Someone knocked at the door. John Joe must had been dozing, because he thought, it was thunder in the sky, but in the end, the long shadow of Mr. Dunwic stood in the door frame. His extremities looked weird, but the marvelous glass work which was set in the main door created that impression.
„Mr Dunwic. Come in.“
Dunwic lowered his hat – he wore a hat! -, bowed slightly and smiled pleasantly. „I hope, I don’t disturb your peace.“
John Joe smiled. „Nah, come in. Sadly“, he said, after he had closed the door, „the quality of the house does not represent my own mind. Its just a large house with a shit ton of work to do and I am mostly out of town.“
„Of course“, answered Dunwic. „I have to admit, that I prefer the world in his more chaotic reality than struggling against walls of dust and forgotten memories. I always believe, that in the entropy lies the future – and who are we to fight the future?“
„Of course. Come in the kitchen. Want a coffee?“
„That would be nice. And if you have, may I have something stronger?“
„As you wish, as my guest. Or my … renter.“
After a few sips of stiff coffee, Dunwic put the money on the table.
John Joe could not stop his smile while touching the money. „Its a lot of money just to have a vacation here.“
„I am not on my holidays. I look for interesting stuff. Your book and the knowledge, that the family of your late grandparents is still there, it all makes my visit worthwhile – for you and for me. But … don’t ask my questions about my profession. You may see me as scholar or as preacher or a scientist and every one of that is right and wrong. So, in the end, only reality is important.“
So John Joe didn’t ask and Dunwic didn’t tell. John Joe showed him the rooms in the 2nd level. Dunwic smiled, as if he remembered something, but again, he was not asked.
The 2nd level consisted of 5 or 6 larger and a few tiny windowless rooms. The smell in those small rooms was that of old medicine and older inhabitants. John Joe tried to remember, who had lived there, but it was too long ago and he didn’t care. His hands fondled the money, he had received, with utmost care, almost love.
The larger rooms were almost empty, a few shelves stood on the walls. Most of the books, John Joe had sold, had been from those shelves, they had made him some money, but the good stuff was still in his own library, down there. A large table stood in the middle of the 2nd room they went to. The table was round, covered with an ugly sheet.
„May I?“, asked Dunwic.
„Sure. Its part of our rental.“
Dunwic smiled. Beneath the cover the old table appeared. The wood seemed to be older than time itself, but it was clear, that it had been used. Several cryptic signs became visible. They almost glowed golden in the weak light of the leaving day.
„I remember these symbols“, Dunwic said. „Your grandparents told you something about it?“
John Joe shrugged. „I may remember, but its long gone. I only lived here for a few months every year – before I moved in. And a child does not remember much.“
„Its a tremendous table. I wish I could buy it, but I suppose, its position is fixed, truly fixed.“
John Joe, who had though about throwing the table away, just a few weeks back, sighed. „What do you mean?“
„I mean, that the position of the table is fixed in this room, in this house. If you move it, it does not work anymore.“
„Work“, mumbled John Joe. „You could still put a table and cup on it and eat from it.“
„That would be a waste of everything, I am working on. Its a beautiful table.” Dunwic smiled, his fingers touched the surface of the table with a delicacy, John Joe would have never expected.
The other rooms consisted of a bed, a forgotten kitchen, bathroom. John Joe tried to remember, if his grandparents ever had guests who lived there. But like the other times in the past, he didn’t care. He liked money and Dunwic had money.
„This is nice. Like a forgotten memory“, said Dunwic, when he opened the door to the balcony. Some wind appeared, throwing dust and rotten leaves through the air, the trees moved, shaked, danced, as if they had expected a visitor.
„Once I sat here, drinking and dreaming“, said Dunwic.
„Oh, just a poem, an old one. Its great here. I may need access to the cellar.“
The cellar was old and rotten and the only reason, John Joe was entering that cave-like and almost lightless void beneath the house was the central heating system, which he activated in late November to early march. And in these times, the nightmares visited him. Since he had been a child, the underbelly of the house was filled with shadows, laughter, rotten teeth, monsters made from maggots and even now, not alone, he shuddered, when he smelled the old air and felt the shadows moving.
„That’s perfect“, said Dunwic, while his fingers tasted the mold on the while walls, the dust on the only lamp, which illuminated only a small circular space, while the shadows of the old shelves danced. „That room, here, I mean, do you have the keys?“
John Joe nodded. He fumbled the keys with his clammy fingers, his bones felt looser every moment, he spent here. He had never opened that door to the room, Dunwic pointed his fingers to. It was an old door, half rotten, half indestructible. He couldn’t remember, why he was so scared. He just was.
Dunwic took the key from John Joes palm and went to the dark corner, which held the door, looked at the key, as if it were a piece of gold and then put the key in the lock. It felt like the house was trembling, but it wasn’t. Not one single speck of old dust moved, but something did.
„Good“, said Dunwic and smiled. „It opens. Well. Lets go to my rooms and I give you the money.“