Do Not Go Gentle

Boots’s Pick
Richard Wolkomir


(1)

“What’d your cat say?” Elroy asked.

No response.

They stood down there on the dock—the man, dog, and cat—staring up at his house, their skiff bobbing beside the dock where the lanky man just tied it. Elroy figured he must be a crabber from across the river in Old Cootchicalla. He had that sun-bleached look—unkempt yellow hair and mustache, both faded to straw.

Now the short-legged dog plopped down onto the dock, yawning in the Florida sunshine. Probably a Welsh corgi, Elroy thought, except its eyes seemed preternaturally bright. It gazed genially at Elroy. But the black cat and the crabber exchanged another long stare.

Elroy knew a conference when he saw one.

“She got anything interesting to say?” Elroy asked.

For the first time, the crabber looked directly at him. He had eyes like smoke. “We seek the corridor,” he said.

And Elroy thought, with sudden glee: “No martini and Turner Classic Movies tonight.”

He’d been raking palm fronds off the patio, but he guessed the rake he held wouldn’t do much against this younger man. He remembered his bedside nightstand, where he kept a pistol.

Abruptly, as if something was decided, the cat padded up the stairs and across the patio, cucumber cool, tail up, and disappeared into the house through the French door he’d left ajar.

Elroy thought: “Yes, a lively evening shaping up.”

He smiled a little, his tiny white mustache stretching out. He stood mulling the situation, a small, delicate old man, white hair moving in the hot breeze off the Gulf of Mexico.

“I get out of Connecticut every winter and I come on down here alone, now Evelyn’s gone,” Elroy told the crabber. “I garden, and pester Junior with know-it-all phone calls about the business, and he patronizes me, and I watch dolphins swim in from the Gulf.”

He hoped to smoke the guy out, see what he had in mind, because this sprawling house made of glass cubes must look enticing to a Florida Cracker from across the river, making nickels a day. But the crabber stared at the door where the cat disappeared.

“Where’re you from?” Elroy asked.

Now the crabber turned those almost-white eyes on him. He felt himself not so much looked at as looked into, an odd sensation, since who noticed old men? Then the crabber looked away, toward the glass door, watching for the cat.

“I come from far,” he said.

She reappeared on the patio, staring at the crabber. He nodded. He trotted up the steps and walked past Elroy. Then he stopped and looked back. “I am rude,” he said. “It is because of our concern—I beg leave to enter your home.”

Elroy looked at him wondering, how do you handle this?

“We shall harm nothing, take nothing, we mean only to seal the corridor’s doorway,” the crabber said.

“All well and good,” Elroy said, thinking of the corridor where Evelyn hung the artworks she’d collected in Europe. “But I like looking at those paintings now and then.”

“It is not a corridor of which you can possibly be aware,” the crabber said. “You will never notice the sealing.”

Elroy thought again of the pistol in his bedroom nightstand, which would certainly help equalize things. It was a question of how to maneuver himself to where he could get it.

“I’m Elroy Whitt,” he said. “Who’re you?”

Solemnly, the crabber looked at him. And, again, into him. “Wil Deft,” he said. “We are not to be feared, these animals and I—others might come, and they must be feared, although it may not seem so.”

“William?” Elroy said, stalling to gain figuring time. “William Deft, is it?”

For a moment, the crabber seemed preoccupied, like a man in a library, researching. Then he returned from wherever he had gone. “Wil,” he said. “Only one letter ‘l’, for so, in my own realm, is that name written.”

Ever wilder, Elroy thought, which pleased him. But he wanted his pistol.

Ahead of him, Wil Deft started across the patio toward the French doors.

“So these other folks who might come, they’re bad guys?” Elroy asked, to slow things down. “You’re the good guy?”

Wil Deft stopped, turned, his expression strange. His left hand, of its own volition, seemingly, rose to touch a blue scar running down the side of his face. But then he shrugged and walked across the patio, through the French doors.

Elroy smiled faintly, stretching out his tiny white mustache, thinking this was the most fun he’d had since seven years ago, when Evelyn volunteered at the animal shelter—he’d snuck off and bungee jumped.

He followed his visitor into his house. Inanely, he hoped Wil Deft would appreciate the Italian marble tabletops and the fancy leather furniture and Persian carpets, and the artworks. Such things were all that remained of his life with Evelyn, back when he still mattered. He wanted even burglars and robbers and homicidal maniacs to admire them, although he did not believe he dealt with anything so mundane. He felt strangeness had come into his life this evening, and it pleased him.

