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The Architect of Coffins

BY BRANDON HOOKS

“Has anyone ever heard the legend of old man, Abraham Mortimer and his coffins?” Brian Sedgwick asked his two buddies.

Warren Green flicked what was left of his cigarette onto the brown patches of Mortimer’s front yard, and waited for Brian to fill them in on the myth. Brian grinned at Drew Turner and asked, “So what about you, Dr. Drew? Care to put your brainy analysis on the subject?”

Drew pushed the rim of his glasses back on his nose, looked at the run down two-story mansion, and asked, “What’s to analyze? It is an old scary mansion. My only analysis, smart ass, is to trash this plan and do something else!”

Warren buried his face in his hands and shook his head in an act of ridicule. He then looked up at Drew. “Drew, come on man, you can’t chicken out on us. What will Jennifer Morgan think of you? Don’t you want some action? Don’t you want to score?”

Before Drew could answer, Brian intervened, “Alright guys break it up. Allow me to fill you two boneheads in on the story behind Mortimer and his coffins.”

Brian took out a Salem Light and lit it. He exhaled and then began the story. “Back in 1930 or so, Abraham Mortimer built many coffins by hand. This was part of his job description as President of the largest funeral home business called Mortimer Funeral Services. He built them right here, in the comfort of his own home; his master living room to be exact. Rumor has it that the eighty-three year old kook spoke to his coffins, held conversations with them.”

Warren interrupted, “You’ve got to be lying! No way, the old crazy man spoke to his coffins!”

Brian took a drag of the cigarette and nodded his head with a slight sinister glow to his face.

Drew stepped back a couple of steps, and of course both Brian and Warren picked up on it. Brian grinned, and said, “Hey kid, Jennifer will love you for this! You will be Mr. Suave with the ladies when they find out you went in there and took on old man Mortimer himself! What could be studlier?”

“Probably going home and reading Weird Tales or instant messaging some cyberspace skirt!” Warren said in cruelty.

“Yeah, yeah, very funny pretty boy!” Drew snapped.

Brian slammed his right fist on the hood of his Ford Fusion, and snarled, “Hey, would ya’ll like to hear this story or not? Coz we can go and vandalize Mr. Robert’s new pad if you’re game.”

“No, let’s hear it. As a matter of fact, let’s go in there. I don’t want to be a geek all my life,” Drew said.

Brian rubbed his throbbing fist with his left hand, and then cleared his throat. “Okay, so the eighty-three year old kook is caught speaking to his coffins, right? People question him about his eccentricities, and local authorities urge him to keep his work inside and away from public view. Everything is settled. It goes off without a hitch, until one fine day, a couple of dorks decide to play a trick on the old man. They plan to break into his house with just the idea to catch him at his game, his work….his work of building coffins.”

Thin clouds rolled over above the house and the three boys as Brian told the story. Both Drew and Warren’s eyes were locked on the fascinated face of the storyteller. Brian pointed at the mansion with his lighter and continued. “The boys went in there that afternoon, and as they were doing their thing, one of them suddenly snapped and went crazy. I don’t recall their names, but I do know that the boy who snapped, suddenly mentioned murdering the old man!”

Drew’s jaw dropped as he stared at the look on Brian’s face. Brian smiled and then nudged Warren. “Here, give this cigarette to Dr. Drew. He looks like he could use it.”

Warren shook his head with his right hand on his forehead and handed the smoke to Drew. “Here, Drew buddy, the ladies love a smoker!”

Drew snapped, “Save it slacker! I don’t need it! It is just a house, that’s all! The man is dead, what is there to fear! I do not want to be a square until the day I die!”

Warren with a glare on his face responded, “Alright guy, take a chill pill or something! You have balls; maybe we can work something out here! Just tone it down a notch.”

Drew looked back at Brian and said, “Go on, tell the rest of the story so we can go in there, come out and prove that there is nothing to fear with the old abandoned assembly of bricks.”

Brian sniffed and went on with the legend. “The one thing that I wanted to mention about the old man, that I have not previously said, is the fact that he was as mean as a snake, and as cold as a New York winter day. So these dweebs decide to try and take out someone they know nothing about. Well, they enter the main room, the master living room, and they immediately notice his presence. He is doing what he always does, building and maintaining his family of coffins. At first it isn’t clear that he notices them. One of the boys shouts out at him, and he looks up and sees them standing not too far from him.”

