Sleep in your eyes

I brought my full weight down on the crowbar, raising the sarcophagus an inch—enough to slide the bar in further.  With inhuman strength I heaved upward on the bar, sliding the lid off the mounting and sending it falling to the floor, where it cracked in two.  The shudder agitated the dust, rousing phantoms.  I peered over the lip of the sarcophagus.  It was empty.  I turned around and saw my father lying unconscious on the floor of the tomb, for it was a tomb I now occupied.  Helen stood between my father and I.  She was gourd-round with pregnancy and touched with violence.  I stepped right and she moved to block me, and then blocked again when I side-stepped left.  I realized she wasn’t going to let me by, so I wound up my leg and kicked her in the stomach.  She crumpled to the ground with a muffled cry and I stepped over her and to my father.

I startled awake to the telephone screaming in my ear. Still asleep—still in that damn tomb—I scrambled from my impromptu bed on the couch, pouncing on the cordless receiver.

‘Hello?’

‘Jackson Calvert, please.’  The earnest voice made no apologies for the early hour.

‘Speaking.’  I was sure I was still dreaming, although I preferred the sound of this stranger’s voice over Helen’s whimpering.

‘Jackson this is Arvid Schnolweis down at the sheriff’s office.  Mitchell asked me to give you a call.’

‘It’s six-thirty in the morning.’  I looked at the clock to confirm it was still there.  The letters gleamed with a static 6:36.

‘I apologize if I woke you but this is very important.  I’m supposed to follow up with you on this letter business.’  Skepticism evaded me.  I blundered over my response.

‘What about the letters?’

‘Can you confirm you sent copies to David Drysdale with the Clarion Ledger?’

I yawned, rubbed my eyes.  A paranoid notion dawned on me: that the person on the other end of the phone knew what I had just imagined doing to Helen.

‘I already told Mitchell about it.’  I said it with a tone of the defensive.

‘Just wanted to confirm, sir.’

‘Confirm?’  I shook my head—something was wrong.

‘Confirm that you sent them.  Did you send them?’

‘Yes.’

I caught my breath.  How was I to know this fellow worked for Mitchell?  I considered the room around me hoping to recognize empirical truth, to ascertain who it was on the other end, like scouting for a mosquito.

‘And can you confirm that some of those letters were missing from the crime scene?’

‘I can…’  I shook my head.  Wake up, dumbass.  ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Arvid Schnolweis, sir.’

‘Arvid, I don’t see why you have to wake me up at the crack of dawn to confirm these things.  I told Mitchell already.’

‘What did you tell Mitchell?’

‘I-I thought you worked for him.  What was your name?’  The phone clicked silent.  At first I felt a pang of relief—the guy on the phone hadn’t known about Helen—but the relief quickly submerged under the realization that someone was doing some fact checking.  No doubt David Drysdale.  I cursed myself for being so careless.  I went back to the couch and sat down.  I sure as hell couldn’t sleep now, not with my heart pumping like a V-8, and I didn’t want to get anywhere near that tomb.

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