I spent a few weeks living among the stone forms of my frozen family. On some level I knew that they were dead, but when an impossible thing happens suddenly, you can’t be sure it won’t unhappen suddenly. I made a real effort to clean and guard my favorites, and each dawn I’d carefully study them to see if an expression or position had changed a little. I didn’t have a camera, and couldn’t draw, so I could never tell for sure. It could be a projection but they seemed gradually more at ease, the initial agitation of the moment fading, but they were still all looking up and away from something.
Had I been sure they wouldn’t wake up I might have explored more, but I thought they still might, and the price of curiosity lay stark on the lawn, so mostly I just swiped change from the jar in the main hall and hung out in the arcade in town. Eventually someone noticed an unattended minor wandering the city and alerted the authorities. When the police came I thought they were there to arrest me for dropping an aunt down the stairs and snapping her arms off. It was an accident, but I was prepared to do hard time. They never mentioned the statues, whole or otherwise, and I was taken into foster care.
I’d go months without thinking about that part of my life, and then a class field trip would send me spiraling. May is certain this must have incepted some deeply held paraphilia, but I don’t think it’s informed any kink, I just avoid museums and classy atriums when I can.
Lyle flipped through his rolodex with one broad, rootlike, finger. He had enough technical savvy to handle things in a modern way, but he couldn’t bring himself to entrust his leads to a computer, and it mattered that each had a card just for them. He punched the number into his phone and softened his voice.
“Hello,Gavin? This is Lyle Boggart, I am a resource officer from Carolina’s school.”
Carolina’s father buzzed some vague affirmative. It hardly mattered.
“She’s mentioned me? Excellent. I am calling about her class performance. She’d been an excellent student before this last semester, but her grades have slipped precipitously. I understand that she’s been sleeping poorly of late, but without some extra effort, and perhaps a tutor, I don’t think it’s feasible for her to remain in our gifted program.”
Carolina’s father sounded guilty, but malleable. Those who wanted the best, but did the least, gave the most.
“Yes, Yes, of course…no one doubts your commitment to excellence. We all need a little help at times. If you could just Venmo us 200$ I’d be happy to arrange a few sessions that are sure to bump her grades up. It might even help with the nightmares.”
Isaac sounded his arrival with three hard thumps on the door. Lyle made an apology and put Carolina’s father on hold. His work was important, but his roommate held it in low regard.
“ I know you stole my hat, you prick!” shouted Isaac, through the door.
Lyle took a moment to compose himself.
“I didn’t take your greasy hat, asshole. Why would I want that? You think I’m having fashion shows in here?” said Lyle.
Isaac kicked the door in frustration.
“ I don’t know why you do anything. But I know you are fucked, and since you showed up things just disappear. And why are there all of these little shoes out here?” said Isaac.
The shoes were none of his business, and if the disruption went on much longer Lyle could lose the sale.
“I realize you see me as this malevolent shadow darkening your household…but sometimes people just lose shit. Not everything is my fault. Check the couch, that’s where you found it last time.” said Lyle.
Lyle waited until Isaac was halfway down the stairs before returning to the call.
“My apologies for keeping you waiting. I’ve emailed you the payment details and prospective times for the tutoring session. Their schedule is such that it will have to be online, but the service has an excellent track record” said Lyle.
Carolina’s father expressed appreciation and sent payment. Lyle concluded the call before Isaac returned from the living room. Three predictable raps fell upon Lyles’ door.
“Alright, my hat was in the couch, but the leftover spaghetti is gone from the fridge and I know you’ve been talking to May again” said Isaac.
Some people couldn’t be wrong gracefully.
“ I don’t see how those things are related,” said Lyle.
Isaac kicked the door.
“They are related because they are both things that you are not supposed to be doing,” said Isaac.
Lyle let Isaac’s frustration build a little more before responding.
“I didn’t steal your spaghetti, as I am trapped in this room, and also I do not eat. I talk to May, as she is good company, and since an incompetant moron bound me to this house I have little in the way of social opportunity” said Lyle.
“You aren’t fooling anyone, Lyle. I hear you moving around at night. Keep pushing me and I’ll chop that door down and break both your legs!” said Isaac.
Lyle clapped happily at the obvious reply. He had few pleasures available in his current situation, but winding up Isaac was always rewarding.
“You’ve been sounding that rap for years, tough guy. Door’s still there, my legs are still not broken, and you keep cashing my rent cheques because you keep getting up late and have to take an Uber to work. Prick.” said Lyle.
Isaac pounded the door in impotent fury.
”I keep waking up late because you keep fucking with my dreams so I have trash sleep” said Isaac.
Lyle twirled a mound of pasta onto his fork and dropped it into his huge orange maw.
“You cannot prove that, and I didn’t break the alarm clock or hide the bus schedule. If you planned more carefully you could easily push through adversity and still have a productive day.” said Lyle.
Isaac stormed off. He was late for his date and hadn’t time for a proper row. Feeling high spirited, Lyle flipped to the next card in his rolodex and continued his workday.
Continued in Part Six
Continued from Part 4