In the Mirror
“When I looked into the mirror, I didn’t expect… well I guess I should start at the beginning.”
“Uh huh,” the officer sitting in the chair across from me grunted. His notepad was ready; although I wasn’t sure he was really interested in what I’d seen. Personally, he’s giving me the feeling that he’s here just to placate me, like I’m the crazy one, but I know. We need help.
I observed Mrs. Todd, skittish little lady, long hair, dark brown eyes darting constantly about, stylishly dressed, I wonder if she ever stops fidgeting?
“Anyway, like I said, back to the beginning. My husband, Tom, and I bought this house” motioning around, like he didn’t know I was talking about this house. How dumb I must look. Now I’m crazy and stupid in his eyes.
“Let me take you on a tour, while I tell you what’s been happening.”
“Alright, ma’am, but really, I just need the facts” Sam replied. Why on earth do I get all of the wacko, nut jobs? I’ve been here for almost an hour and what have I learned? Mrs. Todd is an uptight nut job, that’s what I’ve learned.
“This is the living room. We worked for a month getting this room ready. You know there was no working water or electricity in the house when we bought it, just a property in the rough, but there was something special about it. You know, like when you see your first love for the first time.”
“Uh huh, and?” Oh, have mercy; am I going to have to listen to the two hundred year history of this old place? Come on lady; get on with it, why did you call the station?
“It took almost a year in total to get the house ready to live in, it and a whole lot of sweat equity. It was a work of love.” They continued the tour. “This is the dining room, the kitchen is just beyond. The first kitchen in the house wasn’t attached, you know. We still have the kitchen house right out back, but it wouldn’t be very convenient, traipsing out to get a glass of milk at night, in the winter,” I chuckled trying to lighten the mood. I sound like a docent on a history tour.
Got it, kitchen out back, like duh… that’s the way they built houses way back when. It wasn’t safe to have a kitchen fire in the main house. I nod at Mrs. Todd.
The policeman continued to follow me looking extremely bored, tapping his pen on his pad, I guess as a gentle nudge to get on with what he was doing here.
I’m here because ---- just fill in the blank lady! She’s getting agitated? What’s that all about? Geez, I just can’t win. I wonder who I have to brown nose to not get any more calls like this.
“Down this hall is the master bedroom, that’s where it all happened, happens.”
His eyes brighten; I guess he thinks we’re finally getting to the good part. I know, however, we’re getting to the part I can’t explain. I start fidgeting with my necklace, rubbing the cross back and forth across the chain. Goose bumps start crawling up my arms. “I don’t know what to tell you. It just happens every month, on the third.”
She sure is getting jumpy. Something has got her spooked. What’s happening to her voice? She’s sounding more, hmm, more… old? What could be so earth shattering behind that door? Why would it only happen on the third?
What’s happening to me now? Whoa now, am I starting to believe her? She hasn’t told me anything to believe. Sam, snap back to reality, he chastised himself. You can’t let her see you get shaky.
“What happens, ma’am?”
I wonder how many ways can a person think- duh, without getting arrested. Frustrated, I retorted, “The reason I called the police in the first place, what do you think? It’s almost time. Come in here, you’ll see.”
Electrical charges fired through my body when I touched the antique door knob. I knew in my heart the show was about to begin. I took a deep breath, blew it out, and opened the door to the bedroom. A chill enveloped me. The bed was made, everything tidy, just like always. I know it won’t be like this long. “Tom and I never come in this room on the third of the month, ever. In fact, after the last time, Tom rarely comes home on the third. Hopefully, today I’ll finally have someone else to witness what happens in this room.”
Whew, what the heck was that? That room feels like a blast freezer. “Ma’am, is there an air conditioning unit on in here?”
I walk in slowly; I feel the rustling of crinolines around my legs. That feeling is coming back. The hair on the back of my neck is standing on end. I know it won’t be too long now.
I continued the tour, “We found the furniture in one of the lower sheds. The beautiful solid cherry wood was still in pretty good shape, so Tom and I decided to clean it up to see if it was worth using. You can see, with a good cleaning, some wax furniture polish, and a lot of elbow grease it turned out really well. We did the bed first, then piece by piece we finally got it all done. The last piece we found was the vanity mirror. I guess we’d been living here for almost three years, without any incident until we put the mirror in its place.”
