Slowly he made his way down the stairs, one step at a time. When he reached the last step he saw some shadows against the wall at the end of the stairs. He froze. At first the shadows seemed to be coming closer, but after a moment they stopped and moved away. The music was getting louder. Its enchanting beat was seductive. He was ready now: ready to look around the corner and see what all this was about. Without moving off the step, he edged his way closer to the end of the wall. Slowly he moved his head up to the edge. It was dark, and there were lights along the wall that resembled the kind of torches you would expect to see in a cave, but these were electric and gave off little light.
Phillip moved his head further around the wall, slowly, so his eyes could adjust to the darkness. People were standing in a group with their backs to him. The room looked like it was as big as both homes together. The ceiling, which was at least ten feet high, was painted dark like the night sky with little white stars in the shapes of various constellations. The stars had small lights in the center of them so they glowed in the darkness that surrounded them. The room was long too, as long as the house was deep. The walls were a dark shade of gray and torches hung from them every ten feet or so. The light reflected off the marble floor.
Speakers hanging from the ceiling in the corners of the room thatwere bellowing out very eerie music and background chanting. Philliplooked over the people as they stood with their backs to him. There mustbe sixty or more he thought. How could it be? He looked again. Yes sixtyor more, yet there had been only around twenty guests at dinner. He didn’tremember hearing the doorbell all evening, and that was the only way heknew to get in. So where had all of these people come from?
Phillip stepped off the last step onto the floor and stood still waiting to see if someone saw him. No one did. He started towards the crowd slowly. He couldn’t see any of their faces because they had their hoods pulled up over their heads. So they didn’t see him come up behind them either.
They were chanting along with the background music. Phillip moved in behind them, hung his head down, put his hands in his sleeves, and pretended to be chanting along with the music. A moment or two went by then the music became louder. The light at the end of the room became brighter. A small light in the center of the group came on.
The group moved in and started to close up. Phillip moved in with them. He could see something in the center of the group, but couldn’t make it out. The beat of the music picked up and the chanting became more intense. Phillip tried to position himself to see what was going on, but he didn’t want anyone to see him moving around for fear of drawing attention to himself.
He could see that someone was dancing but couldn’t quite make out who it was. He tried to focus in closer. It was Ellen. He remembered her. She had been sitting at the dinner table with one of the older guests, a man who looked like he could have been her father, a real old guy. Ellen was dancing to the music and almost running back and forth in the circle as she moved from one end to the other
Phillip looked at the people as they bobbed their heads up and down to the music and Ellen’s dancing. Then the chanting picked up as the people became more excited. Phillip looked out into the middle of the crowd. Ellen was throwing her clothes in the air as she danced. As the beat of the music became faster and faster, the crowd got more and more into the dancing. Then Ellen was dancing in the circle nude as the people in the crowd chanted louder and louder, faster and faster.
The music stopped and the chanting gradually slowed down. Phillip looked for Ellen but couldn’t see her. He looked through the crowd, slowly moving his head from side to side trying to find Ellen. Finally he saw her. She was lying on the floor in the center of a black circle with a large, white five-pointed star. Her legs and arms were spread out wide touching each point of the star with her head at the top. Her head was moving from side to side and she was saying something as she looked into the empty space in front of her. Phillip tried to listen to what she was saying but couldn’t quite make it out.
He listened harder, then, yes he could hear her, “My god, my master and my creator, I offer my soul to thee. I offer my mind to thee, and I offer my body for thy use. I am yours, my master. I offer my soul to thee, I offer my mind to thee, and I offer my body for thy use.”
Wide-eyed, Phillip watched and listened as she repeated the words over and over. “I offer my soul to thee, I offer my mind to thee, and I offer my body for thy use.” The chanting continued and Phillip could feel himself getting caught up in the excitement. Then the lights went very low and out of the darkness from the end of the room came a figure. It was tall and in the form of a man, and in the shadow of darkness you could see the suggestion of horns.
The figure moved into the light. As it came closer, Phillip could see that it was a man wearing a long black robe and what looked like a ram’s skull and skin that covered his head and the upper portion of his body. He walked slowly towards Ellen, who was still repeating herself over and over and rolling her head from side to side. He stopped and stood over her as the beat of the music and chanting pick up louder and louder. Then, as he held his arms out to the sides of his body, he held his robe open and the music slowed down to a quiet beat.
