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Here I am again. This time I am offering you a secret to get rid of the gray hair. Besides this the the second chapter of my story. Contact me my name is Edgar Guillermo de León Santiago and my address is 14 avenida 24-45 zona 5 Guatemala city, Guatemala, Central America. Just send a contribution via western union. My e-mail edgar.gui@hotmail.com Negative response will mean that I am not able to write stories that amuse you. God bless you.

CHAPTER 2

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Bill Stone was living in a small town. Its name was San Joaquin. Where life was quiet and he didn't have to worry about the rush hours as he did when he was living in the city of Los Angeles. There, the bumper-to-bumper traffic used to drive him out of control. But in this town, which could be counted among the most quiet places among the earth, he could drive alone. Bill felt himself undisturbed. Its noiseless streets gave the town a mysterious enchantment. Its people preferred to walk instead of driving, because, all the places were nearby. Besides, most of the residents were healthy. They liked to take good breathes of nice, clean air while shopping or going to the bank. There was a shopping mall near his hotel where Bill could get most of anything that he might ever need. Bill was thirty years old, but he had not been blessed with a family yet. He was filling up invoices, sitting at a desk. He thought, "I have to get rid of this fear about divorce, if I ever want to be happy being married. All I want is to settle down and to live a quiet life working for my family." Six persons used to work in that office but they talked just a little bit to each other. The rules of that company did not allowed chats. Bill was 5 feet, 10 inches tall; he tried to workout some muscles but he did not have enough

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determination to fulfill this. His concepts about life were laid upon moral principles. But coming from. Or going to the factory, driving his car had become a custom, something that Bill was fighting to get rid of it. To cruise town every afternoon was something he enjoyed so much. He paid no attention to the fact that his car was a little noisy still he was driving in town. He had no friends at all because he had recently moved to this town, except for the few persons he had recently met. So he had to stay in the hotel where he lodged until he could rent an apartment. The sun was sending its last beams of light, which spread almost horizontally, tinting with red the lower clouds above the prairies. Bill came out from the shoes' factory tired and bored. The only thing in his mind was to get to the hotel as soon as possible, and have some rest. But once behind the wheel, he drove to a near by hill to relax down. There he stood still watching the farms in the landscape under a red mantle of clouds and the calmness of the San Joaquin River. However, his lonely life didn't seem to get better by now, he could only hope to live a tranquil life. But he was not going to remain alone. He was willing to find a girl who would like to share her life with him. Then, as usual, he started to

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daydream. At the distance the night was approaching and the cool breeze refreshed his soul. Soon the night spread a beautiful dimness gradually illuminated by a silver moon. Due to the fact that the wind was turning too cold, Bill decided to go straight to the hotel. The host of the hotel said, "Welcome Mr. Stone" I am glad to have you back" His manners were especially kind denoting sympathy; Bill realized that he was well treated in that town; this made it so special to him. He was grateful for the way the town's people addressed to him, with a lack of disdain. Bill saluted, "How are you Mike?" The host looked at him smiling, and answered, "Fine my friend." Then he added I have been waiting for you, because I have what probably might be, good news for you." Bill replied, "Is that right? Come on, let me know." The host said. "You know, I have been thinking all day about a house, which I have been taking care of. I mean, cleaning it up, removing dust, everything! This morning I talked to the owner and she said that she wasn't willing to come back for a year or two. So I thought that it wouldn't be a bad idea to rent it to Mr. Stone." Bill remained in silence while the host continued, "You see? The house is located at the end of the town. It is furnished and spacious. In fact, it's got everything you need

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to live comfortable. That in case you don't want to keep on eating in cafeterias. You can stay in the house watching television instead of going out the house under the rain. Any way you are going to need to get out of the house, from time to time. Because I realize that you have already noticed the fact that this town has plenty of beautiful girls. And one day some one is going to hook up your heart". Bill only nodded his head affirmatively. His mind had gone far out dreaming about sleeping in a comfortable bed of his own. Where no one else would lie down but him. Mike Weeks was a nice friend of Bill. He was young, tall and vigorous; his hair was blond and straight and his blue eyes showed spiritual principles. He had always addressed to Bill with a friendly attitude. This fact gave Bill enough confidence to ask, "So what can I do to live in a place like that? Is it going to be expensive? I am not sure whether I can afford it or not. And tell me, whom am I going to pay the rent to? Will the owner know about this? As a matter of facts, how much is going to cost me?" Mike laughed and said, "Hold on Mr. Stone." Satisfied with his receptive attitude, he continued, "It is going to be a lot cheaper than the amount you are paying me for living in the hotel, besides,

