when we peeled the wallpaper back, we found the old man’s story. he’d written it there, inked in tiny letters, a record of his time as what he called the Quarry. there was little context: no dates, no places, no last names–only tense actions taken, sparse words spoken, the ends of all his lofty aims.
—the day i signed that paper, i burned the house and walked.
—i said to him, “Carl, you’re not cut for it.” that was the last we talked.
—i limped through the forest a day and two nights. i was almost disappointed when i saw the farmhouse lights.
he didn’t write in regret. he didn’t intend to amend. we read it aloud and asked each other, who’d ever agree to such a game? but later, painting over his last legible line, we had to wonder if we wouldn’t have done the same. part of it was smudged, and parts had crumbled with the plaster, but enough was there to read:
i didn’t hide, i ran. those s——————ounds couldn’t match my pace. i caught who’d coursed them on me: H—————aze———t’s how i became their master.