Alright, a brief time out for the poetic offerings for this week. The thing is, I did post this story earlier as In Memoriam, Veronica Davis. Which is an update of this original offering. My friend once said I could come up with a better title than this and he was right. However, the story presented wouldn’t exist without this first draft (grammatically corrected, of course) that had a slightly different ending and mostly the same contextual material. I think the story still holds up even if I did write it during the mid aughts. And even if I did already post the most updated version of the tale.
Next week, we’ll have some more poetry as I put together more material to share with all of you. Thank you for continuing to support this blog page and for reading my material. I’ll read to you again next week!
THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT
BY TIMOTHY S PURVIS
Mornings were never the woman’s favorite part of the day. In fact, she considered them very annoying. Yet, she couldn’t just sleep through them for her sixty-five-year-old body simply refused to let her. So, every day at six thirty, she woke up in an irritated and irrational mood, got dressed in her finest clothing, generally an old-style full body dress with fluffy fringes, did up her hair into a French braid, trying her best to ignore the grey, and went to the grocery mart where she took great pride in pissing off the workers. There, everybody knew and dreaded her very name, Veronica Davis.
It was a fine day, the sun was shining, nary a cloud with a crisp wind, as Veronica put on her most sour expression and walked to the grocery mart that was only two blocks down the street from where she lived alone in her two story, Victorian styled house, that also had a basement, but she rarely went down there. She didn’t own a car and felt she didn’t need one. Not since the only thing she really did was needlework out on her back porch, rocking in an old chair. Such an existence would have seemed lonely to anyone looking into her life, especially since she had never married and didn’t have any family to speak of, with the exception of two brothers she hadn’t seen in years. Yet, this was what she preferred, since men just tended to annoy her and other women just got on her nerves.
Before long, Veronica was entering the store where two young men saw her coming up the walk and into the building. She had extremely astute hearing and couldn’t help but notice the quip issuing forth from the mouth of one of the young men to the other about her. She was sure he thought he was being quiet about it, but had underestimated her abilities in picking up nuances in the wind.
“Quick, phone Cinderella. Tell her we’ve located her stepmother,” which prompted a snicker from the other.
Veronica’s frown turned into a malicious scowl. Though, in years past, she may have found such a quip amusing, she just couldn’t bring herself to laugh at the man’s witticism.
“Young man, I’m sure you think you’re being funny, but I do not. That’s what’s wrong with kids these days, no respect for their elders. I wonder if you would be amused if I pulled down your britches and gave you a spanking right here in the middle of the store?” she spoke, letting anger creep into her voice as a slight smile cracked the edges of her lips.
“Uh… no ma’am,” the young man said, doing his best not to smile.
She could tell he didn’t take her seriously. He was, after all, a man in his twenties, but before she could vent about grown men acting like children, the store manager rushed over. He had heard the quietly spoken, yet still uncalled for, remark and seen the scenario playing out where they stood.
“Charlie, that is extremely inappropriate! I apologize, Ms. Davis. Sometimes he doesn’t have the sense he was born with,” the manager placated with a sincere smile.
“That is something all men suffer from, Mr. Mallory. If you wish to continue receiving my loyal patronage, I suggest teaching these ruffians some manners,” she pointed her finger at him and walked off.
“Wooa… not only does she looked like the wicked stepmother, but she sounds like her too,” she heard the younger man say quietly to Charlie once he assumed she was out of earshot.
“What the hell’s wrong with you two!?” Mr. Mallory chastised the two with a hushed exclamation.
Veronica paused, but didn’t look back at the three men yammering at one another. She knew the two men would only be given a stern talking to, as they were brothers and both sons of Mr. Mallory. She continued on her way, knowing that these were just a small portion of a town that despised her very existence. She recognized this fact and didn’t mind its truth. What it meant was that people left her alone, and alone was what she wanted to be.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully as Veronica returned home and spent the day on her back porch. That night, she had some hot tea and got dressed for bed in a cotton night gown. She turned out the light to her bedroom, got into bed and pulled the sheets and comforter over her body to her chest. Closing her eyes, she sighed deeply, turned over onto her side, and started to drift off into slumber. Tomorrow was another day.
