The Curse of Gary (Part 104)

“I thought this was your home,” said Victor.

Gary looked at Victor with a splash of anger in his eyes. He wiped his nose on the back of his hand, then wiped the back of his hand on his pants. “This isn’t my home,” he said. “I once lived here, but…” His look softened and he sighed. “This whole place is cursed. It’s cursed for me too. This isn’t my home.”

“Wait. I thought you controlled the curse.”

“I do—in a way. But the curse does its own thing. I can kind of manipulate it… but I still have to obey it.”

“So why don’t you just leave?”

“I can’t. Not until the curse is broken. I didn’t mind until now. All this time I’ve been so angry and I just wanted everyone to suffer with me. I tried to keep everybody stuck in this house. But then you came here, and… well, you started to defeat the curse. I didn’t think anyone could do that. And then you helped me. Since this house has been cursed, no one has ever tried to help me. I started to feel like… like I don’t want to do this anymore. I’ve had enough. I want to go home.” A tear rolled down each cheek, either side of a wishful half-smile.

Victor nodded. “That’s rough, Gary. I get it. You want to go home. I’ve been thinking I’d like to go home too.”

Gary’s overgrown grey eyebrows jumped up. “You want to go too?”

“Well, yeah. I don’t like being stuck here—even though it has been great to meet you—I’d like to leave and go home. Of course, I’ve still got these bloody metronomes to sell first.”

Gary squinted in confusion, and then realisation dawned on him. “Oh—you want to go to your home. That makes sense. …What’s a menchanome?”

“A metronome? The bane of my existence. It’s a device that keeps time.”

“You mean like a clock?”

“No, it doesn’t tell the time, it… Anyway, you were saying you want to go home.”

Gary nodded.

“Well,” said Victor, with peering eyes. “What if we helped each other?”

“Helped each other? How?”

“Well,” said Victor, “we both need the curse broken so we can leave. So why don’t you tell me what’s in all these rooms and how to beat it?Wouldn’t it be great to go home?”

Gary stared ahead and smiled to himself. He took a long, deep breath, and whispered, “It would be wonderful.”

“Yeah, I bet it would. You know, you haven’t told me about your home, Gary. What’s it like?”

“Home?” Gary’s eyes began to glisten, and a brilliance shone from within him, melting away the wrinkles on his face and lighting it like the first bloom of sunrise over a glassy ocean. His hair became youthful and golden, and his voice as smooth and rich as a string quartet. “I saw it. Just for a moment, from a distance. It was so bright, like nothing you’ve ever seen. The colours were alive, the air was like… like—” he reached his hand out as if to grasp something. “And the voices—oh, to hear them sing again.”

As Gary spoke, Victor shielded his eyes and sunk in his chair, trembling; he tried to speak but nothing came out. For a few seconds Gary’s light flooded the room… and then it dimmed; his features resumed their worn and weary appearance. Only his eyes, in the midst of his sorry face, held a lingering glint. Victor’s face was awestruck and innocent, stripped of its usual confidence, as he stared at the old man across the table. “You’re talking about heaven,” he whispered.

Gary smiled a sad smile. “I saw it just for that second. I was on my way, in between here and there—and then I heard the doctor’s voice, and my stepfather’s, and I saw the huge needle in the doctor’s hand. That’s when I cursed them… And then the light went away—I couldn’t go home.”

Victor slapped his hands on the table and jumped up. “Well you’ve got to do it, Gary—you have to go home! Break the curse. What are you waiting for? Just tell me what to do.”

The old man looked up at him, thought for a moment then smiled. “I could go home,” he said. His eyes widened and his face beamed. “I could go home. I could go home!”

“Could?” shouted Victor. “There’s no could about it—you have to go!” He leapt onto the table and slid across to the other side; Gary laughed. “Damn it, Gary,” said Victor, “you can’t stay here. You have to go home!” He took Gary by the shoulders and hoisted him to his feet. “Time to go home, Gary!”


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