Two men appeared from behind the figure with long dark robes wrapped tight around them and hoods pulled over their heads so as not to expose their faces.
Out of the darkness they came up and held the devil figure’s robe as he opened it wide enough to expose himself. The music’s beat and chanting picked up again. Ellen stopped and opened her legs wider as she lay quietly. The devil figure kneeled down into Ellen’s legs as the two men took his robe and pulled it around over Ellen’s head, covering them both.
Slowly, the chanting picked up as the movement under the robeincreased. The movement became faster and the chanting became faster.On and on, faster and faster the waving motion from under the robecontinued as the chanting became more and more intense. Then the ram’shead burst up from under the robe and the man from within let out witha loud, long, deep yell that carried throughout the entire room and shookPhillip as he watched and listened.
The music stopped, then started up again but much softer. The chanting stopped and the crowd began humming a beating sound as the figure rose to his feet. He wrapped the robe around his body and stepped back.
The two men moved in front of him. Then one opened his robe and knelt down into Ellen’s legs and penetrated her as he held himself up over her with his hands. Phillip looked and could clearly see him, but did not recognize him. He had not seen this man before.
Ellen wrapped her legs around the man and helped pull him in, then pushed him out as he continued to push himself up and down like he was doing push-ups. Then he stopped and held himself up over her body as his head shook from side to side. He pulled from her and the other man moved over Ellen and dropped to his knees, continuing with the same intensity as the others. Phillip watched as the crowd moved forward then back with the movement of the two on the floor.
The tall figure with the ram’s head stood back in the shadows as Ellen and the man on top of her moved faster and faster until he too stopped, and he held himself over her as he shook his head back and forth. He rose up and stood over Ellen as he wrapped his robe around himself. Then he moved to Ellen’s side and bent over to pull her up. The other man came over to help him.
Phillip looked through the crowd at Ellen. Her eyes were closed and she was mumbling something incoherent as she was being picked up from the floor. They carried her past the tall figure and into the darkness. Phillip looked to see where they were going, but couldn’t see the end of the room.
While the men were carrying Ellen from the room, the crowd started to move and spread out across the room. As this was going on, Phillip could hear a sound from behind him, but he did not want to turn because he was afraid someone would notice him. The sound was familiar. He had heard it before but couldn’t remember where. He listened as the sound traveled around the room, from behind him, to his side, then in front of him. He wasn’t sure but he thought it sounded like, but no, it couldn’t be what he thought. It must be something else. He heard the sound again off in front of the crowd in the darkness, and he was sure it sounded like, like a baby.
But it couldn’t be. What would a baby be doing here?
Phillip tried to move into the crowd to see, but he didn’t want to get in too far because he was afraid someone might turn and notice him. He couldn’t see, as it was too dark. The music started to pick up again and the crowd followed with the chanting. The lights from the back of the room came up enough for him to see the tall figure standing in front of the crowd of people. The figure held his hands up high. Phillip could see past him. There was a smaller room at the end of the large room that had a long white marble table in it. And beyond it was a bookcase and off to the side of it, was a door of some kind that opened into the darkness.
Phillip had a hard time seeing through the crowd because they were all moving closer to the figure standing in front of them, trying to get a better view. The music slowed down almost to a soft still sound. The tall figure of a man stood before the crowd and held his hands out to the people. “Ooooh Astaroth . . . Oooh Asmodeus, Princes’ of love and lust, I invoke thee to accept graciously my sacrifice.” He turned and walked towards the table. “I offer to thee for things I ask of thee,” then he held his arms up high and he was holding a long silver dagger in his hands. “They are that the friendship and love of the king may be assured me, that I may be honored by the prince of the court, that the king may deny me nothing I ask, whether it be for my person, my relatives or for my household or friends.”
Phillip heard the sound again, he thought it was the sound of a baby but he wasn’t sure. It sounded like a muffled gurgling sound, but he wasn’t sure what it was. The music’s beat got faster and louder, the crowd started to chant with the beat.
“Oooh Astsroth . . . Ooh Asmodeus, I ask you to accept graciously my sacrifice.”
