Author: Rhonnie Fordham
Saving The Best For Last
As Bridget stared down at the images and joyous smiles, intruding thoughts plagued her mind: What drove this man to kill his entire family? And why did it happen again over twenty years later?
Glancing over at Amanda, Bridget could tell she too was affected by the pictures. The sight of another tormented family seemed to elicit more feelings of sadness from Amanda.
“But wouldn’t that make it even more obvious, Ms. Kane,” Kevin stated. He motioned around the living room, continuing his never-ending pitch. “It’s the house. It’s not just coincidence that both these things happened.”
“Well, it’s quite more than that,” Linda responded. “All the families that moved in later reported having weird experiences themselves.”
“Basically Amityville 2.0,” the amused Bridget quipped.
“They’d hear voices, see apparitions,” Linda said. “They felt like they were always being watched.”
The words captivated Amanda as she watched Linda with intense interest.
“Some even believed that living here was draining them of their sanity,” Linda continued. “A psychosis was forming from living in this house.”
“It’s true!” Amanda stated with excitement. She leaned in toward Linda. “I know exactly what they mean! I felt the same ever since we stepped foot in this house!”
“Jesus…” Tony muttered.
With everyone intrigued by Amanda’s story, Bridget kept silent while she studied Amanda’s manic mannerisms and tics.
“I knew nothing about them,” Amanda said. “The Christys, the history, I swear we didn’t.”
Uneasy, Kevin sifted in his seat.
“What?” Linda asked incredulously.
Amanda glared at Kevin. “No one told us anything about it.”
All eyes turned to Kevin. He faced everyone, nervous to be put on the spot.
“Really, man?” Tony asked in disbelief.
“Company policy,” Kevin sputtered out.
“Company policy!” Tony scoffed.
Kevin looked around at all the disgruntled faces. Bridget in particular gave him a nasty sneer. “Look, I didn’t make the rules, alright,” Kevin said defensively. “The house had an emotional defect, but I don’t have to mention it unless someone asks me. Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“Just a fucking emotional defect?” the bemused Tony asked. “They’re people killing children and shit!”
“Hey, it’s the law!” Kevin replied.
Amanda’s harsh eyes stayed glued to this most sleazy realtor.
“And I ain’t even gotta worry about it now,” Kevin stated with forced nonchalance. “All of y’all know what’s up.” He pointed toward Linda and Tony. “Hell, it’s what brought y’all here in the first place!”
Linda placed a smooth hand on Kevin’s leg. That’s one way to get him to shut up. “Hey, take it easy,” Linda said. “We’re not arguing here, Kevin.” In a subtly flirtatious gesture, Linda ran her hand along his leg. “In fact, we’re still very much interested.”
Displeased, Bridget shook her head and turned away. Come on, Linda, Bridget thought.
Enjoying Linda saying his first name, Kevin leaned in closer toward her, channeling both his suave gigolo and charming realtor personalities. “So what do you say then,” he said. “One-hundred-and-fifty thousand’s quite the steal.”
Linda chuckled softly. “Let me sleep on it.”
Still frustrated, Amanda stood up and confronted Kevin. “You never told us about any of that!” she yelled. “None of these murders or hauntings and shit.”
Rattled, Kevin offered up a meek response. “You never asked.”
Amanda flung the article in his face.
Kevin shut his eyes as it pelted him across the face. Linda reached over and grabbed the paper.
“You’re just as responsible as anyone!” Amanda yelled at Kevin. “All just to get a fucking sell! You’re like any of the other assholes in this town, you never told us about anything!”
Scared of Amanda’s outburst, Kevin looked to Tony for support. “Can you do something?” he whispered.
“Naw, man, you’re on your own,” replied Tony.
All the bickering was starting to weigh Bridget down. So much for a casual investigation. These people are fucking crazier than me, she thought.
Trying to ease the tensions, Linda looked at Amanda. “Mrs. Baker, I know it’s-”
Amanda pointed at Linda. “No!” Amanda screamed. “You stay outta this!”
