Returning to Salem
How much had the town changed in the nearly sixteen years since he had been there? The last time Alexander Murdoch had seen his hometown of Salem, Ma, had been through the window of a greyhound bus. His mother, Cecily Murdoch, was fleeing the seaside town with a then four-year old Alex. But what was she fleeing? His grandmother, whom he hardly remembered? Or his father who also he hardly remembered? One thing was for sure; his mother DID not like to talk about Salem. Every time the subject up she got up and went into another room or changed the subject. Other than the secrets that Cecily hid from Alex, they led a normal life. Alex had lots of friends, had pool parties for his summer birthday. Which was July 16th, or so he told anyone who would listen when he was little, and went to movies with friends. But Cecily always knew he was hiding something from her. She eventually got it out of him, he was gay. But it didn't change anything; she still loved him for who he was. When he turned sixteen, Cecily bought him a car, other parents told her it was too early for a car but Alex had been working for a year and she thought it was time for more responsibility.
A few months after his birthday, a man came to call upon the two of them. After twenty minutes the mysterious man left, no doubt thrown out by Cecily. His mother flat-out refused to talk about the man and why he had been there. Alex knew well enough not to push her. His mother had a way of making weird stuff happen when she was scared or angry. Once the glass she'd been holding shattered into a Million pieces when he asked about his father. When asked about it she claimed that she had a strong grip and that was the end of the conversation. She had this uncanny ability to know exactly where he had been if he snuck out of the house. How could she have known that? He once thought. Mothers always know that's it.
But two years after the man visited them, his mother died after a long sickness had left her weak and not able to leave the house, leaving him all alone. He found his grandmothers address in an address book of his mother's. He wrote her and told her of his mother's death. He told her the name of the funeral home and when she was to be buried. A couple of days went by and he didn't have the heart to see his mother lying in the casket. He was about to walk out the door at work when his cell phone rang. It was the funeral home...This couldn't be good. He hadn't made the last payment yet.
He answered it and the funeral director said that they needed to speak as soon as possible and in person. This really couldn't be good thought Alex. He got in the car and hurried down to the funeral home. Once inside the director led him to his office, asked him to sit and asked if he would like refreshment. "No thanks" replied Alex politely.
The director sat down and started to talk. "I bet you're wondering why I brought you down here."
"Yes. I'm rather puzzled" said Alex.
The director cleared his throat. "I spoke to a woman yesterday on the phone by the name of Beatrice Murdoch (His grandmother). She instructed me to bill her for the funeral and all expenses. Also she told me that I was to give you every cent that you had paid on the funeral so far, which comes to $7,850. And that your mother is to be buried in the family plot in Salem, Massachusetts. That was the only stipulation for her paying for it." Alex couldn't believe it. She's ignored us for 16 years and now she's paying for her daughter's funeral... and wants her buried in Salem?
After the funeral was over, which his grandmother had not attended, Alex went back to his life. Back to work and forgot all about his grandmother. The almost eight-thousand dollars was going to pay for his first year of school at the local community college. At eighteen, he was all alone in the world.
Alex Murdoch was a tall, handsome boy of twenty, with auburn hair, pale blue eyes and a soft completion. His body was lean and he had a few muscles. His hair was always styled and his clothes were always neat. On the outside he looked like any other twenty-year old, but nothing about this boy was what it seemed. It had been 2 years since his mother's death and being alone for those two years, if you didn't count his good-for-nothing ex, had taught him to be independent. Alex had a steady job, a job that he landed when he was only fifteen doing dishes and odds and ends around a bakery. They couldn't hire him as a baker because he was still too young but gave him a job anyway. The owner's wife took pity on him and gave him chores and odd jobs until he turned 16. It was only after he graduated from high school did they hire him as a full time baker. The rest is history. Alex was also in his junior year of college majoring in Business management. His beautiful home that his mother had left him was taken care of; his car was always in good running condition. His life was going okay, until…. He received word his grandmother had passed away.
One day after work he arrived home and pulled into the driveway to find a black car parked out front of his house. Not thinking anything of it he got out of the car, walked up the steps of his house and proceeded to go inside. As soon as Alex sat his things down on the hall table, there was a knock at the door. That's odd, who could that be? He thought. Alex hesitated but opened the door anyway. There stood the same man who had been there 4 years earlier. The man spoke. "My name is George Whitman; I'm your grandmother's attorney. I have something to discuss with you, May I come inside?" Alex led him to the living room and politely asked him if there was anything he could get him. "No, thank you. This won't take long; I regret to inform you that your grandmother has passed away." Replied George in the same voice that he had used upon meeting Alex. Alex instructed him to have a seat on the couch.
