The Book of Gateways (Installment 9)

“Someone has got to put his hat to good use. It would be a shame to put it on a shelf somewhere.” I say grabbing his arm with a reassuring squeeze. He nods and manages a smile. “It would be a shame huh?” I nod. We continue to rummage around the bag and pull out a few receipts and his wallet. Piers opens the smooth leather wallet and inspects the contents. There are a few bank cards, a driver’s license, and some cash which seems odd because there was no reason for Milo to be murdered. He was well liked and not exactly wealthy. He didn’t have any enemies, in fact he had a lot of friends and connections. And now there wasn’t anything missing from his persons. Nothing was taken at all. Then I realize, his contact book and calendar are missing.

            “Where are his books?” I look at Piers.

            “I don’t know.” He looks glum still so I don’t ask more questions. It bothers me though and it makes me fidget.

            After we sit there in silence a bit longer we package his things back up excluding the fedora and put it in the office. Neither of us are sure what to do with it. On one hand I think we would both like to put them away in some dusty cabinet out of sight and out of mind. On the other hand it seems like a shame to hide his things away…We’ll figure it out eventually I hope.

            I gingerly sit in Milo’s desk chair and swivel back and forth a little. It’s bittersweet. All of this papers and newspapers are messily laid on his desk and for once I don’t have the urge to tidy everything. I leaf through a couple papers and reminisce with every little piece of paper. Not like I did this before, but now I appreciate all of his habits, his little things that drove me crazy. I feel an aching creep to my throat as I remember him holding my face in his hands like he would when he would encourage me or tell me how much he cared about me. I swallow hard and start looking at other things. A little card catches my eye. A once cream colored greeting card that has yellowed sits propped against Milo’s stationary computer and I can’t help but pick it up. On the front is a beautiful orange peony with very specific shading and a dark swirling stem with various shades of dark green. It’s interesting because the little swirls almost form characters but I can’t quite tell what. Oh well, I’m sure it’s just the intricacy. It’s a very detailed piece for a card. In the right bottom corner in elegant calligraphy it’s marked: “Est.1959”.  I know I’m prying but I open the card and begin reading the messy English writing inside. Then I realize it’s Milo’s writing. “Miloslav Grigorevich Ananyev, do not forget to help others make their own beginnings. Remember the card maker you met today on the day of your beginning.”

I smile at his thoughtfulness even so many years ago. Then the wheels begin to turn in my head and I start to put two and two together. “The day of your beginning” must mean his day in America! His new start in the world! I leap up and rush into the office. I pull the flower portrait off the wall to reveal the silver box and type in the numbers “1959”. It feels like forever before the box registers the numbers only to meet my excitement with the red blinking light of death. The numbers are rejected and I feel all of my hope drained out. I’m cranky for the rest of the day, but Piers and I don’t talk about it. In fact, Piers doesn’t talk at all. I let it slide because I know how much sadness he’s feeling. Or at least I know what kind of sadness happens. Usually we’ve been timed out where he’s in the dumps and I cheer him up or I’m in the dumps and he cheers me up. We haven’t both been dreary since…Well you know since the start of everything…

 

The day passed on and I can’t wait to get into my warm snuggly bed. I drudge into my room and plop on my bed. The down-feather blanket envelopes me and I don’t stop it. To wash my face and brush my teeth? Or not to wash my face and brush my teeth? I know disgusting. But there are just some days that you just don’t want to be hygienic. Before I make a decision I manage to “accidentally” drift into sleep.

 

Swirls of orange and pale yellows cascade about me in this euphoric place, it’s making me dizzy and I fall over. The dizziness gets so bad I lay back to stop myself from falling over again. I feel like I’m watching an orange and banana smoothie being made as the colors collide and separate. Suddenly a large drop of green paint-like liquid splashes to the bottom of my IMAX movie theatre perspective and splashes up into a stem of a flower. The green paint begins to spread out, swirling into complex shapes and abstract designs. My eyes leap back and forth between each new leaf and vein and fiber of the plant. I start to see the weird characters in it as well. One that looks like a six, and another that looks like a three! I blink and I’m whisked away to see a wide view of the picture. The orange peony in full bloom reminds me of a sunset. I’m dumbfounded; this weird place is constantly shifting and changing. I look at the glowing flower closer and I see the characters start to glow. Six, three, nine, and five. I shoot out of bed.

            “I have to get to that safe!” I shout to myself.

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