Into the Dawn
A year doesn’t seem like a long amount of time. It sounds as if it were a simple, passing thing. But a year is how long one man waited in order to start his son out on a journey of epic proportions. As most fathers do, they hope that their children will become the improved versions that they had hoped to aspire, to live a life fuller and more rewarding life than they once had. In most circumstances, pain and strife are catalysts that change a boy into a man, wiping clean the innocence of daily life and replacing it with a harsher reality. To combat those faults, a spiritual journey is needed, one that tests the soul and forces a man to find himself. Young Jack Calloway’s journey began with a knock on his door.
Jack peeked up from reading his newspaper, put down the spoonful of rice flakes and began making his way to the front door. Curiosity, with a trace amount of fear, began pacing through him. Nowadays, nobody knocked on the door unless it was a kid selling magazine subscriptions for their local school, a missionary wanting to convert you, or like last year, a sheriff bringing bad news like the one who arrived telling Jack that his father had died in an accident.
Jack rarely if ever left his late father’s cabin. After his car wreck, Jack Calloway Sr. left everything to the sole heir of the family, which was Jack Calloway Jr. The cabin and some various personal artifacts were all that he kept. The two other homes belonging to his family were sold at estate auctions along with vehicles and furniture that were no longer personal to him. The cabin held memories though; times growing up as a child, Christmases and get-togethers with family or friends. It was roughly a 30 minute drive from anything civilized. It originally started off as a simple two-room shack with a kitchen. As the family prospered, two rooms became four and shortly from there, four rooms became two floors and two floors moved on to two houses.
A few people had cabins on the other side of the hills or far down the road, but the long generations of Calloways had bedded down there for the past hundred years and owned the habitable part of 250 acres of National Forest. Jack was an aspiring writer. Being independently wealthy from the land investments his family made over the years and having no want of public attention since the funeral, something had to keep his mind from going completely insane. Writing was therapy for him. It was his way of escaping, creating and draining himself of the emotions he desperately wanted to bury. He had been spending the last few months transcribing some of his father’s written journals onto an electronic format.
Persistence is an admirable quality for lovers, but in Jack’s mind, a rather annoying quality when one simply wanted to be left alone. Jack peered out through the living room shutters and didn’t notice a car visible in the gravel driveway. It was an awfully long way for anyone to walk up the mile-long drive past the gates at the mouth of the road, which were always locked anyhow. A call box led straight up to the cabin from the entry off of the road for any deliveries or emergencies. Curiosity and anxiety began mixing an unfavorable stew in Jack’s stomach as he approached the door. He looked through the eyepiece in the door slowly, but the sun at that time of day cast only a shining prism of sunlight through the hole. He reached for the door to open it. KNOCK-KNOCK pounded from the other side and now Jack was getting pissed that someone would disrupt his sanctum at such an early hour. No sooner than the sound reached his ears that he unlocked and whipped open the door, ready to give some poor sap a verbal lashing. The cool fall morning air rushed over his skin, but the breeze was all that greeted him in his doorway.
Could it have been the iron door knocker being tussled about violently? The wind didn’t sound or feel that strong. It was nothing more than enough to scuttle some leaves along the pavement. He shuffled outside past his threshold and down the cobblestone path toward the gravel driveway. Once down to the edge of the drive, he could see around the bend that went all the way down the hill to the main entrance. Yet, nothing was there. All that accompanied him were the sounds of the woods and the breeze blowing tunes through their dry leaves and pine bristles. No puffs of dust or crunching twigs eluded to the retreat of anyone that was once there. Perhaps the lack of companionship over the last few months had taken its toll on Jack’s sanity. As he thought, it was time once again to travel out and get some more supplies or maybe head down and pick up a couple more books and talk to the lovely Violet. She was a friend during his late teens and tried to be there for the most recent family tragedy when Jack would let her.
Jack re-entered his house and shut the door locking it once again; laughing to himself as he thought of old suspense movies that usually involved a young woman who had strange frights happen shortly before a killer appeared. I’m the damsel, he chuckled inwardly. He stopped after locking the door waiting for that pinnacle moment when a knock would come back now that he felt safe once again. Silence echoed to him with nothing more to offer. He walked from the foyer and toward the kitchen again to resume what was no doubt now a soggy bowl of rice flakes.
“That sure isn’t the wind…” he said to himself, now feeling a little more uneasy about the solitude in his world.
He walked quickly to the door and waited in hushed breaths for the restrained laughter of high school boys, out to kill time while skipping their history class. Still no noise except for the little breeze creating a dance for the dry leaves on the walkway.
Now, Jack thought, the games were getting old. He went for the fireplace and grabbed a poker. He made his way to the front door along with an announcement. “If you’ve had your fun now, I’d like to be left alone. Don’t make me involve the police in this matter.”
“I have a weapon and it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to use the term self-defense when the ambulance comes to take any of you away.”
