Chapter 1: preface
I’ve posted this on my old tumblr account because Leah sent me backups of the blog she had on her laptop, just like she mentioned she would in one of the entries. I gave a copy to the police but I didn’t give them the original. I can’t fucking believe they think I had something to do with this but my dad said they always suspect the boyfriend.
But I wasn’t her boyfriend, and you all know that. At least I was a friend, unlike the rest of you who wouldn't even go out there to visit her. You didn't even know she was lonely, or that she was dealing all over again with that heavy shit of her aunt and uncle's disappearance and it was making her paranoid. But I did and whatever you want to say about me, I know I was a better friend to her than you were. And Hannah - who said I was only a friend because Leah let me fuck her - you are SO WRONG. You don’t know a goddamn thing.
This isn’t all of her blog I don’t think - there’s nothing before October, I don’t know why. She moved into her aunt and uncle’s house at the beginning of September and said she was going to start a new blog about being in a new place and working on her writing for that class she was taking. But this doesn’t seem like she wrote it for class.
I’ve gotten a lot of bullshit emails and texts and calls so I want all of you assholes to read this and come to your own conclusions. I know Leah was scared of something but I think maybe living in that house all by herself made her freak out somehow. It was a weird situation, no doubt. But I do think her uncle was up to some crazy shit. Are these things connected? I have no idea.
I’ve told the police all I know (especially about that homeless guy Leah thought was stalking her or whatever) and they’ve searched my car, the apartment, they’ve looked through all my shit and there is nothing nothing NOTHING, no evidence that I did anything because I DIDN’T and all of you can fuck off. Or not. Clearly some of you will not because you keep harassing me.
I want to know what happened too. Leah was - IS - one of my best friends and this is fucking awful. But I don’t know if her blog can tell us what it was. It’s just that I can’t tell what’s real and what is Leah maybe embellishing things for the sake of a good story. I do remember some of those conversations we had but I’m doing good to remember what happened yesterday, never mind two months ago.
But this is all we have left.
Chapter 2: 10/3/10
Mom called. Nothing new about the estate so this purgatory may drag on indefinitely.
Mr. Deveny says we should blog every day and use our blogs to work on some aspect of our writing. I have been blogging for a long time, but I guess I’ve never looked at it as something that would help with how I write. It was just something I did. But now I guess I’ll use it to help with dialog, although I think I’m pretty okay at that. He gave me a “Good!” on the last assignment. Only a few red penned lines. Some people’s papers looked like he opened up a vein.
So what I should do is transcribe the conversation we had, but dear god I can’t write out that shit. It’s always the same thing: she thinks I should get another job, and I explain to her that I’ve been looking for a job but there’s nothing around here, and remind her I’m getting a stipend for living in this house anyway. It’s not my fault this situation is so fucked up that we’re all kind of in limbo about everything.
But that reminds me - when I used to stay here with Larry and June, back when Mom and Dad were still together and would go out and stuff, I used to think the house was bigger. A month ago, it shocked me how small it is. Or at least it feels small.
I reminded her I gave up everything. Living downtown with a great roommate, a job I liked, friends to hang out with, and taking classes at a school I wanted to go to. A life. Maybe not totally exciting, but it was mine. To move five exits away, and then north, to a neighborhood that’s quiet like no quiet I know. But I’m taking extension courses and being frugal so can she please get off my fucking back? PLEASE.
I mean, I thought of this like a hermitage, I guess? To work on my writing. But I’ve been just doing what I always do, writing about my day and nothing else, really. Nobody else is reading this, so I can write about whatever.
I start...today. Without really starting, lol.
Mom asked me about what I’ve been doing in my ongoing sorting and stuff, so I guess I’ll transcribe that, as best as I can remember. So she started that part of the conversation.
“What room did you work on this week?”
“The den, still. It’s gonna take me weeks to go through all of it.”
“Hon, I told you, just box up everything and then we’ll go through it later.”
“Well I need something to do, Mom. I mean, I don’t look at the boring stuff like bank statements from 1988 or whatever. But Larry, I think he had some stuff he wasn’t supposed to.”
(She sounds interested, her voice always goes up at the end of a question when she’s interested.)
“Larry had, uh, files, I guess? Related to his job? But didn’t you say he worked on classified stuff out at the Lab?”
“Sometimes, he said. Sometimes he said it was all bureaucratic bullshit.”
(She laughed. Larry was her favorite.)
“Well, this was, like, about physics or something? Bunch of symbols and junk and something about regressions of space.”
“Huh. Well I guess put all that in its’ own box.”
So there - I did it. That was pretty much the way it went, that part of it. Deveny would be proud of me, maybe.
It is tedious, cleaning out the house of people who are dead. Well, we think they’re dead. But I can’t write about that right now. Nobody in our family cares what I think, but it’s just too sad.
Chapter 3: 10/4/10
Riley came over and he brought a pizza. I’m just glad he does come over, no one has wanted to visit since I moved here, even though I said we could have parties and stuff. I mean, who’s gonna stop me?
And it’s not like I don’t know what he really wants. But that’s whatever.
It’s easy to remember our conversations, usually. I can do that. He’s asleep right now, so it’s all still pretty fresh. But one reason is he’s got this weird speech pattern, kind of? He can talk like such a dude, or whatever, one minute, and the next he’s being all literate. He had an interesting childhood, I guess. Moving a lot and stuff.
He’s been saying for months he’s going to quit smoking, but he hasn’t done it yet. So we sat on the front porch and he was starting at the house across the street.
“Does anybody live there?” he asked me, pointing his cigarette at it.
“Not right now. Mrs. H says nobody’s lived there for years now.”
Mrs. Houghton lives on the left - she’s lived here as long as Larry and June. Her husband died a while back, she’s cool. Kinda chatty sometimes, but I like her. Her husband and Larry both worked out at the Lab. Every time I see her she says I should come over and she’ll show me photos from the old days. I guess with famous guys?
Larry knew that guy, that physics guy who won the Nobel Prize. Can’t remember his name. Did they work together? I’m not sure. Mom would know.
“But it’s not for sale?”
“She says the guy who owns it is a flipper.”
“What the fuck is that?”
“Like guys on TV who fix up houses and then rent or sell them. I guess that’s what he wants to do but no one has lived there in a long time.”
We went on like that for a while, he asked me about the other people in the neighborhood. They’re mostly older people who have kids that are grown, sometimes I see little kids on the weekends - their grandkids I guess - like when I used to come here on the weekends and Larry and June would spoil me and let me stay up late and eat ice cream and call my friends.
Everybody is only a phone call or an email or a text or chat away but...
I still feel lonely, sometimes.
Chapter 4: 10/7/10
The weather’s been cold? Which is weird. Usually it’s all hot and dry this time of year. Indian Summer and all, although that’s not a proper term to use anymore, I guess. Or maybe it’s just the house because when I step outside it feels warmer. Mom says it’s hot where she is, which isn’t even 20 miles away, so I don’t know.
The other class I’m taking, the theosophy class, it was an interesting lecture yesterday. About sacred geometry. But mostly it’s all about how people spread information about other religions around the world, how people learned about Buddhism in the West and stuff. But I remembered this lecture especially because there was a shape in the handout that looked familiar and I went back to that file from Larry’s study and it was there. The same shape.
There’s a long equation written out, and then the shape, and then underneath it says
“virus” Bigger on the inside within non-Euclidian space.
