December 9th, 2018 by Patrick Starks
If one would take only a moment to breathe, they would see life to be more magical than what they think. From Halloween to Christmas, we the people would electrify the world with our love for the holidays—costumes, candy, toy stores, sitting on Santa’s lap even. And yet there Mr.Grane and I stood wondering if that same joy still existed, for not much was left from his or my childhood. No more Toys R us, meant the end of the nostalgia of child’s hood, however, nothing can be done about it now. Nothing at all.
Mr. Grane and I were now standing in front of the door that he had pointed to. It was solid brown, reindeer antlers hanging from the top of it, followed by scratches at the bottom that made me wonder what poor feline the residents had abandoned.
“Are they home?” I asked.
“Yeah, she’s home,” said Mr. Grane, with a face as blank as the white walls that surrounded.
Probably should’ve been Mr. Grane to knock, but it seemed my courage would be tested again. Eager to solve the mystery of a lost child, I banged on the door, without hesitation. There was silence. Although, behind the door smelt that of a Korean BBQ—sweet and spicy all in one. My stomach growled, and it was all the more reason to know that the place was not vacant. And if so, it wouldn’t have been for too long.
Mr. Grane then pushed me out of the way, blustering the door like a madman. Fire was in his eyes. I’d seen it before, but this fire was different. The kind of fire a man gets when he sees that the one he loves has found another.
Oddly, the apartment was completely vacant—somewhat what I had suspected. Food was still on the stove but obviously had been for a while with all the mold that surfaced it, although, it sure didn’t smell like it. Nevertheless, whoever lived there had been gone for a couple of days, more so a week, if we counted the calendar to our left.
Mr. Grane would then walk into a room to our right. It was locked, but he didn’t hesitate to knock it down either. And not long after Mr. Grane would come out with a duffle bag of only god knows what. Although, the bills that hung outside of it said enough.
“I thought we were here to find Jeremiah,” I whispered.
“We are…” mumbled Mr. Grane. “Just go stand by the door and make sure no one comes in.”
Mr. Grane obviously had not thought anything through, but of course, most criminals never do. Without a doubt, the situation was no longer about Jeremiah, but a conflict of interest say the least.
Pianos and flutes then echoed outside the door, and through the hallways. The elevator had stopped on our floor, and around the corner, footsteps traveled. They were heavy, however, did not drag. My guess was that it was a man, six-foot-two maybe, muscular build or obese depending on how you define heavy. But either way, whoever it was they sounded like a club bouncer, and I just wasn’t looking to get body slammed, I was looking for Jeremiah.
I’d call for Mr. Grane more than I could count, however, he was more fixated on his own interest, wetting his fingertips and flipping through money like a bank teller who’d just for once wanted to be the employee of the month. So, I took off and went back inside my apartment before all hell would break loose.
Sirens cried outside my window. Cops filled the hallways as well as the two residents they couldn’t seem to break up—Mr. Grane and the woman that he had stolen from I assumed. And it was a good thing for Mr. Grane that the cops had shown up—the scratches around his neck and the bruises around his eyes said that the woman had done quite the number on him. But four slaps on the wrist and they’d both be out of the equation, which meant that I was getting closer to solving Jeremiah’s mystery.
Not long after the cops had cleared out, and still, I could hear Mrs. Peachtree wallow through the walls of my dining room. Our insulation was horrible. The cops had given Mrs. Peachtree the typical ‘we will find him‘ speech, as they’d done for most parents. And the saddest part to it all was their accomplishments. Statistics showed that not many children are found after forty-eight hours. And there we were with nearly a day that had gone by. Time was of the essence.
There were eight rooms in total on my floor. Now down two six, if I counted Mr. Grane and wonder woman being hauled away. Get it, hall’d away, as if they were just in the hall… Nevermind.
I continued my search. And knocked on five doors until I got to the final door—the Mint Door. It was just as I had described it before, brown all over with emerald on the edges. Out of all the rooms I had checked, never in a million years would I suspect old man Castro to be the villain in the story. I just wasn’t a man to assume. I needed proof.
Unlike everyone else’s doors, old man Castro had a door knocker. It was bat, solid brass that hung upside down. It was actually pretty cool looking, but the longer I stared at it made me think of the possibility that he just might’ve had Jeremiah all this time. Old man Castro was a suspicious soul.
“Hello! Mr. Castro are you in there, it’s me Kindle, Kindle Ramon,” I yelled.
There was no response, not until I’d attempt to yell or knock again.
“Come in,” said old man Castro. “I have hot chocolate.”
The door then opened, without me touching it. A warm draft hit my face. I couldn’t really tell if it was from the heat or the hot cocoa but whatever it was, it was inviting. I walked inside, and the floorboards to Old man Castro’s apartment would creek with every step that I made, yet, none did I ever hear from old man Castro. It was as if he was gliding around the room somehow.
“What might I assist you with?” said old man Castro, tapping me on the shoulder.
My soul nearly jumped out of my body and into my own arms. And it was at that moment I could feel a draft not so warm. I turned around.
“Yes. You see… I’ve been going from every room on the floor looking for Mrs. Peachtree’s son. He’s been missing for…”
“Jeremiah…” interrupted old man Castro. “Yes, I’ve heard…”
Usually, many artists are known to have steady hands, especially tattoo artist, but the way old man Castro shook, I knew that something was up. I asked if he knew anything. But old man Castro said not a word. Although, his eyes said a lot.
“I need to know! Get a grip old man, did you see him or not?” I yelled. “I’m running out of time.”
He nodded. “Yes. But it’s too late now. These… these two men in black suits took him, but I don’t know why or where. Last time I checked they put him in a limousine and then drove off around the corner of twenty-first and Blanchard as if there was a pregnant woman in the back. ”
I was pissed. Only twenty-four hours. And now the playing field was much larger. There was nothing else to say to old man Castro but that he was a coward for not saying anything from the start. We might’ve already had Jeremiah back by now.
Nevertheless, I grabbed my cup of hot cocoa, sipped half of it, threw the rest in old man Castros face, and then hopped into my Prius and headed to the streets of Blanchard. I knew just the person who would have more details about Jeremiah’s kidnapping. I hadn’t talked to them in forever, but I had no choice, she was the best at what she did—my ex—Susie Q.