Easter at The Old House

By Willie H. Loomis

I'd been thinkin' bout the Easter holiday all week long, and how it was all going to go. Julia, had given me an extra hundred dollars in my pay packet to, as she said, " Spend on your loved ones." Now Julia knew, apart from her and Barnabas, those loved ones was few and far between, and old Willie wasn't plannin' on makin' the same fool mistakes he made last year. No sir, I wasn't going to be on the receiving end of Barnabas' sharp tongue this time around, even if somebody important got overlooked.

Alls I had done last year, was order flowers for all the women on the estate, and signed the card at the florist 'Fondly, Julia, Barnabas and Willie'except, of course that dozen red roses that I had sent to Julia with at note that just said 'Love, B'. I thought it was the least I could do, to let Julia know how much Barnabas appreciated all the stuff she did for him 24/7. Whenever there was the tiniest bit of trouble in his life he bellowed for Julia and she came running. How was I s'pposed to know what the number or color of roses meant. I didn't never have nobody to teach me that stuff except Jason McGuire, and a fat lot of good he was at teaching anything except thieving and blackmail.

I had paid extra for the florist to deliver the flowers on Easter morning, so they'd be fresh and pretty. Even I knew enough to know that you didn't send a lady no old flowers or stale candy. I asked Jack, the FTD delivery guy to go to Collinwood first, and let Ms. Stoddard, Carolyn, Vicki and Mrs. Johnson have their gifts first, and then to come last to the Old House. I wanted to be there to see the look on Julia's face when that knock on the door came, and she opened it up to find all them sweet smellin' roses just for her. He told me he'd be there bout 9, before I started my chores for the day. I woke Julia and Barnabas up at 7, with a strong pot of coffee brewing on the old wood burning cook stove in the kitchen. They never did go to bed much around the Old House anyway, and they was there asleep in their chairs by the fireplace right where I'd left them the night before, having some sort of "discussion". Truth be told, their discussions always sounded more like arguments to me, but they didn't like it when I pointed that out. Whatever, they seemed plenty happy with me and each other when I woke 'em up with them big fat cinnamon rolls Maggie got me from the diner where she worked, and their coffee served on one of Barnabas' mama's pretty silver trays. I had even set out a cup and plate for myself, so we could sort be a family like. I grabbed a chair from the desk and set myself down beside Julia. These two were the closest folks I ever remember to being like a mother and father, and I was feeling pretty good about all trouble I had gone to, to make the day special. I knew that it meant a lot to Barnabas, now that he was human, to have celebrations in the daytime. Heck, maybe they didn't even celebrate Easter last time Barnabas was human.

I was just pouring the coffee when there was a knock at the front door. Now, most folks on the estate, have a bad habit of just walkin' right on in, which unnerves Barnabas, so I had made special notice to tell Jack to knock, real polite like. I sat down the silver coffee pot, excused myself to go answer the door, and invited Jack into the parlor. Barnabas raised a suspicious eye as Jack stepped through the archway , and my palms started to get kinda sweaty, cause I could see that he was already making up his mind not to like whatever was about to happen. Jack passed on by me, and went straight to Julia. " I have a delivery for Miss Julia Hoffman" he said, as he sat the long white box in her open arms. Julia looked real surprised, like nobody had ever give her a gift before and as I saw Jack out, I heard her sigh. She was just staring at the box when I came in and sat back down. Barnabas reached over to help her open the box, curious himself about what was inside, and as those long fingers worked at ribbon and lid, I could feel my heart start to beat real fast. "Why it's a dozen red roses" Julia gasped, and she covered her mouth with the back of her hand the way she always does when she's real scared or surprised. I looked at her, trying real hard to keep myself calm and said, "m..m... maybe there's a card or something Julia. Nobody ain't gonna send ya flowers without lettin' you know who it is." Barnabas shot me another look that made me squirm in my seat. "It being Easter and all, you know. People, they like to give presents, especially to ladies." Never let nobody tell you that Willie Loomis knows when to shut his big fat mouth, cause I sure don't. I musta been shakin' my leg somethin' awful too, cause Barnabas reached over and put his hand on my knee. "Is there a card, Julia?" he asked her, and I saw her hold up the one I had picked out the day before. She looked at how it was signed, and broke out in a big smile. "Why Barnabas, I don't know what to say. They're lovely. I never even hoped that you..." She reached over and took his hand. Tears were startin' to well up in them big pretty eyes of hers and it looked like she was about to hug him when he stood bolt upright and yelled "Willie!" I nearly pulled the tea tray over on myself trying to get outta there, and I stumbled a couple of times before I could get on my feet. "Watch yourself Willie, before you break something", Barnabas growled at me. "Who sent those roses to Julia?" "Why you did Barnabas." Julia whispered softly. "See, the card says 'Love, B'. That must be you, although I always thought of you has being a bit more formal." Julia was blushing, but not half as much as Barnabas. I was shakin real hard now, and I could feel the sweat soaking through my shirt. "Willie!" he shouted again, and backed me up against the stair rail in the hall. "I asked you who sent these roses to Julia, and who or what is B?" It was you, wasn't it Willie? Only you would do something this stupid and foolish! What were you thinking and where did you get such expensive flowers?" I think he kept shoutin' for a while, but I couldn't hear him anymore. I was feelin' the room closin' in on me and my knees gettin'weak. At some point, I felt myself crying and I started confessin' all over the place about how I had thought it would be nice to do something for Julia, and how some people ought to appreciate the things that folks did for 'em and how they should be grateful that they even had people to love 'em the way that they acted and why didn't he just hit me with that damn cane the way he used to and get it all over with. I remember hearin' Julia say "Barnabas, Barnabas, leave the boy alone. He only meant well. It was a sweet thing to do, even if you don't think so." I was a sobbing mess all slumped over on the hall floor. I think it was then that Julia handed me a pill and a glass of water and said something about a sedative...

