Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gothic Story

Spring had just begun in Grosse Pointe, newly blossomed trees were full of soft lilacs, and the fragrant pink roses filled freshly painted window boxes.  The lake was still, and the rising sun created a pink and purple hue over the sky. Emma Harris was on her early morning run, the cool air brushed swiftly over her skin and her feet rhythmically tapped the cold cement. Emma Harris was a well know wealthy Grosse Pointer. Her father’s family had developed a respectable law firm, and she lived in an old family home along Lakeshore Road. She achieved high marks academically, was the top scorer on the Varsity soccer team known for her triple hat tricks, was on the Homecoming court, and quite popular among the junior class at Grosse Pointe South High School.

Monday morning Emma was sitting quietly in the back of her AP biology class, when suddenly there was a disruption at the door. A tanned and slightly disheveled looking guy walked through the door, wearing worn jeans, a red plaid shirt, and broken in work boots. His unique look caught Emma’s attention, and when he introduced himself, his slow southern drawl entranced her. From this moment, she knew she needed to get to know this mysterious new guy from a small town in southern Louisiana.

After class, Emma made sure to introduce herself. “Hey, I am Emma. I know my way pretty well around here, so if you need any help I am happy to direct you. I know this school can get pretty confusing!”

“Hi, I’m Jake. Yeah, I know I got lost finding the entrance into the building. This school is the size of my entire old town!” he replied with a deep chuckle.

Together they walked to tutorial class which they coincidentally had together. The entire hour they talked about their lives, school, and Jake told her all about his old town. He told her about the one grocery store, the corner gas station where old Mr. Jones, the owner, still pumped gas for the customers, and the popular BBQ restaurant where the kids hung out every weekend.

“My family knew I couldn’t get far in Ida, so my dad took a job at a Ford plant in Detroit, and moved us here so I could get a better education.” Jake said sadly. She could see the pain and genuine sadness as he talked about moving from his old home- the life he knew, and his friends and extended family.

Over the next week Emma and Jake became really good friends, talking from the moment they woke up, until they could barely keep their eyes open at night. That weekend Emma invited Jake and few friends over for a welcoming party. Jake pulled up to her house, and without even stepping inside, just the plain size of her house overwhelmed him.  He felt intimidated by Emma; he compared all of her luxuries, to the little his family had. Afraid to lose the one friend he had made though, he went up to the large oak door and slammed the large eagle door knocker at the immense entrance.  The door slowly opened with a loud creak and Jake walked in cautiously. The house foyer was dark, and a large stuffed moose hung over the fireplace mantle in the room to his right.  The furniture was old - likely inherited antiques and the marble tile was cold underneath his bare feet.

“Emma?......Emma?” Jake called cautiously from the door way. His voice echoed through the long corridors of the old house.

“We are in the recreation room!” Emma’s voice echoed back to him. “It’s the 5th door on the right!”

Slowly Jake made his way to the unmarked fifth door, trying to keep track as he walked.  Family photos filled the walls of the hallway. He counted the doors as he passed. 1, 2, 3, 4….then he came upon the 5th door. It was different than all the others. The door was an eerie blood red, and before he even touched the silver engraved handle, the door opened. Jake pushed it open the rest of the way and began to walk down the stairs. Suddenly there was a loud creak followed by giggles, and a BOO!

“Goodness, Emma! That is not a way to welcome someone!” Jake shouted with a hint of fear in his voice.

Emma’s recreation room was a teenager’s paradise. To the right was a mini movie theater with reclining chairs and a large screen. There was a small nook straight ahead of the stair case that was filled with arcade games of all sorts as well as a pool table.  Then to the left was a room with a tile floor and sitting in the center was a hot tub. Next to the hot tub was a full on snack bar completely stocked with candy, chips, and drinks. Jake felt as if he was in a movie, no one in Ida could afford a place for fun like this in their home. This was clearly a fantasy come true.

“I hope you brought your swim trunks,” Emma said jokingly. Jake smiled backed and his smile revealed perfectly straight teeth.  He began to form feelings for her, and, by the way she was acting, Emma felt the same. They flirted the entire night and during the following days at school they became inseparable.

Not too long after Jake moved to town he and Emma started going out and quickly after they began dating the entire school knew. They hung out every day and would sit in her rec room and do homework, or go practice soccer in her back yard. Emma felt like what she and Jake had was perfect.

After some time, Emma’s parents start to become concerned because Emma began to lose all contact with her old friends, was forgetting to turn in homework, and she was missing soccer practices which was so unlike her.  Uneasy about this situation, they finally, confronted her about how her declining grades and sudden changes, and about their worry about Jake’s influence on her.  She was adamant in her explanation. She said Jake wanted to spend time with her, and only her, because she was his only friend in Grosse Pointe. He needed and relied on her to help him feel a part of his new community. Jake would make all kinds of plans for them after school; walks around the parks, exploring parts of Detroit she hadn’t even know existed, and trying new restaurants and cuisine. Slowly, as time went on, she realized just how isolated from her old friends and family she had become. She tried to slowly include others in the couple’s plans. She was startled, but also flattered by Jake’s possessive and seemingly intense attraction and attachment to her. Jake calmed her fears by assuring her of his love for her and how he just wanted to take care of her and keep her to himself. She believed that this was the meaning of true love.

