale. So she was doing quite well on her own. Michael explained that the money wasn’t important to him, what really mattered was honoring his mothers’ last wishes even if it meant taking his sister to court to validate his point.
D.W. was faced with a catch 22 of sorts. Should he help his friend by pitting himself against Michael's overzealous and greedy sister, who as a child had a major crush on D.W. which added to the equation? Or take the easy way out and tell his friend that it was a conflict of interest and refer him to a local attorney that unlike himself, did not have a history with either of them?
D.W. sat at his desk mulling over the choices presented to him before uttering the phrase that had been on his mind this entire trip “Yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll head out first thing in the morning. You’re like a brother to me and I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I turned down a friend in need. So yeah, I’ll do whatever I can to rectify the situation and hopefully make everyone involved happy. She’s your sister though man, you sure you wanna take her to court?”
Michael hesitated at first but thought it through before answering “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this right. If it means dragging Abigail to court to fulfill my mamas wishes…..so be it”.
D.W. said his goodbyes and hung up the phone, this was going to be the hardest thing he had ever done and he knew no good would come from it. But Michael was his friend and he needed him so his back was against the wall on this one.
After going back to his house nestled in the Ozarks D.W. packed his suitcase and thought back to all the good times he had had in Oklahoma City, but the one thing that stuck out in his mind the most was that fateful day when they ventured to the old dilapidated house on High Street. That day was the changing point in all their lives. What was it about that day that changed everything and why did it affect Michael in such a negative way? Now that he was headed back home a lot older and definitely wiser maybe he could answer those questions himself.
The memories of his childhood began flooding back immediately as D.W. entered the once thriving neighborhood known as Top O Town. He recalled all the wild parties on Carter Drive and the time he snuck out to meet Juliya at the park late one night to experience his first kiss. These were fond memories of a time long past, a simpler time when the biggest concern you had was if so and so liked you or not. Now D.W. had mouths at home to feed and a job that consumed his every waking hour.
As he drove through his old stomping grounds he thought to himself “Man, this place has really gone downhill since I left. The gangs and the lowlife drug dealers peddling their poison to anyone old enough to walk up to them have turned the once quiet and peaceful little town I once knew into a den of debauchery. What a waste, this place used to be nice. Now it’s a fucking shit hole”.
The shape that he had found the one place that accepted him for who he was almost brought a tear to his eye. But he had to get himself together; there were more important matters to tend to. He needed to be strong, not only for himself but for his friend who had called on him in his hour of need. As he drove on he headed to the house on High Street to try and get to the bottom of the mystery that had plagued him and his friend Michael for years and years. D.W. continued down 15th and turned onto High Street searching for the scene of the crime, so to speak.
As D.W. drove down the street nothing seemed familiar to him. The buildings had changed dramatically over the years but the one landmark that surely would be there was the church D.W. attended as a child, the church that was next door to the house that he and his friend Michael had trespassed in as kids, the one place that had changed the landscape of their friendship forever.
Just as D.W. was about to give up and move on because he was tired from the long drive over he spotted something out of the corner of his eye that made him come to a screeching halt right in the middle of the road. There on the right side of the street hidden under fallen trees and overgrown brush stood the house he had been searching for. Although most everything in the neighborhood had changed, that house and the property it sat on remained almost untouched. D.W. backed down the road and pulled into the vacant lot where his church once stood.
He put his hands over his face and smoothed them up across his brow “Well it’s now or never” he thought to himself as he stepped from his car and headed to the worn out fence that encircled the property.
Hopping over the fence he let out a grunt “Not quite as easy as I remembered it being. Well I have put on a few pounds since last time” he chuckled to himself.
Scanning the property he noticed that the awning over the porch had caved in, making it impossible to enter from the front, he would have to find another entry if he wanted inside. D.W. walked to the back of the house cautiously since the neighborhood had gone to shit since he had left he didn’t know what kind of people he might encounter. That’s all he needed was a strung out crack head hassling him when he had some serious business to attend to.
