Scene 4

The weather station was a shoe box castle, antennae instead of parapets, portcullis the overgrown shrubbery.  Except instead of keeping out the spooky, it apparently contained it, and occasionally even spat it out into the world.

Bernie and Lonnie sat out in the cold morning air, huddled against the edge of Mrs. Mendleblat’s dew-soaked, and semi-rotten fence.  Melody, who could not be awoken, though Lonnie assumed she was faking for obvious reasons, was conspicuously missing from the family outing.

“You noticed that suspicious white van parked in front of Shenenigans' house, right?” Bernie said, softly.

“Oh,” Lonnie said.  “I hadn’t until just now.”  In truth, Lonnie had been eyeing that van very carefully.  Their neighbors to the right (facing the street), always seemed to be up to something, so an unmarked van in front of their house didn’t seem too out of the ordinary.  “Maybe they hired their cousins to finally disassemble and reassemble our back fence one inch closer to us.”

“The Shenenigans',” Bernie mused.  “Up to their old shenanigans.”

The Shenenigans' made no bones about their annoyance that the Jacksons were somehow on their land.  They were constantly threatening to send a surveyor out to prove just that. Though Bernie would swear he had years ago seen a crew with fancy equipment stop by to take some measurements, but nothing ever became of it.

“The war of attrition rumbles on, eh?”  Bernie looked away and towards Lonnie’s backpack.  “So,” he said, slapping his hands together and rubbing them quickly as if to warm them.  “What sorts of snacks did you bring?”

“Bernie, for crapsake, we’re fifty feet from the house.  It’s not like we’ve been hiking all day.”

“What?  It’s my sleepies,” he said.  “They need to be fed.”   

When the two were first married, Bernie had once tried to convince Lonnie that a race of fairy-like beings lived in his stomach and, if he was forced to wake up before a certain time, they would demand tribute of fine chocolates or some other acceptable goodies.

“Well, I only brought a blanket, a camera and the big flashlight.  And you’re already sitting on the blanket. You're free to snack away on any of those items.”

“Fine,” Bernie said.  “Never mind then. What time is it anyway?”

“Five minutes to show time,” she said.  “So get the light ready. This thing doesn’t shoot in the dark.”

While Lafayette did have street lamps, it was too wane to effectively light up the scene in front of them, casting the weather station in a creepy paleness which made the entire endeavor look like a scene from a horror flick.

“Why do I feel like I’m on the set of The Columbus Day Massacre IV all of a sudden?”

“Because Bernie Jackson don’t have what it takes to be in the ghost investigation gang!”  Lonnie shined her pen light up at her face and made a Whooooo sound that caused her husband to jump slightly.

“Stop it,” he told her.  “I want to go in now. I’m hungry and tired.”

Suddenly a figure emerged past the privet bushes, and Bernie and Lonnie both jumped up and screamed.  “Why didn’t anyone wake me?” asked the tall, skinny figure.

“Melody!”  Lonnie yelled in a whisper.  “You can’t just sneak up on people on a ghost hunt.  Especially people with bad hearts like your father.”

“I don’t have a bad heart,” Bernie corrected.

Melody yawned, and handed her father a small container of almonds and chocolate chips.  “Here,” she said. “I brought snacks.”

“She so gets me,” Bernie said, smiling.

Lonnie sighed, looking at her watch.  “Like father like daughter.” She then slapped Bernie on the shoulder.   “It’s almost time,” she said, hurriedly. “Shine that flashlight on the door, and don’t do it like when you’re helping me with the car engine.”

“I can’t help it if your giant head gets in the way.”

“Just shine it, joke boy!”

Bernie hefted the large, twenty pound flashlight at the door, and switched it on.  Suddenly the door and surrounding area was aglow.

Bernie whispered to Lonnie.  “Calling this thing portable is a bunch of propaganda.”  He then turned to Melody. “Is there any way we can hook this up to your tripod?”

Melody and Lonnie both shushed him as he was nearly talking over some crackling noises coming from behind the door.

“I think it's happening,” Melody said, her heart racing.  She placed her palm on her chest as if to keep the organ from beating itself out of her rib cage.  It was at this moment she realized she had not only grabbed her father's hand, but was squeezing it tightly.

The door knob began to rattle as if caused by an internal vibration.  It wasn't the same sort of motion that one would expect a person to make.  It was more mechanical, awkward. Finally, the vibrating stopped and the knob slowly began to turn. 

The Jacksons held their breath as the door opened slowly, showing at first only darkness within.  

“Is that it?”  Bernie asked nervously.  

Melody shushed him, but then unconsciously grabbed his hand tightly again as a figure emerged.  

