The Statue of Rebecca Lane
By: Tom Fowler


October, 1969. The new house in the new neighborhood on the new Woodstock St., named after the famous musical festival of the same name held earlier that summer, was almost complete. But, the home builder was anxious, as he was doing something new in his experience. He was laying a reinforced section of floor to accommodate a statue the owners wished to place in their new home when ready to move in. He didn't want any homeowner warranty problems weeks or months down the road, with cracks or foundation settling problems. He sensed trouble coming, and he was not wrong about that.

His senses did not lie, but on this warm October day, he had no idea what that trouble would be. He would never know and, because of that, had no idea that he should be very grateful.


July, 2018. Weather in the Midwest can be hot and dry, or hot and sticky. Today, moving day for Justin and Margo, it was the latter. But, the Cosby's did not care, as the young couple was eagerly heading towards the house they had just completed closing on.

Justin was showing some new owner nerves. "I'm not sure about buying a house almost 50 years old. I'm really not sure I'm going to like having that statue by the window."

"Just remember we got a very good price break because of it," his wife reminded.

"It's odd that somebody would build a house and put something into it that basically cannot be moved."

Margo replied, "Yeah, put there by the original owners. Who would want a statue of a movie star in their living room?

"The original owners," was Justin's smart aleck reply. He quickly added, "But I doubt they realized it would be so heavy."

"Not too heavy to move in, but too heavy to ever move out," Margo thoughtfully commented. She added, "I guess in 1969 a movie star from the ‘40s was still popular. But, until now, I had never heard of Rebecca Lane."

"I've heard of her, but not familiar with any of her work," said Justin. Turning the corner onto Woodstock Street, he happily said, "but for a $10,000 price break, I guess we can learn to love her."

As he pulled into the driveway of their new home, he had no idea that he was not the first purchaser of this home, nor would he be the last, to offer this sentiment.


Joan Lord was the real estate agent for the Cosby house purchase. Joan was 40 years old, had just over 14 years in the business. Although there were no disclosure laws in her area, still she felt a stab of guilt over neglecting to mention that the house had had an unusual number of owners through the years. She did not know that anything was wrong or out of the ordinary but, then again, she was not sure there was not. What bothered her most, as she sat with a cup of coffee after the early afternoon closing, was that all seemed normal on the surface, except for the fact that the house had changed ownership for the 17th time today. That is almost exactly once every three years, she thought, and the Cosby home is too nice a house, in too nice an area, for that.

This was no starter house, nor was it in a rundown area. On the contrary, it was a baby boomer house with plenty of space, indoors and out, and well maintained. I don't get it, she thought, as she finished her coffee. Looking over the history of the house on Woodstock Street which was still on her desk, she saw again that today's sale was the seventh time the house had been sold to new owners since her time as a real estate agent began, new ownership almost every two years. It bothered her, bothered her very much, that the ownership changes showed an escalating pattern since it was first occupied in late 1969.

However, there is no record of violence or anything unusual happening in or around the house, nor do any of the other houses on the block show similar sales activity. None of the previous 16 sets of owners had criminal records, all appeared to be successful upper middle class people whose lives withstood both the test of time and the various online security check services. Just a coincidence, she reasoned, but yet…she was determined to keep in touch with the Cosby's. Not only because she was a pro, but also because she was simply curious.


Justin and Margo, a young couple with no children as yet, got off to a good start in their new home. Moving into a neighborhood house in mid–summer, however, did present its challenges.

A week after moving in, Justin said to Margo, "We need a new lawnmower, and the side garage door needs replaced, as the bottom has wood rot. I'm kicking myself for not noticing that before closing."

"Stuff happens," Margo replied, "and I've noticed that statue stays warm, almost hot, even when the curtain is shut."

"That's odd," offered Justin, a handsome, slender young man with sandy hair. Justin was a sun worshiper in his college days, and he knew what the warmth of the sun could do. "But, it has been over 100 degrees every day, and the window does face the afternoon sun. Perhaps the sunlight is too intense even for the curtain."

