Brian’s parents had bought the house cheap. They were the first one’s to live there after the murders. It had a beautiful kitchen with and island and breakfast nook, five bedrooms, an office, a three car garage and finished basement, a great room, a giant deck and two acres that backed up onto a fishing pond. We used to tease Brian because his parent could never pass up a deal, they bought generic toilet paper and there was never anything good to eat at his house beyond Ramen Noodles and often Brian had irregular winter coats with a zipper that wouldn’t zip or a bleach mark on the sleeve. Our families didn’t have that much money but Brian’s parents were the cheapest rich folks we ever heard of so Brian fit right in with us.
Every Christmas Brian’s parents would go to the Bahamas and leave him and his three sisters home in the big house alone. The Bahamas are cheap over Christmas and they figured the kids were old enough that they wouldn’t mind celebrating in January instead. It made me a little sad for them and I think it made them a little sad too because in retaliation every Christmas they would throw a giant party while their parents were gone. Two full high schools would attend Harlem and Auburn. One year it was so big the police stopped to see what was happening and when we told them it was a wedding reception they helped us direct traffic a little so we could park more cars. Technically it wasn’t a lie, Troy and his girlfriend had gotten married at the court house earlier that day and we had bought a cake but most of the attendees had no idea of the nuptials they were just in attendance to “par-tay”.
After the party there would always be some stragglers who wouldn’t leave. Brian would tell them about the house giving them the full tour. He’d always start with the history and how the boyfriend flipped out and tied up the entire family and beat them to death and then shot them for good measure. He’d move on to how the crazed murderer boyfriend went on living in the back woods hiding out from the police until he ran out of cocaine and committed suicide. Then he would wrap it up standing in the great room where he would point dramatically upwards towards the blood spatters that had sunk deep into the wood ceiling.
Brian’s parents were so cheap that when they discovered the blood on the ceiling in the great room instead of replacing the wood beams they sprayed a little Windex on it and resigned themselves to not talk abut the stains. Well, you can’t give a seventeen year old boy with a preoccupation for gross a better exhibit. Inevitably whenever Brian would end the tour with the grand sweep of his arm pointing upward the remaining party guests would make hasty goodbyes. The night of Troy’s reception went down just like that. Brian had chased the unknowns out of the house with the grizzly tour leaving Troy, Troy’s new wife, John, Shawn, Brian and myself sitting around the kitchen table playing cards and drinking beer.
I sat at the head of the table with the door to the great room on my right and the rest of the kitchen and the door to the basement to my left. As I dealt another hand of Five Card, I heard whispers float around me calling my name over and over “Jenny, jennY, jeNNy, jeNNY, JEnny, jenny, Jenny!” They seemed to start on my right and float right behind me and then end in my left ear. I must’ve looked quite startled because Shawn looked right at me and said
“Did you hear that too?”
My reply was “What! What did YOU hear?”
What he said made my eyes water
“I heard someone calling my name in a whisper like ‘ShawN, SHAWn, shawn, shaWN, SHhhawn, ShAWN!’ right there in the great room and then towards the basement door”.
The rest of the table busted up laughing. Really hard. At us. Shawn got mad and threw his cards down while I changed chairs. John stood up and checked the fridge for more beer, I tensed up as he walked towards the whisper but felt a little relieved someone was going to make sure there wasn’t one last unknown party-goer messing with us. When John went to the basement to retrieve more beer from the bar, I felt a little scarred for him and said
“Shouldn’t someone go with him?” only to be met with more laughter.
All I could think was "This is how the movie starts!" Moments later John was standing at the top of the stars having run back up them three at a time. His face and lips white as can be, all the blood must've gone to his legs to get him up the stairs that fast. Without a word he walked straight out onto the front porch and got his keys out of his pocket before we could discern what happened was this:
He went to the rec room and walked around the pool table towards the bar to get an armload of beer. Before he leaned down to open the mini-fridge he caught a glimpse of the mirror behind the bar and the reflection of a drunk guy standing behind him. John turned around to tell the guy the party was over to find an empty room behind him. He didn’t wait to take a second look in the mirror he just flew up the stairs back towards the sound of our voices. No one laughed at him, he looked too shaky to be laughed at. Someone said “maybe we should go check out the basement”. No body did and those that stayed slept in the great room together that night.
“The Tour” was rarely given after that night and we all felt a little bad for Brian living in that house. We continued to share stories about the whispers we heard in the house and when Brian’s puppy died in a mysterious freak accident involving a plastic bag when nobody was home, we started to suggest he move in with his mom. His mother lived across the river in an equally creepy house but that story is for another day.