“So what do they do, Brie?” Warren asks in complete ignorance to the fact that they were there to kill him.

Brian turns his head and smirks, and then looks back up. “Well, suddenly there was a fight, a scuffle between the boys and the old man. He had a pile of coffins stacked up on each other about ten feet high, and he was pushed into the stack, therefore causing all of them to fall and crush him.”

Warren replied in astonishment, “Dude, no freaking way! The old geezer really took the fall for good?”

Brian nodded his head and now the look on his face was as wild as the other boys had ever seen. He displayed such morbid intensity, and had such a cold, callous look that both boys looked upon the storyteller with reverence.

Brian continued, “The man was crushed and then officially pronounced dead at the sight. The boys that contributed to his demise were never seen since by parents and others citizens. They just vanished and that was that. The house was designated a crime scene, and authorities searched for the ones responsible for the act. That was when rumors began to abound pertaining to the house, and the possibility of it being haunted by his spirit. The legend went on to say that his spirit is somewhere in this house, waiting for revenge on anyone who trespasses on his property.”

There was a deep silence on that street in front of the old house of Mortimer. Neither of the boys said a word for several minutes. A dark cloud hovered in the sky and a westerly breeze blew through. Drew looked up at the towering mansion and was apprehensive over its dark and frightening structure. It was a surprise that the old mansion of dark bricks had not completely collapsed in on itself. There were a great number of years on the house and still it stood and reigned. His attention turned back towards Brian as he heard the flicking of Brian’s lighter.

Brian said, “There is an empty house right there, fellows. What do you say we end this little bit of storytelling and get ourselves dirty. I will bet you both, that neither one of you can walk into each of those rooms in there, and walk out the door without chickening out.”

Warren quickly responded, “Oh give me some time and I will surprise you, Brie. I say let’s do it. I love a good thrill!”

Brian looked over at a now concerned and worried Drew and asked, “How about you, Dr. Drew? Do you feel brave enough to join us? Now is the time to back out if you are square. But I have to tell you that if you back down now, Jennifer Morgan will hear of this. You can count on that.”

Drew took a deep breath and then replied in a frustrated tone of voice, “Let’s go, if it will make you jerks happy!”

“No, don’t do it for us buddy. Don’t even do it for yourself. Do it for your future wife, Jennifer Morgan,” Warren mocked.

“Bite me slacker!” Drew retaliated.

When the exchange of words was over, the boys stepped onto the brown front yard of Mortimer’s and walked up to the towering mansion. The mansion seemed to get bigger as they approached it, but Brian failed to pay much attention to it. Nor did he pay much attention to the way the shutters on the second story windows creaked and moved as if possessed by the hand of a demon guarding its premises.

Leaves rustled and scattered about onto the front porch almost as if they were leading the way into the mansion’s deepest, darkest secrets. The winds picked up considerably, causing the front door that was rotting away at the core, to creak as well and slowly slide open. The boys walked up onto the front porch and were greeted by the door. Brian finished what had to be his fifth cigarette of the night and stopped in front of the entranceway to the master living room. He looked at Drew first.

“Well Drew buddy, this is it! You aren’t chicken are you?” He taunted.

Drew shook the paralysis out of his hand and placed his right hand over his mouth that was quivering out of control, trying to hide it and make it cease. He said, “Yeah let’s do it. We are here aren’t we? I don’t want to be a dork the rest of my life.”

Warren patted Drew’s back and snickered. Brian turned back towards the door and said, “Let’s do this thing.”

Brian was the first to enter the master living room, and then Warren, and finally trailing a little bit, Drew made his presence known to Mortimer’s living room. The space of the room resembled a cathedral. The room soared to a height of forty feet, reaching a ceiling that was corroded and infested with spider webs. The width of the room was so substantial that it looked as if the room could hold a thousand people. The lighting was dull, giving evidence that electricity was scarce. It had a healthy dose of dreariness and sorrow to it. The atmosphere of the entire room defied any chances of anyone feeling at ease and welcome.

“Where was the melancholy and frightening music that you would expect?” Drew thought to himself.

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