Bluff

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story that borrows the premise, kind of, of casino royale. A blatant homage

Submitted: April 04, 2012

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Submitted: April 04, 2012

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Bluff

Poker. My destruction, though not as you would think. Poker, a game of chance, and the chances I took haunt me to this day. You should know by now why we’re both here. It is obvious. I am here to tell you a story and in return for my service you will consider my circumstances. I am about to spin a story, much as a spider spins a web, one event at a time to create a tapestry. I may be a weaver of poor quality, but weave I will, for this story must be told.  This is not written for entertainment; it has been laborious and is intended as a warning.  I have many stories of which I could tell you, yet one possesses more interest and tells more of the evil inherent in mankind than the others. This story of mine begins in the summer of 1962, a time when Jack Kennedy was still the president and no one had heard of Fidel. While my story may not weigh up to The Missile Crisis, it changed my life, and so for me, that makes it a story worth telling. It is of the poker game where the stakes were the lives of my friends and me. Now there is something you must understand about us. We were not adventurous, or suicidal, but boredom repelled us, as it does anyone who is not masochistic, so efforts were always made to dispel it. So my friends and I always used to meet once a week in a shady tavern on the corner of the street where I lived. This was over near the trashy part of town. I was a construction worker in the Projects, so money was tight. We had a small shingled shack on an unkempt lawn. Back to the story at hand for me, I guess. I am sorry, but as a man gets older, he starts to wander off on the interlocking paths of memories, and before long, he gets lost in the woods of the consciousness. This little drinking hole I was talking about was a place where responsibilities fled at the door. O’ Flanagan’s, I remember it well.  The bartender and how he frowned at everyone like they were underage. Then there was the battered old cuckoo clock above the bar which rang at the half hour, its sound reminiscent of the howls of the insane. The dark men tucked away in corners like spiders in wait of prey. Even the damp rags that hung over the end of the bar, ready for mopping up in case a spell of vomiting occurred. It was a dark, moody place, tension in the air like live wires. Yet we had some good times there. The night I speak of, we had ensconced in the tavern. When we arrived, we felt stifled and try as we might it held no interest for us that muggy night in June. That humid night, as the crescent moon rose high in the heavens and purple clouds sailed as submarines across the velvet sea of the sky, my friend Jim suggested that we would all participate in a local high stakes poker game. The rest of our party were too bored to really object. Outside, birds called and crickets hummed, and the sounds made me sleepy. I could barely stay on the bar stool. I had been just about to call it a night when Jim pops out with this great idea. Oh God, I wish I had of just went home, stopped everything that happened after. So anyways, we were relieved at the prospect of an interesting night out. I remember Bill in particular looked excited. I think he thought of himself as a party boy. The rest of us, including Jim, just saw him as a jackass.  Jim told us of this place he knew of over in the east side, where hookers and sailors rubbed shoulders and more. Look at me, the humourist.  The game was hosted in an abandoned warehouse on the next street over from the docks. This neighbourhood was notoriously seedy, even some of the guys I knew, tough Irishmen they were, wouldn’t go down there if you hadda paid ‘em. Drunkards from the little speakeasies in the area were always, and I mean always, swarming the streets at night, hoping for a woman to come along or a man to fight. Prostitutes as young as thirteen and as old as sixty prowled the streets, looking for fools to coerce. Well we all knew the kind of things that happen down there, so we agreed to meet up back here in an hour with some protection. An hour later we all met back in O’ Flanagan’s.  I had chosen a baseball bat. Jim, the tallest of us all, a man who’s face that showed his inner turmoil not at all, brought with him an object that looked similar to a machete. Joe kind of moved away, as though scared. I myself was kind of worried about that thing. We all knew Jimmy had a short fuse. And when that fuse was lit, goddam, he went off like cannons do in those old pirate movies.  Bill, a short, squat man with a sneer on his lips and a laugh in his eyes, was a man I did not trust. He did not warrant trust, he warranted watching. More than that sense of distrust I felt for him, he was a rude little bastard. As soon as I had seen his face, I knew we were dealing with a grade A fuckwit.  He was a lackey of Jim’s; he wanted to be just like him. A kid of twenty or so and he wanted to be just like a cold blooded maniac.  