THE MIDNIGHT CAFE

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Chapter 5

Richard Norm reached his upstairs apartment, an apartment he moved into from a lovely starter home on the other side of the city. Living out of boxes and surviving off savings, which had accumulated over the three years of marriage, saving up for that vacation to London. London was now far from Richard’s mind staring at his HP laptop resting on an oversized windowsill. The irony of it, the apartment where he now stood is four doors apart from the one he lived in after escaping his father at the age of sixteen. He made good on his promise to the landlord that he could stay for free if he continued going to school. At the beginning of each month he brought in a copy of his grades. Maintained a B average and worked on weekends, he had a free room and money for clothes and food. Now, surrounded by boxes, standing heavy shouldered and tired. However, for the first time in five years, his mind was racing. No clear meaning as of yet and he knew just how to work it out. Talking and not just talking to the empty space, no, no, that would cause some difficulty to store clear thoughts inside where it was already a jumbled mess.

He set his legal pad on his bed, which was only a mattress with an untidy heap of blankets placed beside his work station. Then began to rummage among the boxes all the while muttering and humming. Finally at the fourth box, he found what he was looking for and announced, “Ah ha!” As he pulled out a Sanyo minicorder with slide switches instead of push buttons.

There was a 60-minute tape in the gadget, and fresh if his memory was right. All the way rewound on side A to be sure it indeed was fresh. Richard thumbed the switch to play.

Static.

Rewound to the beginning, slid the switch to Record and the red light came on. Richard let the wheels turn in the machine, hesitant, nervous to speak. The red light flickered every time it caught a sound, right then, it was catching Richard’s breaths. A thought came and he spoke it, “Just don’t start talking back to me.” Richard watched the light flicker like mad as he said the sentence, it stilled and he waited.

After ten seconds or so, Richard nodded satisfied and thumbed the switch to Stop. Placing the minicorder on the ground he started to look for more tapes. In the middle of rummaging, he reached for the minicorder and thumbed the switch to Record, “I don’t know what to believe. If I even believe in the paranormal.” Richard paused in narration to consider the question. Continued to look for tapes, to his disappointment there were none, “No tapes,” he said before sliding the switch to Stop.

He stood up and stared at the gadget, the jumble mess in his head all pointed to one answer. Thumbing the switch and said, “I am going to break in...tonight. Why wait and plan? If what Kimmy said is true then the police won’t come till midnight anyway.” He thumbed to Stop and smiled feeling good. So he did believe, while if anything there was a force that was keeping him going to the café. Perhaps this is it?

Richard looked about, what was he going to need? He thumbed the switch to Record, “Dark clothing, a flashlight to write by. Um...” Darkening the red light again. Of course the legal pad but there was nothing else he could think of. This wasn’t like a sleepover you have as a child, this is breaking and entering. Meaning jail time, Richard knew this and did not care. He would also bring his newly found friend.

It only being noon, Richard did what he had done for five years. Sit and stare at the blank document on the computer screen but this time he was waiting for the right time to go out and get his story. He moved his right hand up in front of his line of sight. How was the naked whiteness still there? It made no sense to him well, on what should be. In all reality the strange whiteness on his ring finger should’ve cleared up a few days after he removed the ring. To him this is a painful reminder of what happened and what he still had yet to accomplish.


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