Billy Moon accepts an offer to move into a long-abandoned, isolated house. Even though he lived in the area for a year, no one ever mentioned the Forth House to him. The townsfolk kept silent about the house.
His recent friend and boss Tom Howell bought the house at an auction. He was not familiar with the area. After he hired Billy, they went to look at several properties Tom purchased at an auction.
The Forth House was their first stop. They noticed that it was immaculate inside. Even though no one lived there. Billy noticed a mirror at the end of the hall. And the mirror noticed him.
Billy's reason for living was his beautiful wife Laura. Three years into their marriage she was miserable. They worked hard but struggled for money. He wanted to move her into the two-story house, assuming she would love it. Billy ignored warning signs. He did not understand the horror that awaited them in that house. And he put in danger his beloved wife, his sanity and his soul.
We begin on a scorching July day in a small town in rural Tennessee. Billy Moon and his beautiful wife Laura were on their way to Atlanta, Georgia. When their old Ford truck overheated, forcing them off the road. Sunshine Pass was as far as they made it. Billy could repair the truck himself, but they had no money for a water pump.
They looked for work. Billy landed a few odd jobs. He worked hard and built an excellent reputation. Laura became a cashier at Foster’s Food King. The couple rented a trailer for two hundred dollars a month. Which Billy worked off by taking care of the grounds around the trailer park. The mobile homes were old. Several of them housed elderly or disabled residents surviving on fixed incomes.
Sunshine Pass had a bank, a post office, a hardware store, a diner, and Foster’s Food King. The townsfolk migrated from the surrounding farmland to Sunshine Pass. It was quiet after ten p.m. Outsiders faced a community that was cordial but closed.
Locals reserved the right to reject anyone who did not grow up within twenty miles of town. You could shop, buy gas, food, even get a job. However, you were still a visitor. And as your host, the townsfolk put on their best face just for you...
Townsfolk never discussed the Forth house. They stayed away from it. Most learned as children not to get too close to the old house. Those who did disappeared. Some said knowing the house existed was a curse.
Billy Moon was twenty- nine years old he didn’t go to college. Sometimes he felt like time was running out on him and Laura. Billy knew Laura deserved better. If he could not make a better life for her, he would lose her. Day and night he racked his brain thinking of ways to make money.
He worked at several odd jobs for people in town mowing grass, painting, building decks, and cutting brush. Everyone liked Billy and trusted him. Everyone liked Laura. Several of the townsfolk kept their eyes and ears open. If they heard of an opportunity for Billy, they promised to let him know.
Thomas Howell was new in town. He bought a few properties and traveled to Sunshine Pass to decide whether they were worth keeping or demolishing. Sometimes he got lucky with tax deeds and foreclosures. Thomas was wealthy, real estate was his hobby. The first place he visited in town was the hardware.
He needed a few property signs. Tom needed to know if the local hardware could supply him with materials for the various projects on his agenda. He expected to need paint, lumber, fasteners, and plumbing fixtures for several houses.
Tom asked the store manager if he knew any good workers he could depend on. He told him about Billy. James Baxter, the manager of Sunshine Hardware explained that Billy worked hard, was on time and honest. He told Tom that Billy did a great job clearing brush for him.
Billy had business cards at the counter Tom picked one up. James assured him that Billy was dependable. They were talking as Billy walked into the hardware store. “Billy, we’ve been talking about you.”
“Hello Mr. Baxter, can I help you?”
“Mr. Howell this is the man I was telling you about, Billy Moon.”
“Hello, Billy, I’m Thomas Howell. I was reading your business cards. Mr. Baxter was telling me you’re an excellent worker.”
“Hello, Mr. Howell. A pleasure to meet you. I’m trying to get a landscaping business started. I also do odd jobs and a little mechanic work.”
“Billy I’m here to upgrade a few properties I bought. I am expecting to have several repairs to the homes and some landscaping work.”
“Well I’m your man and I can start today.”
“Okay, I’ll drive around finding the properties today. I’m hoping I will have a few rentals out of this. I will call you in a day or two after I have checked out the houses I bought.”
“That sounds great to me. I’ll be ready when you call.”
“Okay, Billy, good to meet you.”
“A pleasure to meet you as well Mr. Howell.” Billy and Tom shook hands. As Tom drove away Billy thanked Mr. Baxter for helping him and for introducing him to Tom. Then Billy rushed off to work, all excited about his fresh opportunity. He had two lawns to mow and some brush to cut. He told Laura about meeting Mr. Howell as soon as he got home.
Tom liked that Billy was out there trying. He could tell that Billy wanted the work and was ready to start. Two days later he called Billy to offer him the job. It included cleaning up a few of his properties. Tom owned one empty house a couple of miles out of town. He was eager to see it.
“Hello is this Billy?”
“Yes, this is Billy.”
“Billy this is Tom, Thomas Howell I got your number at the hardware the other day. I need someone to take care of a few of my properties. I was wondering if you want the job?”
