Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Fixer-Upper

'To fix something, you first must break it'... this is the theme of this week's Flash Fiction. But there's more to it - you have to show there's a hidden message behind your story. I love this kinda thing.


It was love at first sight.


As soon as the hammer went down and we signed the papers, we thought we had a right bargain!

I’d been in the renovation business for a long time – over a decade – and old houses have stories. Sometimes I’ve pulled down walls and found all kinds of weird things inside them – from extra rooms to extra bodies. But for my regular builder to be so scared of this place was something new.

I slotted the key in the door.

Turned it and opened the large, heavy door to the foyer.

As it was before, there was plenty of light, some cobwebs in the corners and a lovely light hanging there from the last owners.

Yep, I was going to enjoy taking this gorgeous house back to its former glory.

Weeks past and I was working on this place almost on my own. My partner worked here on her days off and weekends; and we sometimes worked here into the evenings and crashed in the Kombi out the front – simply because we were too stuffed to drive anywhere.

But after six months, thousands of dollars and back-breaking work, we finally had the house just as we liked it – back to almost original condition; but with all the mod-cons.
Yes, it had the charm of the old-world style, and yet the modern feel of what we were used to in our up-to-date, internet-based world.
The place we had seen in our mind’s eye had become a lovely reality; and we could now live in it instead of the Kombi; and take our gear out of storage and move in for real.

And it was time for the house-warming party as well.

We set up the party out the back in the large garden where everyone could be comfortable. But our family and friends wanted to see the house’s interior first.

This is where things started to go wrong – really wrong.
My folks arrived first and I took their jackets, opened the hall closet and Mum stopped me, “Wait! Not on them!”
I turned from the hooks, “They’re new hooks, of course on them.”
She blinked, cringing, “Well, we’ll be out the back, I think it’s best if we keep our jackets with us.”
“Okay.” I handed their jackets back to them and my parents moved quickly down the hall towards the back door.
I stepped back and looked into the hall closet, wondering what the hell my folks were looking at, when my partner joined me, “What are you looking at?”
“My folks got totally wigged about hooks inside the hall closet... but there’s none.”
She frowned, “She must be seeing things. Come on, party’s beginning.”

As time went on, we had different reactions from friends about our place. Some of them loved it, while others ran from the place. But then, the neighbours told us that while we were at work, they’d hear 1920’s music coming from there from the time we left until about half an hour before we came home.
It was as though the other life the house had was existing right alongside our life.

Then, one night, I woke in the middle of the night to go to the toilet when I heard music playing downstairs. I headed off to take care of my business first and then headed downstairs in my dressing gown to find the place was filled with people.
But they weren’t just ordinary people – they were the party people who were here when we went to work. I walked to the stereo system, only to find it wasn’t switched on, so turned in search of where the music was coming from and found an old-style gramophone sitting on a large stand in the corner with a crank in the side. A pile of 78’s were slotting in underneath in their paper sleeves.
“Excuse me, sir, are you ready for your martini?” a voice asked by my side.
I turned to be greeted by a dude in tails with a mirrored tray with metal handles, “Um... pardon?”
“Your martini, Mr. Senator, as you like it, with two olives and plenty of gin.” A smile briefed his face so quickly I almost missed it as I took it from the tray muttering a thank you, “Now, onto the hoards outside.”
As I turned, I noticed the house had emptied and we were alone in my living room, “Hoards?” I followed him through to the kitchen and looked outside where there were around thirty people out in my backyard all the women were dressed as though they were ready to do the Charleston and the men looked like they were bankers.
“Honey, what the hell’s going on?”
I turned from the kitchen window, “You’re seeing all of this, right? The gramophone, the waiters, the noise?” I asked.
“Well, yeah, that’s what woke me.” She walked up next to me and looked outside, “Who are all those people out there?” she whispered, “And since when do you drink martinis?”
I put the drink down on the counter where it vanished as soon as I let go of the glass, “This isn’t real. We’ve walked in on a ghost’s party.”
“So, what do we do?”
“You leave.” The waiter’s voice said from behind us. We turned and he had the same martini on the tray as I had just put down; this time, though he had a large chef’s knife next to it, “The party is going to get a little messy. So, you leave now.”
I didn’t know what to do. I took my wife’s hand tightly, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but we’re the new owners. We fixed up this place to live in.”
The orderly man began to chuckle, his eyes gleaming, “Oh, you didn’t do your homework did you?”
“Actually, yes we did. This place has been here since around World War I and has had a variety of owners who have attempted to fix it up – but they’ve never really finished her until now.” My wife nodded, “And I’m talking to a ghost.”
Giving her a snide look, he sniffed, “Is that such a bad thing?”
“No.” I said, “We’ve never owned a place with... extras such as yourself added in. The real estate guy did say it was something really special – and he was right.”
“Did he tell you what happened to the last people who bought this house?”
“No he didn’t.”
He looked beyond our shoulders, out the kitchen window, “That’s a nice garden out the back isn’t it? So full of people – and yet not a single one comes inside.”
I almost turned to look where he was, when it dawned on me that we never had to do anything with the backyard. Michelle and I both agreed it was just perfect exactly the way it was; so we didn't touch it. 

We left alone - nothing touched, nothing dug up.

I looked at her, and she at me; and we had the same thought: we're going to sell the house.

That is if we survive the night.