True Slayers: A Boy’s Tale, Part 9

I got to see Crystal a few times over the next couple of days but only to speak or wave as I was still swamped with visiting friends and their families. The Jenkins family had decided to go ahead and clear out their dad’s apartment so my brother’s and I were enlisted to help move things. Evidently, they’d already pretty well decided who was getting what because the squabbling was minimal by their normal standards and most of those who’d flown in were already prepared to rent vans to drive back. Saturday was a blur of packing and moving.

Then there was the long process of sending everyone off Sunday. Most left that morning before church, excepting Mary and John and their families. My family hasn’t missed a day of church without someone being in the hospital since Poppa was saved when I was 8. Today would be no exception so we all stopped long enough to dress and go to church. Mary came with us but John decided to go to their usual church.

After church Momma fixed enough food for a slightly smaller army than she’d been cooking for the past couple days. I helped Mary’s husband Frank with rearranging the way the car was packed. Mary had ended up taking more things than they originally planned, Frank informed me. They left around three that afternoon. John and his family left last on Sunday evening.

It was then that it hit me that that was probably the last time I’d ever see the Jenkins kids again and surely the last time I’d see any of them together. I felt a pang of regret as I closed the house door and went into my parent’s apartment.

I helped with the clean up and tormented my sister Tina just to stay in practice. She played her role as baby sister by complaining to Momma. Tim invited me to come to his room to escape Momma’s good-natured wrath but I declined. My boss, Mr Salvador, was a nice guy but he did expect me back tomorrow and it was only fair that I be conscious for it. I kissed Momma and Tina, dodged the sofa pillow Tina tossed at me and left for my own apartment. I’m pretty sure I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

I’m not a light sleeper. Momma tells me she’s caught me sleep walking a few times when I was little but usually, once I’m in bed I’m out for the count. Around one, according to the digital clock on my wall, I sat bolt upright in bed. I went from sound asleep to fully awake instantly. I noticed the clock, the light from under the bathroom door and the hum of the traffic outside. But none of that concerned me – it was that feeling. It was back with a vengeance.

Instantly, I was on my feet, snatching up a ball bat from the rack above my dresser and heading for the fire escape. My apartment is on the opposite side from my parents so my fire escape leads to a completely different set of apartments. I threw open the window and looked up. Nothing was there. But the feeling wasn’t gone. I climbed out and started up as fast as I could. I passed the Salzman’s apartment, nothing. Reached the Kennedy’s – nothing. Got to the Henderson’s – nothing. I hit the fourth story, the Myers apartment and there the feeling ended. It had been here and was gone.

I touched the window sill to the Myers apartment. Now, it sounds crazy, I know, but instantly I knew it had not gone in. The window hadn’t been opened and I knew instinctively that all three Myers were safe in their beds.

I looked to the south. The brownstone to the south of us is a little shorter than the one on the north and I could see the roof. It had gone that way. I just knew it had. Once again I had to convince myself not to leap from a four story building to chase after it. The alley between the two buildings wasn’t that narrow. Nothing human could leap like that. I stood and stared for the longest time before finally going back to my own apartment.

I don’t drink, mostly because I don’t want my kid brothers and sisters to pick up yet another bad habit from me. But I seriously considered going out for a six pack just to make my nerves stop standing on end they way they seemed to be. I finally settled them with a glass of warm milk and went back to bed. I glanced out the window and noticed a light on in Crystal’s house. Second story, could be her room – but I wasn’t about to call at this time of night. I really wanted to but common sense won out. I finished my milk and went back to sleep.