Old man Layton was putting a book back on the shelf when he thought he heard the shuffle of footsteps. He turned but saw no one. He dimmed the light from his lantern and retreated to his bedroom. He had lived in that community for sixty years and now as a grandpa he thought of a wicked deed tied to an even more wicked past. For some reason the role he played began to echo in his mind constantly. It was as if something was awakening in his soul and needed absolution. For years he had been trying to put the event out of his mind, but recently he could not. He began to think about the old crew and how they had been so thick in their heyday. He didn’t see much of them anymore. One of the guys just disappeared into nowhere, some say he lived deep in the woods, but others say he was dead. The others had not moved far, but had families of their own. Layton huffed quietly as he pulled back the covers for bed. As he placed the lantern on the night table he heard his name on the wind. “Layton,” she called to him. At that moment a terror filled his veins and an icy cold shiver raced over his body. He hadn’t heard that voice in years and knew immediately who it belonged to. He sat on the edge of the bed reaching under his pillow for his gun. As he pulled it from its cover a strong force pushed him onto the bed. He was unable to rise. His hand scurried for the weapon. But he would not be able to reach it in time. “It’s your time now.” The voice was quiet and foreboding. He screamed loudly, but no one would hear. He felt the pressure on his chest build as a tightening throbbing pain raced from his neck to his head. His breathing became short and labored. He looked around the room, still unable to move, still unable to see anything. As his body began to die from under him he suddenly saw the face of his attacker. At that moment his terror was justified. It was the rotting corpse of a woman that he had known many years ago. Well, seems she had kept her promise and now she wanted revenge. With one last struggle he attempted to break free but it was pointless. Her grip on him was greater than his force. His final walk into death began slowly as he hemorrhaged from his eyes, nose and mouth. He gurgled and spat his own fluids as his head exploded from the inside. Brain matter oozed from his nose as he convulsed violently. His death was slow and painful. It was a reminder to pain he had inflicted so many years ago. His body would be found by his daughter the next day as she always checked on him on her way to work.
The next morning the town would be buzzing with the death of Jeffrey Layton. He was found suffocated in his own fluids and brain matter. It was accompanied by a stench that sent his daughter running to the front door to vomit in the rose garden out front. The scene was quiet and no sign of forced entry was detected. Both doctors were called to examine the body. The fear of plague immediately raced through the town like a wildfire in a dry forest in the heat of summer. Dr. Clayton and Dr. Banner arrived quickly and both were astounded by what they saw. They were immediately able to rule out plague as his most recent checkup was just days before and his blood work was clean. The sight of the blood in the eyes, nose and ears were symptoms of stroke and severe hemorrhaging. The brain matter in the nose was the most foul and curious symptom. It was as if his insides were liquefied and simply oozed through every opening that he had. Well it was the summer and with the intensity of his stroke it was no telling how long his body had been going through the event. His insides were simply decaying as the normal process of death took place. The report would list massive stroke as cause of death.
Eisha poured the tea and was shocked at Helen’s revelation.
“Were you here before?” She asked as she offered her some fresh sandwiches she had prepared. Helen began to speak.
“Long ago this place was full of an atmosphere that wasn’t too polite to special couples like you and the doctor. We had a fella move in here named LeFevre. He was the most beautiful person I have ever known. And he had a woman that was so breathtaking, that she could stop you with one glance. Her skin was smooth as copper and her eyes were dark as the heart of a sunflower. Her name was Nadii. And she was the lady of the house.”
Eisha was enthralled and asked her to continue.
“Of course, at first everyone thought she was the maid. I would come over and check on LeFevre as he didn’t say much or wanted much with being out and about. He would always send her and she weathered the town’s racial slurs and awful negative storms. I would come over to offer my help in anyway. I was never raised to be that kind of person. My parents always said that slavery of any soul was against God’s plan. So know that if you have any problems, you come tell me right away. I will gladly straighten out any of the backwards yahoos that live around here.”
Eisha smiled and agreed with a gentle nod as Helen continued.
“Nadii and I became best friends. She would frequent my shop. My family had a little butchery up town. My family’s been slaughtering beef from our farm for decades. Naddi would come by and always get the good stuff. LeFevre had the money and she was in control of all of it. She was quite a business woman, especially during that time period. It was not easy for her. Sometimes I knew she was coming by just to talk. She had no family other than me and my kin. She was a beautiful girl.”
“What happened to her? You seemed like you were so close.”
“Well the rest of the town grew suspicious of her and LeFevre’s union. He never had another woman in the house or in his life. So they decided to change things to fit their own personal tastes. A few of our gracious townspeople got together and put this little blonde widow up to attract LeFevre. Well they got their way and he married Melanie. I could not understand why but I guess with things the way they were he just went along with it. But soon after that marriage, I noticed that Nadii’s visits were shorter and shorter until she stopped coming by at all. Then one day, I heard she was pregnant. Well I knew LeFevre was the daddy. I was so happy for her, but I felt scared too. Something in my soul told me that this would not be a happy day. I had not heard from her in months and finally when I got the nerve to go see her, I heard she had run off. Then the most ghastly thing happened to LeFevre. He was killed in a hunting accident. That made Melanie a widow once again and the owner of this place, but she didn’t get to enjoy it long. They found her hanging in the back yard. She was out there picking apples and slipped from her ladder. She landed between two strong branches and hung there for hours. By the time she was found, the birds had plucked out her eyes and tongue. She was buried closed casket within the next two days.”