Then with a fast lunge he pulled the dagger down to the table in front of him and there was a thump, and a small, small what seemed like a small whimper. A whimper like you’d hear from a baby. Almost like a cry. Then nothing.
The crowd let out a loud, “Oohhh yes my master, yes my master,” over and over again. “Oohhh yes my master, yes my master.” Phillip’s eyes were wide open. What did he just witness? What did he just see?
The crowd continued, “Oohhh yes my master, yes my master.” Phillip’s body began to shake. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind. What did he just see? He wasn’t sure.
He pulled back then looked around to see if anybody was watching him. No, no one even noticed him. They were all involved in their chanting and in what just went on at the table. What was it? Phillip didn’t know. He tried to look through the crowd as he moved backwards. What did he just see? What was it? He didn’t know.
He was moving further away from the crowd, his whole body shaking.
Phillip backed into the wall and stopped, looked again to see if anyone was watching him. No, it was all right. He backed around the wall and onto the stairway, all the time watching to see if anyone saw him. His hands were shaking as he grabbed the railing. He turned and looked up the stairs. No one was there.
He ran quietly to the top of the stairs to the doorway and stopped. He looked back down to the bottom of the stairs. No one was there. He stuck his head out slowly into the hallway, checked back down to the bottom of the stairs again, and then stepped into the hallway. He looked over towards the kitchen, then up the hallway towards the front door. No one. He grabbed the banister and poked his head around it looking up to the top of the stairs. “It’s all clear.” He looked back down the hallway, and then ran up the stairs as fast as he could, all the while asking himself, “What did I just see? No, I didn’t see anything.” He said to himself, “I didn’t see anything; I don’t think I saw anything.”
He reached the top of the stairs. He slowly moved up the last few steps as he peaked down the hallway. It was clear.
He ran down to their room and grabbed the doorknob. He held his ear to the door. Nothing.
Phillip turned the knob slowly, and pushed the door open. He stuckhis head in and looked over towards the bed.
Elizabeth was sleeping.
Phillip stepped inside the room and closed the door as fast as he could move. He leaned against the door, his eyes open wide and his breathing fast.
Thoughts ran through his mind. “What just happened, what the fuck just happened?” he asked himself over and over. “I don’t know, I don’t know. What did I just see, or think I saw?”
He looked over at Elizabeth again. “Sound asleep, good.”
“I’ve got to think,” he thought to himself, “I’ve got to think.” He walked into the bathroom and threw some water on his face. Phillip looked up into the mirror at his eyes, then rubbed them and splashed his face again. He picked up a towel from the rack and walked back into the bedroom, where he wiped the water from his face and held the towel against his eyes.
“Oh god, I couldn’t have seen what I thought I saw, I couldn’t have.” Phillip walked over to the dresser and looked into the mirror. He noticed that he still had the robe on so he took it off, went over to the closet, and hung it up. He walked back into the bedroom thinking to himself, trying to make sense of what he just witnessed, or did he witness anything?
“Maybe I imagined it, maybe I thought I saw, saw them kill a baby. A child, a baby.”
Phillip walked over to the chair in front of the TV and sat down. He put his head down into his hands, he was sweating. He ran his fingers through his hair. “There’s something wrong here. There’s something terribly wrong here,” he thought.
His eyes opened and his head snapped up as he began to piece his memories together. “The child-the child was in the room across the hall. Yeah, across the hall was where I heard the noise.” He stood up. “Yeah. I heard the, the, the baby noise coming from the room across the hall.” Phillip walked over to the door and he looked at it. His eyes were open wide as he thought of what he was going to do. He put his hand on the knob, and then put his ear to the door. It was quiet.
“Everyone is still downstairs,” he thought. “I’ll go over to the roomand see if there’s a baby.”
He looked back to Elizabeth. She was still out like a light.
Phillip opened the door slowly, stuck his head out, and looked into the hallway. “All clear.” He eased himself out of the door and closed it behind him, very slowly and quietly. He looked down the hall, and then quickly dashed over to the door of the room where he thought he heard the baby noises. Phillip leaned into the door and put his ear on it. It was quiet, No sound. He reached down, put his hand on the knob, and slowly turned it. As the door opened he looked inside. It was dark, to dark for him to see anything. He slipped into the room and closed the door quickly. He fumbled along the wall until he found a light switch. He stood there for a second. Then with both hands he flicked the switch on. He looked at his hands; they were shaking. Then he looked at the wallpaper. Red velvet? His eyes were getting adjusted to the light as he looked down the wall to the end of the room. There were black curtains hanging from the ceiling.
