|Posted: 23/January/2006 at 11:05am | IP Logged
Robert Hastings signed almost all of the sale documentation for his family’s very first house. Until now, they had always rented, as they never had enough of a down payment for a house of their own not to mention the full asking price of the sale. As Robert turned the page to sign the very last part of the document, Robert stopped and looked at Mr. Cooper (the seller) with an untrusting glare and asked, “And there is no catch? The house is mine once I sign this and hand over the check?” Mr. Cooper smiled and replied, “That’s all there is to it. I need the tax write off and I get the satisfaction of helping out a decent family.” Robert looked Mr. Cooper over for a long second, still not completely trusting him and having an even harder time believing his luck, he looked down at the last page and signed it. Mr. Copper grinned, took the paperwork and handed Robert the deed to the house. He shook Roberts hand and still with the grin on his face as he turned to walk away he said, “How you make your entry is most important.” Robert, now more confused than ever, looked at Mr. Cooper as he walked away. Robert turned and stared at the house for several minutes and walked to the front door. He reached for the doorknob and stopped himself. “I want the family to walk in together for the first time as the owners.” He said to himself. He got into his car and drove to the apartment. He caught himself speeding several times as he anxiously made his way to the apartment.
Robert parked the car in the apartment access road in front of their apartment and quickly jumped out of the car. As he ran towards the door, Robert’s wife Ann yelled to him out the front window, “Hey, we can’t afford a ticket. You can’t park there. Come on Robert, you know better than that.” Robert was too busy making his way as fast as he could to the front door to say anything and just waved at Ann as he ran.
Robert burst through the front door and yelled, “Everyone get their shoes on we are going on a trip. Daddy has a surprise for you.” Robert and Ann’s children, Nancy Lee, Bo and Baxter quickly ran for their shoes and Ann asked Robert, “What’s the surprise?” Robert replied, “Now it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, now would it?” He grinned, hugged Ann and told her to get her shoes on so they could see the surprise.
With everyone in their shoes and ready, Robert hurried them out the front door and to the car. “Seat belts or no surprise!” Robert yelled with a big grin on his face. Ann began to wonder what was really going on. She had never seen Robert this excited before in their fourteen years of marriage. “Where are we going?” Ann asked as Robert’s foot hit the gas pedal like he was in the Indy500.
The kids in the back seat started to giggle as Robert continued his race to their destination. With one hand on the dashboard and the other on Robert’s thigh, Ann yelled, “Slow down! We can’t afford a speeding ticket or a funeral!” Robert eased off the accelerator for a bit but several more times during the trip, Ann had to remind Robert about his lead foot.
The further Robert drove, the more Ann wondered what he was up to. She watched the trees and bushes get thicker as they drove to the surprise destination. Robert slowed and turned right onto a gravel road. The trees were so thick now that Ann could barely see the sky.
Another right turn onto another gravel road covered in trees and Robert slowly drove as the road curved to the left. As they made the curve a Victorian style house came into view. Robert stopped the car in front of the house and quickly got out. Ann looked at Robert through the windshield. “What are we doing here mommy?” Bo asked and received no reply. Ann slowly opened her car door and got out. “What’s going Robert? Why are we here?” She asked. Robert made his way to the front door and stopped. Ann and the kids looked at him as he just stood there staring at the door.
“Robert? What’s going on? Are you ok?” Ann asked. Robert turned and with a grin that was from ear to ear he said, “Welcome home.” The kids quickly ran to Robert squealing and giggling with excitement. Ann stood at the car trying to comprehend the “Welcome home” statement. Robert held the doorknob with one hand and waved Ann to the front door.
Ann slowly walked to the front door, looking at the house and the surrounding yard. Once she was at the door, Robert turned the knob and pushed the door open. The kids ran in ready to explore their new home. Ann stood at the door and looked in. She turned to Robert and said, “Have you lost your mind? Who owns this and why are we really here?”
Robert placed his hand at the small of Ann’s back and gently pushed her into the house. He leaned down and kissed Ann on the neck from behind and wrapped his left arm around her. “Here” , Robert whispered as he touched Ann’s nose with the signed deed.
Ann looked at the paperwork as her heart started to race. In fact, Robert Hastings was clearly written on the deed as the rightful owner. Ann turned to Robert and asked, “How? How can we afford this? How is it all paid and what’s the catch?” Robert just smiled as he took a deep breath of air and held it in and then slowly let it out. “Robert, what did you do to get this? None of this makes sense and all I know is that we CANNOT afford the monthly payments on a house like this!” Ann said with the sound of panic in her voice. Robert just grinned at Ann and quickly went upstairs to see what the kids thought of the place.
