I have been working on a ghost story. My hope is that either the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine or the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine will publish it in their sections for first time writers. This morning, somehow twelve in the morning seems the perfect time to write, I finally got a title for my story, A Funeral Party. I’ll put a bit of the story at the end of this post if anyone’s interested.
I started writing this for a school event. If I remember rightly, it was a Friday and it was either Halloween or close to it. I came into my English classroom that afternoon and all the lights were off, all the drapes were drawn. It was a voluntary thing, if you wanted to you could present your own ghost story to the class. The event was based off of the writing competition that birthed Frankenstien.
I thought I had lost my copy of this story, but recently rediscovered it. And now, after about five years, I have come up with a title.
A Funeral Party
In the weeks following the death of my under-beloved friend, in the manor and customs most honorable of his final wishes, I sent petitions, inquires, and invitations, so as to obtain for the night of the 15th reservations for the old mansion which his forefathers once knew as home. Sadly, by treachery and deceit my friend’s father had lost their entire estate when Mathew was but little more than an infant, a subject of which reconciliation had enveloped my dear friend’s life and, I believe, was the reason for his premature exile from that of the material.
It was in the latter portion of his short stay on earth in which I first came to know him, and in his last decade I was perhaps his only companion. I even joined the quest to reclaim, as he called it, “[His] Pearl of all dreams.” It is for these reasons, I believe, he asked me to be the executor over his small worldly remains.
His expressed wishes were laid out quite neatly. Since he had little in the realm of friendship I had expected a relatively small reception during his funeral, but it was explicit whom he wished to attend; the list contained well over fifty names. That was to be the first of many surprises as I did all diligence for my friend’s final requests. Another was a solitary white envelope bidding me open only during the reception and to follow the instructions therein. I had assumed though that the greatest surprise of this affair would have been the list of mourners he wished to attend his funeral. A list of those whom he blamed for the theft of his beloved house.
He had many times related to me the history of his family’s misfortune. With much editing as to odd details and unnecessary plot I will attempt to quickly relate the story of his suffrage. He said many times people from the bank came to his father working on a business deal. His father saw the deal as profitable and after much goings on of details, signed an agreement with the bank to allow their use of his house for a short time. At the end of this there were two copies of the agreement drawn up each belonging to a separate party. The father was a lawyer and, having no reason for another’s expertise in law, kept his own meticulous documentation of this matter he believed to be of little lasting importance in a secure place.
Soon after burglars entered the house and in an attempt to purloin (as my friend believed) the documents that were discussed earlier, awoke my friend’s father and in circumstances known only to them who were present slew a man whose son grew up to become a bitter and cynical hunter for their and their employer’s lives. In my attempt to make this discourse brief I leave out the evidence my friend had gathered proving the involvement of a mastermind behind the failed robbery.
It was following this crisis the bank laid claim to my young friend’s recently inherited estate. They produced documents signed by his father proving his agreement to sell the house and lands for a portion of the money that the furniture would have sold for. Being as his father was well connected in the legal field there were a few attorneys who tried to prove the documents as forged. When all attempts to reclaim the house were waylaid, and all searches for the documents kept by the father returned empty, the true motive for the theft was revealed; Gold. Once incorrect ownership was established by the courts the bank went into the business of mining.
My friend spoke most often of the devastating effects mining had on his beloved home. He would start in a rage reciting all the destruction he saw until, quietly resigning himself, he began lamenting the loss of all that was dear to him. The house was never torn down. At first they planned to house the miners in it, but through superstition of a murdered man’s vengeful spirit it was never used as such. Instead it was left to slowly crumble as a sad memory of the only time my friend looked to as the world uncolored by vengeance and spiteful contempt.
My friend knew not how the bank guessed there to be gold under the grounds of his stolen inheritance, the only thing my friend knew was that his father had had a copy of the document and that the robbers had not found it, for they were the only party that came to justice for their crimes, caught red handed.
Few spoke at the funeral as most of the party at some point had dealings with the event’s subject, that is, most had faced his raging accusations and threats. After the funeral, when the reception began, I opened the envelope, but as I was about to reach in found myself distracted as a young woman started to talk with me.