The handout says it’s a shape called an icosahedron, it’s got 20 sides or something. Like d&d dice (which I only know about because of Hannah).
I guess Larry wrote all this? It looks like his handwriting. Compared with other papers I’ve found in his files.
I told Mom I think there’s something wrong with the wiring. The freezer hardly ever freezes and there’s a bad smell in the fridge even though I’ve barely got anything in it. Nothing that’s rotting, that’s for sure. I cleaned it once they had me move in. Even though it had been emptied and cleaned already it felt weird to just start using it, so I cleaned it again.
She was on me about school again, and I remember it well enough to write down because it’s still echoing in my brain.
“Rio de Oro - is that even a real school?”
“It’s accredited, yeah Mom. Otherwise I wouldn’t even go there. I can transfer these credits.”
“Well Larry did teach a class there, once.”
“Physics, of course. Space physics or something, I don’t know.”
“Well then why are you even asking me?!”
(Yeah I was pretty heated by that point.)
“Oh I don’t know, I guess I forgot until just now. They named it for that development, I guess, although I thought they called it Perdido Oro, not Rio de Oro. Maybe I’m confused.”
“Where all those houses are, when they built them in the ‘40s. I could have sworn they called it Perdido Oro. They built it for people who worked at the Lab.”
“There’s no sign for it or anything. Like there is for our neighborhood.”
“Huh. Oh well. Maybe it was supposed to be secret, because of their projects.”
The rest was just blah blah blah. Sorry Mr. D - lol. Nothing exciting or memorable.
It’s a nice neighborhood, though. It’s got those old-fashioned streetlights, like gas lights, I guess? With the round lights at the top, not hanging down. They’re pretty. And trees growing over the top of the road, so it’s like a canopy. Very vintage Americana, Lizzie would say.
But nobody’s emailed me for weeks now. Okay, I’m exaggerating. I heard from Beccah last week but just a quick answer to my Hey what’s up? text. And I’m, like, dang did you all think I died or what?!
I guess Mr. D would ask about the “secret” thing, so even though nobody is reading this I’ll say my mom means Larry worked on classified stuff, like I said before.
This is so dumb, but what else am I gonna do?
Fuck these wires, I almost lost power that time! Better log off for now.
Chapter 5: 10/8/10
Goddamn I’m so starved for company I actually ate dinner with Mrs. Houghton tonight. Not that she’s not nice and stuff but dang, slumming with seniors and shit.
LOL that’s pretty heartless, right? I don’t mean it that way, honestly.
Like she promised, she showed me a bunch of photos from years ago, Larry and June are in some of them. And her husband Len. In one they are posing with other guys from the Lab and there’s this tall long-haired dude, she said he was a big deal but she couldn’t remember his name. Dude looked weird to me, like, is that even a scientist? But she said he was.
He had such an intense stare. Like he’s not looking at who took the picture, but whoever is looking at the picture. If that makes sense, which I’m sure it doesn’t.
She looked at the back of the photo but said it was all just initials, so that was no help.
She made a nice dinner, wouldn’t even let me do anything. Old people food: mashed potatoes and roast and peas and carrots, but it was good.
He didn’t really have long hair, that guy, but his hair was just...I don’t know...it was a lot. Like what they call a full head of hair, I guess.
LOL I’m not making any sense. Mrs. H had me make margaritas and I think I drank too much.
But I guess they were kinda wild dudes. I said it sounded pretty swinging for a bunch of nerds and she laughed really loud and said, “Oh they were never nerds, honey. Nerds only wish they knew what to do with the brains they have. Len and Larry and those other men, they knew how to live!”
Wow, I remembered that pretty good too. I must not be drunk, lol, or not too much.
Fuck, what is that smell?! I told Mrs. H I couldn’t bring home any leftovers because the fridge might be bad.
That reminds me - when Riley came over and we were outside, he asked who was baking bread. I couldn’t smell it. I said, “Fuck if I know. I guess that’s what old ladies do, right? Bake and embroider and shit.”
He laughed and said, “How judgmental of you, babe.”
Anyway, I guess I’ll open a window for a while.
Chapter 6: 10/11/10
I called Mom when I got back from class and said we definitely need an electrician to come out here. The lights wouldn’t come on at all, but it seems like other stuff was okay? Like the fridge is still on. But I tried turning on the heat because it was cold inside again and that wouldn’t work either. So she said she would call Uncle Lou and tell him. She said I could come home this weekend if I wanted. I said maybe I would just go next door and stay with Mrs. H because she’s lonely anyway.
I went and bought a bunch of candles at the Golden Thread. I thought it was a sewing shop, like a fabric store or something, but it’s more like a craft store, maybe? Dried flowers and decorations and stuff. And aromatherapy, they had a bunch of herbs and oils. I picked out some different colored candles and then asked why anyone would want black candles. I guess goths would, right? The lady behind the counter said “It takes all types to make a world.” LOL, sounds like something Ms. Fina would say.
I’m at the local Starbucks right now, till my battery runs out. But I charged it at school today so I’ve got a little while. I asked Ms. Fina if the sacred geometry stuff was related to physics and she said of course it was, because it was all math. And math is the universal language. I said I thought music was the universal language and she said that was all math too.
Wow, I didn’t know that. I’ll have to remember to tell Riley I didn’t know he was a math wiz.
I kinda don’t want to go back to the house. Only because it’s so cold. I guess I should see if there’s any winter bedding, flannel sheets, something. I didn’t think I needed to worry about that right now.
Maybe Mrs. H would let me sleep over, just for tonight. I don’t want to be a pest.
Chapter 7: 10/13/10
I ended up spending last night at Riley’s. Normally I don’t like to sleep with him at his place because his roommates are so gross and stupid but the lights still won’t come on. And then Mrs. H asked me to take Babs for a walk because her sciatica was acting up and so I had her on her leash and was going to go up the street past Larry and June’s and Babs was freaking out when we got in front of their house. Like, whining, and she peed herself. Poor doggie. And I looked up the street - it was getting dark but the streetlights hadn’t come on yet - and I thought I saw someone? Like, just standing on the sidewalk staring at us. Not moving. But I couldn’t really make them out. It could have just been bushes or something in the shadows, I don’t know. But it was like Babs could see them too, I guess? It was freaky. So we walked back to Mrs. H’s place and sat there on the front steps for a few minutes. When the streetlights came on I looked again and whoever was gone. But we walked the other way and went to the little park a couple blocks away. She did her business and I scooped it up and we came back.
I watched Wheel Of Fortune with Mrs. H and I felt all weird. Like, why did Babs start getting freaky in front of Larry and June’s house? As soon as we came inside she seemed okay, she wagged her tail at Mrs. H and went to lay down in her doggie bed. So I called Riley and asked if I could come over and it’s not like we had to do anything but I was freaked out and he said it was fine, but the apartment was a mess and so not to freak out about that and I said fuck you and that I would be over in half an hour.
LOL, I forgot how bad traffic can be downtown, even late on a weekday. But I felt better sitting in traffic, listening to a talk show because the radio in my mom’s old Volvo sucks and the tape player only works half the time. I felt better because it was normal, and noisy, and brightly-lit, and it was a warm night, even. I rolled down the window and it felt so different.
I started to think about how we hardly ever saw Larry and June when I was a kid, and Mom always said it was because Larry could never talk about his work. But I guess they had a whole other social group, if I can believe the things Mrs. H told me.