Phillip turned and stared for a second, then walked over to them. Slowly, with both hands he opened the curtains. He stood back and looked. It was a baby’s bassinet, but there was no baby in it. The sheets were disarrayed. He spotted a baby’s bottle, but nothing else. Phillip looked around. There was a chair at the end of the bassinet and an empty coffee cup sitting on the floor.
He stood back and closed the curtains, then looked around the room.
It was just like Elizabeth’s and his room. There was a bathroom, a window that overlooked the back of the house, and a desk against the wall near the door.
He heard a noise. Someone was coming up the stairs.
Phillip hurried to the door and put his ear against it. He could hear people talking. It sounded like they were going up to the third floor.
Yes, that must be it. Elizabeth said something about them going to the third floor and partying until the early hours of the morning. He knew that he had to return to his room before someone walked in on him, or Marlie came looking for him.
He listened until he couldn’t hear anyone and he knew it was safe to cross the hall. It was quiet. He started to open the door, slowly. He looked over at the desk near the door. There was a book lying open on it. He’d seen that book before. He leaned over and looked at it. Yes, he remembered seeing it in Marlie’s room. He lifted the cover to open the book. There was a letter addressed to Jimmy Tower/ Shame’s Open Door. It was postmarked from Saigon in 1965, and was from a Sergeant Thomas Kirkland. Phillip picked it up and looked at it for a second then set it back in the book. Then he turned over the first page of the book to “The Diary of Catherine Rhodes, Year 1854, Twenty-Two Ten Saint Charles Street, Baltimore Maryland.”
Phillip riffled through the papers he found next to the book. He tried to make out the names. One was Samuel Cross, Snow Hill hand-written on the top of one of the sheets. Phillip looked back at the door, then over to the papers again. He read the words, “Delivery as promised, eight-day-old baby girl”
He heard someone laugh. Phillip quickly stood up to the door and looked out into the hallway. All clear. The noise came from downstairs. He wanted to look through the letter and book, but realized he had better get back to his room before someone saw him. He opened the door and dashed across the hallway and into his room, closing the door behind him just as someone came up the stairs.
Phillip looked at his hands. They were still shaking. What did that letter say? What was in that book?
He looked over at Elizabeth, still sleeping.
He was breathing fast and felt his heart pounding a hundred miles an hour. He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. He leaned against the back of the door and ran his hands across his face. “Shit, what’s this all about?”
He walked back and forth in the bathroom. “I’ve got to find out if that was a baby that I think I saw, heard or whatever downstairs. And I’ve got to find out if they were keeping it in that room.”
He looked in the mirror and splashed some water on his face. “Later, when everyone is asleep, that’s when I’ll do it,” he looked at his watch. It was 1:15. “Yeah around 3:00. That should be just about right. Then I’ll go across the hall and see if the baby is in the room.”
Phillip walked back out into the bedroom, sat down in front of the TV, and closed his eyes. Thoughts were running through his mind a hundred miles a minute.
Someone knocked, and then opened the door. Marlie stuck her headin. “Hi,” she said softly. “She’s still sleeping I see,” she said as she walked in the room and over to the end of the bed.
“Uh, huh, yeah, yeah she is. Uh, right, she is,” Phillip said. “She’s still sleeping.”
Marlie turned and looked at Phillip. “You know you don’t look too good yourself.” She walked over and stood in front of him. “Maybe all that food didn’t agree with you either,” she said.
Phillip thought for a second. Then he put his hand on his stomach. “Yeah, yeah I don’t think I feel too good either. I think I’ll lie down and take it easy. Try to get some sleep.”
“Okay,” Marlie said. “Just call downstairs if you need anything. There’s a phone next to the bed stand. That line’s to the kitchen, and they will bring up anything you need.”
She turned and walked towards the door. “Phillip,” she said as she turned back, “there’s going to be a lot of activity going on. People going up and down the stairs from the basement to the third floor.” She smiled, “This is a very special occasion for us tonight, so don’t let it disturb you.”