A thumping sound sent a shiver up her spine and she opened her eyes and lay there motionless. She stared towards her closet, seeing only dark shadows. Seconds passed, but the sound didn’t repeat. She shook her head and exhaled a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding. Closing her eyes, yet again, Veronica drifted back off to sleep.
The thumping returned in force and went thump, thump, thump. Veronica’s heart pounded in rhythm to the thump and she sat up with a start. The sound had ceased, but it was like something had been banging against loose wood.
“Who’s there!?” she called out, her breathing quickening in pace. “You little hoodlums! This isn’t funny!”
Veronica sat there, upright, in bed. She stared through the barely lit room, darkness surrounding her, straining to hear so much as a pin drop, but hearing nothing but the buzzing silence in her ears. She suddenly wished she kept the curtains to her massive windows open at night. At least, the heavy curtains. The thin curtains would have been fine while still allowing moonlight to flow into the room. As it was, there was only a thin crack where the curtains met allowing that light to enter the room in a thin veil across the floor and her bed.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
There it is again! What the hell is it!? thoughts raced through her head as she slowly slid out from underneath her bed spread and placed her feet onto the floor. It was then she noticed light streaming in from the bottom of the bathroom door that was connected to her room. She always made sure the bathroom door was shut and that the light was out. However, that night, it was on.
Veronica stood there, staring at the light under the door, swearing to high heavens that she turned it out. She was about to move towards the door when a shadow passed over the crack from within the bathroom.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Something was in there and it was banging against the door!
“Who’s in there!?” she screamed.
The shadow covering most of the crack stopped and seemed to almost roll away from the door. The sound stopped and veronica felt her pulse racing so hard she could hear the blood flowing in her head.
“Stop playing games, you bastard!” she shouted at the disappearing shadow and heard only silence in response.
Agitated, Veronica turned on the bedroom light and rushed out into the hallway. She opened the door to the utility closet across the hall and grabbed a club from a golf bag within that had belonged to her father. She then ran back into her bedroom and slung open the bathroom door without hesitation.
“All right, you little heathen, come on… !!” she exclaimed, rushing inside.
Veronica stared at the bathroom interior and saw no one. The window was closed and locked. Nothing was rolling around on the floor. The door to the shower was shut…
Ahha… she thought and opened the shower door, raising the club she wielded. However, the shower was empty as well.
“What the hell?” she said and let her hand holding the club drop to her side.
The bathroom was empty of occupants as if no one or thing had been in there since she last had been. She walked over to the sink and ran some cold water. She set the club to the side and used both her hands to splash cold water on her face. Rinsing the coolness over her visage and turning off the water, she looked into the mirror. A haggard expression stared back at her.
“I must be losing my mind,” she spoke to her reflection and dried her face with a towel hanging on a nearby rack.
Nerves wracked and on edge, Veronica turned out the bathroom light and returned to bed, leaving the bathroom door open. She lay down and covered up, casting a wary glance back towards the dark bathroom. She continued staring until her eyes grew heavy with sleep and she drifted off into a fitful and uneasy slumber.
“And how did you sleep last night, Ms. Davis?” Mr. Mallory queried the next morning.
“How do you mean!?” Veronica shot back, suspicious of the question. “Why would you ask me that?”
He stood there by the fruits staring at the old woman, not sure of how he should be replying. He shook his head at the penetrating gaze of the woman.
“I just meant that, with such a nice house, of which I understand the Davis’s have owned for nearly two hundred years, right? …That, you’d have a comfortable sleep. I, I thought it would be polite to ask, that’s all,” the words stumbled from his mouth in an avalanche of uncertainty.
Veronica stared at him coolly and then finished gathering some apples and oranges. He stood there while she did so, not wishing to offend her further. She brushed past the man with a huff and barely looked at him.
“It’s none of your business how I sleep,” she replied, sticking her nose slightly into the air.
“Right. Well, you have a nice day,” he smiled pleasantly at her retreating back.
