Icarus Transfigured by m. l. teague (page 46)

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Spyglass Darkly House

       Chapter Eighteen, Section Three

The diminution of light meant the whole day was spent unproductively reducing the property to shambles, yet Aloysius could neither undo his mess nor think about anything else. Defeated, he plopped down on his living room sofa and scrutinized one of Jacques’ cassettes on the coffee table, as if it contained a devious plot already finished but for the punchline. It occurred to him, with rough clarity that, if he was being interfered with, then perhaps the tables could be turned. Instead of cowering and waiting for the next blow—instead of following the script of the clueless victim—, he would initiate a confrontation on his terms. Inspired (or merely desperate), he dashed up the stairs with the videocassette and a plan.

The camcorder was pulled from the closet and set up by the bed, and the tape slapped into its compartment. It was already as good as night, and without a working alarm clock, it would be difficult to carve out a nap in darkness better suited for proper sleep. One plan required another.

Aloysius returned downstairs to grab a wider candle from the box by the kitchen door and placed it on a ceramic plate. Both items were taken upstairs and set on the nightstand. A spare blade for his utility knife was wedged into wax about an eighth of an inch from the top of the candle; a glass marble was balanced on the flat, protruding end of the blade. The painter was a light sleeper, and his thinking was that when the candle melted down to loosen the blade, it and the marble would clap loudly on the plate. He switched on the camcorder before lighting the wick, and proceeded to the bathroom.

Using an emery board, a small portion of a sleeping pill was filed off. It was not clear what Aloysius hoped to accomplish by recording over the mysterious video, or whether he would take enough of the pill to matter.

No sooner had he filled his water glass than the bedside telephone rang. He picked up the receiver guardedly. “Hello?”

“Aloysius, Itís Amber.”

She sounded close. “Are you in town?” he asked.

“I’m at the Peek-a-boo Motel. My client cancelled. I saw where you called my machine without leaving a message. I didn’t call you back because I knew I would be driving down.”

Aloysius blew out the candle. “I was hoping to talk to you.”

“Do you want to meet here at the motel? I already have the room.”

He waffled, yet could not say, even with his suspicions, if Amber was part of the conspiracy. Her admission about where she was at least convinced him she was not calling from inside the house.

“It’s just to talk, of course,” she added as an inducement.

Scene: Aloysius prepared to leave the house, yet did not escape without incidence. Stepping into the hallway, its light failed. He checked both switches, but the bulb was blown. Though unlit stairs were manageable in daylight, they would be perilous after dark. The tenant troubled over disturbing the grieving caretaker in this matter. He opted to leave a note taped to his front door, as this was judged less intrusive than a doorbell summons.

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