Status Update: Midnight Tonight—Elaine Bonow
Status Update: Midnight Tonight
I wasn’t a natural believer. I liked to think of myself as a pragmatist, show me the actual physical proof and then I’m with you all the way. That was until; well let me start from the beginning.
A couple of years ago I got a call from an old friend, Tony, Anthony Humboldt.
“Sandy, long time huh since I was in touch.”
“Hey there Tony, good to hear from you. What have you been up to?”
“Well, I’m calling because I have a favor to ask you.”
“Sure man. I hope it’s something I know how to do and it ain’t illegal. Those days are over for me now.”
“Oh, nothing like that. I just signed up to Facebook and I found you. I thought I’d call because you posted that you are selling real estate.”
“Yeah, I’m doing some brokering. Things are getting better since the hard recession but… What do you need? Are you selling or buying?”
“Well Sandy, it’s like this, my grandfather passed a few months ago and well, I couldn’t believe it. He left me a small fortune. I never knew he had that kind of money. I thought about it and decided to buy the house of my dreams. I’d like to live somewhere on the peninsula, in the Port Angeles area. I know that’s not in town but I thought you might be interested.”
Of course, I accepted his offer. He wanted to spend close to two mil, which would mean a cool stack of cash for me. I eventually found him the perfect house; a mansion perched on a secluded cliff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It had belonged to an old sea captain who built the house in the twenties and been abandoned for at least forty years.
Tony started posting to Facebook about the house soon after he moved in. He named the house Ligiea from an Edgar Allen Poe poem, the one about the worm, The Conquering Worm. “Ligiea is going to be my doom.” He posted. “The house and its array of ghosts are out to get me. I’m sure of this.”
His friends’ list grew as more and more people found him on the internet. He had offers from TV ghost shows to feature the house and measure it for hotspots of magnetic paranormal evidence, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
I seemed to be the only person who had actually been to the house and that was when I sold it to him. I certainly didn’t see anything unusual then. He stayed pretty much alone only admitting a handyman or two to help with repairs. It is not hard to stay alone on the Peninsula; it is a haven for loners and eccentrics.
We, his Facebook community, were his virtual family and friends. It was a one-sided community as he never commented or liked anyone’s posts just posted his eerie sightings. After a few months he introduced us to his ghostly community. Ligiea or Lee Gee as he called her was the first to be introduced. He posted profile pictures of her at strange angles and shadows. The house was large and the rooms vast but not especially dark and gloomy by any means. Just blank walls and sparse furnishings, a table here, a floor lamp there; standing alone by a window, like the lamp posed itself for the photograph.
Their photos garnered new friends to Tony’s page, not all of them Goths and Pagans but others who had also been affected by a house. Comments flowed, 20 people like this and then 80 people like this next to the “Thumbs-up” sketch. Tiny profile photos of Sumyria Comoplague said, “Love the photos Tony. Reminds me my home in Rumania.” And Alan Pardoux just posted “I ©©©©©.” Someone whimsically named Dor T Ofozz posted. “When’s the party dude. I want this house.”
I thought all of the fuss was getting a bit bizarre and decided to limit my contact with Tony for a while. But late that summer I checked in again with Tony’s doomed house. Now he was actually posting sketches of the ghosts that he thought lived in the house.
The Grey Lady appeared to be at least by her clothing, from the Thirties, dressed from head to toe in grey her face obscured by a thick veil. The Captain had a peg leg and smoked a pipe. He drew little girl twins, one dressed in dark red velvet trimmed in ermine with dark hair and hypnotic eyes, stuck like glue to her doppelganger in white velvet and white sable, blond with eyes completely closed like she was blind.
Tony attempted to photograph the ghostly figures but no one could see what he saw every night in the vast rooms of the old mansion. He became totally obsessed with the haunting, posting every night at midnight the goings on at Lee Gee.
I got worried about him and decided to make a trip to see him. I felt responsible after all I had found him the house. I drove out late October on a fine Northwest day of clear crisp blue skies with remnants of autumn leaves dripping from the trees.
I sent him a text letting him know I was coming. I knocked loudly at the back door. It took him a while to get to me. I was shocked when I saw him. His once robust body bordering on middle age fat had shrunk. He was positively gaunt and unshaven. He opened the back door of the kitchen a sliver. The kitchen looked unused just a few dusty dishes stacked in the sink.
“Tony, it’s me Sandy.” I said. He looked at me with vacant eyes blinking in the sunlight. “Jeeze dude, you don’t look healthy. I am worried about you. I think you need a break from this place. I’ll drive you back to Seattle right now. You can stay with me. I’ll look after you.” I blurted at him, at a loss seeing him like this.
“No, no go away.” He screamed at me and slammed the door shut. “ She loves me, Lee Gee loves me.” He mouthed back at me through the windowpane.
I staggered back to my car totally shocked by what I’d seen. It was getting late to drive back to the city. The once clear skies filled with rain and opened torrents on this watery edge of the rain forest.
I got a room at the Red Ranch Inn in Sequim, took a hot shower and plugged in my laptop. I logged onto Facebook. There was a new post from Tony. “The day has come. Tonight I’m finally going to be united with Lee Gee.”
Worried I commented “Tony don’t do anything foolish. I’m in Sequim and I can come right back out to get you.” Others joined in the conversation. There must have been sixty comments some urging him to complete his mission, some worried about the outcome of his decision.
The storm outside intensified. I could hear the crash of distant trees felled by the howling wind. A shock of lightening illuminated and then killed all the lights in this remote village. I waited in limbo and fell asleep atop the polyester cover of the stiff motel bed.
Just before midnight my laptop screen arose from the dead and also woke me from my dreamless sleep. There was a private message notification on the Facebook screen. I clicked it open. It was from Anthony Humboldt. “Dear Sandy, by the time the storm abates I will have joined my beautiful Lee Gee. She is my best lover and closest friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining us together forever. BTW I have named you in my will as my heir. Enjoy my fortune on this earth and I will enjoy mine in the next. Your friend in heaven, Tony.”
His last post on Facebook was there for all to see, just two words. “Midnight Tonight.”