“The infinite cackling on the wooden steps is something I have grown to…love.”

 

After three hours of continuous deliberation and suspense, the wooden door opened, leading Chase Hex into the enshrouded office of Marcus Dean, psychologist. The austere silence had prevented him from slipping into what his significant other had called ‘the vacuum’, ultimately allowing him to hear Deborah - Marcus Dean, psychologist’s secretary - when his name was finally announced.

 

He was promptly instructed by the professional to sit comfortably on the permanently-reclined black leather sofa, which he did with a correct amount of hesitation. He was then again promptly directed to speak his mind, if anything occupied the chambers of that haunted mansion at the time, which he very awkwardly began to do.

 

“I daresay that this peculiar sound has been the reason I’ve been sane for so long. It’s these inexistent moments that I lavish in; the moments in which the shrieking stops, suspending time,” he paused. The feeling surged as if it were a creature from unexplored horizons, of scarcely inhabited waters. He looked at Dean, his face seemingly inches away, the background merging into the back of his head. Dean’s parting lips made an audible sound.

 

“…when space seems all but infinite. To feel, to smell, to see, to taste… all of them seem elementary compared to my ability to hear. What I hear is not an impact between hard rubber soles and hollow wood, it is something more. If you could hear it, you wouldn’t have taken my mother’s money.”

 

Of course, everything seems infinite in a dark room. There were specks of light peeking through the floor, from in between the tiles and the door. The enormous glass windows were covered by brocades of green.

 

“I believe the session is over, Mr. Hex. You were two hours late to your appointment; I believe I am being quite generous.”

 

Chase quickly shook hands with Marcus Dean, psychologist, and left.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

Chase Hex had always been a firm believer in his left-handedness. After shaking hands with Dean, he became quite unsure of the fact. Perhaps it was a matter of nerves, or perhaps he really was right-handed.

 

“You know, Chase, your short meeting with Marcus Dean has left me wondering whether anything in my life has any meaning at all.” She said, quite convinced of the illumination that his appointment had caused. “I believe that Buddhists call it enlightenment. You know, I’ve always wanted to be a Buddhist.”

 

Or perhaps it was the constant reiteration coming from his mother’s mouth.

 

Indeed, Chase Hex had once been a proud left-hander. Not only in the physical sense, was his mother convinced, but also in the philosophical, astronomical, literal, fantastic, and astral. His opinions on all subjects important differed from those of Mrs. Hex’s prominent friends.

 

While Mrs. Hex’s prominent friends usually agreed with Emily Stone - a prominent reporter of the Coryville Times - Chase wrote of the same subjects each week, defying the logic-founded entity and her backing public. He worked for the Coryville View.

 

“You must be insane,” his mother had said one night, after receiving a phone call from Mrs. Jennifer Copperstone, who had received a letter from Audra Pax, a short but stout woman related to an avid Coryville View reader.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

The Coryville View printed twice a week, with its competitor printing twice a day. At exactly two thirty-two a.m. of July first, the last stack containing Chase Hex’s letter of resignation to the Editor in Chief was printed. The letter read as follows:

 

Esteemed Chief, 

 

While I consider I am in no position to leave my duties in the Coryville View, I am obligated to do so in my current circumstances. As you know, I have always been a left-handed individual, with left-wing tendencies towards all subjects important and a disposition towards the workload, responsibility, and pressure brought upon me by both readers and oppressors.  

 

I currently find myself maimed, incapable of continuing publication of my column. I have never had right tendencies, so it is only natural that I stop now, while my liberal dignity is intact. Send your condolences to Marcus Dean, psychologist from all the readers of this paper, who have lost one of their many columnists this day.

 

I hope that, if it does not impose on you economically or morally, you will be able to print this on Saturday in place of my usual literature. If ever I regain control of my entire hand or mere dactyls, I will return to my duty and finalize the contract.

 

Sincerely,

Chase Hex

 

While his usual literature took up only half the space that his resignation letter did, the Editor in Chief, who also happened to be the owner of the Coryville View, allowed the unusual request.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

Marcus Dean awoke one morning to the smell of fire.

 

The fire, of course, had been an occurrence in a parallel dimension; the world of infinite and absurd dreams. He glanced around the room for the remaining ten seconds of paranoia, afterwards standing up and heading towards the restroom.

 

The consequent process, like any other he had witnessed in fellow sapiens, was mechanical. Though he could not quite hear the turning wheels and bursts of energy, he knew that it was something much more primitive than the process of everyday thought. Or so he thought.

 

He headed outside to pick up his copy of the Coryville Times. Every morning, the paper elder - he refused to call a sixty year-old man mounted on a bicycle a boy - used his last bit of strength to throw a roll of well-organized reading to the very front of Marcus Dean’s porch. Today, however, he was met with a stack of letters, many including what seemed excerpts from the Coryville View’s Saturday edition.

 

Laura, Michael, John, Jacob, Mona, Mallory, Ana, Douglas… the names completed and doubled the alphabet. Being six in the morning and with work ahead, he placed the stack on the coffee table and neglected his morning read.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

“Mr. Dean, you had an appointment earlier this morning.”

