What Became of Marjorie – Chapter Three

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter 3

While waiting for Katie to call her down stairs for what promised to be a wonderful old fashion roast, she sorted her notes into themes.

The upstairs rooms were fascinating; one in particular since Katie brushed her passed its locked door. Because Katie had chatted the whole time throughout the tour, she managed to ignore some of Maisies questions. Perhaps they remind her of some painful memories, she whispered. She couldnt wait to start typing a mystery that had collided with her jumbled thoughts.

The roast dinner was superb and Maisie had to finally insist she couldnt eat another bite, but then Katie brought out the apple pie and cream. She sat now rubbing her rather full belly wishing she didnt eat so much. I hope Katie doesnt expect me to eat like that every night. She smiled despite the ache.

With notes spread around the room, Maisie sat crossed legged on the bed and typed madly away on her laptop. She laughed to herself as memories from the day of exploring interrupted her thoughts.

It was almost midnight. She stretched her legs to regain movement to now stiffened joints. The enticement to step out onto the balcony was more than she could bare as a gentle breeze kicked up the hem of the curtains that hung from the glass doors. Outside the chill of the night stung her face. She rubbed her warm hands over her cheeks and allowed the peace of the night hug her.

The crash startled Maisie and she held the railing tightly with her hands that somehow found themselves outstretched. She instinctively bent her knees so she could see past a branch that protruded across one corner of the balcony. There, just like the night before was that same hooded figure but this time it seemed to be picking itself up off the ground. She was tempted to call out but fear seemed to mute her. The figure stood and brushed itself off. The sound of glass tinkled in the still night air. Focusing on the location she tried to memorise the distance from the gate to the bush where the figure had fallen before it disappeared into the darkness.

Maisie retreated to the warmth of her room and stood momentarily with her back to the double doors she had closed behind her. She quickly drew the curtains and climbed onto the bed. Who is it? It couldnt be Katie. This person is thinner and appeared more agile. Do I ask Katie, again? She didnt want to upset the friendship they had formed. Whats going on around here? She paced the room anxiously then silently open the bedroom door that opened into a dimly lit hallway. She listened in the silence but there was no sound. She had learned during the tour that Katies room was at the other end of the long hallway but there didnt seem to be any light showing between the floor and the bottom of the door.

It felt like hours before she closed the door again but the clock confirmed it was only a few minutes. The adrenaline she felt on the balcony began to slip away and tiredness began to overwhelm. She laid on her bed fully dressed and dozed off.

There was no knocking on her door the following morning; just the sun shining on her face. She opened her eyes then let them close. With a jolt she sat up. Hadnt she closed the curtains the night before? She shuddered and attentively peered out. Perhaps she didnt. Or, maybe Im spooked by the history of this place. Closing the curtains, she gathered her toiletries and headed to the bathroom.

Good morning, young Maisie, Katie sing-songed when her only guest entered the kitchen.

Good morning, Katie. I wouldnt have thought it but Im starving this morning.

Ah, the country air is working its magic.

Katie was obviously in a very good mood this morning. She glanced at her watch. So, shall we call this brunch?

Katie looked up. How about scrambled eggs and hash browns?

Is that what I could smell coming up the hall?

Probably but Im also cooking up a stew for this eveningunless you will need lunch too.

No thanks. She laughed. Katie, did you hear a crash last night? Around midnight?

Katie hummed while she cooked. No. unless my snoring rattled some china. She snorted then continued stirring the eggs. So, are you hungry or not?

Maisie left any further questions about the incident alone and ate her hearty brunch. Swallowing her last mouthful down with the rest of her coffee she stood. Im going into town. Do you need anything while Im there?

No thanks. Dont forget to call in to see Tom.

I wont. Maisie rushed upstairs to clean her teeth and grab her laptop. Thats strange. She knelt down to pick up her notes that were now scattered on the floor. The door to the balcony was still closed and the only window in the room was too small for any breeze to disturb the pile of notes. She shrugged it off, grabbed her keys and headed for the car. She slowed her steps and looked toward the side gate. Something glittered in the sunlight. Glass! So, I didnt imagine it.

MAISIE! Katie called from the front door. You left your phone on the kitchen table.

She jogged towards the waiting Katie with an outstretched hand. Thanks. Ill be back by the time your stew is ready to serve. She waved and hurried to the car.

With a quick glance in the rear-view mirror she released the brake but not before noticing Katie heading toward the gate with a brush and pan. So, she did hear it. My instincts tell me there is something mysterious going onbut do I want to know?

Tom was a rough but nice enough old guy. His stories were hilarious and a little scary. His belly would bounce up and down with his enthusiastic laugh. Maisie ask question after question and probably got more answers than she needed. She also doubted if any of it was true. After she read her emails and sent the necessary replies, her mind wandered back to the past two nightly events.

