… What happened?

What the hell happened?

It has been over a week since I opened the package. I blacked out immediately on opening it. I don’t what happened, where I went, or why. I … I can’t think straight.

Ok, let me start from the beginning of what I remember. That might help things seem clearer.

So, I decided to open the package Friday the 15th. Underneath the paper wrapping was a wooden box about the size of a shoe box. The box was plain, unmarked. There was no indication to what it held inside, except maybe the most troublesome pair of shoes ever. I undid the latch and opened the lid.

That was when I blacked out. I never even saw what was inside. Though, I had the strong impression that there was something.

The next thing I remember clearly was waking up in a gutter in South Boston. I was wearing the same clothes as I had worn a week ago—though they were far dirtier now. I wiped spit from off the side of my face. I looked around blearily. I was in an alley, surrounded by a brick wall on one side and concrete on the other. Both were covered in graffiti. Construction drills filled the air.

I felt like I had been drugged, or had drunk too much the night before. And at first I thought it had been just a night, but then I saw the date at Andrew Station.

A week had passed.

Already delirious and totally confused, that freaked me out. I had no idea what happened. How had a week passed? I rode the subway in a daze back to my apartment.

As I swayed back and forth on the train, slack fingers wrapped around the handle, memories came back. They were like memories of a dream, triggered by a place or image similar to the dream. I recalled only brief snapshots of places. A wharf at night; a lit-up space—a lobby maybe; there were several of me wandering down alleys and backroads; and mixed in there, I seemed to remember walking down that familiar, dusty, corridor.

That made me think these really were dreams I was remembering. Somehow, that didn’t make me feel better. True, it meant I hadn’t been sleepwalking for a week, but it left me no closer to solving the mystery of what in the hell happened to me.

When I stumbled into the safe haven of my apartment, I found no trace of the box. I poured myself a glass of whiskey. And now here I am.

I’m scared. I hate to admit, but I am. I only hope admitting it will help me feel better (so far, it’s not working).

I just can’t understand any of this. What made me black out? Was there gas in the box? No that’s stupid, why did I type that? Did I walk to that alley or did someone carry me?

You know, I don’t know if this is the whiskey talking, but I’m getting real tired of being jerked around by … by somebody. I’m an investigative journalist type. It’s time to do some investigating! I’m going to find that guy from the cafe and demand an explanation!

First I need to finish this whiskey and then take a nap. Blacking out for a whole week leaves you more tired than you’d think.

 

It’s back

The package—it’s back!

It’s fucking back and I don’t know how.

I moved back into my apartment today after the police couldn’t find anything. They told me, with a tone telling me the opposite of their words, to call if I noticed anything strange.

I walked in and there it was, sitting on top of my coffee table as if it had always been there. I didn’t know what to think. At first I thought the cops had left it. But as I got closer, I recognized the shape and size, and the unmarked paper-wrapping.

So I can’t be rid of this thing, apparently. I threw it away in a dumpster for crying out loud! I fucking watched the garbage truck empty the dumpster. The package should be in a landfill right now. But, here it is.

I’m sick of this. I have to know now what this is all about. I’m going to open the damn thing. Hopefully, once I see what’s inside, I’ll be able to end this odd chapter of my life.

I’ve spent the last five minutes working up the courage to open it. I thought writing this blog post would help me think through it, as well help me vent some of my frustration.

Well, it’s not going to open itself. Here I go. I just hope there’s not a bomb or anthrax in it.

I’m opening the package now.

Ugh…

The title says it all. I fell like crap.

Ugh…

You ever have those days where you just can’t do anything? Where it just feels like everything you do is worthless.

Nothing’s been working out. Not since that goddamned package.

I’m still shaken up. My home has never been broken into before. I just feel so angry that someone was in my apartment. Who the hell were they and what were they looking for?

I’ve been trying to write more “Doom Truth” but the words just haven’t been flowing. Every new sentence sounds stupid when I read it aloud. The plot, characters, it’s all uncertain. I feel like I need to just start over from the beginning.

And to top it all off, the big piece I’ve been working on for nearly a month was rejected by my editor.

I went in this morning to talk with Ed Slizawski, my editor for the Boston Crier. I had gone in sure my article would do well. Again, I’d sunk a whole lotta time and love into it. I titled it “Den of Thieves: The Rise of Boston’s Most Notorious Crime District”. It was on the increasing levels of crime in McAffrey’s Place. I’d even gone there to do research! I was sure I was going to be robbed like six times.

But when I walked into Ed’s office, Ed had a grim face. Nothing unusual there. It was when he said, “Please sit down, Raymond,” that I knew something was wrong. Ed only says ‘please’ when he’s got bad news.

I sat down. The leather squeaked underneath me.

Ed stared at me over clasped hands. His narrow eyes were framed by the fat, black rims of his glasses.

“I read your article,” Ed said.

“…And, what’d you think?”

Ed puckered his lips and let out a long puff of air in my face. His breath smelled of mint, “Well I certainly liked parts of it. But, as it is, I don’t think I can publish it.”

“What the hell? Why not?”

Ed’s eyes turned into two, dark lines, “Well for starters, what was the point of it? What are our readers supposed to get out of it after they read it?”

“That there’s bad shit happening at McAffrey’s Place and the city government’s not doing much about it!”

