Monday, January 14, 2008

Chapter 8: Lights, Part III

His approach had apparently been noticed. As he climbed out of the car, the front door opened and Kateri walked down the concrete steps. She held Ray's carrier in one hand and a bulging diaper bag over the other shoulder. Her thin braids swung with every step. Vernon stood behind the open door, elbows resting on the roof of the car and the doorframe. As she got closer, he saw Raymond was asleep in the carrier. He fought to keep his face still; inside, he felt as bouncy and giddy as he had the night before his wedding. I guess that's appropriate. This is kind of like winning her all over again. Sure, their marriage had had its problems, but that would all change once he got Cheryl back tonight. What could possibly compare to the trials of Jennings Grove? He forced his foot to stop tapping.

Kateri stopped at the hood and smiled. "You're an hour early, Mr. Hamilton. To be honest, I wasn't certain you were going to show up at all." She stepped closer with the bag outstretched, paused and frowned when she caught sight of his expression. "What's the matter? Did something happen at work? Are you OK?"

Vernon shook his head and made sure his face retained its wooden expression. Must be doing better than I thought. "I've been thinking about it all day, and I'm just not ready for this. Could you please watch him one more night?"

"We've been over this already, Mr. Hamilton. I have things I need to get done myself. This is your responsibility." She gave the diaper bag a small jiggle.

"I know, and I'm sorry, wife..." His voice cracked, and he buried his face in his hands. When he looked up again, her scowl had softened somewhat, and she'd let the bag dropped. If someone isn't sure about doing what you want, take the choice away from them. That had been one of Herb Franklin's favorite pearls of wisdom, and it had never seemed more apt. He scrubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand and muttered: "I'm...I'm sorry...I just can't..." He dropped into the driver's seat, slammed the door shut and threw the transmission into reverse. Tires squealed on the concrete driveway. Kateri's eyebrows climbed nearly to her hairline, and she jumped back out of the way. Her mother came to the door and stared, open mouthed as he backed into the yard, then raced out and back onto the gravel road.

Vernon made it to his driveway before he started laughing. Mrs. Hutchins would never believe it. His high school drama teacher had said he'd never make a good actor, that he didn't care enough to make his role believable. They sure bought that one, didn't they? He caught sight of the coil of rope laying in the seat and swallowed his mirth. Guess I finally found something to care about.

Pulling into the drive, he maneuvered the car around to the front of the house and parked it. Vernon grabbed the bags and rope coil and dashed up the stairs. He threw the door open and snapped on the light before walking in. The bulbs flickered a moment before flaring to life. Weak shadows fled across the room, into other rooms, corners and under furniture. They retreated further when he walked into the kitchen. He let the curtain fall behind him and flipped the switch.

The darkness deepened as it condensed and folded upon itself. It writhed in an agitated fashion at the light's edges. He chuckled at the shadows' impotence as they lashed out toward him, only to fall back under the lights glowing overhead. The darkness was deepest in the two doorways in the kitchen's back corner, though still faint enough that he could see into the back room and the second bedroom to the left. He set the bags on the kitchen table.


Part IV coming Friday!

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At January 14, 2008 11:39 AM , Blogger Bret Jordan said...

Will he do it, or is he just making things worse? I can't wait to see how Vernon's plans work out.nero-plugins midi  

At January 14, 2008 4:17 PM , Blogger Jeff Parish said...


*Insert maniacal laughter here*nero-plugins midi  

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