The first thing Brandon and I did when we got home from work on Monday was to get Dion and Trey to join us so we could huddle with Dad. “What did the medium have to say?” I asked, holding my breath as I waited for him to answer.
“He said we’d probably need to do an exorcism to get rid of Hubbard.”
“Wait! Aren’t exorcisms for getting rid of demons?” Brandon asked, looking confused.
“I asked him the same question and he explained that sometimes it’s also used to get rid of stubborn spirits that refuse to leave.”
“But Hubbard’s outside, so how will the medium be able to get him to a spot where they can do an exorcism?” Dion followed.
“I asked him that as well, and he said he would use tar water to attract Hubbard to a location where they could exorcise him. He said the tar water has an unusually strong ability to attract curious spirits.”
“What the heck is tar water?” Trey followed. “I’ve never heard of it before.”
“He told me it was a mixture of pine tar and water, and in this case the pine tar will be mixed with holy water.”
“And spirits are attracted to it?” I asked, still unconvinced.
“The medium said it works as well as a magnet with metal filings.”
“So he thinks this will get rid of Hubbard for good?” Brandon asked next.
“He does, and he said he’s used it successfully before.”
“Ok, so when will he do this?” Dion followed.
“He has to call me back about that, because he wants to see when a minister friend of his is available to come along. He said the minister has worked with him on previous exorcisms and feels he would be the best person to deal with Hubbard.”
“So when is he going to call you back?” I wondered.
“He said he should be able to get a hold of his friend this evening and then he’d call me back as soon as they agreed on a time when they can both do it.”
“Ok, just let us know,” I urged. “I think we’re all curious about how much longer we’re going to have to worry about what Hubbard might do next.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll inform you just as soon as he calls back.”
Now that this had been cleared up, Brandon and I headed to our bedroom to change. When we came downstairs again, Brandon went to help Dad and Trey with dinner, and I went to see what the boys were up to. They were all in the family room together, but they weren’t playing video games, so it made me curious about what they might be up to.
“Hi, guys. What’s up?”
“We were just talking about Uncle Pat’s wedding,” Ryan answered.
“We were trying to think of what we can do for Grandpa Josh’s birthday, cuz they’ll be having his party when we’re there,” Noah added.
“I see, and who was the first to think about doing this?”
“It was Joshie’s idea,” Benny replied. “He’s named after Grandpa Josh and thought we should do something special for his birthday.”
“It’s not just because I’m named after him,” Joshie protested. “He does lots of things for us too, so I thought we should do something nice for him.”
“I agree, and I’m glad you’re trying to think of something. If you need any help, just let me know.”
“We want to think of something by ourselves,” Noah explained, “but if we can’t come up with anything we’ll ask you to help out.”
“That’s fine, but let me know if you need me to purchase anything for this or if you need a ride to get something.”
“Ok, thanks,” Noah responded.
I then left the boys to continue their discussion, and although I wanted to tell Brandon, Dion, and Trey right away, two of them were busy helping Dad so I’d tell them later.
During dinner the discussion revolved around more mundane topics, such as discussing the Easter weekend or how the boys’ day went. The discussion we had with Dad earlier about the medium, and the discussion I had with the boys weren’t brought up. One other thing that happened was that we asked Ryan if he and Owen had made any plans for the summer.
“We’re still working on it. I think Owen will probably come here for a couple of weeks, and I want to go there for a couple of weeks too. Is that ok with you guys?”
“Sure, just let us know when you’re planning on doing this. Do you know how Owen is planning to get here?”
“He said he’d take the bus, and I thought I could do the same thing so you guys don’t have to make a round trip to drop me off or picking me up.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you, and you’re definitely old enough to do it on your own.”
“Thanks. I was hoping you’d say that.”
We also talked with Noah about his upcoming graduation. “Do you want to have a graduation party?”
“Yeah, that would be awesome,” he agreed.
“We’ll invite both family and friends to attend, and you’ll be able to invite your friends as well, but they won’t be able to drink any beer. They’ll have to settle for something non-alcoholic, and we’ll have a big cake for you too.”
“It sucks that the drinking age is twenty-one. It would be a lot more fun for me and my friends if those of us who are eighteen could drink a little beer too.”
“I know it seems unfair, but you’ll be able to drink beer when you graduate from college.”
“Yeah, but that won’t be for another four years. By that time I’ll be able to drink whenever I want.”
“Yes, as long as you don’t overdo it,” Brandon warned. “I wouldn’t want you to flunk out of college because you couldn’t control your drinking.”