It was true that the house Veronica lived in had been built by her great, great grandfather almost two hundred years before. Warrington Davis had been a highly respected man in his day around town. As had his son and his son’s son, her father. Each of those men probably would have frowned upon the lack of respect Veronica managed to receive. As she reflected on this, she realized she probably earned every bit of the harsh words spoken about her, but she really didn’t care what people thought of her.
She returned home and did the same thing she always did and had some tea before turning in for the night.
When she entered her bedroom, she decided to check on the condition of the bathroom. Everything was as it should have been, so she refreshed herself and turned off the lights, closing the door as she headed off to bed. Switching off the lights to her bedroom, she glanced at the curtains she left open with only the thin curtains drawn shut. She was pleased to note that a good amount of moonlight was flowing through those curtains, bathing her room in a light shade of white blue. She wasn’t crazy about the light, since it interrupted her sleep. However, she was still a little unnerved about the events from the night before.
That fool Mallory and his two sons had better not be responsible for that… she angrily thought and got into bed. She lay her head on her pillow and closed her eyes. She listened for any sounds at all but only heard the slight chirping of crickets outside the windows of her bedroom. The rest was silence, which she was thankful for. Soon, she started falling asleep.
Her eyes went wide as she caught her breathe.
Was that a sound? Veronica questioned herself, and then realized she hadn’t heard anything at all and that it was just her subconscious mind playing tricks on her. She shut her eyes yet again and sighed, allowing sweet bliss to overcome her as she laid on her back.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Veronica opened her eyes and stared up at a dark ceiling. She couldn’t have heard anything, could she have?
Was that… ? No, it’s nothing…
Thump. Bump. Thump.
Bump. Bump. Thump.
A second bumping sound accompanied the thumping against the bathroom door. Veronica sat up in a panic and pulled the sheets up to her chin.
“No… please God…” she whispered, staring at the bathroom door.
She leaned over the edge of the bed to see the crack off the door, for she couldn’t see it from where she sat upright against the headboard and pillow. As she feared, the bathroom light was on and that shadow was there again. Only this time, it sounded like there were two somethings hitting each other and then the door. The manic wrestling of whatever was behind the door, prompted Veronica to close her eyes.
Cold beads of sweat ran down her back and face and neck and chest, saturating her night gown. She shivered uncontrollably, hearing that sound continue on and on for what seemed like an eternity.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Bump. Bump. Thump.
Thump. Bump. Thump.
And then the sound stopped. Veronica dared not open her eyes for several long moments as she prayed like she never prayed before. After a long silence, she opened her eyes and looked at the door. The shadows were gone but the light was still on.
Veronica swallowed hard and slowly inched off the bed. Step by step she walked towards the bathroom door. Along the way, she flipped on the bedroom light and grabbed the golf club she left near the dresser. She reached for the bathroom knob and froze, listening for any kind of sound. When none issued forth, she slowly opened the door. A slight creaking moan was made as the door swung open and she saw nothing and nobody.
Sobbing heaves hit her chest as she lowered herself to the floor where she stood, still holding the door knob with her left hand. Tears flowed from her eyes and she couldn’t let go of the door as she continued sliding down unto the calves of her legs. Her right hand tried to wipe away the tears she cried.
“I can’t take any more of this!!” she screamed. “Why is this happening!?”
She remained on the bathroom floor, weeping throughout the night.
Dark bags of skin were forming under Veronica’s eyes and no amount of makeup could hide that fact. Yet, even as she walked into the store, after the second night of restless sleep, she wasn’t concerned with what people would think. She just wanted to get a quart of milk and go home. Though, she was enjoying being home less and less.
“She’s been there for like two hours,” Charlie commented to his brother as they watched Veronica standing by the front window staring out at nothing.
She had just wanted to get the milk and leave. However, she couldn’t bring herself to leave the store. The voices of people were comforting to her after two days of anguish.
“Why don’t you go over and say something to her?” Charlie’s brother inquired.
“…Why do you torture me?” Charlie responded and walked over to where Veronica stood listening to their hushed voices. “Hello, Ms. Davis? Are you alright? You’ve just been standing there for so long, I…”
“I’m fine. Mind your own business!” she snapped, not bothering to look at the young man.