“Even if I get dead and dismembered,” he thought.

Walking behind Wil Deft, he slipped into his bedroom. He took his pistol from the nightstand drawer and slid it into his khaki trousers’ pocket. It felt heavy. His eyes fixed on the nightstand telephone. He imagined dialing 911, the approaching siren wail. Probably this man would turn out to be just a crabber from Old Cootchicalla, hoping to steal a few things. Elroy found it depressing, that the crabber might be just a crabber. He stared a while at the telephone. Then he walked out of the bedroom without calling 911, thinking, “Now I’ve done it.”

He found Wil Deft in the kitchen pantry with the cat, who sat staring at the back wall, just blank wallboard against which brooms and dustpans and mops leaned. Not the house’s most interesting feature.

“Yes,” Deft said. “It begins here.”

“Just mops and brooms,” Elroy said.

Wil Deft ignored him. He studied the wall. Elroy kept his hand in his pocket, clenching the pistol. He thought he saw Wil Deft’s lips move a little, as if he mumbled something to himself, maybe a poem. And then Deft held up his hands, palms down, fingers clenched, except that each ring finger extended outward, pointing at the wall.

Elroy felt disappointed.

So it’s just some weird cult ritual, he told himself. These loony sects worshipped imaginary extraterrestrials or fairies in rose bushes, or they’d give a wacky spin to some obscure Old-Testament verse, or whatever. It depressed him, that his visitor might be just a whacko. Also, his left leg hurt from standing too long. He slid his hand back into his pocket and clenched the pistol, remembering Charles Manson.

A circular patch of wallboard shimmered.

Elroy thought: “Eye trick.”

But nothing else in the pantry changed, just that round patch of wallboard, big enough to walk through. It looked silvery, touched with gold. It looked like the sunlit river, rippled by a Gulf breeze. But now the glimmer faded. Elroy saw just wallboard again. He doubted he ever saw the glimmer at all.

“It is finished,” Wil Deft said, turning to him. “That weapon in your pocket is unnecessary, and useless—even this desiccated realm retains trickles of flow, for calling upon.”

“I’m a scientist,” Elroy muttered. Maybe he had an eye disease. That would explain the glimmer. He kept his hand on his pistol. “So you’ve sealed out the bad guys?” he asked.

A shrug from the crabber. “This sealing merely veils, against seeing eyes, and our hope is it remains unfound,” he said.

“So now it’s covered in fairy dust?” Elroy asked.

Wil Deft regarded him. “It is dire,” he finally said. “You do not understand.”

Again that piercing stare.

“Will you accompany me to your dock, Elroy Whitt, scientist?” Deft said. “Would you try an experiment?”

Elroy thought: “Let’s keep the fun going.” So he followed Deft and the cat out onto the patio and down the steps to the dock. Now the dog lay in the skiff, sleeping.

“Tobi,” Deft called.

Grudgingly, the dog lifted his head. Deft looked closely at Elroy.

“Yes, I am right,” he finally said. “Allow me to do this, Elroy Whitt.”

He placed his two forefingers gently upon Elroy’s forehead.

“Ever weirder,” Elroy thought.

And then he heard a voice, a new voice that seemingly spoke within his head, with perfect clarity. “Elroy, I like you, and I want us all to be friends, even though Wil says we have to go away, and do you like lying in the sun and getting sleepy?”

Elroy started, hearing that voice in his head, because he knew whose voice it must be, and he guessed he must be going nuts.

Wil Deft spoke aloud: “Tobi judges people well.”

“Dogs don’t talk,” Elroy said, sounding to himself like an idiot.

Now another voice spoke in his head, a high, thin, dry voice: “You cannot smell, and so you fear what you should not, but not what you should.”

“That is Lal,” Wil Deft said, nodding toward the black cat sitting at his feet, staring at Elroy with eyes the azure of an iceberg.

He removed his fingers from Elroy’s temples. No more voices. Elroy felt this return to normalcy as a nearly imperceptible dimming.

“Now I wish you to remove the weapon you hid in your pocket, and shoot me,” Wil Deft said.

“That’s insane,” Elroy said, pulling the pistol from his pocket and staring at it.

“It is necessary,” Wil Deft said.

“I won’t shoot a man,” Elroy said, although he once did shoot a man.

“Then I will shoot myself,” Wil Deft said, and abruptly the pistol was in his own hand, although Elroy had not felt it grabbed away.

