The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter 16
My mind was racing in every possible direction besides calm. Tilton Boyer continued holding me as we both cried in shock over what we had just experienced. Pam Hawkinson, Tilton’s niece, committed suicide and took Jake the snake with her before our very eyes. And then we heard the sirens of the firetrucks, ambulances, and state trooper vehicles descending upon the property. I had never experienced so many flashing lights in one area and as each light flashed it told a horrific story of death and destruction on all levels. I wanted to go anywhere but where I was to escape the deafening sounds and spiritual hell all around us. The crushed metal, raised voices and the force of water being spewed from the firehoses, blood, and the cries of the semi driver being placed into the ambulance. Why I forgot my own name when the trooper questioned me as well as I never shared any of the information I had known about Pam and Jakes affair or her last words to me. I wanted to punch the secret door in the corner of the garage and run back to the last place Pam and I talked before she and Jake drove away to their demise. And so I did. I took on that tunnel like it was a race to win all the way to it's exit on the side of the hill overlooking the mansion. The sight of the accident scene and the noises from it were lessened from that small hidden landing. My anxiety level was still “to the moon Alice.” In recall thinking I might faint from the hot flashes coming and going up and down my body especially the ones at the top of my head. At one point I had become so abnormally frightened I involuntarily screamed as loud as my vocal cords ever had to come forth in their twenty some year existence on earth. And then I crumbled onto the cement blocks someone had spent a considerable amount of time digging and laying into the earth onto the side of that hill. I sobbed until most of the sirens were silent. And then I heard it.
Barking. Barking from somewhere far away. Probably wolves out there upset by all the crazy sounds and ruckus in their territory. But I only heard one poor wolf, I thought? Wolves run together and bark together from what I had ever learned about them. And then I screamed again as I recalled Pam’s words through all the confusion of all the words spoken those past couple hours. I had recalled! Duke, it was Duke. Pam said if anything happened to her Duke was on what floor. I couldn’t remember what floor or where or any of her instructions.
I screamed, “Duke, Duke, keep barking buddy, keep barking, I’m coming!”
Then I ran back through the tunnel to the garage opening, flung the door open as I ran into the house screaming for Duke who I could no longer hear barking. I was running so deliriously I never saw him until Tilton grabbed me by the arm which flung me around full circle. He took one look at me and said, “What is wrong with you? You look like a crazy woman. Settle down its all over now. I always wondered how men could be so unemotional.
My breathing was rapid and inconsolable as I spoke between breaths saying Duke is upstairs, Duke is upstairs Tilton!
Tilton let go of me and I pulled away at the same time running toward the stairs.
He said, “Wait, where do you think you’re going?”
I screamed while hyperventilating, “Thi-rd flo-or.”
Tilton stopped and said, “Julianna, you cannot get to the third floor that way.” And then louder, “Julianna! STOP!”
I stopped turned around and faced him with what he told me was the emptiest almost greenish look he had ever seen on anyone’s face who wasn’t sick and in a hospital.
Tilton said, “Julianna, did you say the third floor because I know of no way to get to the third floor. I believe it was closed down years ago.”
I responded that I would not leave this property without my dog. That I would push every section of every wall until I found the secret passageway, doorway or elevator to the third floor! “My God Tilton, Tom may be up there too! Did you know about this?” And then I bound past him two steps at a time back to the first floor where I started banging on walls and doors for what seemed like hours. Of course Tilton didn’t know about anyone being held on the third floor but Pam sure did. And if Pam was working with Miles, then he must have known all along too. I didn’t trust anyone anymore therefore I did not share said information with Tilton. We had just about exhausted every wall on the first floor when I had the thought we needed to check out the shelter on the side of the house built for bad weather. As I recall they were called “Fraidie holes.” These shallow cellars had two large doors that lay nearly horizontal against their cement foundation. Each heavy door had a large handle so to pull and lift it open. The doors would lay open while the family hustled inside to beat the huge Texas tornados. I didn’t expect to find anything as the dugout portion of the tiny cellar was only a few feet wide and the same in its depth. Regardless Tilton and I opened the doors, moved very slowly down the spider infested stairs to the small opening where we inspected every square foot to no avail. As we crawled back up and out we dusted the cobwebs off one another while we stood looking at the building trying desperately to come up with a way to reach the third floor. Common sense told me there had to be a hidden staircase, but where?
Rather than my typical running insane, Tilton and I were strolling back toward the rear passage of the garage when to our eyes low and behold who drives in but Jake's not all that French sibling Timothy Haines. I immediately thought we should have hidden. He was probably in cahoots with Jake and the other drug dealers but Tilton disagreed. He told me he had known Tim since High School as well as they did the church scene together for years. And so it was we greeted Timothy Haines with our deepest sympathy. He was of course full of questions and of course I couldn’t interrupt him by saying his brother was a dirtbag. Nor did I inquire as to how to get to the third floor because dirtbag put my dog and probably Tom Baird in a jail cell up there. For all we knew they could be starving or worse which sent my anxiety levels to the moon and back all over again. That damn anxiety I tended to call "mine" just about got a name calling session in the middle of the rest of that mess. But I held my words for as long as humanly possible until my mind was about to explode at which time I took a deep breath and asked Timothy how long he had owned the house. He had given me a puzzled look but answered politely, since his parents had passed away. I noticed Tilton's immediate discomfort. I’m sure I had not been very discrete considering my facial expression not to mention my head turning back and forth from Tim to Tilton and back to Tim yet no one spoke. I had become sick and tired of all the lies and deceit. I stomped my foot demanding to know what the heck they were hiding from me and furthermore I ordered them both to start telling me the truth and how to get to the third floor and right now.