 

Deborah’s movements carried the fluidity of a writhing snake. Her neck twisted slowly but steadily, with unbroken movements that called forth Marcus Dean’s attention and directed his sight unto the face of a clock. Nine thirty-eight in the morning would’ve been an acceptable time, but today it scorned him and revealed a belated eleven o-nine.

 

“Is Mr. Hex still waiting, Deborah?” He asked, hoping that the answer would be a rotund NO, which would allow him to receive John Doe and finish the last of their biweekly meetings.

 

“He’s currently lying down in your office.”

 

Marcus Dean slowly advanced toward his office, his tall and robust frame allowing little space for Deborah’s ego and an even smaller space for calculation. He clumsily opened the door and headed towards Chase Hex, unprepared with excuses or a wooden tablet.

 

“Mr. Dean,” said Chase, “I can’t help but wonder why I am unable to use my left hand when I am with you. My inspiration to write has diminished; it no longer prints twice a week, defies laws such as conventional morality, nor does it bluntly shake prominent hands.”

 

Lifting his left arm, he made a twisting motion that ended in his index finger pointing towards the chair. Marcus Dean rushed to the middle of the room, obeying the digit and taking a seat.

 

“I believe you have come to the wrong person. I am a psychologist, not a physical therapist.”

 

“Oh, but you see Mr.…” Marcus Dean quickly stood up from his chair, and approached his desk. “… Dean, I am convinced that my disability is caused not by something. It is merely psychosomatic.” He came back to his chair, with pen and tablet in hand. “Do you always allow your paying clients to entertain such absurd thoughts, Mr. Dean?”

 

“No, but I feel rather disconcerted. Our last meeting I was a bit rushed by time, but seeing as I have no other appointments this afternoon, I shall ask you some questions about your past.”

 

[Deborah promptly asked Mr. John Doe to reschedule his appointment for the following business day, which allowed him three more days for uncontained depression.]

 

“Assuming you are an economically independent individual, you had a choice in coming to our first session. Why did you come?”

 

Chase Hex stared into oblivion for an assortment of seconds, pondering upon the obscurity and mystery of Marcus Dean’s question. The silence was broken by the desperate tapping of Mr. Dean’s black pen. Chase wondered if the menacing taps were audible to Marcus Dean, psychologist’s secretary. Indeed, the pen mocked life of its own, pretending to annoy death and gloom out of Chase Hex’s body.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

Drops of water raped the earth with violent passion that cold night of spring. The unusual weather seemed ominous, especially when in sight of James Judy’s front yard.

 

The strong winds had scattered leaves all over. No longer visible, the green blades covering the building grounds of his home were slowly killed by a combination of hail and freezing water. James couldn’t help but squint his eyes at the constant barrage of frozen crystals targeting the sides and top of his skull. Some of them made it into his shirt from the back of his collar, sending a shiver down his spine.

 

He ran towards the front door, careful enough not to slip or wet his slacks. At this point, he was using a briefcase as a shield from the falling hail, while using his left hand to search for his keys. He searched his front pockets, finding himself in a dilemma once he felt the keys in the right. He grabbed the briefcase with his left hand, taking out the keys and opening the door.

 

He walked slowly up the stairs. These were lined by wooden columns and held an intricately adorned rug on their face. James’ shoes left brown, diminishing marks on the rug as he approached the top.

 

The shoes’ hard rubber soles made no audible sound. His light frame never gave way to the screeching old wood. Silence reigned in the interval from the bottom of the staircase to the door of his bedroom.

 

He turned the knob slowly. Dozens of sounds filled the room as Chase Hex’s fingers struck the typewriter. The almost erotic movement of his hands, the slow progression of the page contradicting the rapid dance of fingers on the metal surface; the hypnotic creative process was ecstasy to James Judy. His curious eyes watched for a few seconds before the door closed on its own, bringing Chase back into reality and the comfort of his lover’s room.

 

“You’re a bit late,” said Chase, removing two virgin sheets from a container of well-stacked paper.

 

“I’m sorry. I was caught in traffic for about thirty minutes. Some idiot swerved on the side of the road and caused a major accident. I think he’s from around here… I’ve seen that little neon-green car quite frequently. I think he died… or something.”

 

James quickly stripped off his suit and headed towards the closet. The rails squealed as he pushed the doors apart, revealing an astounding array of colorful sleepwear.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

Chase Hex rose from the comfort of the king-size bed and headed towards the restroom, with discharge in mind. Rainy days had always made for sleepless nights. In the dead obscurity, his every step and movement seemed to echo through the spacious bedroom. His slightly calloused feet - an inevitable result of the long walks he endured on a weekly basis - swished on the carpet, making a hollow sound once he reached the tile floor restroom.

 

From the small window residing on top of the toilet, no moon was visible. Gray clouds moved across the sky in an endless pattern, occasionally revealing a patch of navy blue or a lonely star. The latter could’ve been a reflection from the falling hail. The wind outside moved the still-shedding trees, the leaves flying only to be brought down by heavy ice. The freezing pebbles covered the streets and ran into the sewers, were they joined a fetid green torrent.

