Robed Man #5

I’m at a crime scene.

Two men lie on the floor, wine bottle shards scattered everywhere. I hope its red wine pouring from the Indian man’s head. It’s all over the room, even with a wine splatter on the wall. I creep into the room to keep it off my shoes, my hands, my clothes- why am I here?

Ian left his room and went down the hall. I try to stay back, but he heads for the stairs. He goes down a floor and I follow, watching from the doorway. Ian enters one of the rooms calm, but then yells at someone. He’s mad at somebody, but then I hear a punch. Ian stumbles out into the hallway.

It’s that red-hair kid. I think it’s Peter?

“I knew you were fucking crazy!” Peter yells in the hallway.

Oh shit. Peter pushes Ian to the ground, and I cannot understand a word- this the coolest thing I’ve seen Peter do. A woman walks out of the room, and now the scandal is complete. Ian isn’t as weird I thought. He interacts with humans, and possibly, had a girlfriend.

“If I ever see you near her again, I swear to god-“

The chick slams Peter into the wall. Not with her body or arms, but with her mind. She pointed, and Peter levitated then was thrown into the wall. Ian was banging a powered-girl! It makes sense now, though it makes him a bit sad. He can’t help but be a weirdo.

Ian runs off and I return to reality. I take the side exit, the one within the stair and I sprint around the building, hoping to avoid being thrown into walls as well.  In the dark, I watch him walk away, and the woman stands in front of the door, calling his name.

I follow Ian off campus into the streets of Newark. I’m not naïve to area, but never this late, spying on a classmate. Ian doesn’t care about anything. He’s direct and confidence in where he’s going. I wish I knew.

The apartment complex is huge, nice for the area we’re in. The person Ian’s trying to visit could be anybody- a drug dealer? It must be drug dealer. Considering mind exploration and believing in psychic power, it is confirmed. Ian’s buying drugs. I’m watching Ian buy drugs?

This lobby’s too nice to have a friendly, neighborhood pusher as a resident. It’s open with a front desk with a young man manning the desk. He shakes his head as Ian storms over to an elevator. Ian jabs his index finger onto button three, and paces by the door.  I didn’t think about what do to walking up to the desk, and the apartment attendant looks up at me.

“Hi. How can I help you?

“Um…” I mutter. “Can I use your bathroom?”

Since the bathrooms were down the hall from the elevator, I was able sneak up the stairs. At the third story, I walk down the hallway, hoping to not bum into Ian. I can’t see where the elevator is. The hallway is long and when I get to the end, it splits into two directions. I fear of losing my mark until I hear the shouting.

He leads me to the right side of the split, and I follow the crescendo, leading me to Ian. The shouting is too loud to be coming from anywhere else. Another argument- Ian’s very popular tonight. I may be able to convince whoever this is at a later time I need to retrieve the notebook for him. I’ll say he’s sick or something or got robbed again. I’m sure all the conflict Ian’s been in lately would make it easy to make it sense if he’s hurt, or stressed or-

Something shatters.

I guess whatever’s going on got heated. There’s still more shouting. He must have knocked something over, making everything worse. Not a time to be clumsy, but you can only get so mad. If he gets kicked out of the apartment, it might be easy to just steal the notebook from Ian. Can I even do something like that?

The shouting stops. The silence feels odd, until it’s broken by something…or someone collapsing on the floor. Everything slows…a connection pieces together of their argument, someone agitated other and then knocking that person out. I wait for a call, or pleading, or even sighs of panic.

Silence.

I wait outside, looking for something to signal me to stay or leave. The decision caused me a to pace, something of auto-pilot, letting my mind wander from what my feet and body are doing. It’s not unordinary, and most people find themselves doing the same thing. Most people are a lot more coordinated than I, so allowing automatous actions is more dangerous for me than the average person. When my feet tangle, I lunge forward into the ajar door, stumbling into the floor of an open apartment.

Now I’m inside.

Looking at the scene makes my stomach clench. There’s a smell, but the visual makes it hard not to contaminated it. The last thing I need is for my DNA to be anywhere in this apartment, which conjures thoughts of the police. Will they be here soon? I was able to hear everything, and I heard the shouting…

The wine doesn’t matter anymore. The two bodies on the floor, oozing life doesn’t matter either. The scrawling of a bored college student does, and the search starts. The furniture appears normal, everything in place. In a vacuum, bodies wouldn’t be behind them. People would sit in them if the head of one of the victims weren’t so fucked up, lumps stacking on top of each other. They way they’re formed, whatever wrapping on his head probably couldn’t cover them up. He looks like the others, the survivors of the incident. I’ve seen students moping around campus with similar deformities.

