Secret Passage Part 2 of 2

 

When I bought my Thirties Art Deco manse I was intrigued by the idea of living in a home once owned by a beautiful Thirties actress, but I didn’t bargain on buying a mystery.

It seems my manse harbors a hidden speak-easy in the basement and who knows what other mysteries lurk in the shadows?

That’s why I sent Sam Eastman and his renovating crew away—so I could explore my exciting discovery on my own without prying eyes

 

I begin my adventure the following morning by hanging extension lights in the anteroom, and then start to catalogue the brands of liquor and the dates they were corked.

A short break for lunch and then I’m back examining the dark bottles laid in the wine cellar. I have no idea about the status of the contents—I’m just intrigued by the ambience of the stonewalled cave.

As I’m examining the wine rack at the back of the cellar, I see it has hinges and can be swung out like a secret compartment. When I open it, I see another steel door, identical to the first.

I fish in my pocket for my set of keys and insert the second orphaned key into the lock and find it turns smoothly and opens the door. Mystery solved regarding the keys—now, what lies behind door number two?

 

I’m surprised to find a set of curving stone stairs which I climb only to encounter a third oak door, but this one is unlocked and opens into a book-lined study. The door is again cleverly disguised as a section of bookshelves.

I enter the room and see it’s a lovely den with mullioned windows, a fireplace and a huge writing desk—but can’t recall any evidence of this room from my walks around the perimeter of the house. Very strange.

At that moment, I become aware of the sounds of laughter and faint music coming from outside. I go to the window and look out. My breath stops.

 

A totally different world emerges before my eyes. There’s a garden party outside on the back lawn—people sipping champagne and dressed in the style of the late 1920’s or early Thirties. There are gleaming vintage cars parked in the circular driveway, and beyond, the tennis courts are in full use.

I can’t reconcile what I’m seeing with the world I know. I part the drapes to get a better look and as I do, a beautiful blonde woman glances up at the window and notices me.

She’s holding a champagne flute in one hand and is dressed in a sleek, pale blue gown that emphasizes her sylph-like figure. She stares intently, seeming to draw the soul right out of me.

 

Suddenly, the room starts spinning and I experience a strong wave of vertigo—everything about me darkens, as if a giant vortex were pulling me in. I panic, and stumble backwards toward the bookshelves.

The dizziness eases but I’m terrified and shaking. I run back through the doorway, down the stairs and out of the wine cellar. I’m so horrified, I shut and lock the door and stumble up the basement stairs to the main floor.

Once, I’m safely in my front room, my heart stops racing and my breathing slows. I’m still a bit shaky, so I pour myself a shot of scotch, knock it back and pour a second. I have no idea what just happened.

 

For the first few minutes I sit on my couch too dazed to think—my eyes are closed and all I can see are those huge dark eyes staring back at me. I know for certain the woman was Jessica Skye.

Elias, my shrink and sobriety coach, would be quite displeased to see me now—fingers trembling like delirium tremens, but my right hand firmly grasping a tumbler of scotch.

I must be losing my mind.

If you’ve ever doubted your perceptions, memory or ability to process simple tasks, you know the possibility one’s mind being diseased can be quite terrifying—I feel helpless, and completely out of control.

 

I’m losing my mind, I remind myself again, and then begin repeating the phrase as if that in itself might somehow stabilize me. Something’s telling me I’ll be all right if I can only admit that what I just experienced was crazy—impossible—unreal.

Hours pass and it grows dark—I’m still sitting frozen in the front room, unable to deal with the curve Life has thrown me.

It’s my fault, I muse. I’ve lived a debauched life of disordering my senses and now have to reap what I’ve sown.

 

But even as I’m telling myself this, and sipping my scotch and feeling the heat of it soothing my nerves, I can still see her face, her huge dark eyes, and want to go back and be with her.

If insanity is rehearsing the same misperceptions over and over, then I’m definitely deranged.

My sane, rational brain is telling me I’m unhinged, but the other part of me, my shadow self, is obsessing about a dead woman.

 

And as I’m sitting here, it all seems so clear.

Outside, somewhere in time, there is a sunlit garden where beautiful people are whiling away a June afternoon…

And inside his newly purchased Art Deco manse, a crazed and obsessed man is contemplating embarking on an insane adventure losing himself down a rabbit hole of madness worse than an opioid dream.

And Elias thought Maya was the tempest in my life…

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.


Ernest Dowson

© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

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