So it was fine to sit in Riley’s room even though his roomies were being loud and stupid as usual, playing GTA or whatever. He played me a new song that he wrote after having a weird dream and I told him the thing about being a math wiz and he laughed and said he was terrible at math so even if music was all math it still didn’t make him any better at it. And we didn’t do anything, because he said he could tell I was weirded out and it wouldn’t be right to take advantage of my vulnerable state. And even though I felt...safe, I guess?...it took me a long time to fall asleep anyway.
Chapter 8: 10/14/10
Damn, I spend a month in the depths of the mundane, and now everything is so fucking weird.
I got an email from Uncle Lou this morning that an electrician is coming on Monday so I better be here, which means I’m going to miss my theosophy class (but luckily we don’t have an assignment due) so I already emailed Ms. Fina and let her know I have a family obligation and she was fine with it, just told me to come by the following day to pick up the lecture notes from her TA and make sure to keep up with the reading.
And then, just as I was replying to Uncle Lou to tell him I’d be here, the light in the hallway came on. Like it just popped on, blazing bright. I must have left it on at some point? I usually did if I was going out at night, just so I wasn’t walking into a totally dark house, which has always given me the creeps. But also I heard, like, a humming sound, I guess? Just as it happened.
Still, though, this wiring is fucked up somehow. Mrs. H said she wasn’t surprised, these houses are old, this neighborhood is old. There’s bound to be problems.
I went over there this morning to ask if she’d let me charge my laptop and she said sure, and then I asked if there was anything I could do for her, like housekeeping or errands, and that made her sad all of a sudden. I asked her what was wrong and we had this conversation:
“Oh it’s nothing, Leah, just that it makes me think of Ellen.”
“Your daughter Ellen?”
“Yes, I’m so worried about her, but she’s grown, I can’t tell her what to do. But I miss her.”
That’s all I remember exactly, but I asked her about Ellen and she said Ellen had moved to Kansas to join a cult? I think that’s what she said? Or at least some religious group or something. And I was thinking: who the fuck goes to Kansas to do that? But then again I guess all those militia people are there, or whatever. Maybe that’s what it is.
But she said she blamed her husband and Larry for it, and that caught my attention. Said they told her and her boyfriend stories about some dude out in Topeka who was a master of arcane wisdom. That’s how she said it: “arcane wisdom.” And that reminded me of my class. Then she asked me, “Are you dating a boy from one of these families?” and I was all, WTF? She meant was I dating a boy from a family who worked at the Lab. And I said no, outside of our family, and now her, I didn’t know anyone else whose family were employees there. She said that was good; if Ellen hadn’t been dating someone like that she might still be here and not in Kansas. I told her I didn’t have a boyfriend, which is technically true, but I thought she might say something about seeing Riley’s car in front of the house or whatever, but she didn’t.
I said I was really sorry, and for as long as I was here I could help her out with stuff if she needed it, because she’s been so nice to me. She got all weepy and gave me a hug and then we ate cinnamon crumb cake and drank coffee while my laptop charged up and we watched The View, which I haven’t seen since high school, I think. Whenever I was sick back then my mom would put me on the couch with pillows and blankets and ginger ale and make me watch TV with her.
And I started thinking...I asked Mrs. H if that guy is still out there and she said she thought so, but she wasn’t sure. She couldn’t remember his name because Ellen always called him The Builder. And she talked about some dude she called The Master. These were two different guys but she would never use any names. I felt really bad for Mrs. H because wow, you know, people get involved in shit like that and they have to be rescued, usually. Or something worse happens. Like everyone dies in a shootout or mass suicide.
I was thinking - and this is weird, I know - but what if Larry and June are there? What if, maybe, that’s where they went. But we didn’t know about this, or no one ever knew to ask. I had to get up the nerve to ask her the next part.
“Mrs. H - when the police came to talk to you about Larry and June, did you ever think they might have gone to Kansas too?”
She didn’t answer for a long time, like, through an entire commercial break. And then she finally spoke, and this is exactly what she said: “Leah, I know you might not remember, but they didn’t go anywhere, like on a trip and never came back. I had dinner with them one night, and the next morning I came over to return a roasting dish and they were just gone. Everything was still there - you could tell they’d been in the house. And then they weren’t. The door was unlocked, their car was still there, even the coffeemaker was on. If they were going to take a trip they would have told me.”
And I said okay, yeah, I understand. I guess I did forget about that part. But I feel like I never really knew it?
Chapter 9: 10/15/10
It’s 2:41 am and I’m awake. The phone woke me up. Not my phone, the phone in the house.
I mean, WTF?!? Nobody has called that phone since I’ve been here, and I was surprised it hadn’t been disconnected, but I think Mom said that legally they couldn’t do that yet, I don’t know.
And fuck the lights are out again. But the TV works, and I was able to plug in my laptop too. Again, WTF?
I was sound asleep, and I guess in whatever dream I was having the phone was ringing, and I woke up and realized it was this phone. My heart was pounding so hard and I thought, okay it’s just a wrong number, whatever, but it wouldn’t STOP. I swear it rang for five minutes, maybe longer. And I sat there, listening to it. Finally I started thinking: what if it’s Larry and June? What if they’re somewhere and they can’t do anything but call their own house? You always remember your own phone number if nothing else. It’s true that I’ve thought they were dead. I started thinking that this year, because it’s been three years. Even though I know people get kidnapped and they might spend ten years as a captive, whatever, maybe longer. But that’s what I thought. But now...and the phone would not stop RINGING.
I was so fucking scared.
Finally I got up and went into the master bedroom to answer it but as soon as I went to say “hello” all I heard was the dial tone. And now I am sitting here in the living room freaked the fuck out. I sent Riley a text just to see if he was awake, but no reply. Same thing with Hannah, I thought she might be because it’s Guild Night, but no answer. And I don’t know what else to do, I don’t want to call Mom and freak her out too.
So I’m sitting here in the dark and the cold with the TV on and I’m writing this to try and calm down. I made some instant hot cocoa (because the stove works) and added some rum and I’m just going to sleep on the couch. But fuck if I’m staying here this weekend. Or at least not alone. Riley will probably be okay with coming over at least for one night, to get away from his roomies.
But who does that?! If someone calls in the middle of the night it’s usually life-or-death, right? It’s not some fucking telemarketer. But I remember Mom telling me a story once about when I was little and Dad was on a business trip for the Lab, and the phone rang after midnight and she thought it was him, but it was just some random guy asking for someone else and when she said he had the wrong number he apologized and then asked, “So what are you wearing?”
She slammed the phone down in his ear, and I laughed. I mean, it could just be that, right? Some pervert, and they finally got frustrated and hung up. But there was something about it that was just freaky as shit. Or at least that’s how it seemed in my mind.
What was I dreaming about?
And of course what is on TV this time of night? Spooky old movies. Larry and June never had cable, so all I can get on their antenna is the local channels.
I’m yawning, so maybe I’m ready to fall asleep now. I hope, anyway.
Chapter 10: 10/16/10
Riley agreed to come over for the weekend if we ate real food and he could do his laundry. And those are demands I can fulfill, so he finally got here an hour ago. He’s working on a song and I said I had homework to do, but I wanted to write down our conversation - which I guess is part of my homework in a way. Right, Mr. D?
When Riley came in he said, “Well I guess someone is finally working on that house,” and he nodded his head backwards. I looked across the street and there’s an old pickup in the driveway now, parked with its’ front end facing out. It’s all faded and the front bumper is kinda dented or something.
