I'd be lying to you if I said that I remembered how I came up with this story. Enjoy!
“Oh, my goodness!” The excitement in her voice was apparent. “Look at how beautiful this house is! The living room is so spacious!”
“This is one of the best houses in the area, and the owner is in a situation where he just really wants to get rid of it.” The man with the slicked back hair grinned as he guided her into the kitchen. “Honestly, if the two of you want to look at the paperwork today, I can all but guarantee that he will sign it over to you without question.” I watched as he started pointing out various features of the kitchen; the new tile flooring, the freshly painted walls, the bright red diner-style trimming. She was beaming over all of it.
Me, on the other hand, I was confused. Where the hell was I?
Less than five minutes ago, I had been sitting in my living room, playing Xbox with my girlfriend, eating a double cheeseburger from Burger King and just having a nice lazy Saturday. I started feeling a bit dizzy, shook my head, and then I was here. I went from my apartment living room, to the entryway of a Leave It To Beaver set piece. I slipped my hand into the pocket of my way too fancy pants, and felt a car key. That was it… No phone, no wallet, just a damned car key.
The woman that was touring the house with the man in the brown suit wasn’t even my girlfriend, I genuinely had no idea who the hell she was.
After taking a moment to gather my thoughts and slow my breathing, I turned around to look outside. In the driveway was a car that I had never seen before. It looked old, that was for sure. Then my eyes shifted over to the house across the street; they had a car that looked identical to mine.
Mine? Why was I thinking the car was mine? My car was a ‘97 Nissan Sentra, not the museum-bound hunk of metal that was sitting outside.
And once again the thought entered my mind- Where the HELL was I?
As I tried to piece literally anything together, my eyes met with those of a Mr. Rogers impersonator watering his lawn with a garden hose. He smiled widely, lifted his free hand, and waved in my direction. Almost as if I had no control over my body, I reflexively lifted my right hand and waved- my mouth twisting into a friendly grin.
“So, Paul, what are you thinking?” The deep voice in Sunday wear hit me from behind.
“It’s Mike.” I mumbled a correction without even turning.
“Mike?” The man sounded slightly confused. “When did you change your name buddy? I’ve known you for five years and I’ve always called you Paul.” He laughed and patted me on the shoulder.
“Paul, I think this is the one!” The woman in the other room excitedly made her comment.
“If you changed your name to Mike at some point, you probably should’ve told that pretty little firecracker in the other room, eh champ?” The man chuckled slightly again. “Anyway, when I was talking to Charles the other day about you, and I told him that you were interested in the house, you know what he said?”
“No…” I turned to look at him. “I don’t even know who that is.”
“Paul, my man, you need to lay off the bottle.” The man laughed at his own joke once more. “Anyways, I told him you were interested in the house, and he told me ‘Gary, you show him the house, and if he and his cute little wife of his want it, you tell them I’ll just give the damn thing to them.’ He said it was his way of saying thanks.”
“Why does he want to get rid of it so badly?” I couldn’t help but ask, something about the conversation with Gary was alluring, something about it was drawing me in.
“Oh, come on, Paul…” He grinned at me for a moment before pausing and falling back to a straight face. “Oh, you’re being serious.”
“Well, yeah…” I shook my head slightly. “It’s such a nice house, why doesn’t he want to live here?”
“Paul, are you feeling OK?” Gary put his hand on my forehead jokingly, I pulled back and stared at him confused. “My man, have you seriously been drinking? It’s two on a Sunday, and you’re already hittin’ the cabinets?”
“No, I haven’t been drinking. I don’t drink, Gary.” I stared at him in confusion; there was something I was supposed to know, but clearly didn’t. “I don’t even know where…” I glanced around the room, and back out into the front yard. “...or when, I am.”
“Well, Paul?” The woman stepped back into hallways and stared at me with an excited grin. “What do you think? Do you think we should take it?”
“My name’s not--” I tried to correct her before Gary cut me off.
“You know what, Donna? Paul here was just telling me how much he loved it, and I was thinking that he and I could discuss things a little more in private, just go over some of the logistics and what not.” He pointed in my direction.
“Oh, well, if that’s the case…” She gave me a slight wink and took a step passed me into the doorway. “I think I’ll introduce myself to the neighbors while you boys take care of business.” Donna kissed me on the cheek and walked out into the front yard. Gary watched as she went over to talk to the old man watering his lawn, and motioned for me to follow him.
“Come with me.” He led me toward the kitchen and motioned around the mostly empty room. “Is this ringing a bell?”
“No?” I answered honestly.
“No…” He chuckled again. “I mean, I know the tile is all new and he redid the trim, but you’re not remembering a damn thing?”
“What are you going on about?” I’d had enough of this nonsense.
“Two weeks ago.” He pointed at me, then motioned toward the basement. “This is where Charles’ wife had her ‘accident’.” He smirked and motioned again toward the basement. I stared at him, then back toward the stairs. “Her… Accident…”
“She fell down the stairs?” I continued staring at him.
“She fell down--” He cut himself off with another quiet laugh. “Yeah, on paper, she fell down the stairs.”
