The realty agent gave me the address of the old a-frame house. It was soon to be sold and I was hired to do some repairs. In a short while I was parked in line at the ferry dock, waiting for the short twentyminute ride to Herron island. Mostly scattered summer homes with about twenty owners staying year-round. It would be a 1 maybe 2 day job, I expected, not a big place, I was told.
One of the jobs was to replace burned out bulbs in the ceiling. After I parked, I got out my 12 foot ladder and sat it down. I looked around and took in a view perfect for an artist or a writer. A small a-frame with a loft, facing a bluff over looking the sea. Little did I realize that I was about to encounter a ghostly woman. The spirit of a frightened woman, who had been murdered here many years ago.
I held the front door key as I made my way up to the front porch, as I passed a rose garden full of the most sweet scented yellow roses. Yet, for a moment, something was out of place, yes, the rose garden. The realtor said no one had lived in 7 years, but the roses had been pruned. I stood in front of the door and put the key in the lock and turned the knob. Suddenly, I felt a jolt of electricity run thru me like 1,000 volts as I shook.
Images were flashing through my mind as I heard a woman's anguished cries. I was knocked backwards and landed on the cedar deck, with a thud. I lay there, dazed, confused, wondering what the hell just happened? I felt so weak, unable to stand, and there was a stabbing pain in my hand. Awkwardly, like a drunk staggering home at 2 A.M. I held onto the rail. It was all I could do, not to collapse as I crawled to a bench to rest.
I looked down at my hand and in the center of my palm was the letter E. It felt like it had been burned into my skin, and then... it slowly vanished. The pain too was gone, as my head began to clear, as I stared at the door. Something was happening here, but what was it, and why did it happen to me? As much as I wanted to leave, I walked up to the door, and took out the key again. I felt a presence almost controlling me, and I saw my hand reach for the knob.
My heart was racing and as I touched the knob and winced, but nothing happened. As I turned the knob and opened the door I couldn't believe my eyes. On the floor was a young girl in her twenties struggling with a man He had a knife in his hand and as he stabbed her, he glared at me. As the knife plunged in, I could see the pain in her eyes as she pleaded. She pleaded for me to help her as the air rushed from her lungs. It happened in just seconds and before I could move an inch, The man and woman both vanished and I stared in total shock.
I just stood there, unable to believe that I had witnessed a murder. Who was she? When was she killed and why? Who was her murderer? Then, I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before... the room! When I saw both spirits, the room had been full of rustic furniture. Now, this room was empty, except for an old newspaper in the corner. I made my over and picked it up and I opened it to the front page.
The headline read, "Woman stabbed to death, paintings stolen". I sat down on the floor and searched for the date... September 8, 1997. That was about 7 years ago, I recalled the realty agent saying it had been vacant. Quickly I read the article to learn all I could, not knowing what I'd learn. From the article, I pieced together what I felt was a possible scenerio I was probably wrong, but at least I was trying to make sense of what I had seen.
The article said there were no suspects, yet I had seen a good look at the killer. If that was in fact a re-enactment of her last moments I had a good description. He was a tall man in his 30's, reddish brown hair, a large crooked nose, like it had been broken once. His eyes were large, and I will never forget them, they were brown, and his hand! His left hand had a tattoo of something, but I couldn't tell what the design was of. No! I remember! It was of a whale and it had a blue background, like the sea.
He was about 5'10" tall, and at least 200 lbs, she couldn't push him off. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I recalled what I wish I hadn't witnessed. She was a thin wisp of a girl, with small hands, the type that held a paint brush. Her hair was long, blond and wavy, with blue eyes, a soft blue filled with terror. I folded the newspaper and lay it on my lap, as my tears fell onto it one by one. How could I go to the police? I wasn't a psychic just a handyman, they wouldn't believe me.
In fact, if they were looking for a suspect, they might try to pin the murder on me! But I had to do something, I had to, and as I stood up, I whispered, "I promise to help you ". I walked out onto the deck weathered by wind and rain. It had a breath taking view of the ocean and mainland. A slow moving freighter was passing by loaded with cargo. The breeze was warm and soft as a eagle screached overhead. Scattered about was a variety of alder, birch and spruce trees. This was a serene and peaceful place, yet tragedy lingered. I could have sworn that I heard a woman's faint whisper carried on the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore below.
I turned my head, straining to make out the sound clearly, but the sound, if there was one just faded away slowly. What I thought I heard was just three mournful words..."Please help me"; or was it just my imagination playing tricks? Once more, those images of her death came back into my mind I brushed my eyes quickly trying to fight back my tears. Then I heard the sounds of crying oh so clearly and I looked up. There, near the cliff's edge by the cedar log rail fence she stood.
Looking at me with tearful eyes and there was no need for words. Her heart reached out to mine for reasons I probably will never know. She spoke pleadingly, begging me and what she said, touched me. "Please help me, I was murdered here, you must free my soul. You know things that nobody knows please, don't be afraid.He was no stranger, though he was never a friend", and she paused.
His name was Jacob, he lived on Birchwood drive on this island. My paintings are in his basement, my purse is too, please tell the police". Suddenly, her killer appeared and they struggled and he tripped He fell onto the railing backwards and fell over the edge of the cliff. "Please free my spirit, and tell the police all that you have seen. If you don't, he will torment me" forever and she slowly vanished.
© 2003 Raymond Brown