Sunday, September 30, 2012
The Mermaid House: Part Six
LEANDER COULD NOT rationalize that encounter on the ocean road, so he drove to Thyme's Auto Shop, where he spoke with a silvery-haired man in overalls. As the man checked out his car, Leander casually interrogated him.
His name was Ben Thyme. He'd had a son that used to play soccer. There had been an accident...fifteen years ago.
It took Leander an hour of frustrated driving before he found the neighborhood again. When he found the shipwreck house, it didn't look the same in the failing light of day. He approached it carefully, picking his way through weeds that seemed to have grown overnight.
A feverish ache in his bones made him shiver. The house's windows were boarded up. The roof had sunk on one side. The porch was slimed with old leaves and lichen. In the neglected garden, he saw a giant, stone head surrounded by snaky hair, its face set in an expression of horror, its open mouth vomiting the roots of a small, twisty tree that was strangling a nearby oak. There were toadstools everywhere, and a rippling fungus around the Medusa head.
He stepped back. He stared at the boarded-up house with a sick feeling. The attic window hadn't been covered. The glass was dark. He stared up at it as every instinct told him to run.
Something drifted across the glass, inside. He backed away. He looked around at the tangled lawn. This couldn't be the right place.
He glanced at the front door and saw the carvings of sea creatures, the stained-glass mermaid. He moved up the stairs. Peering inside, he could see a deserted room, trash on the floor, a spray of graffiti across the moldering wall. Only part of a poetic creed was visible -- ware La Mer's dark daughters.
He turned and strode quickly back to his car. When he got into it, he hit the locks and stared accusingly at the house and thought It's tricking me.