Two old bittties sitting on their verandah, discuss life - and death.
Two women in their late sixties sat in matching rocking chairs on their veranda, with a small table positioned comfortably between them. It held a silver ice bucket and a half empty decanter of expensive brandy, beside it. A silver pair of ice tongs nestled among the ice in the bucket. The women paused in their conversation periodically to add ice or brandy to the crystal brandy snifter they each held.
Insects buzzed in the overgrown flowering bushes that grew haphazardly along the full length of the deep old fashioned veranda. The old women could see the entire neighbourhood from the vantage point of a slight rise in their lawn from the curb to their house. They could see everyone else, but no one could see them, because of the shadows that darkled everything under the roof, in the late October evening.
“Just look at this lawn, Ethel. It's all but a hayfield. It's dreadful the way that lazy gardener, Mr. Jansen lets it go. We shall have to let him go if this continues. Tut tut!” Agnes rocked back and forth vigorously, as she complained.
“I believe he quit early in the summer, Agnes. He said we hadn't paid him for three whole weeks. What a vicious liar that man was! I made sure all the neighbours knew it too. I also told them he must have taken the family silver plate as well. I haven't been able to find it. I wanted to take it out and polish it.” Ethel swirled the ice in her snifter, watching the amber liquid with a deep frown on her face.
“If I remember correctly, mother sold that silver plate to bury father, some twenty years ago, Ethel. Either that, or we sold it to bury mother. It seems to me that old silver buried somebody.”
“Tsk tsk it doesn't matter. I'm sure Mr. Jansen stole something or other while he worked for us. Besides, he called me a half crazy old bag. Dreadful, just dreadful! He deserved to be investigated by the police.”
The two spinster sisters rocked in silence for awhile, as they sipped their brandy and grumbled halfway to themselves, and halfway to each other.
“I see the Kramer house across the street is still up for sale.” Ethel remarked, as she reached for the decanter.
"That's not surprising, considering that old Joel Kramer hanged himself from the mezzanine banisters. That is such a beautiful house. It's going to fall apart entirely, if someone doesn't buy it soon. If Joel hadn't been such a womanizer, that would have been my home now." Agnes sighed.
"I don't think that one woman constitutes womanizing, Agnes. Besides, that would never have been your home unless you bought it. Joel would never have lived there with you as your husband." Ethel turned toward her sister as she stirred her drink.
"Joel had been in love with Andrea ever since we were all kids together. I don't know why you went after him like you did. You wrecked my chances with Andrea's brother Tom, with your lies, rumours and innuendo about Andrea. You knew she wasn't cheating on Joel, and so did he. That's why he married her."
"Hmph. She was away at a big university. She could have been having wild parties with boys for all you know, Ethel. How do you know that Joel wouldn't have been my husband? He loved me, I know he did. He would have married me if I'd had a little more time with him, but he up and moved to Andrea's University town after her first semester."
"That was all your own fault, Agnes. You made his life miserable with the way you stalked him, day and night. He would never have married you, even if he had stayed here. I don't know why you wouldn't leave him alone. He never came back here for decades, even to visit his parents. They always had to go to his place to see him."
"That's because he was a wimp. He told me once that he was afraid of me, I don't know why. He seemed to blame me for the death of that mangy old mutt of his, the summer before he left." Agnes leaned back in her chair and rocked silently for a few minutes.
"I saw you feeding his dog hamburger in the middle of the night, Agnes. He died of poisoning the next day. That seems like too much of a coincidence, to me."
"I fed him to shut him up. He was always barking whenever I went over to visit Joel." Agnes replied, her voice rising with temper.
"Visit, is that what you call it? I call it peeking through windows, and snooping on him. No wonder he and Andrea never came back until his father died and left him the house. You were less than friendly when Joel, his children and grandchildren moved in three years ago. Your behavior was dreadful." Ethel's voice also rose in agitation.
"Why should I be friendly to Andrea? She stole my boyfriend! She put a spell on him or something. She's a witch, I just know it!" Agnes grabbed the bottle of brandy and slopped a large amount of it into her brandy snifter.
"If anyone's a witch, it's you, Agnes Lombardy! I know it was you who spread the evil and vicious rumour that he was sexually abusing his six year old granddaughter. His daughter and grandchildren moved out and left him with just his freeloader son and daughter in law in that big old house. No wonder he hanged himself. What he should have done is hang you, you horrible old hate monger!" Ethel rocked back and forth, faster and faster, in anger. Her sister Agnes did the same.
On Halloween night, two teenage girls hurried past the Lombardy house with fearful glances. Suddenly, one of them stopped and stared up at the crumbling old mansion.
"Hurry up, Annie, we'll be late for the party."
"I thought I saw something up there on that veranda. I thought I heard a creaking sound too, Laura."
"It's just your imagination, Annie. There's no ghost up there. We've been all through it during the daytime."
"I know, but tonight is different. This is the tenth anniversary of old Ethel Agnes Lombardy's death. She apparently got wasted on brandy, and rocked herself right down those steep steps. The neighbours heard her screaming at somebody, but the housekeeper and her husband said she was all alone that night. Everyone who knew her said she was crazy. Sometimes she was the sweetest person, and then sometimes she was evil incarnate."
"I know, talk about your split personality."
"Dreadful, just dreadful."