Jack crept slowly to the door, talking away from its direction in order to give the illusion that he wasn’t standing right there, ready to scare the shit out of the little bastards turning his morning ritual into a chore.
“I’m going to dial now so you’ll have about 5, maybe 10, minutes to get out of here.” He placed his hand on the knob, after quietly releasing the lock and waited for the next ring to start so that he could give a proper fright to whoever wasn’t expecting it.
Jack swung the door open with a viciousness that any policeman would appreciate. His display showed he could storm into a drug raid with ease. He jumped out with poker in hand ready to snarl and yell at the young punks he imagined standing there. By the time the dong had chimed, he was out the door and in full force giving his best and most masculine roar. But again, no one was there to witness the spectacle. For a brief second or two, Jack was convinced that he was starting to get the traditional cabin fever and should immediately head toward civilized company. That was until he noticed an irregularity on his walkway which made him feel better about his state of mind, but worse about the physics of what just took place.
Lying flat on the base of the steps leading to his doorway was a suitcase. It looked as if it were made out of wood, a deep mahogany with light maple wood trim. Part of him wanted to retreat quickly into the house and try to forget that he had seen anything on his porch. Another side of him was insatiably curious and wanted to snatch the case and drag it back inside like some wild animal living in a cave. Like most creatures of wonder, Jack followed his curiosity and left his common sense back at the breakfast table.
He locked the door behind him and proceeded to the living room, cleared off the coffee table of its over-sized art books and the small statuette of Venus de Milo, and placed the case on top. He sat on the leather-bound sofa and took in the architecture of the case. It was wood indeed, sanded smooth as glass and emitted the smell of cedar. There were no metal clasps on the front, just copper colored hinges in the back. A small wooden dowel was inserted through an eyelet and provided the only latch that kept the case from falling open. If there was any wear to the object, Jack would’ve sworn it was an antique from colonial times. But it appeared to have been crafted recently judging by the state of its condition.
He weighed his next move. He listened closely for any moving parts, ticking or animal sounds. It was safe for him to say after 15 minutes that he was bound to open it one way or another and whatever the consequences, he would try to act rapidly when they occurred.
Jack removed the linchpin and opened the case, expecting to find either something horrifying or something astonishing. Yet to his lack of enthusiasm, all that was before him appeared to be common, but historic-looking objects. The inside of the case was lined with a royal violet satin and each object seemed to have been placed in a silhouette of its own shape to secure it from slipping. There was a pocket watch that was missing the hands, making it the most useless item, a monocle with a polished silver lining, a detailed stamp accompanied by a stick of wax. The stamp bore an impression of a single feather. There was a coin that had the face of a man on one side, like an old statue from the time of Greek mythology and the head of a bull on the other. And lastly, there was the most peculiar looking key. It was in the shape of a lower-cased t, or possibly a crucifix, yet every point had a key’s edging on it. In his mind, it reminded him of four elaborate skeleton keys linked together. The shafts were black as pitch and cylindrical. The heads and teeth to each point were bright silver in color and bled into the blackness. What could this go to? was the constant question running through Jack’s mind.
The whole situation was surreal at best, but at the same time comforting for him. He didn’t recognize anything that appeared to belong to his father, but each object felt as if it might have. It was like catching the scent of his dad on an old coat, like an empty shell that remained filled with the memory of him at the same time.
The question beyond the key, was now deciding where these objects had come from and what purpose they had showing up at his doorstep? The most logical thought he could muster was to take one of the objects into town and stop by Seamus’ antique parlor. It was more like a storage area for all of the things the old adventurer had collected over the years. Seamus was an old family friend and Jack Sr.’s childhood pal. Uncle Seamus was what Jack Jr. always used to call him and still did at times. He might have some answers to where the trinkets could have originated from or how far they might date back. Then, perhaps, he would have to swing by and possibly find an old reference book from Violet’s store. Some excuse to visit her would do, now if there was an amusing or intriguing story to go along with his visit to peak her interest… that would be just aces.
The most intriguing piece would have to be the key. He had never seen anything quite like it, but Seamus might have some insight from his travels to Europe, or down throughout Northern Africa, across the Asian continent or diving in and out of islands in the Pacific. He was quite the well rounded traveler, and loved collecting the most unique objects along the way. They were things that Mrs. Seamus got tired of seeing as well as Mr. Seamus’ company. She left him over six years ago. Sometimes, there are just no explanations when you aren’t living in the situation. One year they were fine and laughing and joking around the family barbeques that Jack’s family used to hold in the summer time. The next year, she barely looked at him and was claiming that his travels had tarnished their marriage and she couldn’t stand to be with him. Afterwards, Seamus rooted down and stopped his travels and opened up his Antique Emporium, right off of Main St. The key would definitely perk up his interests and hopefully help him recall some bits of wisdom he had acquired over the years. So there it was; Jack was set to go off to the Emporium and visit with Seamus.
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