STANDING OUTSIDE AT twilight in front of the old Johnson place, next to his best friend, JJ Douglas felt an overwhelming sense of déjà vu that caused a chill to freeze his spine. He had no clue why they were here and Curt was being very cryptic about his vision and what they were supposed to accomplish. Curt shoulder-checked JJ on his way up the walk to the front door, but paused at the bottom of the stoop to give JJ a ‘let’s get moving’ look. For a moment, JJ thought he saw a flash of yellow blaze inside Curt’s gaze, but that funky red shirt made it hard to look at his friend for very long, so JJ just attributed the yellow flash to confusion and nerves.
“What are you waiting on homie, your crop to come in?” Curt goaded JJ. “Let’s do what we came here to do.”
“What, Curt!” JJ barked at his friend. “What exactly did we come here to do? Tell me please, because you haven’t been very forthcoming with the 411.”
“ I extend to you my deepest apologizes Joseph, sincerely. Sorrowfully, I do not possess the necessary vocabulary to delineate nor articulate the intricate particulars concerning the revelation that was bequeathed to my cerebrum by the cosmos.” With that, Curt bounded up the stairs to the front door.
“Are you for real homie? You can’t tell me what you envisioned, but you can say all of that nonsense with a straight face? And why are you going to the front do—”JJ lost his voice midsentence, as Curt quite easily turned the knob and opened the front door to the Old Johnson place like it was home sweet home.
“I swear by the festering forelock of Nicodemus, Joseph, I am sincere.”
“Don’t misquote Legend at me!” JJ snapped.
“Are you coming, homie, or what?” Curt asked, tapping an imaginary watch at his wrist.
Slowly, JJ ascended the steps to the porch landing of the spooky, old two-story, never taking his eyes off Curt. The clanging warning bells in JJ’s mind had morphed into blaring sirens that threatened to overcome his senses altogether. Yet JJ continued to ignore his sense of self-preservation, in favor of belief in his friend. JJ stood before the gapping maw of the Old Johnson house, his head full of questions and caution.
“How did you just do that?” JJ inquired. “How did you know it would just open?”
“I told you, JJ. I don’t know how or why, I just know. Ya know what I’m sayin’?”
Turning to fully face Curt and brave the red T-shirt, JJ pleaded with his best friend: “Please, homie. Can’t you tell me anything, anything at all as to why we are here and what we are supposed to do? Is the key to our victory in there? Give me a tidbit, a spoiler, a hint. Give me something, homie, ANYTHING!”
“Do you really want to know, JJ?”
“YES!” JJ growled into Curt’s face more fiercely then he intended.
“Then by all means, JJ, follow me inside. The answer to all your questions lies within. On the second floor,” Curt said extremely calm and collected, that JJ wanted to flee from his friend in terror.
“Curt, if you’re messing with me, I swear I’ll—”
“You’ll what, JJ, kill me and eat me? I’m not fucking with you, not at all. Now if you can find your balls, follow me inside so we can get on with chugging some floats. Ya know what I’m sayin’?” Then Curt stepped inside.
“Fine, but if you are playing me, then it’s you who’s buying the first round.” JJ threatened.
Inside the Old Johnson place, it was quiet as a tomb. Even if it wasn’t dead-quiet, JJ didn’t think he’d be able to hear anything over the pounding of his heart, anyway. Just like out of one of those old, black & white horror movies that he loved so much, the front door closed creepily, seemingly under its own power. JJ turned back for a moment to mean-mug the door. And noticed what looked like hash marks covering the inside of the huge, ancient door. Oh, that’s not disconcerting or anything, JJ thought.
Vigilant and alert for danger, he followed Curt up the creaky old staircase to the second floor, all the while wishing he had made Curt stop so he could grab HB. JJ felt that he would’ve been much more at ease, not to mention courageous, with his hatchet gripped firmly in hand. Why didn’t I just bring him with in the first place, JJ admonished himself for his absent-mindedness. Lost in thought for a moment about HB, JJ almost plowed Curt over when his large friend stopped at the top of the staircase to gaze at himself in an antique, full-length mirror.
At first glance, JJ thought the antiquated looking glass was pretty fresh. It had to be over a hundred-years-old and was in desperate need of some TLC, but the old mirror definitely had a charm that was not lost on JJ. However, the longer he watched Curt gawking at his warped refection, the more JJ felt the old mirror was sinisterly not what it seemed. JJ suddenly had to fight off an overwhelming urge to shatter that funky mirror into a thousand pieces, seven years bad luck be damned. As if Curt could feel what JJ was considering, he turned and fixed a glare upon his friend that made JJ’s blood run cold.
“W-w-what’s with the mirror?” JJ asked hoping to soften the stony look on Curt’s face.
“What mirror, JJ?” Curt answered the question with a question, still stony-faced.
“That mirror, right the—” JJ paused, mouth agape, pointing at—a wall.
“Where’d the frickin’ mirror go?” JJ queried boisterously, as he shouldered past his friend to stand in the place he could’ve sworn the mirror stood moments before.
“Again, JJ, what mirror?”
“What mirror! There was a big, old-fashioned, full-length mirror, Curt, which you couldn’t seem to take your eyes off of. The mirror that stood right here not ten seconds ago! Where’d it go, Curtis?” JJ demanded.
“Calm down, JJ. Damn. You’re trippin,’ homie, cuz there ain’t no mirror. Well, there is a mirror in that room right there, but that’s the only one in the house. Just behind that door.”
Curt knew he’d messed up as soon as the words left his lips. The hurt look of suspicion on JJ’s face said it all: Curt was caught. He’d have to use his wits and intelligence, or strength and intimidation to get JJ inside that room now. He knew it; he knew the master knew it, and he knew JJ was finally onto him.
“How do know what’s what and where, in this place when neither one of us has ventured beyond the dingy basement? Huh, homie?” JJ seethed sarcasm, as he pronounced the last word.
“Fuck it.” Curt said the thought aloud not meaning to as he made the decision to buffalo JJ into the room containing the trussed-up librarian and his doom.