Zandra W. Bosie
Chapter One Cedar View City â€“ Thursday, Present Day
Lorin dropping metal
disappearing overhead. Swiftly, she tucked her head down a bit and steadied herself as the tips of her two-and-a-half inch heels greeted the
whipped about her face as biting winds lifted the
Had it not been for the
package she had been waiting for, Lorin would have opted for sunnier skies to check the mail.
Page |2 Already feeling the drag of her weight slowing her down, she wished she‟d changed into tennis shoes. Approaching the metal curbside boxes she turned her body slightly, positioning her key to open box number fourteen.
focus through blurry eyes, she fumbled with the lock. After a quick wiggle, Lorin was finally able to open the box, exposing what she‟d already guessed would be there...an overabundance of mail overflowing the small space. Surely the package had arrived, she thought. Quickly, she reached inside and began collecting the contents. On any other day, Lorin would have casually shuffled through grocery sales, advertisements, and letters as she strolled down her quiet street, across her driveway, and up through her front yard.
She would have
stopped dead in her tracks in front of her pitiful dying cypress tree to shoot it a disappointed look.
She may have even waved at
her neighbor, Lena Quinn...or ignored the disgustingly hormonal gestures of woman predator Byron Kennett down the street. But Lena Quinn wasn‟t outside today. Lady violator, Byron Kennett, was nowhere to be seen.
With that kind of chill in the air, no
Page |3 one in their right mind would be.
winter snap proved to be too much for the inhabitants of the neo-bustling city, turning what would have been a leisurely stroll into a forge straight ahead; to get inside to warmth as quickly as possible. Hastening through
kitchen she hurriedly dropped the mail on the counter.
thermostat to know that it was only slightly less cold inside the house than outside.
felt the icy coolness on the smooth surface of her copper sunset quartz counter. to
It occurred adjusted
thermostat earlier that morning. Slightly irritated at her own lack of preparation, she filled the teapot with water and placed it on the stove, abruptly turning her attention towards the task of opening the mail. Arranging each envelope in order or importance, Lorin impatiently flipped items from the front of the stack to the back of it. Doing so, Lorin uncovered a larger envelope with her name and address neatly written across the front. what she waiting for?
Could this have been
But the envelope was too
thin...from the outside it looked as if there
Page |4 was nothing inside it at all.
handwriting...well it certainly did not belong to her soon to be ex-husband, Mauree.
she turned it over to check for any signs of a sender, but found nothing. Sliding her thumb between the sealed flap, she opened it to reveal a single piece of folded white paper.
Opening it, Lorin
discovered that the page was completely blank except for a single number written in the center.
Lorin mumbled, glaring at
the number on the paper as if it would expose itself.
For a moment, she stood in
She didnâ€&#x;t know whether to
be amused or worried.
Not knowing what to make
of it she folded the paper and slid it back into the envelope, dropping it into her shredit pile with swift ease. Maybe he changed his mind and decided not to go through with it after all....she thought.
Almost four weeks had passed since she‟d stood in the doorway of the home that she and Mauree once shared. Lorin
Moments felt like hours to
watching Mauree as he‟d prepared to back out of the driveway and out of their failing marriage for
closely while he paused after shifting gears, placing
angry which also came as a shock.
Page |6 Lorin observed Mauree‟s full lips pressed together except when
couldn‟t find the words. driver‟s
Finally his tinted
exposing his face as he leaned out. “The lawyer says the paperwork is done.” he‟d casually announced. “I’m on my way out of town
tomorrow...that look it over. get
We can work out the rest when I
decided against it. Lorin didn‟t say a word and didn‟t flinch an inch. She‟d been shocked by his indifference but couldn‟t find the words for a reply. All she could muster was a silent nod...up once, down once in acknowledgement. As he‟d backed out into the street, Lorin felt a stabbing pain in her back, between her shoulder blades.
She‟d almost flagged him
down, but didn‟t want to make their not-sohappy ending more dramatic than it had to be. Thinking the pain would go away with rest, she let Mauree drive off without incident.
By midnight that same night she
could barely stand upright, and had driven
Page |7 herself to Cedar Viewâ€&#x;s emergency room where she was admitted to the hospital. Lorin had been more than prepared to deal with the divorce since it had come as no surprise.
