Above the Silence

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Chapter One

1963

Elijah Grey rolled over on his bed, his head pounding and throbbing from his indiscretions the night before. He rubbed his temple as the throbbing pain resonated in his head. Glancing through half-squinted red eyes, they fell upon the nearly empty bottle of vodka on the nightstand. He glared at the bottle as he picked it up.

“You did this to me,” he said as he took the last swig from the bottle, discarding all that was left down his throat. Parched and starving, he would give anything for a burger at the moment as well as a large diet cola. No, scrap the diet cola. He would rather have a beer instead.

In the living room, the radio blared. Today is the 13th day of December 1963 and it looks like it’s going to be another uncharacteristically hot day in Youngsville again. This has been one crazy year, the voice emanating from the radio said.

Elijah rubbed the sleep from the corners of his still bloodshot eyes and threw his feet over the side of the bed, landing them on the green shag carpet below. He managed a smile as his feet sunk into it. It was warm and soft.

“Thank God it’s Friday,” he mumbled to himself as he stood up, scratching his neck for a brief moment. “Thank God it’s Friday,” he repeated. Just then, he felt a wave of dizziness and had to hold on to the bed. When it had passed, he trudged towards the kitchen in his underwear and put the coffeepot on. Heading back to his room, passing the closet, his eyes came to rest on a photo frame on his desk. He had no idea why on earth he had a picture of them. The Greys were not that much of a family to him so why then did he still have a picture of them? He sighed. He could never bring himself to throw it out. They did not give a hoot about him most times but that did not stop him from caring about them. He rubbed his eyes and headed towards the shower. After today, he had the whole weekend to himself to do whatever it was he wanted. And that was only one thing, to find a comfortable enough place to hang out with his friends and drink. Stopping in front of the vanity he pulled out his toothbrush. His breath stunk like a slurry pit. As he reached for the toothpaste, he lost his balance and slipped, hitting his head against the vanity.

“Ouch!” he yelped, reaching for his head to rub it, drawing back bloody fingers. “Just great, what else can go wrong, today?’ He muttered angrily under his breath. He stood erect and washed the blood away, muttering expletives as he did. He would dress it after his shower. Elijah stood below the pounding rivulets as they hit his skin. He needed the cold. It was obviously going to be a hot day, coupled with the fact that he had a splitting headache. Still, the cut in his head stung like a prize fighter had laid into him. All he could do was bear the pain.

At twenty-three, Elijah had only one inner demon he battled with every day of his life; his love for the bottle. He was constantly drinking. When he was happy, when he was sad…when there was no reason at all. And Elijah didn’t see it as a problem even though everyone else around him did. What was wrong with drinking? He loved it, he simply enjoyed it. He stepped out of the glass-walled shower stall and rubbed his shoulder length brown hair with a towel. He padded over to the medicine cabinet and snapped it open. He quickly grabbed the aspirin and downed some after which he cleaned the cut and placed gauze over it. He shook his head as if doing so would drive away the ache.

He staggered out of the bathroom and got dressed even faster. He was almost late for a class and if he didn’t head out immediately, that would definitely be the case. He ran down to the kitchen, poured himself the coffee and drank it black. He needed the kick if he did not intend to be a zombie for the rest of the day. Once he had downed it all, he finally hurried out of the house.

It was still quite hot as Elijah walked to the bus stop to wait for his bus. The street outside his abode was already milling with people rushing off to attend to their various businesses and interests. It was Friday, the end of the week. Friday marked the beginning of festivities in Elijah’s dictionary. Elijah stood in the middle of the road and looked down at his wristwatch. He was running late and as he looked at the long road ahead of him, he knew that there was no way he would get to class on time if he chose to continue down it. At that moment, Elijah decided to walk the faster route he had always heard people talk about but hadn’t tried himself. Since he moved here, he had heard some of his friends at college talk about a pathway that led to the stop and would make his walk faster. He didn’t know the exact route but he was certain it wouldn’t be so hard to navigate.