“Yeah, I know, and I won’t do that. I know what I want to do when I graduate and I’m going to make sure it happens.”
“I hope you’re talking about a profession and not about alcohol consumption,” I teased.
“Of course I’m talking about my profession. I’ll be studying so one day I can do cancer research, and I wouldn’t risk messing that up for a few beers.”
“That’s good to know.”
When we finished dinner the boys went back to the family room, and while we were helping Dad clean up the kitchen his phone rang. After saying ‘hello’, he went to his bedroom and closed the door. When he came out a few minutes later, he looked around first and then called us all over so he could fill us in.
“The medium and the minister will arrive next Monday to do this,” he informed us.
“So we have to wait another week?” Trey commented in disbelief.
“Unfortunately it’s the first time when they are both free and able to travel here.”
“I guess that will have to do then,” Trey relented.
“And we’ve survived this long, so we can hold out for another week,” I offered optimistically.
“Yes, we can hold on until then,” Dion agreed.
We remained alert for the next couple of days, and then after I got home from work on Wednesday the boys asked to speak with me alone. I wasn’t sure what this was about and hoped it didn’t have anything to do with Hubbard as I went into the family room with them and they shut the door.
“What’s up guys?” I said to kick off the discussion.
“We’ve decided on what we want to do for Grandpa Josh’s birthday, but we’re going to need your help to pull it off,” Noah answered.
Over the next several minutes they told me what they had planned, and then they explained what they wanted me to do to assist them. I agreed to their proposal, but I explained it would take some time to pull it off. They were ok with that, seeing we had a little over four months before the wedding and Grandpa Josh’s birthday.
I left the room as soon as I’d agreed to help them, and I was also relieved that what they wanted to talk about had nothing to do with David Hubbard. They’d asked me to do quite a bit for them, though, but I was happy to agree because I knew it would mean a lot to Dad.
Nothing unusual or unexpected happen until Friday, and the incident not only concerned us, but it scared us as well. We recognized that something was wrong as we approached the house, because a lot of our neighbors were walking up and down the street while others were milling around in the open lot between our house and the one the Spence’s used to own. Concerned, I pulled in the driveway and we rushed into the house, because we wanted Dad to explain what was going on.
“Why are all of our neighbors roaming around in the street and in the vacant lot?”
“There was a fire in the lot earlier,” Dad explained. “Fortunately, someone spotted it before it grew very large and called the fire department. They came and put it out fairly easily.”
“Do they know what caused the fire?” Brandon followed.
“Let’s step into my bedroom and I’ll explain it to you. I’ve already filled in Dion and Trey about what happened, and the boys only know there was a fire. I think that’s more than enough information as far as they’re concerned.”
We did as Dad requested, and as soon as the door shut behind us he told us the rest of the story. “The fireman said they couldn’t find any logical reason for the fire to have started, so someone had to set it intentionally. I have a feeling it was done by David Hubbard.”
I think both of our mouths fell open, but I gained my composure fairly quickly and asked a question. “Do you think David Hubbard could actually have started the fire?”
“I don’t see any other possibility.”
“But he isn’t even corporeal, so how could he have started a fire?” Brandon countered.
“He was able to throw rocks, push people down stairs, and scratch Danny, so why couldn’t he start a fire?”
“Do you think he has a lighter or a pack of matches in his pocket?” Brandon continued.
“No, but he may have used a much older technique, such as rubbing two sticks together. When I went out there to check out what was happening, I noticed that all of the branches you guys cleared off the street were no longer where you deposited them, so I think he might have used those to start the fire, as well as to fuel it.”
“Damn, that fire could have spread and might have burned down the house!” I said louder than I should have.
“If this had happened later in the summer then it might have been a possibility. Luckily, the vegetation wasn’t dry enough for the fire to spread quickly and the fire department got here soon enough to keep it under control.”
“But the implications are terrifying,” I countered.
“They certainly are, but we only have a couple more days to wait until the medium returns to rid us of him completely.”
“If he’s able to do it this time,” Brandon stated, not totally convinced it was going to happen.
“I have faith in his ability, since he was able to remove Hubbard from the house and our property previously. He just didn’t realize how stubborn and determined Hubbard could be and assumed that once he was banished from those places then he would just move on.”
“I want this nightmare to end before something happens to the boys,” Brandon declared forcefully.
“I think we all do,” Dad agreed, “and I’m sure the medium and his minister friend will be able to achieve that goal for us. We just have to hang in there for a few more days.”
“I certainly hope so,” Brandon agreed.
