But I didn’t. I stood there in that gloomy place as if my feet were glued to the floor, transfixed by the thought that these were Victor’s plants and that his spirit flowed through them. It took me a moment to realize Janet and I were holding hands like two frightened girls. In the dusty light that came through the windows, we could see a small work table and metal desk at the far end of the shed. We could also see what hadn’t been apparent before: grow lamps emitting a ghostly low-level light that must have operated on a timing switch, same as the misters. I let go of Janet’s hand and headed for the desk, thinking it would hold all sort of secrets.
But of course all four drawers of the desk were locked. All I found was a crumpled up receipt, which I put in my pocket, a pair of reading glasses and a pen. “Tell me about the guy who comes to check on things,” I murmured to Janet.
“I’ve never actually seen him.”
“What about those voices you’ve heard coming from here at night?”
She shivered and hugged her arms around herself. “Maybe I dreamed them. There were thumping noises and what sounded like two men talking.”
In one of those odd moments of synchronicity, we heard a voice just then, a man calling, “Yew hoo! Where are you?” I jumped, and Janet looked stunned. And then a smile broke over her face. “It’s my brother Donny. I knew he was gonna show up. I just didn’t know when.” She turned and ran out of the shed. I followed, putting the lock back in place and memorizing the numbers: 4239. I was exhausted, my clothes sticking to me, my mind filled with a million thoughts. I was almost too weary to meet Donny, Janet’s younger brother, son of the man who had molested both her and Betsy years ago. I turned from the door and saw Janet in the embrace of a tall black man in a tan summer suit. His head was shaved and so smooth and shiny that the sun seemed to bounce off it. I moved toward them, noting Donny wore good leather shoes and a pastel pink shirt. A gold link bracelet shone on the wrist of one hand. They let go of one another, and Janet introduced us. Donny’s handshake was so strong I nearly winced.
As he smiled at me, I saw a gold-rimmed tooth and eyes that crinkled up like a Buddha. I wondered if he was gay or straight. And what he did in life: salesman, preacher, athlete, counselor, businessman, or maybe drug dealer? They invited me back into the house, but I was tired and had to go home. I’d find out about Donny next time.
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ http://www.flickriver.com/places/Australia/South+Australia/Hahndorf/search/