The Lady of the Manor: Adrian Heflin
Within the walls of this home lives a woman so evil, so cruel and vile that most wish her dead. Fear, power, money, control, revenge, retribution, hate and murder fill the pages of this novel as one woman inflicts so much misery on those that she is supposed to love. Rosemary Creek has the heart of stone or iron. A metal so hard that if pounded on it would never bend, dent or scratch. Within her life before becoming as she requires everyone to call her: The Lady of the Manor, she was once kind, loving, beautiful and loving. But, something happened to her that caused her to snap and change and her greatest joy is watching others cower in her presence, falter in all they do, criticize their every being and just be plain mean.
A mother is supposed to love and nurture her children but Rosemary Creek lived a life so far removed from those within the town she ruled and lorded over that she never ever gave her actions a second thought. Thinking that her past would evoke her present she set out to destroy not only her son, his moral and self-esteem but anyone that crossed her path: family, friend or whom she considered foe. Richard Creek lived with the knowledge of what his mother did to him and the abuse she inflicted on him for over 30 years. But, one day as a teen, he finally stood up to her threatening to run away if she did not leave him alone. Rosemary might have agreed but that did not stop what followed for the next 30 years living under her roof, threats coming his way and destroying his moral and will to live many times. The woman reigned like a heartless monarch not over the family Richard wanted to shield but from the Lady of the Manor whose wrath had no bounds. Savannah, Georgia was sweltering during the summer of 1958 and tensions rose as the now 71-year old Rosemary Creek carried over to her grandchildren, innocent people and her underhanded, threatening and evil ways and power led her to murder, maim, inflict pain and degrade anyone that came within her grasp. Taking pleasure in torturing her butler, Rayford Caruthers, belittling Richard’s children and wife, claiming Caruthers, who was loyal to her beyond belief was incompetent and more, no one stood up to her or if they tried the end result would be tragic.
One man could break through the tough shield but no one really understood why. Pop Barnes and Rosemary had a special bond and for some reason he was able to deal with her and at times even tried to soften her blow. But, the entire town wished that someone would finally take her out but no one dared. Her son, Richard, a banker, his wife and five children feared her to a point. No matter how many times they tried to stand up to her she managed to threaten them and put them down. Hilary and Taylor were twins and had a special relationship that was not always sisterly yet you know they loved each other. One thing that shines and comes through is the love that each of the other family members had for the other and how they would do anything to protect them from her anger and indignation. Kimberly was often outspoken and Reginald and Brock wild and dangerous. How do you live in fear for your life? How can someone know everything you do? She had hidden corners where should would sneak and listen. When Kimberly and a young black boy named Ernest met in her room after dark she watched and then found her way along with her butler to teach him a lesson filled with pain and torture that he would never forget. Reginald and Brock fell prey to her pedophile hand and finally one incident would cause Reginald to snap.
It is rare that an author can create a character that is so evil and diabolical that you pray that someone destroys her at every turn. You actually root for someone to kill her and put everyone else out of his or her misery. A granddaughter that loved to read and she hated. Another that she dared to take her own life or else she would destroy others in her wake. A woman so evil you can feel it just by opening the pages of the book and the venom comes through. A family reunion where her brother shows up for the first time and a revelation is made that destroys more lives. Money, power, control and fear: is all the money and riches in the world worth your soul? As the story continues each of the grandchildren hope for better life as Kimberly and Hilary meet both Art and Isaak. But, Rosemary hates Isaak as much as his mother hates Kimberly and the scenes the author creates are so highly volatile and vividly depicted the reader will feel the anger rise and applaud Kimberly for her words and actions as she stands up to Margaret and does not back down. When Brock and Reginald talk about money and Rosemary you will be amazed at how they feel about the power that it gives them and knowing at times she will clean up their messes. Murder, incest, molestation, rape, kidnapping and bribery are not even close to all of the things she is guilty of. Killing to get what they want and eliminating those that get in their way seems to be the norm not only for The Lady of the Manor but others too. A story filled with tragic characters each different yet the same in many ways. A son afraid to stand up to his mother yet when he does he cowers in her wake and a wife kept in the dark until a startling reveal is made and the truths that have been hidden beneath the walls of this mansion come out. Helen who stands by Richard and would do anything to avenge what her family has gone through and grandchildren subject to abuse that might destroy their lives. Loyalty to Rosemary means nothing if you create any simple infraction or if her mood swings in the wrong direction. Lies, deceits and betrayals and a woman who will do anything to lord it over others as we learn more about her past, listen to her pleas and cries and some might even understand her ways.
