"My Neighbour's Secret Life Enriched My Soul!"
Written by [Faith.Hope.Love], aka Artsieladie/Sharon Donnelly. ©2006-12-05 All rights reserved.This wiki-page is indexed under Artsieladie-Stories
In this neck of the woods, a tiny township, called South Hemstead, nothing goes unnoticed. Nothing gets past the busy-bodies. Of course, a tidbit of information is never quite juicy enough as it is. Little twists are added here and there, always at the expense of the subject. It seems that my neighbour, Mr. Weisenheim, was usually always on the tongues of the local, gossip experts. With their whipping tongues, they painted the fellow as a mean person, even a monster! How he has lived here among the ridicule all of these years is more than I'll ever know, but he has stuck it out for some twenty plus years. Perhaps, it's because he mainly has kept to himself, venturing out from his run down home only when the need has arisen, such as for the usual, shopping for household necessities, including food, I would guess.
Anyway, it turns out, Mr. Weisenheim is one of my neighbours. His land borders mine in a rather close proximity to where my beloved horses are kept. His house sits in among the evergreens, the fir grove, just a short distance from my horse barn and paddock area in the back of my house. During the summer, his dwelling is secluded by the leaves on the deciduous trees and shrubbery. However, the winter season here has begun. The leaves have all fallen and if it weren't for the trunks of the fir trees between us and surrounding his dwelling, his house would be totally exposed, naked in all of its grey and dismal glory.
Sometimes, I rode my horses on a path that cut along in spots fairly close to his house. He has never so much as poked his head out of his door when I've ridden by, so basically, my thoughts of him are practically nil.
This one day, however, I went on a quiet December ride, a few days before Christmas. Everything seemed normal. I followed the route that took my mount and I in the direction away from his place and mine. In the beginning, it was an uneventful ride for the most part. My horse, Scarlet Royal, seemingly was enjoying the jaunt as much as I was. Although it was fairly mild for December, the air carried a distinctive, ominous presentation in the making.
My rides on the trails usually had a duration time of three to four hours. We were about one and a half hours into our ride, when we arrived at my friend, Aaron's house. I sensed he wasn't home, but Scarlet and I hung around a little while, kind of hoping he'd return home shortly.
Meanwhile, we visited with the two horses he had turned out in his paddock. After a half hour or so, I glanced at the sky, from where the sun had disappeared from. I noticed the overcast sky and to the west were heavy, dense clouds. The mountains had disappeared along with the sun. My heart pounded a little. The weather forecast had said earlier there would be a sizable snowstorm, but not until the nightfall.
It was then I noticed a wind had picked up, a bit gusty at times. I wondered if Aaron would return before the night descended. Thinking that possibly he would not, I decided to put his horses in their stalls. I gave them food and water along with reassuring pets, both for myself and them. Scarlet, too, got some food and water. I scribbled a note to Aaron and stuck it on his tack room door.
As I closed the barn door, the first snowflakes, though light and scant in number, were beginning to float around us, sometimes dancing on a gust of wind. I sensed an encounter with difficulty on our journey home.
Quickly, I rechecked my tack for a loosened girth and whatnot, mounted and headed out towards home. As the snowflakes increased in number, size and intensity, I was beginning to feel just a bit nervous, which I denied to myself, hoping Scarlet wouldn't sense my growing anxiety. I had decided to take the shortest route home. Scarlet did sense my feeling of urgency, as she seemed to know to take advantage of all the places possible to move out in a trot and even a canter, whenever the terrain permitted a faster pace.
We were nearing home. It was snowing heavy now. The wind was cutting into any exposed skin. How I wished I had a coat like Scarlet at that moment! As we climbed over the last hill, I could see the faint, outside light on my barn. I sighed briefly.
We were about to pass close to Mr. Weisenheim's house, when I noticed a fallen tree right smack in our path! I pulled up Scarlet. I looked about to figure out the best way around the obstacle. The snow had become blinding now and I was starting to really feel the intensive, cold, damp air. I sought in my mind for a quick solution. My anxiety increased. I was starting to panic.