Jake resisted any newcomers joining their twosome and finally people stopped even trying to include themselves.   She spent less and less time with the family and friends. The more her family tried to intervene and keep Emma from Jake, the more time they spent together, sometimes leaving their sheltered Grosse Pointe.

One Friday it was essay day in AP biology and after class Emma asked Jake how it went. “I didn’t write a word, I was staring at you the whole time. It was as if I couldn’t get you off of my mind.” Jake said flirtingly with a hint of seriousness. Emma was flattered, and a little startled by his actions. She knew he cared about her but seriously, to the point of distraction? During lunch she went to go grab Jake’s AP biology book when she found his pocket knife sitting at the bottom of his bag. She grabbed it to cut her fresh red apple and when she opened it, the sleek blade was covered in a layer of a deep burgundy dried blood. Concerned, she asked him about the blood and he suddenly became very defensive and slightly hostile.

“It was from a time when my dad and I went hunting before we came to Grosse Pointe,” he said with a slight stammer. Emma could sense Jake’s uneasiness, so decided not to pursue this topic. It did however make Emma wonder a bit about Jake. Emma began questioning some things about Jake. She asked many times to meet his mom and dad, and was put off each and every time. There was always some excuse. Emma and Jake always met at her house or in her car when they spent time together. Jake never made any reference to any of his family and friends. It was puzzling and slightly concerning to Emma. Something just did not seem right.

These niggling questions would not leave Emma’s mind. After hours of just tossing and turning in bed, she got up and went online and did a search on Jake and Ida, Louisiana. She just wondered if there was more to the Jake story than what she was being told.  Ida had an online registry of every family that has ever lived there in the last 200 years, and to her surprise Jake’s family was never recorded as living there. Becoming a little afraid of his possible lies, Emma started to distance herself. Jake began texting her message after message and when she didn’t respond right away he became angry. She often saw him following her in school. She tried to be friendly but separate a bit from Jake.  She began to hang out with some of her old friends but kept a cautious friendship with Jake.

Feeling desperate to get Emma back, Jake wrote her a note during tutorial in bright red pen,

“Dear Emma,

        Meet me in Cleminson Hall during 6th hour, I have a surprise for you :)

                Love, Jake”

Emma’s curiosity weighed out her slight uneasiness about Jake’s behavior, so she planned on going to Cleminson. All of fifth hour she sat unable to focus on her teacher.  Her mind pondered what Jake had in Cleminson to surprise her. The bell rang loudly signaled the end of fifth hour. Emma ran quickly out of her room at the top of the IA building, and pushed down the many stairs through the crowds of people.

The doors of Cleminson were large and their carved metal handles were cold underneath Emma’s soft, freshly manicured hands. She slowly pulled open the heavy doors and cautiously entered the dark room. She walked across the soft red carpet but there was no sign of Jake, so Emma continued into the room. A sudden ice cold breeze came and sent shivers up Emma’s back. She made her way to the black spiral stair case, carefully taking each step up. When she reached the top she stood over the railing to the balcony scanning the room for a sign of Jake. Still she couldn’t find him, so she climbed back down the stair case, and walked around the entire room observing all of the old South memorabilia. She made her way over to the window and stared out at the large lawn where random patches of red flowers bloomed. Suddenly, she felt hot breath run down her neck. Quickly she turned, standing behind her gripping tightly around her arms, was Jake.

“I knew you couldn’t resist a surprise, Emma” Jake said slowly. “Finally we are alone, I have been waiting for this moment since the day I saw you in AP biology. I have done nothing but think about you Emma. You are mine and only mine. If you don’t want me, then no one gets you.”

Emma began to panic, realizing the seriousness of this situation. How could she have been so na├»ve? Emma strained to wrestle out of the tight grip of his hands around her arms, but she couldn’t escape. She let out a loud shriek but through the old, thick walls no one could hear her.  She was trapped with Jake, and fearful of what might happen next. Jake slid a knife out of his pant pocket and held it up to Emma’s neck. The metal felt icy against her neck. He slid the knife across her neck, quickly warm red blood covered his hand. He released his grip and dropped her on the ground next to the window. Jake ran from South, leaving behind his beloved Emma.  

Later on that night the janitor came to clean Cleminson and found the stiff, stone cold body laying mangled on the floor. Police cars soon surrounded the school, and the body was taken out on a stretcher and carefully lifted into the back of the ambulance. The police and family soon suspected Jake, Emma’s most recent and possessive friend.  When they could not find him, they did a complete and thorough search. They retrieved his old files from Ida, where Jake went by a different name. Jake’s family had not moved here because of education, he ran away from his old town by himself because he was wanted for murder, and stalking charges on two other female students. Jake was found 3 weeks later in a small town in Indiana, was captured and later tried on all charges. He was found to be guilty and put in jail, without a chance for parole. People have said he was writing and professing his true love to a college student at Michigan State University and urging her to come visit him at the penitentiary in Grayling, Michigan.  It is said that his case is up for appeal due to a technicality.

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