“But what about the deal?” Kevin pleaded.
Bridget stepped between them, intervening. “Look, let’s get back to the point, alright!” she said.
Amanda stopped and just glared at her.
“Sure,” Kevin began. “That’s all I’ve been saying this whole dang time.”
“Shut up!” Bridget commanded him. With the spotlight now on her, Bridget faced the others. “Now look, it’s gonna take more than some spooky videos and a little history to prove to me that this house is the real deal.”
“Aw, come on,” Kevin protested, drawing a glare from Bridget.
Linda looked toward Kevin. “Just let her finish.”
“I need a little more proof before we agree to this,” Bridget continued. “So far, I feel nothing and haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary other than a lameass real-estate agent constantly trying to sell us on it.”
To her surprise, Amanda wasn’t combative. Instead, Amanda displayed a confident smile. “Well, that’s why we’re here isn’t it,” Amanda said with a cool tone. She looked to Linda and asked, “Isn’t that right, Ms. Kane?”
“Well, yes,” Linda responded, caught off-guard by Amanda’s chill demeanor.
Such confidence caught Bridget off-guard as well. Combined with that hoodie, Amanda had the aura of a hipster Scarlett O’Hara.
Kevin clapped his hands together. “Okay, excellent!” he proclaimed. “I knew we could get on the same page at some point.”
Hearing Kevin shoot that shit, Tony could only shake his head in dismay.
“So tell me,” Amanda asked the intrigued Linda. “How has your ‘collecting’ gone so far?”
Linda hesitated. “Well, to be honest…” She looked to Bridget, unsure how to respond.
Bridget’s grimace suggested that Linda not reveal much. She thought this might’ve been Amanda trying to challenge them.
Amanda noticed their exchange, but didn’t say anything.
Linda faced Amanda. “Not too efficient, I’m afraid,” Linda admitted.
“Oh, is that so?” Amanda responded with a condescending smirk.
Swooping in to the rescue, Bridget took a step toward Amanda. “We’ve had lots of items.”
Amanda stared her up and down. The two were only inches away from each other.
Bridget turned her back to Amanda as she inspected the room. “But never a house,” she finished.
Bridget could feel Amanda’s intense eyes focus on her, watching her every move.
“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Kevin interjected. He stood up and locked eyes with everyone in the room. “So what do you say? A trial run this weekend?”
“That was the plan all along, wasn’t it,” Amanda said, her focus still on Bridget.
“Of course,” Linda replied.
An unenthused Tony glanced over toward the staircase. At the dark hallway upstairs. “Great…” he muttered.
Bridget faced Amanda. Both women resembled rival gunslingers engulfed in an epic staredown. Thick tension permeated solely between the two. This house wasn’t big enough for the two of them.
“Me and Bridget have found this to be the best method,” Linda announced to the others.
“Very true,” Bridget stated bluntly.
“I can understand,” Kevin responded as he held his hand out toward Linda.
Blushing, Linda grabbed it and let him help her off the couch. “I’ve got such a good feeling about this place,” she said.
Pretending to disregard the hostility with Amanda, Bridget walked toward Linda and Kevin.
Linda looked around the room, especially giving the mirror a through look. “This house just has too much… history to be a disappointment.”
“Now that’s the ‘spirit’, Ms. Kane” Kevin joked.
No one laughed as Amanda snatched the remote control off a shelf.
“No pun intended,” the chuckling Kevin joked. Still no one joined his laughter.
Sitting in a recliner, the bored Tony kept his eyes glued to his phone. The brainless app would provide solace from Kevin’s cheesiness at least.
Ignoring Kevin, Linda confided with Bridget. “What do you think,” she asked. “You think there’s something here?”
Bridget watched Amanda fast-forward through the flatscreen’s videos. “We’ll see,” Bridget said loudly enough to make sure Amanda could hear her skepticism.
“Shall we explore the rest of the house?” Kevin inquired.
