|Windows in the Dark|
|Windows in the Dark is a multi-part story, written "on the fly", as an exercise. I add a new part whenever the fancy takes me, and I give each part absolutely no thought before I write it. I write it directly into the HTML editor, and then post it without any rewriting or real editing. The only editing I do is to correct spelling mistakes and anything else that is obviously wrong. And I may even miss a few of those. Writing this way won't produce my greatest work, but that's not the point. The point is to exercise the creative muscles, and to practise. And to always remind myself to not be afraid to "get things out there". :)|
what goes on behind those closed doors of everyday city living? All those
apartments above stores. All those houses sitting innocently next to each
other. In one you have Mr. and Mrs. John Q Douchebag, living life like
everybody else. And next door...you could have the most depraved psycho
you'd never want to meet. It was due to that very thing that I found myself
sitting in my car, in the pouring rain, staring up at the dark windows
of a house on 18th Street.
The call had come in about an hour ago. A woman. She hadn't given her name, or told us anything about herself. She'd just said that we should check out this one house. What we'd find there would shake our very world to its core. Those were her exact words.
Now, ordinarily, we don't take this kind of thing too seriously. We get hundreds of whack jobs and cranks calling us everyday about all kinds of stupid shit. We can't check them all out. Unless there's mention of an imminent threat, or something credible relating to an outstanding case, we let most of them go.
There was something about this woman though. I'd listened to the dispatch recording. She'd sounded genuinely scared. I mean, really terrified. That kind of terrified where you're sort of resigned to a fate, or a state of being. You know something is really wrong, but what can you do? And that knowledge affects everything you think about. That's how she sounded. So, I'd decided to check it out. I was waiting on some lab work to come back on another case, and I had a few hours to kill before I was due to meet someone about yet another case, so I thought what the hell.
Looking up at those windows again, I was starting to think I should have left this alone. Something about that woman though. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, besides her sounding terrified. There was something else. Something weird. Her voice had been strangely hypnotic, like she was willing me to go there. Willing like some kind of mind control. I shook my head as I recalled it. Tried to shake off the shivering feeling. It barely worked. Suddenly I felt terrified myself. I looked up at the windows again. What the hell was up there? Something that would shake my world to its very core? What the hell did that even mean?
I took one last drag on the cigarette I'd been holding, and stubbed it out in the overflowing ashtray. I looked at myself in the rear-view. I looked every one of my 42 years. My hair was grey. My stubble was grey. My face was wrinkled. And my tie was crooked. I straightened it. I didn't know why. It felt like the right thing to do. If I'd had a hip flask full of Jack, I would have taken a swig. But that stereotype went out the darkened window years ago. Now, us overworked, underpaid detectives just waited till we got home before drowning our sorrows.
I ran my fingers through my hair; lifted it off my face; swept it back. I was ready. I checked the side view. Nothing coming. I opened the door and stepped out into the downpour. Jeez, I cursed to myself, it was like Miami during a tropical storm. I looked right and left. Nothing was coming so I scampered across the road, and hopped up onto the sidewalk, nearly colliding with a rather tall gentleman, hiding himself under a large black umbrella.
"Hey, watch it buddy!" he hissed at me.
"Sorry," I replied, fighting the urge to whip out my badge and tell him to go fuck himself, unless he wanted a night in the lockup for "resisting arrest".
He moved on without another word. I stared up at those black windows again. They looked darker all of a sudden. My heart began to beat quicker and harder. I was nervous. Even more nervous than the time I faced off with Little Jimmy Carmichael down at the Greasy Eagle diner. Little Jimmy had been resisting arrest something rotten that night. He'd gone to the hospital before going to county. My finest hour. Everybody said so.
I was stalling. I knew it. I didn't want to go up those steps and knock on that big brown door. But I had to. It was my job. Well, that wasn't entirely true. I had another reason as well. One that I couldn't really broadcast. That woman, the one who called 911, had mentioned something else. Audrey Nielson. Oh, she hadn't come right out and said her name like that. No, but what she had said, left no doubt in my mind that that was who she was referring to.
Audrey Nielson was a young girl who went missing about 15 years ago. We found her a month later. Dead. Horrible. One of my very first cases. It was cold now, but there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think about it. I'd acquired some extra information about it from a somewhat unorthodox and not very legal avenue, which naturally I could never share in any official capacity. The information hadn't led anywhere, but again, there wasn't a day went by that I didn't think of it. Falls Piping Company. That's all I had got from this dubious source all those years ago. When I called back the woman from earlier today, using the number we had logged for her, a male recorded voice had answered "Falls Piping Company". I'd nearly dropped my iPhone into the toilet. After 15 years of nothing in the Audrey Nielson case, suddenly now, I was getting a lead? That was why I had decided to check this out.
