Saturday, July 31, 2021

Every House Has a Secret - 38


Rand and Brady spent the next few evenings packing things they wouldn't need before their move. Saturday, they went shopping for curtains and rods to hang them on, and then installed them.


"They definitely make the house homier," Rand said when they finished. "All it needs is our furniture, pictures on the walls, books on the library shelves."


"All of the above," Brady agreed. "It'll happen on Monday."


They were taking Monday off from their respective jobs to be there when the movers arrived, and then at the house to tell them where they wanted everything.


Because of that, they spent much of Sunday finishing their packing, only breaking to eat lunch. By that evening they were exhausted, but happily so. With all the pots, pans, and dishes in boxes, they went out to eat.


"Twenty-four hours and we'll be cooking in our new home," Rand said as they waited for their meals to arrive.


"Or we'll be falling on our faces, because we've unpacked one too many boxes trying to get everything in order in one day."


"That, too. Then we'll order pizza to celebrate."


"Sounds like a plan to me," Brady replied.


They did exactly that Monday evening, sitting on the sofa in front of the fireplace in their new living room. They'd barely finished eating when the doorbell rang.


Figuring it had to be Ken and Carol, Brady opened the door, saying, "You're too late, we ate the whole thing."


"The whole what?" Colin asked with a bit of amusement.


"Well, damn. What are you doing here, and how did you find…? Never mind. I know how you found us. Come on in."


Colin did, pausing to look around the entryway before following Brady into the living room. He stopped in the center of the room, taking it all in.


"You did a fantastic job. I'd never know it was the same house Frank and I saw when we were looking for the gun."


"Thanks," Rand said. "Have a seat." He gestured to the armchair next to the sofa. "We have beer, if you want one. Then you can tell us why you're here."


"I'd love one, thank you." Once Colin was seated, beer in hand, he said, "I had a long talk with Dad. I wanted to tell you in person and since the store is closed today, here I am."

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Every House Has a Secret - 37



Ken and Carol were standing on the porch. Ken said, glancing at his wife, "She's nosy. She wants to see what you've done to the place."


"Yeah, blame it on me," she retorted. "It was his idea." She winked at Brady.


Brady laughed, stepping aside to let them in. "We'll give you the grand tour."


They did, eliciting 'oohs' and 'ahs' from their neighbors. 


"It's absolutely beautiful," Carol said when they back in the living room again.


"If a bit empty," Ken added.


"That's the next step, moving," Rand replied.


"If you need help, holler," Ken said.


Brady shook his head. "Thanks, but we're going to be practical and hire a moving company. Given the amount of furniture we have, or don't have, it might still look half empty when we're finished."


Carol grinned. "Then you get to go shopping." She looked around. "Curtain rods and curtains for every room, a couple of throw rugs in here, pictures for the walls."


"Carol," Ken muttered.


"Pictures, we have," Rand told her. "And throw rugs." He glanced at his husband. "I guess we go shopping again for more rods and curtains. What we have at the apartment will work…for all of four windows."


Carol made a couple of suggestions for what else they needed before Ken told her, "Enough. I'm sure they have a list that's a page long already."


"Half a page," Brady said, sighing. "It's never ending."


"Give it a month and you'll be settled in and won't need anything more," Ken told him. "Right now, I'm taking my shopaholic home before she comes up with any more ideas."


"They're nice people," Rand said when the Malones had left.


"You're just figuring that out?"


"Well…no. We'd better get back to the apartment. We have a lot to do and it won't get done standing here, admiring our handiwork."


"Ain't that the truth?"

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Every House Has a Secret - 36



"Damn it, we forgot all about the bathroom," Rand grumbled.


"It's not like it's going anywhere," Brady replied, patting his shoulder. "We have time, now that we've solved the mystery of the gun and the photos. We'll stop by the home improvement store to choose a new toilet then Nick can install it. Once he has, we'll paint and be done with it."


In theory, that sounded fine. In point of fact, when they saw all the options for bathroom fixtures, Brady and Rand spent an hour choosing a new sink, a medicine cabinet, and towel racks. The only thing they ended up keeping was the claw foot tub, which they asked Nick to convert into a shower.


"Come on, you can do it yourselves," he said. "There's a ton of how-to videos on You Tube."


"Twenty dollars says you'll do a better job of it, and we won't end up with a flooded bathroom," Brady replied.


"Make it fifty and I'll do it. But if you tell anyone I did it that cheap, I'll send you a bill for the difference."


Brady laughed, and agreed. Two days later, Nick had everything installed, including new tile on the floor—for a lot more than fifty dollars all told, but Brady had run out of services to trade him for his work.


Then Brady and Rand painted the bathroom and it was ready to use.


"A thing of beauty," Rand proclaimed.


"The whole house is."


"I think Emila would be proud of us," Rand said softly.


"I agree. We've put our heart and souls into making the house a home, our home, and it shows."


"It does. Now all we have to do is move in."


"That might be a good idea," Brady agreed.


The doorbell chimed seconds after he said that. Giving each other puzzled looks, they hurried down to answer.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Every House Has a Secret - 35



"I don't understand why he gave it to me in the first place," Colin said.


"He was old and knew he was dying," Brady replied. "He wanted to clear his conscious, but at the same time I suspect he didn't want to destroy the love your father and uncle had for him, or the hatred they held for their father. That's what he meant by the note, saying it could harm other people if you showed it to them. He trusted you, even though you were only a child when he wrote it."


