The Maybrick Estate

Darling Cadence


The sound of the Church bells flooded through the open door of the Lady Belle followed by the chattering of the townsfolk as they spilled out on to the main road outside.
"yep, that'll be the Church bells" Willard pointed out, as if I were unable to figure it out for myself. He drummed his fingers against the bar and stared at me as if waiting for me to make the next move. I shifted slightly on my stool, "hey ey ey, where the fuck do you think you're off to dipshit?" Willard exclaimed. I was a bit unsure of his outburst as I was in no hurry to leave.
"ten fifty" He said holding out his hand. "Um I'm sorry, I don't follow" was all I could ask. "Two glasses of wine and my time, that'll be ten dollars and fifty cents". Obviously nothing comes for free so I reached for my wallet and handed Willard a twenty and a few coins, "I have a better plan, how about you keep the wine flowing and finish off our little history lesson". Willard accepted the money which he swallowed up into a closed fist and shoved into the back pocked of his baggy overalls. He sighed a little and lifted his cap to wipe his brow with his shirt sleeve and hobbled out to the storeroom behind the bar without saying a word.

He was gone for quite some time, I wondered if the old coot hadn't taken off with my money and left me sitting in the silence of the empty club.
"I don't care much for Church anymore" Willard bellowed, as if answering a question that I didn't recall asking. He waddled his way back behind the bar holding yet another bottle of Maybrick. I didn't respond but instead let him continue:

Nope not at all, I don't pray no more neither....

I guess it must've been about thirty odd years ago, back in the late sixties or early seventies. I'd been livin' here with my Gran'ma Belle in this very Gentleman's club since I could remember. It was her Mamma who opened this place up all those years ago and named the place after herself. She too was called Belle, just like Gran'ma.
My Gran'ma was a very loving woman, always kept the door open for strangers mostly young girls who ended up workin' here and she was always loving enough to be sharin' her bed with men who'd come into town and obviously didn't have anywhere to sleep. She
encouraged the girls that lived here to be just as lovin', and they must have been because most people left with a smile the next mornin'. I'm not stupid though, I eventually worked out what was goin' on as I got older, when I was around twelve or thirteen years of age and Gran'ma let me work behind the bar servin' drinks to the Gentlemen that came to see the girls dance and take their clothes off for money. I was embarrassed at the way the men would howl like dogs and whistle at the girls, but Gran'ma assured me that its what they'd always done, there ain't nothin' wrong with it. Its what kept our town alive and what kept a roof over my head. I loved Gran'ma dearly so I let her continue doin' what she loved. Bless her soul.

It was one mid summers mornin' that I woke to Gran'ma who was in a right panic. She was out back in the storeroom cussin' away about how she'd paid in advance for the liquor to be delivered and that it hadn't shown up. She was in a right fluster about what she was goin' to serve to "the boys" that night.
All we knew was that the delivery man came from out of town and all we knew about the
town next to ours was that there was only one road to take to get there. So, she made me hop on my bicycle and sent me on my way to the next town along the dirt road. I left her in a cloud of dust, promisin' her that I would be back in record time. We both knew in our hearts though that it could take all day, if not more. We had no idea of how far the next town was, we never had to venture off that far when everythin' we needed could be found in our own town, and anythin' that wasn't found either got delivered to us or we didn't know it existed, therefore we didn't miss it.
I had to admit, I rather enjoyed seein' the sights along the country road. It opened me up to nature in a whole new way that I hadn't seen or noticed before. Eventually however the sun began to take its tole on me. The heat exhaustin' me far too quickly and burnin' my pasty
white skin. I veered off the road in favour of the shade of the evergreens and continued along my way, zippin' in and out of the trees, tryin' my best to still follow alongside the dirt road. At least if I couldn't avoid the sticky humidity I could avoid the unforgivin' sun.
I'd wondered why I hadn't thought of this idea earlier, but as it turned out, it wasn't such a great idea after all. Yep, I lost the dirt road. I had no idea of where I was goin' let alone now havin' no idea of where I've been. I was scared, I admit that, I was shittin' clay bricks like a little Nancy. I was surrounded by tall tree trunks, for as far as the eye could see, every direction I turned, trees, trees and more trees. But what was I to do? As far as I knew I hadn't made too many drastic changes in direction. So I kept moving forward, surely I'd eventually reach the next town or at least the dirt road again.
Tired, I hopped off my bike and walked along side it which wasn't a bad idea because the trees were growin' closer together and the roots were gettin' bigger makin' the woods look thicker and offerin' less sunlight and more shade, and the ground was becomin' less than easy to ride on.

