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"I Can’t Get Her Off My Mind"
Title: I Can’t Get Her Off My Mind
Author: Manchester Girl
Warnings: Mild violence, reference to drugs
Disclaimer: This story is 100% fictional.
Summary: Peter becomes obsessed with the story of a young woman who may have been murdered in the boys’ pad many years ago.
Tonight was a bit of a celebration. The boys had just finished a very profitable two week gig at a local club and were finally going to be eating in style. Mike was on the back deck taking the steaks off the grill while Micky was busy making the salad. Peter was setting the table.
“Where’s Davy?” Mike asked as he walked through the living room with the steaks.
“He went to the bakery to buy a cake for dessert,” Micky replied. “He should have been back by now.”
“I hope he gets back soon.”
Just then Davy came bouncing through the front door.
“Hello, mates!” he said cheerfully as he put the cake on the kitchen counter and they all sat down to dinner.
“I just had the most interesting chat with Mr. Webster.”
“The old man who lives a few doors down?” asked Micky.
“That’s the one.”
“What was so interesting about it?” Peter asked.
“Well, he’s lived here with his wife ever since they were first married. They used to be friends with another young couple who lived here in our pad back in the 1920’s.”
“So what’s so interesting about that?” Micky asked. “This house is pretty old so lots of people probably lived here before us.”
“But this man may have murdered his wife,” Davy’s eyes widened.
“MURDER!” the other three said in unison. “Here?”
“That’s right,” Davy nodded eagerly now that he had their attention. “Mr. Webster and his wife used to get together for dinner from time to time with the couple who lived here. The husband was always picking on the wife about silly little things. Sometimes at night all the neighbors could hear them arguing. Everyone could hear them screaming and shouting.”
“Maybe they weren’t arguing” Micky said with a mischievous grin. “They were newlyweds you know.”
“Oh, Micky,” Mike rolled his eyes “your mind’s always in the gutter!”
Micky just laughed.
“So they were always fighting?” Peter was really into the story at this point.
“Yes,” continued Davy. “Then one day, the wife just disappeared. Husband claimed she went home to her mother. A few months later, he moved out. The Websters never saw him again.”
“Davy,” Mike chuckled. “That’s not really much of a story. I mean, for one thing it happened, what over 40 years ago? If the guy just moved and the police were never involved or anything, what makes you think she was murdered?”
“Mr. Webster says he always thought the husband may have killed her,” Davy stated.
“Yeah, but you know how stories and gossip grow over the years. She probably just left her husband.”
“But what if she didn’t?” Peter said thoughtfully. “Someone may have died right here.”
“Now, Peter,” Micky said “don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah, besides it happened a long time ago,” Mike added. “IF it even happened at all.”
“What do you think the husband did with the body?” Peter shuddered.
“There probably wasn’t a body” Mike emphasized. “Besides we don’t believe in spooks. Do we?”
“No!” Davy, Micky and Peter stated firmly.
The conversation eventually turned to other subjects. The boys finished their dinner and rehearsed a couple of new songs.
Mike, Micky and Davy went to bed, but Peter was wide awake and full of nervous energy. He cleaned out the refrigerator, wrote a letter to his grandmother, and finally tried to sit down and read. He looked at the clock. It was 2 AM. He really needed to go to bed. Perhaps a hot bath would help him relax.
He opened the door of the downstairs bedroom he shared with Davy. Moonlight filled the room and he could see Davy in his bed sleeping peacefully like he didn’t have a care in the world. If he had been disturbed by the story he told earlier, he showed no sign of it.
Peter walked quietly into the bathroom. He closed the door and undressed as the tub filled with hot water. He settled into the bathtub, leaned his head back and closed his eyes. That was much better. He began to feel calm and relaxed. Pleasant childhood memories of warm baths and bedtime stories drifted through his mind. He was getting very sleepy.
Gradually he was aware that he was beginning to slip under the water. He tried to get up but it felt as if someone was pushing down on top of his head, holding him under. Panic set in as water went up his nose and into his mouth.
“Help! Help!” he gasped managing to raise his head up a bit. “Someone help me!”
“Peter! Peter! Are you okay?” Peter looked up and Davy was standing over the tub. He coughed and gasped and finally began to breathe normally.
“What’s wrong? What’s going on?” Micky and Mike were standing in the open doorway now.
“I must have fallen asleep,” Peter began as he slowly recalled what had happened.
