See Jack Hunt

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Chapter 19

114 West Briargrove.

8:49 pm . . .

The sun has finally given up its rule of the sky. Red and orange clouds are spread out here and there giving the sky a Kodak moment feel to it. The gold light turning yellow, yellow morphing into green and now everything above us might as well be the deep abyss of the ocean.

This neighborhood is much more quiet than even where Ricky and I live. Wealthy people who move this far out of town, they hold their silence sacred. In our neighborhood, ground plants, flowers, and cedar bark mulch cover the concrete, dirt, wires, sewage pipes, and jagged metal. Here, the trees are bigger, the landscaping is more expensive, but they’re concealing their dirty little secrets all the same.

We are, all of us, hiding in plane sight, burying our secrets just below a faux surface. I walk through the large house, just listening to the ticks of a lonely clock in one room, the hum of a refrigerator, or the faint shhhh sound of the air conditioning system that is cooling this place.

And as I’m meandering I wonder about Travis and his family. I try to imagine myself, maybe married with a child. Maybe I’d have a furry little cat like Steele, running around scaring the sanity and rational thought out of us.

I wonder, as I pass through a lavish study, if I have a family and a home somewhere, and they’re all waiting for me to come back through the front door at any moment.

My lost wife.

My abandoned child.

My forgotten cat.

But thinking like that is pointless. The one thing that the doctors and the angels all agree on is: I’ll never get it back. All of my past, my long-term memories, my greatest accomplishments, my joys and my pain, and my defeats . . . none of it will ever return to me. There will be no great epiphany. No unique, life changing moment of enlightenment or awareness.

The landscaping that covers my secrets can never be removed.

Bits and pieces, sparks and flashes, that’s all I’ll ever get. And it will only be second hand, barely more than hearsay.

And it will all be completely random. The me that I was is dead. The only thing I have is what I see in the mirror to remember me by. And that is changing faster than I can keep up with. Between the gym and the tattoo parlor, I won’t even recognize myself much longer.

Perhaps that’s what Uriel was trying to tell me. Maybe I’m different than human because I’m still evolving. No past, just the possibility of a future. I’m a paradox. The only constant in my life is continual change and adaptation.

The sky outside is a deep dark blue, and I feel something in the pit of my stomach. Those flashes I’ve been having, they’ve been leaving me sick and nauseated. Like being on a carnival ride that’s spinning way too fast.

I hope I’m not shorting out one side of my brain at a time. Only my left eye seems to get these flashes. That means my right is experiencing technical difficulties. The thought of losing my grey matter has certainly crossed my mind. However, I expected not to notice it. If my whole brain goes at once, I won’t notice it, so it wouldn’t bother me that much. But if my right brain melts and pours out of my ears while my left brain sits around watching . . . well, that would really suck.

“ . . . Jack, what’s your location? Over . . . ”

“I’m in the study!” I yell. It’s easier than that walkie-talkie.

As I walk into the living room, Ricky’s lifting his radio to tell me, “I’ve got the Full-Spectrum, Standard, and Thermal Imaging cameras all set. The Full-Spectrum will film a one second burst every three seconds. Thermal and Standard will run throughout the night. It will all store digitally, and then we’ll process tomorrow at the office.”

Ms. Josephine is sitting comfortably on one of the big brown couches in the living room, talking to Travis about tarot cards and astrology. And—just for the record—she confided in me that she doesn’t believe in either. Our future, she always tells us, is the one we create and manipulate in front of us.

Ricky walks up to me, his voice low, “You get any vibes about this place?”

Nothing supernatural, no.

“Alright,” he says, glancing out the windows. “Can you go and switch on all of the wireless microphones and we’ll do a quick sound check on each one?”

Sure, I say. Same order as I laid them?

“Doesn’t really matter, just keep track in your notepad.”

I decided to get the attic mics out of the way first. Maybe, now that it’s dark, I might see or hear something up there. I have a feeling I’m more likely to witness cat pornography than floating translucent poltergeists. But I suppose that could be fun, too.

I head across the living room, past several tripods with way-too expensive cameras facing upwards. I ascend the stairs and head to the sectional stairway that leads to the attic. The steps creak, one by one, as I slowly climb.

I’ve brought along a bright halogen flashlight that’s heavy enough to smash through concrete if need be. The beam is like, brighter than the sun. As I shine it through the attic all I see is clean, flat boards and the two mics that I dropped off earlier.

The light is so intense that the super bright circle that it illuminates shows me more than reality. I can see everything.

Every notch in the wood.

Every bend and inconsistency.

Every nail, and divot, and bump.

What was clean and perfect under normal light, is now edgy and twisted under the scrutiny of my halogen torch. I’m seeing this place in a way I shouldn’t be. I’m violating it. What I see, it’s real enough, but it doesn’t exist in the real world.

This is the actors without their make-up.

A famous painting from an inch away.

I flip on the mics, one at a time, and yell down, “Both attic mics are on!”

Over my radio I hear, “We’re good on the attic microphones. Hit the bedrooms. Over . . . ”

So I make my way out of the attic, cut off the flashlight, and consult my notepad to see which room was first. I mosey on down the hall to the kid’s bedroom, open the door, turn on the mic, and yell again.

“Okay,” Ricky instructs, “place that microphone in the back of the room, facing the door for the best coverage. Over . . . ”

Still yelling, I tell him, Microphone is in the back corner!

“Roger that. Next room. Over . . . ”

We repeat this process for each and every room, closet, and bathroom. Him talking into his radio. Me yelling.

The last room on my list is the master bedroom. I knock gently on the door, carefully pushing it open so as not to scare Travis’s wife and kid. The mic is right where I left it. And I hear the television on, the volume turned down to almost nothing. The room is dark other than the dancing colors radiating from the TV screen.

The shadows in here are long and erratic, timed perfectly to the Deadliest Catch. I can almost see the waves exploding, the salty white foam of cold Alaskan waters filled with juicy looking crabs.

“Place that microphone at the foot of the bed facing the door. Over . . . ” Ricky instructs patiently.

I don’t want to yell, and I’m way too frustrated to reply on the radio, so I just switch on the mic whispering into it as I walk it to the edge of the bed. I’m trying my best not to be invasive. I aim the little slits in the wireless mic at the door, and then I bend down and place it.

Slowly I stand, stretching my back.

Something tells me not to glance over at the bed. Over and over in my mind I repeat the warning:

Do not, for any reason, turn and look at the bed. It will only cause problems.

Do not, for any reason, turn and look at the bed. It will only cause problems.

And so, of course . . . I do. And then I realize what’s going on here.

My god!

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