Tales From The Park-Side is a series of horrific short stories inspired by places and artifacts that can be found inside a certain little theme park in central Florida. These stories are written by members of the Orlando area entertainment and theme park industry and were curated by Audrey Brown-Willaims.
"The Unhaunted Half Bath"
by Jay Kenworthy
“Is any part of this house not haunted?” the man known as Walters asked in a Louisiana drawl. He was removing his seersucker jacket angrily, revealing sweat spots spreading under his arms.
Walters, a lawyer from upstate, and four others had come at the behest of an unnamed client to “appraise, evaluate, and ensure” this haunted mansion. They were 90 minutes into the task and making little progress.
Knowing the mansion’s reputation, the more senior lawyers at his firm had refused the ghoulish assignment. Walters had just passed the bar exam and had no experience in real estate law -- he had never so much as signed a lease. But as the most junior attorney, he didn’t have the luxury of saying no.
It wasn’t fear that drove his desire to hurry things along as much as frustration. They had no building plans or blueprints as a guide, and the poor lighting made even the simplest of tasks a challenge. Beyond that, it seemed as if the house itself were toying with them. Whenever a measurement was taken, the size of the room seemed to change. Every time the antiques appraiser pointed out a valuable object, it floated away to another room or disappeared altogether.
Graham Montclair, the antiques expert, didn’t respond to Walters’ question. Nor did property appraiser Charlotte Laycox or insurance underwriter Morton LeMond. The mysterious Mr. Fredericks, who only introduced himself as “a representative of the estate,” was the only one who had ever been on the grounds. He finally answered.
“The half bathroom on the third floor is not haunted.”
“Well,” Walters replied. “Perhaps we should go up there and regroup?”
There was no objection, so Mr. Fredericks made his way toward the stairs. A floating candelabra helpfully -- if unintentionally -- led the way.
“Why isn’t this bathroom haunted?” Walters asked.
“Half bathroom,” Mr. Fredericks corrected.
“What did I say?”
“You said, ‘bathroom.’”
“What’s the difference?”
“There are six full bathrooms and three half bathrooms in the home,” Fredericks said.
“Six full and three halves,” Walters restated. “So seven and a half.”
Charlotte spoke up. “No, sir. Six full bathrooms -- with a tub, a toilet, and a sink -- and three halves -- with only a toilet and a sink.”
“Well where I come from,” Walters said, “two halves make a whole.”
Morton glanced at Charlotte, tickled. A door slammed on its own.
“What if I just had a room with a shower?” Walters asked.
“That, too, is considered a half bath,” Charlotte answered.
“OK. So let’s say I’ve one-half bath with a toilet and a sink, and one-half bath with a shower. Is that a full bathroom?”
“Are they connected?”
“It’s said that the lady of the house hated the wallpaper,” Mr. Fredericks interjected.
“You asked why the room wasn’t haunted,” Morton responded. “He said it’s because of the wallpaper.”
“Well who wallpapers a bathroom anyway,” Walters asked.
“Half bathroom,” Morton said.
As they passed the second floor, a row of paintings followed the group with their eyes, and a spectre passed through a wall before them.
“So this lady of the house didn’t like the wallpaper,” Walters said. “And not a one of these other spirits, ghosts, or wights saw fit to haunt that bathroom either?”
“Half bath,” Montclair corrected. “Apparently not.”
The third floor was alive with spirit activity. A baby cried from an empty room. A chandelier swung violently. A headless man appeared when the lights flickered. Footprints appeared and disappeared on the carpet.
The group reached the end of the corridor, and Mr. Fredericks took out a key.
“Here we are,” he said.
“When was the last time someone was in this bathroom,” Walters asked.
“Half bath,” they all said in unison.
This time, the lawyer took offense. “Nine hundred ninety-nine happy haunts, but no room for error, apparently.”
Mr. Fredericks inserted the key, gave it a turn, and slowly opened the door.
“Oh,” Walters said, aghast. “Oh, God!”
Charlotte averted her eyes. “That wallpaper! I’ve never seen anything so hideous!”
Graham wailed. Morton wretched.
“I think we’ve seen enough, Mr. Fredericks,” Walters said. “I think we’ve seen enough.”
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