“Huh,” I said.
“Place looks like it’s falling apart, so it’s about time.”
I looked at the house for a couple minutes. I guess I hadn’t really noticed it before, but yeah, it does look like it’s been abandoned, sort of. The paint is peeling off the siding and there’s a slat missing from the fence on the right-hand side.
So then I asked him to help with me with the fireplace in the den, I’d totally forgotten about it since I’ve been focused so much on going through Larry’s desk and his file cabinet, boxing up all those files and receipts and stuff. Mom told me Uncle Lou had a chimney sweep come and clean it out, so we can just open the flue and it should work. Sometimes birds will nest in a chimney or whatever, but this one is clean, supposedly. So I bought a few Duraflames at the hardware store and we got it going. It doesn’t help that much, but at least it’s something.
Riley hung out in there while I was boxing up the last of all the banking stuff, looking at the bookshelves, and he pulled out a book and said, “Whoa!”
“This guy, I bet your uncle knew him.”
It was a book called Radical Space and it had a bunch of weird shapes on the dust jacket. Riley turned it over and on the back cover was a photo of that guy. The one with the crazy-intense stare and the messy hair, or whatever.
“They probably worked at the Lab together,” I said.
“No this guy founded the Lab! Well, he was one of the guys.”
“How do you know about it?” I asked.
“My cousin Stanley, he was a contractor there. Just for a few months, then he got laid off because the government cut the funding for his project.”
“When was that?”
“Like, five or six years ago, I think? I was in high school. Then he moved away, haven’t heard much from him lately.”
“Flyover Country,” he said, in that smartass way he has sometimes.
So now...that’s just weird, right? That suddenly I find out there’s a connection between us that I never knew in all these years. Well, I say “all these years” like it’s been a long time when it’s only been a year. Little over a year, I’m trying to remember when we met. I met Riley because he is friends with Beccah’s brother and it was at a party, but was it before I moved in with her? I answered her ad on Craigslist in June last year and I moved in at the end of July, and I went to a couple parties at her place before I moved in but...I don’t remember if he was there or not. Anyway, but yeah, I’m kind of stunned. It’s a small world after all, but is it really? I guess mine is, anyway.
We tried using the washer in the shed in the backyard but it didn’t want to turn on. So I asked Mrs. H if we could use hers and she said sure. I’m going to wash our clothes later. Right now we’re going to eat at Demeter’s Cornucopia, the local diner, which is kind of a weird name for a diner, right? There’s a store next to it I want to check out, it’s called The Golden Mean. Like a thrift store, I think? It has a really pretty sign, with a seashell on it.
Chapter 11: 10/17/10
Last night during dinner I finally got a text from Hannah, asking me why I was up so late. I looked at the date and time and it looks like she texted me back about 20 minutes after I texted her, but I didn’t get it until then. I’m calling my carrier because that’s fucked up.
After dinner I went into The Golden Mean, and Riley waited by the car so he could smoke. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, and it is a thrift store but...it looks like they don’t get much business, everything is so old. And not antique-old, just old-old. I looked around a little bit but didn’t really see anything interesting, then I asked if maybe they might have a portable radio, because I’ve been thinking with all this electrical nonsense I should have a radio, at least, that runs on batteries too. Turns out the guy got one in just the other day, he sold it to me for $35 - it’s actually a shortwave radio, which is cool. He grumbled that was less than it was worth but since I was looking for a radio he would let it go. It came in its’ original box with instructions and so when we got back to the house we tried to see if we could dial in a foreign station but no luck. But it’s got AM/FM too, so that’s good. I just don’t want to be stuck in the house with nothing if the power goes out again.
We did pick up some crazy static, though. Riley said it sounded like a transmission from the Kuiper Belt. I had to have him explain that, of course. He’s a closet nerd, I think. But there were voices in it, I could hear voices, so I think it was just a station from far away.
I went over to Mrs. H’s to wash our clothes. Me and Riley took Babs for a walk, but I didn’t want to upset her again, so I just made sure we walked the other way to the park. Riley played fetch with her for a little while. She’s a spaniel so she likes to run, I think.
Today I packed up all the linens I wouldn’t need from the hall closets. Riley messed around with the radio, calibrated the antenna and everything, but he really couldn’t pick up much on it. He said this neighborhood must be in a valley or something that makes it hard for signals to reach. I got a lot done, I think it’s easier when I’m not alone. But while I was taking stuff off the bottom shelf of the hall closet I found a photo album shoved way in the back. I haven’t looked at it yet, I was thinking I would take it over to Mrs. H and we could look through it together, I think she would like that.
I begged Riley to stay over tonight, I just couldn’t deal with being here alone. I could tell he thinks I’m being too paranoid, but he said okay. We got chicken from the Golden Bucket and watched some of the old VHS tapes Larry and June had - I’m kind of fascinated by them so I didn’t want to pack them up right away. Sorcerer - which Riley says is a “misunderstood classic” and that’s just elitist film critic bullshit-speak because it was boring - and Turner & Hooch. Riley also wanted to watch a tape called Strange Angel, some kind of occult detective story or something, but we both have to get up early and so it’s off to bed now.
Chapter 12: 10/19/10 (1)
It’s 3:17 in the fucking morning and a ringing woke me up again. But not the phone. I’m reading about tinnitus on Wikipedia because my right ear is ringing. There’s a high-pitched whine and it also sounds like I’m underwater. But the ringing is only in my right ear. WTF?! I don’t listen to loud music, I haven’t been to a concert in two years, and although it’s true that Mrs. H listens to the TV a little loud because she’s old and I’ve been hanging out with her, it shouldn’t make my ears start ringing.
The only thing I can think of is that loud static from the shortwave radio. I mean, it was loud, I know I didn’t mention that before. Damnit, this is so fucking annoying!
Today’s featured article on Wikipedia is about sundews, which are carnivorous plants. They look kind of alien, you know? Like they don’t belong here on Earth somehow. I like to read random stuff on Wiki sometimes, just because you never know what you might learn. Mom said she used to read the actual encyclopedia like that too when she was a kid. She was such a nerd, lol.
I was going to blog about this later today - the electrician came and he couldn’t really find anything wrong. He checked the fuses and the switches and all the outlets to make sure there were no frayed or loose wires. Everything looked okay to him. He said he wouldn’t know anything else unless he went into the walls to look at the wiring, and I bet Uncle Lou won’t go for that. I asked him about the fridge and he said it was probably the compressor and we just needed to replace the whole thing. He said it’s always cheaper just to buy a new refrigerator. I’m sure Uncle Lou isn’t going to like that either.
I asked the guy if he could smell the bad smell in there. He said no, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. But he asked me if someone was baking, because he could smell cake baking. And I couldn’t smell it, just that slight whiff of something rotten, like when milk starts to go bad or you leave something in the fridge and it’s gotten to the point of grossness.
I’ll have to ask Mrs. H who the baker is. LOL, the mad baker, like the mad bomber or something.
I told the guy about the lights acting weird and stuff and he said it happens in houses with old wiring, sometimes if there’s a surge in the load or whatever, they can’t handle it. That I should make sure I’m not trying to use too many things at once. And I am careful about that, I don’t want Uncle Lou bitching about the electric bill. And I asked about the HVAC (Uncle Lou said to make sure and call it that) and the electrician said he wasn’t really an expert in that kind of stuff.
