By Dwayne MacInnes
Amanda stood outside the two story building in a small Ohio town. The marquis identified it as "Benson's House of Wax". She sighed heavily as a flood of memories and conflicting emotions hit her at once.
The grandfather who raised her since she was twelve had recently died leaving her the business that she stood in front of now. She remembered her grandfather's patience, care and love that he showered upon his granddaughter. She also remembered his wax creations he sculpted in the building's basement. Both bloomed to a radiant perfection under his guiding hands. The John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe figures still bring people in from all over the country. Furthermore, Amanda became a beautiful young woman.
The two lived in the apartment in the upper story. It was not large but it was comfortable and it was home. These were two things she really needed right now. For not only was Amanda dealing with the loss of her closest and last surviving relative, but she had finally divorced the abusive man that had been her husband and captor for the last three years.
Bruce initially was a charming and loving man. However, shortly after Amanda moved back to New York with him to take up their new life, Bruce underwent a dramatic change. Prince Charming suddenly became Mr. Hyde. The mental and verbal abuse was one thing, but the physical beatings and the ‘rough sex' were another.
Once away from family and friends, Bruce isolated Amanda from the outside world. She had become a prisoner holed up in a penthouse apartment in New York City. Like a whipped dog she obeyed Bruce's every order and cautiously moved around for fear of bringing his uncontrollable wrath upon herself.
What changed everything was when she answered the phone while Bruce was away on a business trip. Amanda would never have dared answer the phone while Bruce was in town. He screened his calls religiously and if Amanda ever answered the phone, he would yell at her and beat her relentlessly.
Why Amanda answered the phone, she could not say. Maybe she felt compelled to by some higher power. Or more likely, she was rebelling against the torment she faced every day. In any event, it turned out to be for her. An old friend had been trying to reach her for weeks. But Bruce would screen all the phone calls and the mail. Further, there was not a computer in the house for Amanda to send or read email.
At first, Amanda was devastated at the news that Grandpa Benson had been gravely ill and finally had died two weeks earlier. Amanda spent the rest of the day crying and lamenting the fact she did not even get to pay her grandfather a last visit. She did not get to say ‘I love you' one last time.
As these lost moments ran through her head, a fire began to burn inside her. Bruce did this to her. He had denied her access to her family. Even now he was trying to keep her grandfather's death a secret. It was all part of his scheme to hold dominion over her.
A long repressed rage began to build. Eventually, it consumed her. By the time, Bruce returned home three days later, Amanda had moved out and had filed for divorce. Getting a restraining order was not too difficult especially after medical doctors identified several healed fractures and broken bones. In fact, the city was bringing charges against Bruce.
Amanda cared little for that now. She had business to attend to in her home town. She had to get Grandpa's things in order and she had to begin to pick up the remaining shreds of her life. She had everything she needed to begin anew.
The museum could still bring in a modest means of income. Amanda did not immediately know if she would continue to run it or try to find a buyer. However once she entered the doors, she felt compelled to do everything she needed to keep it going.
The corridors already had several new exhibits on display. Grandpa Benson had been preparing for Halloween. It was the biggest time of year for the business. The waxen characters representing historical and fictional villains and monsters greeted Amanda.
There was Jack the Ripper in his top hat and long coat with a bloody scalpel raised in a gloved fist. Next to it was Frankenstein's Monster his black stitches contrasting starkly against his cadaver gray skin. The beautiful, pale skinned woman with long raven black hair and ruby lips slightly parted to reveal two sharp white fangs was new. Amanda went over and looked at the plate describing her grandfather's latest creation.
Lillith exiled to the Land of Nod, birthplace of the vampires:
"Adam's wife, his first. Beware of her.
Her beauty's one boast is her dangerous hair.
When Lilith winds it tight around young men
She doesn't soon let go of them again."
Quoted by Mephistopheles from Goethe's Faust
Amanda smiled for the first time in a very long time. She had finally come home. These wax characters were as much family to her as her own grandfather. Maybe because in a sense they too were his children. Given the same care and love he had freely dispensed upon his granddaughter.
Amanda spent the remainder of the day moving in her scant possessions and cleaning up the small apartment. At first it was hard looking at everything her grandfather had in the apartment. But somehow, she felt his presence was close by and she continued the tasks at hand.
By night fall Amanda decided to take in a late movie. The theater down the road was playing a double creature feature for the Halloween season. The 31st was just a week away and the museum would be too busy for Amanda to enjoy herself until afterwards.
Amanda grabbed her coat and exited the museum locking the door behind her. The air was cool and crisp as the autumn leaves danced down the street in the slight breeze. She excitedly jogged down the sidewalk to the ticket office of the theater.
Unbeknownst to her, a dark figure moved out of the shadows and ducked down an alley. The figure found a low window leading to the museum's basement. A few quick jerks of a crowbar had the window open and the figure slid inside the building.
"I'll teach that bitch a lesson," Bruce thought betterly as he moved around the various equipment and boxes in the basement.