Tag Archives: The Old Mill

Some Thoughts on The Old Mill

Today I posted the last chapter of The Old Mill!  Below are some random thoughts about it.

When I wrote the little snippet of a story, Galvin, I had no idea where I was going to go with it.  More than anything, it was just a quick character sketch of a small town oddball, what I’ve heard referred to as “a bit of local color”.  Later I decided to revisit it.  I used Galvin as a starting point, but it wasn’t long before I took it in a totally different direction.  (Actually, I later added a chapter before Galvin, The Old Mill)

OK, time to step back for a minute.

Years ago, perhaps decades ago, I visited an early 19th century Federalist Mansion, The Barrett House.  This house is in New Ipswitch, New Hampshire, home of the oldest mill in the state.  I was very impressed with the place and its history and wrote a book in my head based very loosely on it.  It was a ghost story about a woman who wanted the truth of her family to be known.  It ended with a gruesome discovery from the early 19th century, at which time the ghost went away.  I later decided it needed a kicker at the end, a bit of a twist, but one that made other parts of the story make sense.

This story was quickly forgotten.

Until now. Continue reading

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Another Ball – The Old Mill

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  To Kill a Ghost.  The Table of Contents is here)

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The steps up to the third floor of the Goode Mansion seemed longer than ever.  I could hear the music drifting down the stairs, the murmur of people.  Each step was harder than the last.  It wasn’t just the pain.  Yes, there was still a bit of pain left over from the four broken ribs, the broken right arm, bruises and a bruised bone on the left arm, bruises and a bruised bone on my left leg and, well all of those other injuries from being struck several times by a heavy iron bar.  For the most part, they had healed, but there was still a bit of pain and tightness when I pushed it.  But, no, it wasn’t just the pain.

It was as much the fear.

Fear?  OK, maybe nervousness would be a better word.

I stopped at the landing on the third floor and took a few deep breaths, ignoring my complaining ribs.  In some ways this took more courage than entering the carriage house on that dark April night.

The ballroom was filled with people.  I walked to the front, the area were Abigail kept court, and turned.  I smiled at my parents, who were up from their retirement home in Arizona.  I nodded to my sister and a few friends.  I noticed Kunhal and other work colleagues. Continue reading

To Kill a Ghost – The Old Mill

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  Where’s Lyndsey?.  The Table of Contents is here)

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“Hold on a minutes there,” Sean said.  “I was playing along with this, but it was all a bluff.  I can’t kill anyone.  I mean, I’m a good shot and all, but I’m not a killer.  I don’t even kill the mice in my house, I use live traps.”

“What do you think we were doing here, then?”

“You told me that once Jessica was in the mansion, Martha would have to leave her 100% alone.  She’d be vulnerable and we could kill her then.  That’s Martha, not Jess.  Martha’s dead already and she has been a pest.  I’ve known Jess since she was a little girl.  I can’t harm a hair on her head.  Or any of them, for that matter.”  He holstered his gun and turned to us.  “Sorry you guys.  I played along thinking it was just to scare you, but you know I wouldn’t hurt you, don’t you?  Sorry.  Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening.”

He turned and ran out of the building.

I took Jessica’s hand and grabbed Lyndey’s elbow and started to pull them towards the door.  We took three steps when Galvin came in.  He had a gun in one hand and an iron bar in the other.

“Point that gun at them,” Barbara said.

“I don’t like these toys,” Galvin said.  “I think cold, hard iron is a better solution.” Continue reading

Where’s Lyndsey? – The Old Mill

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  Lyndsey Again (phone call).  The Table of Contents is here)

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Tuesday seemed to stretch on forever, but there really wasn’t much happening.  Sure, there was work and all, but the reason it seemed to stall was the anticipation of seeing Lyndsey on Wednesday.  We did text back and forth a dozen times and talked on the phone in the evening, but it only made the wait a little more bearable.  In fact, I said as much to Lyndsey, making a joke about our foreplay lasting 48 hours, so it had better be a good climax.

Wednesday started out little better.  I texted Lyndsey for the first time when I got to work and we talked for a few minutes at lunch.  But after that, she didn’t answer me.  The minutes stretched forever as I anticipated her call.  The clock came to a stall.

