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This deleted scene takes place right around Chapter 21 in Falling on Maya’s first full day at the Fox steadfast in Farewell. In the final version of the book, Tarren leaves for a workout while assigning Gabe babysitting duty for Maya. In an earlier version of the book, I actually had both brothers go to practice, leaving Maya alone in the house to explore. I eventually changed this, because I realized that Tarren would never leave Maya alone at that point in their relationship. Still, I thought her observations about the house — especially Gabe’s room — were informative. 

***

I am alone in the house. The boys are gone to their fighting class with my shopping list tucked in Tarren’s pocket. I still don’t know if he’ll buy the laptop I requested. I need it. The pressure of words is building inside of me. That, and my keen awareness that the Internet keeps growing, changing and most definitely leaving me behind.

In the meantime, I walk around the house on my own private tour, poking around, trying to see how many more hidden guns I can find. Tarren’s bedroom is locked. Gabe’s room is not, so I go in.

It’s not clean, but I expected it to be messier. I receive another sultry stare from Keira Knightly on the wall over the rumpled bed. There are comics, Playboys, and some muscle mags under his bed that I flip through casually, along with a bag of pot that smells old. I find a gun under his pillow and three different knives on his desk scattered among empty cans of Red Bull.  Some dirty clothes are slung over probably the last bean bag chair still in existence.

In the garage, I test the locked cabinets, peering through the crack trying to distinguish what’s worth protecting. I run my hand along the motorbike and bring it back dusty. Tarren’s lab is locked, go figure. I go to the Fox Cave, and Keira Knightly thrusts a sultry stare at me. I can’t tell if she wants to hurt me or fuck me or maybe a little of both. This is clearly sexual harassment, and I don’t appreciate it.

What I don’t find is junk; the stuff that everyone inevitably accumulates during life. I search for any hint of Tammy or Diana, any history at all and come up empty. No photo albums, macaroni valentines, Crayon masterpieces, tee-ball trophies, abandoned clarinets, growth charts penned on the wall, something, anything portending childhood, family, normalcy. There is nothing, nothing, nothing.

Upstairs, Gabe’s computer is password protected. I try a few guesses, including “Keira Knightly”, “Batman”, and “Francesca” before giving up and turning on the TV.

I need to keep moving, keep concentrating only on the present or the hunger will snatch my thoughts away. That or a random memory of Ryan will leave me gasping for air on the floor – the time when I put sparkles in his conditioner for no good reason or drew blue ink hearts on a pair of his underwear because he took too long getting the pizza.

I am keenly aware that I could run out the door and keep running until I found a highway. I could still go back no matter what my hair looks like. With all the missed classes, I’m falling father behind at school. Strange how I still care, how it pricks my pride to think of my grades sinking down.

Tarren may still decide to shoot me at any random moment. Gabe could realize that I’m not salvageable after all. I don’t really know them so well or how far to trust their integrity. My future is balancing on toothpicks.

I flip through the channels and stop on the news, because my parents are huddled together looking plaintively out from the screen. I don’t understand at first, though I suppose I should. Ryan is dead. I am missing. Pretty little white girl from a well-to-do family.

Karen looks terrible. Her makeup is skewed too heavy, and pouches bulge beneath her eyes. She is wearing a t-shirt with my face on it. It quivers as she takes a tear-soaked breath. Henry holds her hand looking uncomfortable. His skin is gray, his suit rumpled.

There I am, grinning stupidly in the upper right-hand corner like I’m enjoying the spectacle of my parents eviscerating themselves on live television. Karen has the big purse slung over her shoulder, the one I called her medicine bag because it can only mean she’s hit the apex of her cyclic breakdowns and requires all possible psychiatric, pulmonary and homeopathic medications to be on her person at all times.

The genuineness of their shared misery strikes me. I lean in close to the TV, studying their faces, comprehending the full scale of the disaster I have wrought and will never be able to make right. I fumble for the remote, needing to rid myself of the images. I hit buttons, bringing up a menu. I can still hear Karen’s voice.

“Please, we just want our daughter back.”

I jam the power button, and the TV cuts out. I kneel on the floor, head down, forcing air in and out of my collapsed lungs. Something cracks. I release my grip on the remote and stare at the splintered plastic. I spend the next half hour trying to force the remote into some semblance of its previous shape.

Duct tape offers ugly stitches for the remote. I don’t know if it works. I can’t turn on the TV. I just can’t.