“Yeah, sure,” Phillip said. “Don’t worry. I—I’m going to go right to bed anyway, and try to get some sleep. I don’t feel too good.”
“Good,” Marlie said. “Then I’ll see you in the morning and we’ll all have breakfast together.” She reached for the door and stopped. She turned back and looked at Elizabeth, then at Phillip. She smiled and blew Phillip a kiss. “See you in the morning,” she said and walked out of the room.
Phillip leaned back in the chair, “Oh boy,” he thought.
He sat up and looked over at the door. “What was that?” He got up from the chair and quickly walked over to the door, and tried to turn the doorknob. He tried again. Nothing. It was locked. He turned and looked at Elizabeth, then back at the door. “What the hell is going on here?” he thought to himself. He tried the door again. Nothing.
“She locked me in. Shit, I guess she wants to make sure I stay in the room tonight. What am I going to do? I’ve got to get into that room and see if there’s a baby over there.”
Phillip started to pace back and forth from the bed to the window that overlooked the back of the house. He looked at Elizabeth sleeping like a rock in bed and wondered if she knew anything about what went on during these Halloween rituals, or if she was really as naive as she appeared. Maybe Marlie taking advantage of her like she was of him. What kind of advantage? He stared at Elizabeth as she lay sound asleep. He didn’t know; he just didn’t know. He turned, shaking his head as he scratched it, and looked at the window across from the bed. He stopped and thought for a second, then walked over to the window. He opened it and stuck his head out. No, no way to get out here. He looked out across the wall to the baby’s room. “So close yet so far away,” he thought.
He looked over to his bathroom window. “What’s that?” He went into the bathroom, opened the window, and stuck his head out. “A drain pipe.” Phillip looked down then followed it up the outside wall. It went from the first floor to the roof.
“Yeah,” he thought. “This is an old house and the plumbing is all on the outside wall, and it’s made of heavy cast iron pipe.” He reached out and pulled against it. It was fastened tight against the wall.
He looked down then back up again. Then he leaned over and looked up to the floor above him. He saw a window but it seemed to have the curtain pulled. He looked over to the baby’s room. “Yeah, she’s got the same set up we do. Everything’s the same in her room as in ours.” He stuck his head out further to see if the plumbing was the same. Yeah, the same thing.”
He followed the pipe up to the roof, and looked across the roof and down to his side. He could climb up the pipe to the roof and then go across the roof to the pipe on the other side, and down to the baby’s bathroom. He looked back over to the other side. Then he could get in through her bathroom window and see if she’s in there. Hell, no one would know, no one would see me.”
He followed the pipe up the wall, across the roof and down to his bathroom window again to assure himself that he could do it. He pulled himself from the window, closed it, and walked back into the bedroom. He looked at Elizabeth, and then laughed to himself. “She’s out cold. I’m sure she won’t even move until morning.”
He looked at his watch, 1:35. “Okay, I’ll do it around 3:00 or 3:15. Yeah, that should be just about right. By then the party would be over.” He looked at his watch again.
It was digital and had an alarm setting. So he set it to go off at 2:50.Phillip sat down in the chair in front of the TV to wait it out and rest abit.
When the alarm went off Phillip jumped up, his eyes opened wide. He looked down at his watch as it continued to buzz. He hit the button. “Okay already. Okay I’m up, I’m up,” he said to himself. He looked over at Elizabeth, then down to his watch, 2:51. “Oh okay, okay,” he thought. Then he looked back at Elizabeth. She was lying in another position, but still sleeping soundly. He looked back down at his watch, “Yeah, okay I’m up, I’m up.” He got up and walked over to the door and put his ear against it. Nothing, no sound at all. “Good,” he though. “Everyone must be asleep by now. Good.”
He walked quietly over to the dresser, got a sweater, then went over to the closet and grabbed his sneakers. He looked at Elizabeth one more time as he walked into the bathroom. “Christ, I hope she doesn’t wake up,” then he closed the door. He sat on the toilet and put on his sneakers, then his sweater. He looked into the mirror and threw some water on his face. As he stared into the mirror, he thought about what he was about to attempt. “This is all crazy,” he thought, shaking his head, “fuckin’ crazy. But I’ve got to know if that was a child I think I saw get sacrificed for the bullshit farce these people put on.”
