Authors: Christopher; Dr. Paul Blake
As told by Christopher Blake Edited by Dr. Paul Hamelton
All rights owned by Dr. Paul Direct inquires to:
Back Cover by Permission: Jon Wos, WWW.WosArt.com
© 2010 PEH
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior expressed written permission of the author.
By Dr. Paul
I believe the story that you are about to read will not be complete without knowing how it came to be written.
I am a psychologist. In my teenage years I had an interest in psychic phenomena. I read everything I could from accounts of ghosts to crop circles. Then in my college years I took several courses, when available, on subjects such as myth, magic, folklore, and whatever else was obtainable on the unknown.
Before you make the incorrect assumption that I am a metaphysical junky who believes in every U.F.O. sighting you should know that I enjoy looking at these topics from a scientific point of view. I demand facts and evidence. Then, and only then, can I possibly come to a conclusion as to the truth of what I have been told.
After I got my degree I was struggling to pay back my school loans. I happened to acquire some patients that had difficulty due to reasons to which other doctors seemed unsympathetic, reasons of the supernatural. My name got somewhat well known as the "Paranormal Doc" (a name I do not care for but it has made me prosperous). Other doctors started referring all their "freaks and weirdoes" to my office. Consequently making me a very busy man. I do not claim that all my patients really experienced what they think they did, most had no proof of their tale and had conflictions. Some on the other hand, supplied logic and evidence.
Christopher Blake was referred to me from a large well known mental institution. I had no knowledge of the doctor he had been seeing as a patient. Christopher was out of my geographical area and I was busy, so I originally turned his case down. His doctor explained that Christopher was willing to make a two hour commute to my office three times a week, as long as he could get help from someone who would not patronize him. This desperate cry grabbed my curiosity and I agreed to see him on a temporary bases.
After 2 months of seeing him, I found Christopher to be an extremely intelligent man with a large culpability complex. He was so overwhelmed with his past that he had a short attention span when it came to anything not related to the incident that happened to him. He told me bits and pieces of his story in vivid detail, but flighty and the complexity was too involved to grasp in an unorganized conversation. I instructed him to put on paper a day to day account in chronological order, so I could better deal with understanding his problem. He completed this very involved task in less than a week. When I read his writing, I found it not only fascinating, but it lacked any contradiction whatsoever. I asked for proof that his story indeed really happened. He brought me confirming testimonies, news clippings and some physical evidence. Amazing! I asked Christopher if I could edit his writings for an article. He agreed if I removed some of his more personal information, kept most of the detail and allowed him to approve the final copy. Being too large for a scientific publication, we turned it into a book. I completed the task with Christopher's help and consent.
Christopher's sessions are coming along great; we are down to one a week. We hope you find Christopher's story fascinating, thought provoking and enjoyable.
I have been asked to put in writing an incident that happened to me in my youth. Perhaps it was a mistake to have told anyone not involved in the unique happenings about it in the first place. I knew before I ever mentioned it that I may seem crazy, or may have changed the facts to hide information about an unexplained death.
The year was 1974; I had just finished my second year of college. My best friend's name was John Handy; we called him just "Handy." Most people called him that, in fact he wore a gold bracelet with just his nick name on it. Handy was the happy go lucky type. You know the sort; things always went his way without any effort on his part. It's easy to find yourself envious when you're working as a waiter in a pizza parlor every night to pay rent and your roommate makes more money taste testing new flavors of ice cream two hours a week. Not that Handy really needed to work of course; his father was an executive with an oil company. The one asset that I had over him was physical size. I'm six feet tall and a healthy 175 pounds, while Handy was only five foot six and about 125 pounds.
To get back to the story, Handy's dad was offered almost a month's vacation in an English mansion while his friends, the Simons, were vacationing in South America. Handy's dad in turn offered it to Handy. Handy, not wanting to be by himself, invited a couple we know named Jeff and Cindy, and me, if we could pay our own transportation. We all found the money for the vacation.
We really did not know exactly what to expect when we arrived at the airport. An elderly butler named Albert met our plane. The sky was still dark as dawn had yet to come and we were tired from the time change and the flight so we could see or notice little on the drive to the house. After about an hour and a half Albert, in his shaky old man‟s voice, broke the silence. “We are entering the town of Hamelton and nearing the estate”. Then, becoming aware of our surroundings, the four of us peered out of the darkened windows of the limousine with big eyes like small children.
