The next day I went straight over to my Auntie Heather’s house. I took the object list book with me as proof. She greeted me at the door and invited me to a warm, clean but cluttered house. Telling me to sit anywhere, she sink back into a supportive cushioned armchair. I took a tatty smaller armchair next to her that a teddy bear was sitting on.
‘What do you know about the house Eli left me?’ I started with.
‘Nothing,’ she replied.
‘Nothing?’ I repeated.
I studied her, trying to decided if she was telling the truth. Her face was lined with wrinkles and she looked years older then she had a month back. Her eyes looked dim and she was tried. Her short hair seemed more grey then brown. She was wearing a knitted jumper, a long skirt and slippers.
‘To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention when the will was read,’ she spoke.
‘Okay…So, Eli left this small house in Lytham Saint Anne’s to me. The solicitor said it was his parent’s home.’
‘I thought he sold that years ago….It was his older brother’s first, you know,’ She recalled.
‘What happened to him?’ I asked.
‘Oh, he died in some accident. I don’t think Eli every told me the full story,’ Auntie Heather replied, ‘Eli had another older brother who went missing. Never got told that story either.’
‘What about Uncle Eli’s father? Do you know what he did for a living?’ I questioned as my mind turned over all of this information.
‘I think he was a collector of antiques…. I am not sure…’ she trailed, ‘he was always aloof and a loner. I met him about three times.’
‘And my Uncle? What did he do?’
‘This and that. He was handyman, a caretaker, a gardener,’ my auntie’s voice began to falter and I sensed tears coming.
I paused and wondered how to put my next question.
‘I should put the kettle on and make us some tea,’ she voiced.
‘No. I must be off soon and I only have a few more questions,’ I cut in with, ‘did Eli spend a lot of time away from here? Away from you?’
She nodded and the tears began spilling.
‘Did he ever say why?’ I pressed.
Auntie Heather shook her head then turning her eyes away from me, she said a low voice, ‘I thought he was having affairs. I know he was disappointed we did not have children. The deaths of his brothers and father hit him hard too….He was away more and more after all that. I thought I was not good enough anymore…but then he would come home and it was like he’d never been away….’
‘Listen, Auntie,’ I said, now well aware of her crying.
‘I don’t think I can take any more of this!’ she snapped suddenly.
‘He wasn’t having affairs. At least I really don’t think so,’ I cut in.
I stood up and held out the book. She didn’t take it but stared at it.
‘I went to the house and it was full of antique stuff. This book lists some of them,’ I explained.
She took the book from me and opened it with shaking fingers. Picking up her glasses, she put them on and began to read the pages.
‘I think he was a supernatural hunter. I found letters from people asking him to come and remove ghosts from their houses and other letters thanking him for doing so. He kept a diary every year and wrote about his visits and what he found,’ I gushed out.
She looked up at me in puzzlement.
‘I’m having a hard time with it too,’ I declared, ‘is there anyone else he might have told about this?’
‘I don’t know,’ she whispered and closed the book.
She handed it back to me and took her glasses off.
I sank down again, ‘why did he leave it to me? What am I meant to do?’
‘I don’t know,’ she muttered, ‘maybe it was because you are the youngest adult male family member. Perhaps, he saw something in you?’
I struggled for words and finally decided to ask her, ‘do you want to come and see the house?’
‘No, no, I don’t want to get involved,’ Auntie Heather responded with a wave of her hands, ‘whatever he was doing he’s taken it with him and it’s your responsibility now.’
‘All right,’ I said through gritted teeth.
She sighed and added, ‘I just want to be left I peace with the good memories I have.’
‘I’ll be off then,’ I announced.
Surprise crossed her face, but we said our goodbyes.
Getting back into my car, I threw the book on to the passenger seat and drove back to my flat. Once there, I sat on the edge of the sofa and made a list of people I could phone who might give me more answers or knew someone who would.
A whole afternoon, a lot of phone calls and no answers later, I lent back on the sofa, spent. The mystery of why no one knew about Uncle Eli’s parents’ house was just as mysterious as the house itself.
Trying to rub away a headache, I decided the only way to uncover more was to go back to the house and read everything I could. However, a part of me didn’t want to get any further involved. Even if Uncle Eli had come to me and asked me to take over this supernatural hunting business, if that truly is what he had been doing, I’d have said no. I didn’t believe in any of that! But what to do with the house and the collection of objects?
No! I had to figure this all out further. I had to know the full truth.
The next weekend, I drove back to the house. I took an old camera with me and I went from room to room taking as many photos as I could. However, that turned out to be not needed as in my search of the study, I found that the box files contained photos of every object. I also discovered that Uncle Eli’s father and two older brothers had also run this ‘business’. Before them had been Eli’s grandfather and actually it went back about five or six generations. It had passed to the oldest son and the father had trained them.
Sitting at the desk and drinking a mug of tea, I tried to work out once again what the best thing to do was. No one in the family seemed interested in this house or the contains. Someone out there would be though. Could I really just sell off all this history though? The place was a museum!
Maybe, that was the answer?
I spun the chair around and looked about the study. This house wouldn’t be big enough, but I could find a new place. People were always attracted to what they didn’t know. And if it was done right, maybe it would work….
Spinning back, I searched for some clean paper then began setting my thoughts down; a museum dedicated to the supernatural.