Read Red House Blues Online

Authors: sallie tierney

Tags: #ghost, #seattle, #seattle mystery, #mystery action adventure romance, #mystery thriller, #ghost ghosts haunt haunting hauntings young reader young adult fantasy, #mystery amateur sleuth, #ghost civil war history paranormal, #seattle tacoma washington puget sound historic sites historic landmark historic travel travel guide road travel klondike, #ghost and intrigue, #mystery afterlife

Red House Blues

BOOK: Red House Blues
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RED HOUSE BLUES

 

By Sallie Tierney

 

© 2011 Sallie
Tierney

Cover Design by Margaret
Magee

Published by Sallie Tierney
at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition 1.0
August 2011

 

This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person
you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase
it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should
return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author

 

This book is a work of fiction. Places,
events, and situations in this ebook are purely fictional and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to my son Paul who lived two
years

in the Red House and escaped relatively
unscathed.

 

 

SINGING THE RED HOUSE BLUES

lyric by S. Pike

 

Red House not far from here

frowns down over the Sound

take my advice, friend

if you pass this way,

don’t slow down.

 

Save yourself the sorrow,

save yourself the pain,

bypass this damned house,

if you want to see tomorrow.

 

An evil wind blows from the bay

an evil turn of time and tide

Nothing thrives but pain, my friend

in those haunted rooms

nothing but misery inside.

 

Save yourself the sorrow

save yourself the pain

bypass this damned house

if you want to see tomorrow.

 

I didn’t heed my own advice

like a fool I sheltered there

that was the last I knew, my friend

of light or hope

but the first I knew of despair.

 

Save yourself the sorrow

save yourself the pain

bypass this damned house

if you want to see tomorrow.

 

Burn the Red House to the ground

do us all a favor, friend

strike a match, dance in the flames

scatter its ashes wide

salt the earth on which it stands.

 

Save yourself the sorrow

save yourself a world of pain

bypass this damned house

if you want to see tomorrow.

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Seattle, Washington Territory – 1864

Frank Flynn wooed the woman for two
agonizing weeks, from the day the bride ship docked in Elliott Bay
until that morning three days ago when she agreed to marry him.
Now, with the certificate signed by himself, Edith O’Brien (now
Flynn), two witnesses and the Justice of the Peace, Frank could get
on with the life he had envisioned years before when he left his
family home in Chicago.

He would master the wild western frontier
out here in Washington Territory. His new shingle mill at the foot
of Yesler Street would prosper along with little Seattle. He
envisioned how he would become a rich lumber baron like the men he
admired down the coast in San Francisco. His handsome wife would
manage a respectable household and bear him children to carry on
his name. Maybe someday he would run for mayor. He would prove his
father wrong about his prospects and abilities. The village of
Seattle was his chance to become everything he had ever dreamed he
could be.

What he never dreamed, never imagined was
that he would fall instantly, deeply in love with the bride. Frank
was one of a hundred other prospective grooms who met the schooner
from Boston when it finally docked at midnight on May 16th. The
exhausted women debarked by lantern light, tottering pale and
frightened down the plank, belongings clutched in trembling
hands.

They were a pitiful gaggle of females,
except for one. That one woman stood out in the crowd. She carried
herself straight and tall on the dark dock, a carpetbag in each
hand. Clearly she was a woman with a purpose, a courageous and
stalwart female. To his way of thinking she was the pick of the
litter. That was the one for him. That was a woman fit for a king
of industry.

Her hair under the sky-blue hat was black as
the bay. She was trim of waist but buxom, if what he could see of
her beneath her wool coat was any indication. But it was her eyes
that scanned the crowd of eager men until she found his, that
settled the matter for Frank. She looked for all the world as if
she were sizing up a herd of horses, and having compared their
various confirmations had made her selection with a determination
and intelligence that shone brighter than any lantern. He pushed
through the crowd and introduced himself.

Her name was Edith O'Brien, and she was of
immigrant Irish parents, as was Frank. She was the second daughter
of ten children, but the only one of the siblings to set out on her
own beyond Boston. At twenty-seven she was past the first bloom of
maidenhood but that went a ways to explain why she had come across
a continent to find a husband. That was fine with Frank. A woman
out here needed guts and some experience in the world if she wasn’t
to wither like an uprooted seedling.

Frank had started to build his house on Fir
Street as soon as young Asa Mercer proposed sending back East for
women. With a population of over two hundred bachelors and few
respectable females to choose from, Seattle needed to import
willing women if it was to become anything more than a logging camp
on the edge of Puget Sound. Every man who wanted a wife kicked in
to hire a ship and crew. Of course some men were just there
temporarily to make a pile of money and then move on to more
civilized places, but Frank knew at once he was there to stay. A
wife was the next logical step in his plan to make something of
himself. He eagerly paid Mercer his three hundred dollars advance
money and went back to work.

When the brides arrived six months later
there were only a few finishing touches left on his house. It was
by and large ready to receive a wife, should one come his way. By
no means was it a mansion. He couldn’t afford that yet. It was
substantial and well planned, however, standing two stories plus a
gabled attic on the brow of the overlooking Elliott Bay. Its wide
windows took in the view, and a fine porch curved around to the
south side of the house. A good place, Frank thought, to sit with
his wife on warm summer evenings. He imagined children playing on
the steps leading to a pretty garden his wife would plant.

