Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Housesitter

     Honk! Honk!
     “That’s my taxi,” said Jad, shoving a few last articles of clothing into his bulging suitcase. “Any more questions before I go?”
     “I think I have it,” said Andrew, looking over the page of notes in his hand. “Garbage goes out on Mondays, water the plants twice a week, plumber coming on Thursday to fix the garbage disposal... No worries, I’ll take good care of your home. I just hope you can enjoy your trip to Singapore without getting too bogged down with work.”
     “Thanks buddy. I’m sure you’ll be fine here, and I really appreciate it.” Jad had to sit on his suitcase to zip it shut.
     Andrew helped him pull the zipper around the last corner. “You’re actually doing me a huge favor, Jad. I needed a place to stay and I can’t believe I get to live here for five months. This place is awesome! I don’t know how you found a house like this for such a low price.”
     Jad struggled to pull the huge suitcase off the bed. It hit the floor with a loud boom! “Yeah,” he said, “I really got a deal on it. I was lucky to get in right after the last tenants passed away. They were pretty old.”
     “Oh, did they die in a hospital?” asked Andrew.
     “Nope.” Jad spoke through gritted teeth as he tried to drag the suitcase across the room. “They died in this bedroom, right about where you’re standing.”
     Andrew looked around his feet. “Right here?”
     “More or less.” Jad moved behind the suitcase to push it into the hallway. “The wife died somewhere in that corner after her husband chopped her up with an axe, but he hung himself in the bathroom.”
     Andrew followed him down the hallway and took a sideways glance into the bathroom as they passed it. “Really? Did you know about that when you moved in?”
     “Oh no,” Jad said, stopping when he reached the stairs. “I knew about the other victims, but I didn’t find out about the most recent tenants until I had been here a few days.”
     Andrew grabbed his arm. “There were other murders?”
     “A few. Two tenants ago, a guy stabbed his wife to death in the kitchen, then blew his brains out with a shotgun in front of the fireplace. The tenant before him had a dinner party and fed everyone rat poison in the dining room. And the police reports are a little sketchy, but it appears the tenant before that guy used this house to do science experiments on people he kidnapped around the neighborhood. Apparently he buried his victims in the basement, but they never found all the bodies.” Jad gave the suitcase a kick and it thundered down the stairs. “Before that, it’s hard to say which stories were real murders or just urban legends.”
     “Um, Jad—“
     Honk! Honk!
     “I'd better hurry. It sounds like the driver is getting impatient and I don’t want to be late for my flight.” Jad ran down the steps and strained to drag the suitcase to the front door. “Oh, before I forget, sometimes you have to jiggle the toilet handle to get it to stop running. And the switch for the porch light is by the window. And you might hear some creaking and moaning at night, but it usually stops after a couple hours. It’s okay if the walls bleed a little.”
     Andrew ran down the stairs after him. “Wait Jad—“
     “Oh yeah, I almost forgot.” Jad reached into his pocket, pulled out a set of keys and threw them to Andrew, who caught them as he reached the bottom step. “Don’t worry, Andrew, I trust you completely.”
     Honk! Honk!
     Without another word, Jad used all his strength to heave the suitcase off the floor and into his arms. He stumbled for a step or two, then ran out the door.

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