Glass Getaway – Chapter 1

The old crumbled gravel scraped the tires rolling down the road. The air smelled of wet dirt and soggy grass. Needle thin trees towered over the little blue rental car. Dancing leaves with crystalized water drops reflected sunlight only when a small whisk of wind blew through. Ivor’s right arm hung out of the window catching the cool breeze swirling through his long fingers. His left hand relaxed on the bottom of the steering wheel. Driving on the right side felt easy to Ivor. A fast learner, Ivor was, and because of that, he was good at everything. Last year he went out and bought a cello and decided he would learn how to play. Needless to say he learned in 5 weeks and played beautifully. No teacher or lessons, just that brilliant head of his. Nellie on the other hand, she was quite the contrary to Ivor. If she was good at anything, it was because she worked hard. And for that, she always felt a little envious of Ivor. So there she was head pressed up against the cold glass staring out into the woods and warm meadows as she twisted her wedding ring with her right hand out of habit. The pale skin peaked over the band rim each time the diamond twisted to the back. There was no use fidgeting with the radio since all they would catch was static or some talk station they wouldn’t understand, or care about for that matter. This was a vacation. A much needed one away from all that muck back at home. Home. Whatever that was. A fighting ring, where they spat nasty words at each other while their little audience watched intrigued by the animosity between these two people they called “mommy” and “pa.” Ruthie was 7 and Finn was 5, both at that age where they noticed everything and sorted it into categories. Black and white categories of hate and love. Today was categorized as love.
Pa kissed Mommy on the cheek when they got off the plane. The thought trampled through Ruthie’s head mustering up old thoughts. She sat with her chin nestled between her knees as she knotted a strand of her long red hair over and over and over again. Finn, was off somewhere sword fighting the king of Saturn with a dribble hanging from the right side of his wide open mouth.
“Wow, look at this,” Ivor said slicing the thick moist custard silence.
Ruthie lifted her head just in time to see Pa pull the car onto the moss covered dirt road. She tilted her head trying to find form to the glass house up the road. Nellie, turned to Ivor and let a small curve form on the right side of her lips. She knew he was happy. This had always been his dream. A glass box in the middle of the woods with a heavily chilled cup of fresh hand pressed coffee at his lips. Nellie knew the red cherry glistening on top of this dream of his would be to make love to a woman by the fire letting the rush of anyone-could-see excite him. But Nellie also knew this woman was not her.
A pale yellow car was parked to the right of the drive way. A white cross sticker stared at them as they pulled up next to it. The driver’s window was cracked about an inch open letting out a trail smell of charred cigarettes that Nellie noticed as she stepped out the car.
“They must be inside.”
“Let’s go meet them and then we’ll get the bags after the walk-through,” Ivor suggested.
“Can you get Finn?”
“Come on Ruthie, let’s go see the house!”
Ruthie opened the door and skipped over to Ivor as he picked up Finn and threw his drowsy blonde head over his shoulder. He took Ruthie by the hand and they walked toward the front door. Nellie followed behind, alone.
There was no doorbell. Nellie looked down and noticed there was no welcoming mat, just a large gray flat rock instead. Ivor knocked. The heavy wooden door thundered.
“I’m hungry,” Ruthie murmured.
“We just ate!” Ivor snapped.
“I’m still hungry.”
Ivor rolled his eyes and knocked again.
Nellie lifted her right hand and began to tug at the skin around her fingernails while Ruthie began to roll a small black rock with the bottom of her boot.
“Okay, Nellie they said 4 didn’t they? I’m sure that’s their car right?”
Nellie nodded, “try again, harder, maybe they just didn’t hear.”
Ivor vigorously pounded the door.
“Ivor there! Stop!”
“You sound like the police Pa” chuckled Ruthie. Finn shifted his sleepy head.
Ivor looked down at Ruthie, then at Nellie then turned the door knob. It was unlocked.
“Hello?” he called out as he pushed open the heavy door.
The house already felt more luxurious than they expected. Those online pictures robbed this place of its beauty. To the left, the walls were all glass overlooking a jungle of trees over a cliff. Ivor gravitated toward the glass. His bottom lip detached itself and hung there on his face while his eyes scurried to trace every tree and trickle of the stream that flowed by to the right of the glass.
“Hello?” Nellie shouted.
Playful music filled the dense air of the room as Ruthie’s little fingers played the shiney white keys of the baby grand piano in the corner of the room. 10 months of eighty dollars a month and all they got was Old McDonald and Jingle Bells.
Nellie looked at Ivor, but he was already pulled into another realm where everything behind him was just white noise. There were two narrow hallways: one straight ahead and one to the right of the entrance. Nelly walked down the right. Large abstract black and white paintings welcomed her on both sides. She came to a door and turned the knob.
“Hello?” she said softly. It was a bedroom and a magnificent bedroom it was. A large wide window panel framed the bed. The only curtains were the leaves of the trees that hung and fluttered with the wind. The decor, a minimalist elegance, was well done by the designer.
“These people had good taste,” she thought.
Nellie turned to close the door when a stack of freshly pressed white towels on the dresser caught her eye. She walked over and touched the towels and felt the still warm and fresh smell of pines at her fingertips. The towels had just been taken out of the dryer.
“Nellie?”
Startled she turned around to find Ivor, Ruthie, and Finn, who had woken up, at the door.
“Can this be our room Ma?” Ruthie asked as she pulled Finn’s hand toward the window.