Tilton tightened his mouth along with probably his buttocks and told Tim to tell me the truth and then how to get to the third floor because it was very important.
Timothy Haines invited me to sit down at the old yellow metal top kitchen table that was supposed to resemble marble but didn’t. I think it was out of the 1940’s for sure. I reluctantly sat and listened as he told a tale of murder and suicide and how the two families were connected then and now. Seems Tilton’s brother, Emil Boyer was Pam Hawkinson’s step-father. He adopted her when she was a small child from his wife’s out of wedlock pregnancy Pam never knew her real father. Tim and Jack Haines father had an affair with Pam’s mother, henceforth the murder suicide at the end of the driveway. As for Jake he didn’t handle the murder of his parents very well. He always said he would find his revenge.
I said, “What murder?” Timothy turned his head away and then back to look me square in the eye as he told me how Pam’s adopted father Emil murdered both he and Jake's parents and then drove himself and his wife to their death at the end of this very driveway just as Pam had told me hours before yet not with the detail I was given. I swear I about had a Texas size cow at that very moment. I wasn’t sure how much more my mental stability could handle in one day. Not to mention the past couple weeks’ worth of crap besides. My mind told me if this old place were my heritage I would burn the son of a bitch to the ground. And then without forethought I said that very thing out loud. Tilton looked at me like maybe I was a bit out of line but I was not. Someone named Jake Haines had caused me a lot of pain and sorrow along with my dog and my friend Tom as well as his children and granddaughter. I wasn’t about to be a sweet southern quiet girl in any way shape or form. In fact I blatantly announced to Timothy Haines I was sorry for the mayhem in he and Tilton’s family background but Jake kidnapped my friend Tom Baird and my dog Duke who are on the third floor of this demonic building of bad memories.
Tim Haines was shocked at my accusation and warned me to be careful of such slanderous remarks. Tilton stepped up restating what I said was the probably the truth and to please show us the fastest route to the third floor of this house.
Tim Haines still couldn’t seem to bring himself to believe his brother Jake had stooped to such levels. I was thinking how I could surely tell him a thing or three about his little bro Jakey. But I held my tongue in anticipation of directions to Duke and Tom. However Tim had no instructions for us besides the sad tale of family murder which apparently occurred on the third floor of this residence. Yup, the angry husband of Alice Boyer, Emil, had murdered both of Tim and Jakes parents on the very same third floor we were trying to get to. And at that instant wouldn’t you know another bombshell. As far as Tim could recall the third floor had been closed off indefinitely as a consequence to the horrific crime scene. Plus he had no idea who would or could have reopened it or why.
I puckered my lips just about as tight as his asshole must have been at that precise moment and articulated slowly and clearly and without hesitation…….Jake did! Now how do we get up there Tim and now! Tim was silent for what seemed like infinity. I mean come on I was so close yet there was still no clear answer as to how to reach Duke and Tom. That was the same as infinity. Of course that was again how my mind worked. Drama on overtime for sure yet this time was for real. Therefore I said, “NOW, Tim or I am calling the FBI as soon as I can find a phone.” Attorney Timothy Haines slowly walked over the old pantry, opened the door, walked inside and closed the door behind him. I looked at Tilton and said I wasn’t about to let the last living Haines get out of my site. “Damn suicide runs in that family Tilton, let’s go!” And we were up and in that pantry faster than you could say Jack Robinson….whoever that is. But it was empty. Oh glory day now the mansion magic had struck again but this time I understood it and told Tilton to start pushing on the walls. Whalla! Magic walls indeed as it opened to a hidden stairway. I remembered reading in my history books about the old servant’s stairs usually off the kitchen area. I also recalled having a few friends back in Wisconsin with old Victorian homes where we used to play on those old hidden unused stairways. But why did Timothy take off without us? Jeez Lordie was he a drug dealer too? Was a loaded gun waiting for Tilton and me? That is when I pulled out my baby browning and readied her for a fight. I would kill anyone who harmed old Tom or Duke. So much thinking as we silently made our way up the stairs that seemed to make groaning noises from the dead. The dead who most likely walked the premises since their untimely and gruesome deaths. I felt like I was in the filming of a real horror movie. Only thing missing was Vincent Price and a bottomless pit of acid waiting for little ole Julianna Rowe. Stinking thinkin’ was constant for me but then what else would have been expected at that point in the game. Problem was that was no game. It was dang real plus now I heard Duke barking again which brought me straight back to my senses. I was pushing and pulling on Tilton to hurry up.
We emerged at the top of the three story winding staircase hidden in the wailing walls off an old US County highway out in the boonies near Amarillo. I pushed open the door, Tilton hanging onto my shirt like a scared kid. I reached back and pushed him off me along with a bit of a dirty look as if to say, “Get off me you big baby!” He got the message without the verbiage and then without warning I was hit dead center with a blow that knocked me clean off my feet. I fell back onto Tilton who must have been hit also. That is all I remembered until I regained consciousness.