He stared at himself for a long time then said, “Its time.” He turned the bathroom light out, then opened the window, and stuck his head out to listen if there was any sound coming from the third floor. “Nothing.” He looked up and down the back alley, “All clear.” He looked down. “All clear there, too.” Then he looked up to the roof.
He pulled himself out on the window ledge, reached over and grabbed the frame of the window, then pulled his legs out and sat on the windowsill looking out over the back. The pipe was only a few feet away. He would reach over and grab it,” he thought.
“Ooohhh,” Phillip almost yelled out. I thought it was closer than that.”
He steadied himself as he held on tight, then he pulled up to where he was standing on the windowsill. His back to the window, one hand on the window edge and the other on the pipe, he stopped for a second and stared straight out. Then he looked down. “What am I doing,” he thought. “I’m going to break my fuckin’ neck.”
He looked over to the pipe. If he brought his hand around fast, he could probably grab the pipe up there.”
He looked up. “Then I’ll swing my foot over to the hub on the pipe at the same time.” He looked down to where there was a piece of pipe going through the wall. “Yeah, then I’ll be holding on to the pipe.”
His eyes were wide open. “Yeah, right, then I’ll be holding onto the pipe. A lot of good that’s going to do me.”
He looked down again. “Well, I’ve got to know what happened tonight, I’ve got to know.”
Phillip looked back over to the pipe. “One, two, three.”
He let go of the window edge and threw his hand over to the pipe, swinging his foot around at the same time. He held on tight with both hands, knees pressed in tight, holding on, and his feet just caught the edge of the hub of the pipe. He pulled his body out a little and rocked back and forth to test the strength of the pipe. “It’ll do,” he thought.
He looked up. “Its old cast iron pipe and it’s installed in five foot sections with a hub at every section that I can grab on to pull up.” He reached up and grabbed the first section and shimmied up the pipe. Phillip repeated the same thing again and again until he was up even with the third floor window. The curtains were pulled, but they were split open enough for Phillip to see under the shade. He stretched over from the pipe, grabbed the windowsill, and pulled himself over to the window. His foot was shaking and it started to slip on the pipe hub. He steadied himself and eased his head over to the window. As he searched for movement his eyes gradually adjusted to the dark. Everyone appeared to be asleep, sprawled all over on the floor. He didn’t see anyone moving.
Phillip pulled himself back over to the pipe and held on for a second. He looked up and thought, “Only a few more feet.” He shimmied up to the last section of pipe just a foot or two from the rooftop. Phillip reached up and planted his hand firmly on the roof and began to pull himself up. As his eyes passed the last strap that held the pipe to the wall, he noticed that it was broken, and that the pipe was beginning to pull away from the wall as he climbed up. He pulled his body close to the wall searching for something to grab hold of. He grabbed handfuls of gravel until he was able to sink his fingernails into the tar that covers the roof.
It was cold out, about twenty-five or thirty degrees, but Phillip had sweat running down his forehead. Phillip pulled his other hand up to the roof and used all his strength to pull himself up. He rolled over on his back and looked up to the stars while he caught his breath. He blew hot air from his mouth and watched it change to mist as it left his lips and disappeared into the clear black sky. He looked over and noticed a skylight. He rolled over on his hands and knees. Crawling, he eased his way up to the edge of the skylight and looked down to the room below.
It was dark. He moved his head up further to see better. He saw people lying on the floor. All over the floor. No one had any clothes on. There were men on top of women, and women on top of men. Phillip’s eyes squinted as he looked closer. He recognized a football player guy he noticed at dinner lying with a man, the guy he was sitting next to at dinner. Phillip eyes widened as he looked around the room. He slid down the glass and sat on the roof, leaning against the edge of the skylight. “This is a strange crowd,” he thought. “What am I going to do if I find out that what I suspect is true?”
Phillip looked up at the clear sky and the stars. “First I’ve got to find out if it’s true.” He moved quietly away from the skylight to the other side of the roof where the pipe went down to the baby’s room. He looked down the pipe. He checked to see if it was fastened tight to the wall. “It’s okay,” he thought. “I’m ready.” He pulled himself around and over the edge of the roof as he held on to the pipe, and then climbed down to the second floor. He was okay. “This was easier than climbing up,” he thought to himself. “Now, I’ll just reach over and grab the window edge and pull myself over.”
