Harrison Jackson is a Masters student in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He is originally from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and currently resides in New York City. He enjoys writing existential poetry, weird/Lovecraftian fiction, and traveling whenever possible.
I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing. With a heavy sigh, I got up. I walked over to the phone, but it stopped ringing before I could pick it up. I was annoyed. I had hoped to sleep in later. After all, it is one of my few true days off. Today was all Peter’s day. It felt good for someone to take the load off.
I can’t help but worry about Peter though. He is young and impulsive; even overzealous at times. Nope. I’ve got to stop thinking like that. Today is my day off. I’ve got to relax. I got dressed, and sat down for a while with my favorite book. I’ve literally read it thousands of times, but I just can’t get enough of it. It speaks to me in so many ways.
As I was reading, the phone rang again. I figured I ought to answer it. With another sigh, I gently closed the book and walked over to it. But right as I picked it up, it stopped ringing again. I hope it wasn’t John. He’s always been paranoid. Keeps on saying that his older brother is in “mortal danger.” Hopefully he’ll get over it all.
Maybe it was Simon who called. I don’t know much about the fellow, but I figure I should get to know him better. I’ll have to remember to see him.
I took a good look at the clock. It was an antique work. I got it from my grandfather, Matthew, who got it from his father Gabriel. It was made during the Revolution if memory serves me right. Someday it’ll pass to my grandson, and then his grandson. I’ve got to remember to give it to my son soon.
I realized I was getting distracted, and I snapped myself back to reality. It was already eleven thirty. I realized I was hungry. I straightened my collar, put on my coat, and headed on outside.
I strode confidently into effulgent sunlight, which cascaded upon the beautiful streets of Phillipsburg magnificently. Not a cloud was in sight to tarnish the piercing deep blue of the sky. How often I wondered what lay beyond that veil, and if mankind would ever reach it. I slipped my notebook and fountain pen out of my pocket, and hastily jotted down my cognitions. My musings completed, I took a deep breath, allowing the fresh autumn air to fill my lungs. I exhaled, and felt a wondrous sense of bliss. Today was superb in every way. I had a strong desire to satiate my appetite, so I began my peregrination through town. I had no particular place in mind. I only needed to find just the right delicacy to gratify my hunger and slake my thirst.
I rounded the corner to discover a frightful commotion up ahead. A crowd had gathered around something, like ants around a decaying piece of fruit. A policeman did his best to stop the unruly mob, about as effectively as an umbrella stopping a tempest. As I neared the scene, I quickly surmised what had happened. It appeared that a car swerved off the road and collided into some poor soul. Upon some quick inquiries with the medical examiner, I discovered that the driver was a chauffeur. The man struck by the automobile was a local fisherman, who was most unfortunately pronounced dead on arrival. Once the horde knew that, they all swept to the telephones to spread the news as quickly as possible. It is simply fascinating to see how some rumors spread faster than plagues. I hastily placed that in my notebook alongside my earlier idea.
Once I knew what I needed to satisfy my curiosity, I proceeded past the crowd, continuing my quest for a meal. I dislike mobs. One person sees a group, and feels a compulsory urge to join. It is pure animalistic behavior; a “safety in numbers” mentality that holds no place in civilized society. Especially the way they linger. It is just an accident. Accidents happen. I understand curiosity, but loitering for such a long period of time is unnecessary and hopelessly inefficient. I inscribed that thought into my notebook as well. Today was a fantastically productive day, in the sense of things to ponder later.
After jaunting around town for few more minutes, I made my selection. It was a small family owned business, which produce quality food. I assumed that Bartholomew was a surname, although I suppose it could be a given name. I then entered the luncheonette.
The moment I sat down, a kindly youngster named James was right there with me. Apparently he was the waiter. I ordered some fish and potatoes, and just water to drink. Before he left, I asked him for today’s newspaper. He quickly brought the earliest issue of the Phillipsburg Gazette.
I took a quick look at the headlines, and saw another murder in this fine town. It was a shame that that kind of person lived in such a nice place. Somewhere in the restaurant I heard a phone ring. Strangely enough, nobody answered; it just rang for a minute or so before stopping. I kept on reading, but didn’t find anything else of note.
As I was waiting for my meal to arrive, I noticed a nice young gentleman sitting in the table in front of me. Always glad to start some good conversation, I politely asked him who he was. Well, it turns out that his name was Matthias, and he had just moved in to Phillipsburg today. He was trying to figure out how to town worked and where the good eateries were and the like. I was, of course, as helpful as I could be.
We were having quite a good talk when James came back with some wafers. I was happy to split them with Matthias. We kept on talking. We briefly talked about the news of the day, but we soon changed to a more interesting topic. It’s nice that some good people are moving in.
I couldn’t resist offering to have him over for dinner tonight. Although my poor wife, bless her soul, died a few years back, I still remember how to make one of her delicious casseroles.
He tried to politely decline, but I would hear none of it. New folks in town always had to have dinner with me. It was a kind of tradition I suppose. Finally he came around, and said he’d be over at eight. I guess I can pretty persuasive.
James came with my meal. This place sure does make some good potatoes. The fish was a little cold, but I didn’t mind.
Once I finished my meal, I called the waiter for the check. James did just fine, and I was sure to give him a generous tip. He was a nice lad, and would one day grow into a fine gentleman.
My check paid, I got up, straightened my collar, and left the place.
I exited the building, and hastily caught my hat before it was blown away by an unexpected gale. The weather clearly had taken a turn for the worse. The once crystal clear firmament, replaced by dark, swirling clouds, loomed oppressively overhead, seeming ominous and foreboding. The wind, before but a light breeze had become a torrent, blowing newspapers and other loose items around haphazardly. It is amazing how quickly climate can change. I of course placed that into my notebook.
I decided to return to my humble abode on the other end of town. The weather dampened my euphoric disposition, replacing it with melancholy. Curious how deeply the weather can affects one’s mood. I carefully placed that idea in my notebook, despite my qualms about the risk of losing my most valued possession to Boreas.
The other townsfolk hastily rushed about like cockroaches fleeing light in their desperate attempts to tie things down or take shelter indoors. I continued my steady amble, indifferent to the conditions as long as my precious notebook was secure. It contained everything I would and will ever require in life.
I passed a friendly shepherd named Andrew on my way home. He was working pretty hard to keep his sheep from spooking. I took a right turn into an alley.
I rounded the corner into an alley, made dark and depressing by the poor weather. Nonetheless, it made a useful shortcut. I was surprised to find someone else in front of me. Concerned, I reached into my breast pocket.
I heard footsteps. I turned around to see who it was.
I recognized the man. I tipped my hat, saying, “Evening Father,” as I drew my revolver. Nonchalantly, I raised it and aimed it directly at his chest.
I was terrified. I thought I was being robbed. But then I recognized the man.
The gun felt natural in my hand, and my gloved finger fit perfectly into the guard. The trigger eased back effortlessly to my gentle touch.
The gun roared. I felt a sharp pain, and I fell backward.
As the man lay on the street, a crimson lake inexorably flowed from his wound. He coughed, and blood flew from his lips, staining his collar with the ruby liquid, creating a stark contrast to the clean ivory.
I tried to utter a final prayer, but all that came out was gurgling blood.
Soon his contorted visage relaxed, replaced by a tranquil look, as if he were merely asleep. I replaced the weapon to its place in my jacket, and, my task completed, resumed my final stroll through Phillipsburg.