“My God, Paul, do I have to spell it out for you? Do you just want to hear it out loud?” His joking demeanor was quickly shifting to frustration. After a moment, he sighed and continued. “Three-thirty in the afternoon, you took Charles’ key, came in the back door, and did your magic on ol’ Judy.”
“Did My Magic?” I shook my head again.
“Took her out? Did her in? Eliminated the problem?” He made a twisting motion with his hands. “Based on the pictures I saw in the paper, you twisted her damn head halfway around.”
“What the hell are you accusing me of?” I was taken aback at the statement.
“Doing what Charles paid you for?” He sounded confused. “Charles paid you, he’s giving you his old house, you got that beautiful Chevy sitting out front, and in return you broke into his house and silenced the old pain in his ass that was about to take him down for sleeping with his secretary.” He laid the whole scenario out in black and white. “Does that get your motor running, or something? Hearing someone tell you the details?” He put his hand on my shoulder again. “You really are a sick son of a bitch, Paul. I like you.”
“Get your hand off me!” I shouted at him. “I didn’t kill anyone! And I certainly didn’t kill anyone for money!”
“Paul?” Donna’s confused tone cut through the tension. “What are you talking about?”
“He’s saying that I murdered Judy! He’s claiming that I murdered some woman for money.”
“Woah, Paul, come on. Why would you say that out loud?” Gary’s demeanor was pulling toward defensive. “Why would you bring Donna into this?”
“I don’t even know who Donna is!” I was at my breaking point. “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know who Charles is, and I sure as hell didn’t kill anyone!” The room felt like it was slowly starting to spin. “Ten minutes ago, I was sitting on my couch playing some mindless game with my girlfriend, then I woke up here! I don’t know where I am, I don’t know who you people are, and I just want to go home!”
“Paul, what’s wrong with you?” I could tell that I was scaring Donna. “What do you mean you don’t know who I am?” She paused again and shook her head. “Wait, Judy? That woman that fell down her stairs...” She glanced over and realization set in. “Oh, god. That was this house!” She quickly shifted her attention to me. “You killed her?!”
“Dammit, Paul…” Gary dropped his head and sighed. “Now we have to take care of this problem!”
“Like hell!” I stepped forward and grabbed Gary by the jacket he was wearing. “Listen here you son of a bitch!” I pushed him forward, and was met with what I could only describe as a cold pain in my neck. My skin started to tingle, like it was losing all sensation. My vision started to blur and my ears were ringing, the only other sound was that of Donna shrieking. I slowly reached up toward my neck and gripped the small handle, pulling it away from my neck. The switchblade in my hand was covered in blood, I could feel my blood pressure dropping as my arterial spray covered the wall beside me. After taking a slight step back, I fell straight onto the hardwood floor, and everything slowly faded away. Even though it was growing darker by every split second, I could still hear Donna’s screeching and see Gary’s feet. He stepped over me and toward Donna; her screaming stopping no more than a second later. Then there was nothing, it was all black, all silent.
“Oh, my goodness!” The excitement in her voice was apparent. “Look at how beautiful this house is! The living room is so spacious!” I blinked and stared into the entryway of the same house I had just died in.
“This is one of the best houses in the area, and the owner is in a situation where he just really wants to get rid of it.” The man with the slicked back hair grinned as he motioned toward the kitchen. “Honestly, if the two of you want to look at the paperwork today, I can all but guarantee that he will sign it over to you without question.” He started following Donna into the kitchen, but paused. “Hey, Donna, why don’t you check out the rooms real quick, I wanted to talk to your husband about something real quick.”
“Oh, absolutely!” She laughed and pressed on into the rest of the house.
“Be sure to check out the basement, it’s really nice down there! Fully carpeted, and finished walls!” He smirked and walked back toward me.
“I don’t…” I moved my hand toward my neck as I stared at the man that had just stabbed me. “I don’t understand.”
“You feeling OK, Champ?” Gary grinned again.
“Yeah, I think…” I shook my head and tried to focus on everything.
“Good.” Gary placed his hand on my shoulder and leaned in. “Do me a favor and don’t make me kill you this time. The boss doesn’t like it when we have to spend a lot of time redoing scenes.”
“Redoing scenes?” His sentence made absolutely no sense.
“Look, I know you’re the new guy, but surely someone explained things to you.”
“The new guy? What?” Once again, nothing was making sense.
“Well then, that makes a lot more sense.” He chuckled slightly and continued. “Your job is to act your part. Make it a good show, and you won’t be tortured, it’s as simple as that. This one is a bit of an action-drama style show set in the 50’s.”
“Show? Fifties?” I stared at him, then glared into the empty rooms. Despite my complete and total confusion, it made sense. The woman looking like she came from Grease, the fact that Gary and I were dressed with jackets and ties, that ancient ass car in the driveway. Then my mind drifted to the other word he mentioned. “Wait… tortured?”
“That’s right, kid. At some point, you died, and now you’re here on some shitty old-style drama.” Gary smirked at me again, his eyes reflecting the raging fire behind me. “Welcome to hell.”