He looked up at Davy. “Were you holding my head under the water as a joke?” he said sharply.
“Peter . . .” Davy seemed genuinely shocked. “I wouldn’t do something like that. That wouldn’t be funny at all.”
“I felt a hand on top of my head.” Mike and Micky were looking at him like he was crazy. Peter suddenly felt embarrassed. And naked.
“Okay, sorry,” he tried to laugh it off. “A little privacy while I get dressed, please.” He smiled and pointed toward the bathroom door.
The other guys laughed and went back to bed.
When Peter finally got into bed, he couldn’t shake the fear of what had happened in the bathroom. It really had felt like someone was holding him under the water. It must have been a dream. It HAD to be a dream.
Peter slept late the next morning. By the time he was up and dressed it was nearly noon. He walked through the kitchen, grabbed an apple from the bowl on the table and came into the living room.
Davy was practicing the chords on his guitar that Peter had taught him a few days ago while Micky cleaned his drums and Mike read the morning paper.
“Morning, shotgun. You feelin’ okay?” Mike looked up from his paper.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” Peter took a bite of the apple. “That sounds really good, Davy,” he added.
“Thanks,” Davy grinned. “I had a good teacher.”
Peter sat down and relaxed. Maybe the events of last night were mostly forgotten.
Davy got up to put his guitar away. “I think I’ll go for a swim,” he said to no one in particular as he headed for the back door.
“Don’t hold anyone’s head under the water!” Micky called after him playfully. Davy laughed and pretended he was going to punch Micky before he walked out the door.
Peter squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. He felt his cheeks getting warm.
“Don’t worry, Peter,” Micky said giving him a pat on the shoulder. “We’re just kidding around.”
“I know. But it felt so real. It was like I couldn’t move.”
“You’re not still upset over this murder business, are you?” asked Mike. “There may not be anything to the story at all. Look, if it will make you feel better maybe we can talk to some of the other neighbors about it. They might remember more about what exactly happened.”
Micky and Mike decided to join Davy on the beach and Peter was home alone that afternoon when Mr. Babbit came for the rent. At least they had the rent this time. Suddenly a thought occurred to him as he handed the landlord the envelope of money.
“Mr. Babbit,” he began cautiously.
“Are you boys short on the rent again?”
“No, sir. It’s all there. I just wanted to ask you about something. You’ve lived around here your whole life, right?”
“Yes I have. My dad actually built this place. He was landlord before I was,” he added proudly.
“Do you remember a young couple who lived here during the 1920’s?’
“Well, I was just a little kid then.”
“Well, this young lady disappeared,” Peter explained. “She and her husband lived right here in our pad.”
Mr. Babbit thought for a moment. “I do remember her. She loved to bake and she’d always invite me in for milk and cookies. She loved music, too. Had a beautiful singing voice and could play the piano and several other instruments . . .”
“Just like us!”
“I wouldn’t go that far. She played and sang real music,” Mr. Babbit emphasized. “Not the kind of stuff you kids listen to these days. But I do remember one day she was just gone. I asked my mother about her and she wouldn’t really tell me anything. The husband started being late with his rent all the time after that. My dad finally kicked him out.”
“Do you think her husband killed her?” Peter asked.
“Is this some kind of ploy to get a discount on the rent? Are you trying to claim the place is haunted or something now?”
“No, no. Nothing like that. I was just curious, that’s all. Do you remember their names, the couple that lived here?”
“Yeah, sure. Harvey. Clarence and Emily Harvey.”
After Mr. Babbit had left, Peter sat at the kitchen table lost in thought. He looked up when the other boys came into the pad from the back door.
“I’m telling you, she was looking at me,” Davy insisted.
“Oh come on,” protested Mike. “The top of your head would come just about to her chin. She was looking at ME.”
“Nope, I think you’re both wrong,” Micky said with a satisfied look on his face. “By this time tomorrow I’m gonna have a date with . . .”
“Emily Harvey. That was her name,” said Peter suddenly.
“No it wasn’t,” began Davy. “Wait a minute, you weren’t there. Who’s Emily Harvey?”
“The woman who lived here. I talked to Mr. Babbit when he came for the rent. He was just a little kid then, but he remembered her.”
“Does he think she was murdered?” Micky was intrigued.
“No. He thinks I’m trying to get him to knock some off the rent. But he did remember how one day she was just gone. She used to invite Mr. Babbit in for milk and cookies when he was little.”