Staring at Elroy with those eyes faded almost to white, faintly smiling, Wil Deft held the gun at arm’s length, aimed at his own left ear, his fingers clenching the hilt and his thumb touching the trigger.

“You pull this lever?” he asked.

“For Pete’s sake!” Elroy said.

Wil Deft pulled the trigger.

A bang, and recoil—it threw the weapon from Deft’s inexperienced grip. Elroy watched the pistol thump onto the dock.

He looked up from the dock. Wil Deft still stood, looking calmly back at him. In the air, an inch from Deft’s left ear, the bullet levitated, immobile.

Elroy thought: “Newton…”

Invisible fingers released the bullet, and it plummeted to the dock. It bounced into the river.

Plop.

Elroy thought: some prestidigitational stunt? But it was his own pistol, which long ago killed that bandito in Uruguay. It worked just dandy. Hallucination? But the talking dog? And the high-and-mighty cat?

“If they find you, weapons will be useless,” Deft said. “Do you see that?”

Elroy felt himself moving in the direction of the ultimate bungee jump. “I’ll head back north,” he said. “I’ll leave the alarm system on, let the sheriff deal with the bad guys.”

Wil Deft shook his head. “If you go northward,” he said, “the corridor will follow—it’s you who make the corridor.”

Elroy blurted out, “I’m a geologist,” sounding to his own ears nuttier than the crabber, who merely shook his head and smiled wanly.

“If they come, do not resist them—they’ll slay you,” he said. “Take this.”

From inside his shirt he pulled a thong, suspended from his neck. A polished white pebble hung from the leather strand, engraved with what looked like an askew letter “z.” Wil Deft handed the thong to Elroy.

“Not quartz,” Elroy thought, looking at the pebble. “Not marble. Rhyolite? Pegmatite?”

“Hold this, if they pass into the corridor—think of me,” Wil Deft said.

“What happens then?” Elroy asked, still wondering what mineral he held.

“Then I’ll know,” Wil Deft said.

He climbed back into the skiff, followed by the cat. He unwound the rope from its cleat. With an oar, he shoved the skiff off. Then he dipped his oars, pulled. Elroy watched the skiff recede downstream toward the Gulf, where the setting sun turned the sky orange. It made the water seem metallic, like mercury. At the Snook Creek confluence, the river’s bend, the skiff—now a speck—disappeared.

(2)

“Strange.”

Every morning, for the next three, Elroy awoke thinking that.

While he weeded dahlias, he wrestled himself into viewing what happened scientifically—mini-stroke, trick of sun and shadow, swamp gas, whatever.

“Lame,” he thought.

On the fourth morning he got onto his Harley and drove up Manatee Marsh Road, rumbling past the Cootchicalla’s other north-bank mansions. His bike’s blat made his neighbors look up from polishing their Lexuses, and they frowned. That always tickled him. But today he had the crabber on his mind.

Abruptly, he braked.

He stood, helmeted, one foot braced on the street.

“It actually happened,” he told himself.

He knew it damned well. And thinking it out loud, he felt giddy with release.

“Besides,” he thought, “I’m just a half-baked, night-school-degree scientist anyway.”

When he got to Route 19, he pulled into the Fooducopia Supermarket’s sun-roasted parking lot. Maybe, he thought, he should tell Junior what happened. By the time he left Fooducopia with a plastic bag containing supper—Dijon mustard, a bottle of capers, a half pound of tilapia—he knew that idea was stupid.

Because Junior would figure he had brain itch. Then a platoon of nursemaids would take him prisoner. Inevitably, it would come to nursemaids anyway. Which was another reason he kept that pistol in his bedroom nightstand.

(3)

On the fifth morning after the crabber’s visit, Elroy awoke before dawn. Why he did not know. But his heart pounded. He sat up in bed. He wore Wil Deft’s leather thong slung around his neck, always did now, a talisman proving the visit. He pulled it up from under his pajamas, with its suspended mystery pebble. Sitting in his bed in the dark, heart racing, he fingered the still-unidentified bit of mineral.

A thump.

From down the hallway, toward the kitchen.

He knew, now, what woke him.

Footsteps. Slappy footsteps, coming up the corridor.

He opened his nightstand’s drawer. By feel he found his pistol, and a penlight. He aimed the light at the telephone and punched 911. “Intruder,” he whispered to the dispatcher. “I’m at 5238 Manatee Marsh Road, name’s Elroy Whitt. Better hustle.”

Then he hung up because the slappy footsteps approached his bedroom door. No time to wait for deputies.

