His name isn’t important. I am also not allowed to give it to you. No, the reason for my story is there was something else influencing this man’s decision to end his life. Something inexplicable. Something impossible. And I’m worried it might have followed me home.
I started working at the estate in 2009.
My host, who we will call Brian, regularly appeared in movies, television, and music for well over two decades. But he had spent the past year as a recluse in the suburban hills of California. Brian insisted, to anyone that would listen, that Hollywood had chewed him up and spit him back out. Years of doing his own stunts left him with a nearly broken back. Time cigarette smoking had woven wrinkles deep into his forehead. The headaches were constant. All things needed to be kept together by an abundance of intoxicating of pain medication. He drank more than he should. His diet deteriorated by the day.
It was difficult to watch the pieces fall apart so predictably. But hindsight is predictable. I never thought much of it at the time. Just another aging star coming to terms with time.
My job was to be the ‘getter’. At least, that’s what Brian called the position. The title did make sense. Every order he gave usually started out with a sometimes insulting variety of –
“Can you get me…“
I picked up the fast food at twelve in the morning. I organized his Amazon purchases. I even coordinated with the drug guys, and made sure all ‘medicine’ was tested for consistency.
I chalked up a lot of strange occurrences to the drugs and booze. If Brian talked to another person in the room that wasn’t there, I assumed he was just high. If he begged me to lock the bedroom door behind him, I considered it paranoia. If he told me to salt myself before leaving the house, well… I just thought that was weird. One of the varied and numerous eccentricities or superstitions of a millionaire.
Most of my orders came during the middle of the night. For this reason, I saw Brian at his most vulnerable times. Including the night he died.
That evening, Brian called me to his bedroom at just after two in the morning. I was renting out a small cabin just off the corner of his property. Brian insisted on it and I never paid a dime. That was lucky, considering I was a broke college student at the time. I guess he just wanted me nearby.
So when the call came in, I shook off any hopes of sleep and threw on some sweatpants in the dark.
The estate itself stayed perfectly lit throughout the evening. Rain or shine. Brian insisted on it. He said he envied places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas, where the lights and people stayed on all night. He even pumped oxygen into the home to mimic the effect. I knocked at the front door and was let in by the house manager. In the old days, we would call a man like that the butler. Today, he is house manager.
“Brian’s in bed. Been blathering to himself all night, too. Doesn’t want anything in the house. I tried to offer through the door. He wants to talk to you.“
“Have you checked on him?“
“He wants you.“
I thought about arguing. How can a house manager not check on his own tenant? But a shout from the bedroom drew my attention quickly towards the bedroom. I pushed past Butler Bill and made my way upstairs.
The staircase at Brian’s estate is a roundabout. It stretches about twenty feet high. At the top, there is a single hallway that leads to a single bedroom at the end. Brian’s room.
I tiptoed towards it, careful not to interrupt an evening, and listened closely at the door. A woman spoke first. She sounded young, and hopeful; a wide contrast to Brian’s decrepit and tobacco stained tone. That came after.
“You said in Denver…“
“Mary, I was fucking nineteen years old. I didn’t know shit about shit in Denver.“
“You said you would marry me.“
I readjusted my position nervously by the door. When I did, the floor creaked. I cursed myself audibly for the stupidity.
“Is that another one of your fucking slaves waiting at the door? Do you have a bell for your bitch?” the woman hissed. Her voice quickly added an acidic aura that quickly made it sound older and angrier. “You’re just too famous for me, aren’t you? Always were. Maybe I should just cut him up. Cut him up, right? Cut him up JUST like our little baby. JUST like Jacob.“
Brian shouted hopelessly as footsteps approached the door. I sprinted backwards and nearly fell over my own feet as I tried to make it back towards the stair case. I probably should have held myself together. But I kept a firm policy on avoiding any relationship issues like the plague.
The door opened. I closed my eyes and waited for a projectile to smack me in the face. Maybe a spare shoe or the like. But when I opened them a moment later, nobody was there.
Just an empty room.
The door slammed shut and the couple again continued to argue. I thought about calling out. But something about the moment made me stand on edge. The house started to get colder. I know I was not imagining that. I actually wondered if the furnace busted. Winter air seemed to seep in through the doors so furiously that I could see my own breath in the brightly lit hallway.
“Maybe I should just cut you up, Brian.“
“Or maybe you just need a little push. Isn’t that what you told me? ‘Some people just aren’t meant for this world. All they need is a little push.’“
I heard the window latch open. I ran back towards the door and tried to turn the handle. But it stuck in my hand. The metal itself felt colder than ice. I pounded and pushed on the door. Butler Bill darted up the stairs and quickly joined in my efforts.
“Shit. Knew this day would come. What happened?“
“Somebody’s in there. Somebody else.“
We both pounded at the door. We shouted hopelessly. But nobody replied. The door remained cold as snow.
Then the most astonishing thing happened.
I lowered my shoulder and offered one last bull run. Butler Bill and I busted through the door together and toppled on top of one another. After a moment, we fanned out to search the bath, and under the beds. And then, as if in a perfectly scripted film, we found nothing. The room was empty.
The window teetered carelessly in the wind. I rushed over to shut it as my mind tried to work up a rational explanation for the voices. That is when I saw Brian’s broken body. Twenty feet below.
He had to have been like that for hours.
We told the police about the woman. I insisted that we heard two voices. That someone else had to be there. But they swabbed for DNA. They checked visitation records. Brian even installed security footage inside his own bedroom. All of the evidence revealed the exact time of Brian’s fatal jump: exactly one hour before I arrived.
The tabloids reported the whole event as a suicide. Some leaked the cause of death, but not many. No one ever wrote about a suspicious woman on the property, and I never bothered to correct them.
The next owner was gracious enough to let me stay on the property. I am a groundskeeper, now. Sometime since, I still feel a cold chill in my own home. That cabin on the corner of the property.
Sometimes, I wonder if it’s Brian.
Sometimes, I wonder if it’s something else.