So...that was a whole lotta nothing. Sucks, because I’ll never know when the lights decide to go out again, or whatever. At least I’ve got candles now, and the fireplace. Maybe I should move the TV into the den. It’s so heavy, though, I couldn’t do it on my own. It’s one of those older clunky models. I’ll get Riley to help me, I’ll bribe him with cigarettes, lol.
Wow, I’m looking at this pic of a sundew and it’s got an insect twice its’ size in its’ grip, I guess you’d call it. The leaf kind of curls up around it. Pretty wild.
Chapter 13: 10/19/10 (2)
Mr. Deveny wants us to write about something that happened to us in our childhood that we think we remember really well, and then ask a relative or friend if they remember it and include that too to see if they match. He said he’s making a point about memory being fallible and that everyone is an unreliable narrator. That means faulty, I guess. I told him about how I used to think Larry and June’s house was bigger than it actually is, and he said that’s an example but it’s not quite what he wanted.
So I’ve been trying to remember something interesting, and then I’ll ask Mom. Maybe go home and get out that microcassette recorder I used last year and record her and then transcribe it. The assignment isn’t due for two weeks, so I don’t have to rush. Although I guess I could cheat a little and ask her to tell me a story from when I was little and see if I remember it. It’s not like he would know.
My ear stopped ringing, thank god. I think I fell asleep and it just stopped and I didn’t notice. I made sure when I turned on the TV that it was at a low volume. I think I’m going to ask Mrs. H the next time I’m over there if we can turn hers down too. She has her set on all the time. I don’t blame her, it’s nice to have something in the background when you’re all alone.
That reminds me, I need to go over there so I can show her the photo album. I still haven’t looked at it. I’m kinda squeamish, I guess? Just because of how I found it. It’s not like it had fallen behind something or whatever, it was deliberately shoved all the way in the back of the closet on the bottom shelf and then covered up with a bunch of tablecloths and napkins and stuff. Dang, the shit they used to have to decorate with back then! Mrs. H has that too, a doily on every table, lol. She gave a lot of dinner parties, I guess, her husband was always bringing home visiting scientists. She told me she met Robert Oppenheimer (the atomic bomb guy) and she almost met Albert Einstein. I’m not sure I believe that one, but I’m not going to tell her that, of course.
I should take it home and show it to Mom, but I feel like maybe if there’s photos of the Houghtons in it then Mrs. H should be the first to see it. It might make her feel better to see a photo of Len she hasn’t seen before. Or Ellen, even.
I told Mom about the cult thing and she didn’t believe it. And I get that, because Larry was her favorite and she wouldn’t believe he was a part of anything weird. But I tried to look up something about the area at least and I found an article from two years ago about some kind of commune in Topeka. Like not a militia compound or anything, but a group who believed you had to build a house a certain way. With different measurements and materials and stuff. I can’t remember - I should have printed it out when I was at school. So it seems like it might be true, at least. But why would Larry and the other guys at the Lab know about that? I was thinking I should read that book, Radical Space, but I’ve already got so much reading to do, ugh.
Oh duh, I just thought about it - I bet Riley’s read it. I’ll get him over here, move the TV, and grill him about the book. I’m so efficient, lol.
Chapter 14: 10/20/10
Ms. Fina said we needed to pick the subject for our term paper by the end of the week. I’ve been looking through the syllabus because I thought I’d just write a long book report, that’s the easiest thing to do. And I thought I saw a book under the “recommended reading” list by that guy. I keep getting his name confused with some other guy, so I’m not entirely sure. But it wasn’t the Radical Space book, it was a book called The Velvet Machination. And what does that even mean? It sounds like a romance novel or something.
The best thing today was having lunch with Hannah, god it feels like I haven’t seen her for years. We ate at our favorite restaurant - I wish there were a place like The Greenhouse Cafe around here. Salads as big as your head, yeah baby. Oh how I’ve missed their Bombay Shrimp salad! Yum yum yummy.
We were talking about what we’re going to do for T-day - Beccah usually has a party the day after for anybody who has no place to go. I wanted to be there last year but Mom pretty much insisted I stay with her the whole weekend because the family had a three-day gathering. I mean, one day is okay but three? And everybody’s sad, of course, which is logical but I don’t want to sit around being sad for three days. Give me a fucking break. Let me be sad on my own time. So I missed it. I know Riley isn’t going home till Christmas so I thought ...maybe I could bring him? But Hannah said he always goes over to Paul and Deena’s. Beccah doesn’t get along with Deena so there’s never a family reunion, lol.
So much for a tolerable T-day, I guess. Back to my arguing family and dry-ass turkey because Aunt Maria always thinks people get worms from turkey so it has to be cooked for eight hours or whatever.
I brought up Halloween and Hannah made a face - duh, I forgot there’s a big Guild party she has to go to. Beccah doesn’t do Halloween, she says it’s rape-bait, and I get that, but dang, I just want to chill out and watch some scary movies. No dressing in slutty costumes or getting drunk or any of that shit. Well, maybe a little drunk, lol.
I wonder if this neighborhood gets any kids for trick-or-treat. That might be fun. I guess if nothing else I can always hang out with Mrs. H and hand out candy. And dig out all the scary movies Larry and June have in their VHS collection.
Chapter 15: 10/21/10
I was walking over to Mrs. H’s earlier and I happened to look across the street. Like, I thought I heard someone say something? So I just looked over there. There was something in the gutter in front of that house. I don’t think I would have seen it if the sun hadn’t been going down, it was shining right on it, it was twinkling, kind of like a sun catcher hanging in a window. It twinkles when the sun is shining on it. I saw a flash and I walked over. There were a lot of leaves and trash in the gutter, but down in the muck I saw something. It was grossing me out but I picked it up.
It was a gold bracelet.
So I took it over to Mrs, H’s and we washed it off and she thought it looked familiar. I thought so too, like maybe it belonged to June but wow, if that’s true then why didn’t the police find it three years ago? It looks like it’s been dragged down the road or something, it’s all scratched up and some of the links are cracked (but not broken all the way) and you can tell that some of the stones in it fell out at some point. But it also seems like some of the gold plating got eaten away, I guess? That’s what it looks like. You can see the bare metal underneath.
Mrs. H said, “What was Junie doing across the street?”
Just because I found it across the street doesn’t mean she had been over there, but I know the police searched the entire neighborhood. They would have found Larry and June if they were here, or if they’d left something behind. Other than everything in the house, I mean.
She said it again, like she was talking to herself. But then she shook her head and said I should show it to the police, and I think I have the detective’s business card, the one who got assigned to the case. If not, Mom will have it. So I’ll call first before I go over there. Of course they’ll probably say we destroyed DNA evidence or whatever but it’s not like I immediately assumed it was a piece of evidence.
Damn, I forgot the photo album again! I’ve been feeling so dumb lately, I keep forgetting stuff. I actually check my pockets and backpack multiple times now for my keys and my phone, it would be just like me to lock myself out of the house or the car. I almost left my backpack in class today, but Mr. D was nice enough to catch me as I was walking out.
Maybe I’ll go home this weekend anyway, I know Mom will want to see this right away. It’s weird though, I came out to take Babs for a little walk - just to the corner and back - and I thought I heard it again, someone calling out, like when a mom yells for her kids to come inside for dinner. Or at least that’s what it sounded like. I don’t know, I guess someone could have been yelling for some other reason, but I couldn’t really tell where it was coming from. And then Babs started barking up a storm, out of nowhere. Like, at nothing, because there was no one around that I could tell. I wonder why she keeps getting freaked out?
