This is part 10 of Todd’s story.
Come along follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength
Come with me and I won’t steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
To the light at the end of the tunnel
We gonna fight, we gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march
Through the swamp, we gonna mosh through the marsh
Take us right through the doors (c’mon)
– Eminem, “Mosh”
Todd put his foot on the first step, and a train’s horn went off somewhere in the distance. He looked up the stairway, and it seemed to elongate. He took a puff from the cigar to steel himself. Step after step, he pulled himself up to the second floor. That the house felt like a home to him was no longer comforting. Instead, it added to the strangeness that filled the air. He remembered someone accidentally calling him Ralph once, but he couldn’t place it. The sounds from his friends kept him sane as he stepped onto the second floor landing.
It looked like there were two bedrooms and a bathroom on this floor. Come to think of it, Todd hadn’t noticed a bathroom on the first floor. The doors were all open, so they could see that the guest room and bedroom were both sparsely furnished, painted in pale colors, and decorated with seemingly random photographs. They all let go of their held breath at once, and then exploded into a fit of giggles as the tension broke. They all filed into the master bedroom. There was a desk with a blotter and an expensive-looking pen. The thin drapes let in almost all of the morning light from outside. Thunk sat heavily on the bed while Sheila let her fingers trail across the photos.
Todd sat at the writing desk, and looked more closely at the blotter. “Man, this feels like serious detective shit. Check this out. There’s an outline, like a darker shape, in the middle. Like when you take a poster off your wall, and the paint hasn’t faded there yet.” He traced the edge of the darker shape with his thumb.
“Maybe a diary or journal or something?” Thunk was stealing glances at the windows, like he expected someone to show up. “I mean, if he only wrote in that, and did it every day, why would he move it?”
Todd nodded. “But then, why is it gone now? Where did it go? Who moved it?” He leaned back in the roller-chair, and it screeched in protest.
“Good question, Watson. But a better question would be: What was in the journal that would make it so important that someone would enter the house and either move it or steal it, after good old Ralph passed from this world?” Thunk took a couple of puffs from the cigar, obviously thinking. Todd and Sheila just gaped at him. After a few moments, he noticed and blushed furiously. “What? You guys know I love Sherlock Holmes stories. This totally feels like one.” He shrugged, feeling uncomfortable in his own skin.
“That was really fucking smart, Thunk. That IS a better question.” Todd shook his head; he was getting tired again.
“These pictures are amazing. They’re all old silver prints, like in the old west days. Right out of 3rd hour history! You guys should see this! They’re all carnies.” Todd sat up, and Thunk crawled across the bed. Sheila took one down from the wall, and brought it to them. It was of a young woman. She had a cigar clamped between her teeth, and her fists were on her hips. Her wild brown hair made her look a little wolfish. “Isn’t she intense? Check this guy out!” She took the woman back, and handed them one of a fairly large man. He had long hair, tied back, and the angular goatee that was the style at the time. He wore a long, black duster, and was on the portly side. In his hand was a metal spider.
Todd took a step back. There were metal plates on the man’s duster. He had seen the man yesterday, across the street from the house. The man had stared him in the eyes. Sheila flipped the picture over. “Hey, it’s stamped with the year. Eighteen seventy-three.” Todd searched the carnies on teh wall frantically, his legs nearly turning to Jell-o. There he was. The brother to the one who had stared at him. Neither of them had aged a day.
“Todd, you OK?” Thunk and Sheila were looking at him in concern.
“I… I don’t feel so good. I need to hit the bathroom.” He rushed out of the room and into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. He turned the cold water spigot on all the way, and splashed his face over and over again. Cult carnival obsession, right. Just something that old people did. He splashed the water on his face again. He would not pass out. He would not. Splash with the cold water again.
He heard the floorboards outside the door creak right before there was a knock. “Hey, man, somebody’s at the front door, knocking pretty loud.” Thunk. He turned the water off and towel-dried his face. He opened the door, and faced his concerned best friend. “You ok?” Todd nodded and headed down the stairs.
“Probably a Jehova’s Witness.” Todd looked in the peep-hole and his heart skipped a beat. The man’s name floated up in his mind, and Todd remembered the nightmare from last night.
Dr. Celestine was standing on his front porch, and he did NOT look happy.
Threw you the obvious
And you flew with it on your back
A name in your recollection
Down among a million, say:
Difficult enough to feel a little bit
Disappointed, passed over.
When I’ve looked right through,
To see you naked and oblivious
and you don’t see me.
– A Perfect Circle, “3 Libras”