Two days after, John Joe woke up from a basic nightmare. He stared at the window, looked at the moving shadows of the old trees. Rain poured down, at least since yesterday. He tried to hear Dunwic, but couldn’t. The man was silent as a church mouse. And rich like a rich man.
John Joe went to the kitchen to make some coffee. While the machine blubbered and steamed the room, he went to the bathroom, put his head in cold water, brushed his teeth, stared in the mirror, as if something was wrong there. But it wasn’t. It was his usual face on a usual morning, just a few thousand dollars richer. He smiled.
Something clicked. He looked down. A tiny white thing slipped down the sink, got stuck in the drain filter. He pulled it out.
It was a tooth. A basic white normal tooth. A small tooth.
Panic struck. White fire licked on his neck. Ice burned his blood. John Joe checked his mouth, first with his tongue, then with his eyes in the mirror. Was there something missing, was there a hole? No. Nothing. Only a tiny white tooth, which looked like an anterior tooth. Whose tooth was it?
He looked around, everything seemed normal. Way too normal, probably. Maybe he had imagined it. But he could still feel and see the tooth, its white glimmer.
Shaking badly, he went to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. The coffee tasted good, like coffee and mint. He remembered the first time, he had a coffee, it had been here, in that kitchen, only 35 years ago or so. His grandmother hadn’t seen him, because she was at the scoop, feeding the chickens. He had poured himself a tiny, the tiniest cup of coffee ever, made from plastic and had tasted it. The tasted bad. It was bitter and hot and felt just wrong.
He had spit it out in the sink, had washed the cup and was already gone, when his grandmother had come back.
She had known, that he had tasted the coffee, but she hadn’t said anything. The coffeepot was not in the machine anymore. But she probably had only smiled, as usual, as always.
But even that coffee could not disconnect him from the knowledge, that a small tooth … the tiniest tooth ever, was in his sink.
He had lost teeth, of course, he was old and his first teeth had left him years ago, but he wasn’t sure, that all of them had been gone. Damn, hadn’t he or his grandparents thrown them away, he could have made a ton of money from the tooth fairy. But now … well, at least his guest had paid.
Still, he had to find out what to do with the money. A few thoughts he had spent on wasting it for booze and stuff. But mostly, he started to calculate, how many months longer he could keep the house.
John Joe turned around, surprised by the voice. It was neither the voice of Mr. Dunwic, nor any other voice, he had ever heard. The voice was soft, almost humble. And it was a womans voice.
He stared in the darkness of the floor, where slowly a silhouette appeared, followed by colors and a person.
It was a woman or a girl, John Joe was not sure, how old she was. She looked odd, slightly out of place. Her hairstyle was out of time, the hairstyle, flappers had worn, before war and crime had created other hairstyles.
„Mr Dunwic sent me. He asks for your help. If you have the time?“
„Sure. And you are?“
„I am his daughter. I am so sorry, that I come here un-invited, but my father said, that it was necessary.”
John Joe felt a little weird by the usage of “un-invited”. It felt forced and wrong.
“Yes, and your name?”
“I am Marion Dunwic.”
He could see her blush and feared, that he had crossed an invisible barrier.
But only moments later, she smiled and her high cheek bones carved a symbol of lightheartedness in the room.
“Where is your father?”
“He is in the 2nd floor, he told me, he has to move the large table.”
“Oh boy, thats work for several men. And women. Or so.”
Marion smiled, turned around and left the kitchen.
“Oh boy”, he repeated several times half an hour later, when he and Mr. Dunwic tried to lift the giant table for more than an inch, probably less. It was important for John Joes renter, that scratching the floor would be incredibly bad and not worth another dollar.
John Joe didn’t ask. He needed the money. And so, after that time, they had moved the table towards the large window on the east side of the house, where no trees existed, where the whole morning light could possible burn the whole area in its beautiful and hopeful light.
When John Joe, out of breath, turned around, Mr Dunwic sat on the couch. He was smoking, something old. The weird smell reminded John Joe of his grandfather, who never smoked in his later years, but in John Joes memories, there was this taste, this smell, part of something forgotten.
“Why in trinities name was it important to move the table without scratching the surface of the floor?”
“Wait a few moments. Sit down, have a smoke with me.”
“I don’t smoke.”
“I don’t smoke either”, the man smiled. “I just wait.”
Another half of an hour later, Marion Dunwic appeared with a tablet and three cups of coffee.
“Thank you, my dear”, Dunwic said.
“Strange brew”, said John Joe. “Not bad, but unexpected.”
“Its from some place in Tibet.”
“Tibet? But there is only snow and yaks and maybe tea.”
“And yet, there are sunny places for coffee. Holy places.”
“Must be expensive.”
“Off course, it is.”
“Don’t you dare quoting Blade Runner”, John Joe grinned.
“I have never seen that movie. I am traveling from place to place.”
“So when was the last time, you visited my grandparents?”
“Late 70s? Early 80s? I know you, you were young and playful and scared of everything. You hid in the bushes and on the attic. You told us about weird dreams and demons. You were impressive.”
“Maybe you still are. Look at the floor and tell me, what you see?”
There was nothing, only the dark wooden floor. And then there was something, maybe, as if it hid in plain sight.
“Silver? Lines made of silver?”
“Yes. Old silver, the oldest available here. The pure silver from the old mines in Greece.”
John Joe stared at those lines, hypnotizes by their shimmer.
“And”, he asked, “why are these here?”
“Because your grandparents put them there. Or maybe their grandparents. This house is old, very old. I suppose, maybe its older than this country.”
“I mean, who would lay those lines of silver here?”
“This is the 100.000 Dollar question. I had seen them when I visited your folk, but wasnt sure about them. They have meanings, but I don’t know them.”
“So who knows? Your daughter?”
Dunwic shook his head. “No, she knows many things, maybe more than me, but her knowledge is limited. You, my friend, you are the person, who knows it?”
John Joe scratched his face. It felt puffy and weird, more like rubber than skin. “I don’t.”
“You know, but you forgot.”
John Joe laughed and emptied his cup. “No. I am not into this stuff. I don’t believe in it.”
“You do and you were forced to know it. To remember it. A seal was set in your mind, an unbroken seal of light.”
John Joe heard those words as if they had been behind a cloud of cotton, a shower of hail, a chant in the woods – because he heard and felt them. The trees outside the house shook their leaves.
And then there was silence, only broken by his heartbeat. One beat. Another one. Nothing else.
When he tried to lift his head, she saw the cups of his guests, still full. He tried to scream, but he had forgotten, how.