© 2004 Michael McBride. All rights reserved.




Saturday, November 19th

10 a.m.

            Scott stared out the second story window from the bedroom across the hallway from his own. He had converted it to an office long ago when he had first moved in, but rarely used it. Most of the time he spent working at home was at the drafting table he had set up in the living room as it felt far less confined beneath the vaulted ceiling and with the light from all of the windows all around. This room was more of a professional looking storage area.

            There was a small desk, the same one that he had used growing up with his parents, in the corner of the room. Atop it sat an outdated computer, which had been state of the art only a few years ago when he had upgraded, but since had fallen far behind the cutting edge. A printer, with a combined fax and copy function, rested on top of a small silver filing cabinet next to the desk, the drawers stuffed full of building contracts. The majority of the business paperwork was kept at his office downtown, but it had been quite some time since he frequented that locale. He did the majority of his dealings by phone as he had an accountant to deal with the finances and a great set of managerial assistants to deal with the day to day maintenance.

            Scott had brought the cordless phone up into the study with him as he was expecting a call. He had just tossed it onto the paper tray in front of the printer atop the small stack of faxes he had accrued over the last week but hadn’t yet bothered to look at.

            There was a tall oak bookcase in the corner, filled with old textbooks he had been unable to sell back at the end of his final term in college. At least five years of architectural digests lined the shelf beneath. There were all sorts of books he had saved from his youth, hard- bound tomes that his parents had read to him growing up, along with the four thick volumes of old yearbooks from high school, and the thinner ones from junior high. Aside from the sparse furniture, and the stacks of unopened boxes in the corner of the room, it was quite barren.

            Scott craned his neck so that he could see all the way towards the park. The real estate agency had set up the circus looking tents next to the large gazebo, a row of smoking grills burning in a line in front. People filled the street, clustering into small groups as they inhaled their hamburgers and hot dogs from paper plates. The snow had been cleared from the basketball court, the baskets only recently having been added, as groups of small children tried with all of their might to get the large balls even close to the net.

            The snow, which had been close to knee deep only a few days ago was now completely melted from the streets and sidewalk, with only glistening patches remaining on the lawns and the recently laid sod of the park. As far as Colorado weather went, that was the norm, snow one day completely out of the blue, and the next it was gone leaving but a small reminder of the ferocious storm that had brought it. And today, they had lucked out with the weather. The sun shined brightly from directly overhead as just a few white, fluffy clouds dotted the sky.

            Sparrows chirped madly as they foraged the bare spot in the lawn, plucking out seeds and then darting back into the masses of pines where they had been weathering the storm.

            It was the perfect day for the picnic. And while the heat was only in the high 50’s, he knew that he couldn’t have asked for anything more.

            All of the lots had been contracted, and even without hiring additional help, which during the winter months never proved to be very difficult anyway, they should have the entire neighborhood completed within six months. The bank was happy, the Realtors were extraordinarily happy, his new neighbors were happy, and given the circumstances that surrounded the last chaotic week of his life, Scott was contented with being all right.

            He had spent the entire night burying Harry and Matt, side by side, in the earthen floor of the house. It wasn’t as if he could have just shown up at the cemetery with two bodies asking for burial. There would have been far too many questions, most of them involving the police and questions that he couldn’t answer, at least not in a way that they would understand. The way he saw it, Matt’s life had ended in that house so many years prior, that it was only fitting that it be his final resting place, and Harry had devoted the majority of his life to fighting the evil that they had banished from within. He did feel badly about not giving Harry the proper burial that he deserved, but he knew, deep down, that Harry would approve.

            Laughter filled his ears, even through the closed window as more and more cars lined up, one behind the other along the curb near the park, as more families strolled down the street, pushing strollers, holding hands, on their way to the barbecue. From his vantage, it looked like there had to be close to a couple hundred people filling the street. It was a smashing success, and even from afar he could feel a genuine sense of community from the revelers.

            At some point, he was going to have to make an appearance over there himself; after all he had to get back into his normal, everyday life. What better way to do that than with a group of people who all at least liked him momentarily, as none of their walls had begun to crack, none of their foundations settling. And there was a certain young Realtor over there that he really looked forward to getting to know a little better.

            For the first time in what seemed far too long, a smile crossed his lips. With the guilt over what happened to Matt and Harry, he wondered if he would ever be able to smile again, but he had reached at state of equilibrium with it. He had never asked to be involved with that situation, but he knew that he handled it the best that he could. In his mind, that thing that stalked the woods wasn’t Matt, his friend had died more than a decade ago in that lake. And while he still wished that he could go back in time and somehow change the past, to actually free Matt from that sinking car, he knew that he couldn’t. Wherever he was now, Matt was surely better off.

            In the final moment of his life, Harry had looked at peace, and that was how Scott chose to remember him. While they had only known each other a matter of days, there had been something of a kinship that he knew he would always remember, and would honor Harry with that memory for as long as he lived. But now the time had come to move on. He had taken measures to provide himself with a semblance of closure, something that would allow him to just push the whole thing to the back of his mind and insert himself back into his normal, everyday life.

            The ringing phone startled him from his trance.

            Giving one final, almost sentimental glance out across the street towards the park, he turned from the window and walked around the desk, snatching the phone from where it rested on the printer. A few of the white pages fell from the tray onto the floor as he brought the phone to his ear.



            “Hey, Greg, how’s it going?”

            “I was just calling to let you know that everything is in place and we’re ready to level this sucker.”

            “Thanks a lot for taking care of this on such short notice.”

            “Just remember that you owe me. You know how much trouble I could get into for not running this through the City Planner’s office.”

            “Oh, yeah.”

            “Well, you had said that you wanted me to call you when everything was in place and ready to go, so…”

            “Thanks, man. When you think of how I can repay you, you just let me know.”

            “I think we’ll start with a couple of rounds for me and my boys.”

            “You got a deal. Just name the time and place.”

            “Did I say just a couple of rounds, what I really meant was the first twenty or so rounds.”

            “You’re pushing your luck now.”

            “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”

            “Certainly not.”

            “Well, I guess I’d better prepare to do this thing. If you need anything else, I’m at my cell phone.

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