Barnabas and Julia were real quiet the whole week leading up to the holiday, and it was Good Friday when Julia had handed me that extra cash. I thanked her and smiled, but she could be real sure that Willie wasn't buying nothing. Not for anyone in this house, not anywhere. I was going to take my money and go down to the Blue Whale and maybe buy myself some expensive wine or some of that sherry that Roger always drank at Collinwood. I'd stay there all day and night on Saturday, till someone had to kick me out, then I'd come home, sneak up that stairway and get a few hours sleep until it was time to get up and start my chores.

It was about 7 o'clock on Easter Sunday morning, when I heard a knock at my bedroom door. "Willie, it's Julia and Barnabas. May we come in?" "Yeah, yeah I guess so." I told her, and they came in and sat on the side of my bed. "We've made breakfast, and coffee, and if I'm not mistaken, there's a nice surprise waiting for you in the parlor. Come on, get up and let's all go downstairs. It's Easter, and we're a family of sorts and families should celebrate together." She patted my back like she was my long lost mother. I always got nervous when I heard the word surprise, cause in my experience, that usually didn't mean nothin' good, but I got up, threw on the robe that Julia had given me for Christmas and followed them down to the sitting room. Just as we got to the bottom of the stairs, Julia told me to close my eyes, and I felt Barnabas take me by the hand. "Come on Willie, I do believe that a visitor has been, and he left you something that I think you will really enjoy." Barnabas' hand was warm and soft, and with my eyes closed, it was easy to remember all those times that he had been nice to me, and why I trusted him and sometimes even felt sorry for him. In some ways, Barnabas was real smart, like with books and that, but in other ways, he had a whole lot to learn. I guess we were kind of the same in that way. We both had a lotta learnin' to do.

Julia and Barnabas led me into the parlor and rested my hands on something huge, wrapped in cellophane. I could feel a big bow with a card taped to it. "Surprise Willie", Julia said, "Open your eyes, the Easter Bunny has been to see you." In front of me, on the seat of Barnabas' chair, was the biggest basket of candy I had ever seen. I tore off the wrapping and in with the candy were all of the books that Barnabas had suggested I read. Not his copies either, but ones of my own, and there was some fancy tea and a tea cup, just like the ones Ms. Stoddard had for when company came. I could feel the tears startin' to run down my face. Barnabas said, "Here Willie, open the card. " My hands were shaking and I had a hard time gettin' the envelope open. Inside there was a real pretty card, with flowers and a rabbit on the outside, and part was raised and part flat. Embossed, I think Barnabas once told me. I opened the card and it read:

"Our dearest Willie, No matter what life may bring to each of us, we all ready have the greatest treasure that the world can hold...We have you."

All our love,

B & J

I felt my legs gettin' shaky, my knees gettin' weak and as the room closed in around me, Just like last year, I was that same sobbin' mess, all slumped over on the floor, but this time, I heard Barnabas say "Come on Willie, no sedatives this year. Let's get you to a chair and get you some chocolate." I picked out the big chocolate bunny with the button eyes, and bit into the ear, just like I'd always seen the other kids do.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction and not intended for sale or profit. Dark Shadows and all characters within are property of Dan Curtis. Please read, and most of all, have fun.