An explosion of sound erupted from Tony’s phone. “Fuck!” Tony yelled aloud. Back to level one on his game.
Linda tugged on Kevin’s arm seductively. “Sure. Give us a tour.”
Partly teasing and part genuine revulsion, Bridget gave Linda a grossed-out look.
“Do you mind getting the bags, Tony?” Linda politely asked.
Eager to escape the house, Tony rose out of his seat. “No problem.”
“Hold on just a minute,” Amanda hollered, commanding everyone’s undivided attention.
She took a step back, revealing to them the flatscreen. A new video off a security camera was about to play. It was paused on a shot inside a bedroom.
A curious Bridget approached her. “What’s that?”
Tony stared at the screen in dread. The bedroom was already creeping him out. “Uh-oh,” he murmured.
Amanda confronted Bridget. “I wanted to save the best for last.”
Both Linda and Kevin looked toward the screen, simultaneously excited and uneasy.
Teasing Bridget, Amanda pointed the remote right toward her. “Just for the skeptics.”
Accepting the challenge, Bridget grinned. “Show me then.”
With wicked confidence, Amanda aimed the remote at the T.V. and mashed play.
The video started playing. The footage was from a security camera in Amanda’s bedroom. Like the rest of the house, the bedroom was barren and devoid of life. No picture frames or quirky decorations. It had no soul. No sign of life except for the sight of Amanda sleeping in bed.
The timer in the corner of the video revealed this was just after midnight. The room was silent save for the constant noise of the rotating fan resting on the nightstand. In the bed, Amanda kept tossing and turning, but nothing seemed too awry.
“It’s just you sleeping,” Bridget noted.
Tony looked up from his phone. Bridget’s comment gave him hope that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.
“You’ll see,” Amanda told Bridget.
“Of course, we will,” Bridget muttered.
“What was that?” Amanda asked.
Using the remote, Amanda pointed at the T.V. “I caught this the first night I installed the cameras,” she stated to everyone.
“And this was last week?” Linda asked as she took a step closer toward Amanda. Kevin trailed behind her like a lovesick lapdog.
“Uh-huh,” Amanda replied, her eyes glued to the screen in anticipation. She pointed the remote closer toward the screen. “Look right there!”
The video still looked mundane. Candid footage of a restless sleeper.
“I don’t see anything,” Linda commented.
“There!” Amanda pointed the remote at the open bedroom door.
A ghostly figure stood in the doorway. The boy couldn’t have been more than ten years old. He stood completely still, his gaunt face devoid of any discernible emotion.
His eyes looked on at the oblivious Amanda. His clothes old and ragged. He waited right in the doorway, as if he were waiting to be invited in.
“My God!” Linda exclaimed.
Kevin’s excited eyes stared at the boy. Dollar signs may as well had been in Kevin’s irises.
“He was just standing there,” Amanda commented.
In the video, the boy stood still as he just stared at Amanda. His haunting gaze never wavered. He never even blinked.
“Just looking at me,” the nervous Amanda continued.
Even Bridget was silent. The boy sure was creepy.
Amanda fast-forwarded through the footage. “He was like that all night,” she said. Her words couldn’t be truer. The time stamp changed, but the boy’s position never did. Neither did his focus. He was constantly just watching. His eerie expression frozen on his face.
“What do you think, Bridget?” Linda asked.
“Definitely weird,” Bridget responded.
Amanda fast-forward to another video. It showed the same bedroom. The same time: just after midnight. Amanda was sound asleep in her bed. But someone else was inside the bedroom: the boy. Amanda hadn’t invited him in, but that hadn’t stopped him from advancing closer in the room. Maybe a few feet away from the doorway.
He had the same exact facial expression, wore the same exact clothes. He was like an eerie statue someone had shifted elsewhere.
“It happened again,” Amanda told the others.
Kevin and Linda looked on at the boy, frightened.
“Only this time he was closer,” Amanda said.