Ed clicked his tongue, “See, I don’t know why you wrote that. We can’t go pointing fingers at the mayor and the city. Besides, it’s been shown that recent government programs have been reducing poverty and organized crime. You seem to think the opposite.”

“Because I went to McAffrey’s. I know what I saw there. And I did my research.”

“I’m sure you did,” Ed looked down and now busied himself with straightening the already straightened pens on his desk. I knew by that he was done with this conversation. But I pressed on.

“C’mon, Ed, you can’t stop the article just over that. If there were actual criticisms I could rewrite parts—”

Ed glanced up, “I do have actual criticism. I am not going to allow you to accuse the city government wrongly. You could always remove those sections, but I know how stubborn you can get. Particularly with me.”

“Gee, I wonder why,” I muttered.

“If you won’t change the article, then I will not allow it to be printed.”

“Fine,” I jumped to my feet, “I guess we’re done here.”

“I’m sorry, Ray, but that’s the way it’s got to be.”

I grunted. As I walked out the door, I pushed one of Ed’s hanging photographs so it hung crooked. I could almost hear him twitch behind me. That gave me some satisfaction.

 

Someone broke into my apartment

I cam home late from the bar. After I’d come in and flicked on the lights, I didn’t notice anything at first. I had a good buzz going and I was enjoying myself.

But when I crossed the living room to get to the kitchen, that’s when I first had the sense that something was off. I couldn’t say exactly what it was, but there was something that didn’t seem right.

Maybe it was just my paranoia flaring up.

I walked around and peered at my furniture. I got on my hands and knees and looked under the coffee table at the stacks of books and magazines.

Before going to the bar, I had been sitting on my sofa, reading a copy of Dash! magazine. I had been rereading an article I’d written 3 years ago. So, I distinctly remeber putting the magazine on top of all my other magazines and newspapers because I wasn’t done reading.

Now it was no longer at the top, but tucked under a folded newspaper.

I scrambled to my feet, my buzz gone. I looked over the rest of my apartment. Now it seemed to me that someone had gone through all my stuff.

I’m no detective, but I could see where things had been put back in place with care and intention. Normally in my apartment there is a conflict between order and chaos. The book tossed carelessly on the couch; the neat stack of post-its next to my computer; the random plate or microwave tray on the counter; and the shoes lined up neatly in the cubby by the door.

Everything was there, but they bore the invisible mark f having been touched, probed, and put back by some other hand than mine.

I was freaking out. After I made sure my stash of cash and documents were all there, I checked the doors and windows. They were untouched. The windows were still even locked from the inside. The burglar appeared to have walked through the walls.

I called the police. While I waited for officers to arrive, I sat on the edge of my couch and breathed, trying to clear my head. I wasn’t successful.

After ten uneasy minutes, two police officers knocked on my door. I told them my story. They looked over my apartment, gave me scrutinizing looks, and told me they’d do what they could, but from what they could tell there was little in the way of evidence.

I took their advice and spent the rest of the night in a motel.

As I walked down the hall carrying my duffel bag, my new neighbor poked her head out of her door.

“What happened?” she asked in her rich voice.

“Nothing. I think someone was poking around my apartment while I was gone. You didn’t see anything did you?”

“No! That is very bad! I am sorry, but I saw nothing.”

Only now, in retrospect, do I think there was something odd about her tone and the glimmer in her single, visible eye. Maybe she did see something but was choosing to be quiet about it.

Bah, I don’t know.

God damn it! Ever since that meeting last week, my life has gotten all screwed up. I’m so goddamned paranoid about everything. I’m still shaking, even as I’m writing this. I’ll be amazed if there are no spelling erroros.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t think. I can’t write. All I can do is sit and drink and wish like hell my life was back to normal. I feel so vulnerable, naked. Your home is supposed to be… I don’t know, safe. You know what I mean?

That’s been my crappy day. Hopefully yours has been a little better. I’ll stop now before I keep rambling on. I need to sleep. That should help me process all this.

Before bed though, one last drink.

Back to normal

Threw the package away.

That’s right: I never opened it, never knew what was in it, but you know what? I don’t care. I threw that damn thing away in a dumpster and walked away. My hands are clean.

Everything should go back to normal. I’m just a normal guy living a normal life, I didn’t want any of this excitement.

The fact that the guy at the cafe knew the title of my book still worries me. I can’t help feel like I’m being spied on. I changed all my passwords just to be safe. I’m working on a big piece for the Crier: once that gets accepted, I’ll splurge and buy a new computer to wipe the slate extra clean.

This one is starting to get slow anyway.

Ugh, I feel like I just woke up from one of those really long and tedious dreams, the ones that are too close to real life to offer any rest. I may need to take my vacation sooner rather than later. I could drive up to New Hampshire for the weekend. At least I would be out of the city.

Anyway, I guess I can go back to writing about normal things. The article I handed in did pretty well. It was on the looming homelessness crisis because of skyrocketing housing prices in the Boston area.

I thought it was pretty good. I did a lot of walking around and speaking to a number of homeless people in the downtown and Cambridge areas. Pick up a copy of the Crier wherever newspapers are sold to read it.

Alright, I think that’s enough for now. I’m going to get back to work on my latest article. I’ll tell you what it’s about once it’s published—until then, it’s a mystery.

I’m just glad everything is back to normal.