There’s a blue notebook across the room, on the counter near some uncorked wine. Now it seems the conflict flared up once the wine was used as a last-minute weapon. Ian must have grabbed it, broke it, and slashed the other guys throat. There are still blood and bruises on Ian’s face from the fight with Peter. Analyzing the last few hours, I’m kind of glad Ian’s dead. He seems…dangerous. Is this notebook worth it?

“Of course, it’s worth it. It’s worth everything.”

Javier crosses his arms, not looking at me. This is the first time I’ve seen him outside the dorm in about three weeks. I don’t know why I went to him. He’s a jerk and hasn’t talked to me in any part of that time, but he’s the only person I really talk to- other than Li. She’s cool, but in class at the moment- that and I haven’t told her how much I’ve helped Javier out. There’s no reason this notebook is so important.

“You getting a hand on that notebook will decipher everything I’ve been looking at.”

“You don’t understand it?”

“It’s nonsense. All nonsense.” He turns to me, and the intensity pushes me back. “That notebook has to give me something. I watch him too, you know.”

“You do?”

“He’s on to something, but his stupid friends distract him. Nobody does that much work with nothing to show for it.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I am.”

“But what does that mean for me?”

His shoulders drop. He paces then turns to me without saying anything. He waits, wanting me to see it, looking for some hint of realization on my face. He continues, but there are dots I can’t connect. He intercedes.

“Control of your life and surroundings. You rely on other people, yes?”

“I tend to avoid other people.”

“But not her.” I regret mentioning Eva. “You didn’t avoid her.”

She’s always someone I mention. The memories of her always pop up eventually, like the time we’re were superheroes for Halloween one year. She couldn’t decide who she wanted to be because it all depended on the powers. I’m not familiar with them, yet she kept peppering me with questions. Eventually, she just went to the internet and settled on wearing a red hair wig and told me I had to wear red-tinted sunglass. I couldn’t see a thing the entire night, but I was beaming. She was so happy the entire night.

“You come see me now, and I’m pretty sure you don’t even like me.”

“You’re doing this on purpose?”

“Of course, I’m doing this on purpose! I’m testing you.”

This level of honesty is reserved for long time relationships or lifetime friends. Javier was neither. He’s a jerk and I can stand him, and he doesn’t deserve me helping him out, or the satisfaction that I’m succeeding. He can figure all this out by himself, dealing with all of Ian’s bullshit. I had enough.

“Am I passing?”

“God…” Javier says, chuckling to himself, rubbing his forehead. “I owe you a lot, and I won’t forget that, but if you can find that notebook.”

He walks to me, placing his hands on my shoulders. He stares into my eyes, and his demeanor shifts. A smile spread wide on his face, confusing me. An uneasiness rises in my chest, upsetting my stomach. I feel like he’s going to kiss me.

He doesn’t. He just lowers his voice.

“You’ll change everything.”

Holding the notebook, it looks like nothing. This is the notebook you burrow in class you really need to pass, but you can’t read any of it. There are words I don’t understand, which may be real or not. There are drawings interjected between everything, pictures of teeth falling out and arrows pointing to a brain. There’s doodles of an ocean scribbled throughout the whole thing, with Deja Vu written on the top of every other page. This whole mess stands on a foundation of bad handwriting and chaotic notes.

A moan mutters from the other side of the couch.

I jerk back, bumping into the couch, which slides back, creaking the wood it sits on. I peek over as Ian shifts. I sprint forward, forgetting the coffee table I shimmied by earlier. My leg slams into it, tripping me, sending me flying over it to the floor, bumping into the love seat. More wood creaks.

I get outside the apartment and just run. I hear people opening their doors to finally see what happened. Slowing down in the stair case, I take a second to calm down. The notebook is still in my arm. It feels heavy, just like my arms, my legs, my head- my breath gets short. I can’t breathe. Wheezing in the stairwell, my voice echoes with each small step I take. The commotion in the previous hallway swells. I hear a scream. My breath returns.

I duck out an emergency exit, not concerned if there’s a silent alarm or not. The police will get there eventually. My exit triggering an alarm won’t make them come any faster.  I force myself to walk as the street opens. Not as many people around this time of night, but I walk for the campus with determination. My mind pulls away from the instinct to check the wine on my clothes. It doesn’t smell, but these clothes can’t stay with me. The notebook has a little bit of wine on it. It pulses, throbbing in my hand, warming my hands, and I want out. I don’t deserve any of this. My life warrens normalcy just like everybody else.

I don’t want anything else.

I just want to get this wine off my hands.

James E. Green IIIComment