CHAPTER TWO: NIGHTMARE HOUSE: FIELD OF COCKLE BURRS
Mary Hazel Upton
BLOG POST FOR MARIETTE'S NIGHTMARE HOUSE PAGE
APRIL 15, 2016 FRIDAY POST FOR STORY IN PROGRESS
MARY HAZEL UPTON AND GAIN UPTON AT WHEELING, INDIANA APRIL 1979
PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZEL FERN HENSON
In this photograph Gain is shooting old cans. There was an old cistern on the property that had been used for trash. As we cleaned up trash we put it in the cistern, as the cistern was already ruined for use, and we had to have a well dug later. He is shooting holes in cans so they would sink. Later we had the cistern filled in.
FIELD OF COCKLE BURRS
It was two weeks before Thanksgiving, a week after Curt and Mariette had bought the old house, and two weeks after the early November blizzard when the old house had set shivering and alone, dreaming of the new owners who were soon to come to relieve its loneliness. With the freakishness of Indiana weather, it was now seventy degrees. Curt and Mariette were working without their coats. Mariette had packed a picnic lunch, and they had come over to spend the day cleaning up the property. They both soon realized it would take many more Saturdays before they would make a dent in the work to be done.
"We'd better just concentrate on burning trash today, Mariette, and maybe pull up some of these cockle burrs if we get time." Curt tried pulling up one of the dead cockle burrs that covered the whole back acre. It came up easily enough, and soon he and Mariette were pulling them up and stacking them in a pile for burning.
"Good thing we wore old clothes," Mariette laughed. Her faded pink t-shirt and jeans were covered with the prickly brown seeds of the burrs.
Curt paused in his work, and came over, and began pulling some of the burrs off Mariette's clothes.
"You're wasting your time until we get done." Mariette motioned toward the field that their hour's work had barely touched.
"Um, maybe you're not wasting your work after all," she giggled as Curt's hand touched her breast and lingered. She wasn't wearing any bra under her thin shirt. Mariette seldom wore a bra, and when she did, it was nothing but a scrap of lace with matching panties.
"Oh, here's a burr you missed." Mariette stuck another burr over the nipple area of her shirt and directed Curt's hand to it. Then she pretended to pluck nonexistent burrs from the front of his pants.
"Lewd person," Curt laughed, kissing her and pinching her nipple hard.
"Back to work now," he said at last. "We don't have time for this foolishness."
Mariette agree reluctantly. They were both soon separated and deep in the burr field. The project of burning trash had somehow been put on hold in favor of pulling up burrs. Behind them the old house watched.
As the afternoon wore on, a chilly wind sprang up, reminding them that it was November, not May. Mariette was deep in the burr field now. Although she could hear Curt working far away, she could imagine that she was alone on some alien planet where nothing but these dead brown prickly weeds grew. She gradually became aware of a low, eerie moaning sound. As the wind blew harder, the sound grew louder.
"Listen!" Curt was coming through the dry rustling burrs toward her now. He stood still, listening to hear from which direction the moaning sound was coming from.
"What is it, Curt? It sounds...ghostly." Mariette looked nervously at the old house.
The old house's broken window panes seemed like sightless eyes looking back, somehow seeing them in spite of its blindness. As they'd worked, the sky had gradually been covered with little dirty white clouds. Now the sky was almost covered, shutting out the sun and all but a patch or two of blue.
Curt shook his head and put one finger to his lips. He motioned for Mariette to follow him. His right hand went to his pocket and came out with the small pistol that he always carried. Indian file, they went back through the burrs, following the moaning noise to its source. The noise just kept getting louder as they got closer.
"It's an old gas tank!" Curt put the safety back on, and slipped the pistol back into his pocket.
Mariette came up beside him, and looked in amazement at the round tank, almost as tall as she was, back in the weed grown field.
"The wind's blowing through the top, making that moaning sound," Curt explained. He checked the tank. "It's empty. It's probably been here for years. Wonder what it's doing back here?"
Mariette shook her head. "I'd sure like to know the history of this place." She still thought the sound was eerie and disturbing even though she knew it didn't have any supernatural explanation.
Curt nodded. "I don't guess we ever will though."
They checked around and found a half dozen more of the "gas tank ghosts", as they affectionately dubbed them.
"Guess we'd better call it a day," Curt said at last.
Mariette reluctantly agreed. Even though their new home scared her somehow, she was beginning to love it too. She hated to go back to crowded noisy Auto City after a day of the peace and quiet in Carrollton Location. As they drove away she comforted herself with the thought that soon they would be living in the old house. It would be summer, and the old house would be restored to the grandeur of days long past.
As they drove away the old house watched them leave. And the pale ghost, who had been there so many years alone, felt joy. His joy was because of Mariette, who loved money like he did. He had been waiting for her all these years, and when he saw her, he knew she was the one. Now he would never be lonely again.
STORY TO BE CONTINUED ON THIS BLOG. THE NEXT CHAPTER WILL BE TITLED:
NIGHTMARE ONE: MARIETTE'S NIGHTMARE: DREAM OF NIGHTMARE HOUSE