Halloween With Harley 2
Ride With Harley Short Story 7
“Hey, Mari, wait up!” I waved and trotted over to her side. I slipped my jacket over her shoulders and placed my arm around her waist. A quick kiss followed. “Thanks for going out with me last weekend. I had a great time.”
“Me too, Harley.” She slid her arm around my waist. “I had a blast.”
We got into line and selected the sliced roast beef dinner of the day, a piece of orange cake, and Vernors to drink. I pulled out my wallet and
“Harley, I can pay for my own!” Mari protested.
“I know you can,” I shrugged. “I’ll let you buy mine next time,” I said. “You ladies make the best food,” I commented to the older women running the cafeteria.
“That’s cause we make everything from scratch right here.”
“Really? I didn’t know that. I always thought universities contracted with a company to provide food services.”
“We’re homegrown. That’s why people from town come eat here.”
“That’s seriously cool.” I picked up my tray. “Thanks for making great food.”
“Whoo Hoo!” Peg wailed as we approached the gang in the cafeteria. “Boy, look at you two!” She clapped her hands. “Wearing his jacket after just two dates. Next thing you’ll be moving in together after the third date.”
“Oh hush,” Mari shushed as she slid into a seat.
“What are you guys doing Halloween?” I peppered my roast beef.
“Hanging out at home passing out treats to the kiddos. Why? Got something in mind?” Thomas asked.
“Ever hear of the Lima Tuberculosis Hospital?”
“Isn’t it supposed to be haunted?” Peg buttered and bit into her dinner roll.
“That’s the one,” I nodded. “It closed in 1973 and has been left to decay. I thought we could go look around there and see if we scare up any ghosts.”
“Sounds like fun,” Thomas leaned back in his chair. “Count me in.”
“Crazy,” March drew the word out, so it sounded like cray-zee. “I’m game.”
“I’ll pass,” Maryanne said. “I promised Mom I’d help with a Halloween party for little kids.”
“Mari?” I looked at her. “I know,” I sighed, “you’re working.”
“Nope. Susan asked if I’d work Monday for her in exchange I get Friday off.”
“Will you go with us?” I batted my eyes at her to a round of snorts and chuckles. “We can meet at WOSL after sign off and grab a bite to eat before heading over there.” I raised my hands like a puppy begging and made little yipping and panting noises.
“Sure, I’ll go.” She glanced at me and burst into laughter.
“You’re the best!” I punched the air with my fist. “Wear boots or tennis shoes, bring a jacket, and a flashlight.”
“What about wire cutters in case we need to crunch some fence links?” March asked.
“Uh, guys, I’m not going to break and enter.” Mari furrowed her brow. “My folks would kill me.”
“Look, if we can’t find a way in legally, we won’t. I promise, no breaking and entering.” I said.
“Okay!” When she smiled her entire face lighted up like a thousand-watt candle.
“I’ll bring my microbus so we can all ride together.”
“Yo, biker dude, you have a microbus?” March chortled. “Sounds like something I would drive with my stash hidden in the glove compartment.”
“You should see his car collection,” Thomas chimed in, much to my dismay. I kicked him under the table and garnered a glare from him as he reached down and rubbed his leg.
A shake of my head convinced him not to continue talking along that line. I barely knew these people. I didn’t want them to know my economic status. I wanted to earn their friendship before they knew how wealthy I was.
There was a huge difference between being middle-class and wealthy. The gap between middle-class and filthy rich was even worse; it was unimaginable. I fit into the latter, being wealthy in my own right and obscenely rich by birthright.
“Harley?” Mari looked puzzled. She gently laid a hand on my arm and rested her head on my shoulder.
“I’m okay, Mari,” I grunted. I wrapped my arm around her possessively.
“Whoa!” Mari glanced at her watch. “I have to get to work.” She jumped up.
“I’ll walk you to your car,” I stood and gathered our trash. “See you guys Friday.” I took her hand and led her to the exit.
I loved holding her hand. Who would ever have guessed such a simple gesture could give me so much pleasure? When I was with Mari, I felt peaceful. She kept my demons at bay.
“What was that all about back there, Harley?” She looked at me with a puzzled expression and stopped walking.
“I…you mean with Thomas?” I shuffled my feet.