Jim was okay, but me and Joe was always careful around him. Like a snake, he could strike just as fast as you please. Some of the stuff we’d seen him do just makes my blood run cold, to this day. So you see, Jim only put up with him because we got some laughs out of him, but Bill sure didn’t know that. He too had brought a baseball bat, his with a sharpened point at the end. When I asked about the sharpened end, he just laughed in my face, then flicked a stray straggle of hair from outta his eyes.  Joe, the last of us, was a mousy man with greasy black hair and small shrewd features. We always were saying to him how out of place he was in a raggedy group such as us. We were just ragging on him, but sometimes you could just see the hurt in his eyes.  Yet he could hold his own in any fight, he coulda kicked my ass, I tell ya, with his speed and the smarts he had to pick his fights, hardly no one I know of ever beat on him. He carried a small switchblade. He called it Carvy, and cause he had his pride, he hardly ever brought it anywhere with him. So when we was all done checking out the weapons, we tried to hail a cab, but as soon as the driver saw our improvised weapons, he drove off with a screech. We then decided to walk; the place was only about half an hour away. Presently we reached the bad part of town, and walking the gloomy streets, we felt trepidation. Nearby, I heard a couple fighting. I decided to just try to ignore the sounds. Soon, after some small scuffles and a crazed cat, we reached the building. All around us, mosquitoes strobed across the streetlights, casting minute shadows on the patched sidewalk. Crickets chirped in harmony far off in the distance.  The building was a least four stories, and from my knowledge had originally been a warehouse for crates of paper. Years ago, the company that had owned it went out of business. The local war chief was an Italian by the name of Triponi. This guy was a smart investor from what I had heard, so he had bought the place on the cheap, realising the opportunities that could be had. This I’ve learned since. You know that library downtown. God, they got everything thing on those computers in there. Just like a newspaper made of all the newspapers. A small red light shone above the entrance. It reminded me of the bulb they use in darkrooms in photo labs. There was a large metal door before us, spray painted and buckled in places. Jim stepped forward and rapped hard on the door. Bill walked forward and joined in. A few seconds passed, then the door opened inward and an old man stood before us. He whispered hoarsely, with the deliberation of the elderly. “You are here for the game, are you not? Come in; come in, before you miss out”.  I heard a trace of a Russian accent. Bill, impatient, asked. “Miss out on what?” I cursed softly, astounded his ignorance. “Why, the poker of course”, the old man replied, seeming like he wasn’t annoyed at all. I stepped forward quickly, as did my friends. I asked, jokingly.” This place got air conditioning”. He must not have heard me, because he didn’t answer, instead looking us over like a security camera. Then the old man stepped aside, laughing softly. I was surprised at his laughter, as no one had told a joke. After thinking it over for a couple of seconds, I decided to not ask about it, putting it down to senility. Inside was a hallway, draped in cobwebs, going forward like a massive worm. It was musty in the way of long unused closets. To my right was a mass of wet cardboard, mould splotched. I moved to my left to avoid stepping in the mess. Bloody hell, they sure keep this place neat, I thought with a touch of sarcasm. You see, that is the only kind of joke I really get, so I try to use it as much as possible. “You will have to excuse the smell”, the old man said, like he had red my mind,” We have not gotten around to any serious clean-ups as of yet, but we will”. I wondered at the “we” he had mentioned. Hey, I’m a curious guy, I can’t help it. I then decided they were probably henchmen of the chief. At the end of the hall was door engraved with insignias. I recognised one as the sign of a new street gang going around at the time.  I pushed through it into an enormous room fog laden with smoke. Poker tables and furniture stuck out like bastions in the swirling smoke. In the corner adjacent to the card tables, cards and chips were stacked haphazardly, likely at any moment to come crashing down. Hooks and things hung lopsidedly from the ceiling. On the wall opposite us a bank of windows surveyed the dirty smokestacks and other warehouses that lined the harbour like bees to honeycomb. I looked around, seeing nobody but a lanky man reclining in a chair beside the poker tables.  Behind me, I heard Joe cough abruptly, a hack that resounded across the room. Joe had very slight asthma, so smoke really started him going. I turned to him just as he was fetching his inhaler from the waistband of his shorts. Bill, ever full of stupid questions, asked loudly. “Where is everyone? Seriously, we’re the only people here except for that guy over there”. He pointed in the general direction of the man I had noticed lounging casually in the ratty old recliner across the room.  