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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 31 of 55

Chapter 23 (August Word Prompts: baseball, hammock, swimming, shade, away, lemonade, snake, fair, flip flops)


Oddly enough, when we got back to the other room it was almost the way it had been. Roger was still standing in the floor with both Greg and Matt sitting, trying to pretend they were elsewhere. Greg looked at the floor while Matt was looking away at something unseen by the rest of us. I don’t know where he had found it but now Roger was holding a baseball that he was tossing from one hand to the other. It was almost hypnotic watching him and listening to the sound that seemed to say flip-flop-slip-slap-plink-plunk as the leather hit the palm of his hand.


Theresa and Doris were over by the piano pretending to study the photographs on exhibit there. Officer Brooks was standing guard at the door leading to the rest of the house as though protecting the scene of the crime. I really wanted to head back to the shade of the willow tree. I had left my glass in the kitchen since there was no lemonade to offer the others, but was tempted to slip back into there and perhaps wander outside. I hate feeling the desire to be two places at once, a choice between drama and serenity seemed to be my choices here.


My decision was made for me when a loud sound caused all of us to jump in shock. Roger had thrown the ball onto the leather sofa, barely missing the boys, but we all reacted as though a snake had entered our midst, ranging from gasps to screams. It certainly got the attention of both boys.


“OK”, said Roger. “I want to know what has been going on here. I’m supposed to be the one responsible for keeping an eye on this place and I’ll have to answer to Evan and Alice when they find out about it, as they will. I would prefer I be able to give them a good explanation and hope they don’t press charges for trespass and anything else that might be appropriate.”


Greg finally found his voice. “Dad, be fair. We haven’t done any damage here, if anything Evan and Alice should be happy with the work we’ve done around here.”


Roger only had to look around to know that what his son said was true and he was finding it difficult to hold onto his anger now that his son had finally found his voice.


“Ok, I’ll have to admit that you seem to have taken care of the place, but don’t you know that breaking and entering is a crime?”


This time it was Matt who spoke up. “But we didn’t break in, we had a key.”


I almost laughed out loud when I saw how much Greg wished he could slam something in his friend’s mouth before he could say more, but it was already too late. Roger’s eyes were already resting on his son.


“Does this mean that you took my key and have been using it?”


“At first we just met outside. It was a nice place for us to go to get together with nobody around, but then the weather got cold and we had been looking through the doors and wondered what was inside. Some of the kids remembered their parents talking about the place and the swimming parties they used to come to here. We had been expecting to find a pool at first.”


Greg took a short time out. He probably needed to breathe. Roger just continued to glare at his son who was now staring at the floor once more.


In a voice, barely a whisper, he confessed. “I saw the key one day and I got a copy made. When we came inside and saw the painting we realized that was the pool the kids had heard about and we decided to find out why it was dry. We’ve been working on it for months. You can see the water lilies have bloomed again and we were even going to get a hammock so it would look just like in the painting.”


(to be continued)


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Respected Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 32 of 55

Thank you for a very entertaining afternoon, or part of the afternoon. I just read all 23 chapters and can barely wait for the rest. You are a very good writer.

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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 33 of 55

Chapter 22 (August Word Prompts: baseball, hammock, swimming, shade, away, lemonade, snake, fair, flip flops)


Everyone headed back to the main room. I followed after taking a good long look at the painting and noticed a few things that were different from the scene I’d left earlier. For one thing a hammock was featured by the pond and I didn’t remember seeing an area containing some lush hydrangea bushes. I knew I would have noticed those if they still existed, even though this was not the time they would be in blossom.


I looked around the room. Most people had found a place to sit. Roger was standing in the middle of the floor glaring at his son who looked extremely uncomfortable sitting on the sofa with his friend at his side. Matt seemed to have regained a bit of his composure, but then he wasn’t facing his father and the Roger wasn’t glaring at him. I could almost feel the flip-flopping of Greg’s emotions as he tried to decide how to respond to the yet unasked question.


I noticed Peter was missing from the group and felt this was not the time to leave him alone. The look on his face had made me think of the look on the face of a friend when she realized she had come very close to being bit by a snake. It was a mixture of shock and relief. Nobody seemed to notice me as I walked through the room into the kitchen where Peter was making a glass of something.


He held up the glass “Would you like some lemonade? I saw it when I checked the frig before. There’s not enough for everyone but there is enough for two.”