She was not, however, prepared to
deal with what sheâ€&#x;d learned from doctors that day.
Leaning against the bar, Lorin peered out into her living room. Her favorite zamiocalcus, otherwise known as her jungle palm, sat in the corner.
and shiny, its leaves exhibited the perfect variation of glossy green richness.
right, Lorinâ€&#x;s black bambusa table presented a neat display of perfectly placed pillar candles next to the remote control holder.
placement of the pomegranate, tangerine, and wheat colored soy candles provided the illusion of a perfectly relaxed environment.
P a g e | 10 Every art piece, poignantly but purposefully abstract and brilliantly colored in sparkly earth tones, the indigo and violet glass piece commanding attention on the mantelpiece, the strategically placed Bimini Island weaved throw pillows on the sofaâ€Śall were added to give her home contrastâ€Śto make it interesting and alive. Everything she gazed upon was just that...textured, interesting, alive, and perfect.
perfect order. Everything that is, except for Lorin. Soon, she found herself listening to the silence of her home; trying to pin-point exactly when it was that she lost her texture...when she went from being Lorin full of life to Lorin full of silence. She looked down at the smiley face painted in black on her cherished yellow mug. Two black dots for eyes looked straight at her. A wide letter U drawn in for a smile gleamed happiness.
She stifled the urge to ask it
why...why it would still smile at her when after all these years she refused to smile back.
After all, her reason for smiling left a
long time ago...along with the bearer of her cherished mug. By now her teapot whistled impatiently, indicating that her water was boiled to
P a g e | 11 perfection.
Pouring steaming water over her
teabag, she leaned over slowly as the aroma of sweet ginger and peach danced above her cup. Instinctively, she inhaled slowly and deeply. Regrettably, she thought, enjoying a cup of hot tea seemed to be the only part of the old Lorin that she still carried with her. With tea in hand, she tipped upstairs to her bedroom where she found her robe and favorite warm pajamas and prepared for her bath. Sloshing her fingers around in the water to stir up more bubbles, Lorin began to think about the number fifty-two written on the paper. Had someone intended to write a letter, but just forgot to do the most important thing...which would be to actually write? She pondered the ridiculous idea, wincing as she eased into the almost too-hot-to-bear soapy water.
Relaxing into it, she slid down a
bit to let her head rest on her bath pillow. As she did, the number fifty-two slowly eased its way back to the forefront of her mind, this time bringing with it an announcement of tragic proportions.
resurrection of memories she had long ago buried.
P a g e | 12 Lorin sat in the bathtub still and quiet, allowing ghosts from the past to materialize. Fifty-Two...she whispered, declaring yet questioning the number at the same time. Scooping up a handful of suds, she squeezed lightly, letting them fall back in the water, watching the light ripple of the tub‟s floating surface as her thigh interrupted the water‟s flow. Fifty-Two...she said aloud, this time with a greater sense of clarity. Indeed, the number fifty-two held a specific placeholder in her past history.
that was a lifetime ago. Disturbed, she sat up too quickly, causing a cascade of frothy bubbles to slide over the side and splash to the floor. After all this time, she wondered, the number fifty-two shouldn’t mean anything to anybody anymore, should it? No, she thought and slid back down.
past is just the past she concluded, letting the suds tickle her chin as she reached over to grab her cup.
P a g e | 13
In bed, Lorin fidgeted and stared at the clock. p.m.
The glowing green display read 9:48 Reluctantly, she grabbed the phone and
began dialing Maureeâ€&#x;s cell number.
could put off no longer. When he had come to see her in the hospital, he was visibly different, she noted. The same man who had nonchalantly backed out of the driveway that day, as if it were just another day, was not the same man whoâ€&#x;d appeared in her hospital room a week later. Mauree had lost weight; his face was beginning to show hard lines where there they were once
P a g e | 14 smooth.
Hollow spaces replaced his once full
cheeks and she could see them sunken in. Normally defiant in his stance, he‟d shifted uncomfortably from one leg to the other as he stood next to her hospital bed. Lorin remembered how he reached out for her hand nervously, as if he‟d never touched her before. No mention was made from him about what they‟d „work out‟.
In fact, he‟d made no
mention of divorce at all.
No indeed, Mauree
was not the same. Aunt Tessa told me ummm...about the ummm...well you know.