The sun was just making an appearance over the rolling hills. The town of Hamelton was like no place this Californian had ever seen before. A strange mixture of yesterday and today. We were on a wide cobble stone street with buildings crafted out of stones and mortar hundreds of years ago, sheltering photo stores and TV repair shops. The town was just coming alive for the day. Some shop owners were arriving for an early day of work. I saw few cars moving, apparently most people walked to work in the small town. After looking down narrow side streets, I realized the town was not designed for automobile parking. Little notice was taken as our Bentley limousine slowly rolled down their main street.
It was ten minutes outside of town on the same street since we had seen the last sign of life which was an old church and cemetery. We all seemed to be quietly wishing that one of us would ask Albert, "Where are we now?" "What does the house look like?" Or "Tell us about Hamelton." But there's something about a grim English butler that can intimidate even the most cocky college students. At last, as we rounded a small green hill, we saw the house to the North. It was a breath of fresh air. All the thoughts of haunted vampire castles vanished as the cheery mansion came into view.
The word castle means a fortified building. Not knowing the correct definition at the time, I would have called it a castle if it had a moat. The mansion was not fortified and did not have a moat. It was big and long with a wing on each side coming forward. Three stories tall in the middle and four in the wings. The smooth light stones that had been used to build it made it look from a distance that it was painted white. Several small protruding architectural stone work, enhanced its character. Approaching the house, we could see the ten foot tall stone wall that extended as far as the eye can see in both directions, seemingly surrounding the property line.
We drove through the gates in the perimeter wall. The gates and guardhouse, although well kept, seemed unnecessary and unused. The large surrounding landscape was now easy to see. The lush green lawn directly in front was well manicured. A fountain was in the front court yard just before the house. Tall shadows of trees sparsely outlining the lawn gave an appearance of more depth from the morning sun light letting in selected rays. Flower gardens could be seen off to both sides.
We approached the house, parking in the front between the fountain and the main doors. Peering through the ajar main doors was a puffy smiling woman's face. The woman emerged dressed in a typical black and white maid's uniform. She was in her fifties. Happy and energetically she came out talking so fast that I barely made out enough of her thick accent to put together what she was saying.
"You sure must be tired after your long trip. Don't worry about the bags, Albert will get them, after all it is his job. Are you hungry? Was the flight bearable? Come on this way I'll show you to the breakfast room." She held Jeff by the elbow and started walking him in waving for the rest of us to follow.
Handy finally came to life, his face lit up as he gave me an "I told you everything will be all right" look. He introduced all of us to her on the steps.
The woman responded while continuing toward the house, "I'm Maggie Mu... Oh just Maggie, everyone, just everyone calls me Maggie, just everyone. Did I ask you if you wanted food or sleep? It takes old Albert sometime, but he gets his job done..."
She talked on, but between trying to understand her, staying with the conversation, and being overwhelmed by my surroundings, her words faded away. The entry hall was big, I mean big, about the size of a basketball court. The sound of our feet on the marble floor echoed. The only furniture in the room was two somewhat plain hall trees to hang coats on. At the end of the hall were two circular staircases going up. There was one on each side of the room with enough room between them to drive a truck through. We walked between them into what seemed like a ballroom to me. The ceiling was about 25 feet high. On the far wall were windows that opened into the back garden. On one side of the room was the largest fireplace I've ever seen. The fireplace was ten feet high and over twelve feet long and had an intricately carved mantle. The room was nicely color coordinated, the walls and floors were sparse with more modern furniture. The owners of the home seemed to like more up-to-date surroundings for themselves than the town of Hamelton. I started to wonder what antiques would have looked like in the room and about all the life that had been lived in this home.
"...so what is it, eggs or muffins?" I looked into Maggie's round face that now stood silent before me inches from my nose. I had one of those moments where you were just not listening and had to respond to a question you must have heard.
"I'll have what everyone else is having" I said.
