My first thought was that It had a gun.
That It was shooting at me, trying to stop me from running away or whatever it would have thought I was doing. I had this whole story balloon in my head; It wanted me there, at the beach, because it needed an audience. It needed someone to witness it’s invisible catastrophe. I had it in my mind that it got off on that, teasing me with a subliminal massacre, making hollow eye-contact.
But that wasn’t it at all.
It took me a minute as the ringing inside my head levelled out to realize where the shot had actually come from. Funny, how it happened right when I was at the mouth of that ally. It could have happened an other millisecond before or after and I wouldn’t have been exactly where I was. That ally I had raced up and down in daze, only twice before in my life. That ally I had entered and exited, the only other time I saw It. Here I was frozen like a goddamn deer staring down that ally, waiting for the other ball to drop like an aftershock of an earthquake.
But that was it.
One shot and silence. It was the silence that bothered me the most. I remember Ma telling me how silence was the one thing that scared her the most with us kids. We could be hollering and screaming and beating each other within an inch of our lives and she wouldn’t bat an eye, but if that ever stopped, that’s when she knew something real bad had happened.
I started down the ally.
My heart thumping along, filling the dead summer air. A dog bark and I jumped out of my skin. I don’t know why I was so skittish, it’s not like I never heard a gun before. People hunted all year round, kids shot at bottles and rubber tires in the fields for fun, an old lady shot a hole through her wall cause she thought her clock was an intruder–don’t ask. I shouldn’t have been that disturbed by a single gunshot.
But I was.
I carried on towards Deakin’s old man’s garage entrance. I suppose it was the circumstances of it all; what happened at the beach, what happened the last time I walked down this ally. What happened the last time I saw Deakin’s old man. What he said to me, the last words he ever said to me, ‘Best, you forget all a this, now.’
A bird squawks from somewhere above.
I start up the chipped cement leading into his open garage. It looked like an oil slick at first, puddled at his splayed feet and my initial thought was, why would he want to lie down in an oil slick then I noticed the splattered reaching more than ten feet out from his body. Screaming replaced the silence; my own screams. I ran towards him first, then skidded back, oscillating back and forth like a trapped mouse before I saw it. The note.