He’d told her.
...And I know we’ve got this thing going on between us, but for something like this...you could have still called me. Even then she‟d managed to lie.
him she didn‟t want him to worry was more comfortable than saying what they both knew to be true...that the lie was born from something much bigger. But what could she possibly say to him now?
Too much time had passed with too much
water under the bridge. A conversation with him now would most certainly turn into a fingerpointing match about who should bear fault in their bitter-ended marriage.
For Lorin, the
mere thought of having that discussion was exhausting.
Taking the low road, she
P a g e | 15 positioned her thumb over the end call button. As much as she wanted to put the whole thing to rest, maybe it would be best to talk to Mauree another time. Seconds later the phone rang, startling Lorin so badly she almost jumped out of her skin.
When she brought the phone closer, she
was able to read the caller ID display. It was definitely not Mauree. Unknown number Unknown name flashed across the screen. Lorin recognized the same mysterious unknown caller that had appeared in her call history several times a week, who never left a message.
Aggravated, Lorin returned the phone
to its cradle. An hour passed and Lorin found it impossible to sleep.
The long soak in the tub
should‟ve helped, but didn‟t.
Sipping on hot
tea didn‟t do the trick either. To add to her frustration, she had other needs that required attention.
The empty space
next to her on the bed was cold; the comforter pulled tightly and tucked with no sign of life. If there was any doubt before, those doubts could now be dispelled.
Worst had come
to worst. Then the thought crossed Lorin‟s mind that maybe she should call Mauree...only not to
P a g e | 16 talk about the divorce.
At the very least,
with Mauree there she would have a warm body to cuddle next to. Perhaps he felt the same way too, she considered...and just for one night we could...she began to reason. Lorin reached out to grab the phone, but something on the nightstand caught her eye. She pushed the base over to reveal her bible sitting right where sheâ€&#x;d left it; bookmark still partially visible...holding her spot on Mark 1:40-45. Placing it beside her, she opened it and slowly began to read. Now, mentally sobered and thinking more clearly, Lorin realized that she had allowed her thoughts to take her to places she wasnâ€&#x;t ready to go to yet. Now is not the time to confuse things, she concluded, and slid out of bed, positioning herself on her knees.
With bowed head, she
prayed then got back into bed. Sleep did come for Lorin finally, but horrible dreams filled the rest of her night.
P a g e | 17
At precisely 5:00 a.m. the next morning her phone rang, jolting Lorin out of her sleep. “Hello?”
she answered groggily, her
voice low. From the other end of the line all she heard was dead air. “Hello?”
she asked again, but received
no reply. At the exact moment she moved the phone away from her ear, Lorin heard what sounded
P a g e | 18 like the tip of a fingernail scratch across a microphone. She glanced at the caller ID display. Unknown number Unknown name. Lorin spoke again, this time nearly hurling her words at the caller. “Ahhh...hello!?” she demanded, pressing the her lips directly against the mouthpiece. Enough was enough.
“Who is this?”
Anxiously, Lorin waited for a response. She was certain that this was no bill collector, sales call, survey, or telemarketer. After a brief moment, Lorin heard static interference and another fingernail scratch. Then...Lorin wasn‟t sure if her imagination was running away with her in the haze of early morning sleepiness, but she was almost certain someone chuckled.
distorted chuckle. This was no recording of any kind.
was now positive that there was someone on the other end of the line. Lorin raised the volume of her voice by a whole decibel. “Look!
Whoever you are...STOP calling
my phone!” Without hesitation and with great irritation Lorin hung up quickly and flipped over in bed, determined to go back to sleep for
P a g e | 19 another hour. Little did she know as she nestled underneath the warmth of her covers, that she would wake up later to forces that would change her life forever.
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Chapter Two Placette County, February 1979 When sixty year old Ethel Wilkins heard the loud boom blast from near the side of the house, her heart sank.
Sitting at the piano in
the front room that cold February night, she knew...before ever sliding the piano bench behind her to stand, that her husband was dead. By the time Placette County Constable Joseph Kilvarinâ€&#x;s rear wheel drive topped the snowy hill at the driveway of the Wilkens residence, heâ€&#x;d already been delayed by hours due to impassible roads caused by ice and snow.