Without waiting for an answer he turned away and began to add ice cubes to a second glass. I had the feeling he was in need of some action. I couldn’t help but notice that his eyes didn’t entirely meet mine as he handed me the glass.


“That was your painting?”


He nodded his head in the affirmative but still avoided my eyes.


“It’s beautiful”, I said.


He murmured something that might have been “thanks”. I didn’t know what else to say so I turned to leave. I couldn’t help feeling that a shade existed between us and I was powerless to raise it.


“No, wait. I’m just so shocked to see the painting there. You see it’s the first painting I ever sold and I had no idea who bought it. I was in art school and desperate for money. Tuition was almost due and I would have to leave if something didn’t happen. A friend told me about a coffee house in town who let students hang their paintings on the wall for free and I took this one. I put a high price on it and didn’t really expect anything, but I was notified in just two days that it had sold and I was asked to bring something else. It was that sale that allowed me to finish school.”


“But you knew the people who lived here? Did you do the sculpture in the garden too? Somehow that looks like you.”


“I knew the son of the family who lived here, and his sister too. I didn’t do the sculpture, Evan did that. He was a genius when it came to clay. I don’t know if he ever had did anything else in bronze but that had been a gift for his father.”


“Someone mentioned that this place is held up in probate or something? It’s so beautiful I’m surprised there’s no one living here.”


“To be fair I would probably feel the same way as Evan and Alice, but you’re right. It’s a shame for this place to waste away like I heard was what was happening. I actually had a pleasant surprise to see what good shape it is in. It doesn’t look too different than it did in the days when we were kids and played baseball in the field and then cooled off with a swim in the pond.”


I knew there was more to the story, but when he headed back toward the others I knew that would have to wait for later.


(To be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 34 of 55

Chapter 21 (Word prompts: sound, face, scent, intricate, dream, search, fireworks)


It was the sound of Theresa’s calm voice of reason that put an end to the fireworks that Officer Brooks’ determination to make a complete and thorough search of the house had set off. I don’t know who was more upset, the boys or Roger, now that he had realized that his son was involved. From the look on his face his son would be wise to find another place to stay for the next few days. I felt sorry for the youngsters.


“Wait a minute”, Theresa spoke in a louder than normal voice, which was needed to be heard over the clamor of the others. Even Peter had joined in by this point, although it was unclear exactly which side he was on.


I tried to put my finger on why this whole setting made me feel like I was in the middle of a dream. Was it the pungent scent that was getting everyone excited or something else? Was it one of the dreams I’d had recently or one of an earlier time that was being triggered? I tend to take these things seriously since there have been times I’ve been forewarned of something from a message in a dream, but most of the time they are simply entertaining. I consider both to be important but sometimes it takes some rather intricate examination to know which is which.


“Let’s everybody go in the other room where we can sit and calm down”, said Theresa. At this point Peter was sounding in agreement and Officer Brooks was at least contemplating his cell phone instead of pushing the send button. I thought Matt might collapse. His body had been more than tense standing guard in the doorway and Greg had given up trying to melt into the shadows.


I turned around to retrace my steps, looking forward to the comfortable room smelling of lemon instead of this aroma that seemed to be stirring up such memories in me and such unrest in the others. And that’s when I saw the painting.


It was at the end of the hallway in a position that would be seen by anyone emerging from any of the rooms but invisible from the main room. At the moment the light was dull but the coloring was still dramatic and I could only imagine how it would glow if the light was flipped on. But the surprising thing was the subject matter. I couldn’t help but recognize the pond that we had found so restful just a short time earlier. I walked toward the wall as though drawn by an invisible cord and couldn’t help but notice the signature of the artist in the corner. There was a large “P” and I could discern the letter “t”. I couldn’t make out the last name but I suddenly knew who the artist was. I looked back at Peter, still standing near the doorway but now facing in this direction. One look at his face showed me I was not only right, but also that he was almost as surprised as I was at the discovery of the painting.


(To be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 35 of 55

Chapter 20 (Word prompts: sound, face, scent, intricate, dream, search, fireworks)


I followed the sound of the raised voices down a hallway and around the corner. I was surprised to see that this time it was not Peter’s fireworks, as I had expected, but Greg’s friend Matt who had been trying so successfully to hide in plain sight all along.


He was standing doing his best to block the way into a room at the end of the hallway. On his face was an expression that can only be described as terror. As I drew closer I fully expected to see a bloody corpse lying on the floor and did not understand the laughter on Peter’s face or the look of a deer caught in the headlights on Greg’s face. It all became clear when I reached the others and caught the scent of burned ropes that I had not smelled for many years, but it’s an aroma never forgotten and for me, associated with hip hugger bell bottoms, love beads, Beatles music, peace symbols and posters of intricate drawings in bright colors featuring lots of flowers.


