24 Beckenridge Drive

One

J.M. Diener

Author’s Note:“24 Beckenridge Drive” is a ghost story inspired by a “documentary” on ghost hunters I watched when in my late teens. One of the things that intrigued me was how the ghost would go dormant when the house was blessed by a Christian priest; this, mixed with my own Christian upbringing and understanding joined to write this story. While this little piece was meant to stand on its own, it took its place in informing the origins of various important characters who reappear in a slightly altered form in Witches’ Wager. Originally there was to be at least one other short story involving the younger Larry Mitchell and his friends in Druin, but life intruded and that one was never developed beyond my fertile mind. Perhaps one day I’ll revisit Larry and Erin’s youth and tell the missing chapters of this story. But for now, please enjoy this flight of fancy.

 

The dark house stands ominously on the edge of Norm’s Pond, a great old mansion that seems to have something truly evil about it. Many rumors circulate in the small community of Druin, Maine, and though the names of the people and the strange occurrences differ in each account, they all lead up to the same conclusion: 24 Beckenridge Drive is haunted.

• • •

Liz and Randy “Mitch” Mitchell drove slowly down the wooded drive, searching the mailboxes for a specific number.

“You see it yet?” he asked quickly.

“No,” was the reply. Mitch felt uncomfortable driving so slowly. The road just seemed to drag out forever. He flashed a look at his wife, a pretty blond, who scanned the roadside consistently.

“Are you sure we’ve got the right road?” he asked for the twentieth time.

“Of course,” she replied with just a bit of impatience. “Oh, there it is, 24.” The Taurus pulled to a stop in front of the ivy-covered mansion. A great many windows looked out from it onto the road, giving the old architecture an awesome look. Three quarters of the front were covered by a great twisting ivy and a fence, also covered with ivy, wound itself around the property, only broken by an ornate iron gate. The massive old door to the mansion was just barely visible, and seemed able to withstand even a direct attack by a nuclear warhead.

“Wow,” Mitch said. “Some building.”

“It certainly seems bigger than in the pictures,” Liz remarked.

“You’ve got a point there. Let’s take a look at it.” The two walked to the house across the road, number 25, and knocked on the door. They were instantly greeted by a woman in her mid-50’s.

“May I help you?” she asked regarding the two in front of her. The man was just slightly under six feet, with brownish hair, sharp features and gray-blue eyes. The woman was just a tad shorter, blonde, blue eyed, and basically the American dream girl, only she seemed to be nearer forty, than twenty.

“I’m Randy Mitchell,” man said, “and this is my wife, Liz. We came to check out the house across the road. I was told that you would have the key.” The woman at the door nodded and pulled a key out of her pocket. “You planning to buy the place?” she asked.

“I guess,” Mitch said.

“Well good luck to you then,” the woman said with a half-smile, as if she was enjoying some private joke. “You’re going to need it.” The door closed on the perplexed couple.

“Wanna-be comedian,” Mitch said, shrugging.

The great mansion was beautiful. They checked both floors, looking in the numerous rooms. “This one would be great for Brad,” Liz remarked, looking into a big corner room on the second floor with a bank of windows opening onto the large pond behind the house. Mitch nodded absentmindedly. “They really worked on renovating this place,” he said, inspecting the wall sockets. “I just hope we won’t blow any fuses when I plug the computer in here.”

“I don’t worry about it,” Liz countered. “This is just great. Each of the kids can have their own room up here and we still can have a couple guest rooms left over!” She looked out the back again. “We even have a pond in the back yard.”

“Yeah, I guess buying that canoe will finally pay off,” Mitch said, putting his arms around her.

“So, what’s the verdict?” she wanted to know.

“Definitely yes!” he said looking at the ornate work of the windows. “But don’t you think we should have this room? It’s so romantic!” Liz laughed and poked him in the side.