I fell back and stopped breathing, literally couldn't remember how to bring in more oxygen. He stared hard at me, unblinking in his plain white crew neck undershirt, light blue pajama pants, and bare feet. Breathe, I thought, just start with that, just breathe. My gut feeling, from the millisecond I laid eyes on him, was that I wanted him to go away. Fast.
He looked about three years old, but when he spoke....
"Newmarket weather," he began in a sing-song voice. "Still lots of rain in the area the rest of the night, going down to forty-four, then we might see just a drizzle early Tuesday morning before clearing up; high tomorrow a mild sixty-six. It's fifty right now. Buckle up."
WHTS. He was doing WHTS, the local Top Forty station's weather breaks on the fifteens. Only it wasn't today's forecast. I resisted an urge to tell him that his forecast sucked, today was hot as Hell. I tried to ask him what he was even talking about, but all I mustered was a tiny squeak.
"I'm not seeing him anymore," he said, "ever. But you won't believe me. You never believe me. There's only so much I can say. Damn it, Craig. I haven't even talked to Joe in over two months." He sniffled, tears bubbling in the corners of his eyes. "What do you want me to say?"
"I'm not sure.... "I started, wondering if I was having some sort of attack. The room spun. Those words he said-I knew them.
The boy shrieked. Tiny red dots appeared on his t-shirt, his face, his pants, like chicken pox, but darker.
"Oh no, oh no," he whispered. The dots grew larger, blood red discs drenching his body. His mouth made a circle, his pupils rolled up into his eyelids, and he fell to the carpet. I considered reaching out to him, but before I made a move he was just ... gone. Vaporized.
I counted my heaving breaths-four, five, six-and sat Indian style for a few minutes before crawling over to where he'd stood. I brushed the carpet with my fingers and reached up to gently push the closet door shut. No chance was I peeking in.
My breath slowed, my heart settled, and I gauged the thoughts in my head. Fear, a terrible ... something ... brewing beneath the surface. Guilt, that rotten corpse invading my thoughts again. And a flash of something else, an old, dreadful companion I'd successfully divorced years before, or so I thought. Rage.
How dare he? I thought. How dare he show up here!
And so began the worst days of my life.