Rebecca dropped the kids off with an explanation that she had to run some errands. No need to give the family additional cause for concern, she reasoned. She headed to the town’s library, a place she had not yet visited.
“This ought to be interesting,” she thought, wondering just how she was going to find information on the house and the books and worried she would have to ask for help. “Just exactly how will I explain myself?”
Rebecca avoided eye contact with the elderly librarian, although she secretly hoped that the woman had been the town librarian for a very long time. She opted to investigate the card catalog, and was glad she was old enough to remember the Dewey decimal system.
She remembered some book titles, but could not find them represented in the catalog, although as dark as they were she wasn’t surprised. The old drawers stuffed with hundreds of thousands of cards squeaked a little as she tugged them open or pushed them shut. She considered asking for assistance with past newspaper entries but decided to engage in reconnaissance first to get a feel for the layout of the building.
She began climbing a grand staircase up to the second floor and wandered through the stacks of periodicals and books. The tall windows on every side of the building revealed pretty, scenic views of the village and town square.
As she descended back down to the first floor she thought the library was old and beautiful. Rebecca appreciated the terrazzo floors, the sweeping arches, but most of all the stunning mahogany woodwork. They felt oddly familiar. She was deep in thought when a voice from behind her made her jump.
“Can I help you?” inquired the librarian politely, and upon seeing Rebecca’s reaction, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Rebecca whipped around to see the elderly librarian appear out of nowhere just inches from her. Staring back at her was a tiny woman with pale gray cropped hair, pearl earrings and necklace, a sensible navy blue skirt and shoes paired with a white blouse and a burgundy cardigan sweater. Kind eyes crinkled up at her and Rebecca felt immediately at ease.
“I’m new in town and just wanted to drop in and get acquainted with the library. It’s absolutely beautiful, especially the woodwork. I can’t wait to bring my daughters here.”
“Doesn’t it remind you of your home?” asked the librarian.
Rebecca felt the warm feelings flee her instantly and her eyes narrowed as she gave the librarian a steely stare and then slowly replied,”What do you mean, my home?”
“Why all this woodwork was done by Alfred Bauer. I would think you’d recognize his work. Aren’t you living in Alfred and Etta’s house?” she replied, continuing to smile at Rebecca.
Dumbfounded, Rebecca chided herself on judging a book by it’s cover…”judging a book by its cover…I think I better take a closer look at those books. Of course, the office, the parlor, how could I not have recognized the work” she thought to herself, but out loud she said,”How did you know?”
The librarian led Rebecca to a section off to one side of the library. “Why the paper of course. You see, the Alfred Bauer house is sort infamous in this town and when the house sold again, the paper indicated that a woman and her two daughters had bought the place.”
The librarian pulled out the issue and article within seconds of searching.
Rebecca leaped at the opening the librarian provided.
“Why is the Bauer house infamous?” she asked and then held her breath.
The librarian who had been pouring over the newspaper article, quickly snapped to attention and turned to Rebecca with her hand over her heart and an astonished expression on her face. “You don’t mean to tell me your realtor didn’t share the history of the house with you?”
“No,” Rebecca replied flatly.
“Oh, my,” said the librarian, rather sheepishly, and then stared off and up at the ceiling, clearly contemplating what to say next to Rebecca.
Rebecca decided to temporarily change the subject. “I’m Rebecca, Rebecca Willis.” and with that she held out her hand.
“I’m Marion, Marion Wilcox, and please, no references to Marion the Librarian frm 76 Trombones, I’ve had a lifetime of wisecracks,” her eyes twinkled again as she shook Rebecca’s hand.
“Well, Marion, you might as well tell me. ‘Cause that’s really why I’m here. To research the house and its history,” answered Rebecca, with resolve.
“Well, in that case, I’ll pull everything from the newspaper. Some of it will be on microfiche and some will be online. That should get you started.”
“So you’re not going to tell me, then?” Rebecca asked, looking her squarely in the eyes.
Quite spontaneously, Marion held out her tiny, frail hand and just as spontaneously Rebecca took it, somehow knowing she needed her hand held when she heard the news and thinking Marion’s hand felt reassuring.
“The murders,” Marion answered her. “There have been multiple murders in that house. Nothing within the last 10 years, but prior to that, several.”
Somehow, Rebecca wasn’t surprised.
“But, by your reaction, I can see you’re not surprised. Something not quite right with that house, I suspect? Or you wouldn’t be here. To be frank, I’ve kind of been expecting you.”