ONE“Chief Frank Larsen of the San Bernardino Police Department says they are looking for information regarding fifty-one year old, Steve Baker’s whereabouts. He was reported missing by his neighbor who told police she was concerned when he didn’t show up for their morning get-together on his porch—something they’ve done for years. After waiting all day, and never getting a response at his door or on his phone, she called the police stating he had no family that would report him missing. Upon entering the home, police did find evidence of a struggle. If anybody has any information…”
“Yeah, I can hear you,” I say into the phone as I mute the TV.
“Will you be able to make it out on Saturday?” Nick asks me, referring to his birthday celebration.
I pinch the bridge of my nose between my forefinger and thumb, squeezing my eyes shut as I allow my chin to touch my chest. “What’s the plan again?”
“We’ll start the night watching the game and having some beers at Celebrities. After that, we’ll probably find a bar or club to spend the rest of the night at. You in?”
I stifle my groan. “Ah. Maybe. I might have plans, but I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
Nick sighs loudly over the receiver. He’s used to me blowing him off, but it doesn’t stop him from inviting me to things. “All right, man. Let me know.”
I hang up and place the phone next to me before reaching for the remote to unmute the TV. The news has gone off, replaced by some stupid reality dating show. With a huff, I press the power button and get up from the black, leather couch. My feet carry me across the wooden floors, taking me to the deck on the side of my house.
Here in Twin Peaks, my home is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by trees that dwarf the houses that reside near them. More importantly, however, the neighbors are scarce. It’s not a big home and it’s nothing fancy, but the privacy makes living here worth it. The houses that are closest to me cannot be seen from my property, and again, more importantly, they can’t see mine. This is where I feel most content—away from crowds of people, in my own element, where I’m in control. Where I can be me.
As a kid I was labeled a weirdo, a loner, and called many more names I’ve long tried to forget. The labels kids put on me in school didn’t bother me as much as what was happening to me at home. The terms my foster parents used to refer to me—little shit, worthless, good-for-nothing, waste of space, were still not as bothersome as being hit, kicked, starved, touched, and locked in a closet.
I never thought I’d find happiness in a small, dark place, but at least in that closet, I knew I was alone.
The kids didn’t know why I preferred being alone. They didn’t understand I had already lost the ability to trust people. Now I choose to be by myself as much as possible due to my abhorrence for much of the human population. Sure, there’s probably some well-meaning people in the world, but I’ve yet to meet very many. However, I try to exist like any normal person would, putting my mask in place every time I leave my house.
I no longer steer clear of people because I’m afraid of them or don’t trust them. That ship has sailed. I tend to steer clear of them for fear of how I’d react if they upset me too much. I don’t trust the darkness that resides inside of me.
You know how people say if your parent is a drunk, you’re more likely to become a drunk? Or if your dad was abusive, you’re likely to abuse your own family? Yeah, well I was lucky enough to have alcoholic, abusive, demented, perverted, and neglectful parents. What do you think years of that does to a person? Nothing good, I can tell you that. Maybe I’m just one of the unlucky ones. Perhaps after years of both mental and physical torture, my mind was too weak and it snapped, creating a person void of emotion. You have to learn to not feel anything after feeling entirely too much for too long.
I sit in one of the black, aluminum patio chairs and rest my booted feet on the matching table. After swiping a pack of cigarettes from the railing of the deck, I pluck one from the box and light it up. The tip burns red as I inhale, and smoke filters up into the charcoal sky.
My mind wanders, trying to figure out what I’m going to tell Nick regarding Saturday night. It’s not that I don’t like him. I like him about as much as I can like anybody, but everything in me despises being around people, especially large groups of people. The club and bar scene is not one I ever wanted to be a part of. Any place that serves liquor to people who don’t know how to handle it, is only looking for problems.
I glance at my watch before putting my cigarette out and stride back into the house. One of the selling points with this place was the fact that it has its own little built-in workshop. At least that’s what I’m assuming it was used for. It’s connected to the back of the house, which is good because there are no homes or roads back there, only massive trees.
The floor in the workshop is concrete, and besides the wall the workshop shares with my house, the walls are made of concrete blocks. There were two large windows in here before, but I’ve since covered them up with plywood—one piece on each side of the glass.
When I enter the dark room, I pick up the lantern I left on the floor and turn it on. The fluorescent LED light is bright, but not enough to illuminate the entire room. My steps are unhurried as I make my way to the other side, but my boots clomp loudly with each stride.
I approach the chair in the corner and lift the lantern up, holding it out in front of me. My menacing smile stretches across my face slowly.
“Hello, Mr. Baker. Nice to see you’re awake.”