Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Just Perfect

Joanie wanted to be the next big star
of home improvement TV shows.
She and her husband, Nick,
would transform old, outdated homes:
cover them in shiplap and subway tile,
tear down the barriers
between the kitchen and the living room,
rip up carpet to reveal old hardwood floors,
decorate the walls with artwork:
inspirational phrases written in a looping script
on stained wooden plaques,
family photographs given a new home
in vintage frames.
And their clients, as well as the television audience,
would gasp and cry, “It’s perfect!
Just perfect.”
Nick wasn’t nearly as ambitious as Joanie was
and not as skilled a builder as she’d like him to be,
but they could afford to hire a lot of help.
She just called that “a little TV magic.”
They were filming their pilot episode
in their hometown.
The Old Palmer House had actually been purchased,
despite the whispered rumors and campfire ghost stories.
A young couple from out of town
who had inherited a small fortune from a grandmother.
They could buy the house for a steal,
then spend three times that much gutting the home
and remodeling to their taste.
Joanie was excited to have such a large budget to work with.
“It’s perfect!” she declared. “Just perfect.”
Strange things started happening almost immediately.
If Joanie were filming in the kitchen,
there would be a loud banging sound
from the master bedroom above,
but these sounds would never be caught on camera.
“It’s probably just the house settling,” Nick reassured her.
“Or maybe even a raccoon in the attic.”
Occasionally the camera crew experienced 
strange equipment malfunctions,
but it wasn’t the newest and best equipment.
A candle spontaneously lit itself on the dining room table.
That was harder to explain.
One afternoon, Nick was tearing up the floor
in the master bedroom.
“Joanie!” he called in a panic. “Joanie!”
Joanie raced up the stairs.
Buried in the floor was a skeleton
dressed in a wedding gown,
clutching a bouquet of dried roses.
Joanie screamed, then turned to the crew.
“Turn off that camera!” she shrieked.
“Turn it off!”
But before the cameraman obeyed,
he captured the image
of the bedroom closet opening,
then something unseen grabbing Joanie’s leg,
knocking her to the floor
and dragging her screaming inside.
The door slammed shut,
and she was never seen again.
Nick abandoned the idea of a media empire.
The young couple never moved into
their dream home.
The Old Palmer House stands to this day.
Sometimes homeless people or stoners
break in, but they never stay long.
It’s said you can sometimes hear a soft voice at night,
saying, “We’ll add a new backsplash
and update the appliances.
It will be perfect.
Just perfect.”

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