The birds seemed to laugh at me from above the treetops, makin' fun of me lookin' over my shoulder and feelin' more insecure as the sunlight began to fade behind the canopy of leaves. Have you ever heard them say that animals can smell fear in humans? well, that's what it was like. I couldn't see nothin', but they were there, watchin' me like a predator ready to jump out at me from behind the nearest tree trunk, their shadows skitterin' from tree to tree like they were playin' a game of hide-and-seek, kickin' up leaves and snappin' twigs as they darted about the place. But as I say I didn't see nothin' It could very well have been my fear gettin' the better of me. So it was best that I just press forward. My persistence and perseverance paid off as the trees eventually began spreadin' out and the sunlight began peekin' through the canopy once more. But it was the unexpected sound of runnin' water that was like music to my ears, my pace quickened with excitement as I made my way toward its source. Oh to quench my thirst and bath in some cool water.
And there It was, flowin' like liquid crystals. A river so cool and so pure It was temptin' not to jump straight in. Common sense persuaded me not to though, the current was far too violent, the slightest wrong footin' would send me down river and tumble me about like a rag doll.
I figured it would be best to follow alongside the river instead for a while, If it didn't mean findin' the next town first, I could at least find a calm spot in the river that would be safe enough to swim in.
I carried on, every so often welcomin' the spray as the runnin' water crashed against nearby rocks, and stoppin' on occasion to feed off the wild berries that grew along the rivers edge.

The further I walked the calmer and quieter the river became. In fact it almost became too quiet, no birds singin' - or laughin' as the case may have been, not even the chirp of an insect. The water itself ceased to even make the slightest sound of a trickle. It may as well have been frozen. I would have thought I'd gone deaf if it wasn't for the singin'. It was the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard. It was bein' sung by a girl, slightly older than me - maybe 18 years old or so. She was bathin' nude in the cool waters, her dark glistenin' hair wavin' about in the soft current like it was a paintin' in motion. Her naked body just floatin' there like flesh coloured islands above the water as she drifted on her back.

I could have watched her forever, I'd seen naked women before here at the bar, but none of the girls that worked here could compare to the lustful beauty that glided about before me. She made funny things happen in my pants, I'm not ashamed to admit that. And her song, that too I'd heard before, I'd heard it many times before bein' sung in Church, Arvi Marie....

"Ave Maria?" I interrupted, the tale sounding all too familiar

Ave Maria, yeah-yeah that's the one. She sang it so beautifully. It drew me in, I crept up closer to get a better look at her, keepin' well hidden amongst the bushes so that she didn't see me watchin' her.
She stood up in the shallows of the river twistin' her hair over her shoulder to wring the water from it and then flicked her hair back with a snap of her neck, gently brushing the water down
her body with an open palm that stroked at her inner thy and came to rest between her legs. She began strokin' herself softly, her singin' now replaced with low moans as her fingers darted delicately between her smooth folds at a quickening pace while her other hand caressed her breasts and softly pinced at her nipples.

I could hardly contain myself, a moment like that in a boys life is a treasure worth more than gold. To see the grin on my face would have been priceless. It was short lived though. Somethin', don't ask me what, took me by surprise, came right up behind me, pushed me forward. The last thing I saw was a dark black shadow before I tumbled down the small hill I was standin' on, straight down into the river. I pretty much landed right at the feet of the woman I was watchin'. Surprisin'ly she didn't startle at all, not even the slightest flinch. She just stood there with her hands on her hips, in no hurry to cover herself. "Did you get a good look?" she asked. There was kindness in her soft spoken voice. Had I have not been in shock from the fall I would have flashed her a smile. "Now where in the world did you come from?" She asked. Still lost for words I pointed back up towards the bank where my bicycle still stood perched up against a tree.
"Whats the matter kid, cat got your tongue?" She questioned as she slowly waded a few steps closer, her head slightly titled, waitin' for me to answer.
"To bad for me I can't keep a little fishy like you, not enough meat on ya' to feed the whole
family". She waded even closer, almost standin' right over me while I was sprawled out on my ass in the shallow water. She was so close I could almost see what she'd had for breakfast. "There's only one thing for us then" she said, folding her arms across her chest and extendin' a long slender leg toward me and placin' a perfectly pointed foot between my legs. "Now that you've seen me, I've gotta see you" She demanded, followed with a seductive smile.

If circumstances were different I would have regretted being so hesitant, but all I could muster up was a stutter. I must've looked real worried. She crouched down in front of me gently reachin' for my right hand with her left, she slowly pulled my hand toward her - I was overwhelmed with hot and cold flashes, I'd never been with a woman before, and when I woke that mornin' the thought of that day being "the" day never crossed my mind.
I don't know whether it was the cold water from the river or the anticipation of the moment but I started shakin'. She placed my right hand in her right hand and shook.

"I'm just messin' with ya short stuff" she said gigglin'. I let out a sigh of relief, I was glad because to be honest I was pretty sure I'd finished long before we began. "I think the scare of the fall is in itself is sufficient punishment for you spying on me". I couldn't deny the fact that I'd been busted pervin' on her but I knew that I wasn't the only one up there watchin'.