She turned and continued to lead us through the house. Maggie was slightly on the heavy side. Her black hair was pulled back into a bun. I noticed how boldly she plowed her way through the house, and how everything seemed to come alive as she entered each room.
We went through a door on the right, down a hall, made a left, and found ourselves in the kitchen.
"You yanks just set at the table. I'll make some breakfast. You don't mind being called yanks do you? I'll have some food up in just a minute." She started pulling items out of cupboards. She seemed very comfortable in this room.
The room was the equivalence of three stories tall and narrowed toward the top. The layout was split in two sections, one was a restaurant style kitchen, and the other was an eating area for hired help. The kitchen was modern, mostly stainless steel for easy to clean reasons. Apparently custom designed and very modernized to operate for large parties. All of the exposed walls were smooth and white. Through the double doors leading outside, I could see the flowers in the garden with the shadow of the house still darkening half of them.
Handy interrupted her gibberish "I'd like some coffee, if you have some."
"Oh, I'm sorry I didn't ask," Maggie said sincerely with thought, "How about the rest of you?" We all said, “Yes”.
"How large is the property we are on?" Asked Handy.
Maggie replied, seeming to like an excuse to talk, "Only 960 acres now. When the house was first built four hundred years ago, I heard it had over three thousand acres. Pretty big, aye? I need to remember that you yanks don‟t like tea, I‟ll need to stock up on coffee."
Handy asked, "Seems as if it must be hard to keep the place in such good shape?"
"Well, Master Simon has a crew of twenty caretakers, run under Mr. Gregory‟s competent management. Not all the land is kept up anymore of course, just what can be seen from the main house. The rest has live stock, which takes most of the men‟s efforts. And as far as the house goes, there are just the three of us in here. Albert is the “head of estate”, meaning he has been here forty years. He's in charge, paying bills, taking care of the autos and the like". She whispered, "We don't let him do more then we have to, if you know what I mean." Maggie cracked some eggs into some boiling water. "Now of course there is Hanna. She does the deep cleaning, if you can call it deep. I think the Simons bought this house only because they financially could, not because they wanted it. Well anyway, there are no big parties, few guests at all really. The Simons use just a few rooms when they are here, which is only half the time. We also bring in the caretakers for the walls and windows. So dusting, vacuuming and polishing is all that really needs to be done. I on the other hand cook, not for the gardeners of course; they have their own supply in their confinement out back. Here you are.” At that she put the eggs Benedict on the table. "I also help with Hanna and Albert's work to see things get done right. Eat up," she said pouring the coffee.
Maggie, as you can see, was a wealth of over information. She continued to tell us how the stable in town was originally opened by a Mulligan, a forefather of hers. Although an Irishman in England, he was treated very fairly by the town's people and the Hamelton family, who were the original builders of the house. The Mulligan family passed the stable business from father to son for hundreds of years. When the auto came around, business died off. The family's once respectable bank account, from hundreds of years of fair horse trading and boarding, was eaten up to keep the family business alive. It seemed they felt cars were just a fad.
The town of Hamelton was built to take care of the Hamelton family's needs. The Hamelton's were advisors to the royal family in matters of religion and law she told us. The family passed this responsibility from father to eldest son for three generations. The Hamelton's and the town flourished until an only son refused to come when called by the palace. The town almost lost everything. Then the word about the friendly town's folk got out, and the inns became full of vacationers. This brought the town of Hamelton back to life. At least enough that it did not die out.
"You must be in need of a nap," Maggie interrupted herself, “If Albert has brought your things up to your rooms, I can show them to you. The rooms I mean I am sure you know which things are yours" She directed herself toward Jeff and Cindy who were holding hands. "Are you married?" Cindy looked down and blushed. "I know how love is, but in this house the Simons would want unmarried people sleep in different rooms." Maggie continued with her back to us, "I can, however, give you adjoining bedrooms, and what you do after you enter your separate bedrooms is none of my business, none of my business!" She started toward the door to the hall saying something about her school days. We all got up to follow, looking at each other as if agreeing what a character this lady was.
We walked back the way we had come in. When we arrived in the main entryway, we headed up the left staircase. Maggie kept informing us on little tidbits of information as we walked.