 

A shady figure outside walked up to the door while Chase Hex flushed the toilet, with James Judy still sound asleep. A man in stripes walked across James Judy’s front yard with a weapon tucked in between his orange underwear and the ever-tightening white bottoms. The freezing temperature of that spring midnight gave the convict an itch to use the weapon, for its metallic body punished his skin with every passing second.

 

The evident sound of the turning doorknob was camouflaged by the sounds of both the flushing toilet and the running water. Chase Hex passed the soap bar from hand to hand until the smell of aloe intoxicated him, leaving his eyes watery with a strange sensation and his hands slippery.

 

“Go back to sleep,” said James, standing behind the door and watching Chase turn the faucet down. Chase jumped in unwelcome surprise, closing the door in front of James.

 

“Come on, let me in!” he said, elevating his voice.

 

“You should’ve thought about your needs, before coming and scaring the living shit out of me. Go downstairs and take a piss in the guest restroom, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the trip in the dark.”

 

James Judy slammed the door behind him, taking heavy and slow steps until he reached the staircase. This gave the striped convict enough alert and time to run towards the kitchen and hide for a bit. He scurried his round body around the living room, twice losing balance to his overhanging belly, which prominently peeked its hairy face out of the striped shirt.

 

Not ready to fracture any of his bones, James held zealously to the wooden columns. His long legs allowed him to descend three steps at a time; when he reached the last eight steps he jumped down and ran towards to restroom on the right hand wall. He closed the door behind him and went to business.

 

88734, who would become a rather famous escapee the following morning, noticed a freezing object slipping down the side of his pants. He quickly placed his hand on top of it, stopping it temporarily before deciding to let it fall on the carpet. Seeing the weapon on the floor terrified him; he craved the feeling of protection and secured survival that the metallic gadget gave him. He reached down, once again losing balance to his tremendous stomach, and grabbed the gun with his right hand while gripping the adjacent wall with his left.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

James Judy owed his last moments of survival to his amazingly smooth feet and his light frame. As he approached the refrigerator he noticed a large silhouette leaning over an automatic pistol, his face resembling that of a starved man reaching for a piece of molded bread- somewhat comical but hazardous in the end.

 

He silently took ten steps back, then another five until he reached the staircase. He hurried up the stairs just in time to see the large man with weapon in hand, peeking inside the restroom as if expecting to find someone. This large man, who appeared to be wearing incarceration apparel, took another very slow tour of the bottom floor, allowing James Judy the opportunity to turn around and think upon the whereabouts of his own deadly gadget.

 

Astutely searching every hidden cavity of the second floor, he concluded that the weapon must be inside his bedroom. He didn’t hesitate for more than two seconds when his hands inadvertently opened the door, locked it behind him and leapt towards the bureau with no help from his feet. In fact, he had dragged his upper legs the distance between the staircase and the lowest drawer due to his sudden condition of insufficiency. His entire lower body was paralyzed, traumatized and stigmatized by the sudden rush of adrenaline that ran the course of his entire system of veins and vessels.

 

He rapidly removed the minute metal chunk from the lowest drawer, pointed directly ahead of him, and headed outside, where he was met with a moderately unhandsome face and an equally menacing gun. 

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

“I… remember the sounds made by the convict’s heavy feet as he foolishly tried to go down the stairs.”

 

The clock on Deborah’s desk marked four twenty-seven, which meant she had left two hours and nearly thirty minutes since. But she hadn’t. Instead, she had spent the last four hours with her left ear attached to the door leading into Marcus Dean, psychologist’s office, and branded so.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

Marcus Dean arrived home at nearly seven that night. The sun had begun its trip towards the horizon, creating specks of purple where it would no longer reside that day. All of it was visible from his living room.

 

He held a cup of green tea with his right hand, gripping the handle with his index finger and thumb; it was much too small to introduce another digit. He retained fifteen letters from Chase Hex’s flustered readers in his lap, which he anticipated would grow in number as the days went by. They were thrown one by one into the metal can as soon as he read them.

 

A little perturbed and most certainly paranoid, Marcus Dean left the role of psychologist for one more day, and went to bed with crawling thoughts of overweight convicts and murdered lovers; both of which he had never met in his lifetime.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

It had been seventeen days since the murder. Chase Hex mused upon the possibilities of suicide.

 

Earlier that day, he had been convinced that hanging from the living room would be a suitable end. He had tried his best to tie a strong knot on the overhanging lasso, but failed as he was limited to using only his right hand; compromising the integrity of his left would be worse than death - he intended to part from the physical, not to break ties with the metaphysical.

 

He lay in the guest bed once again, listening to the wailing wood as his mother went up the stairs; the sound mocked that of the convict’s weight against them.

 

Chase Hex shut his eyes, welcoming a world of dreams and gone realities for the seventeenth time.

 


Thanks to Sharon for editing!! Her edits have greatly improved this piece.


 

 

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