In the early afternoon, Lyndsey texted that she was behind and wouldn’t be able to make my house by 5 PM.  She thought 6 or 7 more likely.  And then she disappeared again.

It was around 5:45 PM when I received the next text from Lyndsey, “I’ll be up at the mansion soon.”

“What are you talking about?” I texted back.  No answer.  I tried her phone, but it went straight to voicemail.

A few minutes later, maybe around 6, I received another text, “Looking forward to seeing you and Jess in a few.”

Again, she wouldn’t answer my calls and texts. Continue reading

Lyndsey Again (Phone Call) – The Old Mill

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  Izle Again.  The Table of Contents is here)

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“Hey Gill, what’s up?  Your text sounded a little…”

“Hi Lyndsey.  I hope I didn’t worry you too much, but I wanted to tell you that there was an accident and that Izle died.”

“Oh.  Izle?”

“Yeah, Isabel Parker.  Here’s the thing.  She said she had something to warn me about, something big.  I blew her off and said I’d meet with her on Monday, today.  I planned to see her about the time she died, but was delayed by work and traffic.”

“Oh.  That’s…”

“Wait, there’s more.  One of the ghosts told me that it wasn’t over, that there would be deaths and I needed to be vigilant.  Even Amy’s dad, Bob Lansing, sent me a message that it isn’t over and to be careful.  I think Izle’s death is related to all of this.  And If I had been home on time…”

“Now Gill, don’t go blaming yourself.  You are not responsible.  Maybe I do need to get you out of that town for a while, if not for your safety, for your peace of mind.  As I said, she was not your responsibility.  OK?”

“Yeah, I know.  It’s just that with all of those warnings, well, I’m a little concerned.  Also about Jessica.  But, yeah…”

“I get it.  It sounds like you had an odd day.  Do you want to know about mine?”

“Of course.  I… Wait.  Damn, how could I forget!  Yes, please tell me.  I’m sorry I went on so long about this.”

Lyndsey laughed.  “I guess you must have been upset to forget.  Or wasn’t it that important?” Continue reading

Izle again – the Old Mill

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  A Phone Call.  The Table of Contents is here)

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A lot happened at the office and so I was about an hour late getting home on Monday.  In Amesbury, as I turned off Main Street, I was surprised to notice that part of town appeared to be blocked off.  I could see flashing lights, but couldn’t make out what was going on.  I went out for a walk almost immediately after getting home.  First, I wanted to find out what was happening.  I’ll admit it, it’s a small town and we are all slightly nosy.  But also, I had promised Izle that I would talk to her.  Despite it being Izle, I was very curious.  She said she wanted to want to warn me about something.  I had wondered if it were similar to Alexander’s warning.  On the other hand, she had mentioned Galvin.  I couldn’t imagine him being involved in anything, but he could be a stooge, just like when he was a lookout for the kids exploring the mansion.

As I walked, I thought a little about Alexander and his issues.  Mike from the historic society had written back that after thinking about it, he was about 90% certain that I was correct that Alexander was a black man.  It explained so much about his life.  He was a business genius and a good man in most ways, but something always held him back.  And no matter how polite he was, people took an instant dislike to him.  Seeing an issue with racism made all of the pieces of the puzzle fit neatly together.  Mike said that he was amazed that it had never been brought up before.  Later he wrote back and said that after a bit of research, he was 100% sure Alexander was black.  He was wrong and found that it had been brought up, at least in Alexander’s lifetime, but for some reason the historians missed it.  I wondered if the historians were as racist as the people 200 years ago, thinking that only a white person could be so successful and never entertaining the idea that Alexander wasn’t white, despite the fact he was often referred to as “the black devil”.  From what Mike said, it was even more than that, that people called him black all of the time, but people had taken it to mean his personality.

Walking into the center of the village, I discovered that Mill Street had been blocked off and the traffic rerouted.  I could see emergency vehicles down around the large mill building that housed Cooper’s Scientific Instruments.  I knew I couldn’t go down there, so I decided to do the next best thing and headed to Strickland’s.

I wasn’t too surprised that most of the usual guys were there, hanging out. Continue reading

Revealed – The Old Mill

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(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  The Library III.  The Table of Contents is here)

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I napped for about an hour after getting home from the library.  It had stopped raining and the sun looked like it was attempting to come out.  I puttered around the house, and by the time I ate dinner, the clouds had long since vanished.  I felt restless and I knew I wasn’t going to talk to Lyndsey, so at about 8 PM, I went out for a walk.

