Some people swore that the house was haunted. And the ghosts that lived with Clara Miller did nothing to dispel the rumors. Steven thought he might miss his aunt Clara, but felt certain that inheriting the haunted house, the towns’ only point of interest, would lift his image among those he most wanted to impress.
Steven had been christened “Prince Charming” at birth, and had been a cute baby. But as the years progressed, he developed no interests and his social skills remained rudimentary. His parents tried everything to help him. Steven was sent to counselors, received guitar and tennis lessons, and had even attended a private boarding school in Switzerland for socially underdeveloped children. Nothing had helped. As a young man he had been considered dull and had elicited contempt from his peers. Now as a middle aged gentleman he garnered only sympathy.
Steven’s aunt Clara on the other hand, had been a wonderful and lively person, with a kind nature and a stunning wit. She had never married, and her only remaining relative was her nephew Steven. Lucy (Steven’s mother) was ten years younger than Clara and the light of her life. Lucy had the same adventuresome spirit as her older sister, and the two were the best of friends. When Lucy married Harold Skinner, Clara hosted the reception. When Steven was born, Clara threw a huge christening party for him at her recently purchased house.
Clara’s new home was a turn of the century farmhouse with white clapboard siding, black trim, and a hip roof that rose to a single peak over the front entry. A covered porch surrounded the house on three sides, with old comfortable looking wicker furniture set carelessly about. The three story house, if you included the basement accessed through a trap door in the floor of the kitchen, had five bedrooms and two bathrooms. All the wood floors sagged, the window frames were sticky from too many coats of paint, and the peeling linoleum in the kitchen was the most hideous shade of green Clara had ever seen. But Clara found the overall effect delightful and had bought the house after only one viewing.
The house sat on a lovely piece of property surrounded by trees and bordered on one side by the town’s only cemetery. Where some might have felt uncomfortable living near the dead, Clara cherished her isolated surroundings. Her many friends found the house quaint and were thrilled that it was haunted. They never tired of making up tales about the “dearly departed” and had created a scandalous persona for poor Reverend Weston (deceased 1916). With each visit, to everyone’s enjoyment, another tasty bit of gossip would be revealed about this amorous gentleman. Sitting in Clara’s large, comfortable parlor, she and her guests would sip martinis and discuss anything and everything, from politics to religion, new recipes to the relative merit of marshmallows. The ghosts loved these gatherings and would show their appreciation by beating on the furnace pipes and dimming the parlor lights.
After Harold and Lucy were killed in an automobile accident, Steven would still occasionally visit his aunt. He had never been close to her, so their visits had been few and short. On these occasions, even the ghosts, whom everyone supposed were immune to the peculiarities of the living, would be reduced to watching Monday night football and listening to old Chet Baker albums.
Three months after Clara died and Steven took possession of the house, the ghosts moved to Cincinnati.