The old man made no response, of the same mind as me obviously.  I was suddenly curious, so I asked. “Hey, what’s your name, old timer?” “Whitney, sir”, the old man said, pleased at my curiosity. “Why is there so much smoke in the room when there’s nearly no one here? I asked, seriously surprised at all the smoke. “Oh, that, it is because there are hardly any vents in this old place”, Whitney answered matter of factly, “So you see most of the smoke just stays here”. Worried, I took a deep breath before I crossed the threshold. Hoping I didn’t get cancer, contemplating why I felt that smoke was just as harmful as asbestos. Joe stepped forward as well. I turned to him and said softly.” Are you gonna be all right in here, your asthma already sounds pretty bad, maybe we should just go”. Jim must of heard me, because he replied,” Hey, you guys, don’t you go yellow on me, I brought youse here to play some poker, and by God, we will play that fucking poker”. I think this was his idea of a motivational speech, as when he finished, he turned to each one of us and patted us on the shoulder. This was in the sixties, remember, a time when smokes were considered necessary for health. And Jim for sure never thought smokes could be bad for you. He knew about Joes asthma, it just didn’t occur to him that it could get really bad. Joe seemed anxious, but didn’t want to appear like a coward. “Do we have to do this”, Joe whispered gently, “I don’t really feel like cards, we can just go to my place and watch movies”. It was his way of trying to escape. Pretending it was the poker that made him want to leave. Bill, my sworn enemy, said in a tone of disrespect.” Why the hell ya gotta be so skittish, it’s just poker, seriously? God man, I feel so ashamed of you right now”.  I broke in with,” Aw, fuck off, we don’t want to hear this fucking shit; you always have an opinion on everything, and they’re almost always stupid. Scrap that, are always stupid”. “Ya wanna fuckin go, come on cunt, I’ll kick ya fuckin balls so far up you’ll be sucking them for once instead of some wankers”. “Oh, you are dead, you are so dead, and you see this fist”. I stopped to show him my right fist. Before I could completely lose my cool, Jim stepped between us and broke us up, as we had started to grab each other, trying to rip each other apart. Whit had stood through all this smiling slightly, as though he saw things like this all the time. I suppose he did, considering the people he would meet during these nights.“ Hey, hey, seriously, you are embarrassing us all here, get some manners, Whit here doesn’t have to see this, neither does that guy over there-“. “Rob, at your service”, the man on the recliner said, sitting up to give a mock bow. “Yeah, Rob and Whitney here don’t need to see this, so go outside if you’re gonna fight, but I would advise against it”. Here he clenched his jaw and looked at us both meaningfully. I think Bill realised what he meant even. Whitney interrupted the tense silence that followed the threat with.” Sirs, I think the time has come for the game to commence”. We all laughed, relieved to be able to put the fight behind us.  As he said this though, he laughed softly again, sending a chill up my spine. At the time I was not sure why, in time I suspected it to be a warning not heeded. As though on cue, men streamed in from all four entrances to the large room. When all had come through, there must have been sixty or seventy of us. Some men came right past us, nodding and patting us on the back. I felt like I was in a church. I thought with surprise They must be friendly. Weird I would have thought they’d be tough and brusque. A short balding man coming past even went so far as to hug Jim and whisper in his ear. When he did, Jim patted him on the back and then shook his hand. In front of me, a man in a sailor’s uniform reached out his hand and pumped mine up and down. Soon after, when everyone was seated at the tables and the recliners and sofas, Whitney came over and started to speak loudly. “Hello, everyone, Welcome. We must now begin, so, who is playing and who is not?”. The men who were playing raised their hands. Whitney counted and then picked out the appropriate things to start the game. I felt a sense of foreboding, ill at ease with all these strangers. My stomach rolled like a tumble dryer, and my head started to throb sickly. I stood, placing my chair behind me. I hoped to escape outside and get some fresh air. Whitney noticed and gave me a predatory look,” Will you please sit, for the game must begin, and everyone must play”.  