Transcript of Jordan Hayes’ Statement
M.P.: Okay, we’re recording. Could you state your name for the record?
J.H.: Jordan Hayes. My name is Jordan Hayes… I’m sorry my voice is shaking. Can you take these handcuffs off of me? They’re rattling and it’s really bothering me.
M.P.: I’m sorry but we can’t do that right now. How about you start from the beginning, Jordan
J.H.: Yeah, that makes sense… I guess that takes us back a week or so.
M.P.: A week?
J.H.: I think about a week.
M.P.: Then can you tell us what happened a week ago?
J.H.: I was laid off. That’s probably why I even noticed any of this. If I’d have been distracted by work or not been at home, I don’t think I would have seen it. My wife Bethany and I had been doing renovations on the house. We were building a new room over the garage and we were forced to put that on hold when it was only halfway complete, funds suddenly being cut as they were. Our little lives became plastic tarps, open walls, and unfinished boards before you could say DIY.
We were a little stressed, to say the least, but everything was going to be okay. I mean, I could find another job and it’s not like we had zero income. Bethany worked as an English teacher. It’s not a lot of money, no, but we had savings. I could find another job.
I drank a lot that first night. Bethany was working late; parent-teacher conference or whatever. I remember looking in the cabinets for a bottle of cheap wine I’d planned on selfishly drink alone, but found a decanter of whiskey instead. You know who gave that to me? My boss. My ex boss. As a thank you for all of my hard work last year. I hadn’t touched a drop of it yet. Now seemed more appropriate than ever.
I was about three drinks in when I heard a rustling upstairs. At this point in our renovations, we weren’t strangers to raccoons in the house. I figured I’d get the vermin out of the house before Bethany got home. One less thing for her to worry about, I thought, and I went upstairs armed with a broom.
Once I reached the top of the stairs, I saw what had been rustling. One of the plastic tarps had blown off of the construction and was twirling around the hallway like a dervish, distributing powdered plaster and leaves throughout the floor.
“These staples are shit,” I mumbled to myself as I picked up the plastic and walked through the maze of tarps to the blank wood where it had previously been. I stapled it back but as I did, I noticed a sound that seemed to copy my movements with the staple gun.
It was a chattering that was coming from downstairs. It almost sounded like the whiskey decanter was being tinkered with. Clinked against with glass, maybe? I stopped stapling the tarp and slowly walked downstairs. The chattering grew louder and as I rounded the corner into the kitchen and saw the whiskey, the chattering sped up like a vibration that was running through the house.
“Hello?” I called out, hoping to drown out the sound. The chatter kept going. I stopped and looked around the room to assure myself that the sound was indeed coming from the glass decanter.
“Hello?” I asked again, only to hear nothing but the same, repetitive chattering. I reached out and touched the decanter and the chatter stopped immediately.
“Jordan, I am so sorry.” I was startled as the front door opened. “Come here.” Bethany put her purse on the floor and walked towards me with arms outstretched before looking at me with a perplexed expression. “Honey, why are you hugging a whiskey bottle?”
“I think the draught was rattling it,” I said, wrapping my arms around her. “It was driving me nuts.”
“All the way in the kitchen?” She asked, nuzzling her face into the crook of my neck.
“Some shit blew around upstairs. I fixed it.”
She nodded and moved to kiss me before pulling back with squinted eyes. “You smell like whiskey, cheers” she smiled, pecking me on the lips. “I am exhausted,” she sighed. “I’m going to bed.”
As we walked up the stairs, I heard the glass clinking again. It was quiet and distant but very recognizable as the chatter sound. I watched Bethany closely to see if she heard it. If she did, she wasn’t reacting. She just kept walking up the stairs to the bedroom, as if she were actively ignoring it.
The next day I slept in. Since I had nowhere to be, I decided that I would clean up some of the construction upstairs. I figured Bethany would appreciate not having to think about the tornado that was our second floor on her Friday. After all, it had been a rough week for both of us.
After a few minutes of stacking tools to one side and securing the plastic sheets, I was met with a cool breeze that parted the tarps and made a pile of nails begin to rattle. At that point, I had all but forgotten about the chatter. I began scooping the loose nails into the box but the chattering didn’t stop. They were out of the wind now. They were in a box. They shouldn’t have been chattering or rattling or clinking or clicking or doing anything but sitting in the box of nails. If my ears had been ringing, that would have been entirely different, but these nails were chattering. It had to have been the nails.
I started taking the nails out of the box, one by one, and hammering them into a board. They couldn’t chatter if they were nailed down. After about thirty nails, the board ran out of room, my hands were blistered and bloodied, but the chattering finally stopped.