When the family finally unites and two are about to marry, Rosemary inflicts more pain, explains her plans for each of them and the consequences if they go against her. A young girl forced to leave her home and another tries to take her own life. A story filled with despair, anger, distrust and fear yet within it all the love that binds them together just might pull them through. As the disappearance of Ernest if known and he cannot be found, another goes missing and all eyes point to Rosemary. Denying it all, saying that she has not idea of what happened to him and a photograph that was planted to stage more doubt within the mind of her son, Rosemary Creek deserves whatever someone might finally dish out. Church once a year even though she does not believe in God. Appearances matter and you had better adhere to her mores and ways. Will the family survive what she has planned for each one of them? What about her final betrayal to the one person that did her dirty deeds, helped cover up her murders and buried her victims? An ending that is quite explosive and final revelation that will explain it all. The Lady of the Manor: whose body will be buried next? Whose skeletons will come out of the closet and whose life will be ruined? One grandchild who could predict the future using cards and the starling truths revealed on the final pages of this powerful novel. Child abuse, verbal abuse, physical and sexual abuse are unacceptable and The Lady of the Manor’s abuse goes far beyond even the definition of all of those put together. The Lady of the Manor: Would you take her on? Would you live in Creek Manor? How much power, money and control matters?
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews
Author’s Bio and Contact Information and Summary of the Book
Lady of the Manor is an epic tale of misery for Richard Creek. It is the story of how his mother, Rosemary, makes life miserable for him, his family, and many citizens of Savannah. The novel takes places during the summer of 1958 in a beautiful mansion. Secrets begin to unravel for the Creek family as they continue a summer filled with rape, murder, and indiscretions. Someone must prohibit the Lady of the Manor from her continuous oppression. But, does anyone have the courage to try?
The one woman who was supposed to love him was the one person who tried to destroy him. Richard Creek finally took a stand against his abusive mother, Rosemary, in the fall of 1929, leading to nearly three decades of her merciless tyranny. He has to decide how to protect his children from the omnipotent hand of the Lady of the Manor while they dwell beneath the same roof. Tensions overflow in this atypical home in Savannah, Georgia during the blazing summer of 1958.
71-year old Rosemary (Rosey) Isabella Creek is the cruel and ruthless matriarch of Creek Manor who carries out her malevolent deeds with the help of her loyal butler, Rayford Caruthers, whom she continually degrades for being an albino black man with atrocious English. Her only friend is Pop Barnes, who along with Rosemary’s brother, are the only ones who seem to remember a softer, lovelier ‘Rosey’. She lords over her only son, Richard, a 43-year old banker; his wife, 42-year old Helen; and their five children: the twins; Hilary and Taylor, along with Kimberly, Reginald, and Brock.
The patience of everyone is tested with each of Rosemary’s taunts as they try to understand the nature and reason of her cruelty. As more details of her past are revealed, it only further complicates their comprehension. Will she ever transform into a woman that they can love?
Adrian Heflin is a graduate of the University of West Georgia with an accounting degree. He is a former banker and security guard. He began his writing career with short stories, eventually evolving to novels. Adrian has published four books and is in the planning stage of several others. Lady of the Manor (ISBN: 978-1490416434) a family saga and Devil Town (ISBN: 978-1490523392) an urban fiction novel was published in 2013. E.M.A. Chronicles (ISBN: 978-1491078341) a collection of short stories and The Untrackables: Zhang Rule (ISBN: 978-1491077863) a political thriller were both published in 2014.
She picked up a large silver bucket and emptied it into an old copper tub. The tub was six feet in length and held some of the iciest well water that you’ll ever find in Savannah at that time of the year. It was drawn from one of the deepest wells in Chatham County. The well had been dug out in the backyard, nearly twenty yards from the back porch. She walked over to the corner and set the bucket down with the little dent facing outward, always facing outward.
“I guess it would help if you added the hot water, Rosemary,” she muttered to herself.
Rosemary went back to the corner and took the silver bucket over to the fireplace. She had a black, cast-iron cauldron of water boiling over a wooden fire. She could never fill it to the brim because of an inch long crack at the top that had been there since she was a child. Rosemary repeatedly dipped the bucket into the scalding hot water, emptying it into the copper tub until it was nearly full. The steam glazed over the lone window until no one could see in or out. She walked the bucket back over to its natural habitat, dent facing outward. Rosemary grabbed a brown jug of iodine and poured a quart of it into the tub. Then, she took a little swig in her mouth, swooshed it around, and spat into the tub.