I was rather enjoying the aroma and the memories it evoked. I might have even been getting a bit high, which would have been very pleasant had it not been for Officer Brooks. There was a moment of deja vu as I remembered the dreams of my youth in which I would be partaking of the illegal substance when there would be a knock at the door. I just wasn’t cut out to be a real hippy.


Only this wasn’t a dream. I was fully expecting Officer Brooks to call out the SWAT team to help with a complete search of the house. He seemed to think he had uncovered the den some sort of drug lord, whereas one look at the young men’s faces showed they had been using the house as a quiet place to smoke a bit and perhaps bring a date or two.


I looked over at Roger, who didn’t seem to notice that his own son was attempting to vanish in the shadows, and was over-reacting just about as much as the young officer. I suddenly felt very sorry for both young men.


(to be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 36 of 55

Chapter 19 (Word prompts: sound, face, scent, intricate, dream, search, fireworks)


I hadn’t noticed it when we entered the room before. Maybe it was because I was so interested in other things, but now the scent of lemon was unmistakable and I was reminded of Roger’s alert of intrusion. This must have been his warning. I could hear what sounded like Roger and Officer


Brooks in the other room, but I was interested in the main room.  For some reason the room felt familiar, although I knew I’d never been here until a few minutes ago. I wandered over to the piano and looked at the photographs displayed there. I saw the one that Peter had looked at before. Five smiling faces posed for the camera. The youngest boy had a strong resemblance to Peter. I looked around for him, but he seemed to have disappeared.


I continued to look around the room with the strange feeling that I knew this room. I thought of all the dreams I had on the nights after I first saw that light. Was that the reason for this déjà vu? I wandered over to the sofa and took a seat, having no desire to join in on the search of the rest of the house. I knew there was no big-foot and I also knew that the rest of the house was going to be just as neat and clean as what I had already seen. If there were to be clues to the identity of the visitors, it was not for me to discover. In fact, I had to admit I wasn’t even interested in their identity. It was this room that seemed to be calling to me just as that light had caught my eye on that first day.


I found myself studying the intricate design on the rug in front of the sofa. It seemed to symbolize the path that my life was taking as of late. I tried to follow the design to see if that gave me a clue as to where it was leading but it tended to twist back on itself and become absorbed in a larger shape, emerging as an entirely different shape and size.


Once again my meditation was interrupted by a kind of fireworks from the other room. This time it was not the sound of gunfire, but rather of a loud voice that sounded as though it might be Peter, although I had never heard him sound so emphatic as he yelled “Stop”. I couldn’t tell if it was a warning or a plea, but it was unmistakable in it’s force. This prompted the response from a lot of other voices that I couldn’t understand as they all spoke at the same time. I decided it was time for me to join the others if I was to know what was going on.


(To be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 37 of 55

Chapter 18 (Word prompts: sound, face, scent, intricate, dream, search, fireworks)


I tried to keep the smile off my face as I watched Officer Brooks cross the short distance from his car and where we were all standing. I wondered if he was rethinking the way he had ignored our previous interest in the place. He had almost reached us when I heard the sound of horse hooves and realized he had satisfied his thirst and was now curious as to other activities. I was no longer able to keep my emotions in check when the young officer became aware that he was being watched by something other than human. I had to wonder if horses shared the ability of canines to respond to the scent of fear. That was the only explanation I could think of for the fact that the gentle creature, who had been sipping from the pond just a few minutes before, was now attempting to **bleep** at the exposed neck of the young officer.


That was what began the fireworks, literally. Officer Brooks drew his weapon and began to point it in the direction of his attacker. Luckily he was either a very bad shot or intended it to be a warning shot, but all of a sudden he was being attacked by both Roger and his son, Greg. Both were yelling at him not to be a fool. I found myself actually feeling sorry for the young man, but not so sorry that I stopped laughing. For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking of Barney Fife in Mulberry and that made me laugh even more.


By this time I was the center of attention and of course I couldn’t explain the intricate path my mind was taking that would explain my hysterical outburst. I started to wander back down to the pond, hoping I’d be able to collect myself quickly. I really did want to hear the explanation that was going to be given. I had to admit that I was more than a little curious about the whole thing.