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I will get the payments with the owner's permission. And all you have to do is to move to the house." Bill had recently met the host of the hotel named Mike. But with out any doubt, they had to be compatibles, because their relationship was of those who had known each other for many years. Bill thanked God because moving to a house would have to be a benefit for his life. Bill remained in silence but his body was Involuntary trembling out of control. After a minute Bill regained his self-control overcoming his fears. He faked a serenity that it was too far of being real and happiness that he himself didn't understand why it was uncertain. Probably it was because deep in his heart, he felt a cold feeling every time he was about to start something new. He got used to not telling anybody about the plans and ideas that lay in within him. But he promised himself to find some company, thinking that this might be the problem. Mike staring at Bill's eyes mouthed, "I have the keys right here" Bill didn't move. Mike said, "Come on, erase that cold smile off your face; say something, aren't you glad about this? Bill replied, "Relax Mike it's just that I am not in the move right now." Now Bill's smile was for real. Doubting he asked, "Will the owner agree? Listen Mike; I really appreciate what you are doing for me. For God's sake, tell me

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have you told the landlord? And how much do I have to pay for the rent of the house?" Mike answered, "Don't worry everything is set up. The owner is a lady that is living in Los Angeles right now. She is the only daughter of Mr. William Goodtime, which recently passed away. She has two children, one boy eight years old and a girl seven years old they are missing; everybody in town believe they are dead. But the lady swears they had been kidnapped. She went to Los Angeles to rest and to be under the care of a professional in nerves disorders. Some said that this means a mental asylum and that she is taking medications. But those are only the famous town's gossips. Let me tell you the truth, and that is between you and me; I believe what the lady says and I don't care what the rest of the people think. Besides, I speak with her regularly and I am the only one who can tell." Bill interrupted, "This really impress me." Mike begged, "Allow me to finish. I wish we could help the lady but no one in town dares to, because this guy of the name of John Hazroade wants to buy the house. And Mr. Goodtime's daughter doesn't want to sell the property. Every body is afraid of Mr. Hazroade...even me. So it is healthier to avoid getting involved. Please Bill don't overlook this advice. Bill said, "I wouldn't like to

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be involved, Mike, but what you have said touched me deep in my heart." Mike scratched his head looking down, then he said, "Those were not my intentions, but you know... I am tired of doing the cleaning job. The lady left the keys under my responsibility because she knows me since I was a little kid. I believe that the house would not be in better hands than yours. I was thinking about giving you the keys for just a few days, but now I am sure that you are going to take care of the house as if it was of your own. Because you are a honest man, who can't be intimidated easily." Bill said. “I don't want to fail you Mike. I am really thankful for your confidence. When can I see the house?" Mike wasn't able to conceal his happiness. He said, "You'll see it right now Mr. Stone. The host called a boy of the name of Sam and asked him to attend the hotel while he was out. The men came out feeling the cold breeze of the night and the dense fog slightly wetting their faces, while they were walking to their cars at the parking lot. It was only a common night for Bill. However, In Mike's mind a nightmare was going on, he was thinking, "why is the night so foggy? Why every time I hold my breath, I feel a shiver from my head down to my toe?" But

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then he tried to overcome this strange feeling that possessed his mind. He didn't dare to tell Bill about this, instead he said, "It is a strange night Bill, don't you think so?" Bill replied, "I guess so." But inside Bill's mind there were a lot of thoughts that wanted to come out at the same time. He was struggling against a strange feeling. Moreover, He was paying attention to things he usually overlooked. Mike said, "If you are not afraid of driving alone Mr. Stone, please follow me." Bill understood that Mike was only trying to ease the tension of the moment and he agreed, "It is all right Mike, but don't run too fast." Afterwards, the two cars were going through a deep fog, which made it hard to see the road. Bill was following the taillights of Mike's car. Who was driving slowly in order to maintain contact with the road due to the lack of visibility. They drove towards the house. When they got to the point where the four lanes road turned into a narrow one, they glimpsed fewer houses behind the curtain of fog. Finally they found themselves in front of a black rusted iron gate, which appeared to the eyes of Bill as the Gates of a palace. Mike came out the car and opened the gate, then he came near Bill and said, "Follow me and leave the gate open." Bill nodded affirmatively and unconsciously, he opened his mouth while he watched

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a nice house behind a beautiful garden, which in despite of the fog showed a colorful appearance. “It must have all the known flowers of the land.” Thought Bill. There were grass from the fence to the garden and behind the house a forest from which, Bill was able to recognize some pine trees, Cedars, oaks, weeping willows...the color of the flowers contrasted with the dark green of the forest. The profuse fog, gave that night a sinister feeling. Bill thought, the house is too big for me, but I like it" Mike and Bill came closed to the porch of the house. There, they stopped for a minute and looked at each other. They tried to conceal their fear. They knew that dread is only a mental state and it can be controlled. Mike said, "Here, smoke a cigarette and eat the ashes." Bill didn’t quite understand but he did so. The house was old but beautiful, musty but welcoming. Bill asked, How come there are lights on, is there somebody inside the house?" Mike looked at the surrounding areas of the house and answered, "No, there ain't anybody in the house, it is only a device that turns the lights on when it gets dark. Bill replied in a humble strain, "I’ve heard of that." "As you can see," said Mike. "The house is old but well built; you are not going to find any termite in there, it only needs some paint. Come on, let’s get inside."