“Yes, with Thomas. You kicked his shin under the table, didn’t you?” Mari stared directly into my eyes, making me squirm.
“Well, I, uh, yes,” I mumbled, hanging my head in shame.
“Why?” She tapped her foot.
“I didn’t…um…I didn’t want…”
“You didn’t want what? You didn’t want them to know you live in a wealthy area of town? Your parents,” she began and stopped when she saw the expression on my face. “You do live with your parents, right?”
“No,” I shook my head. “That house is mine.” I jammed my hands into my pockets. “Before you go assuming my parents bought it, they didn’t. I bought it.” I closed my eyes and waited for her tone to change into one of calculation. Just like all the rest, when they discovered I had money. It always became a relationship of what I could give them. Bitterness choked my throat.
“Harley?” Mari grasped my arm, “They don’t know?”
Miserably I shook my head, “No.”
“Why not?” Her fingers gently tipped my chin up. “What are you afraid of?” Her tone softened, and she sounded like she genuinely cared.
“People like me don’t have many real friends. Most people suck up to us because of money.” I resumed walking toward the parking lot.
“Oh, Harley, what a jaded view of life.”She hugged me. “Those kind don’t deserve your friendship.”
“You think so?” I gazed with longing at her. “What about you?”
“Oh, Harley, I don’t care about money. It’s what’s inside here that matters.” She poked my chest where my heart is.
“Truly?” I held my breath. I wanted to believe her so badly, but I’d been hurt many times by people I had trusted. To date, the only people who had my complete trust was Garrett and Brad.
Thomas was slowly inching his way in until today. His reference to my cars sent red flags soaring.
“Truly, Harley. I like you for yourself.” Mari rose up on her toes and gently placed a kiss on my lips. “Give them a chance. I think you’ll find them and the DJ’s are down to earth.” She tucked my hand in hers. “I hate it that someone has hurt you so badly.”
Her simple declaration of support buoyed my spirits immensely. She was my angel after all. I resolved to trust her and her judgment. I hugged her close. My love is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known. Maybe not in the supermodel classification, but everywhere that mattered her heart. I was truly blessed to have her with me. I felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had one more person in my arsenal to steer me through this journey called life.
From four until six in the evening, WOSL radio broadcast lectures. There was very little for a DJ to do other than announce the call sign, news, and weather at the top of the hour. At six o’clock March shut down the equipment, and we locked up.
“Let’s eat at Kewpee Hamburgers,” March suggested as we all settled into the microbus. Mari sat up front with me.
“The one on Elizabeth and Market.”
I looked in the rear mirror to find him grinning. “Elizabeth and Market Street it is.” I steered us down the drive, leaving the campus behind. Soon we were coasting downtown and pulling to a stop in front of the diner.
Everyone exited except Mari.
“I’ll walk with you.”
I parked the microbus and rushed around the front to help her down. We strolled arm in arm into the burger joint. It looked like the classic 1950s and 1960s eateries depicted in movies such as ‘Easy Rider.’ Tables were covered in checkered Formica. A mini jukebox sat on each table top. The seats of the booths were red vinyl. You could say it was a greasy spoon. It smelled of homemade bread, pastries, soups, and the quintessential burger with fries.
“Yum! Sugar Crème pie!” March gleefully rubbed his hand over his stomach. “I want a burger, fries, Coke, and two slices of Sugar Crème pie.”
Sugar Crème pie is a simple dessert. It has a single crust. The filling is a concoction of flour, salt, vanilla, cream, brown sugar, and maple syrup. When baked it has a texture similar to caramel, and it jiggles. The Kewpee Hamburger joint in Lima has some of the best Sugar Crème pies I’ve ever tasted.
“I’ll have the chili with cheese, Vernors ginger ale, and a slice of Sugar Crème pie.” I spread my napkin over my lap.
“Cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke for me,” Mari said.
“Pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, and iced tea,” Thomas ordered.
“Same for me,” said Peg.
I flipped through the jukebox choices and selected, ‘Hey Lawdy Mama,’ ‘Twisted,’ ‘Berry Rides Again,’ and ‘Ride With Me.’
Thomas groaned, “You and your Steppenwolf.”
Mari was looking down at the table but lifted her eyes with barely concealed merriment. “Anyone can pick a song, Thomas,” she chuckled.
“So does anyone know where this place is?” March asked.
