Teaser

Prologue

Wilbur Peterson sat staring at the rain while  gently rocking on his front porch. I was a cold and windy October morning, and the spray had already left him soaking wet. He didn’t mind, he was a hundred and five years old and the cold dampness only helped to  reminded him that he was still alive. He had spent many of the last forty years doing exactly the same thing. Some of the ruder neighbourhood kids would call him “Weirdo Wil”. He didn’t care, he knew his wits and his memory were as sharp as they’d ever been, a cruel joke played by the gods. He would have welcomed losing his mind, and the awful memories that still seemed as clear  as the day they happened, so many years ago.

The whirling sound of a siren drew him out of his trance. The sound always caused him to get a chill down his spine, and left his heart racing. Although he would welcome a heart attack, he had some unfinished business to attend to first, so he bit down on the angina medication the doctor had given him earlier that month. When he felt the tightness in his chest ease a little, he grabbed his cane and slowly made his way back into the house, glancing briefly at the thick pile of paper sitting on his desk.

He made his way to the fireplace, and used the poker to stir up the embers still glowing in it. He tossed in the remaining pieces of wood that lay on the hearth, and watched as they quickly caught flame. Having the fireplace restored was the one true luxury he had allowed himself, and he stood awhile staring at it serenely as the heat began to soak into his tired bones. It was the last of the firewood, but he would not be needing more after today.

It was two-thirty by the time he had showered and changed his clothes. At three the bus would arrive at the stop like clockwork as it always did and he didn’t want to miss it, not today. He went to his desk and stared a while at the pile of papers before placing them in a large envelope.  With a black magic marker in large letters he simply wrote ‘My Story’. He placed the bag in his satchel, grabbed his cane and umbrella, and started his slow stroll to the bus stop.

Wil entered the bus and looked around for a seat. As usual at this time of day, all the rich kids who attended the private school in town were headed back to the city. He didn’t bother asking for a seat, he didn’t want to give the snickering brats the satisfaction. He thought back to his own childhood and wondered if he had really been any different. The automatic bus accelerated into action leaving him gripping the handrail with all his strength, it was everything he could do to hold on. He hated this bus, and had mostly avoided it whenever possible. It was just another reminder of how much the world had moved on without him. He suspected it was same way his great-grandfather felt when his parents would insist on taking him from the nursing home for Sunday outings in their fancy car.

When they arrived in the city fifteen minutes later, he was still deep in thought. He was left completely unaware when the bus went into a sudden deceleration, and lost his grip on the handrail. He fell hard, smashing his knee and forehead leaving him dazed and very hurt.  He heard laughter in the background, until one of the older kids said “Hey, shut the fuck up. Can’t you see the old guys hurt?”  A tall brown haired kid around thirteen came by and offered him a hand.” Are you Ok sir?” the boy asked as he helped him to his feet. Wil brushed the dirt off his pants and then froze. For brief moment he was sure he was looking into the eyes of Evan Scholstein. “Are you alright sir” the boy said again. Wil coming back to senses shook his head and said “Yes…yes I’ll be fine.” The boy, still a little unsure helped him off the bus and asked him if he wanted him to find some help. He said no, thanked the boy, and quickly began the ten minute walk to his destination, doing his best to hide the terrible pain in his knee.

He arrived at his destination about fifteen minutes later, his knee and his head throbbing. He stood a while outside the door of Maddoc Publishing. This was his destination, he had spent the last ten years preparing to come here, and a wave of emotion swept over him. He took in a deep breath, regained his composure, opened the heavy door of the office, and stepped inside.

The waiting area was very plain. The receptionist sat behind an old metal desk that looked as if it had come out of a twentieth century public school classroom. The walls were bare and stacks of file cabinets surrounded the room. The only sign of modern office, was the computer panel attached to the desk. He walked over, and before the young women could even ask him if she could help him, he handed her the envelope and said “Please give this to Jason Maddoc, he’s expecting it.”  She paused somewhat taken aback and replied “Umm…just one moment, I’ll see if he’s available.” As she was turning to walk down the short corridor to the back office, he was already heading out the door, leaving his satchel, and umbrella behind. He wouldn’t be needing them anymore.

He returned to the station and found himself a nice secluded seat where he could wait in silence. The next bus would not be there for an hour, and it would give him a little time to reflect on his life. He was sad, and more than a little scared, but he knew this was long overdue. When he arrived home it would be waiting for him, as it had for all the others.

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