I pulled the collar of my long coat up around my neck, as if that would somehow stop me from getting even more soaked, took a look around, suddenly wary of being watched, and took the first step up towards the door.
Before I could go any further though, a voice called out from behind me. "Hey mister," it said simply, "Hey..."
I turned around immediately and was greeted by the chubby face of a chubby kid. He was holding out an umbrella. I stared at him like he was an alien. Something about him wasn't registering right. He just looked odd and out of place. Despite holding an umbrella out to me in the pouring rain.
I hesitated and stuttered. "What ya want kid?" I asked, feeling like I looked like a scared and lost puppy.
He smiled, still holding out the umbrella. "You want an umbrella?" he asked, "Awfully wet out."
"I, err, I mean, I think I don't even need one," was all I could come back with.
"You gotta take it," he said, the smile widening to show two rows of perfect white teeth. "Take this one."
I could feel myself starting to giggle at the lunacy of it all. I looked around again for no reason. This whole situation was whacked out crazy. But I didn't know why. It just was. My left hand was gripping my collar close to my throat, so I reached out with my right hand, and took the umbrella.
"See?" the kid said, still smiling, "You did need one after all."
I smiled this time. Two rows of slightly crooked, slightly yellow teeth. I couldn't think of anything to say, but it didn't matter. The kid turned on his heels and ran off. I noticed he wasn't carrying any other umbrellas. Had he been selling them? I guessed not since I hadn't paid him anything. I laughed. Hahahaha. An old woman, passing by, looked at me like I was stupid as she pulled the dog she was walking closer, afraid that I might be some crazy dognapper.
I sat down on the step, the puddles immediately soaking through to my bare ass. I wasn't bothered though. I felt light headed and queasy. Puzzled and bewildered. Scared and sad. All at the same time. I looked at the umbrella. It was just a regular black umbrella, all wrapped up. I undid the clasp, and opened it up. Immediately a small piece of paper fell to the ground, and began to absorb the rain. I picked it up. It was a note. The ink was already beginning to run so I lifted the umbrella above my head to get a dryer look. "Don't go in there," was all it said.
Before I could even contemplate what the note meant, I turned my head to the right, leaned over slightly, and threw up down the steps of the house. What the hell was happening to me? I was even more scared now. Who was that kid? What did he know about this house? How did he know that I would be coming here? All these questions, and nobody to beat up for answers. I coughed and spat out the remaining sick from my mouth. Probably just something I ate. Luigi's wasn't the best pizza place in town. Or the cleanest. It was just near the station.
I stood up, shook myself off, coughed again, and looked down the street. The kid was long gone. I looked at the note again; pondered its meaning. Don't go in there? Why not? Of course I was going to go in there. That was why I was here. Stupid kid, I thought, angrily. Who was he anyway? Fat little shit. Tell me not to go in some house. I'll fuckin' kill you, I see you again! I was fuming, but again, I didn't know why. Something was going on. Something to do with this house, and that woman, and Audrey Nielson. I wasn't going to find out what just standing there in the rain. I had to get inside.
I turned quickly around, and still raging marched up the steps to the thick brown door. I grabbed the knocker, and banged it loudly several times. COME ON FUCKSTICK! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! COME OUT COME OUT!!! I banged again, even louder. GET OUT HERE! I screamed in my head. I'LL FUCKIN' KILL YOU TOO! I'LL KILL ALL OF YOU UP THERE! I started banging on the door with my fists this time. I was in a violent rage. I wanted inside this house right now. And if someone didn't open the door, I was more than prepared to take out my gun, and just start shooting.
Nothing happened. Nobody came to open the door. Nobody shouted at me to stop banging. There were no sounds from inside. The house just carried on standing there, all quiet and still. I slumped to the ground, and cried. Everything had gone wrong. Not just now. But always. I got up, and in a daze, managed to stumble back to my car. The rain was still falling like nothing I had ever seen. My umbrella was gone with the wind. The note was a soggy, black mess, totally unreadable. And I was a sobbing, raging, freak show of a detective, in the middle of a breakdown apparently. I reached into the glovebox, removed a bottle of Jack, took a long swig, and vowed to come back tomorrow. I was now late for my meeting anyway.
|Copyright © 2015 Daniel Lee Peach|