October 10, 2012

Deep Point of View

Holy crap. I learned so much over the past few days about how to write a better story. This is the new version of House on Butcher Harbor using the guidelines on Deep Point of Veiw! What a difference. I love it!
The summer storm battered Templeton House set on the end of Butcher Harbor Peninsula. It was the only house that stood on the peninsula of this tiny North Eastern town. Rain pelted the glass windows and the weather worn roof as gale force winds shook the very foundation of the beach house. Inside, sixty year old Elizabeth Templeton stood in the living room in a crazed state, a carving knife in her trembling hand. Her striped house dress hung loosely on her tiny frame, not unlike the skin on her aging body. Her eyes were as wild as a wolves. She moved the blade of the carving knife from side to side as if to hold off her attackers. There was no one in the room with her, at least no one living that is.
“I asked you to stop this ruckus for just a while- STOP! Is that too much to ask?” Distress wrinkled her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks unchecked.
“Listen to us,” hundreds of ghosts said in their own way.
“We live because you hear us.”
“Don’t desert us,” the needy voices called out to her. All the noise made her head ache and grated on her last nerve.
“Go ahead and do it,” the haggard old woman with the knife hissed at her from the corner of the room.
“Yes, join us,” others said. Each one of the hundreds of souls trapped in the house needed her in one way or another to help dispel the torment and anguish of their lives. Dead or alive they knew she would listen to them.
“Do it,” the old woman cried out again.
“No, wait!” cried the soft pitch of a young boy. “Don’t listen to her," he pleaded. “I need you. I miss my mommy. Please stay with me. I am scared.” The boy looked around the room at the other ghosts, panic on his face.
“Haven’t I been here for you all these years? All of you?” Elizabeth pleaded, her eyes wild with fear and pain. All these years she had delighted in listening to their desperate stories. They had become her friends, her family. They were all she had left in her world since her husband passed on and her daughter Claire had fled the house of ghosts after high school. But tonight, with the storm raging outside she needed quiet. The years had taken a toll on her and she could no longer meet the constant demand on her attention. They required too much from her these days. Was it too much to ask for a break to recharge her frail body and mind?
Each time the house was slammed by the insistent wind she was afraid it would crumble around her. There was no need to worry about the house. It was sturdy as ever. But what if tonight, like her, it too might be weary on this treacherous night.
“Yes, join us,” cried many voices from all around the room, the voices came from the very walls of the house itself.
“Can’t you be still for just one night and give me a little peace?” Elizabeth cried out.
“No,” the room shuddered with the cry of many voices in many languages as yet another gale force wind assaulted the house.
Tears streamed down her face. She was tired. They were not about to give her the rest she needed. They were sucking the life out of her. Exhausted, Elizabeth held the carving knife to her throat in one last attempt to quiet the voices for just this one night.
“I’ll do it. I swear I will,” she threatened.
“Yes,” hissed the haggard old woman’s voice again, “Do it you weak bag of bones.”
“No please,” the little boy pleaded, “I’ll be quiet. I promise.”
“Do it!” the old woman hissed yet again. “Do it you filthy whore.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. The voices grew louder, fighting to be heard over one another.
“I can’t take this anymore.” She fell to her knees between the sofa and the coffee table. She sobbed into her trembling hands, still clutching the carving knife. She didn’t want to die, but the voices wouldn’t stop. She knew they couldn’t. It was too much for her.
“Join us,” they whispered at once.
“STOP!” she screamed as she lost what little as left of her mind. A sharp thin pain was followed by warm flowing blood as the cold metal blade slit first her left and then her right wrist. A flash of light was followed instantly by a thunderous boom. The house shook from top to bottom. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks and mixed with the warm blood as it ran down her hands and onto her striped house dress. This was not the outcome she had planned on. She believed that they would care enough about her to let her rest. She had given them all so much. Surely they could have given her this one thing.
“NO!” the little boy screamed as he rushed across the room and hugged her.
“That’s right you stupid bitch. Leave it to you to bleed all over the clean floor. Claire will love cleaning up that mess,” the old woman scolded her.