Ann opened the deed back up and read every word on the paperwork very slowly and three times through. “Everything looks legal but what the hell do I know about this kind of thing?” Ann thought to herself. “ROBERT!” Ann yelled as she made her way up the stairs. As she stepped into the hallway she stopped to listen to locate Robert and the kids. A cold chill came over her for a few seconds as she stood there silently listening for the sounds of her family. It was silent, almost deafening how quiet and so very cold it was.
As she stared at the end of the hallway, she could see her reflection in the big mirror mounted on the wall at the end of the hallway. Her image seemed to be moving even though she was standing perfectly still. As she tried to focus on her image, Bo jumped into the hallway in front of her from the first open doorway on the right. “BOOO!!!” Bo shouted and began to laugh. The cold feeling left at that instant and Ann could hear the rest of her family exploring in the first room on the left.
Ann looked at her reflection and the movement she thought she saw was no longer happening. Ann quickly went into the first room on the left where the rest of her family was. “Robert, look, how can we just all of a sudden own this huge house? How did you get the deed with your name on it? I need answers because this whole situation has me worried.” Ann told him.
“OK look. First off relax, take a deep breath and relax.” Robert reached out to Ann and held her firmly by the shoulders as he looked her in the eyes. “Really, take a deep breath and then let it out, and then I will tell you about it.” Ann did as he asked just because she knew he wouldn’t tell her until all of his little demands were met.
He walked her over to an old rocking chair and sat her down. As the kids continued to explore in that room, Robert told them to explore the other rooms so that he could explain everything to Ann. They ran from the room and as their giggles became muffled by the distance and the walls, Robert knelt down next to Ann and in almost a whisper began to tell Ann everything.
“You remember last year when I told you about that old guy that came into the bar and paid for every drink poured in the place for the rest of the night?” Ann tried to remember but couldn’t. “I told you he was real talkative and friendly. He had on a pair of faded bib overalls and a sport coat?” Ann still had a puzzled look on her face as she truly tried to remember. “He gave me the cigar that smelled up the apartment so bad.” Said Robert. “Ah HA! Oh I remember the cigar. It took me a week and 4 cans of air freshener to get that smell out of the apartment.” Ann replied.
“OK, well since that first night, he has been back to the bar every Friday night. He always sits on the last stool at the end of the bar next to the cash register. He is always very friendly and very talkative and others, well they didn’t seem to feel comfortable with someone that would be that open about everything. You know, chatty to a point of almost annoying? Anyway, it didn’t bother me and so I would talk to him each Friday night.” Ann listened as Robert continued on.
“About six or seven months ago he started telling me about this house that he had and needed to do something with or else he would have to pay some kind of tax on it.” Ann quickly replied, “I knew it. I knew there was something wrong with this deal. You don’t get something for nothing Robert.” He stopped her and continued with the story. “The tax had something to do with income on the house or something but anyway each week he would talk to me about it. After a couple of months, he started asking me if I wanted the place. I told him about or financial situation and he kept saying he’d work with us on it.”
Ann listened but still held a clear distrust about the deal. “After a while I finally agreed to come out here just to see the place and to hopefully have him drop the idea of us buying it.” Robert continued with the story. “When I met him out here, he showed me the place and said that I could afford the place. I just laughed at him and told him about how we rarely get the rent in on time. He kept telling me that I could and made it seem like I needed to at least see what it would take to own it.” Ann listened to Robert and never broke eye contact as he spoke. “He wanted $5000.00 for the place. So I sold Mom and Dad’s utility stock to pay for it.” Ann’s eyes got the size of silver dollars and she yelled, “You sold the stock? That was for the kids. How could you do that?” Ann quickly stood up and started her way to the room door. “Wait, listen… I know I should have told you, but I wanted it to be a surprise. Plus, we already have equity in the home. We can use that to pay for the kids college.” Robert quickly replied. Ann stopped and turned to Robert, “You don’t get something from nothing. Why don’t you want to understand that?” She said. Robert quickly replied, “If it’s not right, then lets sell the place for what it’s really worth and buy another place?”