After doing my normal route, I decided to swing through the “downtown” section of the village.  It was beginning to get dark so I figured nobody would notice if I crossed the trestle and went behind the old mill.

I was passing a little hidden cubby in the back of the mill when I heard someone call my name.  I turned and saw the black man that had been haunting the mill and my dreams for the past few weeks.  He motioned me over to him.

“Today is my last day here and I need to talk to you,” he said.

“What?” I asked.  I tried to clear my head.  Nothing made sense.  “This is a bit odd.  Won’t somebody see?”

“Not many will see me, and as for you, we have watchers that will warn us if anyone comes close.  If they catch you, say what you want.  You were urinating on the wall or reading the inscription over there.”  He pointed to a block on the wall.  It had always been covered in ivy, but some of the vegetation had fallen away revealing words.  I had never noticed it before and wondered if anyone else knew about it.  “But you’ll have plenty of warning if anyone comes.  The watchers will know.”

“Watchers?  I don’t see anyone.” Continue reading

The Ball – the Old Mill

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  Invitation.  The Table of Contents is here)

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With a look over my shoulder, I entered the mansion. I let the door close naturally behind me.  The hall was empty when full of light, but as the light faded with the shutting door, Martha became visible.  When the door was completely closed, she looked full and solid, the middle-aged version of Martha.  She was wearing the party dress, I realized that Mike was right, that the dress custom tailored for the 15-year-old Martha fit the middle aged one very tightly, making her look both a little ridiculous, and slightly sexy at the same time.   We walked towards each other and stopped a little more than an arm’s length apart.  I pulled out my invitation.

“I’ve returned, but this time with invitation in hand,” I said.

“And you are just in time, Mr. Baxter,” she said.  “The ball has begun.”  I grew aware of the faint music from above us.  “I need to say a few words so you truly understand what you are about to witness.”

“Sounds good to me.”   She turned old for a flash, then returned to middle-aged.

“First, understand that you can see our world more than most of the living, so we can see you better than we can see most of the living.” Continue reading

Amy and Jessica (Part 1) – The Old Mill

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(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  Lyndsey 3.  The Table of Contents is here)

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Thursday turned out to be a great day at work.  You know the type; the ones were everything goes exactly right and it makes you feel that anything bad that has happened in your career was totally worth it.  That was my work day.  Everything went so smoothly.  Everyone, from the customers to the executives to the coders beneath me, all had good things to say.  I can’t imagine things running as smoothly as they did that day.  And yet I had a hard time enjoying it.  I felt that the gods were playing with me.

Near the end of the day, I sent just that in a text to Lyndsey, “Work was fantastic – the gods must be playing with me”.  She answered, “I know exactly what you mean :- (“.  I’m sure she did.

When I got home, I wasn’t surprised to see Jessica’s truck in my driveway, but there was a car I didn’t recognize.

As I got out, Jessica came around from the front of the house with a woman in tow.  After a half of a second, I realized that it was Amy Lansing. Continue reading

The Library 2 (Part 4)

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(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  The Library 2 (part 3).  The Table of Contents is here)

(Note 2 – This is Part four of a four part chapter)

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“After the ‘Thomas versus the world’ part,” Mike said, “we have the ‘sibling rivalry’ part. I have to say, the saga of George and Martha is my favorite chapter of the Goode story.”

“That sounds, well, a little sick,” I said

“‘A little sick?’  No, a lot sick.  You haven’t heard it yet.”

“You’re right, I haven’t heard much.  I know there was little love between them.”

“To back up a second, after Thomas died, his brother, Samuel came up and spent a lot of time helping to get the family settled.  He had recently married and his wife helped with George.  But as his responsibilities grew and his family grew, he spent less and less time in Amesbury.  You have to remember that it was quite the hike out here from Boston, a major journey.”

“I can imagine.  It’s a major hike driving today, particularly when the traffic is bad, which it always is in Massachusetts.”

“Right.  I think you need a time machine and live it for a while to understand what ‘a major journey’ means.  Actually, so do I.  I heard you hang out with the Wallaces.  They’re clever.  Can one of them build us a time machine?”

“I’ll ask.” Continue reading