Karen’s first glimpse of the house at 13 Cemetery Street brought surprise, then delight. She had expected a broken down dump or hovel knowing that now they lived on Viv’s paychecks with only occasional child support thrown in.
The quaint boxy home squatted in an open meadow. A large gray weathered barn overshadowed the yard with a blanket of darkness. Across the street grew the headstones responsible for the address.
Snow started falling as soon as the last of the household goods found a way inside and the U-haul returned to a local dealer. It seemed like the storm had been waiting patiently for the Parker family to complete their move.
“I thought it didn’t snow in Isla, Virginia,” Karen grumbled to her mother.
“Who told you that?” Viv asked as she folded bright dishtowels into a kitchen drawer.
“I don’t think it snows very often,” Viv said loading blue plastic tumblers into a kitchen cabinet. “This should blow over soon. I’m sure we won’t get as much snow here as we did in Turner, New York! Why not make the best of it and take Julie, Jen and Kathy out to build a snowman?”
“We should all go out and build it,” Karen said remembering some of their past snow monstrosities.
Viv pushed flyaway hair out of her eyes, gulped a swig of cold coffee, and swiveled to survey her almost ship shape kitchen. “You’re right,” she told Karen. “I’m about finished here. You go out to the barn and see what you can find for snowman apparel – there’s a trunk of old clothes up in the loft. I’ll get your sisters and we’ll be right out.”
Karen struggled into warm clothing, grabbed an empty box from the pile on the porch and trudged out to the barn looking for prime snowman duds.
The thirteen-year old giggled out loud when she found the jaunty purple silk top hat with its wispy red feather. The trunk held perfect attire for her snowman. Beside the cool hat the trunk coughed up a plastic carrot, two large green cat’s eye marbles, a dozen black buttons, a moth-eaten green crocheted scarf, a huge old red flannel vest, and even a tacky plastic Christmas wreath festooned with tiny red berries.
Across the street, the tombstones had become bumps in the snow. Karen saw her mother and three sisters already busy at work rolling the body parts through the knee-deep snow in the cemetery. Karen already thought of it as “our cemetery.” Everyone “ohed” and “ahed” over the snowman duds Karen brought onto the scene. The snowman became so large they finished assembly close to a thick heavy gravestone in the front of the cemetery for added support. Karen brushed away the snow on the marker to find one word engraved into the granite: Blucas.
The snowman -- now christened “Blucas” -- developed into a masterpiece. Fat and burley, with one broad white bicep reaching up to tip the rakish purple hat while his other arm carried the cheap holiday wreath like an oversized bracelet.
After the rest of the family plodded home, Karen remained behind. The snow had stopped, but as Karen reached up to brush the dusting of snow from his purple hat, she froze. The jolly snowman face created moments ago from discarded buttons and marbles now seemed to sneer down at her with chilling malice. Although the artificial face still smiled, the expression seemed changed: watchful and wary. Green marble eyes, vengeful and angry, burned down at Karen bringing an involuntary shudder through her body and sending her stumbling and weaving across the quiet street.
Inside the warm cheery kitchen, Karen found everyone gathered around the kitchen table with steaming mugs of hot chocolate. She noticed her family’s eyes all trained on a small gnomish woman perched on a stool holding a mug, which swallowed her face with each sip.
“Karen, this is Mrs. Ramsey, our neighbor.”
Karen nodded warily, the snowman temporarily forgotten.
“Oh my,” Mrs. Ramsey cackled. “All girls . . . wouldn’t old Blucas have a fit about this.”
As the family turned questioning gazes on her, Mrs. Ramsey took another healthy swing of her cocoa and then proceeded with her tale regarding the former tenant of this house.
“We never did find out if it was his first or last name,” Mrs. Ramsey said. “The neighbors round here just called him Blucas.”
“Blucas had him a wife and six daughters,” Mrs. Ramsey began. “Last spring, he kilt ever one of them right here in this house. Left a journal sayin women and girls were not fit to live with. Said the whining finally got to him and he needed to put a stop to it all. About a week after he got them all buried across the street, his heart give out and he died. I found him myself, ” she said sitting a little straighter. “He died writin in that old journal of his. He died writin about his new found peace and quiet.” She chortled. “Ain’t that a kick in the head?”
Viv quickly ushered the children from the room, but not before Karen heard her ask Mrs. Ramsey how Blucas had killed them all.
“We never found out.”
In the morning, Mrs. Ramsey stopped by again to visit the Parkers. She had some more good stories to tell them about the neighborhood.
What she found in the house would remain forever imprinted in her mind.
All dead – murdered in their beds.
In her haste to leave the house, Mrs. Ramsey tripped over a purple silk hat on the kitchen floor. She noticed a large puddle of water, some buttons, and an old wreath by the puddle and chalked it up to moving paraphernalia, however, why would a house full of girls have a pitchfork in the kitchen?
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