Aunt Beatrice was obviously a little apprehensive, and not at all anxious to be questioned by me. “If you aren’t able to take care of Uncle Charles, then who has been caring for him?” I asked.
“He has a nurse who attends to him. She is rather strange, but Charles seems to do well with her.” If Aunt Bea was calling someone else strange, this nurse must be a real doozie, I thought.
“How do I go about introducing myself to the nurse and my Uncle?” I asked.
“Yes, introduce yourself,” she said. I would suggest you make your way up the circular stairway and knock on the door. Now…I must go or I’ll be late for bingo. She hopped on her electric wheelchair like it was a motorcycle and managed to hit the round table in the foyer, and the door casing on the way out.
There was a door leading to the circular stairway that would take me to the tower. When I passed through the doorway, it was like I had entered another world. It was dark and dingy as opposed to gorgeous and garish like the other parts of the house I had seen so far. I walked up the winding stairs that seemed to go on forever. At the top of the stairs was another door that I assumed was to the rooms occupied by my Uncle and his nurse.
I took a deep breath and knocked. I waited, but got no response, so I knocked again just as I saw an eyeball looking at me through a very large peephole.
Startled, I jumped back…I heard an unfriendly voice ask “Who’s there, and what do you want?”
“I’m Mr. Sander’s niece, I would like to introduce myself to you and my Uncle, I offered. The eyeball disappeared, and I heard someone slide the deadbolt. The door opened and I saw the person the eyeball belonged to.
The nurse was dressed in a clean, crisp, nursing uniform complete with the cap. I have to say I couldn’t read her expression very well as she waived me into the room, then locked and bolted the door again.
“I was told to expect you,” she said. “Won’t you please be seated?” The room was dark and sparsely furnished. There was a fire burning in the fireplace. I chose a well worn chair next to the small couch. The nurse sat in a chair opposite me.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I jumped right in. “My name is Andrea Allen. My husband Aaron and I are now the owners of the estate,” I said. “I want to assure my Uncle, that the agreement includes a provision for My Aunt and him. They may continue to live here indefinitely. The assets are sufficient to provide for your services as well.”
“I knew that too,” she said. “Please address me as Nurse Jones.”
“Certainly,” I agreed. “Now, unless you have questions, I would like to meet my Uncle.”
Nurse Jones rose from her chair, as did I. “Mr. Sanders is resting at the moment,” she offered. “He feels best in the mornings. You may come back then if you like.”
Before I knew it, I was back on the other side of the locked door. I started to go back down the stairs when I noticed another door. It was slightly ajar, so I quietly peeked inside. I could see the shadow of a man in a wheel chair, but I coudn’t see his face clearly. Then, my eyes fell upon something else.
What is on that table, I wondered. I stuck my head in further to get a better view. It looked like doll body parts. Was he indeed making dolls? I needed to think about my discovery. What did this all have to do with Mandy’s new friends? Was the man in the shadows my Uncle? One thing I knew for sure, I would be back in the morning.
I looked at my watch and realized it was almost time to meet Mandy’s tutor. Aaron had spent the morning with our daughter acclimating her to our new home. He would be leaving for the airport shortly as he had a previously scheduled business meeting to attend.
The meeting with the tutor went well. I was relieved that she seemed professional and organized. I had no doubt that Mandy and Ms. Jameson would get along just fine.
After dinner, I went to Mandy’s room and spent some time with her before tucking her in.”I’m so happy you like your teacher,” I said. “I’m sure you will miss your school friends, but we’ll find some new friends, I promise.”
Mandy looked at me with a puzzled expression. “I already have three new friends Mommy,” she said. “Andy and Alice are nice, but Abby Ann is my best friend. They all lived here before the doll maker made them into dolls. They think I’m the little girl who used to live here. This was her room before she disappeared.”
I looked around the room and didn’t see the cute little dolls. “Where did you put them, sweet pea? I don’t see them anywhere.” I was starting to get concerned about where Mandy’s imagination was taking her.
“They’re still with the doll maker, but they’ll be back.” She promised.
“They’re already dolls Mandy, why would they have to go back to the doll maker?”
“They have to go back to help the new doll,”she said, “She just came from the place children go before they become dolls.” The place inside the iron fence.”