Maisie chose her words carefully. So, is there any ghosts still around at Kellys Inn?

Well now, that young couple that died in the fire could be still haunting the old place.

Besides the fire, what about the family that were there prior to you knowing Katie and Stan? Maybe even later. Has anything else occurred there?

Tom eyed her for a moment. He stepped around the counter and returned to his chopping block and smashed a meat axe through the carcass that he had placed there as she was entering the shop earlier.

The sound of the axe slicing the bone and the silence that settled afterward startled her. She was about to speak when Tom roared laughing.

Maisie smiled gingerly not knowing what else to do or say.

There was the incident with Stans little sister. Just fourteen she was. He rubbed his bristled chin. Now what was her name? He slammed the blade down hard into flesh spurting a few droplets of blood onto his butcher apron. Ah, yes Marjorie. She had a feisty spirit that one. Sneaky too. She would sneak out of the house at night to meet up with some boyfriend. Rumour has it that one night she just ran off with him, or so they say.

Interest soared and Maisie dared further questions. Do you think she still alive?

Could be alive. Could be dead. No one recalls if any young fella disappeared at the same time. There was nothing taken from her room. He pointed the meat axe at Maisie. Did you know her room has never been touched since that night?

Maisie sat stillthinking. Why would that be? she finally asked.

I dont rightly know and Katie is tight lipped about it. He paused; meat clever in mid strike. I just thought of something. I do remember something about a blood-stained scarf had been found caught on that old garden gate out beside the Inn. Police were all over the place for weeks but nothing else was found. Marjorie simply vanished.

To change the morbid subject, Maisie asked about Suzie, Toms wife.

Shes out the back in the kitchen. His smile was crooked. Why dont you go and say hello. She doesnt get much company these days. Katie stops by when shes in town. Thats about it.

Thanks Tom, I will. Can I charge my phone out there?

Sure. Theres reception if you stand on the step ladder near the pantry. He winked and returned to his work.

This was turning out to be an interesting afternoon. Suzie was a shy woman but it was obvious to Maisie that she enjoyed her visit. They talked about Kellys Inn, Katie and their years of friendship and about life in a little country town.

A handsome young man stopped by to visit with Suzie but didnt stay long. She never did get to ask his name. There was no further conversation about Marjorie even when Tom closed up the shop for the day and joined them for a cup of tea.

Before returning to Kellys Inn, Maisie walked round the small town and explored lanes and the very few shops in the main street then got back into her car. At the fork in the road that would take her left back to the inn or right to the main highway, she stopped to talk to a man who appeared to be a farmer. He was a cheery bloke and gave Maisie some information on local places she might like to visit. She had thanked him and made the turn back to her accommodation.

From the inn to town was about twelve miles. It was only a few miles from town when she decided to take a walk down a narrow bush-track she had seen on her way to see Tom earlier that afternoon. She had left her camera back in her room but she could use her phone for a few shots if she needed too.

Maisie picked up a small broken branch and plucked off the leaves and smaller twigs and held it out in front of her. She giggled and began to use it like a sword. I have you now! She spoke to the dense shrub and stepped onto the narrowing path swinging the crooked branch back and forth.

A bird squawked. It rustled the bushes and flew off to avoid the approaching stranger. Maisie looked up. I wont hurt you.

After walking about ten minutes, she decided it was getting too late to be traipsing around unknown bushland, but as she turned to go something caught her attention a little off to the right. Using the sword, she carefully pushed back prickly branches of a huge shrub and crouched low. There in a small clearing was an old run-down cabin.

What are you looking at! a voice barked from behind.

Maisie cried out when the branches smashed back into her face. By the time she recovered from the fright the bushes around her were empty. There was no one there. The cottage door slammed shut. Maisie tossed her sword into the bushes and ran back to the car. She drove off without looking back.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter Two

Chapter One
Chapter 2

It was just after noon when Maisie returned from her car with her laptop when she almost bumped straight into Katie crossing the hall.

The older woman was all smiles again. Lunch will be served in a few minutes if you would like to join me. I hope you like homemade vegetable soup.

Thank you. Yes, soup sounds lovely.

OK, Ill take it to the Great Room, as it was called. I can fill you in on its history while we eat.

Maisie thanked her again before off-loading her laptop into her room.

The soup was delicious and Maisie said so as the two chatted at one end of the grand antique dining table that could seat twenty easily. I cant imagine sitting at this table filled with guests. Do you actually cook for them all?

Not so much these past ten years. I do remember assisting the housekeeper Hilda and a second cousin of Stans. She leaned forward as if to tell a secret. Cousin Merle stayed until she gave birth to her still-born son, but we wont go into that. She paused while she spooned another mouthful into her mouth and tore a small piece from her home baked dinner roll. When I married my husband Stan, we bought a modest cottage in town. I didnt want to burden his parents and grandparents with another mouth to feed and to be honest, I hated the house back then and it wasnt over friendly at times. Merle was a spoiled brat when she first came but I think her situation and Stans parents parenting skills changed her by the time she left. Katie ate a little more before speaking again.

