Actions

Work Header

Closing Doors

Work Text:

Now it's dark. (Julee Cruise. 'Into the Night')

 

He was wasted. There had been the beer and then the whiskey, and then Bob had brought out the coke, and that had wound them up. They'd trolled the district, looking for a girl, any girl, as long as she had a cunt, Bob said, and settled on some blonde bit with a ratty fur coat and a sequined skirt.

″Hey, daddy-o. I'm Lulu,″ she had said, getting into the back seat with Bob. Mike had put his hands on ten and two on the steering wheel and urged the car forward. One of these days he was going to crash. ″Where to?″

Bob had thrown his arm around her shoulders and whispered something in her ear.

″What's garmonbozia?″

Now, Mike watched the lights of the MOTEL sign flick on and off. There was something in there. In the lights. On. Off. On. Off. They couldn't go on without going off, and they couldn't go off unless they were on. Off. On. On. Off. Off.

″Hey hey,″ Bob whispered, spinning a circle, holding Lulu in his arms. She didn't move very much, floppy wrists and neck. The thin noise of the radio was too low to hear the words, but if Mike had listened, he knew that he'd hear something about 'one for my baby'. His arm twitched, and he picked at the new tattoo on his skin. Sometimes it said MOM, and sometimes it was just that owl, staring at him. Bob said it was magic, but fun magic. Sucking magic. The ink had smelled like a fire. If he sniffed it, it was still there.

Lulu whimpered, and one of her hands fluttered up, pressing against Bob's face. He smashed into it, licking her hand, scraping her palm with his teeth.

″No,″ Lulu whispered.

″I had a dog named Lulu once,″ Mike said conversationally. ″Bit me on the leg.″

Bob reached with one hand and wrapped his fingers around Lulu's neck. ″Bad doggy.″

*

″Where do we put this?″ Mike asked, kicking Lulu's body with his foot and scraping the last of the coke into a plastic baggie. One for the road. He could do a line off the dashboard going fifty-five.

Bob shrugged and bent down to pick up one of her hands. ″Some day I'm gonna leave a clue, right...here,″ he said, holding up Lulu's ring finger before dropping it. ″Let's boogie.″

Mike checked the hotel room, but it was clean. Nothing. Well, Lulu. Bob snapped his fingers on his way to the car, stopping to spin around in a few circles.

″We should get a burger,″ Mike said suddenly The car rocked under him as he slid into it.

Bob propped his feet onto the dashboard and flipped the collar of his jean jacket up. ″I dig it,″ he said, then cocked two fingers at the windshield. ″Hit the road.″

The swerved out into the parking lot and peeled away, leaving behind the smell of burnt rubber and motor oil.

***

Margaret Lanterman slid her hand along the plastic sheeting that covered the wedding dress. It hadn't been anything special, not really, but her grandmother had made it for her, and she had once thought that she would pass it on to her daughters.

That was pretty much a lost cause now. She'd boxed up all of John's things, but they still sat in the living room, because she didn't have anywhere to put then anyway. No one wanted them, really, and she didn't much like the idea of sending them to the Salvation Army. She'd probably end up giving them to Tom Hurley for Little Ed's Boy Scout troop to donate.

The cabin was lonely, but she'd never minded it before. The birds were singing outside, oblivious to what might have happened to her, and in some ways that was always surprising. The woods had a way of telling things to come, and then when they happened, they just went on as if nothing was different. Everything was ominous before, and then after, the sun and the blue sky and the birds singing.

An owl sat in the tree outside the bedroom window, and she rolled her eyes at it. ″You don't frighten me,″ she told it.

The owl blinked once, and then turned its head, as if it had heard something. Margaret's eyes followed the direction of its gaze, but she couldn't see out the window that way and was staring at John's picture on her nightstand instead. But there was a noise—it sounded like trucks.

She shut the lid on the hope chest at the foot of her bed. Hiding away the wedding dress, and covered the wood with a ratty quilt. She didn't want to have to look at the thing. There were definitely trucks now, coming up the dirt road to the cabin. Whoever it was might want tea. Or cookies. Lord knew that she still had about fifteen kinds from the funeral, all lugged up here by that frou-frou woman, Sylvia something. Every box had the Great Northern logo on it.

Pete Martell got out of the cab and waved to the two men slamming the doors of the truck behind him. They pulled the plastic tarp from the truck beds and began loading their arms with chopped wood.

″I got yer firewood, Margie,″ Pete said, doffing his cap and waving the ear-flaps at her as she opened the door and stepped out onto the covered veranda. Behind him the men unloaded the back of his pickup.

″I don't use it,″ she said to him.

Pete's face screwed into that face of confusion that made Margaret wonder why Catherine had married him. It didn't seem like a good match. She ground her jaw and watched them starting to pile the first load of firewood on her porch, along the veranda and under the roof, to keep it out of the rain.