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Deidre


Age: 24
Occupation: Housekeeper to Nathaniel Hayward
Hobbies: Playing the cello

About: Deidre may not be a particularly good housekeeper, have a lot of natural talents or ever be able to tame her frizzy red hair, but what she lacks in life skills she makes up for in perseverance.  She needs a lot of it as she dodges the practical jokes of the haunted mansion's two resident poltergeists, makes sure The Thing In The Basement has fresh cow heads to munch on, and puts up with her cranky boss Nathaniel who is libel to drain whoever knocks on his door (usually Mormons) if she doesn't watch him.

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Nathaniel


Age: 266
Occupation: Vampire of leisure
Hobbies: Cleaning musket, reading biographies, watching I Dream of Jeannie, campaigning for Dwight D. Eisenhower

About: Nathaniel doesn't understand why everyone gets so uppity about newfangled fads like the telephone and horseless carriage. He also doesn't approve of the loose today's loose social morals, what with women walking around wearing pants and making it to age 20 without at least one child on their hip. This isn't what Nathaniel fought in the Revolutionary War for (only at night). The worst of the lot is his housekeeper, Deidre, a bitter old maid who insists he stop sucking the life blood from the Mormons who knock on his door and can't even get prune juice stains out of his kerchiefs.

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Dex


Age: Unknown
Occupation: Conveyor of Extreme Emotions
Hobbies: Guiding unwilling individuals to the conclusion that true fear resides in the devastation we bring to our planet and to our society.

About: Dex is dedicated to transcending the poltergeist stereotype by delving deeper into the nature of fear and showing his unwilling victims that our own reality is what truly deserves our fear and notice. He accomplishes this by through artistic haunting - murals, dioramas and even living projects (which tend to scurry away and end up jumping out at Deidre from the kitchen cabinets). Dex is a ghost with a cause, and he won't rest in peace until you've heard it.

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Sloppy Joe


Age: Unknown
Occupation: Scary-ass Poltergeist
Hobbies: Making Girl Scouts piss their skirts

About: Sloppy Joe grew up on the mean streets of Zanesville, Ohio  where he was pursuing a career as the world's latest and greatest skinny white rapper when he met his untimely death. Nathaniel's mansion is his first official haunted residence. He's still getting used to his powers, but that doesn't stop him from trying to make Deidre's life hell and demonstrate that death doesn't keep down a brother from Zanesville.

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Silas


Age: 79
Occupation: Retire factory worker/part-time vampire hunter
Hobbies: Collecting lawn gnomes, killing vampires

About: Silas was all set to marry his high-school sweetheart in the 1950s until she came home one day a couple of shades paler and with some dental enhancements. After staking his fiancé, Silas vowed to  kill the vampire who had turned her. This led to a 50-year stint as a part-time vampire hunter  and eventually brought Silas to Nathaniel's door. With his fanny pack filled with stakes, Silas is ready to avenge his long lost love.

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Silvia


Age: Claims to be 45
Occupation: Between jobs
Hobbies: Bingo, shopping on QVC, flirting

About: Silvia is proof that some gold diggers never stop digging. When she sets her sights on Nathaniel, she's not worried about his fangs as long as his bank account is just as sharp. Not one to put all her eggs in one basket, Silvia also treats Henrick the werefrog to a little of her wrinkly good stuff. Sure, the extra long tongue is a bit of a turnoff, but she just saw the cutest pair of heels on QVC. No time for scruples when there's sexy footwear on the line.

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Henrick


Age: Unknown
Occupation: Insect control
Hobbies: Taking a snack break at the dumpsters behind the nearest buffet (he only comes for the flies)

About: Henrick is an obese werefrog who was quite the monster back in his day. Now, confined to an electronic scooter, his terrorizing the human populace days are well behind him...unless something really gets him riled up.

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Drew


Age: 25
Occupation: Assistant shift manager at Arbys
Hobbies: Rooting for the Browns, playing Xbox

About: Drew just wants to be your everyday slacker jock. He's got the good looks, nowhere job and deep thought avoidance radar that would make him the perfect addition to any state college frat keggar. Unfortunately, a small genetic inheritance keeps getting in his way, as Deidre learns first hand. Even the knowledge of Drew's dark secret can't douse the flames of Deidre's crush though she knows that the handsome jock never falls for the chubby nerd...or does he?

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The Thing in the Basement


Age: Unknown
Occupation: Vortex of destruction
Hobbies: Anything that involves mayhem

About: The Thing In The Basement shall not be spoken of.

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