The Book of Gateways (Installment 7)

Returning to Milo’s Shop was just a trial run. The times after weren’t as bad. Sometimes a pang of sadness or a few tears, but overall a genuine comfortableness started returning itself. I guess Milo left us some of his magic.There are only a few people I would think could leave their joyfulness once they left.

            We didn’t enter the shop again for another two months, but you would be amazed how quickly dust accumulates in just a total of three months. Piers and I decided to take a full day to just clean up Milo’s Shop in order to re-open it. Milo was gone but it didn’t mean his shop was gone too.

We are both armed with Swifter dusters and plenty of those little sticks with the feathers on them. Feather dusters I think… How very creatively named. It takes about three or four hours but between the both of us we manage to get both floors nice and clean and dust free. Every couple of minutes Piers has a sneeze attack.

            “You ok up there?” I call up to the second floor.

            “I’m fine… can we stop now? Pleeeaasse?” Piers whines.

            “Fine, you’re such a baby!” I say tossing my feather stick on a nearby couch. Dust goes flying everywhere upon impact. I hear Piers bounding down the stairs and jumps from the third step and lands with a big “ta-da” pose.

            “Very impressive gold medal gymnast.” I give him a mock clap. He still accepts it by rotating in his ta-da pose to each direction and takes a final bow to his invisible crowd. I can only shake my head.

            “You are such a ham!”

            “I like ham.” Piers smiles sauntering over to a nearby couch and plops down on it. I pick up some papers and start moving them to my desk and spy a spongy green ball. I nonchalantly set down the papers and throw a super speed ball of hellish oblivion towards Piers, which of course he catches and I begin running for my life. Piers is immediately up and after me and I am suddenly regretting the idea of pegging him with a ball. This “game” then consisted of me running around like a madwoman ducking, diving, and rolling behind anything possible and every time I would try to pick up the ball he’d get too close and I’d retreat. Now I’m hiding in an aisle near the back room, the science section I think… I’m breathing heavily and still trying to conceal my hiding place. I may be skinny but dang, I need to work out for endurance sakes! I creep closer to the end of the aisle that points to the front of the store.

            “BOO!” Piers pops out from behind the corner. I scream at the top of my lungs scramble backwards and zip straight to the backroom. And then I realize that I am such a genius because I have cornered myself… Strategically… Ok so on accident but non-the-less I am cornered. I whip around only to see that my attacker Piers has entered and pulls his arm back to pelt me with the little green spongy ball. I see him start to catapult it towards me and I pivot to the right and duck under the table. Then I hear a crash and the sound of glass shattering all over the table I’m hiding under.

            “Oops.” I hear Piers quietly let out. I peek my head out to see his face contorted into a worried face like I’m about to scold him. I crawl out and see that the picture that hung above the table was the victim of the little green ball and shattered on the table. The ugly little painting of a bizarre flower in a hideous vase that Milo had pointed to moments before his death. Suddenly all the images and memories start flooding back into my mind and I’m trying to shut them out but then that becomes relatively easy when my eyes lock on a silver box implanted into the wall with a dimly glowing keypad making everything even stranger. I look to Piers and he seems just as shocked as I am. We sit there for a moment in a stupor without a word. I’m pretty sure a good five minutes before we even move and Piers’ mouth is hanging wide open in shock.

            “That’s a safe.” Piers manages to spit out.

            “Is this even possible? Milo wasn’t exactly wealthy enough to need a special hidden safe.” I say quietly. Or maybe he did. Thoughts are swirling around my brain. Pieces start trying to fit themselves into a reasonable story so I can make a sense of everything. I can’t come up with anything and I suddenly see Piers make his way towards the safe. He yanks down on the handle of the safe to hear a click of resistance. He looks back at me.

            “There’s no hurt in trying right?”

            “Ya, I suppose but we both knew it wasn’t gunna open.” I say scratching my head. What could it possibly be?

            “There’s a key slot here too.” Piers says putting his finger on the slot.

            “Yes, but if Milo had it on him then the attacker would’ve gotten it.”

            “Why would an attacker want a random key?”

            “I don’t know? Because it opens stuff?” I say agitated.

            “Maybe we should get a safe cracker?” Piers says to himself.

