The Book of Gateways (Installment 8)

“Can I have you look up the date Miloslav Grigorevich Ananyev became an American citizen? He’s my uncle.” Piers says looking up at me. We have been on the phone all day being switched from person to person to find out when exactly Milo became a citizen. I give Piers an encouraging smile.

            “Oh, well no, I’ve already been transferred four times. No, well can you find it our not? Well I want to know the date because he passed away a few months ago. Oh, oh I see. No I don’t know what it could possibly be. Yes, yes thank you. Have a good day.” Piers says as he hangs up his phone. I grimace because he doesn’t look happy.

            “Well they said they couldn’t give us the info because we don’t have a pass code. Apparently Uncle paid a hefty sum in order to keep his date hidden unless we have a password, which we don’t have.” He says rubbing the back of his neck.

            “Oh.” Is the only thing I can say. Is that even possible to pay the government to do that? Usually the family of the deceased would have accessibility to their information, but I guess not.

            “I’m supposed to pick Milo’s things up today…If you want to go.” Piers says quietly. “In fact I’d really like it if you came…” His voice gently trails off. Milo’s death is always a tender subject between us. It’s amazing that we can even stand to be in the shop, but I feel like Milo would want us to still love this place even though he’s gone.

            “Has it already been four months?” I say quietly to myself. “It doesn’t get easier does it?” I say looking at Piers.

            “No.” He softly answers me back and pulls me in for a hug. It feels like it gets harder. I think to myself and gently pull away from his embrace and give him a slight smile.

            “Let’s go get this done.” I say and hook my arm around his and lead us towards the front of his house. He locks his front door and we head down the driveway.

            “Let’s take the bike today.” Piers says sitting on top of his black Suzuki GSX-R1000.  The bike of my dreams.

            “Ok, Riley.” I say before I can realize I let it slip out. He smiles. Well at least I’m making him feel better… I guess. He hands me his helmet and I plop it on and I hear him say something about me having a big head since I can fit in a guy’s helmet no problem. Regardless I give him a good jab to the side and he laughs in reply. I need to work out I think to myself, and then we were on our way.

 

We get to the police station which is really more of a trailer in my mind and walk to the open window. A little shriveled up old man in a black uniform sits quietly in his chair, his low set white eyebrows like curtains half covering his eyes. Piers is the first to speak.

            “Hello, sir… I’m Riley Pierson… I’m here to pick up Miloslav Ananyev’s things…” It seems our audience of one is asleep. “Sir?” Piers says a little louder causing the man to sputter to life. “Eh, hm? What’s that?” He says somewhat alert as I’m doing my best to conceal a smile. My mouth is twitching in response.

            “I’m here to pick up Miloslav Ananyev’s personal items.” Riley repeats again a little bit louder with his eyebrows up when he finds a situation interesting.

            “Well you ain’t gotta yell about it.” The old man mutters under his breath and I can’t help but let out a short burst of laughter. The old man looks confused, but then disappears into another room.

            “Well if we’re ever in dire need of a vigilante police officer we know who to call now don’t we?” I say freely smiling. He just shakes his head at me and smirks like he does when I make a bad joke. At least I get a sympathy response.

            Finally after more than fifteen minutes the old officer comes back with a clear bag of Milo’s personal effects. Then he asks Piers for his ID and his signature and hands over the items.

            “Have a lovely day today sir.” I smile at him and receive a “hmphing” kind of noise in return. Well then…

Instead of going back to Piers’ house we decide to go to the shop. I see Piers stuff Milo’s things into his black backpack he always carries and we make our way to his motorcycle. I slip on my man-helmet and climb on, wrapping my arms around his waist.  

The wind feels so good whipping through my shirt, stealing the warmth from my body, and flitting away. I feel like if I let it, the wind would steal my problem-riddled mind, and for a second I’m tempted to let it.

The ride ends quickly and before I know it and we are standing in front of Milo’s Book Store.

            “Well… it’s time to open this puppy up…” I try to sound upbeat.

            “Ya.” Piers barely responds. We unlock the door and sit on some comfortable chairs on the first floor with a little brown chipped coffee table between us. Piers looks at me and pulls out the evidence bag from his backpack. We both let out a suppressed sigh. In all honesty we go in waves. Sometimes we are perfectly fine and then some days it just is so apparent that Milo is missing from our lives. It’s like a constant weather change. When someone is suddenly missing from your everyday routine, it becomes hard to function without them. We are making due. Piers unzips the clear plastic bag and pulls out his clothes, his once blue shirt still stained with blood, semi-casual black dress pants, and gray fedora with the long black feather. I realize I’m holding my breath and make myself exhale. The fedora is bent out of form and the once glossy black feather is now dull and ruffled. It’s a shame. Piers balls up his fist and pushes the fedora back into form. He looks at it and I can tell sadness is tunneling through his brain. I take the hat from his hand and plop it on his head. He sighs a little.

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