First impressions

Poscataw City was flat and arranged in even grids.  Everything was coated in a film, like the yellow on people’s teeth.  Judging by the way people were dressed, the town was lost in a time warp.  I saw a boy with a late-Ringo floppy doo, a teenage girl in a Tracy Gold denim shirt and shorts, and two young women who would have been attractive if not for the Bananarama shag.  

‘Pretty nice town,’ I said.  Peter Bingham scowled. 

‘It’s a dump,’ he said.  ‘Quit being so polite.’

I was starting to warm up to him a little.  Still I kept my right hand on the door handle, ready to bail at the first sign that he was going to hack me up into little bits in the back of his van.

‘Why do you stay, then?  You said you’d been here your whole life.’

‘It’s a love-hate relationship for most of us.

‘I suppose I should have asked,’ Peter said. ‘But I assumed you were going to the house.’

‘You assumed right,’ I said.

‘Have you talked to your family? Told them you were coming?’

‘Not really.’

‘When was the last you heard from them?’

I could count in my head: the answer would be in the years, for sure.

‘Not in a while.’

‘Do you know about your aunt’s accident last year?’

‘No,’ I said. I wasn’t quite sure if Peter judged me for not knowing; he kept his eyes on the road.

‘She had an accident at work. A filing cabinet fell on her. She’s been on disability since then. She seems better physically, but she may now be addicted to pain-killers. You will have to let me know what you think.’

Peter was clinical in his delivery of the news. I wasn’t sure what to say so I just looked at the road. We reached the edge of town and started up a gradual hill.  The houses fell back from the road and the pines rushed up to fill the void.  The road plateaued at the top of the hill and the houses became sparser.  He flipped on the left turn signal just as I’d grown sure he was taking me off somewhere far from help so he could eat me in private.

‘Here’s the Calvert place.’  I panicked, although it had nothing to do with Peter Bingham.

‘Why don’t you drop me off here,’ I said. 

‘Still a ways.  Probably a hundred yards to the house.’

‘That’s fine.  I’ll walk.  Thanks for the ride.’  I jumped out of the van without waiting for a response. ‘I’d like to talk to you once I get situated,’ I said through the open door. ‘I have some questions.’

He smiled and I had the impression he knew what I was talking about.

‘Looking forward it.’

I closed the door and watched as he turned around headed back toward town.


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