Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Stull #7

"You're going alone?" Matt asked.

"I think I might be perceived as less of a threat if I go alone," Frank explained.

"Or perceived as easier to kill. Why don't I just go with you?"

"People know where I'm going. They can't kill me because it would call attention to them. They are not just going to kill people because then they leave evidence that they exist."

"I've seen those vampire television shows and townspeople are killed all the time and no one seems to care," Matt said.

"I will be fine.  Besides, you and Katie are going out to find your old family cemetery.  I'll see you tonight," Frank smiled.

Frank sat down at the table across from Judith.  She had already ordered herself something to drink and was going over the menu thoroughly.  "So glad you could join me, Frank.  I've been wanting to get together with you for awhile," Judith said.

"My pleasure.  After this, I'm driving out to Rock Creek to hopefully check that off the list."

"The vampires?"

"So you've heard?"

"Except for a few, they all live peacefully and the peaceful ones keep the others in line."

"Well that's good.  Which ones are the good ones?" Frank asked.

"That we don't know.  But I'm sure you can figure it out," Judith replied.  "But I want to know more about you.  When's the last time you saw your sister?"

Frank was taken aback by the direct question.  He took a deep breath, "She's been in the Ohio State Psychiatric Correctional Facility since I was six so it's been about twenty years."

"You've never visited her?" Judith asked.

"She killed my parents and would've killed me.  What exactly would we have to talk about?  Madeline may be my sister but she is not family," Frank said.

"Why do you think she did it?" Judith asked.

"Psychologically?  I don't know.  From what I remember our parents were decent people and Madeline was a normal preteen until that night.  I blame it on the curse even though I know that's just an easy answer that doesn't actually answer any questions."

"And you went to live with your aunt and uncle?"

"Yeah, my mom's sister and her husband.  He killed himself when I was fifteen.  She died of lung cancer shortly after I graduated from college.  Since then it's been just me."

"What about friends, relationships, girlfriends?" Judith asked then lowered her voice.  "Boyfriends?"

Frank chuckled.  "I was never one for friends.  They always seemed to move away.  Only Matt has remained.  As for girlfriends, I've had one since high school.  It ended badly and I don't like to talk about it."

"You'll talk about your parent's murder and your sister but not about your ex-girlfriend?  Very well.  What about the girl you work with?"

"Katie?  She's a great girl but only a friend and an employee.  To want anything more with her would be unprofessional, not to mention weird."

"Cem-e-tery!" Matt loudly enunciated to his 93-year-old Great-Grandma.

"Oh!  Cemetery!  You'll have to speak up, Matty.  You mumble too much," she patted Matt's cheek.  "No one asks about the cemetery.  Probably best left forgotten.  The old family cemetery is along the creek.  On the back end of the farm.  Are you staying for dinner?"

"I don't think so, MeeMaw.  Maybe some other time.  Katie and I are going to go find the cemetery.  Thanks, MeeMaw."

The Stull Farm was located three miles northeast of Stull and had been in the family since the town's founding.  It was 120 acres of good farmland and while most of it was going unused, it was leased to the Herkimer family who ran a dairy, paid taxes and kept the profits for themselves.  They helped keep up the farm and helped MeeMaw keep up the house.

The east end of the farm was bordered by a creek thick with decades of tree growth.  Matt and Katie walked to the southern boundary and began heading east.  They walked for almost an hour and nearly passed the cemetery because of it being hidden by trees and the cemetery only had one headstone remaining.  The stone was a moss and lichen covered obelisk barely legible due to over a hundred years of neglect and nature.

"There's only one stone," Katie said.  "How do we know who is buried here?"

Matt took out a piece of rice paper and a charcoal crayon from the backpack he brought and knelt down in front of the single stone and began doing a grave rubbing.  "We'll have to look at my family tree and see where everyone is buried.  The ones we don't have a grave listing for would be buried here."

"How many do you think are buried here?" Katie asked.

"No more than a dozen--if that," Matt finished the rubbing and stood up.  "Frank will be proud that I actually did a grave rubbing.  Let's head back to the house."

When they got back to the house, Matt approached his MeeMaw about the cemetery.  "MeeMaw?  Katie and I found the cemetery.  Do you know who is buried in it?"

"Oh, GeePaw's grandpa, his grandpa's father.  Their wives.  A few children," MeeMaw said.  "I'm not really sure.  There was a book published in the early 20th Century about the founding of Stull.  The book used entries from G.W. Stull's sister's diary.  Only a few copies were made and it very unpopular with our family because it depicted the Stulls as murdering thieves."

"Oh my God!  I need that book!  Do you have a copy?" Matt asked.

"I think so.  It should be in the attic.  The diary is long gone though."

"That's okay.  The book is all we need."

"Be careful in Rock Creek.  You never quite know what to expect," Judith said as she and Frank stood outside the restaurant next to his car.

"You never quite know what to expect anywhere around here," Frank said and got in his car.  He started the engine, backed out and waved to Judith as he pulled away.

As he drove out of Tontzville on State Highway 571 and exited at the Stull exit, the sun shone brightly.  As he traveled toward Rock Creek along the county road, the sun became hidden by clouds that seemed to appear from nowhere.

Next: Rock Creek disappears; Matt and Katie search for the book.