He looked at the two doors along the hallway; he checked his watch.
The electric lights in the hall had gone out, and candlesticks on the wall now lit the space. There was a rainbow swirl lollipop on the floor next to him; he flicked it away with his foot.
He took the shovel, went downstairs (making a short detour into the dining room for a spoonful of non-dead-ant-infested honey), picked up the bladed pool cue and crossed the fireplace room. He stopped to sit on the bearskin rug and watch the fire. Flickering golden waves reflected in his smiling face, as his stare drifted somewhere distant and full of contentment. After a minute, his gaze returned to his immediate surroundings and his face resumed its focus. He stood and left the room, entered the downstairs hall, and made his way back to the bedroom.
Victor removed his clothes and laid them out on the overturned bookshelf. He straightened the mattress on the bed, then pulled the sheets tight and tucked them in. Holding two corners of the blanket, he flicked it upward and outward: it mushroomed in the air for one beautiful moment, then deflated and sank to the mattress, rippling like a flag in the breeze. He smoothed the blanket, then stood with his hands on his hips and nodded. Wearing just his boxer shorts, he went up the hall to the bathroom, where he used the toilet, and then washed his hands and face. He began, and then soon abandoned, a search for some toothpaste. These bedtime preparations, part of his usual routine, were this time performed with unusual seriousness. Before returning to the bedroom, he collected two more blankets and a pillow from the linen closet.
Victor peeled the blanket from the bed, placed the extra pillow and blankets on the mattress and fashioned them into a rough mound running down the centre of the bed, its entire length. He replaced the blanket loosely and stepped back.
“Hmm. Not quite.”
He knelt and reached his arms beneath the blanket, flattening the mould at the lower end of the bed, and building it up where his shoulders would be if he were lying on his side. He took his hands out, fluffed the blanket a little, and then stepped back again.
A fold and a puff of the pillow at the head of the bed gave it some height; Victor drew the blanket up and over it. He went back and stood in the doorway.
“Not a bad decoy,” he said, looking at the bed. “It’d be better if it was darker, though.”
He took a tall hardback novel from the floor, opened it and stood it in front of the candle on the desk: half the room dimmed. Shade draped over the bed and extended halfway up the far wall. Victor smiled and nodded.
“Perfect. Think you’re watching me? I’ll be watching you. Now to set the trap.”
He closed the bedroom door, leaving it about six inches ajar, and balanced the bowl of coloured pencil shavings on top. It took three attempts before he got it to sit just right. After keeping his hands near the bowl for a moment, he stepped back. He grinned.
“That should do it,” he whispered to himself. He picked up the pool cue with the carving knife strapped to its end, held it for a moment, then set it back down. “I don’t want to kill him.” He picked up the shovel. “That’s better.”
He lifted the edge of the blanket hanging over the side of the mattress, slid the shovel under the bed, then laid on his stomach and wriggled himself beneath the bed springs. He pulled the blanket back down after him: he could see the bottom of the bedroom door, and soft light of the hallway peeking through. Sliding his arms up, he folded his hands together beneath his cheek. He peeked at his watch.
“Right. Now the waiting game.”
A dark room. Silence. Lying on a refreshingly cool floor after consuming several times the recommended daily intake of alcohol. These were not ideal conditions for the waiting game. Victor’s eyelids grew heavy; even he could not win this one. Within ten minutes the room was filled with the loud, shameless snarl of drunk snoring.
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