I’d been visiting once when he’d suddenly reached out and stuffed a note card into my hand, which I have to admit, took me by surprise. Not so much the action itself—because like I’ve said, there were notes on everything, so why not in my hand—no, what took me by surprise was my own reaction. It was like I was in a coma or something, but aware, or maybe like one of those freak surgeries you hear about where somethings gone wrong with the anesthetics and the person can’t move a muscle and hears and feels everything as the doctors start slicing in. I sat there, my hand dead and limp as he shoved that card between my fingers, and I was afraid to turn it over, to read it, afraid of what I might see. Time with him turned you into one of those freaks, with everything moving around you and you unable to scream or understand anything that was happening. I didn’t want to know what that card said, that was the problem, and that’s what took me by surprise—my own reluctance—but I forced myself somehow to look down.
That was it. Just two words, written all in uppercase. Big, black, fading letters spelling out just those two words, faded so much that I could just barely make them out. When I looked back up, he was just sitting there staring at me, silent, as if he wrestled with something that I couldn’t see, and I remember thinking then that maybe it was the things he didn’t say that made us all so uncomfortable, rather than the things he said. Maybe it was all the unspoken thoughts behind all those notes that made us jumpy, rather than the notes themselves. Maybe it was something in all of us that made us nervous, rather than something in him. We didn’t have to go there, after all. We could have stayed away, all of us, but maybe we just couldn’t stand the idea of not knowing. Maybe we just couldn’t stand the secrets.
But it’s the pencil that doesn’t fade now, isn’t it? That’s what he’d said to me that time, with me sitting there staring at that card. The pencil, not the ink. There’s a clue for you, my boy, and a damn fine one. Yes, yes, you think about that. Follow that one and I’ll meet you there, but don’t get lost. No, don’t get lost.
Note: Originally posted on brandnewmonster.com