“Hard to picture Mr. Babbit as a cute little kid,” Mike mused.
“I think,” Peter began slowly “that she’s trying to communicate with me. Her husband drowned her in the bathtub and that’s what she was trying to tell me last night!”
His roommates exchanged concerned looks.
“Oh, Peter,” Davy said shaking his head. “You’ve got to let this go. It’s just gossip. Forty year old gossip at that.”
“Yeah, man,” Micky added. “You were just tired last night. You fell asleep in the tub, slid down in the water and got choked. There’s no spirit trying to tell you anything.”
Peter looked up at Mike. “I guess you don’t believe me, either.”
“Peter,” Mike began cautiously. “Just think about how it all sounds. We’ve been living here a couple of years now and nothing strange has ever happened before. Why should it start now?”
“I don’t know,” Peter looked hurt and embarrassed. “I guess you’re right. I’ll try to quit thinking about it.”
“That’s the spirit!” Micky said cheerfully. He suddenly wished he had chosen a different word besides “spirit” but no one else seemed to pick up on it.
That night Peter was laying in bed when Davy came out of the bathroom. He paused in front of the mirror hanging over the dresser and ran his fingers through his hair.
“You look different,” Peter observed.
“I got a haircut this morning. You didn’t notice?”
“No. I guess I was busy thinking about other things . . . .”
Davy smiled and studied himself in the mirror. “Did I ever tell you about how me and my dad used to go to the barbershop together when I was a kid? The barber’s name was Charlie and my dad would always tell him . . .”
“Cut it to the wood,” Peter interrupted, finishing the story. “Wooden head, no brains,” he added.
Davy looked slightly hurt but didn’t say anything. He switched out the light and got into his bed.
Peter felt terrible. He was tired and irritable and shouldn’t have been rude. Davy was close to his dad and loved telling stories. So what if he had a tendency to tell the same ones over and over?
They lay there in the dark for several minutes before Peter spoke quietly.
“Davy, are you asleep?”
“No, not yet. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I’ve been hung up on this murder and I guess it’s just starting to get to me. I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Davy laughed softly. “It is kind of a disturbing story. But we don’t know what really happened. Just try to forget about it.”
“Yeah, well goodnight.”
A few hours later, Peter awoke with a start. He really needed to go to the bathroom, but he didn’t want to go in there. Not just now. He tossed back the covers and got out of bed. This was insane! He was a grown man for goodness sake.
He tiptoed out of the bedroom and into the living room. He looked at the spiral staircase. Maybe he could just go upstairs and use Micky and Mike’s bathroom. But what it they woke up? They would ask all kind of questions that he didn’t feel like answering.
He glanced at the back door. No one would be out and about this time of night. He’d just go outside. He walked out onto the back deck and went down the steps. He crept under the deck and relieved himself. Suddenly, there was a flash of light. A cop making his rounds on the beach!
He yanked up his pajamas and opened the basement door under the steps and quickly closed it behind him. He stood there in the dark while the cop poked around under the deck. Finally he gave up and left. Peter let out a sigh of relief and crept through the dark basement and up the stairs. When he reached the top of the steps, the door was locked.
“Just my luck,” he mumbled. He turned the knob from side to side. Suddenly there was a click and the door began to open very slowly. Peter froze in terror. The door opened to reveal Davy.
“Peter!” he hissed. “What are you doing down in the basement this time of night?”
Peter walked casually out into the living room as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
“What are you doing up, Davy?”
“I came in here to get a glass of water. I’d noticed you weren’t in bed and then I heard noises down in the basement.”
“I had to go to the bathroom,” he said nonchalantly.
“In the basement?” Davy shook his head in disbelief.
“No. I was outside. A cop came by making his rounds and I hid in the basement.”
“Why were you outside in the first place?”
“Well, you know. Sometimes you just want to get back to nature. I loved camping when I was a kid.”
“No, I don’t know.” It was obvious Davy wasn’t buying any of this.
“What’s going on?” Mike was leaning over the balcony at the top of the stairs.
“Peter was peeing outside because he was afraid to go to into the bathroom.” Davy was trying not to laugh.
“I was not. I mean I did, but that wasn’t why.”
Mike just sighed and went back into his bedroom. Davy shook his head and gave Peter a pat on the back.
“Get some sleep, Peter,” he laughed softly as they went back into their bedroom.
