by Fielding Goodfellow
I first met Zippy Pressman in my freshman year at college and we became sort of drug brothers, joined at the trip so to speak. He was a weird little guy who was given his peculiar name for the way he scurried around like a lab rat lost in a maze. I always thought it was due to the drugs we had all been religiously abusing back then, but he claimed that he was just wired that way. He was born a hyperactive, histrionic pain in the ass, but he was also the guy most likely to test the improbable, and attempt the impossible. I suppose that’s what I liked about him.
During that autumn weekend of day tripping and midnight toking the world seemed to come alive in glorious hues of red and orange and yellow, stretching out as far as the eye could see. Zippy began to tell the tale of the old, haunted house on Walmer Road. Everyone who knew about it said it was evil, filled with the malice manufactured by the tortured souls who had been trapped inside its decaying walls for decades. The story, as Zippy ad libed,, was that old man Newton, a crazy mother fucker if ever there was one,, came home following a night of titty bar drinking, and found his wife and her lumberjack lover engaged in the horizontal rumba. In his drunken rage, the old sot killed them both, slitting their throats from ear to ear, and then strung the bodies hanging upside down from a cross beam hanging over the adulterated, matrimonial bed. “We should really go check it out.”, Tate squealed like a Bay City Roller bimbo. There was a great deal of discussion and debate, but no plan really, and before I knew it, we were taking our expanded minds on a trip to the old house on Walmer Road, confident that we would be kept safe by the flying lizards and talking dragon that had been stalking us for days.
,As we made our way through the overgrown fields, crickets chirped and a coyote howled, and Zippy chirped and howled back as he zig-zaged his way through the waist high weeds while Tate and I followed closely behind. It seemed that the promise of madness, murder and the paranormal, all designed to keep us away,, was pulling us in. It could have been the drugs, it almost always was, but from the top of the ridge, the old, abandoned house seemed alive, with broad shoulders reaching up to the sky. One of its eyes was closed, boarded up when the glass shattered during last winter’s ice storm, and I’m almost certain it was smirking, daring us to continue in through its mouth. “Are we good to go?”, Zippy asked as he pressed his shoulder against the door.
About thirty years before we set out on our journey of enlightening the spirits we believed were roaming around the house, Emily Newton failed to show up at sister’s home for their regular Sunday brunch and bible barn burner. They say that when Emily’s sister went to the house on Walmer Road and discovered the bodies, the shriek could be heard for miles. Henry Newton sat on the front porch the entire time, staring into space, seemingly unaware or unconcerned by the situation he was now in up to his eyeballs. When the police arrived he was still there, not moving a muscle. The man didn’t even blink. The scene in the bedroom was described as gruesome, and horrific, and the double homicide quickly became front page fodder as it always did in those circumstances. Henry was portrayed as a drunken monster, and Emily as his meek, abused, yet dutiful wife, who had suffered quietly with her anguish for years. The trial was expedient and judicious, and Henry Newton was convicted and sent to the gallows where he was hanged, until dead, by the neck. It was beautifully ironic And just like that, the legend of the haunted house on Walmer Road was born.
It was wonderfully psychedelic inside, as the light streaming in cast a spectrum of color that sparkled through the dust and cobwebs, coaxing the shadows to dance across the floor and up and down the walls. “Did you hear that?”, Tate asked anxiously, as we moved across the creaking floor towards the staircase that led to the scene of the grizzly crime. We stood painfully still, but heard nothing.
“Its was probably just the floorboards.”, Zippy told him. “Old houses make noise.” We made our way up the stairs, stepping over the rotted boards and missing steps, and at some point I thought I heard Steve Miller belting out a rousing rendition of ‘Space Cowboy’ that seemed to drift down from the heavens. Tate reminded me that Steve Miller was still alive, so I popped another mushroom and stepped aside to let the dragon walk in front of me. We stood on the landing at the top of the stairs, looking down the hallway that offered a myriad of doors to choose from. Zippy was as animated as ever, excitement coursing through his veins, making it impossible for him to stand still. Tate and I stood behind the dragon, pushing him along the narrow passageway ahead of us.
On his second attempt, Zippy found the murder room. The bedroom that was once shared by Mr. and Mrs. Newton, and the occasional young lumberjack, was weirdly creepy. The air was rank with the odor of death, and there were scratches on the floor which Zippy was certain were left by the murder bed. There was a heaviness in the room, and an uneasiness seemed to settle upon us. I suppose Zippy was too wired to notice, but Tate and I were scared shitless. “I think we should get the hell out of here.”, Tate whispered.
The flying lizards, dragon and I agreed but Zippy wanted to continue the search for the ghosts of Emily Newton and her lumberjack lover. “Go on home and sit with the other women.” he shouted at us as we turned to leave.
The other women, including Zippy’s psychovaginal friend, Evelyn, and Maya, the Guatemalan I was currently banging, were safely back on campus in the Winter’s College dorm room of Tate’s girlfriend, Ramona, and by the time Zippy realized we had left, we were already on our way to join them, stopping only for Tate and one of the lizards to urinate in the field. I’m not sure how long Zippy stayed at the old, abandoned house on Walmer Road but at the time, I really didn’t give a shit. I don’t suppose Tate did either. As we made our way across the field and back into the land of the living, we finished off the mushrooms I had brought along singing ‘Space Cowboy’, although Tate and the dragon struggled to stay in key.
. scored us second row floor seats for The Steve Miller Band.