She helped me to my feet and made her way to the embankment where she dressed herself in a white, light cotton dress that she'd had resting on a rock in the sun (Just for the record the fabric was so thin it still didn't leave much to the imagination, not that she appeared to be the type of woman to care anyway).

"You got a name?" she asked. Finding my voice I mumbled "Willard Holiday ma'am", I diverted my glance away from her, even though it was much too late. "Hi Willard, I'm Cadence, nice to meet you" she gave me a warm smile. "You're soaked to the bone, how about you come with me, if there ain't any other place you'd rather be you can come back to my Daddy's house and dry off there, and I'll fix you somethin' to eat, a skinny boy like you is in serious need of feedin'". The idea of a cooked meal was temptin' so I agreed to go with her, ever so hopeful that I was "in" and she was just leading me of to some place comfortable. I fetched my bicycle and we strolled up alongside the river makin' small talk along the way: "So what are you doing out this way Willard?" Cadence asked "we don't get that many people out here that often, the land is pretty much ours to live off, I guess it's a little to easy to get carried away when you're this isolated" (her comment seemed to be an attempt to justify her prior actions) We reached a footbridge that crossed the river, "My Gran'ma sent me to ride into the next town to find the man that was supposed to deliver our liquor, he never showed and Gran'ma is pretty pissed, I left the main road and ended up getting a little lost" I told her. We crossed the footbridge into a large field full of tall green grass and brightly coloured wildflowers, they swayed in the gentle breeze although, yet again they made no sound. "And what town do you expect to find? there ain't any towns for miles, our Estate is the closest thing to civilisation that you're gonna find out this way" she informed "I can help you find your way back home though, theres a road the passes by the front of our Estate, if you follow that you should be able to get home before sundown". We climbed an old stone fence that was almost hidden amongst the wild foliage and weeds in the field. I had to leave my bike behind in order to get over. As I reached the top I could see that the other side was much the opposite, domesticated farmland with row after row of grapes and berries growing in perfect formation and in the distance was a rather large, very elegant lookin' house. Cadence held my hand as we jumped from the fence to the ground below. The soil beneath my feet was soft and moist as if it had been irrigated not that long ago. "Not far to go now" she told me "I'll race you back to the house". She tapped me on the backside and ran off ahead, I chased her through the seemin'ly endless rows of vines and bushes but eventually caught up to her as she slowed down as she reached the clearin'. "Home sweet home" she smiled as she raised her hand and bowed to present to me the hulkin' buildin' that she lived in. I was in awe, the house was almost as big as our town put together.

But of course you being the new owner, obviously know what I'm talkin' about - Yep, as it turns out our darlin' Cadence just so happened to be a Maybrick. I know that now, but at the time the name would have meant nothing to me anyhow.

She took me through the backdoor of the house which lead to a conservatory or atrium type sun room which had a large granite water feature that looked like a large old fashioned communal bath or pool, which was draped with grapevines and Ivy and had many fierce and macabre looking statuettes perched around its rim. Some mimickin' sexual perversions while others were mimickin' acts of murder or sacrifice and some simply positioned simply to spout liquid from various orifices into the bowl. At first I thought it was water circulatin' through the feature until on closer inspection I could see that it was in fact a dark red wine.

"It's blood Willard" Cadence joked as she scratched a fingernail across my throat. "No, really, Its Wine" she assured me.
"Is your Daddy rich or somethin', wine instead of water in a water feature?, sounds like money to burn if you ask me" I asked.
"Wine, its what we do here, It's what we've always done, since I can remember. The vines out back supply us with enough fruit to keep the business goin' strong" she scooped up a handful of wine and placed it up to my lips, "Try some" she beckoned.

"I don't know" I said screwing up my face "Gran'ma says I'm too young to drink and that I shouldn't touch the stuff until I'm older". Cadence laughed, "don't be such a chicken shit, Is your Grandmother here right now? what she don't know wont hurt her" she drank the handful of wine herself and licked her lips. I figured she was right, what would Gran'ma know. I sat on the edge of the water feature and scooped a palm full of wine and drank. It was like ecstacy - a million butterflies flutterin' about in my mouth. I felt more alive than ever. "why do you care what your Grandmother thinks anyway? " Cadence asked, to me the answer was obvious, "She's all I have, I've been living with her at the Lady Belle ever since God took my Mamma away". Cadence rolled her eyes in relation to the God reference. " So you seriously live at the Lady Belle? " she asked. "Yep, I surely do - you've heard of it?" she nodded and sipped at another palm full of wine, "I've heard of it, we've had guests that have been there, I'd love to see the place"

"You wouldn't like it Cadence" I scolded "Too many strange men just there to take advantage of a nice girl like you". She giggled "Willard Holiday are you getting protective of me, you hardly even know me". She was right, I didn't know her at all but I was enjoyin' her company so much I'd developed somewhat of a crush, It wasn't hard to do either - she was so sweet and beautiful.

