Story Go Round 10/25/2009, #2

Wanda's Haunted House

(post-titled by Amber)

It was a dark and stormy night, which was perfect for the opening of Wanda's Haunted House. Meant the roof would leak and the power would probably go out, but that would only increase the spooky factor and add to the overall take for the night, stuffing her kitty for that overriding longing in her life, right now: a new fall coat. Most people saved up for special things, or took a second job, but Wanda ... well, she did most things different.

Wanda flicked on the giant neon lights, and looked around for problems. And there it was, as usual — the House of Mirrors was dark.

She sighed and headed over. Cursing the architect who had put the control panel at the heart of the mirror maze, Wanda wended her way through the maze of passageways that filled her apartment's little living room. Passing the sofa she tested it to make sure it was still soaking wet with fake blood. If someone sat down on that puppy she wanted their butts soaked so that everyone would know. Reaching the middle, she clapped twice, activating the strobe light, and then took the short cut to reach the bathroom. In it sat a life-sized Dracula she was particularly proud of, which she bought at a clearance sale for less than a pair of hedge clippers. As she put on her face, she felt hot moist air on her neck, and goose bumps rose on her arms.

How odd! Nothing Wanda saw in the mirror explained it. Then the floor creaked, and she broke out in a nervous sweat. Starting to turn around, she remembered the two guys from down the hall she'd hired to play a zombie and a crazed old guy for the night. They were a real bargain, too, for neither needed a costume. Leto was always high and pale from meth, and the old guy was the crazy old guy every apartment complex came with. Wanda figured if they scared her that much during the day, they ought to really frighten folks at night under atmospheric lighting. "Hey, Leto," she called out into the hallway. "Can you just go hide in the hall closet and jump out and moan whenever you hear anyone come by?"

Leto wandered in from the hall, twitching, and entered her kitchen to unload some of her prize silver into his pockets. He threatened her life in response, and then she felt a goose — yes, it was a definite goose from behind.

Wanda yelped and jerked around, but no one was there. Nothing was there, even that which ought to be: the life-size Dracula.

"Hey," she started -- what was the old guy's name again? "Hey Scooter, come back here with that Dracula!" she yelled. "He's supposed to be my centerpiece."

She heard no reply, only ... a faint gurgling sound coming from behind the shower curtains in the bathtub. Wrenching them aside, Wanda had her finger up to wag it at Scooter disapprovingly when she saw the old guy trying to make out with her Dracula. "Nuh-uh," she cried, grabbing the one dummy out of the arms of the other one. "I need him!"

Sweeping the shower curtain back in place, Wanda stormed out to the kitchen to set her centerpiece up in the center of the table, laying him out in the cardboard coffin she'd made out of old pizza boxes.

The crowd started to file in. Mood music on full, they started walking through. Wanda worked a pulley with fake spiders, dropped and lifted a guillotine blade, and lifted the lid on an igloo of dry ice. Then she heard frightened yelps from the bathroom. Then some more.

Back to the bathroom she ran, pushing aside partygoers.

"Scooter," she shouted, "You're fired! You're more trouble than you're worth!"

But when she reached the bathroom, it became clear it was crazy old guy yelps she was hearing. Scooter was scooting around on the bathroom floor, all by himself, pants down as if he had been going to moon someone. "The toy-let! It's haun-ted!" He reached for her in terror to help him up. When she didn't offer a hand he cried: "Yer plumbing. It's cursed. It got me when I sat down!"

Leto, who'd come up behind her in the meantime, laughed at first, but then he too cried "oh shit, I took a dump there. Now I'm cursed!" He began running about the apartment calling, "This place is cursed!"

A quiet man stepped forward and said gently, "I'm a retired priest, and what is usually required in such situations is a sacred plunger. Do you have an ordinary one that I might bless?"

As Wanda watched Leto's antics, she noticed that the room was almost packed, with a line stretching out the door. She thought of her threadbare jacket and the cold wind off the lake.

"Thanks, Father, but I'll pass."

I feel warmer already, she thought.