"The builder, the original Hamelton that is, seemed to prefer to have the left side of the house as mostly family and business quarters, social and operational on the right." Handy commented how the hand carved banister seemed to be the only original part of the house. "No. no. no..." Maggie seemed to enjoy saying, "The whole house is original, just plastered over and painted. A few walls moved here and there. That window there. But mostly original. The Simons did their share when they modernized six years ago." She shook her head with disapproval. "Every owner has made their mark, some more than others."
The second floor hall we had entered was plain but luxurious. The floor was stone like the rest of the house. The white walls had pictures hung of flowers in vases. Judging from the apparent expense of the magnificent frames, those canvasses must have cost a pretty penny, but not my taste. The hall was about ten feet wide with an occasional small table on the side displaying a fragrant bouquet of flowers. A carpet ran down the middle of the hall. At the end of the hall we could see that it made a left turn, undoubtedly leading to the part of the wing that protrudes forward.
Noticing the seemingly endless line of doors we were passing, I asked, "Where are the stairs going up? The house seemed to be more than two stories tall from the outside."
"Yes, I suppose it does, or is." Maggie replied as we turned the corner, "Much has been closed off through the years. Too overwhelming if you don't need it, I would think, and too hard to keep up. I still check each room every few months, even the closed off parts. Some rooms are tall while others are not. You'll see."
"Who could possibly need a home this big?" Cindy said suddenly in a sarcastic voice, and then looked down not believing it came from herself. This seemed to be the first thing Cindy said since we arrived off the plane.
Maggie complacently took no offense to Cindy's tone. Walking a few steps further she stopped, turned to Cindy and nicely explained, "In the old days important people needed a large entourage to handle their affairs. Also remember when they entertained, it may have been a day's ride or more for their guests. Their guests and their entourages needed to spend the night. The larger the parties you threw, the more bedrooms a good host would have."
Maggie reached behind her on the right side of the hall, turned the knob, and gave the door a gentle push. The door almost seemed magical in its slow but steady reveling of the room. As strange as it may seem it felt like watching a bed sheet on the clothesline in a soft wind. Behind the door was a room fit for a queen. The bed had a canopy made of white lace. A few dozen small pillows decorated the headboard. Even as large as the bed and its four posted corners may have been, it seemed dwarfed by the size of this room. The entertaining side of the room had several pink and white couches and chairs. The matching drapes that covered the full length windows hung still. There was a dressing room in a far corner.
Maggie curtsied and winked to Cindy suggesting Cindy to enter. "This is called the princess's room." Cindy just stood there. Maggie said, "I'll be back in a few minutes to show you where everything is... or do you want to see the other bedrooms?"
The four of us impatiently watched as the next door was opened. "This is the hunting room, for the Don Juan. Or should I say Jeff?" The room was the same size as Cindy's. The fireplace was the first thing I noticed. Massive marble columns were on both sides and book shelves were built on the sides of the columns. The mantel displayed trophies on top. A white bear skin lay in front. The walls had the busts of animals of prey. The bed had a tiger skin draped across it.
"Look behind the right shelf," Maggie said to Jeff in a soft playful manner.
The parade skipped the next door and went across the hall. "Chris, I think you may like this. This is the renaissance room." The room was made of mahogany. A suit of armor stood on both sides of the stone fireplace. The heavy bed was high off the ground, about four feet with a small set of stairs leading up to it, I later learned in the days before they had indoor plumbing, it folded out into a toilet pot. The walls were covered with old shields and weapons. I thought what a good judge of character Maggie must be because she was right, I loved this room. For a moment my mind drifted to wonder if this babbling maid had more going for her than I had given her credit for. I came back to thinking about running into the room to play with everything. What is the history of this, of that, who made this, how did they use that? Questions flooded my mind, but I composed myself knowing there would be time for looking around later.
"And for you," Maggie directed Handy "I have the Master‟s bedroom."
"I don't think it would be proper to have me sleep in the Simon's room, especially with all these vacant rooms?" Handy questioned.
Maggie smiled out of the corner of her mouth. "The master of the house prefers to sleep on the first floor close to the kitchen. Easier on the knees to avoid stairs for older people you know. And besides he locks up his room when he is away." She led us to the big double doors at the end of the hall. I caught myself thinking "Of course Handy gets the biggest room." Then I remembered he did invite us, he deserves the best treatment.