It was a woman dressed all in white.  She was very demure. Her skin was like alabaster, hair silken and tied up in back with a fine bow.  She held up her hand to the light as though it caused her pain.

“She’s reacting to the light, Bernie.  Do you think this is an intelligent haunt?”

Bernie said nothing, as though unable to move.

The woman moved out of the light slightly, and called out to them.  “Is there someone there?”

Melody pushed herself between her parents.  “Well, this definitely didn’t happen in the video,” she said, out of breath.  “Definitely an intelligent haunt.” She wanted to sound as though she knew what she were talking about, but deep down she just wanted to run away.

Bernie tried to force his mouth to work, and managed a stammered sentence.  “D-do you think we should respond?”

“I don’t know if engaging with a ghost is a good idea,” Melody warned.

“Who’s there?” the woman in white continued.  She seemed sad and forlorn. “Why won’t you talk to me?”  She again tried to move away from the light, but like a physical force it seemed to hold her back.

“I think the light is keeping her in a bubble,” Melody said.

“You're just making that up,” Bernie said.

“Who are you?”  Lonnie called out suddenly.  She then turned to Melody and said.  “It’s rude to just sit here and say nothing.”

“I’m Madeline,” the figure in white said.  “Madeline D’amarite. Who are you and what are you doing on my lawn?”

“Lady,” Bernie said.  “You’ve got it all wrong.”

“How many of you are there?  Please turn off that light, it’s burning my eyes!”

Lonnie reached out to Bernie’s hand.  “Bernie,” she said. “At least point it lower.”

Behind the woman in white the knob began to rattle again, and as if triggered by her presence the door opened all of the way quickly.  Exposed now was a large, grey, nondescript form.  

The creature was at least seven feet tall, and had to bend down to peer through the doorway.  It’s face seemed non-existent, devoid of any features at all except for a gaping hole where the mouth should be.

This creature emitted a horrific muffled snarl and stepped aggressively towards the woman in white.

Madeline turned and screamed in terror as a thick, clay-like arm reached around her waist and pulled her inside.

Bernie and Lonnie rushed to the woman’s aid, but though the door was still wide open they seemed impeded by some force from entering the building.  The doorway seemed replaced with a smoky sheet of glass. They could make out a front parlor inside. Portraits hung on the wall decorated with fuzzy red wallpaper and antique furnishings completed the room.   For a horrifying moment, they could hear faint, distant screams as though the woman in white were being dragged down into a basement lair.

“Hello,” Bernie called out to her, but there was no response.  Soon the vision faded into blackness, and thankfully so too did the heart wrenching screams..

Bernie ran back for his large flashlight and shined it into the black void to no avail.  It was as if he were attempting to peer into a deep, bottomless ravine.

Behind them came the screeching of an engine as the white van, once parked suspiciously across from street, sped off into the night.

“That was some good timing,” Bernie said.  “You think this was a stakeout?”

“A stakeout for a ghost?”  Melody narrowed her eyes at her father, for she could see no reason for it.  “True,” she said, “an unmarked white van tearing off after the conclusion of the appearance of a ghost seemed a tad fishy.  But that would seem to imply that this woman in white phenomenon was known outside the neighborhood.”

“Possibly the government,” shuddered Bernie.

“Here’s the scary part,” said Lonnie.  “I don’t think it was a actual a ghost we saw.”

“Well, she and that beast thing seemed real enough.”   Bernie turned to his wife with a confounded look on his face.  “You saw that, right??! What was that?”

Lonnie shrugged, lost for words.

“You see,” Melody said.  “You see why I wanted to get this thing torn down.”  She pointed to the door. “And now it’s closed. Did anyone see that happen?”

Bernie rapped on it with his knuckles, and was suddenly worried that someone might actually answer his response.  “I suspect,” he said, “that it was never opened in the first place. I think this door is what was barring us from entry.”

Lonnie chimed in.  “And the faltering background was the ghostly remains of that poor woman’s former house glowing in the past.”

“...And fading like a candle?” Melody finished, cockeyed.  “You suddenly getting poetic on us, mom?”

“No,” Lonnie said, blushing in the moonlight.  “Sometimes I just talk...that way.”

“Well, I say,” Bernie began, “but not as floridly, that we all get back in the house.  OUR OWN HOUSE,” he corrected. “And maybe have a snack and get ready for bed. We can talk about this in the morning.”

Lonnie sighed.  “More snacking.”

Melody led the way, and then turned.  “I just have this horrible feeling that our presence here tonight might have allowed that beast to finally grab that woman.  This might be our fault.”

“Thanks," Bernie said.  “That's the something we were trying not to think about.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One:  Episode One

Melody Jackson 

vs. The Woman in White

by BMB Johnson

Scene 4

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