I couldn't go to the left, because there was a steep embankment which was totally impassable without any snow! The tree was too huge to even contemplate a possibility of moving it. Scarlet pawed the deepening snow. It snapped me out of what seemed to be a lengthy thought process. I think she was beginning to feel uneasy, as well. Up until now, she had remained calm and persevering with the elements around us.
Suddenly, I realized we had only one choice. We had to pass alongside his house and so closely, we might even rub up against the decaying siding! I never had any reason to be nervous before now regarding my neighbour, but I never had to get this close previously, either. All the gossip I had heard about Mr. Weisenheim flooded my brain, particularly Mrs. Archebald's stories. To make matters worse, it was totally dark now and an outside light at his house was not to be seen.
Scarlet jumped. Once again, as I regained my seat, she jolted me into the reality of the present. To myself, I acknowledged what must be done and cautiously urged her in the direction of which my mind had reluctantly decided upon. Giving Scarlet her head, I gently coaxed her forward. My heart was pounding so loudly, I thought that alone would attract the attention of Mr. Weisenheim.
As we neared his house, a dim light could be seen through the curtainless windows. As we came within ten feet or so, even Scarlet seemed to sense the eeriness that loomed, for the scariness that held me captive must have leaked from every pore. I was sweating profusely as cold as it was. Scarlet slipped slightly due to the treacherous footing, so we paused to give her a chance to regain her confidence. A sound of music caught my ear. It was Christmas music. I listened. It was the tune of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". Shockingly surprised, my cautious, scared to death self, became a totally curious peeper!
"Shhhh," I whispered to Scarlet, as I slipped soundlessly from her back. "We must be quiet." I always spoke to my horses for I knew they understood every word. Of course, being quiet in a new fallen snow is rather easy, because it seems to absorb the sound in it's many wondrous crystals. My curiosity had swollen to an immense proportion, as I crept up to the nearest window. With his light on inside and the total lack of light outside, my peering was secretly enabled.
At first, all I heard was the delightful Christmas music. I wiped the window free of snow with my glove. My eyes blinked repeatedly as I gazed at the intriguing scene which overwhelmed my expectations. The room of which I was peering into, was lined with shelves all around from the floor to the ceiling, except for one wall, which had a roaring fire going in a plain looking fireplace. In a corner was a pile of wood pieces along with various other items that looked like just a pile of junk. There was one easy chair, ragged and torn, near the fireplace with an old beaten and worn coffee table. It was piled high with what appeared to be empty containers of snacks and other foods. A coffee mug sat near the edge.
In the center of the room was a large table, a hand-made workbench, I assumed. On both ends were piles of... "Oh, wow!" I gasped. "Toys," I whispered to myself. I studied the piles more closely. They were broken toys.
My eyesight shifted back to the shelves. My eyes must have grown huge, I suppose, as well, my jaw must have dropped a foot, at least. I saw more toys! I concentrated my attention and I noticed that all the toys on the shelves were in perfect condition. Each one had a tag. Even though I couldn't read the tags, I felt sure that each had a name on it, a child's name, perhaps?
The music had stopped. I heard the sound of heavy footsteps with an uneven rhythm coming. I lowered my head for I didn't want to be seen, naturally.
The music began to play again. I slowly raised my head, until my eyes could view the scene from just over the sill. Mr. Weisenheim was standing by the pile of what I had perceived to be junk. He poked and prodded the pile. He pushed and pulled at various objects. He paused to scratch an itch behind his ear. His ears were huge and pointy. I wondered why I hadn't ever noticed them before. While readjusting his cap, his eyes searched the pile some more. Suddenly he knelt, then clambered over the pile to pick out something, but what? The item was too small for me to see clearly, but he walked over to his workbench with it. He hastily dug through the piles there.
