Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blurred Edges Chapter Nine

For the next few days, Claire and Marten fell into a steady pattern of work. Both would wake up around nine in the morning, just in time for Marten to make some eggs and bacon and for them to have their cup of coffee before the contractors arrived at ten. Marten would tell the contractors where to work and what needed to be done while Claire would handle the finances and spend her days taking inventory of the many pieces of art within the house.

Already she’d found buyers for some of the smaller statues of grotesque looking gargoyles that sat in alcoves, and bought modern pieces of art to replace them with. She had two or three contractors, all burly men, follow her around and box up whatever she pointed to before bringing it to the front of the house, where she’d write with a sharpie what exactly the box contained.
Marten spent most of the time in the yard and on the property itself with gardeners and masons, fixing up the driveway and the fountain outside, while tending to the overgrown plant life that had dominated the grounds for so long. They would all gather together in the dining hall, a large room with a table able to seat forty, for lunch, where the contractors would tell tales of past jobs and offer suggestions for the house as a whole.
One man, Lucius Irons, had some keen insight into what would make the house presentable. He proposed that he and some of the other men sand down the staircase and paint it over, making it smooth and supple once more. He also had an idea for the library, once they reached it, that he said would make it a far more appealing room to be in when he was said and done. Claire and Marten were polite when listening to his suggestions, but were reserved about whether or not to implement them.  After all, they had some very specific ideas about what they thought their client wanted for the house, and they didn’t want to stray too far from those.
And so the days passed with relative ease; the chandelier was removed from the foyer and replaced with a similar one, hung up on new chains with new posts in newly refurbished wood, so as to prevent another fall. The tile had been gouged out and replaced with a similar tile before a group of cleaners came in and scrubbed the floors clean, making the grout on the old tile shine once more in a brilliant white splendor.
Lucius and his men had taken to working on the stairs the day that the artwork began to show up, large crates that dominated a corner of the foyer. Claire signed off for them and kept the receipts in her black booklet (tucked neatly into her back pocket) and went about e-mailing auctioneers about the art and statues that they didn’t need. It was then that the client sent an e-mail with a most peculiar request.
“Marten?” Claire called, walking out of the house, her tablet in hand. She was dressed in a sleeveless blue top with a windbreaker jacket on, along with a pair of skinny jeans and boots that she’d grown fond of over the past few months. Looking around the recently cleaned and trimmed lawn, several workers were laying flowers in the flower beds while older men poured fertilizer down from bags, patting the rich dark soil down with shovels to even out the beds. But Marten was nowhere in sight!
Jogging around to the side of the property where she knew a construction crew was working on the wood and brick walls of the home, she smiled when she recognized his mop of black hair amid the burly construction workers and their hard-hats. It looked like he was speaking with one of the lead workers about something important, so Claire held back a few feet and decided to look over the e-mail once more, just to see what she could make of it.
“To Marten and Claire,
I’ve found a piece I’d like put up in the main foyer, across from the entryway. Attached is a photo, as well as a listing of when it will be going to auction. I’ve increased your budget accordingly, so please acquire this piece for me as soon as possible.
Dr. Richard Nickels”
Claire puffed her cheeks out at the short e-mail and clicked on the image to get a look at the piece of art he’d found that would require a remodel of the stairs. Opening up the attachment, she nearly dropped her IPad when she was greeted with the sight of a gothic looking mirror easily nine feet tall and four feet across. The whole thing was made from a solid piece of ebon wood, with curves and twisting branches carved in such a way that it seemed as if it was a natural formation. The mirror itself was dusty, and in dire need of cleaning, but seemed to be in good condition.
“Huh,” she said, looking up as Marten walked over. “Look what Dr. Nickels wants us to get.”
She handed the IPad to Marten who looked at the mirror for a moment before shaking his head. “This guy is too weird… did you know he sent me an e-mail saying he wanted the house to be redone with darker woods?”
“Darker woods?” Claire repeated, not understanding what Marten meant by that.
“He’s added ten grand to our budget to have ash-colored Pine added to the list of materials used for the outside of the house.” Marten clarified, handing Claire her IPad back. “He also wants the bricks to be black as well, which is what I was discussing with the foreman over there.”
“What’d he say?” Claire asked, peeking over Marten’s shoulder at the surly looking older man. He was pointing to the bricks along the lower section of the wall, where men were breaking them out with mallets and sledgehammers.
“He said he could get some black bricks by Friday, but he didn’t like it. He wants to get this job done fast.” Marten said.
“He thinks this place is cursed, just like the cop said. Apparently he knew the two workers that were found hanging and has never liked this place since.” Marten explained.
“Oh, well that’s understandable…” Claire said before being cut off by a scream coming from the front of the house. Marten looked at her before brushing past her, the construction crew looking up to see what her reaction would be.
“B-back to work…” she said before turning and forcing herself to walk slowly to the front. She was just close enough to hear the foreman grunt to one of his men.
“It’s already starting.”

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