No problems, until a mirror enters the room. Wacko! You’ve got to be kidding me. No problems before the mirror… get rid of the mirror then, duh. Dag gum, its cold in here. You’d think it was February and there was no heat in the house at all.
Mrs. Todd pointed toward the vanity. “Would you mind sitting here?”
“Just sit down and look in the mirror!” I replied, probably a little more aggressively than I should, from the look in his eyes. “Please?” Why does he keep tapping his notebook like that?
I walked over and reluctantly sat down. Alright, I’ll sit down. Five minutes, that’s all, five minutes and I’m out of here. I’ve wasted enough time with this nut job.
Hey, they really did a good job refinishing this. I rub my hands across the top of the vanity, smooth as a baby’s bottom. I slide the top right drawer open and examine the way it’s made. Yep, it’s really old; I bet it belonged to one of the old farts that lived in this house. What a lucky find. Wonder what Mr. Todd used to clean it up.
“What kind of cleaner did you use? This must have really been a mess. Tiger Paste, it’s the best. That’s what my dad always uses.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Todd whispered, “look” motioning toward the mirror.
What the? I turned around, nobody. I turned back around and stared in the mirror. Holy cow, this had to be one of those new fangled televisions. There’s bound to be a flat screen behind there. Standing, I peered over the tri-fold mirror, nothing. What the….
She gently touched my shoulder; her hand was as cold as ice. She pushed me back to my seat.
“It’s starting, be careful. Stay here, don’t lose yourself. There, do you see her?” she nervously whispered in my ear.
Sure enough, there was a lady, sitting where I was sitting. My reflection was gone. Now I have goose bumps.
“How did you?” I looked at Mrs. Todd incredulously.
“Sh! Just watch, be sure you stay here, don’t….”, Mrs. Todd frantically whispered.
In the mirror, I watched as a man walked into the room. The door shut, the real door and the reflection door. I turned around to see where Mrs. Todd was. She was standing right behind me. But her reflection and my reflection weren’t there. How the heck was I going to write this report?
“Keep watching, it’s starting,” she whispers in my ear.
Warm hands slide across my shoulders just like the beginnings of a great massage. I take a sideways glance; there aren’t any hands on my shoulders.
The lady in the mirror gets up and walks over to the man, average size about 6 foot even, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, looks really tired. He’s wearing overalls, a blue shirt, and boots. He sits on the bed behind me. How can I see through me? I turn around; Mrs. Todd is standing there, nothing else. I turn back around in the mirror the story continues.
“Mrs. Todd, this only happens on the third?”
Mesmerized, I watch as the man gently caresses the woman’s face. Something in him snaps. His face changes, anger fills his eyes. My blood is boiling, I’m feeling… enraged. He stands up, raises his hand and slaps her to the floor. The lady, same size as Mrs. Todd, five foot three, 100 pounds, dark hair, they could be sisters. Anger, where did that come from? He drags her up by her hair, shakes her and slaps her again. Crinolines, I hear the taffeta and crinolines fly behind me. I stand, turning suddenly and knock Mrs. Todd down.
“Ma’am, I’m so sorry,” I offer her my hand, “are you alright?”
Hesitantly, she takes my hand, and I pull her up to her feet. A feeling comes over me. That raw feeling of anger fills me, again. I’m shaking with rage. My hands slowly clench and release, every fiber in my being is on fire.
This woman, how dare she. I slap her again. She falls to the floor, she deserves this punishment. How dare she go behind my back! My hands haul her to her feet like a rag doll. I throw her across the room. She slams into the highboy, and then falls to the floor.
My rage continues to boil. I drag her by her hair to the bed, throw her down, and rip her skirts to shreds. I open her legs, she’s given what’s mine away, and I’m going to take it back. I feel her shivering beneath me. I raise my hand again, it finds its mark. “You’re mine, no one else’s, do you understand?” I take what is mine.
The images in the mirror match the images in the room, differences in beings, differences in time, same images just different players.
I fall over her side, my head is throbbing. What the heck was that?
“I told you to stay here! I told you not to lose yourself!” I screamed at the police officer. “See what happened, see what happens?” I’m shaking, ice is flowing through my veins part of me wants him dead. I’m still holding the clock that I smashed into his head, swaying back and forth watching. My eyes never leave him, I don’t know which ‘him’ it is, not yet, anyway.