“Yes, I do, Mr. Howell. I’ll do anything you need.”
“Good, just call me Tom, when can we get together Billy? I want to show you the job and get a price. I bought a house near here it may need to be remodeled. Can you do construction work?”
“Yes, and I’m ready whenever you are.”
“Okay let’s meet at the hardware at five p.m. Does that sound okay?”
“I drive a black Ford Ranger.”
“Okay see you at five.” Billy ended the call. “Laura come here!”
“What’s going on?”
“That was the man I told you about he wants me to take care of a few of his properties. I have to meet him at the hardware at five o’clock.”
“That’s great, how much are you going to make?”
“We will talk about money after I see what they look like.”
“Maybe I can leave that store and never have to brush Mr. Foster’s hands-off me again. Did I tell you what he did to Becky?”
“No, I don’t want to hear that shit right now. I already plan to break his son’s jaw. Maybe he won’t let his tongue hang out while he stares at you right in front of me. I’ll fuck him up.”
“Billy please ignore him it will just make a mess if you say anything. He has several friends, he will run to them and they could hurt you.”
“I got several friends too Laura, Smith & Wesson, Colt, and Remington. I keep them close by, you know that.”
“Stop it, he is not worth it, Mr. Foster keeps him away from me, so don’t worry. You know how bad I need that job.”
“Yes, he keeps him away because that fat pervert wants you for himself. I got to get going, you need anything?”
“No, I will settle in with a delightful book and sip some tea. Come over here.”
Laura gave Billy a kiss before he rushed out the door. She put on a pot of tea and turned the volume up on her computer. Billy bought a powerful gaming computer from a guy over in West Virginia.
They drove up there on a Saturday morning and he sold it to them for two hundred and fifty dollars. The powerful computer had twelve gigabytes of music on the hard drive. When Billy realized it had the music, he called the man and thanked him.
When Billy and Laura first met, she had just graduated high school and was working at a local diner. Billy walked in and at that moment he caught Laura’s eye. He was six- foot tall with dark brown hair and brown eyes. Billy was slim, clean shaven, always smiling, and showing off his perfect teeth. Laura would never forget that moment or the song that was playing. “Just The Way You Are” Bruno Mars.
She wanted to remember the enjoyable times, she wanted to feel like she used to. Laura would play that song, but she was miserable. They were struggling to put food on the table. And Billy had no plans. They just had their three- year anniversary and they could not even afford Netflix.
They started out in Marion Ohio, moved to Paintsville Kentucky, and now they were in Sunshine Pass, Tennessee, in a rundown trailer park. Sunshine Pass was worse than Marion or Paintsville.
Billy told her they would live there for a month, that was a year ago. When she thought of how they had moved around in such a brief time, she felt like a gypsy. Laura prayed that Billy made a contact that helped earn enough money to leave Sunshine Pass.
Billy waited in the hardware store, looking at everything, waiting for five o’clock to roll around. He knew Laura was miserable, but she would never complain to him. She deserved better, and he would not let her down.
He looked outside as Tom pulled in and parked. Billy walked out to his truck. “Hello, Tom.”
“Hello Billy get in we will go look at the house in the country first. This entire town is country, but what I mean is it’s a little isolated. I’ve never seen it before.”
“Have you owned it long?”
“No, I bought it cheap,”
“Is it hard to start your own real estate business?”
“No, it’s easy Billy if you have money. You must have at least a little start-up money. I was lucky I had the money. Once you get a property or two, then you can use them as collateral and not put your money at risk.”
“I would love to flip houses and rent homes.”
“I thought you were starting a landscape business. You need patience, a vigorous work ethic, and luck with any business, Billy. Sunshine Pass does not have the economy to support real estate development. This map says to turn left onto Butcher Lane. What a name, Butcher Lane.”
“I lived here a year, and I never heard of Butcher Lane. What if we run into squatters?”
“We might, I think it’s fun to venture into unfamiliar territory to see what I own. Some people leave everything food, clothes, family pictures. I hope we don’t run into drug dealers or something like that.”
“Did that happened to you?”
“No, thank God.”
They drove one mile and turned left onto a dirt road. The sign read Butcher Lane it was red with white letters. They drove a little over a mile. They saw no other houses. There were woods on both sides of the road. Brush blocked part of the rutted dirt road. Tom was still in two-wheel drive. Then they saw it.
A white two-story house with five second-story windows. The house had black shutters, the entrance door was an oak panel door with windows. There were two windows with black shutters on each side of the entrance door.
Tom slowed down but didn’t turn towards it because it looked new. The house set one hundred feet back from the road. There was no visible damage or sign of looters. “We must have missed a turn. I don’t think this is it. Maybe I turned left onto the wrong road. Is it okay with you if I drive down the highway a mile or two to see if I made a wrong turn?”
“Sure Laura will be home napping.”
“Laura? You have a woman, Billy?”
“No, I have a wife.”
“Oh okay, you had not mentioned her to me.”
“She means everything to me.”