The master bedroom was everything I thought it might be and more. The square footage was three times the size of the previous rooms. The ceiling was two stories tall. Windows were on three sides. The oversized bed was a long walk directly across from the door. Handy was impressed. He walked in with his hands straight out to his sides and spun around. In the corner sat our entire luggage.
"I guess Albert didn't know where to put the cases." We took our perspective suitcases back to our own rooms and waited for Maggie who said she would come back to get us all set up.
I was enjoying myself just looking around my new room for what seemed to be only minutes, but I know an hour must have gone by when Maggie knocked on the door with clean towels. She was more business minded now. She avoided my probing questions about my room that still clouded my mind. She was talking to me like a mother. She told me that I must take a nap if I'm planning to enjoy the rest of my day. I agreed but had no intention of sleeping. After she left, I laid on the bedspread to think for a moment.
If you, the reader, have not guessed as of yet, I was then and am now the inquisitive type. I admire the fictional detective Sherlock Homes. The way that he puts facts together to form or eliminate a new fact. In many ways perhaps I'm like him, although I've never had the desire to pursue criminology. I get intrigued, almost addicted to know and understand the unknown equation. Now this boy from California found himself far from home, in an unknown surrounding, meeting people with such different upbringings that I could not stereotype them in any known category. In short I was not in control of my surroundings, a feeling I wasn't used to. I'm Chris Blake, only son of a printer. I am the only known member of the Blake family to attend college. I was raised in a home where my father and his four brothers spent most of their lives. I had the same friends all my life. I did not know that I would find change so uncomfortable. Perhaps this is why I found comfort in learning all I could about my surroundings. I think now if I could have only let things ride then, I would not have had to spend the next 30 years of my life repeating in complete detail over and over that one month of my life. I would have never killed anyone. My dreams would not be haunted with the past. Enough of that now, back to the Simon's house.
I lay there fully clothed on the bed contemplating. Why was Maggie so long winded on some parts of her stories and so brief in others? Was she cleverly avoiding parts or just as nutty as our first impression? Was she nervous about something? Would the Simons have kept her around if she acted like that all the time? Why is Albert so cold? Why do the Simons really sleep downstairs? What did the house look like originally? How do I get into the upper floors? Do I want to go up the top floors? Why would a Hamelton, or anyone, refuse an invitation from the royal palace? Is that how they lost the house?
Handy's loud voice startled me out of a sound and deep sleep with dreams of sword fighting. I was slightly disoriented because I had not planned on sleeping, and for a moment I had to think where I was? Handy's playful face was looking down on me. "Can Chris come out and play?" Handy teased, "All the other kids are coming. ... Come on Chris we're going out. It's mid-day." He paused as I nodded to him. "We'll meet you downstairs in say... 10 minutes?" I nodded again.
I sat on the bed as Handy left the room. I looked around with a smile, "I like this place," I said out loud to perhaps the room or the house, or maybe England. I wished I had time right then to look over the armor on the walls but I knew I had to get moving. I went into the bathroom and splashed water on my face. The sink, although porcelain with hand painted designs, seemed out of place. I took my first look around the bathroom as I dried my face. A sudden wave of "How stupid can you be?" came over me as I realized they had no bathrooms at the time this house was built. I changed my clothes and met my friends down stairs. We explored many of the parts of the house that were open. We ran, leaped and played for about two hours. I say "about" because we all agreed to leave our watches at home since time should not be a factor on our vacation. There were also few rooms that had clocks.
During our exploration, we found at the far end of the right wing on the second floor a library. The library was large even for this house. It reminded me of the Henry Higgins library in "My Fair Lady." On this floor the walls were all covered with book shelves made of oak. Brass ladders with wheels on the bottom went up the walls periodically. Many pleasant areas of comfortable chairs were scattered around the room. A few inviting full sized desks were just waiting to be used. The furniture did not seem to match; however, it looked good together. How enormous this room was. It was two tall stories high with an inside balcony completely surrounding the sides. Close to the entry door was a staircase going up. In two parts of the room were circular brass stairs. On the balcony level of the study, the walls continued to have shelves and rolling ladders. Some shelves protruded inward to create cubbyholes for privacy.