"Ho! Ho!," he chuckled. "There you are! You need a new spring. Then I'm sure you'll work just fine." He talked to the toys, expecting the same as I did with my horses! I could hear him speak quite easily, for the structure had no insulation against the elements and therefore, no real sound barrier. "You're the last toy on my list this year needing my fixing. Nicole will be so happy to have you," he continued.
He looked around the room at all of the fixed toys. He addressed them as a unit. "Santa Claus will be dropping in tomorrow night to pick you all up. If this storm keeps up, maybe I'll get a chance to see Rudolph again. He's my favorite. He was an outcast as I am." He paused a second, hugging the fuzzy bunny in need of a spring. In little more than a whisper, I could barely hear his broken voice. "Perhaps, one day, I, too, will be accepted as Rudolph was." He discreetly raised his patched sleeve and wiped his cheek. My heart was so moved. A warm tear ran down alongside my nose.
At that moment, I realized how unfair everyone had judged this soul, including myself. Even though I hadn't taken an active roll in the gossip, I had still thought the worst of this gentle man. If all monsters were this bad, then we would have nothing to fear.
Carefully and quietly, I picked up the reins. I led Scarlet Royal quietly along his house. When I felt we were at a distance from Mr. Weisenheim's house, where we'd not likely be seen, I mounted my horse and continued home. I was in a world of ponderance and a change of thought. All kinds of ideas swarmed in, taking over my insipid brain.
I arrived home, safe and sound. I'd say no less for the wear, but rather a richer, more insightful and worthy human being. After I made sure the horses were all bedded down well for the wintry night ahead, I danced towards my house, pausing here and there, letting the snow tickle my nose and melt on my tongue.
After I had stamped off the excess snow from my boots, I went inside using my back door. I wanted a nice, hot cup of tea. I wanted to sit by the fire, but there was something else I wanted more, Christmas music. Hurriedly, as though I had no time to spare, I went to my music collection. With an intense desire, I thumbed through it until I came across that song. I immediately pulled it from it's sleeve and walked directly to my stereo system. As it began to play, my thoughts drifted in reverse until they were back at Mr. Weisenheim's. A smile tainted with a bit of sadness crept across my face. A man, so mocked, so outcast, so belittled, was really a soul to be treasured, admired and adored. It was as though someone had just greased the wheels of my noggin. It was as though a switch of a huge spotlight had been flicked on in my head. All sorts of wonderfully kind and warm ideas ignited a candle of passion within me! Somehow, I must figure out a way to make everyone see Mr. Weisenheim the way I had. They must know he was not the monster of South Hemstead! Oh, but I couldn't let his secret escape, either, though. What was I to do?
The Prose Ending!
|I played Christmas music. I had my tea. |
I sat by the fire, a much happier me.
As my comfort progressed to a level serene,
I drifted off in a wonderful dream.
Although, in a state of an unconscious mind,
Some dandy solutions my sleep did find.
Some excellent ideas, superb creations,
Pursue them, I must, indelible dictations.
When I awoke, it was the dawning of day.
I remembered my journey in a very big way.
Once my chores were finished, complete,
I readied myself with dancing feet.
A festive basket, filled high with goodies I'd baked,
I wrapped with care, my trembling unfaked.
As I set out across the glistening, deep snow,
Once more my heart pounded, excitement aglow.
I paused a moment at the start of his walkway
To relish my memories of the previous day.
A path was cleared for an expected guest.
For Santa, not me, he couldn't have guessed!
I panicked a moment. Was I wrong?
Then I heard that same Christmas song.
My courage restored, I knocked on the door.
In my next story, I'll tell you more!
Now, in the meanwhile, remember, declare
The words of another can harm and impair.
The careless wagging of a thoughtless tongue
Can deeply wound an innocent one.
Thank you for reading my story.
Hope to make illustrations for this story one day.
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(: May God Bless You! Have a Great Day! :)
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