So that was my life—interminable days of boredom, torturous insomniac nights. It was the worst summer of my life, with nothing to look forward to but a brand new school come the fall. That’s why I found myself poking around in the basement about a week after we moved in. Nobody had bothered to unpack—nobody had bothered to do much of anything all summer—and I was hoping to find my old teddy bear in one of the boxes.
Mr. Fuzzy had seen better days—after six years of hard use, he literally had no hair, not a single solitary tuft—and I’d only recently broken the habit of dragging him around with me everywhere I went. I knew there’d be a price to pay for backsliding—Jeremy had been riding me about Mr. Fuzzy for a year—but desperate times call for desperate measures.
I’d just finished rescuing him from a box of loose Legos and Jeremy’s old Star Wars action figures when I noticed a bundle of rags stuffed under the furnace. I wasn’t inclined to spend any more time than necessary in the basement—it smelled funny and the light slanting through the high dirty windows had a hazy greenish quality, like a pond you wouldn’t want to swim in—but I found myself dragging Mr. Fuzzy over toward the furnace all the same.
Somebody had jammed the bundle in there good, and when it came loose, clicking metallically, it toppled me back on my butt. I stood, brushing my seat off with one hand, Mr. Fuzzy momentarily forgotten. I squatted to examine the bundle, a mass of grease-stained rags tied off with brown twine. The whole thing was only a couple feet long.
I loosened the knot and pulled one end of the twine. The bundle unwrapped itself, spilling a handful of rusty, foot-long skewers across the floor. There were half a dozen of them, all of them with these big metal caps. I shook the rag. A scalpel tumbled out, and then a bunch of other crap, every bit of it as rusty as the skewers. A big old hammer with a wooden head and a wicked-looking carving knife and one of those tapered metal rods butchers use to sharpen knives. Last of all a set of ivory-handled flatware.
I reached down and picked up the fork.
That’s when I heard the stairs creak behind me.
“Mom’s gonna kill you,” Jeremy said.