I don't think you could quite correctly believe what has happened to me since I last wrote. It is the reason why you have not heard from me in awhile. Before I get too excited I'll tell you what happened straight from start to finish.
On January 3rd, when I got home from work, Lester was parked outside, sitting in his car.
As I approached his side of the car, I could see him through the window, and he was very still. I tapped on the window and he jumped, unclipped his seat-belt, and opened the door.
"Dude," I said. "Good to see you." Sometimes you know something is wrong with someone even if they don't show any sign of it. "How are you?" Usually, Lester and I skip this sort of greeting because we're good buddies. But this was no greeting. It was a real question.
He started to walk towards my home, so I followed him inside. When we sat down on my floor, against the wall (I have no couches-too expensive!), he just wrung his hands for a few minutes before he said, "I don't know. I feel like my life is purposeless." He scratched the floor with his fingernail. "I feel like I just find fulfillment in all the wrong places and then I just get mad at myself and resort to apathy and sloth to get through."
I thought about sloths and wondered if they ever felt purposeless or had any sort of existential crises or if they were generally happy with themselves for doing nothing but looking cool. I wanted to ask Lester what he thought, but didn't think it would really help.
So I told him about the pirate I met instead. I don't know if he appreciated it because his face didn't change at all, but I felt like it was the right thing to say. Then I asked him if he wanted to watch a movie and he said "yes" so we watched In Bruges.
After the movie, I think he felt better, but I wanted to be sure so I grinned at him and asked, "You want to spend the night?"
After we brushed our teeth (Lester used his finger as a toothbrush), and after I dragged my sleeping bag out from the closet, the lights were shut and as I lay there listening to Lester next to me on the mattress, my eyes started to fail me. Lester was saying, "For one thing, everyone at work says that I just make them feel as if I am playing the role of . . ." And then I heard nothing for several hours. And then I heard a scream. Lester's scream. And then a heavy object fell on top of my stomach, and my scream was only a hoarse breath because my body wouldn't let me say anything louder. And then I heard a strange scream and footsteps run away from me.
I didn't think, I only scrambled out of my sleeping bag and turned the light switch up which was the on position.
The suddenness of the light not only shrunk my pupils, but also revealed a stranger who stood against the opposite wall. He was a head taller than Lester and me and wore blue jeans, a black jacket, and a black beanie. I might have even called him handsome if he wasn't trespassing on my landlord's property and if I was a girl or gay.
Lester stood against his own wall opposite the stranger next to the open window the stranger must have climbed through and next to my nightstand with my lamp on it. This he promptly scooped up and cast towards the stranger with all his might. The lamp only made it halfway across the room though since it was still plugged into the wall and fell with a crash in the center of the room.
I picked up the closest thing to me which was a book on the floor at my feet. As I cocked Breakfast of Champions over my head, the trespasser covered his face with his hands and bent his knees in terror. I wasn't afraid to harm this man, nor the book in my hand (this wouldn't be the case with many other books), but I could see that I had power over this man by the very fact that he was cowering because of my dominant position as a book-wielder.
"Don't," he said and when I didn't, he uncovered his face and stood up straight.
Although he was taller, his face looked younger than Lester and me. I told Lester, "Come over here and grab Atlas Shrugged. I'll cover you. Just be careful of the lamp shards."
When Lester was properly armed he asked the young man, "What are you doing here?"
"I didn't mean to do this, really. I mean, I didn't really want to. I've never done anything like this before. Just that my dad needs a new leg and he gave me this address and I thought no one was home and-"
"Wait," I said. "Your dad needs a new leg?"
"Look," he said. "Can I please sit down. I'm tired. I biked over here and I thought climbing that tree was going to be easier than it was, especially in the dark. I wasn't going to hurt anyone. I don't have any weapons or anything."
Lester and I escorted him to the mattress and sat on either side of him, but did not relinquish our instruments of terror.
"What's your name?" Lester asked.
"So," I asked. "Your dad lost his leg?"
"Yeah, he lost it in a tractor accident a few years back and can't afford a prosthetic one."
Lester and I looked at each other. Pirating must run in the family.
"And you?" Lester asked. "You can't afford to help him out either?"
"No. I just graduated from college and still have my own debts to pay back. There is no way I can afford it."
"Where do you work?"
"At Walmart. I'm a cashier."
"Cashier?" I asked. "What kind of college education landed you a job in cashiering?"
"Film. I'm working with a friend on a script. That's until I can help my dad out and afford a ticket to Hollywood. I really just want to be a production assistant or something. But until I become unstuck . . ."
"Listen here," I said, "standing up for full effect. "I know how you feel, my man." I'm great at empathizing with the common man, as you can see. "I once wanted to buy the Stanley Kubrick Collection real bad, but I couldn't afford it. When I was over at Lester's place this one time I was eating some Cinnamon Crunch at the table when Lester put his billfold on the table and I looked inside." Lester raised his eyebrows at me, but I continued. "Sure enough, I found two hundred dollars and I wanted to take it. But then Lester came back into the room and started telling me about how he was going to buy two new lenses for his camera. Now, I know there is no way two camera lenses could ever be more important than the Stanley Kubrick Collection, but his eyes were all bright and he just kept talking and talking about it. By the end I knew I couldn't take his money."
"I think this is a little bit different," Tobias muttered.
"This is hindering my progress in life. We only get a certain amount of days and here I am being held back because of other people. I need to be fulfilled, but I am not. I am like a zombie. I am held back from truly being who I am supposed to be because of a few green pieces of paper. That is hardly fair. I was meant to be free. My story needs to progress. I need a new story, a better story, I . . . What is that?" Tobias was pointing at a manuscript that was on the nightstand the lamp used to be.
With this question, I was inspired with an idea. He said he needed a new story and I had one. "The Occurrences at Kingsley Manor!"