Human Man
Chapter 24

Copyright© 2013 by Refusenik

He rolled out of bed and stood. At first, the unfamiliar surroundings threw him. His brain caught up with his body, he was in the new place.

His feet padded across the floor. The shower started with the touch of a button. The shower stall was large enough to hold group meetings in, but he didn't regret it as hot water from multiple nozzles pounded his shoulders.

Extravagance was on his mind. The building was certainly a big one. Having the space pleased him, pleased his need for room to think. The one thing it hadn't accomplished was to make him happy, or happier.

Scott dried his hair with a towel and pulled on a pair of loose running shorts. Maybe that assessment wasn't completely accurate. Things could make you happy, at least temporarily. Like the radiant heating in the flooring, the warm floor made his bare feet very happy.

He jogged down the stairs to the kitchen. The new coffee maker had done its job and that pleased him. He poured a cup and tried to decide what to do with the rest of his day.

Scott walked to the nearby digital control panel recessed in the wall. The panels were located throughout the house and managed controls from building climate to lighting and entertainment, or security. He used it to activate the big screen in the living room.

The early-morning light flooding through the windows made the screen difficult to see. He brought up the controls and the smart windows dimmed by thirty percent. They could go from clear to completely opaque in seconds.

The television filled with video squares showing live scenes from the many cameras surrounding the building. It rotated through the images on a set pattern, eventually scrolling through the interior cameras focused on the entryways and windows. On the second pass, he noticed something on the Main Street entrance camera.

Scott walked past the twin guest bedrooms and gaming area. From the street-side entrance, you could access a stairwell that extended to all three floors, including the unfinished roof deck. Opposite the stairwell was the freight elevator.

He unlocked the interior door and stepped into the entry vault. A glass security door and side windows protected the interior door. Traffic on Main Street was light given the holiday and the early hour. Only a few cars were parked along the street.

Somebody had taped posters to the exterior glass. Fliers and posters were the bane of downtown Levall. There were kiosks for fliers on most downtown corners, but the college students who papered the town nightly sometimes got creative. He unlocked the glass door.

The late-November wind cut through him as he ripped the posters down. Somebody in a passing car whistled. Scott grinned, he was barefoot and wearing only a pair of running shorts – on Main Street.

He looked at the posters. They were promoting a 'battle of the bands' contest at one of the popular downtown clubs. He squeezed the paper into a ball, but had nowhere to get rid of it.

He retraced his steps to the kitchen and hunted for a wastebasket. He opened all the cabinets and searched the walk-in pantry, but couldn't find one. The downstairs bathroom didn't have one. Scott rubbed his neck with a free hand. Upstairs, he checked the master bath and the secondary bathroom, no trashcans. He walked to his office. The wood paneling with the contrasting strip of textured limestone was striking. The presentation gun case and trifold flag mounted in its case above made him smile. They had gone from painful reminders of Mr. Piotrowski's loss, to something that made him remember the good times. Funny how that worked, he thought.

The Remington bronze was on a credenza, spotlighted as the designer had promised. He didn't have a desktop computer yet, but he pulled the big chair away from the desk and sat. The top of the desk was covered with the file from his parents' murder. He shuffled the papers together and returned them to the cardboard box.

The files hadn't revealed any big secrets. The attacks on his parents had been frenzied and brutal. He knew that, but it was different to read the cold, hard facts. Written with a clinical detachment, Scott had only been able to read a few pages at a time.

He'd come back to the same witness statement several times. A drunk who lived in a trailer a few miles from the desert gravesite north of Barstow, claimed to have seen 'strange lights.' The investigators dismissed the report, especially after the inebriated eccentric insisted they were 'aliens.' Scott was sure that visitors from another world wouldn't bother with FAA mandated navigational beacons. A helicopter however, was possible.

The information hadn't gotten him any closer to understanding what, or why, he was the way he was.

He put the box aside.

There was no wastebasket in the office either. He set the crumpled ball of poster paper on the desk and searched his memory. Surely, he owned one. What he'd done with the ones from his old apartment, he had no idea.

He couldn't believe the interior designers hadn't purchased a couple of ten-thousand dollar art deco wastepaper baskets. They'd thought of everything else. He turned in the chair. The framed pictures of his Marine career were on one shelf. He had rearranged them to an order that made sense to him, his first fire team, his second, the platoon, and a picture of him with Art. He liked that last one. They were ready for action, but held their weapons casually. They were clean, so the photo had been taken before patrol. There were smiles on their faces. Scott knew it was the last picture taken of Art before he lost the leg. He should call Art and see if he needed copies of any of the photos.

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