Remember I mentioned Tom earlier? She waited for Maisies nod. Well he was courting me for a while before I met Stan. Oh, we all turned out to be good friends, especially when Tom met Suzie and married before Stan even proposed to me. We lived in town a few years before both Stan and Tom went off to the Gulf; Stan was Navy and Tom was Army. They never set eyes on each other again. Her voice was almost a whisper. She cleared her throat and continued. Stan was killed when his ship struck a mine just after his ship entered the Gulf. Tom returned a year later with an injured leg. He still walks with a limp. Anyway, Stans father wouldnt hear of me living on my own. Besides, I couldnt pay the bills or buy food for myself. She smiled at the memory. Stan didnt want his little lady working after we were married. She cleared her throat again. Now, where was I? Ah yes. There were no local jobs I could do so I was contemplating returning to Parramatta where I still had family色

How interesting, Maisie interrupted. Thats where I live. Sorry. Please go on.

Katie shook her head. Thats fine. Fancy that? Anyway, thats when the invitation came from Stans parents. Of course, I had to work for my keep and I was only asked to help where I could until I settled in. After a few months, I found myself taking care of Stans grandmother who by then was confined to bed. She was a cranky old thing but we grew to love each other and enjoyed spending long days together doing needlework and chatting. After she died, I took over the care of all the upstairs rooms. Oh, and Merle had returned to Sydney by then and became a mid-wife or so we heard. After guests left for the day, I cleaned and readied everything up. Here Katie smiled. I guess thats how I got into a habit of cleaning upstairs in the afternoon.

Maisie smiled too. So how was it that you were left with this huge place. Surely there were other family members around.

Sadly no. Stan wasnt the only son who died during the Gulf War. There were three other sons and three daughters. The youngest boys both died before they married. Stans eldest brother returned but never married. I think he died from a broken spirit. He never spoke much about the war but it was obvious that it caused him more than physical pain. Stans father died in his late seventies and his mother soon after. Stan and I hadnt been married long, so we had no children of our own.

And the sisters?

One went to Melbourne and married there. We heard soon after that she had died from natural causes. I never knew what. She was only in her early thirties. One sister, Christine, was living in town with her husband but they were much older than Stan and I. They never had children and Christine didnt want the place. She died only last year in a nursing home. There was one other sister, Marjorie. She was the youngest. The solicitor who managed the affairs when Christine died even tried looking for her back in Ireland. Nothing. It was like she just vanished into thin air.

After Katie had been silent for some time to finish her soup and bread, Maisie quietly asked about how she managed on her own for so long.

I down sized, I guess you could call it. I only cope with up to six guests at any one time. I open up the house on occasions for bus trippers but just for afternoon tea and a guided tour. It helps with the bills. She sat up straight. You know what? I havent given you the guided tour. I wont charge you, she laughed. I just know you would appreciate it.

WOW! Thanks! That sounds wonderful. Would this afternoon be a good time?

Give me an hour while I tidy upstairs. Its just you and me so it wont take long.

I can clean up these dishes if you like. Maisie stood and picked up her empty bowl.

Well, I dont see why not. Thank you. Youll find everything you need in my little kitchen. Oh, just put the lid on the soup pot and check that I turned it off. Ill deal with it later.

The afternoon was everything Maisie expected and didnt expect. The building and all its history turned out to be the perfect place to break her recent writers block.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter One

Chapter 1

It was a glorious night with an Autumn full moon and a canvas of twinkling stars that stretched out before Maisie. She stood now on the only second-floor balcony of this quiet country retreat. Huge Banksias all but obliterated the front of the historic building; the perfect location to write her new mystery novel. Taking in a slow deep breath of the crisp air she took the few short steps to the railing and took in the outline of the surrounding landscape beyond the front garden.

The Last Stop Hotel had been built in 1869 but was renamed Kellys Inn in 1880 after a fire partially destroyed the ground floor on the same day as Ned Kellys death. One hundred years later, it was converted to a bed and breakfast by an Irish family of the same name who immigrated during conflicts that took the lives of family members and friends. Generations later, Kellys Inn had still retained its name and function. It was inherited almost a decade earlier to the Australian born Gulf war widow, Katie Kelly.

Maisie gasped with surprise at the sight of a shooting star. She watched in awe until it disappeared from view. A squeak that sounded like a gate opening or closing, brought her back to the moment. The following echo of a click confirmed it. There in the moonlight off to her right was a hooded figure who was now heading down the path and into a dark shadowed area that she perceived as the bush-land she noticed when she arrived that afternoon.