Even though he was standing closer, the boy’s features still weren’t too distinguishable. The darkness shielded him. However, his gaze was still directed on his favorite target: Amanda.
“He kept watching me,” Amanda said.
“You never saw him there?” Bridget asked.
Feeling disrespected, Amanda gave her a disapproving look.
“I mean you never once woke up,” Bridget said, knowing she was likely to provoke Amanda into another hysterical reaction.
“What do you expect?” Kevin said as he came to Amanda’s aid.
Keeping her anger in check, Amanda didn’t respond right away.
“Just curious,” Bridget retorted. She looked right at Amanda. “I know that when I sense something, I react pretty fast.”
Ignoring Bridget, Amanda looked back at the T.V.
“Especially once I know a spirit was watching me the night before,” Bridget stated calmly.
“That’s enough!” Kevin barked.
Linda put a hand to Kevin’s chest, holding him back. “It’s okay,” she whispered to him.
Kevin glanced down at her hand before looking into her sultry eyes. He gave up on the fight for her.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Amanda told Bridget. She fast-forwarded through the clip. The boy just kept standing there in what felt like a replay of the other video… only this time, the boy was standing in her room. “Honestly, I was just scared.”
“Right,” Bridget quipped.
Angry, Amanda got ready to play the next video.
“That seems to be a reoccurring theme with you, Amanda,” Bridget teased.
Kevin kept his mouth shut for the amused Linda.
“What else could I have done?” Amanda pondered aloud. She raised her thumb over the play button. “I saw him every night.” She mashed play. “And it just kept getting worse.”
The latest video was the creepiest. It was still in Amanda’s bedroom, still a little after midnight. Amanda was asleep. And the boy was closer than ever. He stood right next to Amanda, his face hovering up over her. Maybe she was asleep, maybe she was pretending to sleep out of pure fear. Whatever the case, the boy didn’t pretend to care. Instead, he stared down upon her with glowering eyes. His clothes nor his facial features were easily seen, but pure evil could be seen in those eyes. That and the abundance of dark blood smeared over his young face. Even more blood was seen practically covering his entire body, drenching through his clothes.
“Oh my…” Linda muttered.
“I don’t know who he is,” Amanda said in a broken tone. Unsettled, she paused the video. “I just hope it’s not him.” She ran a nervous hand along her face. “I just hope it’s not Michael.”
Tony looked up from the app and saw the boy on screen. The boy’s cold eyes locked in on the sleeping Amanda. The frightening shot scared the shit out of Tony. “Great,” he said as he looked back at his app for an escape for his traumatized eyes.
“It could be anyone,” Bridget said.
The restless Amanda watched Bridget step toward her.
Bridget gazed around the living room. “With a house with this history, who knows what kind of spirits it attracts?” She glanced over at the security camera. Very convenient to install all these and instantly get such great footage, Bridget thought.
“You saw the video!” Amanda protested. “He looks just like Michael.”
Bridget confronted her. “If he’s real, that is.”
Keeping her emotions in check, Amanda glared at Bridget. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know exactly what it’s supposed to mean,” Bridget stated.
Kevin looked to Linda. Her knowing eyes kept him in place.
“The footage could easily be fake,” Bridget continued.
“That’s bullshit!” Amanda said.
“Well, it is frightening,” Linda intervened.
“That it is,” Bridget commented dryly, her harsh gaze still scolding Amanda.
Kevin stood up and confronted Bridget. “Look, leave her alone-”
Stopping him, Linda yanked him back on the couch. “Just let her talk.”
Amanda looked right at Bridget. Another staredown between the two tough women. “It’s not fake, I swear.”
Unfazed, Bridget just stared at her, taking note of Amanda’s emotional outpour. Amanda’s fear.
“He keeps getting closer,” Amanda said. “This is the closest he’s ever gotten.”
Like a skeptical private eye, Bridget nodded toward the paused video. “When was this taken?”
Amanda didn’t avoid eye contact on this one. “Last night,” she answered with confidence.