″Well, now, then I'm confused, because John ordered it last month, right before--″ Pete stopped, looking at his clipboard. ″I'm sorry, Margie. He paid for it in full, and this was the soonest he could get it here.″ He frowned a sad face and lifted one arm. Behind him, the men froze where they were and waited for notice. Pete may have seemed like a simpleton, but his men respected him. John had once said something about his chess-playing skills.

″You want I should send it back? I can have Catherine cut you a refund tomorrow.″

Margaret tapped her foot on the porch floor and crossed her arms. She never did know what to do with her hands. She usually stuffed them in her pockets, but these days they didn't want to stay there. She settled for tucking her fingers into her armpits. ″I use heating oil,″ she said. ″But—it hasn't been delivered.″

Pete shrugged. ″I don't know about that. When he came in to get it all, he said you were switching off, going wood.″

One of Pete's men stacked the cords with his hands. ″Funny for a fireman,″ he added. ″Don't like wood fires.″

Margaret leaned back against the doorjamb and watched the pile of wood in the back of the truck bed. ″Oh, all right,″ she grumbled. ″Never told me anything, that man.″

Pete blew out a sigh and waved to his men, who resumed their errand.

Later that night, she warmed a tin of soup on the stove and stared at the fireplace. She still had the oil heat on, but it wouldn't last very long. She could always buy more, but if John had had all this wood delivered, she should try using that, too. Lord knew that thinking about buying oil these days made her queasy.

She hadn't started a fire in years, not in the fireplace, and it took her a few tries to get the kindling lit. Then the small pieces of wood, sticks and the like, until it was ready for something bigger. Margaret tugged on her coat and opened the front door, flicking on the outside light. Something moved over the piles of wood. There was a flutter and then a larger flap, and that same old owl took off from the porch, soaring out into the night.

Margaret shook her head and stood in front of the wood pile, picking a few logs from the top of the heap. They seemed dry. Tomorrow she'd have to cover them with something, or the rain would soak them horribly. That was one thing she hated about wood fires—the smell of dank water drying out of logs as they crackled and sizzled in the grate.

Five should be enough. She'd have to get a box to out them in by the fire so she didn't have to make trips out here all the time. Until then, they'd do on the floor outside the hearth, as long as they were free of sap.

She slammed the door with her foot and watched her soup boiling over on the stove. Dumping the logs in front of the fire, she shoved four of them in, not bothering to stack them, then ran over to rescue her abused pot. There was a crash, and one of the logs rolled out, taking soot and sparks and little bits of flaming twiglets with it onto the hardwood floor. Margaret sighed and turned off the stove, then ran back to stomp out the little orange glows that had got too close to her throw rug. Just like John to do this without telling her—she should have sent it all back, gotten the refund, stuck to the oil.

She picked up the log that had rolled out onto the floor and meant to toss it back on the fire, but when her fingers touched the bark, something in her vibrated.

Margie, she heard, Margie, I'm sorry it took me this long to get back.

Her hands closed about the log, and it felt just right.

***

Laura was too excited to sleep. The car was all packed, and tomorrow morning after breakfast, she and Daddy were going to pile into the hardtop and drive out to Maddy's, where she was going to get to stay all summer! There were horses and the lake, and chickens, and of course there would be bonfires and apple picking and everything else.

The only sad thing was that Daddy wouldn't be staying with them. He and Mom were going to go on a vacation of their own, one for grown-ups, they had told her, but they would be there for the Fourth of July, and there would be a big cookout, and fireworks and pie. They had even mentioned bringing Donna with them, which was super fun, because Donna and Maddy got along real well.

This summer, she was going to get really good at swimming. Right now she could only float and dog paddle, but she had a hard time turning her head when she was doing an overhand swim, and she kept getting water up her nose. Maddy had said it was all about breathing or something, and she would show her when they went down to the lake.

Laura rolled her feet at her ankles, something she did to help her fall asleep, but tonight it didn't seem to be working. A whole summer away! And they had ponies! Maddy's dad, Uncle Tom, had said that she could name one herself. She was going to call it Muffin. She had to be the luckiest girl in Twin Peaks.

The door opened a crack, and Laura turned her head towards the hallway light. The shadow of the ceiling fan turned on the carpet. There was a tiny squeak of the shifting wood on the floor. Her clock read eleven-fifty. It was way past her bedtime, and if he saw that she wasn't asleep, she'd catch it.

Laura closed her eyes and made her face slack. It would be too obvious to snore. The person in the doorway, Daddy, she could tell by the breathing, came closer, slowly tip-toeing towards her. She breathed deep, like she imagined people did when they were asleep, and that was when she smelled it.

Something brushed her face.

***

His room was a cell, and it wasn't. It was fifteen by twenty-five feet, standard issue in the sanitarium. Any place that one couldn't walk out of was therefore a cell.

The FBI was a cell. Life was a cell. A murder trial was apparently, should one not be careful enough, also a cell.

Cells were life forms, the smallest one, actually, unless one counted things that were smaller and therefore dependent on other things. If life could not be sustained by itself, then it was probably just something worthy of death, like a jellyfish on the beach.