He got out of bed, holding the pistol, suppressing a groan because lots of things hurt when he got up like this. At the bedroom’s open door he stopped, listening.

Feet slapped toward him in the dark.

He reached his hand around the doorframe and felt along the wall until he found the hallway light switch. But he didn’t flick it, unsure.

Maybe the intruder would walk past his bedroom and out.

He should have reset the alarm system. But armadillos on the patio sometimes set it off, or he might trigger it himself, shuffling half asleep in the wee hours with that golden-years need to frequently urinate.

Up the corridor, the footsteps stopped. Elroy sensed the intruder knew he stood there. Then the footsteps came on again.

Elroy held up the pistol, feeling his hand shake. But he felt angry, too.

He flipped the switch: sudden yellow light. He stepped through the doorway, aiming down the hall. Only, in the sudden light, he couldn’t see. He cursed himself for not thinking of that. He hoped the intruder couldn’t see either. If he heard the footsteps coming on, he’d shoot at the sound.

But the footsteps stopped. And he could see. And he yelled.

Frog.

Huge. Its hairless head up to Elroy’s chin. He could see wet prints of its webbed feet along the hallway back toward the kitchen.

It glared at him, green eyes lit. Not really a frog, but it looked like one. It wore a jacket and a little boy’s short pants. But that glare was knowing, malevolent.

“Get out of my house!” Elroy yelled.

It made a sound, “Gark!” Its tongue shot out, too fast to see. Elroy felt slipperiness on his hand. And the pistol left his grip. It clattered onto the floor’s tiles. Elroy thought: “Those tiles cost a bundle—hope it doesn’t break one.”

“Gark!”

It butted him. He felt its wet, hairless skin, its strength, its hate. He found himself lying on the floor, stunned, looking up at the thing.

“What an odd way to die,” he thought.

But the creature twisted around, looked behind it. It made a noise like “Bagrot!” Then it rushed down the hallway, webbed feet slapping. After a moment Elroy heard the patio door slam open.

“Good lord,” he thought, lying on his back. “What will I tell the police?”

His chest heaved. Heart attack? But after a moment the heaving stopped and he lay there.

He figured the frog, or whatever it was, had run down the ramp to the dock and jumped into the river.

Sirens would be coming.

He sat up.

Maybe he hallucinated. But wet footprints, already drying, marked the tile floor. Ignoring his aches, he limped out onto the patio, then down the ramp onto the dock.

Under a full moon, the river seemed black, touched with silver. Upstream, he saw a V in the water, and guessed the frog swam up toward the river’s head, a spring welling up from the limestone, near Route 19.

Somebody came out onto his patio. He thought it must be a sheriff’s deputy, responding to his 911 call. But then he saw it was not.

A woman stood in the moonlight. Blond hair, lank and wet. Her skin looked gray. A drowned woman, she seemed. In her left hand she carried something silver—a trident.

She walked down the dock towards him, peering left and right, as if she desperately sought a quarry. She wore a short gray tunic, dripping water. Beautiful, he thought, but so sad. Her eyes, colorless in the moonlight, glanced in every direction.

He guessed she hunted the frog.

She looked at Elroy, anguished. She said nothing, yet seemed to plead.

“Damned thing jumped in the river and swam upstream,” Elroy said, and pointed.

She looked where he pointed.

Abruptly she ran down the ramp to the dock. She dove in, making hardly a splash. After a while he saw her head surface, a long way upstream, and then she vanished again, beneath the water. He did not see her again.

Out in the driveway, a siren wailed.

Elroy sighed. He headed back toward the patio door to let them in.

It was two deputies, a gray-haired man, looking ready for retirement and fishing, and a younger fellow with a blond buzz cut and some slop around the belt line. In the younger deputy’s blue eyes he saw stupidity and excitement, and a wish to shoot someone.

“Embarrassing,” Elroy told them. “Must have been those damned armadillos.”

(4)

A week later a blue Dodge minivan pulled into Elroy’s circular driveway and parked by the front door. Elroy looked through the window—no car he knew.

He got his pistol out of its drawer, thinking, “I’ve got a constitutional right to be jumpy.” He pocketed the pistol and went to the door to see what this was all about.

“Don’t shoot a citizen,” he warned himself.

He’d had a new idea, which was schizophrenia. He thought the disorder came on only in younger people. And he still wore the stone on its thong around his neck. It seemed real. But giant bullfrogs didn’t look good. Neither did trident-toting mermaids, or chatty corgis and kitties, not to mention bullets stopped in mid-air. He meant to check out the county library branch over in Old Cootchicalla, or the internet, maybe, to see if people with Medicare cards ever started getting messages from angels up in laurel oaks, because he felt pretty freaked out.

