Previously in this blog serial...
Now the HAUNTING continues...
I am lying alone in the motel bed, a streetlight faintly illuminating the closed curtains. There is no need to see Stickler Hill waiting for me beyond the window. Out of sight, out of mind. Besides, there are more pleasant things to think about.
My thoughts drift through the rest of my evening with Eddie. The conversation had become almost overwhelmingly sad, so his suggestion of getting out of Gordon’s sounded good to me. We vacated the table and Eddie stopped to say a quick goodnight to Val. She smiled and told us to come again. Eddie said we would and I just nodded. A couple of the patrons at the bar gave us a quick wave, which was a stark contrast to when I first entered.
As we stepped into the warm summer night, I asked Eddie what he had in mind. He beamed and said we should take a stroll through downtown. The business district of Sturgeons was our childhood hangout. A taste of independence from parental supervision because we all assumed that our small town was safe. Maybe it was, generally speaking.
Eddie and I walked side by side past the rebuilt versions of our old haunts. There was the diner where we would grab burgers and sodas. We always drove the owner crazy when we would spin around on the stools along the counter. On another block was the candy store, where we would stock up on sweets when candy baked beans weren’t enough. Then there was the theater, our Saturday night escape from small town life. We couldn’t recall the last movie we saw at The Deco, but it was probably some science fiction-horror nonsense that we laughed at to cover our fear.
As we headed back towards Gordon’s, Eddie pondered what we might have missed by not growing up as teenagers together. He suggested parties and cruising Main Street. I chuckled at the double meaning and mentioned Saturday night movies would’ve definitely continued. Eddie agreed, but wondered what else we missed out on. I hesitated, uncertain how far I wanted to slide down the rabbit hole of what if.
After Eddie prodded me with a gentle nudge as we walked, I started to describe how we might have spent an evening at the age of 16 or 17. How we would have parked in the middle of a cornfield, both of us stretched out on the hood of a car. Eddie added that it would’ve been a moonless night so the stars filled the sky. I suggested the only sound would’ve been the humming of insects and a slight breeze rustling the cornstalks. We both knew that the night would’ve been filled with laughter, intense conversation and moments of comfortable silence.
Before more could be said, we were back at Gordon’s Bar. We stopped near our respective vehicles and faced one another. Eddie smiled, maybe a little sadly, and I could see it in his eyes. He didn’t want the night to end. Neither did I, but we agreed it was getting late. We exchanged numbers and he asked about my plans for tomorrow. I vaguely mentioned visiting a resident at The Golden Dusk and then hitting the library for old newspapers, but I promised we would see each other again.
Eddie, with his lopsided grin, said he was holding me to that promise. Then he held me, an embrace for all the years stolen from us. He expressed how much he missed me and I returned the feeling. As we slowly let go and said goodnight, I noticed a tear running down Eddie’s cheek.
I wipe away a few tears as I turn onto my side in the lonely motel bed. My phone, in view on the nightstand, lights up and vibrates. I hold my breath, sensing it will not be Eddie and I’m right. The brief text feels like a slap in the face.
Do you know what you’re doing?
I reply that I do and then shut off my phone. Tossing the necessary evil down to the foot of the bed, I curl my legs up to my chest. The motel room suddenly seems smaller and the bed feels lonelier as I wait for sleep to arrive.
The HAUNTING continues in…
Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words!
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