Everyone laughed. I was really scared now. Something is wrong here I thought. Glancing around the table I saw that Joe looked ill, his face a shade of yellow similar to citrus juice. I turned back toward Whitney and noticed a vehement gleam in his eye. “Oh, guys, I think we better go. Whitney, thanks anyway old chap, this poker game is great and all, but we have an, uh, important thing to go to”, I burst out. Bill tried to talk, but I covered his face with my hands. “Really, sir”, Whitney said maliciously,” There is no need to leave, you came, now you must pay, in this game, everyone pays”. Behind us, a brute towered, blocking the door with his massive frame. To my side, Jim whined in fear. I could make out nothing of his incoherent speech. Bill had finally realised that everything was not right here. I think it sank in for him when men from the poker tables turned sentry at all the exits. For once he had not a thing to say, so I was glad for at least that much. To my right, Joe started forward. He was prepared to take on all comers. I myself assumed a defensive position.  Joe bolted forward, heedlessly blazing a path through the tables. All around him, the assailants were clutching at him, hands like the monkeys paw.  He managed to evade them. He then reached the last table before the bay of windows and pushed it forward. He clambered on top of it and placed his hands on the nearest windowsill. He then hoisted himself up. Sliding outside, he gave men one last look of regret, as though he thought I was to die. I started forward, hoping to do the same.  Jim stepped forward abruptly and grasped my sleeve, halting my progress effectually. “What the hell, man, seriously, we need to get out of here.” “No, we need to stay, we need you, and we’ll have you”. I was terrified, and I felt betrayed. Jim was responsible for all of this; he must be if he was helping them. I was also amazed at his acting skills, to have tricked us with his vaudeville fear. Bill stood off to the side, gaping in astonishment. I shouted, “Help me you fucking idiot, we need out of here”. After a few seconds of incomprehension, Bill stepped forward, seemingly out of the daze that had gripped him. He walked toward where I was. When he reached my position he stood stock still and then was gripped by tension. His tendons and veins stood out in relief to the plane of his skin.  After he had gathered all of his strength, for I was sure that was what he was doing, he then pistoned his arm outward sharply. I ducked as far as Jim’s grip would allow. Above my head, though only just, Jim was caught under the jaw. He started to fall away from me, his hands loosened, Bill’s blow felling him like an axe to a tree. Stepping away from the man at my feet, I turned around, surveying the room, searching for any other avenues of escape. I was terrified of following Joe, even though he had presumably escaped. I exclaimed, “Shit, man, I am surprised. Come on, I’m sick of saying this but we really need to get out of here”. Bill didn’t reply. I then noticed the man behind him, gripping a stiletto that protruded from Bills neck. Blood spurted from the wound, splashing me like a water fountain. Men shouted all around with excitement, baying like wolves at the moon.  My shirt was drenched in the warm, sticky substance. Sweat sprang all over my forehead, slick and oily.  I felt the gorge rising in my throat, and knowing I couldn’t waste any time, I managed to stop myself from vomiting. Still dizzy, I sprinted away, weaving slightly like a man intoxicated, not caring if I died, yet creating a paradox through my sense of self preservation. Even through my semi nihilistic attitude, fear still sprang like water from a depthless well. Behind me, men were starting to follow, trying to intercept me in every direction.  I felt fear like I would vertigo. Panic constricted my chest, black dots sprung into my field of vision. I closed my eyes, reckless in the extreme yet necessary. A scream started to rise in my throat but wouldn’t escape.  Gradually my composure returned. All through this I kept running straight forward, as I could not afford to stop. As I opened my eyes I barged into one of the guards by the back exit, slipping away somehow when he tried to stop me. Men roared as though in pain, angered at my continual flight. Changing direction, I ran back towards the bank of windows, cursing the fact that I had to jump through them. A mass of men protected the bay of windows, effectually stopping me at first glance. Looking again, I saw that a gap existed that was wide enough to run through without brushing any of them. I put on an extra burst of speed, already feeling the weight of exhaustion enclose me like a snake constricting my chest. I willed myself on, hoping to last long enough to escape. I squeezed through the gap, men leaping beside me, trying to grasp at my shirt and pants. Behind me, Jim shouted something that I couldn’t hear over the din of the players. I wondered how he had regained consciousness so quickly after Bill’s knockout blow. I turned toward a table close to me, noticing an Uzi leaning against the table leg closest to me. One of the men must have rested it there due to its weight. After the initial shock, hope hit me, although I knew I shouldn’t get excited so quickly. One of the guards of the table reached forward, having reached me ahead of the rest. I pivoted to face him, the ball of my foot rolling like a spinning top. We faced each other for a second. A look of manic intensity glittered in his eyes. I knew he would eat me alive as soon as look at me. I gathered all my strength and kicked in the direction of his crotch as hard as I could. He crumpled forward, a look of agony etched on his face as through graven in stone. He was so stunned that all he could do was wheeze and flop around on the floor like a fish out of water. I stopped for a second to catch my breath, for I felt a constriction in my chest that made it hard to breathe.  