The Cottage – Part Two – (Short Story)

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Jim had never seen stars that bright before. In a sky as clean and clear as the angles of his uncle’s cabin. They hung silent. They hung cold.

“It’s chilly up here.” He remarked.

“That’s the damp settin in.”

“Well then I’d best be settin in. I see a chimney. And…” Jim said extracting the maglight he’d lifted off a distracted cop.

“Hey.” Dutch said with such resonance that he didn’t have to shout. “…Don’t be shinin that at the trees.”

“Uh….what the fuck Dutch?”

Dutch showed the first sign of discomfort that Jim had thus far witnessed. The aftereffects of the ATV headlights revealed a rolling of the eyes up and to the left. The giant seemed to be considering something.

“I hunt round these parts. In fact I got a bow on me right now. I don’t want ye to scare off my game.”

“Is it hunting season?”

“It’s always huntin’ season round Reed.”

“…well alrighty then…” Jim said. “Can I at least finally have a fucking smoke?”

“Don’t ‘fend me none.”

“Any reason that we were in such a rush? Couldn’t we have stayed at a hotel so that my Southie ass didn’t have to immediately get Lyme disease pokin round the dark?”

“Well, ye might think it silly but round here we have certain beliefs.”

“Ya don’t say…” Jim sneered recalling the ginseng.

“Hant’s house cannot stand without Hant’s blood.”

Jim took a step back.

“I ain’t into that bloodletting Wicca shit. Had this one girlfriend…”

“T’ain’t what I meant.”

“Good,” Jim said allowing the hammer of his .38 to come to rest more audibly than it had been cocked.

“I ain’t afeard of yer pea shooter. Nor should ye be afeard of me.”

“I’m a city boy. I ain’t afeard of anything cause I’m afeard of everything. People are more dangerous than bears.”

“Well, then maybe you’ll last longer than I thought ye would.”

“Last…?”

“Don’t ye mind that. I didn’t mean to insult ya. It’s just that most folk. Even country folk…they can’t dwell here too long. There’s not enough of the wild in these people. And so the wild here overwhelms them.”

“Ain’t nothin wilder than a Cleary.”

Dutch started. “That’s not Hant’s surname….” He looked really worked up.

“Well, yeah. He’s from my mom’s side. Cronin.”

Dutch seemed relieved. “As long as ya got the blood.”

“Um..look…could you really need to work on your bedside manner.”

“Huh?”

“Could ya please fukin stop sayin blood.”

“What’s wrong with blood. You got blood I got blood everything’s got blood.”

“I’m just worried that with all this blood talk there might be some things that won’t have no more by the end of the night.”

“Are ya yellow?”

“No, just street-smart.”

“Well, there ain’t no streets round here. And I need to be goin. I’ll help ya carry in your belongings’ then I gotta go.”

“Fine by me,” Jim said hoping that the blood-obsessed rustic got goin’ for good.

Jim was a light traveler. A case of whiskey, a hamper of clothes, a toothbrush, Hustler, and a carton of smokes were the sum of his belongings. So it wasn’t long before they’d stowed those belongings in the compulsively neat cabin.

Something didn’t feel right about the precision of the furniture. The way it was spaced. It didn’t seem to be done for entirely utilitarian reasons.

“This is some crazy Feng Shui shit right here…” Jim said trying to move a sharply cornered diamond shaped table away from the wall.

“Don’t do that.”

“Is that your favorite sayin?”

“I mean…ye can try. To do it…but it ain’t gonna do.”

He was right.

The table was affixed to the floor.

“O, what in the fuck…!” Jim exclaimed. “I need a god damned drink.”

Dutch chuckled. “Plenty o that here. Ye probably won’t even get to the stuff ya brought.” He said pointing to the large amply stocked mantelpiece.

“Well…I knew old Hant was a drunk.” Jim said wryly. “But I didn’t know he was gay.”

“He ain’t.”

“Then why is every lamp a god damned Tiffany?”

“Beliefs.”

“Uh huh.”

“Look boy. There’s ways round here. And ye had best learn them. If not out of respect, then so as to get your pay.”

“Now you’re speaking a language I can understand.”

“Gud.” Said the giant as he turned to leave. “I was told that ye can read. Yer uncle had Doc type up the caring of this place. So, make sure that ye do.” He opened the door.

“O…and boy…you will hear things. It’s best to not let them bother you. And they won’t bother you. So long as ye follow the rules. Best take heed o old Lizzy. Do not forget to leave the root. On the stump. Towards the side that grows the moss. Ye do not want it to be missed.”

And with that the cabin resounded with a slammed door.

“What in the actual fuck…” Jim said as he listened to the disappearing roar of the ATV.


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