"Which may have been before he told me and Frank about Grandpa Dennis, or his version of it."


"Since he didn't date the confession, we'll never know. Personally, I have the feeling he wrote it after he told you the story about Emila's death and what happened with your grandfather Dennis. He wanted to get your reaction first."


"We were kids! How did he expect us to react?" Colin smiled wry. "We thought it was an exciting story, like something out of a movie. It wasn't personal to us, as far as I remember. It wasn't until we were older that we asked Dad more about it. I'll give him one thing, despite his feeling about Grandpa Hodges, he didn't try to make us hate him, too. He laid out the facts and left it at that. I guess he was mellowing a bit, since it had happened so long ago."


"Whatever the reason, your father was a wise man," Rand said. "Hatred can only exist for so long before it becomes more harmful to the one carrying it than to the person who inspired it. Passing it on to someone else will cause more harm than good." Rand chuckled. "And that's my philosophical statement for the day."


"It's a good one; and something Ethan should have thought about before he indoctrinated my father and uncle to hate their father," Colin replied.


"I agree."


"Do you have any questions for us, Colin?" Brady asked.


"Not that I can think of at the moment."


"Then we should probably leave. It past late and we all could use some sleep."


"Hang on a second," Rand said, taking an envelope from his pocket. "With all of this, I almost forgot. These are copies of the photos we found with the gun." He handed the envelope to Colin.


When Colin looked at them, he said softly, "They were so young. Too young to have to go through what they did." He studied the one with Emila and the boys. "It's hard to tell from this, but she was a lovely woman. Dad has some photos of her and Grandpa. It was obvious Grandpa adored her from the expression on his face, and she felt the same about him. I wish Dad had believed that."


"If he didn't, why did he keep the pictures?" Rand asked.


"I asked him, once. He said, despite his personal feelings, Dennis was my grandfather and I had a right to know what he looked like, especially since I take after him." Colin tried to cover a yawn, apologizing when he couldn't.


"As Rand said, it's very late," Brand told him. "Would it be possible for you to make a copy of the confession for us? We could pick it up before we leave in the morning. I promise we'll do nothing with it, or the gun, without your permission."


"I can do it now. I have a printer in my office." Without waiting for a reply, Colin picked up the papers and went into a room off the living room. He returned minutes later, handing Brady a fresh file folder containing the copy.


"Thank you for talking to us," Brady said.


"You're welcome." Colin smiled. "Honestly, it took a load off my mind, so I should be thanking you."


"You're welcome, as well. If you have any questions, or just need to talk, you can reach me here." Brady gave him one of his cards after writing his personal phone number and Rand's on it. "Feel free to call any time."


"All right." Colin walked them to the door. "If you learn anything more…"


"We'll let you know, I promise."

Friday, July 23, 2021

Every House Has a Secret - 34



"Damn," Rand said when they finished reading. "What a hateful son of a bitch."


"He was," Colin agreed. "He did his best to turn my father and uncle against my grandfather, and succeeded."


"Have you shown his confession to them?" Brady asked.


""No. I did let my brother read it. That was in twenty-oh-five, soon after I turned twenty-one and the lawyer gave it to me. We talked about it, and Frank and I decided to see if we could find the gun. There was one problem, though. Grandpa Hodges was living in the house. Since we barely knew him, we could hardly drop in and search for it without his wondering what the hell was going on."


"You could have told him about the confession," Brady pointed out.


"First we had to prove to ourselves the story was real. If it wasn’t, then Grandpa was everything that Ethan had told us, back when we were kids. That meant finding the gun, which we couldn't do while Grandpa was there." Colin sighed. "It was sort of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Then, five years later, he died. We took a big chance, but we knew he'd left the house to Alan and Steven. We figured the realtor wouldn't know what they looked like, so we pretended to be them so we could get the keys and make copies of them. Then we spent as many weekends as possible searching the house. We'd decided, if we did find the gun, we'd show Dad and Uncle Dennis the confession because we'd have proof it was the truth, not the ramblings of a dying man who may have made everything up because it was what he had wanted to happen. Does that make sense?"


"Yes," Brady replied. "The gun does exist. We found it, along with photos of your father and uncle when they were young, and of your grandmother. You two probably wouldn't have unless you'd literally torn the house apart."


"The photos are one reason we came up here," Rand said. "We thought you might like copies of them."


Colin nodded. "I would love them. Did you tell Dad you had them?"


"I did," Rand said. "He said he didn't want to see them."


"I can understand, I guess. They would only bring back bad memories. "


"Exactly what he implied," Rand told him.


"What will you do with the gun?" Colin asked, looking torn—as if having proof the confession was the truth was more than he had hoped for, and yet not what he'd wanted. "This has been a heavy secret to carry for all these years, but what recourse did Frank and I have, with no proof?"


"None, I think," Brady replied compassionately. "Technically, I should turn the gun, and the confession, over to a detective I know on the force."


Colin cocked his head in question. "Technically?"


"Yes. I'm a private investigator. I'm not supposed to withhold evidence. However in this case, I don't see what purpose it would serve to give it to my friend. Everyone involved is dead. Why subject you and the rest of your family to the publicity that would ensue once the story got out about what happened."


"You're a reporter, or so you told me," Colin said to Rand. "Do you agree?"


"Absolutely. As far as I'm concerned, the only people who will know we found the gun will be you and whomever you choose to show the confession to, if you decide to tell anyone about it other than your brother."