Peter woke up early the next morning. The bathroom didn’t seem so menacing in the morning light. He took a quick shower, dressed and went out the front door to take a walk. Walking along the sidewalk, he felt more optimistic. He knew he had to put this ghost nonsense out of his mind.
As he rounded the corner, he saw Mrs. Phillips standing on her front porch drinking a cup of coffee. He smiled and waved.
“Good morning, Peter!” the elderly widow called. “You’re out early.”
“Yes, ma’am. The other guys were still sleeping, so I decided to go for a walk.”
“How about a blueberry muffin? I just took some out of the oven.”
“Thanks!” he said cheerfully. A few minutes later, he was seated at Mrs. Phillips’ kitchen table eating a muffin and drinking coffee.
“I always bake way too much,” she said with a smile. “You’ll have to take some home to the other boys.”
Peter nodded, his mouth still full. He swallowed and wiped his mouth with a napkin. “These are really good. Thanks again.”
“It’s a very special recipe. I got it from a neighbor many years ago. Her name was Mrs. Harvey.”
Peter almost choked on his sip of coffee. “Emily Harvey?” he asked.
“Why, yes. That was her name. Are you okay, sweetheart? You look really pale all the sudden.”
“Oh, yes. I’m fine.” Peter tried to remain calm. “Someone was just talking about the Harveys the other day. They used to live in our pad.”
“She disappeared didn’t she?”
“Well,” Mrs. Phillips began, “I don’t like to gossip, but I never believed that story that she left and went home to her mother. Not that I would have blamed her. That husband of hers was such an awful man. She was just the sweetest thing. She deserved better.”
“He killed her, didn’t he?” Peter blurted out. He felt like he was about to cry.
“Where did you hear that?”
“Mr. Webster was telling Davy about it a couple of days ago. He seemed to think that’s what happened.”
“Well, like I said, I don’t like to gossip and it all happened a long time ago, but it wouldn’t have surprised me one bit.”
“What happened to Mr. Harvey?”
“I believe he passed away a couple of years ago. I seem to recall seeing an obituary in the paper.”
Peter was quiet and reflective. “Then I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s not like the law can punish him now.”
“That’s true. But I hate to think of that sweet young lady not having a proper burial. That kind of thing can cause a spirit to be restless.”
“You think the pad is haunted?”
“Oh no, dear. I didn’t mean to imply that. Don’t you worry now. Run along and take these muffins to your friends and be a good boy.”
“Thank so much, Mrs. Phillips. I know they’ll enjoy them.”
Peter walked home in worried silence. No matter where he went or what he did, he couldn’t seem to escape Emily Harvey.
Micky, Mike and Davy were all just about to sit down to breakfast by the time Peter got back to the pad. Peter put the basket of muffins on the table.
“Where did you get these?” Micky asked as he quickly snatched an especially large one out of the basket.
“Mrs. Phillips made them. I got up early and took a walk. She invited me in to breakfast and sent some for all of you.”
“She really is a nice lady,” Mike said reaching for a muffin.
“She sure is,” said Davy.
“She got the recipe from Emily Harvey. The dead woman,” said Peter bluntly.
“Peter,” Micky said patiently. “Stop thinking about her.”
“I can’t help it! Everywhere I go, she just seems to come up. I was sitting there with Mrs. Phillips minding my own business, just saying how good the muffins were and the next thing I know she’s telling me how she got the recipe from Emily Harvey years ago. It’s not just some made-up story. She was a real person who lived here and loved to bake and sing and play the piano and . . .”
“I’ve got a great idea!” Davy interrupted in an attempt to change the subject. “Why don’t we all pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at the beach? We’ll play some volleyball, maybe meet some girls. Then tonight we’ll go out for Chinese food.”
Micky and Mike nodded eagerly. Peter just sighed, but he knew Davy meant well.
“Okay, sure. That does sound like fun. Maybe I do just need to get out for a while.”
The boys spent an enjoyable day at the beach. Peter managed to forget about the events of the past couple of days and seemed to be having a good time. When they came home from the Chinese restaurant, they all settled in front of the TV to watch a movie while they finished off the rest of the cake that Davy had bought the other day.
During a commercial break, Davy stood up and stretched. “I’ve seen this movie before. I’m gonna go take a bath and get ready for bed.”
“Why don’t you take a shower instead?” suggested Peter.
Mike and Micky exchanged glances.
Davy just grinned, “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.”