Taking the first left on his way, Elijah ventured into the path that would lead him to his saving today. The path was pretty much straightforward as he walked on ahead. On either side of the path grew shrubs that had obviously not been trimmed in a long time. They seemed to be going higher and higher as Elijah went deeper down the path. Elijah did not mind the overgrown bushes. The only issue was that there was hardly anyone passing, which was not such a bad thing to Elijah. He needed some relative quiet and was not looking forward to a forced chitchat with anyone who thought they could be overly familiar with him just because they had seen him around some. He found casual conversation boring and never saw any use for them. And at the moment, he was late. There was to be no time for chitchat. He kept telling himself this as he walked down the bush laden path.

Barely a couple of minutes later, Elijah came to a spot where the road split into two. He stood staring at the two paths confused. When he had set out down the path, he had had no idea that he was going to be making such a choice. He had absolutely no idea where either led to and which direction to take. He had to make a quick decision; there was absolutely no time to waste. The longer time he spent standing at the T- junction and weighing his options, the later he was going to be to class. Without wasting any more time, Elijah moved to the right, the path that was on the side he had been walking on all along. What was the worst that could happen? He doubted that wild animals, as well as crooks, lurked in the bushes. Walking down the path, he still saw some fresh set of footprints. Seeing them helped reassure him that he was certainly treading the right path. They helped reassure him that his decision was indeed the right one.

As he ventured further, the pathway became less and less easy to navigate. The footsteps that once served as a reassurance started to reduce gradually until there was not much anymore, they were no longer visible. By this time, the pathway was nothing more than a mere footpath. Elijah spun around immediately, trying to make sense of this. He had been so sure. His gut had told him there was something waiting for him on this path and he always believed his gut. For the first time, it had disappointed him and it chose the very day he was running late. Elijah released a frustrated sigh. His head hurt badly and the scorching sun was not helping him in any way. The heat of the sun on his head intensified the pain. By this time, sweat was already trickling down his neck as well as emanating out of the pores that littered his skin.

As he started to turn around, he felt a pull within him. Something telling him deep within that there was indeed something ahead, waiting for him. Listening to the voices in his head, Elijah decided to continue on, down the path. He was already late, after all. He might as well just do whatever it was he wanted and get to school whenever he did than get half measures on both ends.

He hadn’t walked for more than five minutes when he caught sight of a building that caused him to stop in his tracks. The building was an old dilapidated plantation home and it looked from the outside like it had been untouched for a long time. Maybe this was the reason his mind had kept bringing him here. His eyes roved over the exterior of the old house as he took the appearance in, seeing everything in his mind’s eye, from the peeling paint to the splintered shutters, blowing in the slightly cool breeze that the sun managed to tolerate. The shingle of the roof just as well was flapping with the wind. Shrubs around the house were already overgrown. From where he stood, the windows seemed to be caked with dust. The house was one that had obviously seen better days.

Elijah stared hard at the house and wanted so badly to enter the house and check it out. He could not help but wonder how long the house had stood out here. How long ago had it been occupied? He craved to go in but he doubted there was enough time to. He glanced quickly at his wrist watch. It was already 9:00 am. Even though he had managed to talk himself into walking down here, he really didn’t think he could wait any longer than he already did. And from the looks of things, going through this old home would take quite a while. He would just take a sneak peek and he would come back after school today.

Elijah reached for the rusted knocker and knocked on the front door, half-hoping that someone would answer the door. There was no sound from inside the old house. He pulled his hand away from the knocker and along with it came rust. As he stepped back to give the house a once-over, the boards beneath his feet creaked loudly. He almost jumped out of his skin as a result of the loud sound. It had been startling to his still sensitive ears. This house was a complete wreck, yet he could imagine what it looked like back in the days. He walked back towards the house and knocked on the door again. Nothing still. Gingerly, he reached for the doorknob and opened the door. To his surprise, it gave way immediately and opened up. The creaking sound of the hinges freeing up echoed all over the house.

As he stepped into the house, his eyes fell on an old, dirty doll lying on the floor. There was another one not too far away from the first. He bent over to look at the doll and what he beheld startled him. It was quite an unusual sight. Its eyes were gone. And so were the second’s. Elijah knew immediately that he had to come back and check this place out. But he wouldn’t come back alone. He would have to come along with reinforcements and by that, he meant his buddies. They could make it a fun trip, well that would be after they must have dished out all their complaints and grumbling. He turned around and left the house knowing full well that he was going to be as tardy as hell for his class.

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