Chapter 27: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Later that morning, Chantal joined Sierra in the kitchen for breakfast.

“I checked on you during the thunderstorm last night. How did you sleep?” asked Sierra.

“Fine,” said Chantal.

“I figured you were wearing earplugs because no one could have slept through the noise of banging shutters coming from Devlin’s room. Gusty winds and rain were blowing everywhere until I closed an opened window.”

“How did you get in without a key?”

“Devlin left the door unlocked. The atmosphere was eerie as I walked in his room through a time portal back to the early twentieth century. Dust and cobwebs covered everything.”

“This is an old house,” said Chantal. “What’s unusual about that?” she asked.

“Trust me, you will find out. Don’t be frightened but according to a newspaper article I read, a young married couple died here during the storm in 1938.”

The couple in my dreams died in a storm, thought Chantal.

Sierra continued talking. “Perhaps the room upstairs is a memorial and that is the reason Devlin did not give me a key.”

“Do you mean like our tribute to mom and dad in the living room back home?” asked Chantal.

“Yes,” said Sierra.

“Will Devlin understand why you went into the room?”

“I don’t know, but he should thank me for finding the water damage which needs immediate attention.”

“Is the second floor dangerous?”

“That is unlikely since all the other rooms are safe. I will ask Leslie to do another engineer’s inspection of the upstairs living space. Don’t worry.”

“I’ve finished my breakfast,” said Chantal.

“OK, follow me.”

Next, they went upstairs. “Wait, I need to get my voice activated recorder and a notepad,” said Sierra. She returned and before opening Devlin’s room door, she looked at Chantal and said, “Don’t be alarmed but I saw a mouse in here last night.”

“Remember, I’m not the one who’s squeamish, you are,” said Chantal.

After they entered the room, Sierra opened the shutters to maximize the natural light from outside.

Meanwhile, Chantal’s eyes widened as she scrutinized the furniture and decorations from wall to wall. “Oh my word,” she said. “The lilac colored floral wallpaper, and this old-fashioned black telephone reminds me of scenes from movies in the old days.”

Sierra smiled and asked, “Do you remember telling me, you and Shirley Temple were the same age when you were a little girl?”

“Yes until mom told me Shirley Temple was born in 1928, and made me do the math to figure out her age. I miss mom so much.”

“So do I,” said Sierra. “Ever since then, you’ve had a fascination with the birth-dates and obituaries of actors,” said Sierra.

“Because I’m sickly, I’m always curious about knowing a person’s age when they pass away,” said Chantal.

As Chantal continued talking, Sierra turned on the phonograph to listen to the record she had played the night before, and Chantal blurted out, “Wiener Blut!”

“Have you heard this music before?” asked Sierra.

“Yes, in a party scene from Death Takes a Holiday, made in 1934.”

“What was it about?”

“Death goes on a vacation and lives like a human while posing as a prince. Then, he falls in love with a mortal woman whose father disapproves of the relationship when he discovers Death’s true identity.”

“You’ve just described the movie, Meet Joe Black,” said Sierra.

“I know.”

“Is the atmosphere in here eerie to you?” asked Sierra.

“No, I’ve always felt I belonged to an era in the 1930’s. You’ve told me ghosts and spirits don’t exist. I may sound silly, but I’ve often wondered if I’m reincarnated.”

“Dearest, you’re not silly at all. I’ve evolved since mom and dad died. Life and death as we know it cannot be the end for our souls. I better get to work now.”

Sierra dictated her findings of the damaged floor and walls as Chantal explored the room with her eyes.

“Let’s go, I’m finished,” said Sierra a few minutes later.

“OK,” said Chantal, and they left the room.

Sierra stopped walking in the middle of the hallway. “Chantal, you go ahead, I have to go back to get my notepad. We will meet downstairs in one hour to go shopping.”

“Alright.”

When Sierra went back into the room, she saw a medium-sized picture frame lying face down near her notepad for the first time. “How did I miss this?” she asked herself. She picked it up and used her hand to wipe away accumulated dust from the glass.

“Oh no,” she said. Focusing on the images without blinking her eyes, she read the caption beneath the picture. “Mr. and Mrs. William D. Lloyd on their wedding day.” Then, she thought, either William has a striking resemblance to Devlin or Devlin is William’s middle name. “It can’t be possible. I’m going to dig deeper.”

She placed the picture frame face down on the desk and walked out of the room on a mission.

 

 

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