Mercer took a cab from the airport to his house. He had never been so happy to be anywhere in his life. The peacefulness of the place when he walked in the front door. The way the sun slanted over the living room carpet. The tidiness of the kitchen with its long refectory table. The comfort and privacy of his bedroom where things were exactly as he’d left them. Except for one thing: on the pillow was a note from his father. “Dear Son,” it began…
I’ve been called away on business and will be gone for about a week. Possibly a little longer. There’s cash in the kitchen drawer. If you need me, leave a message at 434-671-2928 and I’ll get back to you. I may not be able to email, so if you don’t hear from me, don’t worry.
Joe had been called away on business before, but Caroline had always been there so it hadn’t made that much difference in Mercer’s life. Secretly Mercer thought his father was a either a spy or a high-dollar consultant to a country like Qatar that kept its government affairs very hush hush. He had noticed on a few occasions that his father’s range of vision seemed greater than he claimed and wondered if Joe couldn’t actually see quite well behind his dark glasses, if his blindness weren’t a ruse.
But then he’d feel badly for thinking that way. His father was the sweetest, kindest, most honorable man he knew. Not a man full of guile, who’d fake blindness. And look at Joe’s pastimes: gardening, swimming at Barton Springs at seven AM every single morning, winter or summer, no matter what the weather, identifying bird calls, riffing on his clarinet. These were not the diversions of a man who kept secrets and led a life of subterfuge. Mercer put away his dark thoughts and went down to the kitchen where he discovered six hundred dollars in the drawer his father had mentioned. And a fridge stuffed with food. And magic mushrooms in a Tupperware container in the freezer. The latter were a surprise. He’d had no idea his father’s pastimes included psychedelic journeys. Out of respect he waited a few days before partaking of Joe’s secret stash. Alone in the house, time passed slowly. The atmosphere changed from peaceful and happy to dark and oppressive. Although he could entertain himself endlessly with books, music, his computer, walks through the neighborhood, he began to grow bored and melancholy. He had a car but there was nowhere he wanted to go. He thought about his mother fucking that silver-haired guy in La Paz, and about his father off on some secret business in a rich desert country on the other side of the world (or maybe his father was having an affair, too?) and felt so lonely he wanted to kill himself. Instead he smeared a little of the mushroom concoction on a piece of toast and sat down at the table and waited to see what would happen.
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ https://www.pinterest.com/explore/schizophrenia-art/