Chapter 16: 10/22/10
Well this has been an action-packed day, lol. And kinda weird too.
Riley said he’d come help me but I had to pick him up, Kirby borrowed his car for the weekend, he went to a festival up north to get high and wallow in the mud with the hippies. I can’t even imagine that Riley used to do that too, but he told me he had a serious shroom phase a couple years back. And then he said he’s DJing the Philips Hall Halloween party, which is pretty legendary and that he could get me in as his assistant, but I told him I’ll pass. I hate huge parties like that.
So I drove over there this morning but as I was backing out of the carport suddenly there was this guy in my rearview and I slammed the brakes so hard I’m surprised I didn’t give myself whiplash. The Volvo might look like a crapheap but it’s still a tank. He just stood there while I was all WTF DUDE?!? and then walked away. Looked sketch, like homeless maybe. He was wearing an Adidas sweatsuit, but it looked all baggy and gross, like he hadn’t taken it off in years. I was startled and mad but I figured it wouldn’t be a good idea to yell at him so I just pulled out and drove away. My heart was pounding so hard, though. But I haven’t seen anyone like that since I moved in so that was part of why I was so shocked. There’s homeless people everywhere downtown and it’s just life, but this guy was so out of place. Seriously though, that’s a good way to get yourself crumpled, not looking out for cars and shit.
I went to Riley’s apartment and he wanted to play me his new song, and then he wanted to do other things while his roomies were gone, so we wasted a good two hours on that, and then he drove us in my car over to my mom’s so I could give her the bracelet. I decided to just let her deal with it. But she doesn’t think it belonged to June, although I could swear I’ve seen it before. So I told her to do whatever then.
But now I’ve got to look at that photo album to see if maybe there’s a photo of June wearing it. I planned to do it an hour ago but we were doing other stuff. No, not that, not again. Not yet, lol.
Mom was mad because I didn’t want to stay but she thinks Riley is my boyfriend so she didn’t argue. Then we raided her pantry for supplies and left. Speaking of scrounging we went over to Golden Bounty, the supermarket in Rio de Oro, it’s out by the freeway. I hadn’t been in there because Mom was bringing me groceries before. Riley was all, “Why is everything in this weird suburb named Golden What-the-Fuck?” and I laughed really hard at that.
But it’s true, nearly every store there does have gold in the name and that’s way cheesy.
They were playing this weird music over the PA, it sounded like it was from 1968 or something. And everything looked old in there, just like in The Golden Mean. Not like anything was bad, or they were selling expired food, but all the fixtures and stuff looked old. We got some frozen pizzas and microwave popcorn and soda and stuff like that. But Riley needed cigarettes and of course the supermarket didn’t have his import brand so we walked over to the liquor store in the next block and while we were waiting to cross the street I saw him again. That guy.
It was so fucking weird because for a minute I was thinking about that other guy. This guy was sitting in the alley behind the liquor store, it looked like he was sleeping, maybe? He was sitting up against the wall of the building across the alley and his head was down, like he was sleeping or high or whatever. And that sweatsuit looked worse than I remembered. I grabbed Riley’s hand and squeezed it and he said, “What -” and then the light changed so we walked across the street. I was afraid to say something until we were back in the car. I felt really fucking paranoid for some reason.
We bought a few minis of Jager and Kahlua and Drambuie so I guess we’re getting crocked tonight, lol.
Walking back to the parking lot I kept looking over my shoulder but I didn’t see that guy again.
I told Riley about what happened on the way back to the house and he just shrugged and said you always needed to look out for the creeps nowadays.
But it was weird, right? That I thought he was that other guy for a minute?
I didn’t tell Riley that part, he already thinks I’m nuts.
Chapter 17: 10/23/10 (1)
So I’m drunk. Not too too drunk but drunk enough that I can’t sleep. I’m odd like that I guess. It’s three-something, I left my watch in the bedroom and Riley’s asleep and the clock on my laptop has been acting up lately. I’m in the den. I put another log on the fire and the TV’s on and I lit a few candles and it’s actually kind of cozy. Cold, though. Riley’s under two comforters and two blankets. I’m wearing five layers of clothes, lol.
But anyway, we moved the TV and the VCR in here and also the loveseat. I had to clear off Larry’s desk first but it all fits. And it’s right across from the spare bedroom, which is where I sleep, so I like that.
Yeah it’s cold - you’d think that would have put him in the mood again, but Riley said he was afraid of freezing his dick off. He was trying to be funny but I just rolled my eyes. Still though, it’s nice to have someone to get under the covers with.
We watched that movie he wanted to see, Strange Angel. Dang it was weird. Not quite, like, Dr. Caligari weird, but it did have the German Impressionist thing, I think. It was about a woman accused of murder but involved in more sinister things, I guess, and the detective assigned to the case was falling in love with her, and then there was another guy who was like a magician or something, who said she belonged to him, and then there was a cult? I kept falling asleep so I only remember bits and pieces. But I could have sworn there was a part where they were chasing somebody through a house and the lady was trying to get through a red door? Well, it’s a black-and-white movie so I couldn’t tell if it was actually a red door but that’s what it looked like. As she was pounding on it and screaming you could hear all these strange noises like something was coming for her.
Riley said it wasn’t like he remembered it. He saw it in a film class last year but said it was supposed to be this weird sci-fi thing about a race of aliens who lived in a city made of black glass and they were planning to invade our solar system. They were aliens but they looked like humans.
I may have been remembering things wrong because of the books. I’m yawning again so I’ll write about the books later on.
Chapter 18: 10/23/10 (2)
I took Mom’s box of Bisquick so I made pancakes, although we had to eat them with strawberry jam because I forgot to get the maple syrup. See what I mean? I had made a list and everything. At least I didn’t forget the bacon.
“My mind is going lately,” I declared.
Then I cut Riley’s bangs, but I’m not allowed to touch his “bitchin’ 70s shag” as he calls it. Such a clown, I swear. He can’t stay tonight, he has to fill in for Kirby on his campus radio show. The Hour of Esoterica, so fucking pretentious. Krautrock, Mexican death metal, baroque pop, glitchcore - whatever oddness they can dig up.
“I know why they only gave him an hour,” I said, and Riley flipped me off. Then he started talking about when they used to eat a few shrooms and play nothing but ambient drones for an hour and Kirby almost got fired.
Riley’s outside doing the caffeine-and-nicotine thing right now, he said he thinks someone abandoned that truck because it doesn’t look like it’s moved an inch since the last time he was here.
“Maybe I’ll tell Mrs. H to report them to the Neighborhood Association,” I said.
“How very Stepford of you,” Riley replied, which made me say huh? But then it came to me in a minute.
“That’s one of your favorite movies!” he said.
“I told you, my mind has holes in it now.”
“Hugs not drugs,” Riley replied.
“Fuck off, I haven’t even smoked a joint since Freshman year!”
I put the books next to the laptop so I wouldn’t forget to write about them, but I need to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen first.
Chapter 19: 10/23/10 (3)
Okay before the books...Riley went to take a shower and then called me in because the water wouldn’t hardly come out. Like there was something blocking the showerhead. It looked like some kind of hair? Like you could see something coming out of some of the holes in the showerhead. Strands of something, they felt sticky, it was really weird. So he just washed up at the sink after I put a bunch of towels on the floor.