            “We don’t have the money for that. We haven’t even found Milo’s will which is most likely in this safe. Which is inconveniently and mysteriously sitting there without a way to open it… Milo better not have pulled some Indiana Jones crap and hid secret hints all over the place.” I huff looking up towards the sky just in case Milo can hear me.

            “You see that Uncle? You’re not even around and she’s still giving you a hard time!” Piers laughs to himself and I laugh with him. Then Piers starts to put the picture back over the safe and I give him a questioning look.

            “There’s no sense in staring at it any longer. It’s not going to open if we just stare at it. Maybe Uncle did pull an Indiana Jones… He was a crafty devil you know.” He cracks a smile and we both know that Milo would want us to be happy. At least he was in Heaven.

          “It’s true.” I smile back “I can only imagine where the combination is… Or what it could possibly be.” I think out loud. The rest of the day goes on and every second is filled with thoughts of the mysterious safe. What in the world could it possibly be? I’m continuously frustrated by the possible combinations. Finally a few days pass and I forget about the little silver box.

I’m sitting at my desk in the book shop. Ever since Milo passed we’ve gotten more business than ever. I suppose a lot of people have sympathy for me and Piers. Or maybe a lot of people loved Milo. Suddenly I’m jerked out of my thoughts when I hear the front door’s bell.

            “Hi again.” I hear the British accent and I look up to see Matt walking in. He’s wearing a blue v-neck and some skinny jeans that are probably hard to breathe in.

            “Oh hi.” I say nonchalantly. “Back to return the books?” I say looking at the books he rented.

            “Ya, they’re a bit late though sorry about that. I’m sorry to hear about Milo. That’s a great tragedy.” He says the last bit quietly.

            “Thanks, it’s been tough without him but things are slowly getting better. Oh it’s ok I won’t charge you a late fee since we’ve been closed so long.” I say at the end to change the subject. He catches on and continues on the rabbit trail for my sake.

            “Oh nonsense! Charge me the late fees! And to make up for it, how about I take you to dinner?” He says smiling.

            “Aw that’s cute, did you look up on the internet good excuses to ask a girl out.” I spit out before I have time to filter it. My own mouth drops open in surprise. Thankfully he starts laughing.

            “Touché, they always told me American girls were easy. You know they fall prey to the accent.” He laughs to himself “Fair enough, not dinner than how about lunch? I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” He says smiling even wider. I hate that phrase.

            “Well sadly I think you’re going to have to take ‘no’ as my answer. Sorry.” I say finishing up the last processes of the returned books.

            “Why? Do you have a boyfriend? That fellow that was here before maybe?”

            “Maybe once you’re here for a bit longer you’ll find another girl.” I say avoiding the subject completely.

            “Ah so he is your boyfriend! Well I’ve been here over six months and I have yet to find someone as interesting as you. In fact I’m a citizen. Isn’t that exciting?” He jokes.

            “He’s not my boyfriend.” I say back defiantly but then suddenly I have a reappearance of a memory. It’s vaguely appearing like a reflection in a murky pond. “It was the happiest day of his life!” I exclaim.

            “What?” Blondie gives me a puzzled look.

            “What? Oh never mind!” I say smiling like a fool.

            “So… still a no?” He says waiting for an answer.

            “No thanks not today.” I say trying to be sympathetic.

            “Well, I’ll be back! You’ll have dinner with me one day.” He smiles as he leaves. Coincidentally as he’s leaving Piers walks into the shop and they exchange killer glances at each other while they pass.

            “Why was he here?” Piers mutters.

            “To return books. But anyways that’s beside the point! I think I figured it out! Piers! The code is the date Milo became an American citizen!” I say excitedly.

            “What code?” Piers says dumbfounded.

            “Are you kidding me?” I asked as equally dumbfounded. He starts laughing. “I hate you.”

            “You love me.” He smirks. I roll my eyes.

            “Anyways! It’s worth a shot! So when did Milo become a citizen? He said it was the happiest day of his life! You should know!” I say excited as I see Piers’ eyebrows bunch up in thought.

            “I don’t know. That’s one of the few things that Uncle never mentioned. I guess that would make sense if he used it as his combination to his most precious treasure.” Suddenly my happiness is deflated.

            “Well then we will just call government records and ask! Surely they would know! Sure it might take some time but we will find it eventually! Or maybe they’re in a folder somewhere!” I say trying to be positive still.

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