P a g e | 22 By now rigor would have already set in, but the freezing temperature decelerated the process as Jebodi Wilkens lifeless body lay face down, covered in sheets of snow. Leaving the vehicle running with the headlights illuminating the carport, Joseph began to walk near Jebodi‟s parked yellow Chevy.
Immediately he spotted Jebodi‟s muck
boots, the right one almost completely hanging off of Jebodi‟s foot. Layers of packed snow crunched underneath Joseph‟s feet as he inched closer.
the back of the truck slowly, he directed his Kel-light above Jebodi‟s boots, up the back of his legs, then up his buttocks and back, finally to rest on Jebodi shoulders and the back of his head. “Christ, Jeb...” Constable Kilvarin uttered, shaking his head pitifully as he examined the hollow area adjacent the side of Jebodi‟s bloodied left ear.
immediate area around him, Joseph scanned the snowy ground saturated with blood; his flashlight catching fragments of Jebodi‟s flesh and bone splattered about. Behind him, the constable positioned the light beam towards the clearing further out on the north end of the Wilkens property...in the direction that the gunshot would have come
P a g e | 23 from.
While he could not see them, he heard
Jebodi‟s dogs barking out behind the back fence. With the weather forecast having promised more snow, and faced with a full night ahead; adding to that the challenge of having limited resources and manpower, Joseph knew before the case was officially opened that it would be a tough one. On the front porch, Ethel pulled her coat tightly around her.
Guttural moans formed in
the back of her throat, escaping between her lips in an agonizing plea to her Father God. “Stay in the house, Miss Ethel!” Constable Kilvarin yelled, standing up quickly to make his way back to his vehicle to call in the coroner. “My sympathies, Miss Ethel.
Jebodi was a
good man.” Constable Kilvarin said as he entered the Wilkens home, shaking the snow off of his hat. “Don‟t you worry, we plan to do all we can to find the man who did this to your husband.”
He said to Ethel who she sat rocking
and crying on the piano bench. Try...they did. did not.
Find the murderer...they
The weather conditions in Placette
County proved to be their greatest obstacle. With an entire day of snowy weather, and ice
P a g e | 24 and snow that continued to blanket the roads the night of the murder, all tracks had been covered several times over. Situated almost three-hundred miles north of Cedar View, in the beautiful rural hill region of Placette County, the Wilkenâ€&#x;s home sat on a stretch of land near what would later become neighbor to the burgeoning suburbs of Cedar View. With their home being so far away from the main road...so far away from everyone else, no one except Ethel heard the fatal shot. Jebodi Wilkenâ€&#x;s murder would become a Placette County cold case.
P a g e | 25
One week later, eight-year-old Lorin Wilkens jumped up from the front room floor where she‟d been laying near the piano on an egg crate foam pallet covered by two contoured sheets and three hand-made quilts.
she sprinted into her grandmother‟s bedroom. Throwing her body on the firm softness of her nana‟s high post bed, she quickly announced that Pappa and Bruce were on the other side of the bedroom door and were about to walk inside any second now.
“They were right behind me!”
P a g e | 26 she assured. Ethel Wilkins moved her horn rimmed glasses away from her face and laid them in the fold of the bible sitting on her lap; her mouth stopped short of gaping open.
She stared at
her precious granddaughter, searching her face for a hint of the truth. “How do you know that, baby?” Ethel probed gingerly, knowing that Lorin was a serious child who was not prone to make up stories. “I saw them.
They walked in through the
front door, right past the fireplace.
said What are you doing on that cold floor?” “He did, huh?
Maybe you thought you saw
him?” “No I was wide awake.
He was holding his
hunting gun and wore that red checkered shirt that he wears.
Bruce was right with him
wagging his tail.
I told Pappa that I was
drawing a picture but I was supposed to be in here with you already. I told him Yes sir.
He said Is that right?
Then I got up and ran in
here… and they were right behind me.” eyes never left the door.
She was waiting for
Pappa and Bruce to walk in. Ethel took a long hard look at the child sitting on the bed, wide-eyed, with her legs crossed tightly.
She knew, without saying
P a g e | 27 another word, that Lorin was telling the truth. With her jaw tightly clenched, Ethel eased off of the bed, gently placing her socked feet into her slippers.