He placed his hands in front of him in a placating gesture implying he didn’t mean to offend her. She stood for a moment and then looked at him, tears forming at the edges of her eyes. Her jaw was firmly set as she sauntered over to the checkout counter and thumped the quart of milk she’d been holding onto the countertop.
“Here, you can check me out. Well!? Don’t just stand there!” she ordered and pulled a checkbook from the handbag she was carrying.
Charlie went behind the counter and began to ring the milk up. As he grabbed the quart and felt the temperature of it, he realized it had gotten warm. He couldn’t sell it to her in that condition in good conscience.
“It appears that your milk has gotten warm. Let me get you another one,” he said.
“Fine. Just hurry up,” she responded with a huff, her voice warmer than it had been.
Half an hour later, Veronica found herself standing on the sidewalk in front of her property looking at the house she had lived in for sixty-five years. A swift wind blew at her front side causing her dress to hug snugly to her form.
Everything is going to be fine. You can’t be afraid of your own house. A house that has seen three generations of Davis’s grow up in it. Can you? she questioned herself and took a deep breathe. She didn’t want her milk to spoil so she worked up the nerve to walk up to her front door.
The two-story house stood stoically amidst a bright green yard surrounded by a virtual forest of thick trees with Veronica finally walking up the front path. She couldn’t help but find the house a little menacing, but she hoped and felt that that night would be different.
Again, the time came for Veronica to get ready for bed. Again, she checked the bathroom and found nothing. This time, though, she left the door open when she turned out the lights and went to bed. She lay awake, staring at the ceiling, listening to the crickets chirp outside her window that she had opened up earlier. A soft breeze rippled through the thin curtains covering the opened window.
Moonlight streamed in and bounced off the walls. For the first time in days, all seemed peaceful. Cautiously, she allowed her eyelids to close. Sleep came quickly and she started to feel relaxed. Crickets continued to serenade her as she drifted further into the subconscious realm of dreams.
Veronica opened her eyes to the sounds of a door closing. The crickets went silent and panic filled the woman’s soul once again.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Rage began to fill her body overcoming the total fear enveloping her existence. She was sick and tired of this irritating noise. Especially knowing that what she should have done was left the house. Sold it. Moved away and been done with the place.
No. I’m not going to let some noises drive me out, let alone insane! What I should have done was called in an exorcist.
Bump. Bump. Thump.
“That’s it! I’ve had it!” she screamed and leapt out of bed.
She ignored the club and the feeling of dread screaming in her soul to just get out of the house. She rushed towards the bathroom where the shadows moved ominously beneath the crack and slung the door open.
“What in the hell are you…!?” she stopped in mid-sentence and let loose a blood-curdling scream that rang out from her open windows and echoes through the neighborhood.
Veronica stood there in the doorway, her right hand to her mouth and tears streaming down her cheeks. She couldn’t control the sobs that broke forth as she slowly backed up from the bathroom where pools of blood painted the floor, the bathtub, the sink, mirrors, and toilet. On the floor, rolling around spastically and wrapped up in bed sheets, were two decapitated, armless corpses rolling into each other.
Heaving breathes barely kept contained another scream she was ready to unleash. And then she looked down to see the blood covered butcher knife she held in her left hand.
“Oh my God!” she shouted and couldn’t contain another high-pitched wail.
Her dress was covered in blood. She cast another wide-eyed glance at the corpses rolling into one another with streams of blood pouring from where heads used to be attached to their necks. Veronica turned away and ran out of her bedroom and downstairs, nearly falling in the process.
“This can’t be happening! This can’t be happening! Is this real!?” she sobbed and backed up onto her couch in the downstairs living room as she stared back at the way she had come down the main stairwell.
A sick, slopping sound echoed down the open staircase from down the second story hall. She continued staring and absently wiped her hands on her night gown. A knock sounded at the front door, startling her from her shock.
Uncertain of what to do, she decided to answer the door. Hurriedly, she swung it wide and was greeted by two police officers.