Nellie smiled, “of course baby. Let’s go look at the other rooms.”
Ruthie ran ahead and opened the next door: a bathroom. The next a laundry room. The last door was the master bedroom. Two of the walls were entirely glassed and overlooked the forest and a small wooden patio with a hammock hung between two old trees. The bed was on a platform and covered with a mountain of white pillows facing the glass walls. The same series of abstract black and white art hung around the room. A short but long bookshelf framed the bottom gray wall. Books, blankets, empty picture frames ,and collectibles lined the shelves. On top, a silver bucket held a champagne bottle. Nellie walked over to it and picked it up to find the bottle covered with water. The ice had melted.
“Look Mommy! There’s a pool in the restroom!” Finn yelled.
“That’s not a pool Finn that’s a tub for a big fat man,” Ruthie confidently stated.
Finn giggled, “Like Pa!”
“No silly, Pa got rid of all his fat remember”
Ivor picked up Finn and tickled him, “who you calling fat, chunky boy!”
Nellie walked into the happy room and smiled as she leaned by the door.
“Wow this is pretty darn nice.”
“You’re damn right baby! We’re going to have a good time here.”
Ivor walked over to Nellie and wrapped his hand around her hip followed by a gentle kiss on the back of her shoulder, “especially in that tub tonight.”
Nellie’s neck hairs rose to his words. He hadn’t spoken to her or touched her like that since November. One, two, five months of cold. She leaned her head on his chest and let herself come back to life for a moment.
“Welcome, I see you found your way in,” interrupted a voice
Nellie and Ivor jumped and turned around quickly.
“Pardon, I did not mean to cause a startle.”
The woman looked nothing like the picture online. She was no stranger to 70 and thin as a broom stick. Her eyes, a deep green, scanned their faces.
Ivor started, “I’m sorry we knocked and no one…”
“Oh yes don’t trouble yourself hun, I have poor hearing and fiddling in the kitchen did no help,” she interrupted.
Nellie extended her hand, “I’m Nellie.”
The temperature in their hands clashed like thunder. The woman’s hand was ice cold and hard with callus.
Finn skipped over to her. “Hi!”
The lady smiled, that smile adults give children out of distaste to them. But this smile had something more to it. Nellie felt it, just like she felt the callus, melted ice and warm towels.
“Follow me I’ll show you to the kitchen and give you the keys to best be on my way.”
“Your house is beautiful,” Nellie said as she shot Ivor a worried look, but Ivor was too busy staring at the paintings as he walked down the hallway.
“It is quite special,” she said as she turned to the other hallway.
At the very end was the entrance to the catalogue kitchen. Nellie’s dream kitchen. White glass cabinets, under-lights, hanging pots, swan like facet, and that view. The entire back of the house was glass. There was no backyard or porch. Just two inches of glass between you and 100 feet of cliff. A small dining table with sweet dimpled oranges in a bowl cradled a black folder and one silver key on top.
“We were looking forward to meeting your husband as well,” Nellie casually said as she grazed the leather couch just beyond the table.
“My husband?” she paused as she straightened one of the oranges in bowl. “We sent you a message, he was unable to come. A bit of, a cold.”
Nellie gave an apologetic smile, “Oh,I must have missed it.”
The woman’s attention became briefly occupied with Finn and Ruthie who were playfully scrunching their faces onto the crystal clear window glass with low giggles.
“Anyway, I must go. Here is the key and some information for your stay, may you have a… special stay,” she said with nod.
“Thank you, I’ll walk you out,” Ivor suggested.
“Oh no need, there’s hot tea on the stove. Stay and enjoy the view, I’ll see myself out dear.”
Ivor and Nellie turned to the stove and saw the tea kettle trickling light streams of steam.
“That’s so kind…” Nellie turned to say, but the lady was already down the hall. The front door creaked loudly as she slowly closed it. The house was small and you could hear the car engine roar to life and then fade as she pulled away.
Nellie looked at Ivor, “that wasn’t the lady in the picture.”
“I noticed, maybe was just an old picture.”
“20 years Ivor?”
Ivor shrugged his shoulders, “who cares look at this house! C’mon let’s go get the bags.”
Ivor walked down the hall while Nellie stalled to steal another look out the glass window.
“The listing said three bedrooms,” she whispered to herself. Her forehead lined in confusion.
“Mommy I’m hungry,” Ruthie said as she opened the empty refrigerator. Disappointment crawled over her face.
“I’ll make something right now Ruthie,” she turned to head down the hallway.
“What the hell? Nellie!”
She ran out the front door. There was no blue rental car, just an old yellow car with a Jesus sticker.
“Crazy old lady took our car! Give me the phone Nellie!”
Nellie froze, warm towels, melted ice, the picture, her stomach spinned. “They’re in the car.”
“What?”
“The phones, they, they were in the car.”
Ivor ran his pretty fingers through his uncombed hair.
“Ivor, that wasn’t the lady in the picture.”
“She stole our fucking car Nellie, I know!”
Nellie flinched.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…we just got robbed Nellie.”
Ivor knew it was his fault. He had left the keys in the car. A habit that Nellie always nagged him about, but now was not the time to nag. He pulled the handle of the yellow car and it opened.
There was nothing inside but a empty Coke can and a half used roll of paper towels. He pulled on the trunk lever. They walked over to it and saw a big black trash bag. He pulled it open.
“Oh shit”
“Ivor, we need to get out of here,” Nellie whispered as she stared at bag full white towels soaked in endless blood.