“There is a house, in New Orleans… They call the…”
Except for the fact that this particular house was found in good old Toledo Ohio. On North Ontario Street to be exact. It was a fairly plain house when I lived there with my then boyfriend. We rented it from an older man and fixed it up as our relationship slowly imploded.
We lived there in 1998 and 1999 or thereabouts. The house certainly had a good bit of character, as did the landlord, who insisted that we were to have free rein over everything, except for the third-floor attic, which we were not allowed to enter under any circumstances, upon pain of… well, you get the picture.
That’s what I thought until I started talking with the prostitutes.
You see, N. Ontario Street isn’t that far away from Erie Street. At that time, Erie Street was where the area prostitutes would sell their wares. Often, the ladies would choose to complete their business transactions in the alleyway behind our house. Partly because it was relatively secluded from the prying eyes of the cops, and partly, as one lady put it, my “big fricken dog” would go after any and all johns that got a little too uppity. She was a good dog, more than willing to defend a lady, or me when necessary.
So when I started working some late nights at a bar as a cook and letting my dog named Jackie run around the yard between 3 and 4 AM, a few ladies of the night and I struck up a type of friendship.
After a while, they started telling me stories. Stories about the house I was living in.
Stories about how only a few year prior they could hear cries and whimpers coming from the third floor.
About how men would come and go at all hours of the day and night in that house, but they never once saw any lady like them do the same.
The innuendos were numerous, just as the proof was non-existent. After all, no one had ever actually seen or heard anything. But all the rumors seemed to center around that third-floor attic. But no one ever really knew… well anything.
And if there is one thing I can’t stand it’s not knowing.
So after a while, I mustered up the determination to use some of the skills I learned from some less than reputable friends I had made in Detroit, and I entered the attic of the house on Ontario Street.
What I saw took my breath away by its plainness.
The only thing I saw in the whole attic, that stretched the entire length of the house was a single mattress lying on the floor, a small chest of drawers, and a few marbles scattered along the floor. The air was stiff and oppressive, and although I saw absolutely nothing that would indicate that anything had happened, the feeling of wrongness in that attic was almost more than I could bear.
I quickly left the way I came, making sure to remove any traces that I had been there. I searched through public records to see if there was anything that happened during the preceding decade to warrant my feeling of wrongness. Some evidence of a crime, but found nothing.
Could the prostitutes have been making it all up? Possibly. Could my imagination have been getting the better of me? Quite possible indeed. I am a writer, after all.
But still, that image of the single queen sized mattress and the few marbles stayed with me. It stayed with me until 2015 when I started to do something about it. I did what any writer would do.
I wrote, and I wrote some more. Eventually, my writing turned into a webcomic tentatively entitled “A Picture of You” Now, fifty-two chapters later, I’m in the process of drawing the images to go with the story. There are over 2400 panels to do, and I plan on doing every single one – either by hand or aided by a computer. Technology is grand, but I will admit that I’m at a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using it to draw. I am decidedly old school pen and ink when it comes to that stuff.
My plan is to complete it, and then publish it on The Writer’s Thread in regular installments. The drawing may not be the best, and the story is complete fiction, but it is a story that needs to be told.
Here’s a quick blurb about the story:
Dominc Trulin has just transferred to the Homicide Division, and his first case is a doozy. Someone is leaving the mangled bodies of prostitutes in the alleys around town, and the public is not only aware of it, but getting quite nervous indeed. Add to that the fact that Dominic has become the defacto head of household, for his two foster brothers, juggling work and home life takes on a whole new meaning.
Kaya Dummond was happy enough to rent the downstairs portion of her house to Mr. Trulin and his brothers. After all, since her mother had gone missing, making ends meet was becoming more and more difficult. And then there were those strange feelings of being watched. Purely her imagination getting the best of her, she was sure. Still, it was comforting to have them around.
© 2017, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.