"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reynolds (Part One)

The mist of that damp, rotten Baltimore midnight curled around my feet like it was tied to my ankles with the finest thread. When I moved, it followed, circling tiny ripples on the cobblestones and then hurriedly chasing my heels down the road.

He seemed perfectly serene when I first came upon him, making no sound or movement besides sporadic, arbitrary weight shifting that seemed more ambient than the product of his own muscles.

I stepped closer through the fog, and he twisted violently at the hips to look at me.

I stopped, trying my best to measure his intensity and stability despite the muddling effect the mist had on my vision. I could barely make out most of his face, but what I saw for sure were his eyes, eyelids spread wide in what I perceived as either horror or insanity. Not certain of which it actually was, I decided it was best to stay put.

"Edgar?" I said. "Edgar, is that you?"

His eyes stayed completely open, like sight was the last of his five senses that remained operable and he was trying to take it all in optically.

"Where is he?" he asked, pupils flitting about as he scanned the street behind me. "He came with you, didn't he? He used you, didn't he, Mags? He used you..."

He trailed off into silence and his eyes locked on me. At least now I knew it was Edgar, evidenced by the use of his nickname for me - the one he had used ever since I had nearly blinded both of us during a college science experiment.

It made me smile to know this was my friend, but I couldn't see past the crumbled, wild exterior to see just how much of him was still there.

He stepped closer to me and reached out a dirty, almost-gloved hand.

"Come with me, Mags," he whispered. "I know where we can hide."

More worried than scared at this point, I grabbed his hand and let him lead me. His palm was cold and covered in dirt or some other gritty substance. Despite his frayed condition he was still strong, and he pulled me almost headlong down the street. I took a glance behind us and saw nothing but the mist spiraling up from the road, crimping in protest before fading into the blackness above the streetlamps.

Edgar took me down a short alleyway, bursting out into the street and then a painfully sharp turn and down a longer alley, one I couldn't see the end of. I dodged garbage and empty crates, our speed increasing with the aid of the straightaway.

And just as quickly as he had accelerated us down the alley, Edgar brought us to a halt, stopping dead in his tracks in front of a bleak wooden door. I crashed into his back, the impact upsetting the silt that covered his jacket. He turned and looked at me, unimpressed with my momentum, and I noticed that his eyes had finally started to calm, which left me mildly relieved.

He turned back to his front and flung through his trouser pockets, finally appearing satisfied when he grasped a grimy, grayed key in his right hand. He inserted it into the lock and turned. The door opened with an unhappy croak, revealing a bright, albeit dusty room that was very much the opposite of the door in terms of condition.

With swooping agility that belied his appearance, Edgar moved inside and rushed straight for a set of elegant, wooden cabinets resting against the far wall. He reached for the handle, then stopped himself.

"Mmmmm...not yet," he muttered, and left the cabinet to go bounding around the room, inspecting the rest of the furniture.

Now I came into the room and, my curiosity piqued, moved for the cabinets as well. They were definitely antique pieces, and besides a thick layer of dust, they appeared to be in very good shape. I grasped one of the handles and tensed my arm to pull, but was thwarted when Edgar ran by and slapped me on the shoulder.

"Not yet!" he said, placing heavy emphasis on each word, then went scrambling about the room at a slightly slower pace than before.

"Edgar, let me help you," I said, opening my arms in as comforting a pose as I could manage. "What are you looking for?

He paused with a deep sigh, arms buried deep in a dresser drawer, and turned to look at me.

"I have it here, Mags, everything we'll need…everything…everything."

He was panting now, clearly out of breath, and his eyes flickered open and shut.

"He did this to me...lied...and his men..."

He slowly drew his arms out of the drawer, and used the dresser to pull himself up to his feet.

"Who did this?" I asked. "You have to tell me more, Edgar, please!"

He swallowed and blinked once, opening his mouth to speak and then immediately closing it again. I knew what was about to happen and forced myself into motion, but I was too late. Edgar staggered into the dresser, recovered, and then crumbled into a heap on the groaning wooden floor.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Crash and the Boys, We Hate You, Please Die

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