Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Old Man Remembers Part 2

An Old Man Remembers

We walked up toward the house, Jamie constantly giving excuses to turn around, go
back, leave now. We quietly shushed her, told her she was being silly. But Janey slowed down a bit, and I matched her pace. The house was probably a few hundred yards from the barn and it was a long enough walk to think about what we were doing, which probably accounted for the slowness of our pace. A hawk cried out from overheard and far off. We turned to look. We'll just knock once, I said, apropos of nothing, but wanting to make at least one of the rules of this adventure known. Janey said, you're not losing your nerve now, are you? I just laughed and walked a little faster. Janey walked straight to the door, and looked at us, Jamie went to a window to look in, I leaned against a clapboard next to the window. Waiting for Janey to make her move. She never knocked though. The door was ajar. She called out, anybody home? The response from inside, come in dearies, come in. Janey pushed open the door and went in, I followed closely behind. Sun filled the living room, and everything was a matte gray. Couches Chairs, a television still on, blaring. We suddenly realized that the TV was the voice that authorized our entrance. Janey blanced and turned, I grabbed her by the arm. Look I said, under my breath, and took a finger and ran it along a book's cover. Where my finger moved a streak of color stood out amongst the gray. Dust, the whole room was covered in dust. Days or weeks or months of dust accumulating with no one to move it until today. I picked up the book and blew on the cover, sending a cloud of dead skin cells and other flotsam to the wind. It was a tome I'd never heard of, I put it down. Janey and Jamie split up and move. I can hear Jamie calling out, hello, hello, Is anybody home, hello hello, is anybody home? Janey moves silently to find the television. I move into the kitchen. I put my hand on the refrigerator door and then remembering the dust, think better of it. The cupboards are not bare, they are full of dry food and sundries. Nothing I like. Tile runs along the counter top, blue and white checkered pattern, which matches the floor. Nary a single picture adorning the wall, on the front of the fridge, anywhere of anyone. Which strikes me as odd, since I've seen very few homes without a single picture in them. Light flows through out, filling the room, Bunched up curtains sit over leaded windows. Pieces of glass that will eventually become too heavy and slide down, pooling like honey. I open up the fridge, there's some wilted plants and brown fruit. There are some beers however, and I go to grab one. Bent at the waist, leaning down, arm outstrechted to reach the loose bottled beers laying on their sides like bowling pins one finger touches the cool glass bottle and the hairs on the back of my neck shoot up. A shot of electricity flows through my finger, down to my shins and then back up my spine to my neck, it causes me to jerk and I hit my head on the ceiling of the fridge. I pull my hand back, curse, and shut the fridge. Jamie sings, are you okay? I storm out the door in the kitchen. Put my arms under my armpits. Sheets flap on the line outside, long johns, yellowed, wave like a flag. I start to wander around the house. Thick dark clouds are moving in from the south. I zip up my jacket, not that I'm cold, my heart's nearly settled, but my skin's still warm. The wooden slat porch runs around the entirety of this home. The wood is fairly new, and unstained. What happened? Must be that old fridge shorts out or something. Perhaps it was a sign. An old silo sits off in the back of the property. I'm starting to believe this place was abandoned, and rather recently. I make my way into the silo, which is empty except for the walls which are covered with chaff from the grains that were stored within. A stool sits in the middle of the silo, a milking stool. Strange. I sit. I'm quiet for a minute. Every time my subconscious tries to break in with some worry or fear I tell it to shut up. I can still hear the television. I don't know how I missed it on my way up. From where I sit my hands lay in a square of light, my hands are smooth, without scars or imperfections. I haven't used them much. My father's hands are old, and rough, like burlap or fine grain sand paper. Good for gripping and tearing, good for holding and shaping. I use mine to calculate. How many generations of hands were rough, how many soft? How many changed during life? Do all hands end up in the same place? Peter? Peter, where are you? In the silo I yell. Come back. Please. Her voice scratches and jumps, I immediately grow concerned but not afraid. Jamie can sometimes be, well, melodramatic. Peter please, come on. The television was off, or muted, either way gone. We marched through the kitchen and past two closed doors, the door at the end of the hall was open. Janey stood inside. In a chair, in the corner of the room, a shriveled, shrunken old man sat. Blanket pulled up to his chin. He had a terrible smell. Patches of hair, mottled skin. Jamie was retching somewhere outside. I couldn't stop staring. I'd never seen a corpse before, at least, not before a mortician had has his way with it, so to speak. Just meat, just meat. I reached my hand out, memories of refrigerators fresh in my mind and I pulled my hand back just a bit. What? Janey said, are you, are you going to touch it? Truth be told I hadn't thought about what I was doing, I was just doing it. Reacting. I looked at her, she was half excited and half ready to flee. What do you think happened? I don't know, if I remove the cover, maybe we'll see what happened. Pete, I don't, maybe we should call sheriff McGower. Well, I said, see if they have a phone. She left the room. I put one finger under the blanket, then two, then a third. I jostled it a bit. It was clear that he had died a while back, but I don't know, there aren't any rules to this stuff, you have to play it as it goes. I slowly peeled the blanket back, as I heard Janey opening other doors in the hall. Oh my God, was all I heard, and the sound of blood pumping in my own ears.

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