He opened the front door, with his hand in his pocket, gripping the pistol, thinking he probably should tell someone about all this. But who? Besides, he’d always handled things his own way—flew solo, he liked to say—which caused a few personnel problems at Whitt Industries, not least with Junior. Evelyn nearly divorced him over it twice, that and other things.

When he looked out the door, he faintly smiled.

A dumpling of a fellow was getting out of the van. He looked at Elroy—weak greenish eyes—then looked away. He diffidently shuffled up to the stoop, a man even smaller than Elroy, but round instead of skinny, with a gray-shot reddish beard and no hair on top to speak of.

“Gosh, it’s hot,” said the man, producing an old-fashioned red-and-white handkerchief from his baggy jeans’ back pocket. He wiped his neck and his bald pate.

Elroy made out three others in the van, but not clearly, because of the green-tinted windows, to keep out the Florida sun. He thought maybe an old woman, sitting up in front, a young man in back, and maybe a fat kid.

“I’m Reverend George Grinn,” the man said. “From the Covenant of the Seekers? Over in Old Cootchicalla?”

Elroy thought, I don’t need religious tracts, even free ones. But he only raised his eyebrows, because saying what he thought might make this little man cry.

“Well, you wouldn’t have heard of us,” the Reverend Grinn said, apparently addressing his sneakers. “We’re new, and…” He wiped his neck with his bandana again.

Abruptly, he looked up.

“We believe messages are everywhere, like in… oh, even how a telephone works, or clouds, or… well, just anything, and you need to study things, read their messages, try anyway, and… I know I’m not being clear, but…” He looked at Elroy with pleading eyes.

“Anyway,” he said, “right now we’re studying buildings and…” He spread out his hands. “Well, your house is the only really modern one around here…”

“So what can I do for you?” Elroy asked.

Again, the little man looked at his sneakers. “Do you mind if we take a look at your house’s architecture, just a few minutes?” he said. “Of course, if it’s a bother we’ll…”

“Hey, Reverend,” Elroy said. “I’ll show you around myself.”

Because it relieved him, that his visitor came from just across the river instead of from another dimension. And because he made it a point to shake the little man’s hand, which felt dry and oddly cool. In that way he assured himself the hand did not belong to a schizophrenic hallucination. Also, what else did he have to do?

“Thank you,” the little man said. “You don’t know how much this means to us.”

He walked back to the car. He opened the door and put his head inside, to speak to the people sitting there. Out the front passenger-side door climbed a plumpish woman, no spring chicken, her hair dyed red. She gave Elroy a dithery smile.

From the back emerged a young man Elroy recognized from the Fooducopia Supermarket, out on Route 19, a bagger. He grinned, too brightly. “Hey, Boss,” he said to Elroy, and grinned even more brightly.

Not someone you’d pick for a religious fanatic, Elroy thought, looking at the wiry young man, who lacked one front tooth. More like a juvenile detention center graduate. But, these days, you never knew.

“What about the boy in the back seat?” Elroy asked, peering into the car. “He’s welcome to come, too.”

But the Reverend Grinn shut the door before Elroy could see the boy. “He’s retarded,” Grinn said, spreading his hands. “He’s better there.”

“Anyway, you can see this house is made from a girder frame, glassed in to make cubes,” Elroy said. “Come on in, so you can see how it’s all put together.”

He led them into the house, meaning to give them a look at the brackets the architect designed to attach the glass walls to the metal girders. But, once they got inside, the Reverend Grinn seemed uninterested in the construction.

He gazed into the living room. “Not there,” he muttered.

“What’s not there?” Elroy said, suddenly wary.

“This way,” Grinn said. He strode toward the kitchen.

“Hey,” Elroy said.

Now the woman followed Grinn. “Dear, dear,” she said to the young man.

“We’re cooking now!” the young man told her.

Elroy followed after them, wondering if he should get out his pistol.

Grinn passed the kitchen, then stopped at the pantry. He stood looking through the door, then turned.

He no longer seemed the diffident little man he did at first. His eyes now flashed. They seemed emerald now, and as if lit from within. His expression seemed oddly mixed, triumph and wrath.

“It’s sealed!” he told Elroy. “So you’re in with them? You thought this would stop us?”

“Get out,” Elroy said. “Out of my house.”

“Hey, Boss,” the young man told Elroy. “Let’s keep it polite, huh?” He gave Elroy another of his smiles, manipulative and menacing.