I then turned back in the direction I had faced before, still wheezing like a chew toy, noticing in my peripheral vision the silhouettes of two men to my right. I stooped when I had stopped pivoting. Feeling the gun in my hand was like feeling death in solid form. The gun felt greasy and cold as a socket wrench in my clenched hand. Before this I had never held an automatic weapon. I had only had two weapons in my life, my rifle and my handgun. I had had some practice in deer shooting with my rifle, as me and the boys had gone on an annual hunting trip every year in fall, and I owned the handgun for home protection. Worrying that I would miss the targets, I span like a centrifuge on the heel of my shoe, now facing the horde of crazed men. My mind was a blank; it felt as though the events and I were separated by a wall of mist, muffling the effect. Sounds also reached me with a disconnected feeling that disoriented me and made everyone sound as though they were drowning at sea. Pausing for a moment to correct my stance and to steady my hand, I stared them down with a queasy feeling spreading through my torso. I opened fire. Bullet casings ricocheted over the floor, like ballerinas colliding. Rounds punched into the wall. I corrected my aim, hard to do with the pull of the muzzle. Bullets finally reached the men and threw them backwards into each other and the wall. Turning to my right, I took out my two assailants on that side. There came a harsh click, like a metallic cicada. Then the gun was empty. I tossed the weapon aside, hearing it clunk on the floor a fair ways to my left.  About five of the men still stood, some with Injuries to their arms and legs. Towards the back Jim cried out again, trying to distract me. I still couldn’t believe he had betrayed us. A part of me argued that he hadn’t, this was a nightmare, and soon I would wake up. It felt like it, to be sure. I had just killed a dozen or more men in cold blood. It had been self-defence, sure, but it still managed to amaze me that I was capable of murder. I shouted manically then, finally feeling real again. Still worriedly trying to figure out this perplexing quandary that Jim posed, I started to run, hoping to loop back and possibly gain some space. Feinting to the right, I double stepped back to the left when I thought they were completely- or at least partly- fooled. I felt horrified as I turned my sight upon this motley band of blackguards. One of the men especially stood out, as his face was a mass of contorted scars that revolved like a whirlpool around the socket of his missing left eye. When he saw me staring at his wound, he turned a twisted grin upon his face. His teeth stood out like pickets on a disused fence. The lines of his face stood out like deep gorges. His scars twisted even more, forming a galaxy of shiny red tissue. I saw all this in a second and yet it seems hours when I dream of him late in the dark, cold nights.to my surprise he spoke in a rich baritone not at all fitting to his appearance. “Hello, young man, look at me all you want, but heed this, when we are through with you you shall look way worse, I would say, in fact your friend over there”. He gestured to the sprawled corpse of Bill. I turned where he pointed, disgusted at the sight of poor, stupid Bill dead before his time, although not by much. “Yes, him, he looks far worse than I do, for at least I still breathe while he festers on the ground”. Jim stood to the man’s left, nodding slowly, and then he also grinned, his grin charming. His smile was perfect, yet his eyes gleamed like cats eyes, cold and desolate, reminding me of the buttes and mesas of the Mojave Desert which I had seen as a boy. It was then I released that he must have been a sociopath all along. We had always known he was abnormal, but had chosen to ignore this in favour of his more admirable qualities, of which there were admittedly few. He had never been a warm person, he had always been self-contained and somewhat a loner. Most often at O’ Flanagan’s he would sit in the corner and just watch us like a scientist would an amoeba. Behind me I saw the table Joe had used was knocked over. I then sprinted away, feeling a stitch in my side burning with the ferocity of a breath of fire. Behind me, the goons started to run. The closest was twenty feet away.  