“Evening, Ma’am. We’re sorry to disturb you, but we’ve received reports of really loud screams coming from this residence. We just wanted to make sure everything’s all right,” the first officer spoke, looking her in the eyes.
She stood staring at the two, breathing heavily and getting a firmer grip on a blanket wrapped around her shoulders that she’d pulled from the back of the couch. She didn’t remember having grabbed it and felt a puzzled expression hit her face. She glanced at the badges on the police officers’ uniforms and noticed that the one speaking to her was named Edmonds and that his partner was Stevenson.
“May we come in?” Stevenson inquired with a worried look.
“Y,yes, of course,” she replied and let them inside.
They followed her to the middle of the living room where she sat back down onto the couch. Her hair was a tattered mess and she looked confused. The officers looked at one another as she stared vacantly at the floor.
“Are you alright?” Edmonds asked. “You look a little ill.”
Veronica looked up at the man, still breathing heavily. Panic still was eating at her soul. And then she heard them upstairs.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Bump. Bump. Thump.
Her eyes went wide as she stared up the stairs.
“Ma’am? Can we help you? Did you scream?” Stevenson asked her as he walked closer to the couch and Edmonds followed Veronica’s gaze to the top of the stairs.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Bump. Bump. Thump.
Don’t they hear them!? she wondered as sweat was oozing from every pore, soaking her clothes. The officers noticed this and she saw Edmonds reaching for the CB on his shoulder.
“…We’re going to need a medic at this residence…” he started quietly, but Veronica didn’t really pay attention to him.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Bump. Bump. Thump.
Were they getting closer to the stairs? She thought it sounded like they might be heading that way. Her head turned and looked at every corner of the room as her eyesight darted wildly from side to side.
“Ma’am, we’re going to get you some help,” Stevenson said, touching her on the shoulder.
Veronica couldn’t handle it anymore and jumped to her feet, tossing off her blanket. Stevenson got to his feet and held out his hands, trying to calm her down.
“Ok, calm down, Ma’am…”
“I admit it! I did it! I killed them! See!?” she shouted turning around to show them her bloodstained clothing.
The officers looked at one another as they watched the woman spread her arms.
“Ok. What did you do?” Edmonds inquired.
“Don’t you see the blood…” she questioned, looking down at her night gown.
“Blood?” Stevenson asked and looked to his partner in concern.
“…from the bodies?” Veronica replied, feeling frightened.
“What bodies, Ma’am?” Stevenson calmly asked.
“The two bodies! In my bathroom in my bedroom! I killed them! I must have! Their blood was all over my clothes and the bathroom floor! It’s horrible!” she screamed and cried.
“All right. All right. Where is the bathroom?” Edmonds questioned, managing to convince her to sit back down.
“U, upstairs, the end of the hall on the right. They’re there, I tell you,” she replied, looking up helplessly to the man.
“All right. Mike, there’s an ambulance on the way. I’ll go check out the bathroom. Ma’am,” Stevenson said to her.
“Veronica,” she informed him, feeling very uneasy.
“Veronica, Mike is going to stay with you while I go check out the bathroom,” he continued. “Ok?”
“Ok,” she sobbed in response.
Stevenson proceeded up the stairs while Edmonds remained with Veronica. Minutes later, Stevenson returned from upstairs.
“What a crime,” he quipped with a smile.
“What do we have?” Edmonds inquired, curiosity evident in his voice.
“Oh, just the cleanest bathroom I’ve ever seen. Veronica, I’ve checked all the rooms upstairs, but there are no bodies. Are you sure you didn’t just have a nightmare?” Stevenson spoke as he neared the couch where she sat.
“Nightmare? No, they’re there! It was real!” she shouted, standing to her feet.
“Ok, I believe you. We’re going to get you to the hospital though to make sure you’re feeling all right,” he continued as the woman darted passed him and up the stairs. “Veronica!”
Veronica ran to the bathroom and found it empty. She stood there staring at the room in disturbed perplexity. Moments later the two officers were beside her.
“See… nothing here. Now, let’s go back downstairs,” Stevenson spoke as he took her by her shoulders and guided her back towards the bedroom door.