“It’s on Garden Boulevard off Western over by the country club,” Thomas replied.
I sat up straight. I lived between the country club and Faurot Park.
“How close to my place?” I stared at Thomas.
“A short distance. Don’t worry; it’s not in your neighborhood.” Thomas smirked at me.
I sat back. For some reason having an abandoned tuberculosis hospital near my residence was disturbing. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Thomas drummed his hands on the table.
“I suggest we have a plan.” March looked at each of us.
We spent the next hour coming up with various scenarios while we consumed our meals. “So, we’re all agreed? We find the main entrance. If we can’t get in that way, we look for an opening around the premises. If we find one, we go inside. Otherwise, we leave. No breaking and entering.” I said.
I’d promised Mari, and I intended to keep my word. Plus, I didn’t need to have Garrett have to bail my butt out of jail again. I’d already had a close call last year at the Rink’s department store. I had no desire to add to another state to my arrest record.
Rehabilitation in 1969, the environmental protest along the Columbia River in 1972, and near arrest in 1974 were plenty. I shuddered thinking about how many times poor Garrett had to rescue me.
We left the restaurant, went past St. Rita’s Hospital, over to South Jameson, to West Elm, onto South Woodlawn Avenue, to Spencerville. Eventually, we reached Shawnee Road and Garden Boulevard. At the end of Garden was the metal gates to the abandoned hospital.
Unfortunately, there was a house beside the gates, so we had to circle around and park on Acadia. From there we walked down the path through the woods. Mari tightly held onto my arm.
“Are you okay?” I whispered.
“Yes, just nervous,” she whispered back.
We came upon the hospital abruptly and stopped walking The place looked monstrously evil. It was eerie how in only two short years it had deteriorated immensely. It looked so totally alone from the woods, and yet, we didn’t feel alone. We felt some unseen presence tracking our every move. Most of the windows were gone, leaving the impression of darkly blank eyes staring at us. Graffiti covered the exterior walls. Mari let go of me and took a step forward.
It was as though we were at once drawn to and repelled by this massive monstrosity that so many disease riddled people called home during treatment. Some were cured, but a lot more died.
At one time back in the early 1900s, Lima city officials estimated three thousand people would perish out of five thousand that would cross the threshold. Tuberculosis was a killer. It took the body and sucked the life and soul from a person leaving behind an emaciated skeleton that couldn’t breathe in enough oxygen to sustain itself.
“It looks demented,” she said.
“You would too if thousands of people died within you,” March commented.
During the early 1900’s Lima went off the grid and built this place to keep tuberculosis from spreading through other hospitals and the community.
“Forgotten places,” I muttered. “Why is it these places always garner a dark reputation and sinister history?”
“How can anyone forget a place this big?” Mari asked.
“Jeez,” Peg shivered. “This place gives me the creeps.”
“I know,” Thomas agreed, “me too.”
“Almost feels like we’re being watched,” March kept his voice low.
It was then I noticed not one of us talked in our normal volume. We spoke in hushed tones, barely more than a whisper. It was as though we were waiting to see if some ghost or monster would come roaring out of the depths of these decrepit buildings to gobble us up.
“Guys, come here!” Mari hissed and waved her arms at us. “I found an open door.”
We hurried inside to get away from the unseen eyes. The first-floor interior was no better. It was covered in black soil, smelled musty, and was so dark not even our flashlights made much of a dent in the gloom. Envisioning hundreds of diseased people roaming the halls was easy. As with any abandoned building, there were noises we couldn’t account for. A loud banging came from above us and then drifted off to our left. At first, we assumed these noises came from doors swinging on rusty hinges.
“Guys?” Peg croaked. “Can’t be the doors. There aren’t any open doors. The few still in place are all firmly closed.”
Thomas pushed on one. “She’s right. It’s tightly shut.”
We proceeded down the hall, peering into the rooms. One had a floor that looked as though it was ready to collapse into the basement. Peg gasped and jumped backward, bumping into Thomas. He reached out and steadied her. “Did you see that?” Her voice trembled.
“See what?” March asked and peeked around her.
“There was a kid in a white hospital gown standing by the window.” She pointed.
