Today there will be a trial at Holden Farms. If I can manage to pull myself together and summon the energy necessary for the show to happen at all. I’ve been avoiding the library since the beginning of pandemic. Trapped in this small-town hell without hope of escape forced on me by endless stalkers watchers FBI Agents and the help. Instead of my writing routine, I waste energy trying to be alone and have failed completely.
The morning of a trial I make the coffee. There are no servants around. Not a sound in the house besides me clanging around in the kitchen. I place a notebook, a pen, my coffee, and an ashtray on the kitchen table. I will write. I don’t give a damn if I light the words on fire ten minutes after I finish, I will put words to paper no matter what comes today.
Lighting a cigarette, I put my feet up on a chair and stare out the window at the FBI van across the street. There’s no sign of movement. Are they sleeping on the job? How unprofessional. I’ll be sure to mention it at our next meeting. What would Marcus say, he always did his job. I take a deep drag and force my attention back to the notebook.
It all begins in the library. I don’t expect you to understand, just to know. When I finish this story, I’ll add it to my shelf with all the others. Endless dozens of stories from many years. The story begins the routine.
My phone buzzes with a new message, but I ignore it. I won’t look. I do not want to know. Nothing will stop me from finishing this story. I want to be ready for the trial. I’ve been promising you all a trial for weeks and months, but hell if I can summon what it takes to open that library door.
Eureka! Opening the notebook, I write at the top of the page.
MY STALKER’S HOME ADDRESS: A REVENGE TALE
I know what I must do. It’s what I was born to do. Get revenge. One of these days my enemies will be seeing me. If you want justice, you gotta do it yourself. There’s only justice for rich men in America.
Revenge is a dish best served often. I’ll write your name in my little black book and soon you’ll disappear. Nobody will even know you existed. I’ll have you erased after I kill you. You’d be amazed what money can do. With a few phone calls and well-placed bribes, your identity can be wiped from memory. And it’s official, I have another name to add to the list. After months, I have a new story.
I rip the page from the notebook and crush my cigarette in the ashtray. I’m ready.
Before I can change my mind, I approach the door to the basement. My stomach drops as I get close. So much horror down these stairs. Could I tell you even if I had a million years to explain? But there’s not time now. I must do this. Placing my hand on the doorknob, I close my eyes. Conjuring an image of the library in my mind, I turn the knob and open the door. Stepping forward into the darkness, my foot flails in space and I fall. I fall and fall and fall and suddenly, I’m on the floor of the library.
I get to my feet and scan the room. There’s nobody here.
The echo of my voice sounds unfamiliar. It’s been too long. A shiver passes over me and I try to shake the negative thoughts away. Approaching the bookshelf with my stack of stories, I place the notebook page on top of the others.
“There. It is done. You are added to the list. You will stand trial.”
I close my eyes once more. I’m ready. I’ve been lost in the wilderness of pandemic for so many months, but I really think I’m ready.
“Good morning, Ella. So good to see you.”
I spin to face him. “George!!” He hasn’t aged. Pandemic hasn’t harmed a gray hair on his head.
“Shall I pour you coffee?”
“Oh, George. It’s been so long. I’ve forgotten everything it seems.” I take a seat at my writing desk and wait for George to pour coffee. He wheels the cart to a spot next to me and serves coffee.
Next, he clicks on the television. It’s a replay of game six of the 1986 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets. “The market opens in an hour. I do hope you enjoy the baseball game.”
“I always do, George. Please do me a favor and send Saul to me. There’s something I need taken care of immediately.”
“Something or someone?” George asks with a sly grin before leaving the room.
I rip a fresh page from my notebook and write an address in all-caps. Saul enters the room just as I’m folding the piece of paper.
“You look beautiful this morning, Ella.”
“Cut the chit-chat. Go to this address and do what needs be done,” I say, handing him the paper. He stuffs it into a pocket without looking at it. I’m sure he has the address already. “And be back in time for the trial. You know what time.”
“I do.” He bows and leaves. I know I saw him smile.
Opening my phone, I finally check the message. It’s from Ana.
“Well, are you ready? It’s time for a trial.”
I begin my reply but erase the sentence and replace with two words. “I’m ready.”
I hope you enjoyed the story.
Readers are invited to a Trial at Holden Farms. Posting to Moran Press this week.