The darkness came and went. I dreamed of the man in red a few more times. Variants on the same old theme. Death. Destruction. Endings.
I want to point out a no time did I ask for any of this. I just wanted to go to the bar. I just wanted to have a few drinks. I ended up with a knife in my stomach. When I would turn and scream in my dreams, the stitches would tear. They started sedating me after a while. About the same as the alcohol, I guess.
I had a few visitors. At first they would only let my mom and dad in. My sister could not make it, it being tax season and all, but she sent a card. It had a spaceship on it and came with a contact paper so it would stay pristine. I never had someone send me a designer get well card before.
Caleb and Jessica came on the first day I was allowed to see real people again. Jessica worried about the room. I guess hospitals make her uncomfortable. I found it amusing, but Caleb had enough of her adjusting my pillows and sent her out for water. He filled me in on what was happening in the town.
Caleb had an interesting angle on things, being protective of the library under his charge and as an outsider to the community. Between his and mom’s gossip, I gathered the following details.
The ”earthquake” that had ripped a gash in the library’s floor and basement was the result of buildup in the gas line. The pressure had backed up and the heavy activity had caused a small, very localized explosion that caused the damage to the building. The pipes were old and that kind of thing can happen even with no real cause. Apparently.
The surviving board of directors, excluding Mr. Fletcher who was not present and claimed to know nothing, were arrested and charged with kidnapping, multiple counts of attempted murder, and “the harmful conversion of religion on a person,” which is a law that only Bannville seems to have on its books. Our town has had quite the problem with cults in the past, it seems.
The bodies of the board members were given burials by their families, except for Darling’s. He had no family anyone could speak of. Mom paid for a simple cremation. She said it was the least she could do for his service to the library and that if being crazy meant you did not get respect when you were dead, then half the population should just be burned in a pile in the city dump. I am inclined to agree with her.
Natalie came a few days after Caleb. She told me that she had been getting ready for the party, had just walked out the door when someone grabbed her. She did not remember anything until she heard me yelling her name on the floor of the library.
I made a joke about her being glad she made me go to the party. She did not laugh.
We talked. We talked about things I would rather not share. We shared for the first time in a long time. It tore me apart, dug deeper in my gut worse than that knife did.
She cried. I tried to hold her, but she pushed me away claiming I was too ill. I still tried. As usual, she was right and I tore my stitches again.
She is my friend. Maybe my best friend. If there is something prophetic about my dreams, then she is not my destiny, not my future wife unless she grows half a foot and gets over her egg allergy. I guess there’s comfort there. Maybe if that future is true then she is safe. Maybe she can find some happiness without me around.
I can hope. I can hope for her.