The Hand-Off (Part V)

January 30, 2009

Over breakfast, Stephen strained himself trying to recall the events of the previous night. Although it was hard to remember exactly what had happened, the fact that something really had happened was clearly set in his mind. It wasn’t a dream. He just knew. Plus, how else would he explain the extra set of tracks leading up to his door. Also, if it had occurred to him that he was actually eating breakfast, which he was never in the habit of doing previously, he would have known beyond all doubt. But the change that had taken place in him last night was too deep and too pervasive for him to notice.

Stephen was accustomed to laying around watching TV on Sundays, but today he knew he had to get out and take care of something. The fact that he didn’t know exactly what it was he had to do, or where he had to go, didn’t really bother him. After shaving and taking a shower, Stephen dressed and got ready to go out, but he first thought: “No, I really need to clean this place up a little first.”

While Stephen furiously cleaned his apartment, a man walked resolutely out of a narrow alleyway with a small brown package in his hands. It looked much like a gift wrapped in parcel paper. It even had a string tied around it and a note fixed to the top. The man’s collar was turned up to hide his neck, and the gray fedora that crowned his head tilted down in the front to obscure his face, if he had one.

After two hours, his apartment was almost spotless. Stephen proved to be a surprisingly fast cleaner, considering how out of practice he was. His mindless determination fueled him. He was now ready to face the task at hand. He put on his heavy winter coat, stepped outside and locked the door. Then he began to forge a new set of tracks in the snow, this time heading perpendicular to the other two sets. He was on his way to the office, or toward the office I should say. He wouldn’t make it that far, at least not today anyway.

Stephen entered the subway station located several blocks north of his apartment, just as if he were heading to work. And, just as if he were heading to work, he boarded the Blue Line with his freshly swiped ticket in his hand. Again, just as usual, he sat down in the next to last row in his car. There were two details, however, that were out of the ordinary this morning. The first was how few people there were on the car, but then again, it was a Sunday, not a weekday. The second, and more importantly, the significant discrepancy between this subway ride and any other trip to work, was that Stephen sat down on the left side of the car, not the right. And next to him in the seat was a brown package wrapped in parcel paper. It had a string tied around it and a note attached to the top. Stephen flipped open the card out of impulse, though he didn’t need to read the five words written upon it in scratchy handwriting. He already knew what it said: “Just wait. You will know.”

-James, the younger brother


The Nietzsche Family Circus

January 22, 2009

I saw this over on 20 Times Around the Block.  Pretty entertaining:

-Matt, the elder brother

The Coverture (Part IV)

January 21, 2009

During Stephen’s befuddlement the faceless man was on the move.  He had left the park and begun a brisk walk across the city.  Drawn upon a map, his walk might appear as a drunken stumble, or perhaps as the sort of path that two lovers would take with no aim except to prolong their journey.  However, he moved with great purpose – five blocks to the north, two to the west, one to the south, three to the east, and so it went.

At last he rounded a corner into an abandoned alley.  Midway down the block lay a steaming grate.  As the dark man reached the grate he gave a quick glance to assure that he was alone.  In a flash he had lifted the grate and disappeared beneath the street. Though a much more comfortable temperature than the air above, the atmosphere of the tunnel reeked of the city’s filth.  A filth that had been washed from above only to decay and mildew in the sewers below.  The man proceeded, stooping down the tunnel toward the sound of rushing water.  He needed no light, as he knew the way well.  The small passage emptied into a larger one with a small waterfall that spewed forth a putrid mist.  The man strode silently along the channel, wasting no time.  Within minutes he reached a portal in the wall, slid it open, and stepped inside.  With the flip of his wrist, the room glowed.  It stood in stark contrast to the sewer that surrounded him.  The room was neat, clean, and basked in an amiable light.

Stephen awoke in his bed.  “What happened?” he thought to himself.  At this time in his life it was often difficult to differentiate waking and sleeping.  It was still dark outside.  At least he had fallen asleep, but he still felt so tired.  “Was it a dream?”  He rose from his bed once again, stumbled through the cluttered room, and out into the living room walking immediately to the mountain of clothes.  His worn out jeans rested at the top of the pile.  Snatching them up he felt inside the pocket.  It wasn’t there.  It was then that his gaze fell upon snowy tracks leading in from the front door.  A ping of adrenaline hit him as he realized that it was not one set of snowy tracks, but two.

In the warm glow of his workshop the faceless man bent over his table.  A pair of scissors lay beside him.  His spindly fingers worked a needle and thread, back and forth, back and forth, as he sewed shut a gaping hole in the back of an Elmo doll.

-Matt, the elder brother

It’s kinda cold out….Well yer darn tootin’

January 15, 2009

We’ve finally gotten more or less settled into our house in Saint Paul.  Over the last week things have taken a turn for the cooler.  We’re experiencing our first temperatures that even the hardened Minnesotans think are pretty cold.  We’ve had two mornings this week with temps around -20 F, and today it barely eeked its way up to zero.  Saturday and Sunday will be a welcome change if the forecasted highs in the positive 20’s are correct.  I had wondered what it would be like to be outside in -20 F.  In my experiences so far it doesn’t seem like there was much qualitatively different from temps around zero (though of course the cold seeps in more quickly).  The one real difference I did notice was in breathing -20 F air.  If you breathe in too quickly then you get a strong cough reflex (or at least Elizabeth and I do).  Seems like exercising hard in that sort of temperature would be interesting.  Maybe your lungs would get used to it.  I would probably just get asthma.

Today when we went out to run an errand, I couldn’t get the truck to start.  The syrupy oil in the engine just bogged it down too much.  Luckily our car reluctantly started and we went on our merry way.

Now that I am starting to emerge from the chaos that has been my life over the last 6 months, I expect that I can be more diligent in my posting.  In fact I have experienced plenty of blog-worthy moments over the last 6 months.  Over the next few weeks I plan on unleashing a barrage of personal updates to catch up.  This may mean that the blog will be a bit weighted to me rather than James for a while unless he wants to reciprocate.  Sometime in the next week I will start by releasing the next installment of our current fiction project.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Here’s a photo of Elizabeth after we shoveled the walk in our front yard.  The snow is piling up.

Front yard