Author: Rhonnie Fordham
Regardless of the Christy house’s ominous reputation, the house itself was a huge and lovely residence full of many bedrooms. So many rooms that Amanda thankfully didn’t have to force an unlucky visitor to stay in Amy or Michael’s old bedrooms.
Linda stayed in a small guest room upstairs. There wasn’t much furniture as it had likely been unused over the past few decades. But it was quite cozy regardless. Cozy and lifeless. A staple of the Christy home.
Like a house servant, Kevin helped Linda unpack inside. Not an easy task considering the overflow of suitcases and bags she brought. Her luggage practically swallowed the room.
Straining, Kevin struggled to place a crammed carry-on onto the bed. He gave up and threw it on the mattress. The bag hit the bed hard like a bag of rocks, nearly taking down the entire bed with it.
Meanwhile, Linda did the “easy” part. She hung her clothes in the closet, populating the once-barren space with a colorful array of outfits.
“You sure you don’t mind?” Linda asked, too preoccupied to even face Kevin.
Sweating, Kevin breathed heavy as he opened the carry-on. “No, I’m fine,” he responded in between breaths. He stopped and took off his suit jacket. He had a tight shirt on underneath, definitely to show off those guns.
“Well, I do appreciate it,” Linda said. She turned and stole an admiring glance at Kevin placing his jacket on a small counter. He stayed in shape. Nice muscles and ass.
Oblivious of Linda’s ogling, Kevin looked back through her carry-on. “No, it’s no problem,” he said. He pushed aside several bottles of wine. A few heavy books too. Linda was quite eclectic. Kevin couldn’t help but notice that every book discussed her two favorite topics: true crime or the paranormal.
Linda hung her last shirt on a hanger. The closet was now nearly full. Linda stared at all the clothes, always proud of her quirky style.
Kevin picked up and inspected a Creepy Georgia book. True Hauntings Are On Our Mind was the book’s subtitle. “No problem at all,” Kevin commented as he placed the book on the bed. “My customers always come first.”
Smirking, Linda faced him. “Oh, stop it!” she said like a flirty teenager.
“I’m always pleasing my customers, Ms. Kane,” Kevin said as he got toward the end of the bag. “Especially in the bedroom,” he muttered to himself.
Linda stepped up behind him. “You’re too kind,” she said sarcastically. Her infatuated eyes ran up and down Kevin’s toned body. He had no idea she was behind him, checking him out with overzealous glee. “Far too kind, Mr. Riley…”
“Please,” Kevin began. “Call me Kevin.” Scouring the bag, Kevin spotted a strange item wrapped in newspaper, buried in the very back of the carry-on.
“Okay, Kevin.” Linda watched him reach in and start to undo the newspaper. A large silver figurine lurked inside. The silver had rusted with age. The figure’s twisted arms and legs made it resemble a contorted human.
“Whoa!” the fascinated Kevin exclaimed. He picked it up for closer examination.
Linda leaned in closer toward Kevin’s ear. “You can call me Linda,” she said softly.
Startled, Kevin whirled around to face the smiling Linda. “Oh, hey.” With salesman instinct, he put on a beaming smile. “Ms. Kane, I mean Linda,” he instantly corrected himself. “I didn’t see you there.”
Linda played off the awkward encounter, toying with Kevin even further. “It’s okay.” She motioned toward the figurine he still held in his hand. “We got that in New Orleans,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Interesting,” Kevin responded. He stared at the figure intently. It seemed to have an otherworldly grip on him, some kind of pull. Like he was holding an ancient relic in his bare hands. He couldn’t let go even if he wanted to.
“Yeah,” said Linda as she rubbed her hand along the rugged figurine. Almost like she too was compelled by its simple yet uncanny design.
Forcing himself to take his eyes off the object, Kevin faced Linda. “I’m guessing this is one of those ‘collectibles’ y’all were talking about?”
“Oh yes,” Linda replied. She lowered her hand and looked right at Kevin, her eyes drawing him in more than the figurine. “This is supposed to guard the owner from all evil spirits, bad fortune. That sort of thing.”
“Aw, I see.” Kevin looked back at the figurine. Somehow its metal arms and legs seemed even longer. It felt bigger. Heavier.
