...a fun spin-off from the classic "A Christmas Carol"- (“A Hallowed Tale”)
...sweetly done, with just a lovely bit of the whole sexy library fetish. – ("Love in The Library")
...poetically rendered – ("Harvest Moon")
From “The Red Velvet Suite” by Molly Wens
“It’s the Lovejoy Mansion,” Ted said with a wink. “Drive around back. That’s where Kyle should be waiting.”
“And just what the hell is the significance of ‘The Lovejoy Mansion’?” I demanded as the car rolled forward. I had never heard the name, much less the fact that the mansion stood less than two hours outside town.
“You’ll see,” he returned cryptically.
The cracked and decayed driveway curved upward along a gradual slope to disappear behind the east end of the depressed building. I was becoming increasingly agitated as we followed it. I knew it to be my imagination, but I could have sworn that the overgrowth of trees and brush that lined the drive was lunging out, like ominous grasping arms, to snare us. As we neared the end of the drive I asked myself why I didn’t turn tail and run-I had no answer.
We pulled to a stop under a sprawling oak. The tree looked to be older than Methuselah, with gnarled branches that seemed to reach out for us. “There’s no one here,” I stated, pointing out the obvious.
“That damned Grable, he’s probably lost again. He’ll be here. Let’s unload.”
So we unloaded the car. As the autumn breezes stirred, the branches overhead made a groaning sound that left my hair on end. I didn’t like the place. It seemed to me that even the sun shone a little less brightly there. I felt a prickly sensation at the back of my neck, like you get when you feel someone watching you. I turned more than once to look at the house with its dingy red brick and broken shutters. It was very unsettling. I was reminded of Arthur Hunnicutt as Bull Harris in that old John Wayne movie, “El Dorado.” That character had put it succinctly when he had said, “I got a itch on the back of my neck like there’s a injun around and I cain’t see ‘im.”
Ted carried his bags straight up to the back door. He set his stuff down to push aside the over-grown ivy that clung abhorrently to the structure. As he grabbed the doorknob he discovered the door was stuck.
“What are you doing?” I demanded.
“I’m going in.” Ted grinned that clownish grin of his and I wanted to slap him.
“Shouldn’t we wait for the others?”
“What the hell for? We get first dibs on the rooms. Come on.” He motioned to me like we were going to a holiday picnic.
He struggled and pushed his bony frame against the old wooden door. It finally gave way under his assault until he released it. The door kept moving, opening slowly, creaking and groaning harshly.
A shiver ran down my spine. Every one of my good senses was telling me to get back in that classic candy-apple red 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback and get my ass out of there. “I don’t feel good about this,” I muttered as I wrapped my arms around myself. “Something’s wrong here.”
Ted laughed. “Cool. You’re having a reaction already. Wait till Kyle sees you. He’s gonna freak.” He walked into the dark interior and disappeared from my sight.
I decided to wait outside. The uneasiness in me was increasing by the minute and I just wanted to get the hell out of there. Then there was a blood-curdling scream inside. I raced up the steps, banging my shin and nearly crashing my face on a stone column. I limped to the doorway and grabbed hold of the frame. Peering inside, I couldn’t see anything.
“Ted?” I called out. There was no answer. “Ted, where are you?”
I didn’t know what to do. The interior felt as cold as a walk-in cooler. There was a mood to the place that made me want to turn and run. Sticking my head in again, I felt as if something was trying to push me back out. There still was no answer from Ted. What could have happened to him? So I took my first step into the interior of the house. My legs felt wobbly, as if I were standing on a suspension bridge. I felt as if I couldn’t hold my balance. The second step was a little steadier and the third put me back on solid ground.
“Ted?” I whispered this time for some unknown reason. Something grabbed me from behind and the door slammed shut. I screamed and whirled around.