Scene Three

The Conroy estate, despite the large sign out in front, was deserted.

Bernie stopped and stared up at the large, two-story, gray colonial-style home.

“This thing always seemed so out of place in this neighborhood.”

Melody snorted and walked up to the porch. She reminded him: “There's not one uniformly designed structure on this block. Every one of them is different. That shouldn't have been too much of a stretch of the imagination.”

Bernie sighed. They walked through the front door, which was open, and found Sylvia Conroy, Chuck's much older sister, sitting behind a small card table. There was a cash box in front of her, and she was sipping coffee and watching a game show on a terrible old television set.

When the Jackson's walked in, she turned around and smiled. “Come on in, folks,” she said without even a hint of recognition in her eyes. “Feel free to walk around the place. Most everything's open but a couple of rooms that are taped off.”

Lonnie thanked her, and Bernie simply nodded, looking at the shelves of books which he had remembered were Chuck's mother's pride and joy collection of old classics, now depressingly on sale for what a shakily written sign displayed as “25 cents each.”

Melody spoke up. “Business been good?” Usually she didn’t care for small talk, but she was hoping to get some information out of the woman. Mostly about Chuck and his creepy little weirdo friend, Bernie Jackson.

“Oh,” the woman said, returning her gaze back to the television screen. “Not too bad. But if you've come for the lawn tools, they've already been spoken for.”

Bernie smiled. “No,” he said. “That's quite alright.” He took a step forward. “Sylvia,” he said, somberly. “Do you remember me at all? I was a friend of Chuck's.”

Sylvia sighed, and without looking from the screen said, “Yes, I remember you.”

Melody watched the exchange closely, this was a common occurrence when her father was confronted with people from his past. Knowing him now, she wondered just how annoying he was as a child. However, there seemed to be something different in Sylvia's voice. It seemed more like a confession, like Lt. Jackson had just beaten the truth out of her but she felt more annoyed about it than guilty.

“What happened to Chuck?” she heard herself blurt out, and winced at her directness.

Sylvia looked up at her slowly. It was a creepy sort of determined motion that one might expect of a tree magically come to life.

“Chuck's gone,” she said.


Why was she keeping up with the conversation? Shut up, Melody, she thought to herself. However, it was like she had suddenly gone on autopilot, and her subconscious knew she’d be kicking herself if she didn’t get to the bottom of this mystery.

“Yes,” Sylvia said, and stood up. She turned then to Bernie. “I think I might have found something that would interest you when I was cleaning up in the basement.”

Melody's eyes grew huge. She's going to try to lead us to the basement. Dad, don't fall for it. She turned to her mother in the hopes of passing on her concerns using facial cues, but Lonnie Jackson was too busy looking at some old record albums to notice. Way to be useless, old lady. Disappointed, she turned to her father but he too seemed immobile, paralyzed by Sylvia's gaze.

Bernie's mouth opened and closed like a goldfish.

Also useless, Melody thought.

Suppressing a groan, the girl did the only thing that COULD be done under the circumstances. She pulled a plastic shopping bag from the pile next to the cash box, filled it quickly with air by whipping it out in front of her, twisting it closed at the end, and smashing it between her hands. However, instead of the loud, percussive explosion she expected, the bag made only a sad, gassy wheeze. Still, the desired effect was achieved. The tension was broken, and all eyes were on her.

“Sorry,” was all she could think to say. “I'm just not a fan of basements. And I was afraid that this was where this was going?”

Sylvia laughed. “Don't be silly, dear,” she said. “The basement is strictly off limits.” She bent over and picked up a small, slightly damp cardboard box and handed it to Bernie. Accepting it into his arms, the contents clinked together like glass jars. “I found these in a little alcove,” she continued. “They're very impressive, so I'm not sure why he would have been hiding them. Maybe he assumed people might have found them creepy or some such nonsense.”

Bernie stared at Sylvia for nearly a full minute before acknowledging her. Somehow his eyes didn't seem to blink once during that time. Finally, he said. “I don't know what this is?”

“Well,” Sylvia told him. “Open it up.” It seemed more like a demand – a challenge.

Bernie, however, began to fidget, and wanted nothing to do with the box. He set it back down on the ground. “I feel,” he said, “that this is something that should belong with the family.”

Lonnie laughed. “Bernie,” she said. “You don't even know what it is.”

Bernie gave her a look that sent a chill down Melody's spine. Her father was horrified. And apparently her mother realized this as well, as she didn't push the matter.

“I think what my husband is trying to say is, he came over looking for something specific. Did you find any old G.I. Joe dolls amongst...”

Sylvia sat back down. “I think you should leave.”

Bernie nodded, quickly. “Yes,” he said. “I think you're right.” He turned to his family. “Let's go.”

As they left, Melody looked back at the box. There was no way she could leave without knowing what was inside -- no matter how much tension was in the room. “Wait...” She reached for the flap, but Bernie grabbed her other arm and pulled her away.

Once they were out on the lawn, Sylvia presented herself in the threshold. Her hair was now crazed and spread out like a fright wig. “DON'T COME BACK HERE,” she told the Jackson's. “DON'T YOU EVER COME BACK!”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode Four

Melody Jackson

vs. The Creeping Terror

by BMB Johnson

Scene Three

Please support our efforts

Support the author -- buy him a coffee to keep him awake and writing

Read Bark, the first of the Bill Swagger stories, free on our site.

Tales of Fastlegreive

Our new ongoing series of stories in the Fastlegrieve realm.

Read the "Tales of Fastlegrieve" for free on our site.