“Yep, Bridget even gave me the okay on it,” Linda said with a smile. “So you know it’s legit.” She looked closer at the figurine, inspecting it like the proud owner she was. “God knows, she calls out enough of them. It’s practically a miracle when we strike gold.”
“Better safe than sorry,” Kevin noted.
“Exactly.” Concentrating, Linda wiped a small stain off the figurine. Not that it mattered much amongst all the rust. However, Linda was quite protective over her collectibles. “I guess he’s worked out pretty well so far.”
Kevin gave her a baffled look. “What do you mean?” He pointed at the figure. “This?”
Linda flashed him a grin. “Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?” she said, not missing a beat.
“No doubt.” Kevin ran his hand down the figurine, but seemed uncomfortable doing so. Like either he was scared to break it or somehow felt he was tarnishing the figure’s odd power with his mortal touch. “How old is it anyway?”
“Almost a hundred years from what I understand.”
Linda held her hand out toward Kevin, wanting to hold the figure herself. “Let me see it.”
Reluctant, he relinquished the it to her. Nonetheless, he relished his final touches.
“Yeah, I was told a bluesman made it during the height of the Axeman hysteria,” Linda said.
Kevin stared down at his fingertips, hoping the mystique of the figurine was somehow glued to his flesh. “Axeman?”
“Yes, it was a serial killer in New Orleans around 1920 or so.” She lifted the figurine and stared right into it. “The police never caught him or her.”
“Oh really?” Kevin asked.
“Yeah. They even sent newspapers letters and all that jazz. They were very violent and taunting. They even said that on a certain night when they were supposed to strike again, they’d spare anyone who played jazz music as loud as possible. Boy, they say New Orleans was never as loud as it was that night. The whole city must’ve been one big night club. Then again, it always is I guess.” On the silver figurine, Linda’s enthralled reflection looked right back at her. “Anyway, the fellow who made this and his family survived the attacks. And ever since then, his family’s cherished it. They believed it was the reason why they weren’t killed, that it protected them.”
An intrigued Kevin watched her run a gentle hand along the figurine’s arm.
“They say all the evil of that era, all of that hysteria,” Linda continued.. “It still lives in our little friend here.” She looked on at what could only be described as the figurine’s face. Its face about as warped as the rest of it. “That its power’s so strong that it wards off all the other bad souls.” Linda’s voice retained the creepy intensity of a storyteller around a campfire. “It protects its owners at all costs.”
An eerie silence settled in the bedroom. Both Kevin and Linda stared on at the figurine, neither one of them saying a word. The figure was at the center of their full and undivided attention.
Linda rubbed the object fondly. Breaking the quiet tension, she smiled at Kevin. “I guess it’s kinda like having the biggest bully on your side.”
“I can see that.”
With the slow reluctance of a kid being forced to put down the hottest toy at the department store, Linda began to lower the figurine. Her expression and movement like a kid forced to put down that hot new toy in the department store. “It feels a little stronger than usual,” she said, trying to pass off the line as a joke.
“What happened to the last owner?” Kevin asked out of curiosity.
Still clinging to the mysterious item, Linda looked right at him.
“I mean the people you bought it from,” Kevin said. “What happened to them?”
“He was desperate for the money, I’m afraid,” Linda responded. Compelled, she looked back at the figurine, her gaze held by it. “He practically gave it away.”
“It definitely wasn’t enough. Not after what happened to him.”
“Oh…” Kevin looked at the figure. Rather than allured, he’d become more intimidated by it. He cracked a nervous smile. “But nothing too bad happened, right?” he asked, some hope in his voice.
“A couple of gangsters decapitated him the very next day,” Linda responded, her eyes still glued to the figure rather than on Kevin.
Queasy, Kevin went white as a sheet. Too horrified to even speak.
Linda looked at him. “I read it in the newspaper,” she said dryly.
“Right,” Kevin responded, still plagued by unease.
Linda held up the figurine as she walked toward the side of the bed. “Like I said about the man we bought it from,” she began. With a careful touch, she placed the figure on her nightstand. It stood there all alone like a victorious God. “We didn’t pay him enough.”