Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Canvas Bag....part seven

“ Yes, I have.” Bernie had gotten his voice back. He backed away from the table and stood erect. “ How could I not ? Look at yourself. You hardly work anymore, you’re putting on weight, your eyes look like you haven’t had a nights’ sleep in months. You’ve treated yourself like a murderer for nearly five years now Davey, and it’s starting to show. I’ve been waiting for the day that you would finally forgive yourself for all of it, but you’re getting worse, not better. So, lately I’ve resorted to the word of God. So yes…I’m the one responsible for the notes!”

“ You really think that guy was with the mob? This isn’t New York or Chicago Bernie. Why would the mob bother showing up in Fresno? “

“ You always change the subject when we actually talk about something that matters! You always want to talk about the little things, not the thing that is killing you.”

“ I think the mob is pretty big.”

Bernie dropped the subject and sat back down. A long moment of chilly silence passed between them. The longer it went on the heavier the air became. David knew that Bernie was right. He had never allowed himself an ounce of grace, not a single moment of forgiveness since the fire. Now, the money had only made it worse. Why had he of all people stumbled upon such a fortune? It was unfair beyond description, so unfair it bordered on the comical.

“Listen Bernie, I don’t know anything about any money in the park, so you can stop worrying. “

“ Who said it was money? “

David looked away and said nothing. Bernie asked no more questions. When he reached the door on his way out, Dave put his hand on Bernie’s shoulder and said, “ Leave it be Bernie. “ Three weeks passed. The man in the black suit never came back, and David had seemingly vanished. Bernie began to ask around and discovered that David hadn’t been on the corner in over two weeks. He worked up the nerve to pay him a visit at the boarding house. No one answered the door. Bernie reached for the knob and despite the clammy heat in the hallway, it was ice cold to the touch. He turned it and heard a click. David had left his door unlocked.
David’s room seemed to have its own atmosphere, everything seemed heavier inside than it had out in the hall. Bernie’s coat pressed down harder against his shoulders, his clothes seemed suddenly made of iron. The room seemed oppressive and sinister, like something not altogether of this world. The walls and ceiling were oddly pale blue and shimmering with streaks of silver that diminished as they got closer to the kitchen and fireplace. Bernie was shocked to find David in bed, shivering under icy covers, his face hot and streaked with sweat, and his eyes red-rimmed and vacant. He tried to revive him, calling out his name, but David was silent and burning with a fever. Bernie ran to the sink to run water on a rag. When he looked back at David he noticed what seemed to be an ice-encrusted box, blue and glowing , under the bed. Bernie had to wrap the dish towels around his hands to get a grip. It finally broke free and slid out from under the bed. Bernie could make out only books through the clear ice. But whatever on earth was wrong with this room was coming from this glowing blue box. He began to search the kitchen for something that he could use to break the ice. He needed a hammer and a screw driver but could find nothing, except a hard edged metal dust pan in the closet. Bernie knelt down beside the box and began to chisel through the ice. It was a slow and painful progress. David lay as still as the dead, making no sound and responding to none of the flying ice chips and scraping noises. Bernie’s hands had begun to bleed, dripping down onto the icy surfice and blurring it red. Suddenly the ice let out a loud crack and cleft into two big blocks, crashing to the floor and sliding away leaving a trail of blood and water. Bernie saw only books, amazingly dry books.