“But… they, they were there! Where… Wait… I know! I buried them!” she blurted suddenly.
“You buried them? And where did you bury them?” Stevenson questioned wearily.
“The, the basement! I buried them in the basement! I, I remember now…” she replied, her eyes glazed with exhaustion.
“You just killed them and you already buried them in the basement?” Edmonds commented dryly.
“Yes… no… I killed them… before…” she mumbled incoherently.
“Before? When before?” Stevenson asked as they headed towards the stairs.
“I, I… don’t remember… but, it was before…” she stuttered in confusion.
“Ok, we’ll have someone look into that,” Stevenson said as he looked at Edmonds with a worried expression.
“…The thumping, the thumping, the bump, bump, bumping… thumping at my bathroom door…” Veronica mumbled as she rocked back and forth in her small cell.
A face watched her through the small window to her room’s door. The man had been curious about the woman for months, but had never found anything out about her or even felt it was his place to ask. He was fairly new to the ‘psycho-ward’, as it was affectionately called, at Meadow Vale Mental Institute. However, since he was working with Melvin that night, he thought it was about time he did ask.
“So, what’s with the old lady in cell twelve?” he asked Melvin once he was in the watch room.
“Cell twelve? Oh, her? She’s a weird one. Had a nervous breakdown. She was screaming about having killed two people and the corpses were somehow rolling around on her bathroom floor. At least, that’s what she told the cops.”
“She killed two people? She looks so harmless,” he said as he took a seat.
“Heh, she claims she killed two people,” Melvin corrected.
“Claims? So, what, no one believes her?” he asked scrunching his face in disbelief.
“It’s not so much that as the lack of evidence. They brought her in here because they didn’t feel she could handle living on her own anymore. Besides, when the cops went to check out the bathroom she said the corpses were in, they found nothing. Then, when they informed her of that fact, she shifts her story and says she already buried them in her basement! However, the police didn’t think she killed anyone, that she was just having a panic attack.”
“Is she just nuts then?” he inquired to the new bit of information.
“I don’t know that that’s the case. There some occasional delusions, maybe a bit of schizophrenia, since I’ve caught her holding conversations with herself. Of course, she hasn’t been diagnosed with that. That’s not the weirdest thing about her case, though.”
“What’s the weirdest thing?” he leaned forward to listen intently to Melvin’s story.
“Well, you see, the police had to take her seriously about the bodies in the basement, so they sent a forensics team over to the old lady’s house and they dug up the basement. What they found astounded them, two decapitated bodies with no arms, just like she was screaming about!” Melvin gestured with his hands in front of him.
“So, she did kill those people,” he nodded knowingly.
“Hell no! Nobody believes there’s anyway she could’ve killed anyone.”
“But, the bodies…”
“That’s just the thing, those two they found, had been killed over a hundred and fifty years earlier!”
At that revelation, the man’s eyes went wide. Melvin nodded and smiled at him.
“What!? But, how’d she know about them!?”
“Well, they all thought at first maybe she discovered them by accident. However, the forensics evaluations determined that the graves hadn’t been disturbed since they’d been put there. So, there’s no way she could’ve known about them… unless someone told her. But, she thinks she killed them. Which is why she’s here. Poor old woman. I feel sorry for her.”
“Again, though, if they ruled out all the other options, how could she have possibly known about them?” the man asked, feeling the mystery of the woman growing deeper.
“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Here,” Melvin pulled out his wallet and tossed it at the man. “Go get us something to eat, I’m starving. And stop worrying about the nutcase down the hall. You’ll only find more questions than answers.”
“I guess. All right, I’ll be back,” he spoke and tried his best to forget about the old woman in cell twelve.
There you go! We’ve reached the end of another Story Time With Tim and I hope you enjoyed the tale! Why not like, subscribe, and return again soon for some more literary good stuff! Thanks for reading. I appreciate it more than you know.
~Timothy S Purvis
Since you’re here, why not check out my personal author’s page over at Amazon? Just click on my name and the link will take you there straight away: –> Timothy S Purvis
And check out the individual posting of In Memoriam Veronica Davis right here:
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