Stepping off of the
rug onto the cool, smoothly waxed wooden floor, she positioned herself so that she could examine the doorway opening…giving herself just enough space to get a clear view into the front room. There was absolutely no one on the other side of the door, no one walking through the doorway, and because Jebodi Wilkens had been buried underneath Cedar View‟s rich red soil the week before, he would never be seen again. The likelihood of Bruce being in the house was slim to none.
Like several times
before, he had somehow dug a hole under the fence and Ethel figured he had probably lost his way in the cold. “Here, lay down!” Ethel drew the sheet back for Lorin. baby.
“There‟s nothing out there,
I think you probably miss your pappa and
in your mind you thought you were really seeing him.
And Bruce, well he got under that fence
again, but I‟m sure he‟ll be back soon. always finds his way home.
Go on and lay down.
Everything‟s alright.” Confused, but unable to express how she felt about what she saw, Lorin leaned back into
P a g e | 28 the lavender scented pillow as Ethel fought for a comfortable position on her side of the bed; her larger body weighing down the mattress, causing Lorin‟s side of the bed to shift slightly. “Night Nana.” Lorin whispered quietly. “Night baby.
Get you some sleep, hear?”
That‟s exactly what Lorin tried to do, but night noises, cracking walls, shifting wood and the wind howling against the window kept her ears tuned in. Swimming through the air, her Aunt Tessa‟s words from her Pappa‟s funeral floated around her head.
„Go ahead…’ she could hear
her say „…Touch his face.
There’s nothing to
be scared of…‟ To Lorin, there had been plenty to be scared of.
Just a week before, Jebodi Wilken‟s
dulled ashen skin was stretched over his face severely, resembling an exaggerated wax dummy rendition of himself…looking nothing like the man she just saw in the front room moments before.
Her Aunt Tessa had softly grabbed
Lorin‟s hand in an attempt to place it on Jebodi‟s cheek to make Lorin less afraid.
Lorin had quickly snatched it back. She had been very afraid. Finally, Lorin willed Aunt Tessa‟s voice, as well as all the night noises, to be silent
P a g e | 29 and closed her eyes. Next to her, Ethel was already sleeping. With her eyes still closed, she started counting backwards from one-hundred.
that she would be asleep before reaching fifty. Ninety-nine. seven.
Her limbs were starting to relax and
felt heavy. Seventy-three...seventytwo...seventy-one... It was working. Sixtyone...sixty... And on she counted. Fifty-six...Fifty-five...Fifty-four. Until. Fifty-three... Something happened. Fifty-Two... Ethel‟s porch light gave off just enough soft glow through the bedroom window to allow Lorin‟s closed eyes to detect dim light in the dark room. That‟s when she felt it; the gentle brush of air disturbed in an enclosed space. The kind of brush one feels when a person quickly walks past. Then she saw it. Slowly, a dark shadowy silhouette flashed across her closed right eye, then the left. Lorin‟s imagination ran wild with visions of monsters, but her matured senses told her that
P a g e | 30 it was a person, even though she was too afraid to open her eyes and see. Lorin instinctively felt that Ethel was still lying next to her. Now becoming more frightened, Lorin found that she could not call out to her grandmother. Paralyzed, she tried to reach out to touch Ethel, but her arm wouldn‟t budge. Lorin‟s little eyes followed the darkness from underneath her closed lids, holding her breath in horror while she waited for it to make a sound. Suddenly the black flashes stopped. Stifling the urge to scream, Lorin played the words of the Lord‟s prayer in her head.
Our Father who art in Heaven… Something was there; it was not her
It was not Jebodi Wilkens.
Minutes passed and Lorin finally summoned the nerve to open her eyes, scanning the room slowly.
All was still and quiet.
Lorin touched Ethel softly. not stir.
“Nana…are you awake?”
With a little more force, Lorin shook Ethel.
“Nana...I‟m scared.” Where Ethel had been holding the covers
near her heavy bosom, her stiff fingers clutched the sheet tightly and never lost their
P a g e | 31 grip.
Repeatedly, Lorin nudged Ethel‟s
“Nana please wake up?”
...And on Lorin tried to rouse her grandmother, repeatedly shaking Ethel. Lorin‟s desperate plea went unanswered. Ethel never moved and never opened her eyes again.
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Silent Fifty-Two Coming 2009 For more info, check out the website: www.insidetheinvisiblebox.com
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