“Now, it’s ready. Richard! Bath time!”
He hated those words. It was like the sound a buck hears, slightly before the bullet enters his flesh. He opened the door and slowly peeped inside.
“Come in, Richard. It’s time to get clean.”
Once a week, Richard had to participate in the dreaded bath time. He walked slowly toward the tub and stood there, gazing into the water.
“Can’t I do it myself, mother?” He asked, knowing what her answer would be.
“Nonsense!” She always replied. “You’re merely a baby. Now, strip off those clothes and get in.”
He completely undressed and put his left foot into the water, letting out a yelp.
“It’s too hot, mother.”
“Nonsense, it’s always the same every week. Now, get in.”
He stood in the water for a long minute, and then slowly settled into the copper tub.
“It’s burning, mother. Why is it stinging?
“I saw where you scraped your elbow and got that cut on your leg. So, I added iodine into the water.”
“I have to get out. It hurts.”
“Nonsense; it will pass. Sit back and soak your body real good while I get the soap.”
She had a large chunk of homemade lye soap on a shelf. Rosemary grabbed a handful of it; the door flung open.
“Did you have enough water, Rosemary?” A smooth, gangly man stood in the doorway.
“Yes,” she responded without looking around.
“Father, how was work today?”
“Terrible,” he replied. “This economy is destroying people’s lives. It may take years for this country to recover.”
“Nonsense, Eugene,” Rosemary turned around. “This stock market will rebound within another month.”
“I don’t think so, Rosey. They say it completely crashed. Lots of folks lost everything. People are out there killing themselves.”
“People with no faith. As great as the twenties have been, you people panic over one day in the stock market. Nonsense!”
“If you say so. Why don’t you give Richard that soap and come sit with me in the den? I set on a bit of tea.”
“I can’t leave this child alone in a tub of water. He might drown. Do you think me an unfit mother?”
“I assure you; he won’t drown, Rosemary. Don’t you think you’re being a bit dramatic?”
“Of course not, E.H. I mustn’t risk it. I insist on being here. The Lady of the Manor has spoken.”
“Sorry, Richard; I tried. When the lady has spoken; she has spoken.”
“Keep the tea hot, dear.”
“Of course, Rosey,” he shook his head in disgust, wishing he would do more but knowing he wouldn’t. He was frustrated with his wife, but even more disappointed in himself.
“Close the door, darling.”
He slammed it shut.
“Why can’t I wash myself, mother dearest?”
“You are a little child, Richard. Children don’t know how to wash themselves. You just sit back and let mother scrub the dirt and filth from your body.”
“But all the other boys my age bathe themselves.”
“Nonsense. Now, hand me that cloth rag and relax.”
She took the rag from his hand and squeezed the water down his back and shoulders. Richard stared at the little dent on the silver bucket and clinched his fists. She rubbed the rag on the lye soap and began to scrub the back of his neck and behind his ears.
“Such a dirty little boy. How do young boys attract such filth?”
Richard closed his eyes. He could still see that silver bucket in his mind, dent always outward. Rosemary began to cleanse his chest, stomach, and back. His eyes remained shut.
“I met a girl today, mother. She was quite lovely.” He tried anything to take his mind off this bath.
“Nonsense. You’re much too young for courting.”
“Mother, I’m fourteen years old. I’m quite old enough for a relationship. The other boys in my grade have girlfriends. It’s 1929; times are different.”
“Nonsense. Remember this and remember it well. All girls are evil. They’ll use you for your money, cheat on you, and lie on you and to you. Never trust a female, Richard.”
“You’re a female.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m your mother. Now, lift up your feet.”
She took the rag and rubbed the bottom of his feet, then between his toes. She washed his legs up toward the thighs. Richard’s eyes had remained closed.
“Please, mother; let me wash the rest.”
“Never. Only I can clean you correctly. Otherwise, you will miss spots. Now, open your legs.”
Richard stared at the bucket’s dent one last time before clenching his eyes again. He opened his legs, slowly and reluctantly. She reached down into the water with the ragged, soapy piece of cloth and began to clean his genitalia. They both knew that ‘cleaning’ was the least of her concerns at this point. As tightly as he clenched his eyelids, he couldn’t keep the tears from seeping through and gliding down his cheeks into the milky water. She eventually dropped the rag and continued with her hand. He cried even harder, trying to focus his mind on the dent in the silver bucket. She broke his concentration with a light voice.
