Ten years ago, I spent a winter writing some short stories, based on the pervasiveness of the Anne of Green Gables culture of the Island.
Over the holidays, as I was transferring files from an old dying computer, to a newer computer, I came across the folder of stories and started reading some of them. One was kind of a comedic horror story called Copper Acropolis. It has some funny elements to it, and some of the writing is kinda good, so I thought I’d serialize it here on The Annekenstein Monster. Keep in mind, though, that it hasn’t met an editor, so please, treat it with kindness.
Copper Acropolis is kind of a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Frankenstein. Annekenstein itself, of course, was also the same amalgam of themes. Anyway, read it or not, here is the first chapter (of 10).
‘Tarnished Homes and Egg Rolls’
The old mansion stood atop one of the steeper hills in the community of Afton Road, overlooking the sinewy end of the East River tributary that flowed from the Hillsborough Bay. A blood red dirt drive, its connection to Route 2 hidden amidst a heavy growth of scrub brush, peristaltically wound its way up the hill, through an overgrown grove of dying willow trees, breaking into an open field of grass that surrounded the large, ivory-white edifice.
The mansion was a three and a half story building; the top half story being composed of a large dome, which some of the older people around Afton Road claimed at one time housed an observatory. A number of Greek columns supported the expansive veranda that occupied the whole width of the front of the house. Above the large, wooden double front doors, ‘Copper Acropolis’ was engraved into the sandstone; the engraving now as faded and worn as the rest of the stone of the house.
Large blocks of red Island sandstone were used as a facade around the house. At some point in its life, the structure was bathed in a heavy coat of whitewash paint. Due to the heavy, hard rains of countless springs, and the wind and snows of years of harsh Island winters, the whitewash had faded off the red stone in such a way that gave the impression, to those who saw the house from Route 2, that the building was bleeding.
Other than the blood-dripping red and bird-turd white of the faded whitewash stone, the only other colour to be seen on the outside of the mansion was the tarnished green of the window shutters, gables, and the many buttresses of the observation dome. These adornments were all made of pure copper, and, when first installed on the house, how many years ago, no doubt would have been striking in their burnished copper lustre. Now, through years of neglect, they looked dirty. Thick green tarnished residue, along with the faecal droppings of generations of crows and other birds, had built up on the shutters, gables and dome over the years of negligence. This, along with the blood-dripping walls, its isolation high atop that steep hill, and the fact that no one lived in it for years, gave the mansion an ominous and mysterious reputation. No one now living in the community knew precisely how long it stood there, or whom had it built, but those of them who studied such things claimed that based on the style of its architecture, it was likely built in the first half of the 19th century.
Many in and around Afton Road believed it to be haunted.
Doctor Lucille Dewar was the present owner of Copper Acropolis. Born on Prince Edward Island, Lucille, at the age of five, lost both her loving parents. They, Lucille and her parents, were spectators of an afternoon card of horse-racing at the Charlottetown Driving Park during Old Home Week, when a competing horse went mad just as they were rounding the six-eighths’ pole for home in Race Three and jumped the fence. The horse, sulky, and jockey all landed squarely on Lucille’s parents, killing them and the jockey. The horse was later shot. Lucille was given the opportunity to pull the triggers on the double-barrelled shotgun, but had declined to do so.
Lucille escaped death that day because at the time of the accident, she was off buying an ice cream, a rare treat for a country girl. She had escaped death, but over the next fifteen years wished many times that she had died that day with her parents. For on that day her life turned upside down. From her birth, right up to the untimely end of the infamous Race Three at the CDP, Lucille had been a happy, intelligent, and well-mannered child. After that day, however, love and joy left Lucille’s heart. She was forced to live with her relatives, none of whom she cared for, nor whom cared for her, and who would often only take her for a short while before shuttling her off to the next furthest out relative. Eventually, at the age of eleven, the list of relatives ran out and she was placed in the Mount Herbert Children’s Orphanage.
Despite the hardship and uncertainty of her life, she managed to excel in each and every public school at which she was enrolled, and also at the orphanage school. Lucille Dewar was a genius. She was sure of it. When she was twelve, and not trusting the Island’s teachers or doctors to test her adequately, she devised her own test to find her Intelligence Quotient. She scored very high. She knew that with her keen intellect and burning desire for knowledge, she was bound for greatness. And it was this belief that kept her spirit alive.
But where her education flourished, her social life died. Because of her high intelligence, and her being new to each school every year, sometimes twice a year, she was hated by her class mates and became a social outcast. As soon as she came of age, she kept promising herself, as boys pulled her hair or called her names, she would move away, off the Island, to pursue her higher education. She came to hate Prince Edward Island and its intolerably ignorant and mean-spirited children.
When she finally did become legal, she had briefly considered moving to Charlottetown to live, but feeling that the small Prince of Wales College there could not offer her the quality of instruction that her knowledge-absorbing brain required, ended up deciding to make a clean break from the Island.
After a twenty-six year absence, she returned to P.E.I., unmarried, now a doctor and very wealthy. One of the Island newspapers reported the ‘Prodigal Island Girl Returns Home A Millionaire Doctor’ and an interest in her began to grow. Her sudden return to the Island; her unexplained, more-than-you-could-make-as-a-doctor wealth; her spinsterish, and frugal lifestyle; her use of strange, big words made her an enigmatic celebrity on the Island. When asked what areas of study she had pursued away, or, how she, an unmarried woman, came upon such a fortune, she remained imperspicuous.
Years of social outcasting had, seemingly, evaporated any skills she may have had to handle the sudden popularity. The more questions people asked of her, the less she told. And the less she told, the more people wanted to know about her. She wasn’t impolite in her silence, and sometimes seemed to enjoy the attention she received wherever she would go. Soon it became an Island obsession to speculate on the mystery that was Doctor Lucille Dewar.
And when she, against the advice of everyone but the real estate agent, (there were even letters to the editors of the papers advising her against it), went and bought the dilapidated old mansion with the strange name of ‘Copper Acropolis’ and became a total recluse, the obsession grew to the height of its fever. But like all fevers, once this one reached its height, it quickly fell, and the mania surrounding the mysterious and eremitic Doctor Dewar eventually died, and everyone left her alone in her big house to do whatever it was that she did. Even the speculation as to what she did in that big house gradually ended.
After that, the only time her name even came up in the newspaper was when she hired, as a manservant and chauffeur, the Charlottetown Chinese restaurateur named Yune Mune. Yune came under her employ approximately three years after the ‘fever’ broke, about four years after her initial return to the Isle.
Yune, a handsome, classy gentleman, had owned The Blue Mune, the first Chinese restaurant in Charlottetown. When the local newspapers disclosed that he was being investigated for allegedly caressing and speaking indecencies to a rich, married, and well respected female patron, he, despite his claims that the indecencies and caresses were mutually entertained and embarked upon, was, due to public outrage, forced to close down his previously successful enterprise.
Dr. Dewar wrote him a letter offering employment. He accepted, quickly sold his property for a ridiculously small amount and moved into Copper Acropolis. Two months later, a page six article in the newspaper cleared him of any wrongdoing after the rich, married, and well respected female patron dropped her charge, was divorced from her husband and moved to the Yukon with a black lumberjack out of Halifax. At this point, hardly anyone saw, or cared that they did or didn’t see Doctor Lucille Dewar. Occasionally she would be seen, with Yune Mune driving about the countryside. She almost never emerged from the mansion. Yune Mune was her link to the community of Afton Road, and to the world. She was forgotten.
Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Copper Acropolis, right here on The Annekenstein Monster!