25 They walked up to the porch and once in there, Mike hesitated. He said, "Allow me to find the keys." Bill uttered, "listen, this house is too big for me. I don't know how am I going to manage to live in such a spacious place. All by myself." Mike smiled and looked at Bill's eyes, saying, that’s a problem you ought to overcome." Bill complained, "So you were tired of doing the cleaning job." Mike said, "Sort of." And added, "for the benefit of who knows who." Then he opened the door and slapped Bill on the back." Bill understood that this only meant that he was going to be the one taking advantage of the situation. But he stood still, amazed by the beauty of the living room, which appeared so comfortable. Everything Bill laid his sight on, it looked like shining as gold or silver. Mike walked to the chimney and set the fire, Inviting bill to sit down on the coach which was covered by a blanket Mike said, Teel at home", friend he made a pause, as if he was thinking about what to say next; afterwards he spoke, "You know Bill, this house used to be occupied by its owners and their relatives until the death of the grandfather Mr. William Goodtime. Thereafter, his grandchildren disappeared in an unexpectedly way. This convinced the rest of the family to move to Los Angeles. Where they expected to live a tranquil life. The rest of the

26 family moved to a nearby town. I do not believe they are coming back for a long period of time." "Tell me Mike,” Bill asked “What was the grandfather's cause of death? Any disease?" "Natural causes" Answered Mike, Adding, The grandfather was pretty old, and even though he looked younger than he really was, and healthy, his heart reached up to the last beats. Mr. Goodtime died on his bed victim of a heart attack, surrounded by his family and friends. He lived and died like a great man. Bill interrupted, "I hope I don’t die alone." Mike opened his eyes so widely and said, "Come on Mr. Stone, That’s only an expression." Bill apologized, "I am sorry Mike, please continue." Mike paused as if he was making sure that there were not going to be more interruptions. Then he said, "About the children, nobody really knows their fate. Bill asked, "Do you mean that the children died due to a strange illness? For I nave seen good people die in the affected by the worst pain. From cancer for instance and other diseases, Praying God to take away their lives." Mike remained in silence, then he started, "I have the certainty that the children didn't die, they are only lost somewhere. Or more exactly, kidnapped." Bill staring at Mike's eyes said, "But who might have done such a terrible action? That’s very bad!" Mike put his hand on his mouth and moved it as if he was cleaning his

27 lips, then he said, "Listen Mr. Stone I assure you my lack of knowledge about this matter. They were healthy children; I never saw them sick until they suddenly disappeared. Probably their lives were meant to be short." Bill realized that Mike was getting upset with all these questions. So he tried to ease the tension, "I am sorry for my unstoppable curiosity. This furniture is really comfortable, don’t you think so, Mike? Before answering, Mike changed the expression of his face. "Yes Bill, the house is relaxing". The living room was well lit, but somehow, the lamps started to blink, Bill got nervous. Mike said, "I had better get going." But Bill begged, "Hey wait a minute, first tell me that you are not leaving with hard feelings about me; and second, what is wrong with the lights?" Mike stopped at the threshold of the front door and with a friendly attitude he said, the light bulb is loose. Can’t you recognize an electrical failure? And second, you don’t have anything to do with these problems, besides you are not acquaintance with the people involved. That’s why I have told you about the incidents concerning this matter. I am sure that you are not going to look for the children. And please don’t get wrong, I mean, don’t get upset if I tell you that this is none of your business. There is more, you don't have the slightest idea about where to look for. Please be as comfortable

28 as you can. Feel yourself at home. And in case of an emergency, you know how to get in touch with me. Besides we'll be seeing each other. Feeling himself relieved for this confidence Bill said, “Thank you Mike, I really appreciate this trust in me.” Mike just said in return, "It is OK, Mr. stone". Bill asked a little upset, “Are you sure It only happens to be an electrical problem?” Mike turned serious, "Of course I am, Listen pal, I will tell you the truth. The people in town say that the house is haunted. But you don't have to believe that; there is nothing in this house that it may harm you. The only thing that it can give you troubles, it is yourself. Your nerves might have a breakdown and it would be worst if you have a heart problem. In that case, it could be wise to let me know the facts. Just tell me the plain truth. Otherwise, you don't have anything to be afraid of, do you understand? Just don't pay attention to the noises you hear. The property is eight blocks big. That is why the property is so solitary. But if you get to walk by the road, in less than five minutes you will get to the main street. Then if you walk a couple of blocks more, you'll find a liquor store. And a half a block ahead, you will find the restaurant where you like to eat. Come

29 on let us forget our prejudices. I will escort you to the dining place. Bill agreed because he was very hungry. On the other hand he would have preferred to stay home and relax. But he would rather followed mike, because there was something in the house that made him loose his self-confidence. When they came out the house, the fog had been washed away by the rain, Though It was now, only drizzling, Bill found himself struggling to follow Mike through the misty streets, due to the lack of visibility. Afterwards, Bill realized the closer the house really was to downtown. Behind the wheel, Bill started to daydream. His thoughts were out of control, he felt so lonely, so he started to think about getting married.

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