Chapter: Rue for Two

Entry: Aug 3, 2007

"I have learned from an early age to abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men”"

– Leonardo da Vinci

Kyle, remembering himself, the warnings in his journal, and the odd passage of time when attention be paid by excitement, peered from this vantage on the stairs in the foyer to his Father's prized grandfather clock, praying the hour-hand lingered on an eight, or even a nine. Nine twelve of the clock, far past dinner, which would be chilling in the refrigerator, but leagues removed from the witching hour. Dr. Z was never specific, and his journal less so, but something about 10PM terrified Kyle beyond measure, lurking as a spectre thick with billowing cloaks boasting bottomless creases and valleys fading into black oblivion.

It's natural to fear the unknown, but Kyle knew the experience was nothing novel; the supernatural curfew was absolute, and carried a harsh punishment.

Kyle thumped up the stairs peeling away his voluminous coat, sending a thin veneer of melting ice cascading into the carpet in surprisingly wide sheafs. He'd traveled the treacherous tundra too long, and almost become a permanent fixture, a statuesque gargoyle frozen in singular purpose: to run, stagger, or crawl away from the Southwest region of the forgotten plains where no roads led.

He discarded his coat in the hallway, not bothering to leave it on the conveniently placed coat-rack his mother insisted he use especially in the winter; he wasn't present enough to care. Doubtless, she'd just pick it up and gently place it over a chair in his room while he was at school tomorrow, but his dad would have words ready, and Kyle hated Frank's inconsistent lectures mostly consisting of old anecdotes and carefree responsibility. What the hell is carefree responsibility? Jesus, even Frank's obligations are cheerful. Off came the scarf, curling into an inky viper near the bathroom door. Then his hat, flung down the remainder of the hallway until it rested on the opposite stairwell into the kitchen. That aught to confuse 'em for a while.

By then, Kyle's exertions were flooding his body with heat, and his ears flared a hot, angry red. And he began to sweat. The heavy turtleneck his grandmother knitted two or three years before Detroit and real winters, had to go. Safely at the doorway of his room, he pulled it roughshod over his head and spun it at his desk, sending a few pencils tumbling to the floor and a small crust of ice spilling from the collar, skipping wetly over the few schoolbooks he dropped off before heading to Old Town. He swore, quickly closed the distance and manhandled a large handful of his sweater, using it to sweep away the bleeding ice before it permanently damaged any expensive books. A boring lecture, he could take, ruined books were another thing altogether—he knew he'd pay for those with long hours drudging away the summer shelving library materials. I'd rather weave an afghan from Samson's fur after he tangled with a skunk.

Finally, his jeans crumpled onto the floor, leaving him clothed only in sweat-damp thermal underwear, with an undershirt tucked deep under the waistband. "Dress in layers," his mom always said, "and seal each one. You'll think you've got your own furnace." Thanks ma!

The wind moaned balefully outside Kyle's bedroom window, pelting it with concentrated bursts of icy snow—sometimes dense enough to mistake for snowballs—rattling the glass in its frame so it seemed a creaky floorboard under a mischievous poltergeist. Occasionally a punctuated bang would issue from the loose shutters, another source of later blame from his parents. He opened the latches in the morning to let the light in, not believing the radio or Frank's insistence that a storm is commin', I can feel it in me bones! Frank, always the prima facie dramatis personæ, another choice phrase of his mother's. To Kyle, all of it was nonsense—probably just another way to say 'bigshot.'

Somewhere in the wind-swept din, a dog barked.

It was faint, a bare whisper compared to the tumultuous cacophony incurred by the wind, but distinct. Definitely a bark. Kyle felt a pang of guilt, leaving Samson exposed to fare in this weather, but the big dog lived under the porch. Really, there was no place safer except the basement. If the weather sirens cranked into their ear-splitting warble, everyone would escape to the mildewy cellar, Samson included. Without that, this was just another storm, full of bluster, but devoid of substance. Kyle resolved to give Samson an extra portion of food tomorrow morning; the old canine needed to maintain his strength.

Life's too short to waste being scared of the weather. Amen.

Another bark, this one sharper, more insistent, and closer. But not at the house. Not yet. It wasn't Samson, just some filthy stray mongrel trying to outpace the biting cold. There was shelter to the South, if not total safety.

Kyle collapsed onto his bed, spread-eagle and ready to sleep. He almost never went to bed so early, especially without dinner, but he was tired right down to his bones. The running, the sweating, the fighting against the outside tumult, all eroded his considerable teenage reserves to diluted dregs. He'd inhale some food tomorrow. Down his eyelids slid, and true to his reputation, Kyle immediately began to nod off.

Downstairs, the grandfather clock rang a single bong for the half hour past nine.

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