I hadn’t noticed that Doris had not joined us but was still under the tree where I had left her.


“I’m sorry”, I said. “Did you have a bad dream or something? You were screaming just before we went back to the house.”


“No, I don’t think so. I thought I saw something on the other side of the pond. I’ve been sitting here thinking it might reappear and I could get a better look at it.”


“What did it look like?”


She looked embarrassed and I didn’t think she was going to answer. “I know this sounds crazy but the thing that came to mind when I saw the eyes and shaggy head was big-foot.”


That almost started my laughter again, but she looked so serious and I knew she would be hurt by that reaction from me, so I just led her back toward the rest of the group. When we got there they were just getting ready to search the house. I noticed that Officer Brooks had his hand firmly on his gun, even though he had placed it back in the holster. I almost began to chuckle again at the thought of running into big-foot, but managed to control myself as Doris and I followed behind the others.


(to be continued)



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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 38 of 55

Chapter 17 (Word prompts: sound, face, scent, intricate, dream, search, fireworks)


Doris appeared in deep meditation, or perhaps she had drifted off to sleep. Her face was more relaxed than I had ever seen it, although I had known her for a very short period of time. I decided to have a little meditation of my own and closed my eyes to concentrate on the sound of the pond and the scent of water plants mingled with the aroma of horse.


In my mind I painted an intricate tapestry of the tangle of willow branches that I noticed as I leaned my head back. Perhaps I was actually dreaming as I applied layers of thin paint in varied hues of blue, green and purple with spots of yellow shining through. I was pleased with the results as I continued to apply one thin layer over another, slowly building up a myriad of color.



Suddenly I was shocked out of my slumber by an explosion of noise. I searched my mind to discover the source of what made me think of fireworks. Peter was still beside the pool and appeared to be as confused as I was. I found that a part of the disturbance was Doris, who was screaming in my ear. She seemed to be pointing at something I couldn’t see and didn’t take time to investigate because of the other disturbance that was going on near the house. Peter and I both began to run in that direction and I tried to prepare myself for what might lie ahead.


What had seemed an explosion appeared to be two young men on motorcycles. One of them was in a shouting match with Roger. The other seemed very uncomfortable and was trying to be invisible, which was difficult since he was over 6 feet tall and must have weighed well over 200-lbs. Both of the young men appeared to be about sixteen years old, but then I’ve noticed that I’m a very bad judge of age. I immediately thought of that circle I had seen in the grass and thought this was not the first time that motorcycles had toured this yard.



As I got closer I could see that Theresa was trying to calm her friend down. I didn’t understand why he was so upset until I realized the one receiving the wrath was actually Roger’s son, who was supposed to be elsewhere. The boy was trying to defend himself, with little success. The scene was interrupted by the car I had most recently seen outside the dining hall. I was not surprised to see the same young man, who had seemed so uninterested an hour before, climb out of the car.



(to be continued)

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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 39 of 55

Chapter 16 (June word prompts: wonder, lily, gossamer, eyes, empathy, lazy, sunny, beings, regret, leprechaun)


But it was Peter who seemed the most shocked by Roger’s question. I couldn’t help but think he was having some sort of fit as he fumbled for words to come out of his mouth. I regretted the fact that he kept making me think of beings less flattering and somewhat humorous. The longer I was around him, the more I liked him and I could tell he was having a difficult time reconciling so many memories. It was just unfortunate that those green pants brought to mind so many images from my own imagination. My eyes shifted over to that leprechaun statue and couldn’t deny the resemblance, no matter how I tried.


Roger seemed just as confused as the rest of us as he looked at Peter. “Surely, you remember that the old pond dried up years ago.”


Peter’s expression changed from confusion to one that seemed intense grief. I could only wonder at the thoughts this news had triggered. I had never seen a man whose face showed such transparent emotion and could not help feeling empathy with him. I had the strong urge to put my arms around him for comfort, but was interrupted by Doris.


“What are you people talking about? Of course there’s a pond.” With that she shook her head and headed toward the willow tree.


I had forgotten about the sound of the horse’s hooves that I had heard before and was shocked at the large animal who was waiting for us at water’s edge. I’m not familiar with horses but I had to laugh at the look we were being given, as though we were the intruders.


Other than that, it seemed just as lazy as it had been before, an entirely different world from the sunny patio on the other side of the tree. Peter’s exclamation was the closest thing to pure joy I had ever heard. I thought he was going to jump into the water and splash around the white water lilies that seemed to sparkle in the spots of sunlight that filtered through the trees and vines that surrounded the area. Instead he just plopped down on the edge, admiring what he thought had been lost.