Elroy pulled his pistol from his pocket. He aimed at Grinn’s head. “Leave,” he said. “Now.”

Grinn looked at the gun. He continued looking at it, his gaze intensifying. Elroy felt a tingling in his hand.

The pistol fell apart.

Pieces of it—screws, the barrel, cartridges, the walnut hilt—fell from Elroy’s hand, clattered onto the floor.

Elroy stared at the pieces strewn on the tiles. Abruptly, he strode—limping—out the front door. He remembered: Grinn left the keys in his car. Elroy thought to get it going, run for help. But when he opened the door, he stood frozen.

In the back seat sat the frog.

It glared at him, malevolent. And Elroy saw a terrifying thing: on the floor, discarded, lay a silver trident.

“I wouldn’t rile him,” said Grinn’s voice from behind him. “You wouldn’t like it.”

Grinn looked at the frog, which abruptly threw open the car’s back door and climbed out.

“Gark,” it said.

Elroy shuddered, remembering that long tongue, its slipperiness wrapping around his hand that night, pulling away the pistol. But this time, as if responding to an order Elroy did not hear, the frog grabbed him by his shoulders, a painful grip.

Grinn looked at the frog, jerked his chin toward the house. Then they all filed back inside. Last came the frog, walking Elroy ahead of him, with that iron grip on his shoulders. Pushed by the frog, Elroy followed Grinn and the dithery old lady and the supermarket bagger to his pantry.

“I don’t care what happens to you,” Grinn told Elroy. “Don’t interfere and you can go on with your life. Otherwise…”

He turned, stared at the pantry wall. Elroy could see only the back of the man’s head, but he guessed he mouthed words. He extended his arms and seemed to do something with his hands that Elroy could not see.

Once again Elroy saw his pantry wall shimmer: that circular patch, large enough to walk through.

Grinn stared at the patch, satisfied. Elroy saw the wiry youth gazing at it excited, as if he had just won the lottery.

“Goodness,” the old woman said.

Elroy saw her look at the Reverend Grinn, adoring.

“Well, I almost forgot,” Grinn said. He walked back to the front door and stood in the opening. Elroy could see the blue van through the doorway. And then the van vanished.

Grinn walked back to the pantry.

“Tell anyone you want,” Grinn said to Elroy. “They’ll put you away as an addled geezer, or just forget all this—you’ll be better off.”

He looked at his three companions. “Shall we go?” he said. Then he turned and walked to the shimmering patch on the wall, and through it, and disappeared.

Under his breath, the wiry young man muttered, “Wow—it’s happening!” He too walked to the wall. For a moment, he hesitated, then walked into the shimmer. He, too, vanished.

“My goodness,” the old woman told Elroy. “Isn’t this exciting?” She walked to the shimmer and stopped. She stretched out a hand, tentatively, and touched the shimmer. Her hand disappeared to the wrist. “Oh, my,” she said. She glanced back at Elroy, an expression all at once frightened and excited and triumphant. Then, straightening her shoulders, she walked through the shimmer and vanished.

“Gark!” the frog said.

Elroy felt himself thrown onto the floor tiles. Over him, he saw the frog looking down. And he knew the frog wished to crush him, for the pleasure.

“Gark!”

Abruptly the creature turned and hurried through the shimmer and vanished.

Elroy lay on the tiles, alone in his glass house. “What now?” he thought.

He remembered the thong around his neck and pulled up the stone from beneath his shirt. “Okay,” he thought. “Wil Deft—I’m thinking about you.”

And he thought: “What now?”

How he would spend the rest of the day mystified him. Or the day after.

He got up, groaning, for he hurt in several places. He saw the pantry wall’s shimmer beginning to fade. He knew, somehow, this would end it, that none of them would trouble him again.

He sighed.

He walked to the shimmer, staring at it, nothing on his mind at all.

“See you, Junior,” he thought.

He walked through. And he was gone.
pencil

“I’m a long-time contributor of articles and essays to major national magazines (Reader’s Digest, Smithsonian, Woman’s Day, TV Guide, Playboy, National Geographic and a number of others). My writing has received several awards, ranging from the Clarion Award to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Distinguished Science Writing in Magazines. But I’ve recently turned to a long-time interest, fiction. I currently have a science fiction story in the internet magazine MindFlights and a fantasy set to published in the forthcoming issue of another internet magazine, Reflection’s Edge.” Website. Email: authors[at]richardjoycewolkomir.net