I don’t know why I thought that there’d be anything to have been found.
Driving around Augusta for two days, burning fuel, time and sanity, has brought me nothing. I should just chuck this fucking box in the trash where it really belongs.
Twice now I’ve suffered the loss in time and money, not to mention having to bear with Laura’s disapproval or my boss’, and for what? Some shit-stained pieces of paper so brittle that they fall apart if they’re folded! Oh, and some restless nights borne out of worry for those same useless documents. Fuck. What the hell am I doing?
Two days of driving, cutting between this and that town, hunting for old houses and apartment buildings. Hours upon hours of listening to “WCLZ”–different by design—accompanied by that chalky industrial flavor of yet another five-hour energy sluicing between the chemical burns the previous dozen had scorched onto my tongue.
Two days of dodging Laura’s calls while scanning through a map with creases worn to the point of threatening to cleave the whole thing in half. Sleeping amongst the fast food wrappers and gym clothes forever occupying the back seat.
Two days of scratching at the scar tissue on my hand, flexing it, stretching it, hoping for it to tear back open so I’d at least have something to show for my efforts, a great red river slithering down my forearm. Followed by door after door of inhospitable assholes. Their mouths agape at my “intrusion” of their precious time in front of a rerun of Judge Judy. Fuck them and their waste of space.
Suffice to say, or write…
Fuck, I’m stupid.
The half-dozen places I had planned to visit were a bust; each and every one of them. I burned through that first list yesterday, driving through Augusta proper, hitting both sides of the river as my anger contorted me—coiled really, like a spring—each disappointment twisting me ever tighter, all the more prone to snap. Knots littered my back, tight little balls of anguish that only served to spurn me further and farther on my search.
I suppose it comes as no surprise then that before I calmed myself down and headed to the library, I may have had the cops called on me. Not my proudest moment, to be sure but, they were awful people, completely unwilling to listen to even a simple greeting. Plus, there was…something else.
So, I rung their bell and waited patiently, maybe looking a bit punchy from the previous disappointments but otherwise I had my most endearing face on. They didn’t care. I stood on their crumbling stairs that had seen too many winters and was greeted with a suspicious grunt from above.
“Hello,” I tried, “I called a couple of days ago. I’m…”
“Not interested.” They cut me off before I had a chance, just like the others.
“No, please.” I pleaded, lurching forward and jamming my foot in their door.
She screamed something, maybe repeating herself, I don’t really know… I didn’t hear it very well. With my foot wedged in their door we battled for a moment, my pushing for entry and her pushing out of dumb doe-eyed fear.
Then her husband came over. A big guy. Not all of it was muscle but there was some hidden behind the layers of a subcutaneous fat deposits years of KFC had laid into his body. Pushing his wife aside, he let the door swing open. I fell at his feet.
It was a good move on his part, letting my pushing work in his favor. Laborer’s hands pinned me. Stuck there beneath his mass and stink, he started swatting at me, tapping my head, as one might while disciplining a dog, all the while yelling at his wife. Their TV was blasting in the background. I hit back.
I should have struck with more force. It only angered him. He laid his hands into me, slapping the air out of my lungs with the kind of ease with casual violence that comes from having lived below the poverty line for too long. I wiggled and squirmed ineffectually beneath his weight. And then I saw it.
At passing glance, well I didn’t really “think” right then but, I “thought” it was a cat. Laying beneath their sagging couch, terrified from the commotion my intrusion had brought. It wasn’t a cat.
I don’t know if it was real or maybe some pain and stress induced hallucination. It looked…black. There were eyes but, I could less see them than I could just feel them. And its gaze was on me. Its inky black ichor threatening to flood out from beneath the couch.
It moved. I screamed, not out of the pain being laid into me but, out of…fear, I guess. Lost in that senseless dread, my wriggling grew frantic, more like a trapped animal than a pinned out of shape man. Then I bit him.
They had been hurling insults at each other, cussing each other out over the mess I had made of their night. That all ended when the sound of my canines parting the stained denim of his pants and the crunch of fatty tissue cut through the room.
The man howled, bellowed really. Blood started to run, sliding through my teeth and coating my tongue in a sticky veneer. We became two beasts, literally red in tooth and claw; the both of us rolling and writhing for escape, him from me and me from…it.
In that madness one of us knocked over the one touch of class their ratty home had claim to, the standing lamp. There was a flash as the filament tore itself apart following the destruction of the brittle glass around it. Darkness.
Not complete or all-encompassing but, enough. Enough for me to know that I needed to get out of there right then and there. It moved not quickly but lithely, like a ferret or a fox, almost slithering into a new position, just on the edge of the couch, threatening to exit.
The wound in the man’s leg and the shock of his wife’s screaming gave me the chance I needed. I rolled as fast and violently as I could, tearing at my shoulder that was still under his girth and leaked out from under him.
Shouts and the movement of shadows echoed from within their home, as I bolted down their broken stairs.
I sped down that dark road as quickly as I could get my damned car started, door ajar, slapping against its frame with every turn. It was a race. A race to put as much distance between myself and the crime scene I had created.
Breaking and Entry.
That shadow of a fox, or cat or fucking weasel, was another reason my gas pedal was denting the floorboard.
I wound up in a Tim Hortons off of the Kennebec, my shoes squeaking in protest every time I attempted to free them from the syrup laden floor, sipping away at the their ass coffee.
It may have been an hour, maybe more, sat there shivering, waiting for the cops to find me, for the sound of heavy, firm boot-steps to resound from behind me; nearing with intent. My shoulders would slump, the game lost. His meaty blue-collar paw would be resting on his gun, as that final squeak rang out from between his rubber soles and the linoleum tiles.
My coffee was shaking, I guess it was more sloshing. I was the one shaking, eyes darting between each and every darkened corner in the joint. Scanning for the threat. It could have been there, I can’t be sure. Part of me has since rationalized it, cataloged it and reasoned it away as nothing more than a cat. A cat seen in a moment of great stress and low lighting. But, rationalized or not, it didn’t feel like a cat.
Still, I stayed there. Ass firmly ensconced upon their hard plastic chairs. My legs went numb after draining another cup of shit coffee.
It was much later on when they woke me up and in not so many words asked me to buy another cup of coffee or get out.