“Who’s Rosemary’s baby?” She whispered in his ear.
He refused to answer, pretending not to hear.
“Who’s Rosemary’s baby?” She slowed her strokes and softened her whisper. His slow tears turned into a speedy sob.
“Please stop, mother.”
“Nonsense,” Rosemary continued to whisper. “Mother must finish cleaning her special, special boy. Now, tell me who is Rosemary’s baby and we’ll be done.”
“I am,” the sobbing turned into full-blown crying. “I am Rosemary’s baby.”
“Stand up,” she stopped rubbing him. He stood in the tub, still erect from being molested. “My, how you grow with each week. You have surpassed your father; I do believe.”
His eyes never opened as ‘mommy dearest’ went for the towel. She began to dry him off, beginning with the upper body. Rosemary worked her way down to the buttocks, then around to her target area. She began to stroke him with the towel as she had with the tattered rag. He withstood as much as he could before he snatched the towel from her hands.
“No more!” Richard covered his nakedness with the towel. He kept his eyes shut. “This is the last time you will put your filthy hands on me, mother!”
“Nonsense. However will you get clean?”
“I’ll bathe myself. I am perfectly capable.”
“You’ll do no such thing.”
“Either that or I shall run away. I want a tub in my room and a lock on the inside of my door.”
“Nonsense?” He interrupted her. “Is it, mother? Is it, really? Does it really seem like nonsense that I desire my privacy?”
“I suppose not,” she stood up from her knees. “But…”
“Either that or I leave.”
“Okay, Richard. I don’t want you to leave me, ever. As long as you are here, I shall never touch you again.”
“I need to dry off and get dressed…alone.”
“Okay,” Rosemary opened the door. “I only did what I did because I love you, Richard. When you’re ready for me again, I’ll meet you here. Empty the tub when you’re done.” She closed the door behind her. “I may not touch you again, Richard, but I will make your life a miserable hell until you let me,” she muttered to herself as she walked down the hall.
Downstairs, Eugene was pouring hot tea into two porcelain cups. He squeezed the juice of a half a lemon into each cup, along with two teaspoons of sugar. He set the cups, pitcher, and Rosemary’s oatmeal raisin cookies on a silver platter and brought them into the den. They were sitting on a mahoganycoffee table when Rosemary entered the room. She grabbed a cup and sat in silence. Eugene nibbled on a cookie, trying to figure out how to start the conversation.
“It isn’t right, Rosemary. It’s got to stop.”
“I can’t help myself, E.H. It’s all I know.”
“Doesn’t matter. A son’s worth can go no further than a mother’s trust will guide him. It can’t happen anymore.”
“It won’t. I promised him that I wouldn’t touch him again.”
“Do you mean that, Rosey?”
“I have no choice. He threatened to run away from me. I can’t lose my baby.”
She sipped her tea in silence for a while, staring into the fireplace. Eugene picked up his cup and followed suit. She knew that the urge would come up sooner or later. If she couldn’t touch Richard, she’d have to find someone else until she could.
She finally broke the calm, “You know I don’t care much for this tea. Have Caruthers put on a pot of coffee.”
“He’s already left for the night.”
“Oh bother,” she continued to sip her tea, saying nothing else till they went to sleep.
Upstairs, Richard finally managed to pry his eyes open. He was still standing naked in the water, holding the towel. He vomited into the tub as he had done after every other episode with his mother. The thought of her hands on him always made him puke. He slowly dried himself, shaking all the while. Then, he grabbed the silver bucket. He began filling the bucket with tub water, pouring it down a chute that led to a water trough outside of the house.
Richard couldn’t help but notice the little dent on the bucket. He had only noticed it the first time she had molested him two years prior. It was the roaring twenties, but for him it hadn’t been that much fun. He knew that he would have never run away, but it was the only viable threat he could think of, other than murder. But, he knew he could never kill his mother.
Richard poured the last bit of water out and set the bucket on the floor. He hung the towel and rag up on nails and slipped into his long johns. He sat on the oak wood floor, back to the tub, eyes red from crying. He decided to leave the ring of vomit and dirt around the tub. If she wanted it clean, she could do it herself. He planned to never use it or the room again.
Richard caught sight of the silver bucket out of the corner of his eye. He punched it over and over until his knuckles bled. He picked it up and walked over to the window, intending to toss it outside. He hesitated for a moment, and then walked it back over to its proper place. Richard spun it in his hands over and over as if the dent might somehow change. Then, he set it down in that same corner that it had always resided, dent facing outward, always outward.