Part 1, Part 2. Read them first. Wait, no. Don’t read them. Don’t read this either. In fact, shut down your computer right now. Also, burn any physical copies of this post you may have. Don’t burn the digital ones, though: that just makes them angry.
I WALK IN
PART THREE: DAVID
“What am I doing?” David Mercer questioned himself, “I was never like this, wy am I writing about something that could never have happened?” David, and old man of 72 years, had been trying to remember how his life was as a young man, and write a fictional story based on it. He was failing miserably. An embellishment and a plot twist too many had landed him in a position where he had no experience to base his story on.
As he rose away from his old IBM typewriter, David thought to himself that it may have been a mistake to write tonight. His wife, Anna was out of town visiting their daughter, Alice for the week, meaning he was alone in the house. There was nobody to bounce ideas off of, and nobody to console him, should the recollection become too emotional. In any case, he was at a block for the moment and probably needed to leave the writing for a while.
The typewriter was in the basement of the house, which had been sectioned off into an office and a tool shed. Should the need arise, there was also a futon in the corner so that the room could be turned into a guest bedroom. The typewriter was on a cheap pine desk, which faced the wall opposite the stairwell. Nest to it was a filing cabinet that still contained all of David’s old records even though he had been retired for several years. The workbench was closer to the stairwell, directly to the right of it, if coming down. That saved time when a job required several pieces of equipment to be hauled upstairs.
This is where David went now: the workbench. Some of the stairs had begun to rot, and though they still seemed sturdy, it’s always a good idea to replace a rotten step. David had gotten some pieces of wood from the hardware store the previous weekend, but they were a little bigger than the stairs he had up, so they needed to be trimmed on one side by about a half-inch. There were seven steps that needed replacement, and David knew he would only be able to get three or four trimmed that night, let alone replaced, so he set himself to work. If he did those few this evening, it would be that much less he would need to do in the morning.
After penciling in where the incisions were to be made, David carefully turned on his band saw and put goggles on. Within a few minutes, he had changed that piece of wood from 16″x 36″ to 15.5″x36″, which matched the other stairs to a tee. After a bit of sanding to keep the edges smooth, he went on to the next plank.
As david finished his fourth sair, he decided to call it quits. He had begun to grow tired, and when you work with a band saw, you could easily lose a finger if you’re not totally awake. He began to climb up the stairs, testing the rotting boards before stepping on them, jsut in case. Up, into the kitche, decorated as Anna had seen fit. Down the hall, which was speckled with the treasures that they had collected in their lifetime, and into the bedroom, which contained the most precious pieces in the house: memories.
Practically the entire room was covered with photos. One wall alone consisted of Alice’s school pictures, one from each year. The wall across from it held images of family outings. mages of the three of them in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, the trunk of a redwood, and other various vacation spots were sprinkled around in various sizes, but somehow fit together. Across from the bed itself were images of family members. David and Anna’s parents, along with David’s brother and sister, each with their spouse leep. David was barely conscious enough to pull off his clothes before he fell into bed and went to sleep.
Morning brought with it a few bright rays filtered through the leaves of the birch tree outside David’s window. He had planted that tree the day Alice was born.
David stumbled out of bed, somewhat groggy, and hopped into the bathroom for his morning shower. Upon leaving the shower, he noticed a stray photo on the countertop next to the sink among various toothbrushes and razors. It was one of the three of them, Alice, Anna, and himself, however, due to some unknown mishap, the photo had been folded at the top right corder, the crease crossing directly over David’s head. Other than that, it was a very nice picture, hopefully they still had the negatives, or at least another copy.
Something disturbed David about the picture, though. It was an odd place for him to have left a photograph, and even stranger still, he couldn’t remember where or when the picture was taken.
On well, there wasn’t anything he could do about it now. David was hungry, and one can hardly fix a staircase on an empty stomach.
Coffee, no cream, one sugar. Cereal, bowl of Cheerios, half-cup of milk, one banana sliced up. This was his usual breakfast, and despite strict orders from his daughter, David always followed this up with a cigarette. If nearly 50 years of smoking didn’t kill him, another cigarette in the morning wasn’t going to do him much harm, he reasoned. The dishes found their way to the sink, where they would stay until Anna came home, and David got himself down to the basement to complete his task.
On second thought, maybe he should check the newspaper first.
The newspaper boy always missed the front porch, for some reason, so David was surprised to find it placed on the welcome mat this morning, centered perfectly. Maybe there was a new boy? It probably wasn’t anything too important, so David went on to read the paper. The main headline read “OBITUARIST DIES” going on to talk about the newspaper’s obituaries editor, who had been run over by an ambulance the night before. Not much happens in David’s town,s so stories like this often got the front page.
David went through the paper relatively quickly. There weren’t many interesting stories and he really did want to get to the stairs.
Down in the basement, David went about resizing the remaining three pieces of wood. As he sat down, the typewriter caught his eye:there was no paper in it. He was positive he had left the last sheet in the previous night. He wrote it off as senility creeping up on him and went back to work.
A few minutes later, he had all seven planks laid out and ready to be nailed in.
The first four stairs would be easy to replace, each had a sturdy step between each rotting one, however the remaining three were right next to each other, sitting at the top. This bothered David, but only a little. As he guessed, the bottom stairs gave him absolutely no troubles, and each plank came out and was replaced within 10 minutes. He had to be careful, however, during the next stair.
Because the door to the basement opened inward, David would have to work from the bottom up. He preferred positioning himself above an offending stair, but he was confident he could make just as sturdy a step the way he was. Removing the nails, and afterward the board, David found himself staring down a 7-foot drop. No problems, however. The new board went in easily nough, and after a coat of paint, the stair would match the others perfectly.
The second step was just as easliy dealt with, as was the third, however David was somewhat appalled when he found a small dead rat beneath the final piece of rotting wood, in the corner where the wall and floor met below him. There was no way for David to get to the corpse without removing the staircase completely, so he decided to ignore it. Dropping a load of bug killer down there would deter maggots, and other than that, a rat carcass doesn’t do much harm.
Once he finished, David decided to test his staircase, so he walked down, then back up. All the steps held up beautifully. David returned to the basement once more to put away some stray materials at the workbench: he would put the first coat of paint on the stairwell later that day.
On the way, the bottom step, the first one he had replaced, cracked in half, making David trip and fall to the ground. He fell with his arms flailing, trying to grab at the railing of the stairs, but he missed. What he did grab was the cord of the band saw, which fell off the workbench–