D.W. approached the rear entry of the house and giggled the knob, the door was locked from the inside but something that small wasn’t about to put a damper on what he had set out to do. He had already come this far and now that he had gotten here he realized he wasn’t doing this just for Michael, in a weird way this might bring him some closure as well. He wasn’t sure how breaking into an abandoned house would do that but it was a risk he was willing to take.
Without hesitation D.W. reared back and put his foot through the back door. The old weather beaten door finally gave way, exposing a hole almost large enough for D.W. to crawl through. With the door in shambles D.W. attempted to push his way through, but something or maybe someone was holding the door closed. Upon further investigation D.W. had found the cause of the blockage. It seems as though someone had placed a refrigerator or maybe an upright freezer in front of the door as some sort of barricade. As D.W. shoved with all his might the appliance gave way making a loud screeching sound as it grated against the hard wood floor.
D.W. cleared out enough room to make his way through the doorway and enter the house. The stench of rotted meat permeated the air causing him to almost lose his lunch right then and there. D.W. used some quick thinking and merely pulled his collar up over his nose and trudged onward. The kitchen area where he stood was a mess. Dirty dishes filled the sink and half eaten food was left to rot and decay on paper plates that covered the dining room table. D.W. figured that was the source of the rancid smell and quickly left the area.
As he got to the living room the smell dissipated a little but it was still pretty rank. The little curio cabinet that he and Michael had ransacked years ago still stood; as a matter of fact it looked like no one had touched it since they were last there. D.W. felt adventurous, obviously the house wasn’t haunted and there was absolutely no danger but being the curious man he had become D.W. wanted to check out the upstairs area. The one place he and Michael never got the chance to explore as youths.
While he made his way upstairs the rancid odor seemed to change a little, it was still pretty foul but it had taken a turn for the worse. Instead of rotten meat he smelled something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. This only made him want to explore the house further, but you know what they say about curiosity and the cat.
With nothing to lose and nothing to gain for that matter he approached one of the bedroom doors and twisted the handle. All his years as a lawyer viewing crime scene photos and video tape hadn’t prepared him for what awaited him on the other side of the door. For as he opened the door he was met with a grisly sight, there on the bed lay two partially decomposed bodies, one male, and one female. The female hadn’t decayed quite as much as the male but it was still a garish sight to behold, flies and maggots had eaten away her eyes and picked at the flesh of both corpses, probably for years. The thing that caught his attention the most wasn’t the fact that they were dead but the way they were laid out. The man was on the right side of the bed and the woman lay by his side, her hand rested on top of his fingers entwined in a loving embrace.
D.W. fled the house and quickly called the authorities, he knew that he would more than likely be charged with breaking and entering but that didn’t matter now. All that mattered to him was giving those two a proper burial. No one deserves to have their body lie on a bed and be desecrated like that. In the next few days D.W. and his friend Michael did their best to catch up as much as they could in light of all that had happened between the both of them. Subsequently no charges were filed against D.W. given the circumstances of his break-in and the coroners report stated that the man, whose name was Sam had died years before the female, identified as his wife Margie.
Sam and Margie were given a proper burial at the local cemetery that was paid in full by D.W. after all it was the least he could do. He had arranged for them to be buried side by side in a nice little plot near the center of the cemetery so they would never be alone again. As D.W. and Michael paid their respects to Sam and Margie at the cemetery they began reliving that fateful summer day and they reached a startling conclusion. The day they broke in they probably could have saved that mans life, instead they chose to run away like cowards. The moaning they heard wasn’t that of a ghost but of a man on his deathbed. The wife must have been overcome with guilt because she couldn’t save him and decided to live out the rest of her days sequestered in the house, alone and afraid.
That’s why she told them to get out. She knew what would happen to her husbands’ body; they would take it away from her and bury it in the dirt. I guess she wanted to be by his side for all eternity. Now she was; may they both rest in peace.