He pulled over and looked at the window. “It’s closed.” He looked back at the pipe and firmed his grip on it, using his hand and both knees, as he leaned over and tried pushing the window open with his other hand. It wouldn’t move. He tried again. It still wouldn’t move. He pulled back over to the pipe. “Shit, all this way, and the damn window won’t open.” He tried again. This time he pushed it open from the middle. He made sure his feet were tight on the pipe and he had a firm grip. Then he leaned back over to the window and put his fingers under the center and gave it a firm shove. It wouldn’t budge. He tried again, but nothing gave. He gave it one more shove, and then another. Again shove. This time it opened about an inch.
Phillip put his hand under the window and pulled it up. He pulled and pushed against his feet as he pulled the window up. His sneakers were slipping on the hub of the pipe as he adjusted his weight from one foot to the other. One last pull and the window was up enough to get his arm under and push it up. He moved his head over to the window and opened the curtains enough to see inside. He couldn’t see anything.
He reached over and put the weight of his body on the windowsill. Then he pulled himself in through the window. After looking around the bathroom, he let his hands reach down to the floor to support his weight as he continued to listen and look. Then he let his feet fall to the floor. He was in. He crawled over to the door, which was open a few inches.
He peered through the opening, but could see nothing at first. When his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could see then room was empty. Empty, nothing. Then he pulled the door open more, stuck his head out and looked around. No one was here. He stood up and walked into the room. Slowly and quietly he moved, looking all around as he inched towards the bassinet. He reached over and pulled the curtains open and poked his head inside to look. He walked over to the bassinet to look inside. It was empty. The sheets, the bottle, everything—gone. Phillip looked under the bassinet, moving it to the side, searching to find some sign of the baby being there. Nothing, nothing at all!
He turned and walked out into the bedroom, looking all around as he walked. He looked back. The chair was gone, the coffee cup was gone. He looked around the room. The chair was against the wall. His head moved from side to side as his eyes searched the room for any evidence that the baby had been there. The desk, yeah the desk, the books and papers he had found. Phillip moved quickly over to the desk. Nothing. It had been cleared off. There was nothing there at all. He opened the drawers and looked in them. Nothing. He turned and walked into the center of the room, looking from side to side trying to find something.
“Hee, hee,” he heard someone in the hall’
“Hee, hee,” again. It was getting closer. He could hear someone talking. He ran into the bathroom and closed the door just as the bedroom door opened. Phillip stood behind the bathroom door with his ear against it. “Who is it?” he wondered. He recognized one of the voices. He cracked the door and peeked out. It was Magie, and she was with a man. Phillip looked to see if he could recognize him, but it was too dark. They came in, closed the door, and moved to the center of the room. As they came closer, Phillip could see that they had no clothes on. Now he could see the man. He didn’t recognize him and he didn’t remember seeing him at dinner or anytime before.
They lay on the floor and the man started to make love to Magie, but she rolled away from the man. “No, not in here,” she said.
The man laughed, “Why not.”
“Because we’re not supposed to be in here, that’s why. If Marlie catches us, all hell will break out.” Magie got up and reached down for the man’s hand. “Come on, we’ll go over to your room—and I might be able to spend the night, too.” She giggled again. “Come on,” she helped pull the man to his feet.
“You know I’m staying until Monday, don’t you?” said the man.
“Yeah,” Magie said as she put her arms around him. “Do you think that we’ll have time to go shopping before you leave?”
“Sure,” he said. “Anything for you, hah hah. That is, if you’re a good little girl.” Then they kissed.
“Come on; let’s get out of here,” Magie said as she pulled the man towards the door. She opened it, stuck her head out, and looked up and down the hallway. She pulled him out the door and they both disappeared.
Phillip closed the bathroom door and leaned against it. “Whew, that was close!”
He didn’t remember seeing the man at any time before, and what did Magie mean by “go over to your room”? He wasn’t staying here.