Jim started to pull ahead of the others, at one point within five feet of me. I heard the rich voice of the scarred old man behind me, but tried to put it out of my mind, lest he distract me from my course. He said mockingly.” You flee before us as though we were a storm that would destroy you as winter destroys crops, yet we have not made a single move against you, not a shot we have fired”. He seemed to forget that I had been shot at, or decided it tactful and more effective to omit the fact. “Surrender to us, sympathy shall meet you, Whitney will call this off, you can be one of us, part of our order, please, consider what I have said”. An earnest tone had pervaded his speech, and I nearly believed what he said, although I truly knew it to be false. “Save yourself, you need not fear, and lay down your arms, for else your life shall be blown away as though in a hurricane”. This man really likes his analogies I thought with a touch of sardonic humour. I replied that I would never surrender, for I would surely die if I did. This brief dialogue had occurred while we were both running, him markedly slower than I. I pulled ahead as I felt adrenaline wash over my aches as would cool ointment. I then found a door that was unguarded. Jumping forward, I clasped the knob and pulled. I was locked, and required a key. My foot slid beneath me. On the ground, beside the cooling corpse of one of the guards, lay a key that I hoped was for this door. Crouching fast, like a leap in reverse, I snagged the key between my forefingers. I revolved upward then, like a spiral staircase in motion. I jammed the key at the hole in the door. It rebounded of the side, bouncing back and nearly twisting out of my hand. My hand was jumpy, the last of the adrenaline ebbing and forcing movement at once. Jim was ten feet away, nine, eight, and seven. I tried the key again, knowing this was my last chance. I knew I would never reach the windows again now. This was important; I must reach the keyhole, for else I would surely die. The key slipped in. He was behind me: Four, three, and two. The key turned, and then the door sprang open with a groan. I let out a chortle of victory, though i was not home free yet. I slipped through the gap just as Jim reached my position. His hand glided over my shirttail, not managing to catch hold. I was outside. Behind me, Jim roared, his wrath molten. The others joined in chorus, like singers deranged by lust for destruction. Before me lay a cracked and weed ridden parking lot deserted save for a few anonymous vehicles shrouded in deep gloom. Above me the moon showed in a crescent, like a clipped nail. Clouds embarked on quests across the sky, battering themselves against darkness like battleships in a foaming ocean. I started away, running heedless of direction, just wanting to get out of there. I bumped into a truck along my way. Stopping, I checked to see if it was locked. It was, so I kept on. Eventually I found the road, and flagged down a driver. Since I lived close and he was going out my way, I had him drop me off. I stumbled inside, shock rubbing my nerves raw. My brain felt fuzzed over, as though with lint or static, and my throat felt sticky and parched. I called out to my wife, not caring if I woke my children. She came into the kitchen soon after, rubbing her eyes and yawn deeply. The kids followed behind her, barely conscious to the world. She stepped forward with a look of concern, and then hugged me tight to her chest, realising something was not right. I pushed her away, craving her embrace and at the same time disgusted at her touch. She cried and so did the kids, surprised at my outburst. To be frank, so was I. I then pushed through the three of them with urgency, wanting to get to the phone. I then reached the telephone, disgusted with myself for going so slowly. Every second counted, and I counted every second. I called the police and told them of my scrape. I tried to convey a sense of urgency, but I think they didn’t even believe me in the first place. I told them the address of the warehouse. They said they would check it out. Later on I was told they had found not a trace of the game. No poker tables, not a thing. There was nothing at all in the warehouse.  Nothing. Not even the hooks I had seen dangling from the ceiling. From that time onwards, nothing has seemed real to me. Everything has been hallucinogenic. I am not even sure if this happened. I never saw Joe again. When I called him the number had been disconnected. I then went to his house. There was nothing. Shortly after my experience I left my wife. I packed up my things and left. Nothing could be the same. I had started to hit her, and I drank every night. I never saw my kids. I was too hung over in the mornings and too drunk in the evenings. For the past fifty years I have lived in a commune, isolated from a world I don’t even believe in anymore. Nothing can be the same as it was. I know no one that I used to know. My wife and children I have never seen again. I never will. You are the first person I have written or spoken to in over forty five years. Answer this for yourself. How can I trust a world that seems to me a dream? I can’t, so I’ve withdrawn from civilisation. I think I must stop now, remembering hurts my soul. That is all for now. Perhaps someday I will tell you of when I might have been a boy. The adventures I can remember but cannot say for sure are real. I don’t think I will though. Solitude had wrapped me like a rug, cooling me instead of providing warmth. Life for me ended when Bill died. Goodbyes now, remember all I have said, and hope you will never experience a thing like it. I wish I hadn’t.


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