That night, I was awoken by a tapping sound overhead. It had moved to the bedroom now. The ceiling fan was on high and at first I thought it was the pull chain ornaments clinking together. I sat up and carefully watched the pull chains; they weren’t moving, they weren’t even swaying. I held the light chain in my hand for a moment, still listening to the repetitive clinking, before pulling it and illuminating the room.
“Jordan, what’s wrong?” Bethany stirred, her voice still heavy and laced with sleep. She couldn’t hear it, I guess.
“There’s a chatter,” I said as I tossed the covers off and began pacing the room, trying to find the source of the sound. I pressed my ear against the wall, ran my fingers along the studs, and heard the low echo of chattering.
“Turn off the light and come back to bed,” Bethany urged with a concerned look knitted into her brow. I don’t know if she could hear it or not, but she looked as agitated as I felt.
As I walked the length of the room, I saw what was making the sound and vibrating like a hive of bees.
Tapping like a telegraph on the wall was our wedding portrait. The corner wouldn’t sit still; it just shivered in place.
“Bethany,” I said, grimacing at the portrait, “there’s a hammer in the new room. Could you bring that to me?” I could hear her slink out of the bed as I kept watching the fluttering corner of the frame. “Get the nails too, sweetie.”
When she handed me the hammer, I saw the look in her eyes. She was scared too, I could tell, but she didn’t want to worry me. Especially not after losing my job. She crawled back into bed with a slight shiver as I nailed the frame to the wall, corner by corner.
The glass of the picture cracked, sending a split from the corner to the center of our smiles. I could replace the frame. I put the hammer and nails on my bedside table, turned the lights off, and went back to sleep.
I woke up to chattering again the next night. Immediately, I looked up at the picture to check that it was still secured and it was. Then I realized that the sound was coming from behind me and the bed was vibrating ever so slightly. I screwed my eyes shut and tried to block out the sound, focusing on the muted whoosh of the ceiling fan, humming nonsense to myself quietly, praying that a raccoon would climb screeching into the house, but I still heard the chattering.
I locked my attention to the thud of my heartbeat as my blood raced inside my ears. I listened to my panicked breaths until they finally softened to a slow, steady pace and I was able to fall asleep.
When I came downstairs the next morning, Bethany was standing at the sink rinsing a coffee mug. She turned to me with a smile. “Did you sleep well last night?”
As I approached her, her smile didn’t waver. “Is that a joke?” I asked.
She shrugged and turned back to the sink, ring clinking against the porcelain of the mug repetitively.
“Was that a joke, Bethany?” I asked again, more forceful this time, panic rising in my throat every time her ring rattled against the coffee mug in her hands.
“You slept in and I figured that meant you slept well,” she said, tapping her ring against the mug. “It just seems like you’ve needed some sleep.”
“What about you?” I asked. “Were you cold last night?”
There was something wrong in the way she smiled at me, blue eyes weak and tired. “I was fine.”
“That’s not what I asked. I asked if you were cold last night.” Her ring kept chattering and chattering and chattering until I grabbed her by the elbow and spun her to look at me. She dropped the mug and it shattered in the sink.
“No.” Her face was blank and defiant when she answered. Was she afraid of the chattering? Was the chattering with her now? I didn’t know what was happening but this woman who looked at me was not my Bethany. She was scared.
Last night, I woke up to the chattering again. This time coming from right next to me. It didn’t have to be loud. It was precise and it was close. I could feel the vibrations. It was in the bed with me.
Stilling my heart, I peaked next to me and saw Bethany. She was asleep and curled in a tight little ball and chattering. Whatever it was, it was inside of her, you know? It was inside of her mouth. It was in her teeth. So I did what I had to do. That wasn’t Bethany anymore, anyway. I could tell.
Carefully and quietly, I took the hammer from the nightstand, not wanting to stir the chatter, and climbed on top her, and swung.
The chattering didn’t stop. The chattering just moved to the teeth hitting the wall. They chattered now. And Bethany started gurgling. The bubbles of blood breaking in her throat was more chattering. I had to stop all of it or whatever took Bethany would take me, you understand. So I pulled on her tongue until it came loose but the sound didn’t stop. It was from deeper inside of her. I tugged her jaw open, hearing bones fracture and chatter until finally, there was silence.
I threw the hammer down and it fell, muted onto the bedspread. It was such a dull, calming sound.
M.P.: So you took a hammer to your wife’s face, tore out her tongue, and broke her jaw? She’s dead. You’re aware of that, right?
J.H.: Is she? Can you please take these handcuffs off? The chain is driving me nuts. Help me. Please help me.
M.P.: We’re going to help you Mr. Hayes.