“Mrs. Todd, what just happened? I was watching in the mirror, and now I’m…,” rubbing my head, “I’m pretty sure you hit me.”
“I had to, to get you off of me! I told you, don’t lose yourself! I told you! You’re just like all of them. Why couldn’t you just stay and watch?” Tears burn my eyes, my face feels like its on fire from his brutal slaps.
Holy cow, she looks like a cornered animal, her cheek is red, gonna have a shiner there. There is no way I did that. I’d never raise a hand to a woman. What the heck has happened? Images start to flood my memory. Oh my God, I did do this. “Mrs. Todd, I’m so sorry. I don’t’ know what came over me.”
“You didn’t do it. He did it. He does it the third of every month. That’s why you’re here. I didn’t know what to do. My husband and I can’t be in this room, he’ll kill me, and it won’t be him that did it.”
“Ma’am, I don’t know how I can help you. This is beyond the law of man, that’s for sure.”
When I write this report, I’ll be the wacko on the force. They’ll be sending me on all the nut job cases. Heck, I think I’m a nut job after today.
“I’ll fill in my report, see if anyone knows of someone that could help you figure this out.” I pause, rubbing my head as I walk out the door, “You said it started when you brought the mirror in here?”
“Have you taken it out?”
“Yes, we did, but it still happens.”
“Mrs. Todd, I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me, but my advice would be to get out of this house, and leave everything.”
“We’ve sunk our life savings into this property. We can’t afford to start over.”
Mrs. Todd escorted me back to the front door. What do you tell someone in a case like this? “I’ll see what I can do, ma’am.”
She closed the door behind me. I could hear her crying. I guess she realized there wasn’t anything the police could do. I returned to the station and quietly filed my report, hoping that nobody bothered to read it.
“Sam, you went to the Todd house?”
“Yes, sir, last month.”
“Better head back over there, we’ve got a domestic violence call from a neighbor; I’ve got a rookie headed that way. He’ll follow your lead since you’ve been there before.”
Talk about déjà vu. It was the third. I wondered what I was walking in to. The door was open, I knocked on the door frame and called in. “Mrs. Todd?” No answer. “Mr. Todd?” Dag gum, the freezing cold air enveloped me again. I walked into the house. There definitely was a charge in the air. The immaculate living room was a total wreck. Mrs. Todd was sitting, head in her hands in the parlor, visibly shaken. You could feel the rage still pulsing through the walls.
I squatted in front of her and gently laid my hand on her knee. Quietly, I asked, “Mrs. Todd, are you alright?” Just sobs in reply.
Where’s your husband? What’s happened, Ma’am?”
She looked up. The glint in her eye was unmistakable. It wasn’t Mrs. Todd but the woman in the mirror. “Not anymore. He’ll never put his hands on me again…. And neither will you.”
She came at me. I fell back on my butt, using my legs to scoot back away from her.
“Mrs. Todd, hey, Mrs. Todd!”
A knife came out from her pocket. She grasped it ready to stab downwards, into me.
“You’ll never hit me again. No man will ever hit me again,” the woman shrieked at me.
Where’s that rookie? Can’t he hear what’s going on? I need back up, quick!
“Mrs. Todd, remember what you told me. You have to stay here. Mrs. Todd, you have to come back!”
Great a wall, I’m backed into a corner. Take her out, or try to help her, interesting choice. My pulse is beating my ears; adrenaline is coursing through my veins. I’ve got to get out of here, or take this crazy woman out. I duck under her lunge, and head for the bedroom. I know she’ll follow me in there.
I cross the threshold, it’s hot in here. What the heck? I turn and see the woman following me with a wild look in her eyes. I slide behind the door; I know she knows I’m in here.
Dang, there’s Mr. Todd and a whole lot of blood. I guess I know what happened to him.
“You can’t hide from me. You won’t leave here. My first husband didn’t, her husband didn’t, and you won’t either,” she screeched.
I slammed the door behind her, grabbed her arm with the knife, shifted it up and behind her to the point she dropped the knife. I held her in front of the mirror.
“Mrs. Todd, look, LOOK!” I ordered.