He went to take his bath while the others turned their attention back to the movie. Several minutes later, they heard a loud commotion from the next room. They ran into the bedroom and could hear the sound of frantic splashing coming from the bathroom. Mike tried the door but it was locked. He slammed himself against it as hard as he could.
As the door flung open, they ran into the bathroom. Davy was sitting up leaning over the side of the tub. He was gasping for breath, but couldn’t seem to make any sound. Mike slapped him hard across the back. Finally he spat out a mouthful of water. Gradually, he began to breathe normally.
“Davy, are you all right? Can you talk?” Micky and Peter were kneeling down in front of the bathtub.
Davy nodded. “I’m okay now,” he whispered. “But it was just like Peter said. Like someone’s hand was pushing down on my head, holding me under. I’m sorry I doubted you, Peter,” he added.
Peter shook his head. “I’m not spending another night here. Not until we figure out something.”
“Let’s not panic just yet,” Mike said. “After Davy gets dressed, we’ll all sit down and decide what to do next.”
Davy got out of the tub and reached for a towel. If he was the least bit embarrassed about being naked in front of everyone, he showed no sign of it.
A few minutes later, Davy joined them in the living room. Micky had turned off the TV. They all just sat there staring at each other for several minutes.
“The thing is,” Mike finally began, “what do we do? I mean we can’t call the police or tell anyone about this. They’ll think we’re all crazy.”
“Or doing frodis . . .” Micky chuckled. Davy and Peter both turned and gave him hard looks. “I’m sorry, guys. I’m just nervous. I mean everything was just fine a few days ago and now we’ve got a ghost trying to drown you two in the bathtub. Maybe we are all going crazy . . .”
“No,” Davy said firmly. “This is real.”
“Maybe Mrs. Phillips is right,” said Peter. “She said that if a body isn’t given a proper burial, the spirit could be restless.”
They mulled the idea over for a moment.
“So let me get this straight,” Mike began. “You think maybe this poor woman’s body was buried or hidden HERE for all these years and we’ve got to find out where?”
“We should start in the basement,” Peter suggested. “There are all kinds of crates down there. Most of it’s not even our stuff. It was here when we moved in. Maybe we’ll find some kind of clue about what kind of people the Harveys were and what happened.”
Without a word, they all got up and went downstairs to the basement. Mike pulled a string and turned on a single bulb overhead. For the next half hour, they rummaged through boxes of old clothes, books and discarded furniture.
Davy dragged a heavy steamer trunk from under stairs. “Give me a hand with this, Mike,” he grunted.
“Its just about to come apart,” Mike tugged on the rusted padlock and it crumbled away. He raised the lid as Davy looked over his shoulder.
“Oh merciful Heavens!!!!” he exclaimed and slammed the lid shut.
“What!! What is it!” exclaimed Micky. “What’s in there?”
Davy gagged and put his hand over his mouth. He made a frantic run for the basement door. Peter didn’t have to ask. He knew.
Mike just sat there on the floor in stunned silence while Micky continued to babble incoherently. Davy was outside throwing up like he was never going to stop. A strange sort of calmness slowly came over Peter. At least now they knew the truth.
Peter finally went outside to check on Davy.
“To think that trunk has been down here all this time . . .” Davy began.
“Don’t think about it right now,” Peter patted him on the back. “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yes. I’m fine now. Just tired.”
They both looked up to see the cop patrolling the beach again. This time Peter was glad to see him.
A few hours later, four exhausted Monkees sat huddled together in the living room. Once Peter and Davy had came inside with the policeman, everything had happened very fast. Police cars, an ambulance and curious neighbors had all come out of nowhere. The police had taken the boys’ statements and talked to some of the neighbors. The coroner had taken the remains in the steamer trunk. Now that everyone had left the pad was silent.
“So what happens next?” Micky asked.
“Well,” Mike began “once they’ve identified the body and contacted the next of kin, I guess they can finally have a funeral after all these years.”
“We should go. To the funeral, I mean,” said Peter. Davy nodded.
“What do we do about staying here?” Micky asked.
Everyone was quiet for a few minutes, lost in their own thoughts.
“It feels . . . peaceful again,” said Peter. “I think everything will be fine now. I don’t think Emily’s spirit--or whatever it was--was really trying to hurt us. She just needed to get our attention so we could help her.”
They all looked up at the morning sun shining through the stained glass window like all was right with the world. The boys exchanged tired smiles. Everything was going to be okay now.