February 18, 2010

Chapter Two

Tires crunched along the road as Deputy Raymond Dogg drove his police cruiser into the cul-de-sac at the end of the Penninsula Road. This was the only place the deputy could find peace during the busy summer months at Butcher Harbor. Summer season was in full bloom and the natives were restless due to the summer storm, which had trapped the visitors inside their rental cottages, town restaurants, and bars for several days. There would be a lot of calls tonight: bar fights, domestic violence as cooped up husbands picked fights with their wives, while the locals argued over parking spaces with the tourists they needed to help them survive the dead winter months.
The deputy glanced across the peninsula at the lights that dotted the beach and surrounding port. It was a sight he never tired of, even while the rain pelted his windows and the wind buffeted his cruiser. On the opposite side of him was the ocean, black and rolling. Fierce waves threw sea water up onto the peninsula; heavy spray hit the cruiser even though he was parked twenty feet from the rocky edge.
The deputy turned his windshield wipers off, allowing the rain and sea water to wash across the windshield freely. He placed the cruiser in park and reached for his canvas cooler on the back seat floorboard. A thermos was on the seat next to him. He poured himself a cap full of his mother’s famous coffee; Lila’s coffee, roasted with just a bit of her secret ingredient. Of course everyone knew it was just cinnamon, but no one that frequented her restaurant ever let on that they knew. Coffee breaks like this one were the highlight of the deputy’s night. The taste and the smell brought back wonderful childhood memories of his dad sneaking him sips of coffee when his mom wasn’t looking.
Enjoying the aroma of the spiced coffee, the deputy scanned the peninsula to his right. The only thing on the peninsula was the Templeton House, a quarter of a mile away. To add to the oddness of the dark, stormy night, the widow Templeton appeared to have every light in the house turned on. Perhaps she was using the light to ward off the loneliness of the storm.
Mrs. Templeton, he knew from previous coffee breaks on the peninsula, rarely kept more than one light on at a time at night. He assumed it was because she was on a very tight budget. That could be the only reason anyone would be foolish enough to burn only one light in that particular house at night. Rumor had it that the house was haunted. Mrs. Templeton was said to be loony from all the ghosts she allegedly kept company with within those walls. Indeed, her very own daughter had left shortly after Mr. Templeton passed on. It seemed she couldn’t get out of that house fast enough.
Stories passed on from generation to generation told of a time when pirates inhabited Butcher Harbor. The pirates, supposedly the first to settle here, built the house upon the craggy shore from parts of shipwrecked boats. Bosts the themselves had scuttled. They then used the house to lure unsuspecting sailors to their doom. Then the pirates looted the shipwrecked boats, hauling the booty inland to the real pirate hideout away from the shore, protected from the sea by the peninsula. The harbor was named for the blood bath the pirates created at sea and on land.
It was said that a mob gathered and finally drove the pirates off, extinguishing the lights of the house, thereby saving countless seaman a brutal death. Tales of strange sights and sounds followed the house to this day. The list of the missing and the dead grew with each telling, yet for some unexplained reason, the house was always occupied.
Elizabeth Templeton's father had electricity ran out to the house. Modern technology and an end to pirateering prevented further incidents with ships. She could run the lights in her house as she saw fit. Elizabeth used very little light at night.
Tonight the brightly lit house helped to add an eeriness to the dark, stormy night. Templeton House captivated Raymond as he stared at the two story beach house in the distance. He wondered what it must have been like to grow up in that house. Remembering the teasing Elizabeth’s daughter Claire had taken in school. Raymond decided maybe he didn’t really want to know. He had put up with his own hazing with a name like Dogg. And now that he was a deputy, his friends, and not so good friends, loved to give him lip service about his name on a daily basis. And when it came to names, the town's name- Butcher Harbor- was a thorn in the town's back side and they made sure anyone living in Templeton house knew it.
Raymond ate half his sandwich, saving the other half for a later coffee break. He drank the last sip of his coffee. After he placed the cap back on the thermos and the canvas cooler on the floor behind his passenger seat, the deputy turned the windshield wipers back on. A huge gush of salt and rain water whooshed away. When the windshield was clear, he pulled the cruiser back onto the road.
“You have a good evening Mrs. Templeton," he said to himself as he passed the house on the way back to town. He gave a little salute to the brightly lit house as he passed by. Before him awaited the chaos of the night. The deputy smiled. He looked forward to the summer nights in this beach town.
As he drove toward town the deputy took one last glance at the Templeton house in his rear view mirror.
“What the hell!”
The wheels of the cruiser locked up nearly sending it off the road. Dogg fought to bring the cruiser back under control.
“Harbor two to base,” he called in to the station.
“This is Base. What’s up Dogg?” the soothing woman's voice of the third-shift dispatcher teased.
“I’m not sure. The lights of the Templeton house are flickering on and off.”
“Maybe the ghosts are having a hurricane party like the rest of the Harbor tonight.” Dogg thought he could hear a giggle in her voice. Chances were more likely that some drunken tourist were playing a prank on old Mrs. Templeton.
“I’m going to check it out,” he said, throwing the cruiser into reverse. Of course there was always the possibility that the house, and not the summer folk, was the cause of the trouble at the Templeton house tonight. Dogg didn't believe in ghosts, but the rich history or the house, the endless disappearances and deaths made him leary. Just in case, he called back to base.
“If you don’t hear from me in ten minutes, send backup.”