I had a feeling I knew what Willard was talking about.

"I can hold my own Willard" she assured me "I can be a man eater when I want to be, I don't let them get the better of me, thats for sure". There was somethin' in her words that convinced me that she knew what she was talkin' about.

Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of a Crow flutterin' its wings and comin'g in to perch on the head of one of the Statuettes. It crowed and pecked away at somethin' fleshy that seemed to have already been sittin' on top of the water feature. Its presence alerted me to the fact that my surroundin's were alive with sound, unlike the peculiar silence down outside of the buildin'.

"Looks like we have company" I joked.

"A single Crow is better than a murder" Cadence replied. Had I not known better I would have been puzzled by that comment.

"Shall we head inside, I'll get you something to eat" she asked, already draggin' me to my feet and leadin' me toward a heavy steel door which had a crank that she turned in order to unlock and release the door open. Stale air gushed from the hallway behind the steel door but I figured it rude to make a comment about it. The hallway was typically warm for a room that had been closed up on a day like this. It was a long hallway which was decorated with portraits of men and
woman in old fashioned clothing and various paintings depicting wars and acts of torture which to me seemed to be blemishes against an otherwise charmin' part of the house which boasted a red and gold colour scheme which was accentuated by the handmade carpets along its polished Cedar floors, and the golden chandeliers which glowed in the polished reflection of the eight or so Cedar doors which ran on opposin' sides right down the length of the hallway. We walked to the middle of the hallway and Cadence turned to one of the doors on the right hand side. She knocked once and turned the golden coloured door knob, openin' the door which exhaled a low pitched groan. The door opened to a livin' room, one of many I assumed. It continued the same red and gold theme and was adorned with a number of elegant looking wooden framed chairs which had been upholstered in red and gold and the room was decorated with an array of interestin' conversational pieces, antiques and books. From bizarre taxidermy amalgamations ( feline bodies with the head of an eagle ) to wooden carvin's of similar themed creatures ( a human male whom also had the head of a bull to his left and the head of a ram to his right ) to more ordinary objects like a brass phonograph that sat on a table next to one of the red and gold chairs. Cadence grabbed a fistful of my shirt "You're dry enough - take a seat and make yourself at home, I'll be right back with somethin' to eat". She left the room and closed the door behind her. I sat patiently in one of the chairs and listened to the rythmic tick-tock of the grandfather clock in the corner of the room and studied the bookshelf beside me. Those that had titles, I couldn't understand their meanin's and those without titles were mostly labled with five pointed stars and letters that looked like they were a completely different language to English.
Cadence seemed to be takin' an eternity, I thought it rude to leave the room but nature had called long before reachin' the house and I was afraid of not bein' able to hold on any longer.
Without little hesitation I made the decision to leave the livin' room in search of an appropriate place to relieve myself.
I called out for Cadence for assistance but there was no reply. I could hear movement behind one of the doors but there was no response what-so ever. I'm sure I tried every door up and down that hallway and all seemed to be locked except for the one that I had come from. A loud thump thundered from behind one of the adjacent doors almost makin' me piss myself on the spot. I approached the door slowly and knocked apprehensively "Cadence, you there?" I called out. There was still no answer but I could hear raspy breathin' coming from the other side which stopped momentarily, "Cadence you there?" parroted a hauntin' voice from behind the door that sounded like a class full of children all talking in unison. "Hello?" I called again knockin' lightly on the door. "Hello?" the voice repeated once more soundin' more and more like a distorted record player playin' in reverse. "Cadence this isn't funny" I pleaded. The voice again repeatin' me. "Stop!" I yelled, thumpin' my fist hard against the door. The voice behind the door giggled an eerie echoin' laugh. "Play with us Willard" The voice chimmed, "Come on in and play". A thin frail finger, pale as the colour of death, curled up from under the gap between the door and the floor boards. The long un-groomed fingernail yellowish and stained with filth of an undetermined origin scratched against the door.

"Gemini you better quit messin' around, don't make me come in there" came a familiar soft spoken voice from behind me, It was Cadence. The finger quickly retracted back behind the door and a much louder aggrivated thump made the heavy wooden door shake. "Who is that behind the door?" I asked with an obvious quiver of fear in my tone. "Oh him? thats just my sister Gemini, don't worry about him, shes harmless". I was about to ask her to repeat herself but she interupted me with an invitation to eat "Grubs up, get it while its hot" and I followed her back into the livin' room, silver platter in one hand and an unmarked wine bottle in the other.

Next Issue: Darling Cadence continued







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