Entry One Hundred Eight: Adam Mahoney, You Just Won!

[This entry is the current story I am working on. This is thirty-eight of who knows how many will be posted. The last entry is here. Enjoy it while it lasts...]

Chapter Sixteen
Adam took the final steps into the cafeteria, stopping just inside the double doors to light a cigarette. It had taken no time to develop a rigid ritual for his few minutes of cafeteria meditation. Since there was no one else to consider, his ceremony was comfortably tailored for him alone; no one else mattered. He would light a smoke, step into the center of the large room—he had long ago moved the tables and chairs away from the middle, giving him a wide berth and enlarging his personal space—and slowly turn, drawing on his cigarette and taking in all four walls. He would start with the wall that fronted the kitchen area; its two sets of double doors, former portals for students to collect their sustenance, giving it a symmetrical look that he felt gave him balance as well. He would then turn toward the wall of windows holding back the outside and, depending on the time of day, overrun by sunshine and shadows. It was invigorating and he took his time scanning the entire length. The third wall, the wall that held the stage and was dominated by a large, garnet colored curtain, was his least favorite but he never rushed through his time there. He used this wall as a means of discipline, a barricade that he had to break through slowly to allow him to fully build the anticipation of what followed.

His favorite wall he saved until last. He would close his eyes as he got to the end of the third wall and continue moving, keeping them pinched tight until he was squarely facing the final scene. By this time he had finished his first smoke and allowed himself one more as he slowly opened his eyes and took in the grandeur of the mural of the United States of America. It never failed to take his breath away, the size and colors never disappointed him. As he examined each state, starting in Washington and moving south then east then north, snaking his way across the mural, he always experienced renewed hope. He still didn’t know why or to what the hope was attached, but it was a positive and profound experience every time. And this particular day proved to be the most profound of them all.

His eyes had just slid off the east coast of Florida, his last visual stop every time because it was the closest to Georgia, his home state. He tried but could never figure out a way to make Georgia his last stop. Every solution ended up leaving Florida out altogether and, even though he had no special love for the sunshine state, he held no particular animosity toward it either so it was only fair to include it. He put his cigarette to his lips and stopped, mid draw. In large letters--a bold, wispy script that looked out of place on the wall--were the words “See America!” Their appearance startled him. He knew they hadn’t been there before, would swear to it if there was anyone to doubt him, and the letter’s professional quality blared in contrast to the artistic crudeness of the rest of the map. Everything about it was odd and, to complicate an already twisted situation, there was something familiar about the lettering. “Where have I seen that before?” He grabbed a chair and placed it in front of the newest addition to the wall. He sat and stared at the letters, obviously hand-painted but perfectly executed. He fumbled for another cigarette and felt no guilt at breaking his self-imposed rule that only allowed him two smokes per meditation visit. This trip had obviously strayed from normal and had careened into something new and, possibly, interesting. He stared and studied, taking time to examine each word and then each letter individually, hoping something would spark in his memory and help him solve the mystery. On his final exhale of smoke it came to him.

“The note! It’s the same handwriting that was used on the note I got from the Squatters.” He jumped up, his legs straightening so quickly that they snapped into his chair, sliding it across the linoleum floor two feet behind him. “It’s another message from the Squatters. Damn, I guess I’m getting boring again.”

Adam hurried home, trying to process what the Squatters expected of him. He had some initial thoughts but every one of them had enough doubt attached to them that he couldn’t settle on any one idea. His biggest fear was that he would be wrong and he had no idea how the Squatters would react to a misstep. The memory of them nearly obliterating the human race for sport caused his stomach to churn at the thought of what they might do if he crossed them, intentional or not.

All words and images ©2009/J. Colle

1 comment:

Laura Jean said...

its about time! I was wondering what happend to adam!