The hills were alive with green, on this beautiful September morning in central New Jersey. The leaves just beginning to change color. The kids were starting school, the parents off to work, the demons quiet. Fall was always a nice time in Hopewell, it seemed quieter, stabler, then the hot and humid summer.
Cars getting stuck on 518, people being off to work , contractors working on projects, from the roads to the roofs.
But there was something strange about that old house on the Sourland mountain, always occupied but filled with terror. The Lindbergh baby was there and dead in the 20s, the place was national news, and the ghosts have always filled the neighborhood.
The house was once a mansion, with beautiful gardens, animals from around the world, and gorgeous artworks. The gardens were overgrown, the driveway filled with weeds, and the remaining artworks covered in grime.
Its owner, Jim Pendergrass, was a hermit, only rarely seen in town. He had been widowed 3 times, and since his third wife, Margaret died, almost no one has seen Jim. He once was a man about town, getting nice meals, getting too many drinks, getting his share of DUIs. But Margaret death 10 years ago of cancer, took the spirit out of him, something haunted the man. His eyes had become gaunt, almost lifeless, his sight worsened, his gait slow and sad.
The townspeople wondered why Jim had not left the place with the bad memories, where their son, William had jumped from a third floor window, survived and then hung himself in the basement. Where their daughter Jennifer, got away from Hopewell has fast as she could, got out of high school and joined the Marines, shot while on patrol in Serbia.
194 Long Hill Road stunk of death, of scandal, of memories Jim couldn’t shake. He cried a lot, kept looking through pictures, was but a shell of a man. Until he heard that Avenda, the cancer drug his wife took when just diagnosed with a melanoma, may have killed her. When he found out Merck pharmaceuticals of nearby Whitehouse Station, had made the drug, falsified the trials, and starting reading more about the case, he got his energy. The energy for revenge, the energy to take away from their lives what the drugs had taken away from his.
“Those sons of bitches,” Jim thought as he read, “they knew this drug could be a killer and they said it would create miracles, I now know what I can do.”
Forget lawyers, forget hitmen, the house has an arsenal under lock and key, Jim had been a marine himself once, he may be 60 now, but what he learned in Vietnam could revenge his beautiful Margaret’s death. And who would think a sad, slow, old man with weak knees could be an assissin.
Yes, yes, I thought, revenge is a dish that will warm my heart. Their families need to know the loss, I know, blood is warm, death is cold, jail is just waiting.
Why do these songs of bitches, need some fine or some freaking little jail sentence, what they need to get is some pain, some hurt, some loss, for all they have inflicted.
The knew Avenda didn’t cure melanoma. It is supposed to be a cure, not supposed to spread the cancer. They are sons of bitches, they are scoundrels, they need to know that some pains aren’t curable.
Life goes on, but the hurt never goes away. I need to know stories, I need to find out what they did, I need to restart my life.
Jim’s estate had money, most of which he put in a trust, doing good works no one knew about in town. Trying to cure cancer, trying to help the families afflicted.
“I may not be able to do much anymore, but my foundation can do great things.”
He believed in medicine, he believed in progress, believed in ghosts , and knew that physical pain didn’t last as long as emotional scars.
He knew he needed to leave this house with all of its pain, but had no idea where to go.
This is where his wife lived, this is where his life was.
There is where it can begin again.
He knew of the sins of his grandfather, he knew of scandal, he knew his life needed to begin again.
Anyone have any thoughts of how to continue — feel like there is more here but curious what y’all think. — Edmund