Yet another headache for Uncle Lou to deal with, I guess. Seriously though, now I can’t even take a shower? This is getting ridiculous. The shower was working just fine yesterday.
Now the books.
So I went to look for Radical Space in the den yesterday so I could ask Riley if he’d read it and the book right next to it on the shelf was - surprise surprise - The Velvet Machination. We had this conversation (I started it).
“So did you read this book?”
“I tried to. It’s got a lot of math, though, so I didn’t really understand it too well.”
“Is it about physics?”
“It’s about a theory of how to make something bigger on the inside than on the outside.”
“What. The. Fuck!”
“I know, right? It’s crazy. But there was some interesting stuff about how space and time works and all that. Well, theories I guess, but he makes it sound plausible somehow. I mean, it’s no Godel, Escher, Bach or anything, but it’s so out there. Stanley lent me his copy way back when. He was into that guy.”
“The guy who wrote the book?”
“And the other guy, the one who was teaching this stuff.”
“Who was that?”
“I can’t remember his name, but Stanley wanted to study with him.”
“Architecture, I guess.”
But I didn’t remember until after he left that I’d read about that other guy too.
So both Ellen Houghton and Riley’s cousin Stanley went off to study with that Builder guy? And they both happened to be connected to the Lab? And Larry has these books, so did he study with him too? Was he trying to figure it out so he could build something himself?
We were looking at The Velvet Machination. It has some math but not as much as Radical Space. But something in the equations looked familiar so I dug out that paper I found in Larry’s files - it wasn’t the exact same equation, but close enough.
On the inside front cover someone had written come through now and it looked like something else had been written above it and then painted over with white-out or something. But you could tell it was there because the imprint was still visible, if not the actual words.
“Do the pencil trick,” Riley said, and I rubbed it with a pencil so the two lines together were:
The door is open
come through now.
“It’s an incantation,” Riley said, and I sort of shrugged.
“Or an invitation.”
“To what, though. Is that Larry’s handwriting?”
I compared it with the other paper and said no, I didn’t think so.
And now, looking at it, I don’t think I actually want to read this book. It seems more like a philosophy book or something. It talks about how the space within space is infinite, and we can find ways to move between spaces, and to occupy multiple dimensions. It reads more like science-fiction than physics. But there’s just something odd about it. Like I feel odd now for having tried to read some of it. And that’s another thing - I tried to read the first chapter and it felt like my mind just couldn’t focus on it for more than a few minutes.
And then I started thinking about when I was little, and this house did seem bigger. Maybe it actually was? And now that Larry and June are gone maybe it sort of folded in on itself?
Yeah, crazy. You can bet I’m not going to mention that to anybody.
Chapter 20: 10/24/10
I’ve sat here for about half an hour now, trying to figure out how to write about this. I keep wanting to look out the window. When I left for class I thought I would see that guy again, and that it would make me think of the other guy. I didn’t see the homeless guy, or whoever he is, but I felt like I was going to. I could barely focus on what was going on at school.
I came back and went over to see Mrs H. and a stranger answered the door. I would have thought it was Ellen, but I’ve seen photos of her so I knew it wasn’t her. I introduced myself as the niece of her neighbors and the lady is a home health care provider. I instantly freaked out and asked what was wrong, but she said she had to ask Mrs. H if it was okay for me to come in.
I keep feeling like I want to cry.
The lady came back to the door and said it was okay to come in. She pointed to Mrs. H’s bedroom and there she was all laid up in bed, I swear she looked ten years older. She told me she must have had a bout of vertigo or something because a couple days ago she was in the kitchen and her ears started ringing and she got really dizzy and collapsed. She managed to pull the phone down off the counter and call one of her friends who came and took her to the emergency room. Luckily she didn’t break any bones but she’s all bruised up and the doctor wanted her to take it easy for a few days. Her blood pressure is elevated and she’s also dehydrated. Poor Babs, she said, got all in a tizzy and started barking and whining and Mrs. H had to put her in the kennel until she can get around again.
I told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been over in a few days and she said I had nothing to apologize for, I wasn’t responsible for a “silly old woman” but I still feel like I am, kinda. I mean, poor thing - her husband dies, her daughter joins a cult, and then her neighbors disappear. I can’t imagine how she can even be as sweet as she is, I’d be depressed as hell myself.
I asked if she needed me to run any errands for her, but she said the home health care lady takes care of all of that. I could tell she was tired so I said I would come over tomorrow for a little visit and she smiled and said that would be nice. I gave her a kiss and told her she needed to get her rest.
When I came outside I heard that sound again, like someone yelling. I heard it twice.
The home health care lady was singing a song while she was dusting the living room, and now I’ve got it stuck in my brain too, that Belinda Carlisle song - like it’s competing with the words I’m writing right now, ugh.
Chapter 21: 10/25/10 (1)
Why can’t I get this fucking song out of my head?!
Chapter 22: 10/25/10 (2)
I slept with the radio on and there were many voices, they couldn’t all fit in my head. I felt as though I had already been consumed and hollowed out and the space was not meant to reside inside me.
Chapter 23: 10/25/10 (3)
I hate it when I fight with Hannah, but I feel like maybe I’m seriously losing my grip. I don’t know, like I’m on the verge of tears any moment. I asked if we could talk, or could I come over, and my voice was all weird and she said she had plans she couldn’t cancel and why don’t I just have Riley come over, but I know he thinks I’m getting too paranoid and so I came home. I know I got all whiny and defensive with Hannah and she basically just cut me off and said we’d talk later when I wasn’t having a meltdown. Mom tried to interrogate me, but I said that I’m not sleeping well because there’s no heat in that house and I was feeling too lonely.
I’m just trying to figure out how this happened. And I don’t know.
I called Uncle Lou and told him about the water situation and of course his first response was, “How did you manage to fuck up the shower?” and I nearly screamed at him that it wasn’t my fault, that house is just falling apart. I mean, how it managed not to before I moved in, since it sat empty for so long, is beyond me. He got mad and said he was going to suggest to the administrator of the estate that I be replaced and I was all, “Fine! Fire me, I don’t give a fuck!” and I hung up on him.
Mom was standing there with her mouth open, and I said I was sorry that I embarrassed her but he had no right to talk to me like that, I don’t care that we are related.
And here’s the shitty part: she thinks it’s me, that there’s something wrong with me.
Fuck, maybe there is.
Chapter 24: 10/26/10
I figured since I’m home I might as well do my assignment so I got out my microcassette recorder, changed the batteries, and luckily I still had a couple blank cassettes so I told Mom that I needed her to tell me a story about myself when I was younger, and then I had to see if I remembered it the way she did, or even remembered it at all.
Now I’m going to transcribe what she said here, because I don’t know how to transfer the audio into something I could upload as a sound file. Riley did give me access to his server, and I just use it as a backup sometimes for things like research papers. I’ve been thinking I should back up my blog on it, just to be safe, since I might end up using part of it for my final project in Creative Non-Fiction.
“I think this happened just after your eighth birthday, Leah. It was that same year, at least, although I might not be remembering the month exactly. Your dad and I wanted to take a little trip for our anniversary, but he was in the middle of a big project and couldn’t take more than a couple days off, so we ended up doing an extended weekend and having you stay with Larry and June while we went to the lake. There was a little motel there right on the water we liked to go to, it was very relaxing. And also we wanted to get away while school was out, so you could stay with them for a few days and we didn’t have to worry about you missing school.