Mari and I walked in the direction Peg indicated. We continually looked around us. The further in we went the more distorted time and space appeared. Looking back we could see March, Thomas, and Peg clustered in the doorway. Even though they were only a few feet from us, it felt like they were miles away. Their whispering voices seemed muted beyond comparison. It was like a thick sea of invisible soup separated Mari and me from them. Mari held my hand so tightly I thought my fingers would break. “Loosen your grip, Mari,” I spoke in hushed tones.
“What?” She looked back at me.
Mari was standing several feet away from me.
It was then that I noticed she did not have hold of my hand. My fingers were curled around the air. I quickly unfurled my hand and wiped it against my pants. What was I holding onto? Murmurs danced around me, breathing into my ear. From the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a horde of dead people gazing at us. “Uh, Mari?” I reached out and tugged on her jacket.
“Wah!” She screamed and jumped away from me. “Harley!” She shrieked. Her body trembled.
I rushed to her side and pulled her into my arms. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” I nervously looked around. “I think we should get out of this room.” I guided her to the door.
Just as we stepped into the hall, a bright white light shone into our faces. “Police! You are trespassing!”
The voice was familiar. The officers motioned us toward the front door. Once outside, they took down our names, addresses, and telephone numbers. We were lectured about the hazards of traipsing around abandoned buildings. They gave us a warning and escorted us down the path to Acadia street. I had my arm wrapped around Mari as we walked. Suddenly it clicked. One of the policemen was the security officer at Rink’s.
“Well, well, if it isn’t Mister Harlan Davis.” He smirked. “Why am I not surprised?” He turned to Mari. “I am surprised at you, Mari.”
“Wh…why?” She stammered. From the look of terror on her face, I knew she was not used to being on the receiving end of law enforcement.
“The last time I saw him, you and Eleanor called me over. He looked like bad news. Now, you’re hanging around with him?” He jerked a thumb in my direction.
“He’s not like we thought.” She held tightly to my hand resting on her waist.
“I should hope not.”
“You didn’t arrest him,” she stuck her chin out stubbornly.
“So, you got hired on as a police officer? Still, work at Rink’s?” I asked.
“I’ve always been a cop. I worked off-duty as security at Rink’s to bring in a little extra. And I liked it.”
“Okay, that’s good to know.”
“Mari,” Officer Wells addressed her. “I always thought you were seeing Willy.”
“No, just friends. He went to California to try to break into acting in Hollywood.”
Facing me, he said, “Mister Harlan Davis of Davis Motors, you treat her right.”
I cringed as all eyes turned on me. “Yes, sir.”
“You’re the Harlan Davis of Davis Motors?” Peg gasped. “I knew there was something different about you.”
“Yeah, let’s keep that bit of information to ourselves, okay? Please don’t spread it around,” I pleaded. “I just want to go to classes like everyone else.”
“Don’t worry, Harley,” Thomas said. “Your secret’s safe with us. Right guys? If it gets out, they’ll have to answer to me.”
“Of course it is,” Peg reassured me.
“Hey, we’re the three musketeers plus one.” March said, “Can’t forget Maryanne. She’d be here if she didn’t have a children’s party she was helping with.” March rolled his shoulders, working out the kinks caused by tension.
“And me!” Mari’s tone booked no nonsense. She was fiercely protective.
I gulped as a feeling of contentment spread over me. This little group really were my friends. Maybe I should take Mari’s suggestion to heart and include some of the other disc jockeys at WOSL.
As we walked, I turned and looked back at the decrepit hospital. I swear I saw a body standing in the window of an upper floor. It watched as we walked away. I couldn’t help but feel as though some unknown presence walked down dusty halls, skirting flooring ready to cave in, swinging doors shut, and conversing with other souls trapped within the boundaries of the medical facility. Whatever inhabited this abandoned and forgotten tuberculosis hospital roamed there alone.
Copyright © Cassandra Parker 2018 All rights reserved.
The right of Cassandra Parker to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988 First published by Cassandra Parker US E-book Edition.
Parker, Cassandra (2018-12-10). Halloween With Harley 2
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Halloween With Harley 2 is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Motorcycle Clubs mentioned in this book in no way refer to actual or existing clubs as far as the author has been able to determine. The Cancer Institute of New York is fictional to the best of the author’s knowledge. All locations except known towns, cities, and those listed at the back of this book are fictitious.
Any errors are entirely made by the author.
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