“Someone please help her!” cried out a German Sailor in uniform.
Outside the endless waves beat upon the shore. The rain pelted the rugged exterior of the house, drowning out the voices inside. Only a quick flickering of the lights betrayed the secret the beach house held within its walls as the life ran out of gaping wounds. They look like tiny mouths she thought as everything went black. 
Tires crunched along the road as Deputy Raymond Dogg drove his police cruiser into the cul-de-sac at the end of the Peninsula Road. This was the only place the deputy could find peace during the busy summer months on Butcher Harbor. Summer season was in full bloom and the natives were restless due to the summer storm. It had trapped them inside their homes, rental cottages, town restaurants, and bars for several days. He anticipated a lot of calls tonight. There would be bar fights, cooped up husbands lashing out at tired wives. Then there was the summertime fights over parking spaces made worse by everyone’s desire to park closer to the door.
The deputy glanced across the peninsula. Lights dotted the beach and surrounding port. It was a sight he never got 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 spewed sea water up onto the peninsula. The heavy spray hit the cruiser even though he was parked twenty feet from the rocky edge.
He turned his windshield wipers off, allowing the rain and sea water to wash across the windshield freely and placed the cruiser in park. He reached over to the passenger side floorboard for the cooler that contained his lunch. A thermos was on the seat next to him. He poured himself a cap full of his mother’s famous coffee; roasted with just a bit of her secret ingredient- cinnamon. Coffee breaks like this one were the highlight of his night. The taste and the smell of the coffee 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, he 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 left every light on in the house. Perhaps she was using the light to ward off the loneliness the storm seemed to bring with it.
He knew from previous breaks here that Elizabeth Templeton rarely kept more than one light on at night. She was probably on a very tight budget. That could be the only reason anyone would be foolish enough to burn only one light in that house at night. Raymond had heard stories about the ghosts of Templeton House since he was a toddler. Mrs. Templeton was said to be loony from all the ghosts she allegedly kept company with within those walls. He remembered her daughter Claire had left shortly after her husband had passed on. Claire couldn’t get out of that house fast enough.
All the stories started with pirates who landed on the peninsula and built the house upon the craggy shore from parts of boats they shipwrecked during storms just like this one. Boats they themselves had scuttled. The harbor was named for the blood bath they created out at sea and on land. His father told him the story about the mob from town that gathered and finally drove the pirates off, extinguishing the lights of the house, and 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 he could not understand the house always remained occupied.
Templeton House captivated Raymond as he stared at the two story structure. He wondered what it must have been like to grow up in that house. Remembering the teasing Claire had taken in school, he decided maybe he didn’t really want to know. He had put up with his own hazing with the name Dogg. Now that he was a deputy, his friends gave him shit about his name all the time. And when it came to names, the name- Butcher Harbor- was a thorn in the town's back side as well. The town hated the house and anyone crazy enough to inhabit it.
He ate half his sandwich, saving the other half for his next coffee break later in the night. He drank the last sip of his coffee in his cup. He placed the cap back on the thermos and placed the canvas cooler back on the floor next to him. He turned the windshield wipers back on. A huge gush of salt and rain water whooshed across the windshield and was wiped clear only to be filled quickly by new rainfall. When the windshield cleared, he pulled the cruiser back onto the road.
“You have a good evening Mrs. Templeton," he said outloud as he passed the house headed back into 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 loved his job.
As he drove toward town he took one last look 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 his control.
“Harbor Two to base,” he called in to the station.
“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 of their own like the rest of the town,” she said. Dogg thought he could hear a giggle in her voice. Chances were more likely that some drunken tourist were playing a prank on the old widow.
“I’m going to check it out,” he said. He threw the cruiser into reverse. Of course there was always the possibility that the house itself, and not the townsfolk, was the cause of the trouble at Templeton house tonight. He thought about this for a moment. He didn’t believe in ghosts, but the rich history of the house, and the endless disappearances and deaths contributed to it made him leery. Just in case, he called back to base.
“If you don’t hear from me in ten minutes, send backup.”