This room is as airless as all the others upstairs. The window is missing its screen but I yank it open anyway. There are no houses or strip malls outside, only trees and the absence of traffic noise. At least the evening air dilutes the smell. Earthy, almost fetid, reminding me of the white, pudding-like feces of my brother’s boa constrictor, his high school pet. I can hear Gabe moving around downstairs; he’s whistling and it reassures me, knowing he’s there.
Every time I push open a door or pull open a new drawer, I expect the old man to rebuke me, to jump out of nowhere and demand to know what the fuck I’m doing. I have even more of a sense of him now, from the stubble on the bathroom sink to the bathrobe hanging from the door, smelling of Vetiver and stale sweat. [Read More…]