Ann shook her head slowly and replied, “OK… OK… BUT we go to the City Hall in the morning to verify that nothing is illegal or going to cost us anything. If they say it’s ok and that we are the legal owners, then I will shut up.” Robert smiled and said, “Well, that would be a first.” Ann smirked, pushed Roberts shoulder and said, “Shut up wise guy.”
“What about all this furniture and stuff? Is he going to come get it soon so we can move in?….IF it turns out to really be ours.” Ann asked. The thought never crossed Roberts mind to ask. “Crap, I didn’t even think of that. I can move it in to the garage and when I see him on Friday I’ll ask.” Robert replied.
Robert and Ann joined the kids in the other rooms. The four bedrooms upstairs gave each child their own room. Something they had never had the luxury of enjoying in the past. Robert guessed the house was about 2200 square feet, give or take a few. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs and the kitchen, living room, family room and another bathroom downstairs made the place seem like a mansion to them. There were a couple of things that needed a little bit of repair. The porch had a couple of boards that were rotted and the door to the closet under the stairs was nailed shut. The garage, which looked more like a barn needed some work as well and Robert figured he would start right away on most of the repairs.
The sun started its descent and since the power was off in the house, Robert and Ann gathered the kids and drove back to the apartment. The kids were too excited about their new house to calm down and go to sleep right away so they watched TV for an hour or so until they finally started showing signs of dozing off. Once they were in bed, Robert and Ann sat at the kitchen table and made plans to visit the City Hall to get the answers they were looking for. Ann called her sister Barbara and asked if she would watch Bo in the morning after Nancy Lee and Baxter went to school. Barbara agreed and promised to be there at 8am the next morning.
The next morning the kids were up early and as they got ready for school they started choosing their bedrooms. Up until now, the three of them slept in one bedroom so the very thought of having their own rooms to do as they please was better than an unscheduled visit from Santa Claus. Nancy Lee and Baxter were on their way to the school bus stop after having cereal for breakfast. Bo was busy playing with his cereal as usual when Aunt Barbara showed up. Ann made Robert promise her that they wouldn’t tell Barbara about the house until they were positive it was theirs. Ann didn’t want Barbara to have another reason to pick on Robert. Barbara didn’t think to highly of Robert. Being a night shift bar tender at a small hole in the wall bar was not her idea of a job a husband and father with any dignity would hold.
As Robert and Ann left, Barbara held Bo in the front window and waved. City Hall was only a few miles from the apartment, and when they arrived, Robert locked the car with the deed and paperwork in it. Evidently the excitement was still building for Robert too. Robert unlocked the door and Ann reached in and grabbed the paperwork.
In City Hall, the clerk told them which department they needed to go to for answers. After waiting for over an hour, their number was called and they found themselves sitting in front of another clerk. The clerk to the information and walked into another room. Robert and Ann sat quietly as they waited.
About thirty minutes or so later, the clerk came back holding an armful of paperwork. Ann expected the worse and was ready to walk into the Police Department next door if there was any sign of an illegal act committed by the property owner. To her amazement, the clerk concluded he was the rightful owner and there didn’t seem to be any liens on the house. The clerk told Robert and Ann to complete the transaction they had to file with the county. They thanked the clerk and off to the county recorders office they went. Several hours later, according to both the city and the county, Robert and Ann had a new house. A home that was theirs and had no monthly payments to worry about.
Robert and Ann raced home to deliver the good news to Barbara. Ann could tell Barbara figured something was wrong but surprisingly she kept her mouth shut for a change.
The next three days consisted of moving everything from the apartment into their new home.
On the next Friday, Mr. Cooper showed up as usual but told Robert he was going away and probably wouldn’t be back. Robert asked where he was going and Mr. Cooper never gave a complete answer but instead claimed he was “needed elsewhere.” Robert almost forgot to ask about the furniture in the house, but remembered just as Mr. Cooper got to the bar door on his way out. “Hey Mr. Cooper. I forgot to ask you about the furniture and stuff in the house. I put it all in the garage. Are you going to have someone pick it up soon?” Robert asked. Mr. Cooper smiled and replied, “Keep it. Keep it all, I don’t need it.” And he walked out. Robert stood there staring at the door for a minute as it closed slowly.
Robert raced home that night and woke Ann up to tell her about the furniture. Ann loved a lot of the antiques and secretly crossed her fingers that Mr. Cooper would forget them. With a big grin on her face, she hugged Robert tight and whispered, “Thank you.”
Taking a scientific approach to investigate the paranormal.