When he got out of here, Windom decided, he was going to write a book about golf. He had once thought that he would write about chess, and indeed, anyone who had known him before this particular moment of his psychological evolution might have suggested that he write about the Bureau, but one simply didn't do that. And by the time he was in the position to say something about the Bureau, his interests had moved elsewhere.

Windom paced the length of the cell, the room, not because he was bored, and not because he was insane, but because he was gathering energy. When trapped in confined spaces, the best way to weaken the walls of one's cell was to wear them down with the buildup of energy. Windom knew the principle was just like water balloons and jelly donuts—when filled too much, they eventually split a seam. One of these days, the stored energy was going to disrupt the electronic locks on his windows, and he would slip out of here.

These were the kinds of tricks that he might have taught at the Academy, if his boss had seen the merit of non-terrestrial and paranormal abilities. He'd tried to show Dale, but something there had gone terribly wrong.

Windom stopped five paces from the wall and closed his eyes, centering himself inward, his eyes rolling under his lids as he imagined a surge of light building up and filling a jar. He raised his arms, palms out, and imagined everything flowing out of him, filling the room and bowing the concrete walls. Just because it couldn't be seen with the naked eye didn't mean that it wasn't happening.

When he opened his eyes, he tried to see if he was imagining the rustle on the red curtains in his room. There was no wind in here, so they couldn't be caught in a breeze. The curtains stilled. It was probably just a thing, a glitch of the eye.

Windom felt invigorated. His plan was working. He'd be out of here soon. He had plans—first he had to get the money from Carlo, and then the weapons he’d had buried with Caroline. His fake IDs and passports were still in Pittsburgh, but they'd be on his way, so stopping wouldn't be much of a deal. He would have liked to have flown to Washington, but the bus was a better route, safer.

And he'd always wanted to see America.

His dinner tray sat on the table still. He'd eaten everything but the creamed corn.

Windom stared out the window, through the mesh, to the treeline. Something in the darkness glimmered, shifted, faded in and out. It could have been nothing, the reflection of his curtains, or some red streak on his cornea. Something remaining of his exertions, perhaps.

But every time he glanced at it through the course of the evening, he got more excited. It was a door.

***

He was thinking about Tibet. Tibet reminded him of how much he liked Bette Davis movies. There was something about her eyes. There was probably a song about that, not that he was up on pop songs. On the other hand, there was a real possibility that he could actually go to Tibet. Right away. If he wanted to.

″We should probably go see the Log Lady,″ Harry said into his coffee cup. ″Just to follow up. I don't like the idea of her out there in the cabin by herself, not after what happened.″

Cooper stared at his pie. Pie for breakfast was possibly one of the greatest things in the world, and he had broken his strict rule about a satisfying and well-structured breakfast to eat it.

″Au jord hooie, mah man est mortie,″ read the girl in the booth behind them. It sounded like Gersten Heyward. ″Ooo peeoot ehtre hee errr, je ne say pass.″ Cooper blinked. Did the pie move?

″Doc Hayward said you're fit for duty, if you still want to stay on,″ Harry said, as if they had been having a full conversation. Cooper was trying to make sweet love to the cherry filling using only his eyes and tongue, in a most conservative manner.

Ever since he'd woken up on the floor in his bathroom at the Great Northern, he hadn't felt right,. But that had been two days ago, and he'd not done much since then—convalesce, watch poor cable television shows, and wonder how Audrey Horne and Annie were doing at the hospital. Audrey had lost a leg, he heard, in the explosion.

″Mare desiday. Interrament de-main.″

Cooper wanted to correct her, but it was true that only the practice of a foreign language would improve pronunciation skills. In his head, he read along with her as she dissected his pie crust into three pieces. ″Sentiments distingués. Cela ne veut rien dire. C'était peut-être hier.″

″I would like that mightily, Harry,″ he said finally. For the first time in his life, Cooper wasn't sure precisely what should be done. Windom Earle was gone, he remembered slightly, faintly, but the mystery was far from over. He had a feeling the killer would strike again, even though Leland was dead.

And something in him needed to see Major Briggs again.

The bell above the door jingled, and Shelly Johnson dashed in, peeling her gloves off. ″I'm late!″ she cried in frustration. ″The car wouldn't start!″

Heidi giggled. ″Too busy start-jumping the old man, eh?″

Shelly gave Heidi the finger and Cooper had to admit that while he didn't like that sort of behavior, Heidi probably needed to learn better manners regarding appropriate talk with co-workers, especially one whose husband was still missing and had tried to kill her. More than once.

″I can't get that smell out of my nose,″ Harry said glumly, looking under the table at his boots. ″Just when I think it's gone, I can still smell that oil.″

Cooper didn't really hear him; he was watching Shelly as she pulled off a ratty, waist-length coat made of rabbit fur. It reminded him of a dog, though where precisely he'd seen such a dog was beyond his conscious memory. It was on the tip of his tongue, but when he opened his mouth, all he could whisper was, ″Bad doggy. Bad, bad doggy.″

END