George put his briefcase on the table and opened it "I am here to read you the last will and testament of Beatrice Ann Potter-Murdoch." He pulled a piece of paper from the briefcase and begins to read.
"I, Beatrice Ann Potter-Murdoch, Upon my eventual death, Do hereby leave my entire estate, all holdings including, stocks, bonds, properties and vehicles; a total of fourteen million dollars and otherwise, To Alexander James Murdoch the second.
In accordance with my wishes, Alexander must make his decision on whether he wants the estate in two days. No exceptions, he must also if he chooses to accept the estate, live on the family compound in Salem, Massachusetts for one year.
Upon completion, Alexander may move where ever he pleases and set up or sell any of the property at his discretion. Until then he must live there and keep all property under his ownership. The staff of Manor House in Salem is at his will to fire or suspend.
If he refuses ownership, the entire estate will henceforth belong to The State of Massachusetts.
Beatrice Ann Potter-Murdoch"
He wondered why she had left it all to him. Had his mother not have any siblings? What about his grandfather? Surely he had some family she could have passed it to. No, she left it to him. He wasn't sure if he wanted to accept it. He only had so much school left until he got his degree in business management and he had just been made manager at the bakery. Accepting meant leaving it all behind.
"She left it to me? But why did she leave it to me? I have never even met her. I don't understand." "She left it to you, because you are the only family member left that she trusts with everything. Now I have to get going, you have 24 hours" After Mr. Whitman left, Alex drove around Baltimore, the town he called home for a little over sixteen years, and thought, "Am I ready to give this all up?" He drove to a park that his mother had taken him to when he was little and sat on the swings. He called his best friend, Sandra, and asked her to meet him there. When she arrived, Alex was in tears, he couldn't make up his mind about moving. He explained to her what the situation was, the stipulations were and how he couldn't decide. It was Sandra who talked some sense into him.
"Alex, babe, what does this town have to offer you? Sure, you just made manager at a bakery that you have been working at since you were 15 and you only have one more year of school left. But credits transfer and if you talk to Jerry and Elaine I'm sure they will understand. Honey, your mom passed away two years ago and you broke up with Jake, what's keeping you here? Massachusetts isn't that far away. You can always come back to visit if you want. Ask yourself, "What is keeping me here?" if you can't find an answer, it's time to move on. You have this great opportunity to make a new life in a new state, take it before it's too late." Alex let this sink in and thanked her for the words of wisdom.
"I can always count on you Sandra. You truly are my best friend." Alex hugged her, choking back tears.
"Of course I'm your best friend, who else is gonna put up with your ass?"
"Oh hush up. So you think I should take it and move to Salem? That means giving up everything here.
"Alex, you manage a bakery and go to school full time. You don't have a life. By 9pm on days that you aren't closing, you are in bed already. What twenty-year old do you know works that much? I know of only one, you. Go; make a new life in Salem. Who knows you might even meet somebody you can fall madly in love with. You don't even read or play video games like you used to. We used to have fun back in the day. Now, I'm lucky if I get to see you once a week, if that. Baby, only you can make this decision but you gotta realize that this is no life for you." They hugged and Sandra went on her way. Alex drove home with tears in his eyes. He called the school and told them he wasn't feeling well and he wasn't going to be at school that evening, there was no way that he could go to school and focus with this on his mind. He ordered Chinese take-out and watched a Harry Potter marathon on TV. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to do it. Sandra was right; this was no life for him. So he ultimately had made up his mind but it didn't ease his mind at all. The next day, after a sleepless night he called his grandmother's - his lawyer, he corrected himself subconsciously and told him he had accepted. He was moving to Salem.
He packed up the house, informed the school that he was dropping out. At this news his professor looked at him like he had seen a ghost; he was the top student in his class. The hardest thing he had to do was give notice at the bakery. He'd been there five years and he had worked so hard to become manager, but he had to do it. He told the owners to their face rather than over the phone. They were shocked to say the least. But after trying to convince him to stay, they agreed to give him a week of pay in advance. After leaving the bakery he finished packing up the house and decided to relax the rest of the night before the move the next day. His phone had never been blown up this much, with friends saying their goodbyes and Jerry & Elaine calling several times to see if he would change his mind. But it was made up and there was no going back. He went to bed that night knowing that the next day, his whole life was about to change.
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