The far side wall on the upper floor had a prominent stained glass window that must have been fifteen feet across. The window picture, I found out later, was named the “Garden of Eden before God created birds or animals”. It was of such quality it could be in the best churches of Rome. Around the sides was a border which was leafs in the fall season, or maybe just a design. In the center was a tree which wrapped itself around a gold colored circle. The morning sun light reflecting in through the diverse colored panels left sparkles around the library.
As I walked past the window I glanced out clear pane. I saw a person in a black and white maid's uniform picking flowers in one of the gardens. She was too skinny to be Maggie, so I knew it must have been Hanna. This room, although welcoming, seemed rarely used and seldom dusted. Jeff wanted to see what kind of fleet of vehicles they had, so we headed out looking for them. Jeff is an interesting fellow; we had known each other for about ten years. Jeff and I, although we had spent much time together over the years, have never been really good friends. Jeff was always a tag along, even on this trip. He was never funny, energetic, or thoughtfully deep, just always there. I don't want to sound as if I disliked him, he was just always there. Kind of like socks, no one needed socks until someone invented them, now it would seem as if something is wrong if you didn't have socks. About six months before the trip Jeff met Cindy, his first and only girl friend. They seemed to be moving toward marriage soon. Cindy had just about as much personality as Jeff, so she also was not much more of a bother than Jeff is to have around. Handy liked to go out in groups, so that's why he invited them. Besides Jeff would have complained until we took him with us anyway.
Jeff was a funny looking man, he was my height, six feet, but so bony that his arms looked as if they were going to fall off every time he moved. His dark hair came down into his eyes in front. I admired his light blue eyes that livened up his face; too bad no one could see them because of his sheep dog haircut.
Cindy on the other hand, was blond hair and also blue eyed. She wore her hair to her shoulders and it curled up at the ends. Her timed smile and gentle blushing were a pleasure to look at. She was only slightly overweight and wore clothes that were outdated.
Off to the left side of the main house, behind a light thicket of trees were several small structures. There were two houses for the gardeners and caretakers to live in, a large storage barn, the stables, and the garage. We followed the driveway to the garage. The garage was less than 20 years old and disappointing. Inside was the Bentley limousine we arrived in, several average late model four door cars, a van, a pickup truck, and a tractor. It seemed several other spaces were for cars that were not there at the time or no longer owned. On one end was a portioned room that seemed to be for tool storage.
"What looks like a comfortable fit to you?" Came a woman's voice from the rear. Behind us was Hanna. Her face was long, plain and had no makeup on. She was about 21 with long almost straight light brown hair. She had a closed mouth smile that seemed proud of herself for startling us. "You can use anything you see in here for your enjoyment. Some things are more fun than others," she said suggestively. Her healthy body was a tall five foot nine, and slinky. Her chest was small and firm. Although, due to her masculine face, she was not what I would call attractive, she did however have a unique sensuality about her.
Handy later described that first meeting, "...wearing that maid's outfit, several kinky movies about the stupid nymphomaniac French maid in a mini skirt putting her legs up, came to mind."
"Which one have you had the most fun in?" Asked Handy trying to return the playfulness.
She told him, "The keys are in each one and they are ready to go. You need to get in it and turn it on to get the real feeling. What are you all planning to do to night?" "What are you planning for us to do?" Handy asked. She winked playfully then said more seriously "The night life is not too lively around Hamelton. You may want to stop by the 'Knight's Edge'. It's a friendly pub."
"Are you going to be there?" Asked Handy.
"No, not tonight. But it's the only thing for you to do around here. I will see you in the morning." Hanna turned and left through the main doors.
Despite her sexual suggestions, I did not take any of it to heart because I had known several girls like her that find sexual play a way to overcome shyness. I knew nothing would ever come of it, and I don't think I wanted anything to come of it. Handy nudged me with his elbow as she left. I was worried Handy thought he had something going with her.
Maggie's stuffed cabbage and corned beef dinner was excellent and filling. Her stories about the gardener's prize rose garden was slightly interesting but mostly repetitive. Handy asked if we were indeed allowed to use the cars in the garage.
