The picture got me thinking about the recent Treetop Adventure course I did with some friends out in Catamount, NY. Disorganized place, but the climbing around and ziplining was fun for the most part! And thus did tree climbing come to mind, and thus a post about the climbing trees. I love climbing trees.
This past Friday, the theme was “Textured,” with this gorgeous image to introduce the theme:
I’m not even sure what it is exactly, and I love that. Rain and a streetlight through a windshield? Or a light reflecting on the wet concrete below it? A brilliant moon? Something else entirely? Alright, I know it’s not the moon, but my first impression when seeing it was that it was. The picture has a lonely feel to it, and that might be why the moon feels right. The moon, too, has a certain loneliness to it, doesn’t it?
So I’m going to explore that, and also Bette’s father in the wake of his son’s death. This takes place a few months later, as opposed to at the funeral reception.
George Lauden pushed his fingers under his glasses to rub at his eyes and the bridge of his nose. Staying awake and alert was especially important right now–not only was it pouring rain outside, the house was also quite late. Or should that be early? 1:30 AM, in either case.
The last one to leave the office for the Wellingham Crier, as usual. That’s how it had been for almost all his years there, but in the last few months, the hours had gotten longer and longer. George himself had only just recently begun to notice. The sky was darker when he left, but at first he’d shrugged it off, the year was turning towards fall so that was only natural. Then he told himself, and his wife, it was election coverage, that it was a busy end of summer politically, both locally and across the state. And with layoffs last spring, they had fewer reporters to cover the increased number of stories, and as the editor-in-chief, he couldn’t ask his employees to work longer hours than he was willing to put in. It wasn’t untrue, any of it, and George enjoyed getting a chance to dig into journalism again instead of spending all of his time managing and editing and supervising the layout and so forth. Hitting the pavement again felt good, felt like being his old self again, like someone he’d forgotten without noticing at all as that person ebbed away and out of his life.
Tonight he was coming back from not one but two interviews. The first, the earlier one, a congressional candidate, a rare Massachusetts Republican from a few towns over. George didn’t personally agree with a number of the man’s policies, but his role was to investigate and inform, not to judge. It had gone well enough, the candidate was cordial and more upfront than he’d expected.
The second interview had not been on the books. In fact, it hadn’t been for the Crier at all, although it had been something in the paper’s record rooms that lead him there. The second interview was not one he intended to tell anyone about. As far as anyone would know, George Lauden had spent the night writing up his congressional interview, lost track of time, and was now driving home with a sincere apology to his wife in the morning.
If she’d even noticed, of course. If she hadn’t had too much wine and fallen asleep on the couch by eleven. George had his patterns that had creeped up on him since their son’s death, and Miriam had her own. Neither of them liked what the other was doing, but George wasn’t sure which he could claim was the more destructive on their marriage just yet.
And if Miriam knew what he was really doing…
He sighed. When he had first expressed a need to know what had truly lead to Graham’s unusual–and, in his mind, unsolved–death to his wife, she had immediately rejected the idea. Dwelling on his death would not help them, they had to move on from their grief. They had lives to live, a daughter who needed them both now more than ever. What could he possibly find that the police hadn’t? And what good would it do even if he did find something? Nothing would bring their son back to them now.
So while Miriam buried her grief in glasses of wine, George had buried his by digging into their son’s private life. It had all been very frustratingly vague, almost as Graham had intentionally obscured the trail of his activities in the year before he died. Lately, George was retracing his son’s steps when he worked one summer as an office boy at the Crier, during which he’d spent much time in the records room organizing the piles that had accumulated there over time. The records were still fairly immaculate a year later thanks to Graham’s efforts, complete with a computerized ledger that everyone now used to sign out old papers if they were needed.
Graham, it turned out, had taken out a few while he worked on that ledger. Old papers, very old, preserved on microfiche from the late 1700s, in the earliest days of the Crier and Wellingham itself. Papers that featured stories on missing townspeople, suspected mass murders by the natives, and finally one that reveals a local woodsman and retired soldier named Thomas Blaclson to have been the true culprit, himself killed by a lynch mob from the sounds of it. Nasty stuff. And then, of all things, a paper from the summer of 1985. That was the one that George hadn’t been able to figure out for weeks, but narrowing down the articles, he found one small mention of the opening of a perculiar little store in Llanfair called Maddock’s Oddities and Antiquities.
And then he’d had a very interesting conversation with the owner in the witching hours, George thought with dark humor. He glanced over at his briefcase, where the chapbook of ghost stories his son had written under a psuedonym sat inside. One of those had been a retelling of the Thomas Blackson tale, the so-called ‘Lantern Man’ Graham had researched in the Crier. A strange thing to learn, indeed, but what connection did this hidden interest in old ghost stories have to do with Graham’s death?
That ended up being much longer than I thought it would be. It doesn’t feel finished, but I think I’d rather do any continuations of this piece elsewhere. This is starting to add to something I’d already been considering, redoing Ghostlight from a 3rd person perspective and a changing POV (although still mostly Bette’s POV). Not the most helpful thing to consider when I’m about halfway (or more) through writing the first draft, but if it makes the story better, it would be worthwhile.
Also, I wrote this while listening to the Inception soundtrack via youtube. Awesome and perfect mood-setter!