"Perhaps," offered Margo, herself blonde, pretty and petite. She and Justin made a very handsome couple, had even done some professional photo–shoots together. But, the first twitches of unease hit her as she halfheartedly agreed with her husband. She told him, "The curtain is made to keep winter cold out, is very thick and heavy. It's insulated material, so it should also block the heat of the sun. The statue should not be hot to the touch with the air conditioner on. The house is comfortable, but the statue stays warm to the touch."

"Maybe it has a heating element attached to it," said Justin.

"Why would it have a heating element attached to it?" asked his wife.

"I don't know, maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but I'll check it out." A spot inspection showed no electrical cords or hidden battery compartments on the statue, which sat near an air vent with cool air hitting it as they spoke. The statue continued to feel warm, uncomfortably so, even though it radiated no heat. Perhaps it radiated no heat because the cool air was hitting it? Nah, Justin thought, that's not it. This is beginning to feel weird. Now, Justin felt uneasy, too.

As if reading his mind, Margo looked back at him, uncertainty showing on her face. They stood there for a long moment, neither of them knowing what next to say.


The next few weeks went by quickly and all was well. Summer turned into autumn which turned into early winter, and the strange heat of the statue was largely forgotten. Not forgotten as a potential problem, as Margo touched it at least once a day, but dismissed it as an immediate danger.

But Margo, a person with keen intuition, could not shake the thought that something was off. She had felt this way ever since moving into the house several months ago, but what was causing her unease? She was the last one to leave the house on work mornings, as Justin's job in the IT department of a large corporation demanded early morning system tests and upgrades. So, on this morning in December, she sat at the breakfast table with a hot cup of coffee and shivered, and the shivering did not come from the snow outside. As for her mind and emotions, on one level she linked her feeling of dread to the statue, but on another level she did not. As the slightly too hot coffee burned the tip of her tongue, Margo thought, something is off here. I wonder if houses can really be haunted. She didn't know what was bothering her, or why. The house, she reasoned, was everything she and Justin wanted, certainly big enough for a family, when we decide to start working on that. Her last thought before getting redy for her job as a public school teacher was, I think the emotion of the last few months has gotten to me. Just a case of nerves. A glass of wine with Justin tonight, and we will have a good laugh over this.


Margo would be most disturbed if she knew Justin was fighting his own inner battle. For the first time in his life, since he was first old enough to have relationships with persons of the opposite sex, he had a bad case of the wandering eye. He realized this was, for him, very unusual. Not at all normal, even as his infatuation with co–worker Tammy Desmond was dangerously intense. About the time Margo at home was just beginning to dress for her work as a schoolteacher, Justin had finished his morning routines and was taking a breather in his cubicle. Tammy's was next to his, and that is how they had become friends. Or lately, almost more than friends, as the beautiful Tammy had shown him a deep and dangerous vulnerability in sharing marital troubles leading to possible separation and divorce.

Justin, as did Margo, thought of his problems while sipping coffee. Tammy was off today, he was alone, and he was both disturbed and relieved. I don't like any of this, he thought, but there is nothing I can do about it. I am falling in love with Tammy. I shouldn't be allowing this to happen, but I am allowing it to happen. Soon, we will be consoling each other between the sheets in a place neither of us should be. He sensed Tammy felt the same way; that they were on a slippery slope heading towards disaster for both.

The handsome and personable Justin Cosby was in a place he had never been. There had been several occasions already in his young life where he was able to keep his head on straight and emotions in check. But, not this time. What is so special about this time, about Tammy? For the first time, he felt in a strong way the dread and unease his wife felt.

At home, Margo did not observe her morning habit, did not touch the statue. She was unaware of the increased heat and the slight pulsing hum coming from it. You might say, if you did not know better, that the spirit of Rebecca Lane was as agitated as those of her two owners.


There was a time when the company Christmas party was for sure a party in every sense of the word. That is to say, the liquor flowed freely. These parties, for the most part, banned spirits many years ago. Too much inappropriate behavior was the reason for this, and if this were happening or allowed today, an employer could be in serious trouble. Handsome and pretty young people attract middle–aged persons of authority after too many shots of hard liquor and cups of champagne, and I do not need to explain the rest.