Once our discussion ended, we exited Dad’s bedroom and went upstairs to change. While we were doing that, Brandon made another comment. “Hubbard is becoming more dangerous now than when he was alive.”
“I’m not sure if I’d say more dangerous, but he is as dangerous as he was before.”
“Do you think the medium is going to be able to get rid of him completely this time?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m trying to remain optimistic. If he isn’t able to do this for us then we’ll investigate other options.”
“If there are any.”
“Think positively. We’ll get this done one way or another.”
“One good thing is that Tristan and Wyatt will be staying with Revin tomorrow and part of Sunday, so we won’t have to worry about them.”
“And I’m sure the other boys are safe, because Hubbard seems to be focused on you, me, and Elliot, and possibly Dion and Trey as well.”
“Yes, he also threw a rock at their car, but the fire could have affected all of us, including the boys.”
“That’s true, so we’ll just have to remain alert until Monday.”
When we sat down later to have dinner, one of the boys brought up what had happened earlier. “Did you know there was a fire in the field next door?” Wyatt asked.
“Yes, Grandpa Josh told us all about it,” I replied.
“What do you think caused it?” Benny followed.
“It could have been any number of things. A spark from something, such as someone riding a dirt bike, or someone could have carelessly tossed away a cigarette. It could have also been started by kids playing with matches.”
“We didn’t do that,” Tristan quickly protested.
“I didn’t say you did, and you aren’t the only kids living in the immediate area.”
I then attempted to move them away from that particular topic by distracting them with something else and asked Tristan a question. “Have you and Wyatt packed your overnight bags yet, because Mrs. Kramer will be picking you up in the morning?”
“Not yet, but we will.”
“Trey and I will help you like we usually do,” Brandon offered.
“And I can’t wait to go there,” Wyatt added.
“I know. You boys have become very close,” I agreed.
“Yeah, we all like spendin’ time together,” Wyatt confirmed.
Now that they were thinking about other things, we finished our meal. Before we left the table, Dion, Trey, Brandon, and I offered to play board games with the boys, and they readily accepted, so for the next couple of hours we were engaged in very fierce, but mostly friendly, competition.
We did that until it was time for the boys to go upstairs and get ready for bed, and then Brandon and Trey helped Tristan and Wyatt pack their bags before they went to take their showers. When all of the boys had finished washing up and were in their PJs, we went up to tuck them in. Once they were all snug and comfortable under the blankets, we went downstairs and sat down with Dad, Pop, Dion, and Trey.
“I’d feel better if the boys spent as little time as possible here this weekend, because I’m worried about what Hubbard might do next,” Brandon announced.
“Well, Tristan and Wyatt will be with the Kramers tomorrow, and then we’ll all be in church on Sunday morning,” Trey pointed out.
“And we can take our time eating brunch, so we’ll delay returning home a little longer,” Dad suggested.
“But what can we do with the other boys tomorrow?” Brandon wondered.
“I’d hate to do something with them that would make the other two jealous,” Dion pointed out.
“We could always call and invite them to join us,” Trey offered.
“But Becky might already have plans for them,” I countered. “I’d hate to disrupt whatever she had going on.”
“Ok, then let’s think of something we can do with them that won’t bother Tristan and Wyatt if they miss out,” Dion stated.
“That won’t be as easy as you make it sound,” I added, knowing we weren’t going to solve this quickly or easily.
We did some brainstorming over the next half hour but we didn’t come up with anything in particular, but then I suddenly had a eureka moment. “We could drive to Penn State and walk around the campus so Noah can start becoming familiar with it, since he’ll be attending there in the fall.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Brandon concurred, “but do you think the other boys will want to do that too?”
“We’ll tell them we’ll do some fun things too, but I think it would be good to get Ryan, Benny, and Joshie thinking about their future as well.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Dion agreed, “but will there be enough room for all of us in the SUV?”
“Jake and I will be staying here to make sure nothing serious happens while you’re away,” Dad announced after quickly conferring with Jake.
“And since Tristan and Wyatt won’t be with us, there should be plenty of room for the rest of us,” I confirmed.
“Then it sounds like a plan,” Trey stated to make it unanimous.
“I’ll get online and do a little research to see what else we might be able to do while we’re there.”
“Can I help with that?” Dion offered, and I could tell he wanted to be involved.
“Sure. We’ll study the campus maps to see where we want to go and how we’ll get around, but I’ll also check out what activities might be taking place that the boys might enjoy, either on campus or nearby.”
“Great. I’m sure we’ll come up with enough to make them happy and keep them safe by not being here.”