Doris and I took our previous places on the bench and tried to regain the serenity we had felt here before. The horse was now accustomed to us and he went back to taking a sip from the pond, ignoring the family of dragonflies who were investigating this new disturbance. They decided it was not worth further investigation and I watched as their gossamer wings fluttered in the shade out of sight. I found I was understanding Peter’s joy at finding this treasure had not really been lost. That would have been a tragedy.


Theresa was still under the tree with Roger, who seemed to be unable to believe his eyes. Most of the conversation was too low to be heard after the initial exclamation of surprise. I wondered if he and Theresa were waiting for the sheriff or if they just wanted to talk in private. I was aware that they were well acquainted with each other, but Theresa was not familiar with the property where we were now enjoying. I was even more intrigued than I had been when I first spotted it from above. It seemed remarkable that it had only been a week. I thought about joining Peter beside the water, but somehow he seemed to be needing some privacy. I had already interrupted him once when I saw him on the trail and I hesitated to do it again. I would have plenty of time to talk with him before the workshop was over.


(To be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 40 of 55

Chapter 15 (June word prompts: wonder, lily, gossamer, eyes, empathy, lazy, sunny, beings, regret, leprechaun)


Doris and I stayed at the pond while Theresa got up to meet our visitor. We could hear voices, but was in no hurry to tear ourselves away. I was mesmerized by a dragonfly who was hovering above the pond, dipping down occasionally disturbing the gossamer film and causing a rainbow of color as the light hit it. The whole scene was perfect for a lazy afternoon.


A strange voice that I supposed was the neighbor called out, “Peter, where did you come from?”

I had to admit that made me wonder too. I knew he had stayed behind when the rest of us had come to the pond, but I assumed he was still in the garden with the leprechaun. He had seemed particularly interested in the day lilies and had been plucking off some dead blossoms.


Then I heard Theresa’s voice calling us to meet her friend. I regretted I had not brought my sun glasses as I stepped out of the shade of the willow and onto the sunny patio. The glare was only intensified as reflected from the aviator’s glasses that covered the eyes of the man I assumed was the neighbor. It made me wonder if this was the source of the flashing light I had noticed on that first day.


Theresa made the necessary introductions and we headed toward the French doors. I couldn’t help noticing the way the sun reflected off the glass panes in the doors as they changed positions. It appeared there was no end to the number of things that I might have seen. However, I had seen nothing that would not have required another human being to be present to either wear the sunglasses of to open the door.


I noticed that Peter was still hanging back as we all entered the house. I thought he must have had as many memories of the inside of the house as he’d had of the patio. Although I hadn’t known the people who had lived here, I felt some empathy with him as I stepped into the gloomy room. It was as though someone had just stepped out and would return at any time. If there was anything missing, I couldn’t tell, but I noticed Roger and Peter both wandering around the room. They both seemed to be examining the furnishings although I imagined for different reasons.


Peter picked up a family photograph that had been sitting on the baby grand piano. I really wanted to go over myself and examine it. I felt I was invading someone’s personal space and I wanted to know the people who had lived here and left such a comfortable place to apparently be tied up in some sort of estate battle.


I was about to make my way in the direction of the piano when Roger said in a loud voice. “Has anyone touched anything? Some one has been here and I’m calling the sheriff.”


Peter was still holding the picture frame and held it up for Roger to see. Roger laughed. “Anyone other than Peter? Why don’t we go outside where we won’t be tempted.”


“I didn’t see anything disturbed,” said Theresa as she took another look around. “Why do you think someone’s been here?”


“Well, for one thing, someone oiled the door. The last time I was here it had been so long since it was opened that it was almost rusted shut. I got it open but there was a very loud squeal. I remember thinking it would be as good as a burglar alarm. Today it opened very easily and quietly. Also dust was a foot think, especially on the piano. It really showed up on the black surface. I didn’t examine it carefully today, but it was certainly a lot cleaner than before.”


“I didn’t see any dust on the photograph when I picked it up”, said Peter.


"Perhaps they are getting ready to put the house on the market and got someone in to clean the place”, said Theresa.


“That’s possible, but I would think they would let everyone around here know about it. That would just be good business to pass the word around.”


“Well, why don’t we go back to the pond where it’s cool and wait there?”


I didn’t understand the expression on Roger’s face until he uttered, “What pool?”


(To be continued)


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