That wild eyed woman is still glaring at me in the mirror. Where’s that fidgety little lady when I need her? The scene starts again the lady sitting in front of the mirror, the man in overalls coming in, his rage building and building. The woman in my arms watches, as he hits and throws her around. Her eyes narrowing her frame shaking with pent up rage.
“I’m Ida,” she screamed maniacally.
Where the heck? What happened? I’m rubbing my head again. This time there isn’t a scared lady standing in front of me, thank God. Smoke, I smell smoke.
“So Sam, you finally decided to join us.” My boss is staring down on me. When did he get here? Where am I for that matter? Paramedic?
“Yes, sir. What happened?” I propped up onto my elbow, still rubbing my aching head.
“From the look of things, the kitchen caught on fire,” the chief replied.
“Told her not to have the kitchen in the main house,” I mumble under my breath.
“Last time I was here, sir, we talked about the first kitchen was in the back. Where is Mrs. Todd?”
The chief put his hand on my shoulder. This can’t be good.[/i} “Gone, she didn’t make it, but she made sure you got out.”
“What?” I tried to raise up, he pushed me back down.
“The rookie’s kind of at a loss. To hear him tell it, everything was fine, then the whole house was engulfed and you were laying in the front yard. He doesn’t have a clue how you got there at all, just that it turned really cold. He swears he never saw you leave the house, you just appeared - out cold, lying on the lawn.”
“Then how do you know it was her?”
“The neighbors saw Mrs. Todd bring you out, dressed up in a costume with crinolines and taffeta then she went back in and slammed the door shut. About that time, the Donaldson found you. When he got you to safety, he tried to get her out. None of the doors or windows would give, he couldn’t get in.”
“The fire department couldn’t get in when they arrived, even with their equipment. They said it was the weirdest thing, nothing worked in breeching the walls or roof. They were formulating a new plan of attack, when the whole house just… well, the whole house is gone. The back corner where the bedrooms were, they’ve found five bodies. Did you see any bodies when you were in there?”
“Just Mr. Todd’s, five? How?” I shook my head, “Sir, there’s no way there were five bodies back there.”
“More questions than answers with this one. I’ve asked for your first report to be pulled. You’ll have to get your report ready for me in the morning. Glad you weren’t in there,” he said patting my shoulder. “I’ll have your report in the morning?”
“Yes, sir.” He turned and left and I had a lot more questions than answers.
The paramedics finally let me out of the bus. I started walking around the property, trying to piece everything together. Man, my head hurts as I rub the swollen bumps on it. The remains of the house, well what little of it that was left, still smoldered.
This is going to be a heck of a report to write. OK, chief, a crazy lady from over a hundred years ago inhabited the body of Mrs. Todd today. Apparently this loony tune killed her husband, Mr. Todd and tried to kill me.
Five bodies? That doesn’t make any sense at all. Mrs. Todd, Mr. Todd, who were the other three?
I round the back corner of the house. There sitting in the midst of the smoking rubble was the mirror. I could see my reflection in the mirror. Everything else was gone. How on earth did that make it through the fire? I picked my path carefully.
Standing in front of the mirror, I feel the cold, once again. I feel the rage, I see the couple, their play unfolding in the mirror. The final act, he burst into the bedroom and caught her in the act. No wonder he’s so angry. He grabbed the other man and just snapped his neck like a twig. Man, Ida’s husband was really strong. Next, his rage was turned toward Ida. I thought last month was awful, this session was even worse. No wonder Ida was so angry, she was bent on revenge. Wait a minute, I recognize that knife! So she’s had some practice stabbing. It seemed like their battle went on forever. Ida, her lover, and Mr. Ida, with Mr. Todd, and Mrs. Todd. Could that be the five bodies? Yep, I’m heading for a padded room.
Wait a minute, I recognize that knife! So she’s had some practice stabbing. It seemed like their battle went on forever. I guess with Mr. Todd, and Mrs. Todd, that makes the five? Yep, I’m heading for a padded room.
I bent over, picking up a hunk of cooling wood and hurled it at the mirror. It shattered into hundreds of shards. I brushed my hands off on my pants. Seven years bad luck, may not be such a bad thing after today. Maybe that will be the end of this case.
I shake my head and pick my way back out of the wreckage. How am I going to put this in a report?