With strained eyes focusing, she waited for further movement. Perhaps I just imagined it, she mumbled to herself. After all, she knew she had an imagination that freaked everyone she knew.

Closing the balcony double doors behind her, she headed for the bathroom to ready for bed. Tomorrow, Maisie hoped, would be a day of exploring and note taking.

 

Maisie woke to a faint tapping at her door. Blinking at the clock beside the bed she wondered for a second where she was. Another slightly firmer knock woke her fully. Come in, she said, before thinking about who it could be.

Mrs Kelly entered with a tray atop with a mug of hot coffee, a small creamer jug and a bagel filled with bacon and melted cheese. I dont usually serve breakfast in bed to my guests but I need to drive into town for more supplies.

Thank you. What time is it? This clock doesnt seem to be working.

So, youre not an early riser? The woman moved the clock back a little so she could place the tray on the side-table. The clock is working fine. Its five-thirty in the morning.

Maisie groaned but it was too late. Sorry, I often write late into the night.

Thats all right. She grinned. When I return, we can sit down and discuss your nocturnal needs and later breakfast times.

I should have mentioned it yesterday, but an early start would do me good today. I need to make notes and check out this beautiful place. Maisy looked around the ornately decorated room.

Katie Kelly went to the door before answering. Until I return, can I ask you to keep the checking out to the down stairs and surrounding grounds. She turned and smiled. I prefer to right upstairs after midday. She winked and left the room.

Maisie smiled as she placed her feet on the floor and reached for the steaming coffee.

 

The largest room downstairs had obviously been the 1880 refurbished dining room or perhaps a dance hall, which could explain the size and the raised section at one end. The chandeliers above glowed dimly, but the intricate embossed ceilings held her attention.

Your mouth is open. Mrs Kelly interrupted her reverie. Theres a few dust spiders up there that drop unexpectedly.

Maisie mouth slammed shut as the womans jovial laugh echoed down the long hallway toward the back of the house. She gathered herself and rescued her notebook that had dropped to the floor before following her host.

With a huge grin from Katie Kelly, Maisie stepped into the outdated but awe-inspiring industrial kitchen.

This kitchen is amazing.

Yes, its that. Too big when Im here alone during the colder months. I use the old domestic kitchen. She pointed to an open door beside the door they had come through. Take a look.

To her surprise the smaller kitchen was no bigger than an English utility room she had seen on one of those country-life television reality shows. It had all the basics a single person would need. In fact, it was better designed than her own kitchen in her Parramatta apartment.

So, how was your breakfast? Her host peered from behind the open door of the biggest refrigerator Maisie had ever seen.

Lovely, thank you. Im sorry I put you to all that trouble.

Nonsense, I enjoy spoiling my guests. Even nocturnal ones, she added with a wink.

Maisy couldnt help but like this motherly older woman. So, how can we make this work, Mrs Kelly?

For starters, stop calling me Mrs Kelly. Its Katie. Im not the old housekeeper. She paused before continuing. Well, old maybe.

They both laughed.

OK Katie. You can call me Maisie. Im so glad I came across your website. Which reminds me. Do you have WiFi?

No. We are too far out and I like to keep it that way. Katie closed the fridge door and placed the last of the shopping bags under the huge work-space that seem to possess the room. She leaned against it. I use the butchers computer in town. Tom is happy for my guests to use his WiFi too. Just be ready for his weird tales from the past…like the one he tells about the young newly-weds that stayed in the room above on the night of the historic fire. She pointed toward the ceiling before adding: then theres Old Ned himself but Ill let Tom tell his stories. Katie slapped her ample thighs. Lets go into the sitting room. Its warmer in there. First on the left, she pointed. Ill bring down a pot of tea.

The next few hours sped by filled with hot tea, scones and laughs. Katie answered historical questions about the house and family. Maisie interest peaked when Katie mentioned the family cemetery a little way passed the side gate.

Last night I thought I saw someone going through the gate. Actually, I heard the gate squeak.

Katie sat silent before answering. You must be mistaken, she snapped. That gate hasnt squeaked for years. Ill check it later when I dig up some potatoes for tonights tea. Will you eat with me? she continued bringing an abrupt end to their pleasant morning.

If its no problem. I can pay for any extra meals I have.

Now cut that out, Miss Maisie. Youre welcome to join me at any meal. As for breakfast, why dont I prepare it once you come downstairs each morning. Ill be somewhere down here. Probably in the kitchen. With that, Katie packed up the dishes and left the room.

It took a few minutes before Maisie moved. She was at a loss to the sudden change of mood. She was concerned that she had offended the woman and decided to immediately apologise. Entering the kitchen a few minutes later she searched for Katie but she obviously made herself scarce. With a deep sigh she returned to her exploring. It was too late to drive into town. I dont want to upset Katie again. Still mystified, she headed back to the large room she had visited earlier.

穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.