“What are you thinking, old man?” I said through shorts bursts of breath.
I arrived at the door, flung it open, but he was nowhere to be seen.
I quickly, without thought, turned right and scurried down the hall like a fox chasing a rabbit. I leaned over the sink, jerked the curtain back letting the rays of sunlight filter into the kitchen. With a heightened since I immediately scampered through the hall, stopping at the bottom of the staircase wondering if the old man had gone upstairs.
“Decker,” I called up the stairs, but no answer.
I hurried to the kitchen, glancing at the disturbed pile of clothes I’d left when cleaning up.
I swore one of my choice swears.
Trotting through the kitchen, I directly went to the cellar door. “Why’d you go down there?” I muttered under my breath. I stopped at the door, closed my eyes for the briefest moments, breathed slowly, then opened the door. At the bottom I caught a glimpse of light, it disappeared. I drew in the dry, cool air, then let it out.
I quietly descended the steps, silent and smooth—feeling as if I were a large cat.
There at the bottom of the stairs, I could see the light in the tunnel. I moved to the hole in the wall where I saw his silhouette created by the lantern he carried.
“Decker,” I called. The light veered in my direction, just a little, but then it resumed before continuing its former motion. “I know you heard me,” I said, my voice low and guttural.
I stepped over the broken wall, ducking my head. Still, the light moved away, and then Mr. Decker vanished from sight. The tunnel felt hollow, void of life, a place none should enter. Yet here we were.
Here we are.
“Should I call out again?”
“To see what he’s doing.”
You know what he’s doing.
“Yes, I know.”
I hastened through the tunnel.
“It’s not what it looks like.”
Oh, and he’ll believe you?
I stopped talking before I came around the corner and stood in the doorway.
Mr. Decker was holding a lantern over the remains of Alarbus.
You know what to do.
I watched Decker, thinking that maybe there was a way out of this, a way for me to explain.
Don’t explain. Just do.
“Do what?” I said aloud.
Decker turned around slowly, shining the lantern’s light on me.
“I can explain,” I said and moved toward him.
He drew himself into a defensive stance and held his lamp in front as if it were protection. “Best you stay put.” His eyes and body steadfast, unmoving, no sign of fear.
I held up my hands. “Mr. Decker. There’s a misunderstanding. I can explain what happened if you let me.”
“Explain it to the authorities,” he said.
I dropped my head down, rotating it side to side, then reared back and cracked my neck. I lowered my gaze upon the old man. My mouth twitched.
Of all the things Mr. Decker could have said, I was relieved that he had said that.