The siding was fashionable cedar shake from
his own mill, the trim painted ivory white. The rooms smelled of
forests, beeswax, and crisp linen the morning Frank Flynn proudly
showed Edith O'Brien Flynn around the house he had built for
her.

Edith hated it on sight. It looked raw and
primitive, not that she expressed that to her new husband. Instead,
in the months that followed, she proceeded to change it in every
way she could without actually tearing it down. She sent to Boston
for ornately patterned wallpapers to cover the blank ivory plaster.
Furniture arrived up the coast from San Francisco, crowding the
rooms with curlicues of mahogany and cherry wood. Frank was happy
to turn all such household matters over to his capable spouse. His
people were “shanty Irish” whereas hers were “lace curtain Irish”.
He bowed to her superior taste, a little in awe of her. Everything
she did fascinated and mystified him. Though he admitted to himself
he wasn’t overly fond of the deep redwood stain she decided to
apply to the whole exterior of the house. She told him the color
was elegant and courageous, that the house appeared to dominate the
hill above town and reflected the status their family would soon
enjoy in the community.

Edith, for her part, appreciated Frank as
the resourceful businessman and kind person that he was. She did
not expect to love the man she married and wasn’t sure she knew
what value such an emotion could have in her life. She came west
for a secure and comfortable home. That was enough for any woman in
her circumstances. She supposed there might still be children. That
was what came with the sort of life she had chosen, though she did
not think of herself as particularly maternal. As it turned out she
would never know what kind of mother she would have been.

Almost a year to the day after she arrived
in Seattle, Edith was in the dining room, large sheets of brown
paper spread out over the table. She was sketching how she wanted
the garden planted up. There would be an expanse of lawn to capture
the view of the bay but include a thick hedge to obscure sight of
the skid road a block away where teams of horses dragged logs down
to the mills at the base of the hill. It was quite enough that
during the day the noise could be deafening. Why Frank chose to
build so close to the work site was beyond her understanding. She
would much rather they lived on any other of Seattle’s seven hills,
far from the stink from the mills and the shallow swampy bay. Some
lovely houses were going in north of town. Edith intended to work
on Frank to move them up there in a few years. In the meantime she
meant to have the Red House as habitable as possible.

A strand of silky black hair escaped from
its pins and fell across her cheek. She straightened and tucked the
hair back into place. She had better see to the meal. Frank would
be home for supper soon. Edith had one of the Salish Indian girls
to do the cleaning up but Edith enjoyed cooking. Managing the
kitchen was a point of pride with her. She was an excellent baker,
as had been her Irish mother. Today she would set out roast
chicken, scalloped potatoes, and soft. warm biscuits. Frank’s
favorite. He didn’t care for vegetables but she would offer glazed
carrots, if only for the jewel-like color. She smiled at the
thought that she was beginning to cater to his tastes. Perhaps love
after all was creeping in the back door.

In coming years she would clasp that last
memory of him to her heart. Or perhaps over the years she convinced
herself there had been that shimmer of love coming over her, memory
contorting itself to her need. She would imagine her husky logger
rushing home to her, praising the meal, a wide smile on his sweet
ruddy face. Then he would reach for her hand and kiss the fingers
one by one as if each was a tasty dessert.

But Frank had not come home that evening.
Strangers rushed into her house, yelling about a shooting, a riot
down on Front Street by the mercantile. Nobody knew who started it.
Drunks coming out of the Illahee bawdy house got into a ruckus with
a group of Indians. Frank and some of his men tried to break it up.
Someone pulled a gun and fired. Someone else fired back. In a
second the gunpowder was thick in the air and five men were down.
Two were dead. One Indian and Frank Flynn.

Edith could have sold the house and gone
back to Boston. She could have married another logger. For reasons
she never divulged she stayed on, renting out rooms to mill workers
and businessmen. In June of 1889 a glue fire started downtown in a
paint shop, and by the time it was out most of Seattle had burned
to the ground. The Red House was spared only by a shift of wind.
Edith was fifty-two and had been ill for a year with what she told
her boarders was “stomach trouble”. But she knew from the lump
under her ribs that she was probably dying. With all Seattle a
smoking wasteland for as far as she could see from the porch of her
house on Fir Street hill, she decided she didn’t have the strength
or will or time to start all over again. Even if the city rebuilt
itself. She had lived her life on her own terms and she would leave
it that way too.

She climbed the stairs to the attic room
where she could look out the oval window across the bay to Alki
Point, and beyond to Bainbridge Island, and beyond that to the
Olympic Mountains. The oval window Frank had crafted with such
care. At sunset she lifted her husband’s old pistol to her head and
ended her life. Her husband’s was the first violent death
associated with the big red house. Edith O'Brien Flynn’s was the
first suicide.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Bellingham, Washington

Present Day

The homicide detectives from Seattle
reminded Suzan of the couple who ran the Ebb Tide Motel back home
in Oak Harbor, pleasant, serious, and comfortably ordinary. Not at
all what she would have envisioned. They had driven two hours up to
Bellingham to tell her she was a widow. Suzan had been expecting an
official visit of some sort from the time Sean vanished nearly two
years ago, though what she imagined was more along the lines of
incarceration or overdose. She couldn’t get her mind around someone
deliberately killing him.

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