Before moving to Bag End I lived in Elyria for about five years, and before that I rented a house in North Olmsted. I loved this house. It was a large 1920s bungalow with lots of woods and a cool stone fireplace. Our landlady was a nice Transylvanian woman who never bothered us. It also had about 5 acres of land.
I held several theme parties at the house that were a lot of fun. One of the last ones was a kind of scavenger hunt involving stealing headstones from graveyards (they weren’t real headstones, relax) and locating an old family burial plot behind the house.
I had an old style coffin made and constructed a crude skeletal body for it. The party went off without a hitch but the next day it rained and the grave I had dug filled up with water. We left it alone since it was in the far back of the property and forgot about it. Two years later the landlady sells the house and we have to move right around Christmas. Not fun.
Flash forward 7 years. We decide to get stone steps put in at the new house to replace the rotting wooden ones. The guy doing the work asks us to come see the stone in person to give final approval and send us, by complete coincidence, to our old house. The buyers had bought the property, renovated the house, and now operate a landscaping supply company called Stone Quarter.
It felt strange walking around the old place. A lot had changed. The house looked good. They had poured a lot of money into it that we could never have afforded to. The property was also cleared out to make room for all the stone and materials they sell. As Rossana and I are looking over the materials that will be used the owner comes over and introduces himself.
“Didn’t you guys used to live here?” he asks.
I was hoping he wouldn’t remember us. It felt kind of weird prowling around our old place and we’d been unhappy to move.
“Uh, yeah. It was quite a while ago.”
“So you’re the guys who left a bed of nails behind in the basement.”
I had completely forgotten about that. The first bed I’d built for the Sloan Gypsies troupe had been way overbuilt. It was too large and too heavy to take so we’d left it behind as a gift. Of course, he didn’t know that I used to perform with a Gypsy troupe. I could see how this might look like something completely different to him. Freakers with swords on wall have kinky playtime dungeon in basement… oy
“Uh, yeah, well you see we had this performing troupe and…”.
“So did you guys bury the body too?” he asks, waving aside my explanation. For a moment I had no idea what he was talking about. Body?
“We were clearing out the back of the property three years ago with a bobcat and when the very first bucket of dirt comes up I see a skull sitting on top of it.”
I now begin to recall digging the hole for the coffin the night before the party. For several years after we moved away we wondered if they would ever find the grave. We just assumed the hole had filled up and the coffin had rotted away to nothing.
“Everybody freaked out and we called the police.”
“Police?” I asked, suddenly feeling very very uncomfortable.
“I mean, we find a skull buried behind the house. And we remembered about you guys and the bed of nails and my wife flipped out. She made me get the gun out of the safe and was ready to move out right then and there. “
“Ah, uh you see…” I stammered.
“So the cop shows up and the first thing he says is ‘That doesn’t look good’. He taped off the area and called in the detectives for a possible homicide. But then he looks at the skull kinda funny. ‘Turn it over’ he tells me. And I said ‘you’re the cop, you turn it over!’ and he says ‘I shouldn’t touch this if its evidence, but I have to be sure’. So he slowly turns it over and sees the mold marks. ‘It’s a fake’ he said and everybody breathed a huge sigh of relief. We used to keep it on a shelf in the office with a sign that said ‘Bad check writers beware’ until someone stole it.”
Everyone was now looking at me.
“I’m… sorry about that. It was a sort of Halloween party thing.” Telling him the entire storyline for the party would take half and hour. I cut to the chase. “I hope the police weren’t too upset.”
“Oh no, it was a hoot once we knew it wasn’t a real dead body. Besides, there aren’t a lot of murders in North Olmsted so the cops and the detectives hung around and compared notes and talked about how they would handle it if it were real. They even found some scraps of material and a shoe. They seemed pleased as punch that they got to use some detecting skills.”
Scott eventually delivered the stone personally to our house. After having a look around he said “How come it doesn’t surprise me that you guys now live in a Hobbit-hole house?”