Here’s this week’s story. It’s a first draft; I’ll revise a bit and add a couple of pictures later. I think it has some promise. What do you think?
By Laura McHale Holland
She fed feral cats, which was a great nuisance to her neighbors in the Willington neighborhood, but everyone tolerated the mismatched, cracked saucers and bowls spread across her front porch and yard, cats hissing at one another and passers by. They ignored the sight of her unruly white hair, crazed eyes and tattered trench coat as she ambled daily to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes and who knows what else she carried back in her little brown grocery sack. She was the last daughter left of the Willington clan, which had settled the region generations ago.
Her closest neighbor, David, an old geezer himself, even helped every now and then, trimming and watering her rose hedge, mowing the lawn, washing the old Rolls Royce that sat unused in her withering garage. Word had it that she was once a real looker with a philanthropic bent, until some grifter had preyed upon her in her old age and wormed his way into her bank account, which he promptly cleaned out just before leaving town.
Most nights her neighbors could hear her singing “Some Enchanted Evening” as she stood at her kitchen sink and watered African violets long after dark, when the town’s children were sound asleep in bed and the adults were turning off the TV, turning out the lights, locking the doors.
Many in Willington say they heard a strange noise on the last night she sang. It started as usual, but then there was another sound. People described it in different ways. Was it a scream? A laugh? An exclamation of joy? It depends on who’s describing it. Then, shortly after the sound came another sustained sound from within her rundown home. Some say it was a vacuum cleaners; others say it was something more sinister, like a chainsaw, muffled somehow. All agree that it droned on and on.
After that night nobody saw her or her Rolls Royce again. David tended the roses and lawn until some distant relative of hers who had inherited the place and had the old house torn down. The lot was sold, a new showcase home built that sold for over $1.5 million the first time. But there is a problem with the cats. They writhe around on the lawn and meow like they own the place. Each new owner enlists the help of animal control officers to have the cats caught and shipped to a shelter. But every time it happens, even more cats come to replace them.
The new house is empty now, neglected. And every so often when lights are being turned out around the neighborhood, and people are yawning as they prepare for bed, someone hears what sounds like an old woman singing “Some Enchanted Evening” right where the old woman’s kitchen window used to be.