"Treat the yanks like the master of the house... he said" Maggie imitated in a firm voice, seemingly her perception of Master Simon. "...make sure they take home memories for a lifetime. That is what he said he wanted. The master always gets what he wants." She went on about some yard worker she caught in the "Hidden Six" passed out from drunkenness last year.
Jeff and Cindy wanted to stay home that night and Maggie offered to build them a fire. Handy and I took off in the pickup truck in search of the Knight's Edge. I felt the pickup may make us more liked by the locals than the limousine. Handy drove aimlessly around the town looking for the pub. We talked about how much bigger the town seemed now that we were lost. The west side of town seemed newer and slowly growing, while the east side seemed almost untouched by time.
The Knights Edge ended up in what looked like a very old part of town. The sign protruding over the door was a cross section of a large tree trunk with the name carved into it. The door was big and thick. Handy and I both stopped before the door, we looked into each other's faces and realized we shared the feeling of being out of place; we were outright scared of the unknown. I smiled and took a slow, loud, and deep breath, to show the gaining of courage to Handy. Handy did the same. I think I grew up a lot at that moment by not turning and running. Every muscle in my body was waiting for the approval to run back to the truck. I grabbed the forged metal handle protruding out of the door and thrust the door open. Handy and I, still holding our breaths marched in shoulder to shoulder.
The room was dark, oil lanterns could be seen all around the room. It seemed everything was made of rough wood. The floors, the walls, the rafters on the ceiling, everything all wood. There were pillars that seemed to hold the rafters up throughout the place. On the left were lots of uneven tables and chairs with a few small groups quietly chatting. On the right was a long and heavy looking bar. Even at that distance and the darkness I could see chips, dents and slashes imbedding history forever in its quiet majesty.
"Ya come to take pictures or to drink?" Came a voice from the bar.
I realized I must have been standing there for half a minute still holding my breath. I relaxed, then walked toward the voice. There were five outspoken men sitting at the end of the bar. I sat two empty seats away from them and Handy sat on the other side of me.
The bartender was thin and looked wrinkled like a seventy year old man but his voice and mannerisms made me think he was only fifty. His eyes seemed oversized through his thick-rimmed black outdated glasses. He was clean shaven and had short straight dark hair. He wore a brown shirt with an open brown cardigan.
"What can I get for you gentlemen?"
Handy answered automatically, "Harvey Wallbanger."
Still silence overtook the area. The barkeeps face slowly forced an amused smile; he looked at me through the corner of his glasses with a sparkle in his eye, almost to see if I was amused. Realizing that something was wrong, I glanced around and noticed no hard alcohol bottles behind the bar.
"We'll take whatever local light beer you have," I said, looking in his eyes as a good recovery.
"You're looking for Harvey Wallenger you say? Don't know him. He supposed to live in Hamelton?" Came that voice from the corner again.
"Wallbanger. George, he said Wallbanger not Wallenger, it's a mixed drink," replied the barkeep in our defense as he poured our beers.
"Bangers..," said the voice, "...we do not sell sausages here." "Leave it alone George," said the barkeep.
George walked up to introduce himself "You mates can call me George. Where are you from?" George had at least one too many to drink that night. He was well over six feet tall, wiry, about forty-five years old. He wore a work shirt with his name on it that made me believe he might work for the city. He was friendly but had an annoying habit of leaning forward into our faces.
As Americans we have an invisible wall of privacy around us, which also extends to our cars, houses or anything we consider ours. We feel great discomfort when our boundaries are penetrated. However, in Europe people do not have such walls. They freely put their arms over people and stand in their “space”. I did not understand this at the time and was constantly uncomfortable with intrusions.
"Name's Handy, meet my buddy Chris." We all shook hands and George introduced us to the gang, whose names didn't seem important to remember, even at the time. For hours we all talked about our two different countries. Handy and I laughed off several almost rude American jokes. In general the men were kind and friendly. When one man asked which inn we were staying at, I replied, "The Simon's house." There was a moment of thoughtful silence, and then they avoided the subject and continued to treat us well. A younger crowd was now coming in filling the place, but we stayed at the far corner of the bar with the older men we then knew and felt comfortable with.