I’ve got to get back to our bedroom. He went over to the window and pulled himself out to the ledge, then over to the pipe. It was cold and his hands were shivering, yet he had sweat running from his brow. He shimmied up the pipe to the roof then moved quietly across to the other side and made his way down to his room. Once inside, he sat on the toilet to rest. Thoughts ran through his mind. “Did I see what I thought I saw tonight? Did I see a baby get sacrificed for those rich sons of bitches? Was that a baby in the room across the hall?” He buried his head in his hands and ran his fingers through his hair as he rocked back and forth. “Did I, did I, did I?” Then he stopped asking and started answering his own questions. “Yes, yes I did, am sure I saw a baby getting sacrificed tonight. And yes, I am sure that was a baby in the room across the hall. I’ve got to find a way to prove it.” He ran his fingers through his hair as he thought. “How, how will I do it?”
He got up and threw water on his face. It was dark but he could see his refection in the mirror. He stared. “How,” he wondered. He reached over, grabbed a towel from the rack, then sat back on the toilet and buried his face in the towel while he thought. “How . . . how?” Then, slowly, he pulled the towel away from his face as it came to him. His eyes opened as he raised his head up. “The diary; I’ve seen it in Marlie’s room. I’ve seen it in her room before.” He got up and paced the bathroom floor, “Yes, I’ve seen it in her room before. Yeah, when she got called downstairs for something. That’s right, that’s right, it was in her bookcase.”
He stopped and then turned and looked into the mirror. He stared at himself for a long time. Then he moved over and put his hands on the sink, leaning close to the mirror, and never taking his eyes off himself. “I’ve got to see the diary again. I’ve got to see it. And the only way to see it is to come back to the house and spend time with Marlie.”
He stared deep into the mirror and thought of Elizabeth. He loved her and knew what he was doing was wrong, but when he was with Marlie, he just seemed to lack any self-control. It was almost as if she had total control of him when they were together. But the only way to see the diary was to come back and spend time with Marlie. Come back and continue to let Marlie . . . let Marlie—what? His eyes were opened wide. He stared closer into the mirror. “Let Marlie make me make love to her!” He looked past the mirror into deepness. Thoughts of the past weeks and his visits tothe house filled his mind. “She has some sort of control over me. When we’re together, she has some kind of control over me. Why, why do I do it? Why do I continue to come back?”
He searched into his eyes. All the times he had spent at the house ran through his mind in a fraction of a second. He knew now. It finally came to him. He stood back and looked at himself, but now in a different way. He would come back to the house, and he would continue to play along with Marlie. But he would do it this time knowing what was going on. And he would look through the diary and get all the information he could about the baby. And the papers. He would find the papers and find out what was going on here.
He would out what was going on. Yeah, he would continue to come to the house, but now he knew. Now he knew.
Elizabeth lay in bed listening to the silence of the morning, but she could detect no sounds from the streets: no horns, traffic, or people. Neither could she hear any sounds from birds or airplanes flying overhead.
“It has to be early,” she thought. “I wonder if the sun is up yet.” I’ll open my eyes in a moment, just a few more minutes. I’m ready, I’ll do it now. “Just one more minute.” One eye cracked open then closed again. Open again, then the other. The room was dark. Her eyes searched for light. Over by the window. The curtains and shade were pulled, but a crack of light had found its way through. “It’s daylight. I wonder what time it is in the morning.” She looked over at Phillip, he lying next to her, asleep.
“I’ll get up now; it’s time to get up.” She rolled over and her hand searched the night table next to the bed for her watch. “There it is. Let me look and see what time it is.” She held the watch to her eyes as they attempted to adjust to the light in the room. “8:55. Oh, it’s time to get up, yeah.”
Elizabeth pulled her feet out from the covers onto the floor, and lifted her body up from the bed. “Shower, shower. I’ve got to take a shower.”
She got up from the bed and started to walk in the direction of the bathroom holding her hands up in front of her. “Shower, shower.”
Knock, knock. There was a soft knock at the door.
Elizabeth had just finished drying off. She put her robe on and walked to the door.
“Well, good morning, and how do you feel today?” said Marlie in soft voice.
“Oh fine,” Elizabeth said in a low voice.
She pointed to Phillip who was asleep. “He’s out like a light,” she said as she grabbed a towel off the chair. “Come on into the bathroom while I dry my hair.” They walked in and she closed the door.
“How’d it go last night?” asked Elizabeth.
Marlie sat on the edge of the tub and leaned against the wall. “Oh fine. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it.”Elizabeth b
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