So I took you over there late Wednesday afternoon, we drove up in the evening and managed to get there just before check-in time was over, then came back on Sunday afternoon. I had called the house on Thursday afternoon and June said you were fine, since you had brought all your crayons and coloring books, and some of your dolls to play with. She said everything was fine and not to worry and we should have a good time. She had the number of the motel if she needed to call but of course she wouldn’t. That’s how she put it.
So I didn’t call again until just before we left on Sunday and Larry answered the phone, he said June had a headache and was laying down, but you’d just had your lunch and you were reading a book although he didn’t know how much of it you understood. I laughed and said, ‘Oh one of your physics books?’ and he said, ‘It sure is! The funniest thing.’ He knew about your hyperlexia, of course, and so that’s why he let you read anything you wanted in his library, or try to, at least. He told me the name of the book and I laughed and said that you must have thought it had something to do with The Velveteen Rabbit. He laughed too and said that must be it, and that you would be disappointed because there were no rabbits in that book.”
I have no memory of this at all.
Chapter 25: 10/27/10 (1)
Finished my assignment by actually following the rules and writing a memory of my 14th birthday, which was the last one with Dad. Had Mom tell me about it so I could compare the two accounts and they’re pretty much the same.
Haven’t heard back from Uncle Lou whether or not he made good on his threat. I called Mr. D and told him I wasn’t feeling well and he said it was fine, he wasn’t strict about attendance as long as people turned in their assignments on time and kept up with the reading.
I don’t want to go back there but I’m worried about Mrs H. and I can’t stop thinking about her, so my conscience is telling me I need to go back. But I’m not going until tomorrow after class. Mom is at work right now and I’m using this time to get all caught up on my reading. I called Hannah but just got her voicemail. I said I was sorry for freaking out on her the other day, and I hoped she would forgive me.
It’s funny...even though I haven’t actually lived in this room for a few years now, it doesn’t seem any different than it was, like it doesn’t seem any larger or smaller. But I do have that same feeling of everything being different, like I did that one night I went over to Riley’s. Like the other place is just a dream, or something, and when I’m away from it I feel...normal, I guess.
Chapter 26: 10/27/10 (2)
Got a text from Hannah:
no biggie sorry u were stressd
studying 4 midterms so talk l8tr after Hween
I texted Riley and said I would be willing to go with him to the Philips party after all, but I haven’t heard back yet. Otherwise I’ll just come back home, I guess. Mom said I didn’t need to go back, she’d come with me on Saturday and we can pack up all my stuff and she said she’ll tell the administrator to find someone to take care of the house, maybe hire one of those services who just packs everything up and takes it to a storage unit. I don’t see what the rush is, really, but I guess it’s because the estate is getting ready for next year when Larry and June can be declared deceased in absentia. But I told her about Mrs H and that I wanted to check on her again at least one more time. Mom said it was weird because she couldn’t remember the Houghtons at all although she’s sure she must have socialized with them over the years. But I don’t see how, really, it’s not like we ever went to their house for parties or whatever. It was usually just when they had me stay with them, and after Dad left that didn’t happen anymore. Mom has dated a few guys over the years, and by the time she was doing that I was old enough to stay home by myself, or go sleep over at Hannah’s.
Riley blames my dad for me not wanting a boyfriend, but I told him I just don’t see the point in getting all hung up on people at this age, when none of us are mature enough for a serious commitment. Aren’t we just supposed to be having fun?
These past two months have been pretty much the opposite of fun.
Chapter 27: 10/28/10 (1)
I don’t know what I’m still doing here. I mean, other than to visit Mrs. H. When I drove through town I was so paranoid, looking for that man. But I didn’t see him, or at least I don’t think I saw him. But maybe he could see me.
It was so crazy, and I feel like I don’t understand, but I do. Like there’s a part of me that understands even if I don’t remember. But who can I tell now? Who is going to believe me?
I had to write it down while it was still fresh in my mind. I wanted to do it next door but the home health care lady was pretty much insistent I get out. I came over here to pack up my clothes.
It’s cold. It’s so fucking cold in here. The lights aren’t working again.
The lady didn’t want to let me come in, she said Mrs. H was really agitated today and she was worried her blood pressure would get too high again. But then Mrs. H started calling for me and I just sort of pushed my way in there, which was totally rude I know, but it had to be done.
This is what she said to me when I came into her bedroom. She was whispering and when I said I couldn’t hear her she grabbed my top and said, like she was totally scared, “It can hear us, you know. Don’t talk too loud.”
And I said, “What can hear us?”
She said, “I heard them last night. I heard them calling for me.”
“Who?” I asked.
“Larry and June. They were calling for me to help them.”
And I kept saying stuff like, “Mrs. H, it must have been a dream, it couldn’t have been them - where would they be calling from? They’re not here.”
She started crying, it totally freaked me out to see her like that. It’s like she’s had a breakdown or something. LIke she’s stuck in a nightmare and she’s trying to wake up but she can’t.
“They are here, they are, because here and there are different places but the same place and I couldn’t hear them before. I don’t know why except that they must have been farther away and now they’re closer again. I don’t know how to help them.” and her voice got all high and she was sobbing. I hugged her, I didn’t know what else to do. The lady came in and asked me to leave because Mrs. H was getting all worked up.
“Leah,” she said when I got up from the bed, “if you hear them, if you hear them yelling, tell them I said I’m sorry. But I can’t go in there, I’ll get lost just like they did.”
“Go in where?” I asked, and I was freaking out so I kind of yelled it and she got scared again.
“It can hear you talking about it!”
And now, I’ve got all my other clothes and toiletries and stuff and I’m leaving. But then I stopped to think about something.
She said yelling.
And I looked through the photo album, since I figured I was never going to get a chance to show it to Mrs. H now. There’s some of the same photos she had showed me that one time. Of those people they used to socialize with, like it was some kind of club. Even a few of them all wearing robes, like they were in the OTO or something. We just read about that group in class last week. One photo was weird, though. There are some photos taken outside and the houses on this street all look newer because it was a long time ago. But there’s one photo of Larry and June that has the house across the street in the background and it doesn’t look any different than it does now. I mean, it looked as just as rundown as if no one had ever lived in it.
Chapter 28: 10/28/10 (2)
FML now the car won’t start. I guess it’s the battery because the ignition won’t even turn over. I went next door to ask the lady if she would be willing to give me a jump but she wouldn’t answer the door. I must have stood there for, like, five minutes knocking and ringing the doorbell. I left a message for my mom on her work phone, and texted a few people, but nobody’s called me back yet. I thought about trying to call a cab but I don’t have enough cash on me. If I knew where to catch the bus I would just so I could get the fuck out of here. But it’s already the middle of the afternoon now, and I don’t want to be wandering around here after dark.
Chapter 29: 10/28/10 (3)
I thought I heard something outside. The truck has moved, it’s parked in front of that house now instead of in the driveway. So if there’s workers in there or whatever, maybe they can give me a jump. I really don’t want to go house to house asking for help.
Someone’s got to be there because I could swear I heard something. Like, I couldn’t really tell just by looking at the house but I’m going to check again. I wish my mom would call back already. I’m going to send this to Riley’s server and then I’ve got to do something. I wish I had her Auto Club card, then I could just call for the tow truck but I already looked through my wallet and my backpack and if she gave me a copy I can’t find it. Maybe it’s in the glovebox?
Just looked over there again and yeah, someone is definitely there.
The front door is standing wide open.