Later, that night, I felt a hand firmly on my shoulder. As my laughing face turned, I met the piercing eyes of a stern faced man with a look as if he was on a mission. His eyes were dark and cold. His white beard perhaps on a different face would have reminded me of Santa Claus, but not on his. He wore a hooded cloak that covered his head and made shadows in his wrinkled puffy face. Long white hair appeared from under the hood around his neck. I looked down to his feet and noticed he had black leather boots that tied above his knees.
"You are the boys staying in Hamelton mansion, aren't you?" He demanded to know, "Aren't you?" The answer did not come fast enough for him.
"Yes sir, we are," I said, looking to my new friends for help, who just sat there apparently not concerned.
"Take my word for it boys..," he grumbled out of the side of his mouth, "you couldn't get me there if my life depended on it. The rogues show up about every eighty years. It's nearing that time. Do you hear me? It's nearing that time! William Hamelton cursed our town three hundred years ago when his satanic band of murderers pledged their souls to the devil himself, who swooped down and took his children home. Take my word for it boys." He turned suddenly and headed for the door, wind seemed to lift his cloak as he walked out. That was the scariest thing I had seen up until then in my young life.
I looked over to the men at the bar. The barkeep laughed to break the tension and said, "In a way, he told you what we all wanted to say. But not that way." He turned to dry some glasses with a towel knowing someone else would take it from there.
George, more sober than earlier, said to the barkeep "Beers for me and the yanks" He put an arm around each of us like a dad as he walked us to a table in a secluded corner of the pub. "What old Joffy said was mostly the alcohol talking. I think I'd best straighten this out, now that you know." Barkeep brought us our drinks and George took a big swig before he started. "The truth of the matter is no one knows what happened. William Hamelton's parents died when he was about twenty. It was his responsibility to continue his ancestors work advising royalty on the works of God." He sipped his beer as Handy and I sat on the edges of our seats. "He took up teaching an odd bunch of blokes religion. There was no evidence of witchcraft, but some still say there was. One day William and some of his students left without saying a word. The mansion reverted to the town's people, thanks to an old will of his grandfathers. That's it. Over time and bar talk, the tale has grown, perhaps in the back of our minds we wonder, some too much. But the truth is, the town selling the mansion to an earl long ago saved the town from financial ruin."
"What about the rogues every eighty years thing?" Asked Handy.
"Oh that, I don't think it's related. Three times since then the town has been plagued by a band of vagrant thieves. Each time they camped on Hamelton property. No one can live that long, and they aren‟t immortal, one was caught, killed and buried. Three separate incidents three different bands," George finished up his beer and story.
We left soon after that. Back in my room, I tried to go over all that had happened this day. I knew I would not be able to sleep, but again, I was wrong as the alcohol overwhelmed me and I faded out again on top of the covers.
I woke up early on my second day in England. I gave a quick look at the weapons hanging in my room. I saw what I was looking for. Something that may have belonged to some knight from the old days or William Hamelton himself. It was an oversized dagger. It wasn't made of any type of precious metal, but it was very interesting and well crafted. It had a hand carved metal handle and "W R H" carved into the blade along with his family crest, which I recognized from seeing it around town. It was obviously a dagger but it seemed to be half the size of a sword. Both edges of the blade were sharpened but pitted with age. I wanted to take it down and look at the other side but it was pinned to the wall and I did not want to tamper with it. I thought about the old cloaked man from the previous night, and George's account of the tale of William. My curiosity was growing faster than I could believe.
I dressed myself in clean clothes and headed for the kitchen. Maggie, apparently also an early riser, was cutting vegetables for some future meal when I arrived in the kitchen. I greeted her and asked if she could make coffee. We shared small talk for an unbearable time. I wanted so badly to talk about William but wanted to ease into the subject. Finally, when she asked where we went last night, I had my opening.
"We found ourselves in a small pub called the Knight's Edge," I started, "it's on the east side of ... I'm sorry of course you know where it is."
"The Knight's Edge can be a friendly place. They never brought electricity into that place. The only establishment in town they still haven't. It is part of the charm and no one wants to change it. Of course electricity was put into this house before I was born. I did however watch some of the old stores, trying to stay on fuel for the tourists, one by one give in. Some of them..."