The air is filled with the scent of old wood and cushion, dust and books. A hint of leather.
The strong smell of whiskey, the good one. Saved for special occasions.
Not that this is one. It is just like any other night. Just that this time that particular hint of leather becomes almost unbearable. It brings back the memories, not that they have ever been gone, and the pictures in his head.
It made him search the boxes and albums for photographs, very few, but still enough to make him also reach for the bottle on the small trolley next to his desk.
The liquid burns with every sip he takes, burns its way down into his stomach to settle there in a kind of warmth that is still not enough. Nothing in comparison.
His eyes wander over the photograph of laughing eyes - those are the rarest - or stiff figures, all of them showing the same faces. His mind though connects all these pictures with sounds, smells, touches.
Memories, branded into his mind, thoughts that can never be replaced.
Another sip and the memories scatter like the pictures on the ground before him when he realises that all this remains the past, so different from his present.
His hand reaches out, touching one of the Polaroids, feeling the plastic under his fingertips, but of course it feels nothing like the real thing, nothing like what he actually wants to feel.
And for a moment, he once again wonders if the person in the photograph feels the same way. Surely not exactly, but if a thought of him might cross the other’s mind from time to time. If the feeling of loss is as big as his own.
And his eyes wander over to the telephone, not for the first time since he was kneeling on the floor, hands pressed to the pictures and his glass of whiskey, and he thinks about just calling. About dialing the number he knows by heart and yet he takes the small handwritten paper out of his diary every time he does.
The paper is long worn off, folded and opened too many times, even the ink starts to fade already. But it is not his own handwriting he is looking at and that is all he has to hold on to.
He looks at the clock. Quarter after one. Minus six hours makes it 7.
Another shot of whiskey, drowning the thought. For now.
He can’t stop looking over to the door and a wave of new memories overcomes him: of short visits, making it better and worse at the same time.
But now, as he wishes so hard for it, no one comes sweeping in like before. The heavy, dark wooden door remains closed, like this is a chapter that should not be touched or opened again.
But he wants to, he needs to, again and again.
Hurting himself with the knowledge that what he is wishing for should never be. And that hearing this voice, feeling this presence again would only make it worse.
But with the next portion of whiskey that he downs, he seems to swallow his control as well.
And he reaches for the phone and his diary eventually, takes out the note and unfolds it.
With a shaking hand, he dials the numbers and feels his heart sink with every sound the line makes until he hears it cracking on the other side and someone answers.
“Wesley? I know I said I wouldn’t call. But I need you now.” Charles whispers into the phone.