The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 18

the-man-who-wasnt-thereJordan and Brian go to the basement to talk about his experiences the night before. Jordan admits that she loves him too. Unfortunately, they forget that Andre and Louisa are there, and wake them.

Andre poked him in the ribs. “I’m gonna go eat. Then I want to hear all about what you saw. You were pretty messed up last night. Couldn’t hardly get out two words when Jordan and I put you to bed.”

“You did that?”

“Yeah. You think a bitty thing like her could get you up the steps? Our folks were asleep, so I gave her a hand.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem, Brian. That’s what friends do.”

Jordan and Brian had a cup of coffee while the other two ate. Back in the basement, Jordan set up the camera on Brian’s laptop. He sat on the dilapidated couch and told about his vision. Afterward, the others asked him questions and he explained more about his impressions and feelings.

“Since we don’t know who will see this in the future,” Brian said. “I want to make it clear that I have no idea if the ritual worked or not. I don’t know if I summoned the Peddler or had a vision of Heaven, or something else entirely. I don’t feel all that different, but I did have the sensation this morning, as if someone else looked through my eyes. It was strange, like what I was seeing was all new.”

He shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment. Inhaling deeply, he could pick out the scents of the three others in the room. He smelled laundry soap and baby spit up. He could taste Jordan’s kisses on his lips, flavored by her breakfast and coffee. The texture of the couch was more pronounced, the worn areas distinctly softer than the other material.

“I can sense more. Feel more,” he murmured. “Everything—stronger, better, more pronounced. Smells and tastes, especially, but my vision seems clearer too.” He cocked his head to one side, listening. “Someone turned on the TV upstairs. ESPN. Must be Dad.” He chuckled. “I can feel the walls of the house. If I concentrate, I can sense the cracks in the foundation and the spaces between the bricks.”

Brian’s eyes fluttered open. “I don’t know if it’s the Peddler or something new about me, but I’ve never felt like this before. Whatever we unlocked last night—” He shook his head. “We did something, but damn if I know what it was.”

The others listened in silence. Jordan inhaled sharply and turned off the camera.

Disturbed by the resounding quiet, Brian spoke. “Someone say something.”

Andre cleared his throat. “Dude….” It was obvious he had no idea how to continue.

“Do you feel—like someone else is—possessing you?” Louisa asked.

“No. More like someone is along for the ride.” He paused, pursing his lips. “You know how they will put a helmet camera on someone who’s going skydiving or dirt bike racing? Same kind of thing, like someone is watching through my eyes. There, but not there.”

“Have you told your folks yet?” Louisa asked.

“No. I just realized it this minute.”

“We need to tell your folks,” Louisa said. “And Claude needs to check you again.”

“I’m fine, Louisa.” Brian tried to walk past her, but she halted him.

“Please. It would make me feel better.”

“And me,” Jordan added in a small voice.

Put that way, Brian relented. How could he claim to love Jordan and not put her wants ahead of his own once in awhile? Especially when it was a such small thing.

Andre already had his phone out, calling his father. A short consultation, they decided to head to the hospital in Natchez. Dr. Beauchamps had a few friends who would get them in so he could run some tests.

Maribelle Casey hugged Brian so long, he was afraid they’d be late. Miles peeled her arms from their son.

“He’s fine, Mamie. No worries allowed. Jordan, you coming?”

“Yes!” she grabbed Brian’s hand as they walked to the car.

Maribelle broke down, sobbing as they pulled out of the driveway. Adele Beauchamps held her, crooning softly. Elise fussed, her plaintive wail audible over the baby monitor. Louisa went up for her.

Andre called the others, telling them what was going on. They met up for lunch, but no one felt much like eating. Andre played the video for them and summarized what Brian had said after the camera turned off.

“You mean we could have called something that possessed that boy?” Marissa’s father, Harold Pennybaker, snarled. “If I didn’t have an obligation to be a part of this, I’d put it behind me. This is treading on the Devil’s ground!”

“Oh, stuff it, Harold,” Heath Barrett said. “I don’t know what crawled up your ass, but this isn’t demonic possession. Could the Peddler be a Rider? Now, that’s possible. It’s not unheard of. Lore and legend….”

“Lore and legend be damned! It’s exactly that kind of wild thought that makes this so dangerous!”

“Lighten up, Harold,” his wife said, her nostrils pinched and white. “I’ve listened to your narrow minded slop as long as I can tolerate. It’s bad enough you’ve squelched our daughter’s skills and warped her faith, I won’t let you do it to anyone else. At least you haven’t done so to mine. If I had my way, I’d have put a sock in your mouth twenty years ago. I can’t help that your granny had religion and infected the rest of you with it”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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