Enraptured in Shadow

By W.T. Paterson


They tumbled through the door, kissing and groping. They landed on a twin-sized bed that was tucked in a little too tight, the dead air from the mattress exhaling in a groan.

Detective Bowery unclipped the badge from his belt and tossed it to the floor, where it landed on the cold wood planks with a solitary piercing collision. Annette leaned back to start to peel her sweater off when she began to notice the room. Old posters that were frayed at the edges hung from thumbtacks on the wall, perhaps always crooked and misaligned.

The thin wood doors to the closet were open.  Belts tied into loops choking the shelves, shirts hanging lifelessly from their hangers, pants sprawled across the floor. The natural light from the windows angled away from the closet leaving it enraptured in shadow.

There was a stereo system on the dresser near the door.  A 3-disc changer, a relic of sorts, with a neatly stacked tower of CD’s next to it.  None of the CD’s seemed to match the posters on the wall. Instead of punk rock and metal, there were best of compilations, and jazz covers of Christmas songs.

A braided rug dyed blue and yellow was at the foot of the bed.  It still had the remains of the tag where the price was stapled, the white paper unable to wriggle free.  It was new, and not worn out like everything else she saw like it was a detail added to a story after it had already been published.

“Are you worried about your son coming home?” Annette asked, eyeing the markings on the doorframe.  They measured height. Each year, starting with shaky lines, someone had tracked growth. The lines became steadier the further up the door they went, but no new additions had been made in two years.

“No,” Bowery said in barely a whisper.

The mood was gone, the passion had faltered. Bowery sat softly on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands wondering why all good things in his life were destined to leave him.

“We don’t have to do this now,” Annette said. She picked up a framed picture from the bedside table. It showed a teen with sad eyes, the same proud chin as his father and same caring eyebrows of the mother, in between those same members. They were all smiling, but it was just for the picture.

“Yes we do,” he said.  He tried to unbutton the rest of his shirt, but they kept slipping out of his grasp.  His fingers were trembling, which spread to his wrists and slid up towards his elbows.  Instead of giving in to grace, he gripped the side of his shirt and pulled so hard that the buttons flew off and bounced off of the ground. They landed with a similar noise to the marbles that used to tink across the wood only a decade before.  

My son barely talks to me anymore, too,” Annette said, rising to her feet and adjusting her sweater.  She put a compassionate hand on Bowery’s shoulder, but he slipped it off with a shrug.

Bowery unclipped the gun and holster from his belt and placed it gently on the nightstand.  The barrel was silently pointed at the pillow.

“It’s different,” he said.

About W.T. Paterson

W. T. Paterson is the author of the novels “Dark Satellites” and “WOTNA.” A Pushcart Prize nominee and graduate of Second City Chicago, his work has appeared in over 50 publications worldwide include Fiction Magazine, The Gateway Review, and The Paragon Press. A number of stories have been anthologized by Lycan Valley, North 2 South Press, and Thuggish Itch. He spends most nights yelling for his cat to, “Get down from there!”

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