Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 23

Jefferson stood for a long moment before slamming the door to Reeves’ room, snatching his hat from the floor, and making for the stairs. Temperance wasn’t in the lobby, and of course there was no one behind the desk to ask whether she’d gone by. He ran across the empty lobby and out the door, arriving on the street just as the rain hit. There was no one in the street, and he spun and ran back through the lobby and up the stairs to their room. The door was locked, and Temperance hadn’t had the key, but he opened the door anyway and rushed in.

Rain pounded against the window of the suddenly dim room. A flash of lightning lit the place up as Jefferson grabbed his raincoat. He was back on the street before he’d even figured out his next move. After a moment standing under the covered entry to the hotel, he made a run for the car.

He fumbled out a cigarette and lit it as he began to drive slowly along the block. It was hard to even see more than a dozen feet from the road in the driving rain, so even if Temperance was standing out in the storm somewhere he wasn’t sure he’d spot her.

He still drove slowly through the village for a time, looking around, since there didn’t seem to be much else to do. He made a few fruitless circles of the town, as dusk began to fall, making the search even more hopeless. He wondered about heading back to the hotel to wait. He wondered how Reeves might be doing, handcuffed to the bed in another room. He accelerated and headed west out of the village.

Soon the houses grew few and far between as the salt marsh closed in north of the road. It was hard to be sure whether the unpleasant feeling that crept up on him had to do with the Sciribath, or simply the gnawing concern over Temperance.

He didn’t even know what he was looking for, really. Was he hoping that Temperance would come lurching out of the underbrush into what he could see of the roads lit up through the rain in his headlamps?

He lit another cigarette on the remains of the one he was smoking, and ground out the old one. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his head as he drove. He was about to turn around and head for town when something caught his eye and he slowed down.

There was an old house, well off the road, barely visible in the gloom. It wasn’t doing well, looked to be slowly collapsing in fact. It would have been hard to tell what color the house was supposed to have been even if most of the paint hadn’t peeled off, leaving gray, weathered wood. The roof sagged tiredly, missing shingles here and there, and several of the windows facing the road were missing glass. The front yard was overgrown with knee-high weeds and wild shrubs.

There was a Plymouth sitting in the overgrown drive. It was hard to see in the sheeting rain, but Jefferson could see the scrape along one side, matching the damage to his own Ford, and some new damage. The kind that might have been done by driving off the road and into a ditch.

Jefferson pulled up in front of the car and killed his headlamps.

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on September 8, 2012.