It was noticeably colder as Ivy walked to her car, and it began to rain on the way home. Most of the leaves were already down, but some still clung to the trees in their tenacious glory. For once ivy was glad her purchase was put into one of those annoying plastic sacks. She hurried to the kitchen door , and placed her purchases on the table. The chilly rain soaked into her sweater and she scrambled upstairs to change into dry cloths.
The rain pelted the windows on the north side of the house, as Ivy prepared to make her nightly trip up to the attic. She watched the rain turn first to wet snow and then to fluffy fakes as the street lights came on and the Halloween decorations began to glow. ivy crossed to the opposite window, it was easier now to see Gus's house and she was hoping he was home, because Abagail Mappes had her wondering, and she fully intended to tell Gus about her tea with Mrs. Mappes this afternoon.
Years ago Gus's wife had made a papier mache pumpkin and decorated it to look like Uncles Sam, each year she put it in the sun porch, but the small light that illuminates it isn't on. People began to appear at their windows and wave, Ivy waved back, then settled into her rocking chair, and let her imagination run riot over the events of the afternoon. the attic was the castle turret of ivy's home, she loved to watch the lights of the town come on, and some nights she lingered so long that she fell asleep in her chair and was there to see the sunrise, gently flood over the hills accompanied by the birdsong in the summer and icy stillness in the winter.
The phone was ringing, but by the time Ivy got there who ever it was had hung up. The frame she had bought deserved further investigation, she removed it from it's plastic dungeon and undid the loosely tied cord, unwrapped the tissue that had yellowed with age and smelled of being stored in an old building. she tried to remove the old backing and when she did, two old photos fell out. Ivy looked at them and then at the clock it was too late to call Gus now, "Even old vikings need their sleep, she chuckled. And so do I.
But Ivy didn't sleep well that night she dreamed of a fire at a mansion on a corner, she always wanted to live in a mansion, and once she felt had been to a Halloween party there. There was wainscot in the bathroom, just like at her house, and newly installed electric lights that where what were it was later learned started the fire. She stood in the cold as firemen carried out stretchers covered with sheets, they smelled worse than anything ivy had ever smelled before. In the bushes , near the tower where her beautiful pink and lilac bedroom was. she saw one of the little girls that lived there, lying face down on the ground, ivy walked toward her and as she reached out to touch her a man grabbed her and carried her away. She awoke with a start, the scent of smoke still in her nostrils. sitting up in bed she tried to calm herself. Gradually the confusing dream, that had seemed so real enough to be a memory was overtaken by the familiar surroundings of her room. Ivy curled up under the covers and slowly drifted off to sleep.
Ivy woke late, to a chilly gray day, she would have liked to linger under the warmth and comfort of the her covers, but she couldn't. Skye would be here soon ready to take his place as the guardian of anything that fell to the floor. And besides, Ivy wanted to talk with Gus and show the photographs to him also. She thought of all of the different ways she could slyly tell the old Viking that Mrs Mappes wanted to talk to him. Ivy was sitting at the table studying the pictures of the woman in the grand hat, which if you looked at it just right resembled a witches hat. and the two girls with the sad, haunting eyes. who wore equally large hair adornments. Were they her daughter, her sisters, her at a young age? would Mrs Mappes know, probably know or she would have told Ivy, it was probably something she picked up at a sale, but why such a pretty frame had not sold, even though the price tag said $5. Skye sat patiently waiting for his toast, " Oh,little pal i should get you some toast"
The phone rang just as Ivy placed the toast in front of Skye, it was Mrs Mappes. "Ivy, dear, did you forget your gloves?". "Uh," Ivy searched the counter by the door."NO, no they are right here, but thanks for asking." "Well do stop in again I so enjoyed our tea." trying to stifle a nervous giggle "Of course I will, I enjoyed it too. One thing, who are the women in the pictures in the frame?" There was a long silence, "Well, I'm not sure, but the next time you are in town bring them in and I will see if i recognise them." " OK, I will do that." Ivy said.
"I look forward to our visit. good-bye now." " Goodbye, Mrs Mappes."
"Why, Mrs Mappes, has a crush on Gus!!!!" Ivy said aloud as she replaced the receiver.
~~ And so Forth
Ivy began sweeping the kitchen floor, she playful tried to sweep Skye out her way, but skye looked back at her in such a pitiful way that Ivy instantly felt like she had done something very wrong. She put down her broom and scooped up Skye, "Poor little man, did you have nightmares too?" Ivy settled into her favorite chair with Skye on her lap, the ticking of the old clock lulled them both to sleep.
Skye slid off Ivy's lap at the first sign of a gentle knocking at the back door. Very slowly Ivy stood up and, and shaking the sleep from her thick head she opened the door, these sat a half bushel of apples and , Gus was walking back toward the house with pie pumpkin.
"Thank you! you, handsome old Viking, you." Ivy blurted out. Gus blushed, "Please . please come in I want to talk to you about something." Ivy insisted. Gus, took a seat at the kitchen table and Skye hopped up onto his lap and ivy started the coffee. "Mrs Mappes asked me if i would tell you that she wants to talk to you, you big handsome Viking." Ivy giggled like a young girl and Gus blushed even harder. "That old girl, she won't give up. i know what she wants." "She wants you!" Ivy chided. Gus began to study his mug very carefully, then he caught sight of the old photos. "Relatives?" No replied Ivy they were in this frame um that I um bought at Mrs. Mappes. I'm gonna take it it and see if she can recognise who these people are." "Then she can sell you some more Junk." Gus laughed.
Ivy retrieved the bag with the frame in it and handed it to him, as he pulled the frame out a darkened newspaper clipping fluttered out. Gus picked it up and began reading "Fire gutted the Bellini Mansion after The annual Halloween Gala 'um both of the daughters jumped to their deaths and the father was killed in the blaze...so were some of the guests and the maids, lets see...it was blamed on the new electric lights" Gus's voice trailed off "Look here's a picture."