But, where Justin and Tammy worked, alcohol was allowed at the Holiday party. Looking back, you would almost be led to believe that the spirit world, if it exists, knew this and used it to full advantage to keep the Woodstock Street home stigma going into the next half century.

It was late afternoon, the party in full swing. The deeply troubled Justin was, politely stated, very drunk. However, he knew that Margo would join him later, after school was out and afternoon wrap up was done. No need for him to worry about driving, or anything else, for that matter.

Then it happened. His eyes locked with Tammy's from across the room, and what happened next was Murphy's Law taken out to an extreme power. Crossing the room to greet her, Justin said, "Let's talk." He just managed to keep the slur out of his voice.

Down in the lobby, Margo was reading the big board of company directories and their respective room numbers. She was new to Justin's workplace and it showed, as Ed Desmond entered just afterward and saw her with the quizzical look on her face. He walked to her and said, "Maybe I can help."

"Yes, thanks. I'm looking for Whiteside Technology."

"Me too," Ed told her. Offering his hand, he introduced himself, "I'm Ed Desmond."

"Oh! Are you related to Tammy?"

"Why, yes, do you know her?"

"No, but my husband works with her. I'm Margo Cosby."

Ed smiled, "Oh yes, Justin Cosby! Hey, that's great, let's ride up together."

And so, Ed and Margo entered the party together. By now, it was getting a bit out of hand, and the Whiteside operations director silently observing in a roomy corner promised himself this would be the last time for alcohol at company events.

Neither Margo nor Ed could find their respective spouses, and soon they were searching for them together.

Find them they did, smooching in a darkened, vacant conference room. Justin had one hand inside Tammy's unbuttoned sweater, and his other in another place normally reserved for spouses or anyone else you would know intimately. It was a moment which would define each of the four for the remainder of their lives. Justin and Tammy were stunned to sobriety, Ed and Margo equally shocked to a drunken–like giddiness. The party for them was over, the couples left the party with as much grace and discretion as they could muster, which was not much.


Sadly, Joan Lord would never know it, but she was right to be concerned about the pace of the change of ownership at what she now just called, "The House."

A few months after the Holiday party, the details of which Margo Cosby had painfully related to her, the house was sold once again to its 18th owner in a little more than 50 years. Much — too much –– had happened in the in between time.

Justin and Margo filed for divorce. Justin was racked with guilt over his indiscretion with Tammy, and Margo found out soon after Christmas that she was pregnant. Stress would play a huge hand in her losing the baby a few months later.

Ed and Tammy weathered the marital crisis, but both were scarred for life. Never again were they the happy, light–hearted couple.

But, the real reason the house and/or the statue were never linked with the silent tragedies born by the homeowners over the last 50 year was, they were long term consequences brought out in time over the span of lifetimes. Such was the case with the Cosbys and Desmonds. Let us peer into a crystal ball and see what becomes of the people we now know well:

Justin Cosby, would never remarry, would never again have a quality relationship with a woman. He would die of alcoholism and a broken heart at age 46 — over a situation he did not realize that he had limited control over.

Margo Cosby, lived with a broken heart, and that heart turned inward. After she lost her baby, a boy, she seemed to age overnight. A year after the Holiday party, she looked and acted 40 years older. Never again was she the outgoing, fun–loving thoughtful person who once upon a time graced photo shoots and fell in love with Justin Cosby.

Ed Desmond stayed with Tammy, to his credit. But, the trust was gone and with it, the joy in living. He would not rise to become a captain of industry or civic leader, as was his path before the party. He would retire a low level manager with no outside interests. Tammy stayed with him out of a sense of obligation.

Tammy Desmond lived a life of regret and guilt. She would have been better off had Ed left her. Perhaps Ed knew this, perhaps this was her punishment.


Once again, Joan found herself walking through the Woodstock house in preparation for closing to the new owners. Margo Cosby — that terribly sad woman — had told her in detail about the odd warmth of the statue, which seemed to become menacingly hot just before Christmas. As anyone may do, while in the living area, Joan touched the cheek of the marble Rebecca Lane. To her, the marble felt cold and a deep sense of loneliness washed over her. Perhaps it was her imagination, but it seemed the smiling face of Rebecca Lane was now frowning.



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