The Curse of Gary (Part 87)

The shed was dim, except for the light of a small candle on a workbench in the corner. Sturdy wooden shelves, caked in dust and cobwebs, lined the back wall. A wide assortment of rusty hand tools filled the shelves. Hanging from hooks on another wall were larger implements: rakes, a shovel, hedge shears, and hoes with blades of different widths.

“This might come in handy,” said Victor, lifting the shovel from its hook. “Wow, they don’t make them like this anymore. Weighs a ton.”

He leaned the shovel upright by the door, then looked around the room, rummaging among the vintage buckets and hoses and gumboots and watering cans. In the corner, hanging from an iron peg in the wall, was some kind of net.

“Hmm, that could work.”

Victor stepped over a tool box and some cans to get a better look. The net was an odd shape, but it was long and in good condition; he stretched it out.

“No way,” he said, with a curious smile.

He turned and searched the walls of the shed, feeling with his hand in the areas unlit by the candle. Near the shelves he stopped.

“There you are.”

He had found another peg jutting from the wall. Pulling the loose end of the net toward the shelves, he hooked it onto the peg, revealing the net’s purpose: it was a hammock.

Victor pushed down on the middle of the hammock. He sat down and eased his full weight onto it. Satisfied it would hold him, he laid down; as he sunk into the soft netting, it closed around him like a half-cocoon, with the soothing rock of a cradle. Victor folded his hands together on his stomach and looked up at the ceiling.

“I wish Dad had left me hammocks instead of metronomes,” he said. “I could have sold them in three months. Oh well.”

The ceiling’s dark timber boards lay in perfect formation. Though they seemed uninfected by rot, their age was displayed in the collection of cobwebs they wore. A small, long-abandoned wasp nest stuck to the corner where the ceiling met the wall. It looked like a tiny ancient fortress. The cord loops at each end of the hammock creaked in rhythm with the side-to-side motion. Victor checked his watch. Random black knots in the wood decorated  the ceiling. One looked like a snail shell. Another looked like the man’s face in Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream. The hammock gently swayed. There was an old chrysalis hanging from the ceiling above the shelves. Victor closed his eyes.

With a start, Victor woke up. He swung his feet over the side of the hammock and wobbled to a sitting position. An ominous gurgling sounded in his stomach.

“Oh man,” he said. “Shouldn’t have gorged on those grapes.” He checked his watch. “Damn it, wasted time. Never mind. Just score the next point.” His stomach gave a sort of high pitched squelch. “First things first, though.”

He leaned forward, tipping himself out of the hammock and onto his feet. Taking the shovel he had earlier set aside, he opened the door and left the shed.

Victor crossed the courtyard with quick steps; he entered the pool room and jogged over to the door to the hall; he ran down the hall, to the bedroom. Tossing the shovel on the floor by the bed, he hopped from one foot to the other, as though he were standing barefoot in an outdoor car park in the middle of summer. Sweat started to bead on his forehead as he browsed the books strewn about the floor. His stomach gurgled again, and Victor snatched up the book nearest him.

“This’ll have to do,” he said. “Gotta go.”

He charged up the hallway and into the bathroom.

 

© 2019 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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