This is part 9 of Todd’s story.
Now I will tell you what I’ve done for you
50 thousand tears I’ve cried
Screaming Deceiving and Bleeding for you
And you still won’t hear me
– Evanescence, “Going Under”
Todd sat on the porch of Ralph’s house, swinging slowly back and forth in the old porch swing. A lit cigar was clamped between his teeth. The remnant of his earlier smoke was finally down to a reasonable length. The nicotene and triple latte from Starbucks were all that were keeping him alert. He had not slept well. In fact, he hadn’t caught a wink since he’d woken up in last night’s thunderstorm.
He had tried to get back to sleep. He’d even been able to drift off a few times, but the instant he began to dream, the scent of oranges sent him into a panic, and he flew awake. The real shit of it was that he couldn’t remember a bit of the nightmare that had spooked him so badly. The only thing that kept coming back was the smell of fresh oranges, like at that lawyer’s office. Todd took the cigar out from between his teeth and took a gulp of the coffee. The taste made him wince, but it was doing a good job of keeping him awake.
Sheila’s hybrid car buzzed around the corner at the end of the street, and flew toward Ralph’s drivway. She expertly handled it into the driveway and to a stop mere inches behind Todd’s beater. Both doors opened, and the car spat out Sheila, looking dog-tired, and a struggling Thunk. “God damned small cars. I need a fuckin’ shoehorn!” Sheila giggled and Todd grinned. They both knew he did that sort of shit for the attention. Once Thunk was fully upright, they both headed up to Todd. Sheila wrinkled her nose at the cigar.
“You look like I feel, sugar-bear.” She took Ralph’s hat off of her head and smushed it onto his. “Didn’t sleep well?” Todd shook his head. “Me neither. I kept having these bad dreams. I think I kept getting eaten by dragons, but it’s hard to remember.” She grabbed Todd’s coffee and took a drink. He was too tired to protest.
Thunk was looking at Todd’s cigar with envy. Todd grinned, clamped it between his teeth, and took a couple of puffs. “So, who’s up for the grand tour of my humble home?” Sheila rolled her eyes, and Thunk held out his hand to help Todd up. Todd accepted, and showed them inside. They all looked the closet up and down, staring at the myriad of hats, coats, canes, walking sticks, and shoes. “Not exactly a spoon collection.” They all giggled. Sheila winked at Todd, and they went into the living room. “I got a bit of a head start. There were piles of magazines stacked all over the place in here. I started looking though them, and, well, check it out.” He picked one up from the pile on the couch, and flipped in a few pages. He handed it to Thunk. He took another one, at random, and handed it to Sheila. She flipped through, then stopped.
“So what?” Thunk shrugged his big shoulders. “It’s an ad for a weekend carnival. I mean, it’s a cool old magazine and all, but why is this circled? In red, even?”
“Hey, mine’s circled in red, too. Advertisement for a Carnival of the Mysterious. Ooooo, spooky!” Sheila closed the magazine and tossed it at Todd. He handed her another. She flipped through the pages. “what the… it’s almost the same ad. So, your uncle was tracking some cult carnival? What’s the big deal?”
Todd grinned. “That’s totally what I thought. But the magazines go back for almost a hundred years, and every ad is nearly the same. I checked, to keep from falling asleep. Hold on.” Todd disappeared into the library, and came out with a cigar, a clipper, and a zippo. Thunk grinned as he handed all of these over. The end was cut, the cigar was lit, and the Thunk was pacified. “Anyway, I was able to do a little more checking before you got here. Check out the article clippings on the walls.” Todd puffed on his own cigar as they examined the wall decorations. Every single one of them was about someone missing or dead, and a mysterious carnival was under suspicion. The dates were sporadic, but ranged from the mid-1800’s to the present.
Sheila shook her head. “So, your Great Uncle Ralh had a pet conspiracy theory about carnivals.”
“Small hands. Smell like cabbage,” Thunk said in a bad English accent.
Sheila shot him a glare. “That explains the huge organ. But… I don’t get it. Old people do stuff like that. Spoons, you know.” She shivered. “How come it’s so creepy? I mean, it is. Creepy.” She took another drink of Todd’s coffee. Todd hadn’t even realized that she’d never given it back.
“Yeah, it’s wierd. That’s why I was on the porch. I kinda freaked.” He sighed and adjusted the hat. “Oh, there’s one more thing that I found.” He went into the kitchen, and they followed. He showed them the lack of food, appliances, and marks of use.
“Meals on Wheels?” Thunk seemed to be grasping at anything he could think of.
“No,” Todd said. “Just another reason to be creeped out. What if old Ralph didn’t eat?” He shivered and something rang true from his dream, but it was gone as quickly as it came. “So, what should we explore next? All that’s left down here is the library, and there’s just tons of books, cigarettes, and cigars in there. That leaves the basement and upstairs.”
Sheila and Thunk chimed in in unison. “Upstairs.”
Hi kids! Do you like violence? (Yeah yeah yeah!)
Wanna see me stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids? (Uh-huh!)
Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did? (Yeah yeah!)
Try ‘cid and get fucked up worse that my life is? (Huh?)
My brain’s dead weight, I’m tryin to get my head straight
but I can’t figure out which Spice Girl I want to impregnate (Ummmm..)
– Eminem, “My Name Is”