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House Call - Part One
House Call - Part One
....Eric nodded again, but did not move.
The man in black took a step forward, bending beneath the arch of the doorway, and forcing Eric back. He slammed the door shut behind him, locked it and turned the deadbolt. He turned to Eric - towering over him - and spoke. "Give me the order."
"Uh..." Eric stuttered for a minute or two, confusion overtook him. A little seed of anger began to grow in Eric - a bit of resentment towards this Cadwell, who dared make him feel inferior in his own house.
"Give me the order," Cadwell repeated.
And as if he was suddenly struck with profound wisdom, Eric obliged. "Ah. Yes. The order." Eric fumbled in the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled out a worn brown trifold and with shaky hands, sifted through its contents. He unfolded a scrap of paper and read from it. "Order number 1379."
The huge man nodded approval and made his way further into the house.
Eric followed the stranger into the living room.
The man's boots clanked against the hardwood floor as he strode past Abigail - still cleaning up blood drops, and Lyrica - who resumed working on another princess, this time making her the colors of rainbows. He strode over to the big bay window and looked out onto the sleepy, suburban street. He drew the curtains, snuffing out the afternoon sun. Darkness invaded the room.
"Uh, honey," Eric spoke, his voice a bit shaken, "this is..."
The man turned to the family. "Cadwell."
"Yes. Of course. Cadwell," Eric repeated.
The stranger looked at the imaginary watch on his wrist, ignoring the attempt at conversation. He strolled over to a banister that housed about a dozen carpeted steps from the living room to the second floor of the Swanson home. He gripped the railing and yanked on it repeatedly.
To Eric, it was if the man was trying to rip the structure to shreds.
"This will do just fine," Cadwell commented and made his way to the middle of the room. Here, he inspected the floor, nodding and mumbling to it, as if it held some secret agreement with him. He set his oversized briefcase on the coffee table and with a flick of the numbers, popped open the leather box. He slipped his hand into a flap on the top inside of the case and pulled out a tiny piece of plastic. He unfolded it until it expanded to the size of the floor before him. With a snap - as if he were hanging out the laundry - he laid down the plastic sheet and pressed out its wrinkles.
"What is that for?" Abigail asked, a quiver in her voice.
"It may get messy."
"Messy?" Abigail questioned and clutched Lyrica to her side.
Reaching back into the briefcase, Cadwell pulled out a cable tie and duct tape. He turned and faced the mother. "Mrs. Swanson?"
Abigail stared at the stranger's hands as he tore off a piece of the tape and replaced the roll back into the leather case. He tilted his head and started towards her.
"Hey," Eric stated and stepped in front of his wife. "Hold on a minute."
Cadwell ignored Eric's pleas. He reached around the husband and snatched Abigail by the arm, separating mother and daughter.
"Mommy!" Lyrica cried out and latched on to her dad's leg.
"Why are you doing this?" Eric asked, surprised by the calm in his voice.
"She will scream the most," Cadwell stated.
"We didn't sign up for this," Abigail pleaded with the stranger. "Eric!"
"Stop it," Eric yelled, ripping Abigail from his clutches. "Stop it right now."
Cadwell brushed off his duster, walked back to the table, closed and collected his briefcase. "I will go."
Eric looked down at his daughter - her shiny head, the tired eyes, the bandages that covered up all those needle marks, more numerous than those of any junkie.
He was tired.
Tired of it all.
"Please," Eric said. "Wait."
Abigail glared at her husband.
Cadwell paused by the archway to the foyer.
"No." Abigail shook her head vigorously, backing away from her husband.
"Yes." Eric placed his hands square on her shoulders and penetrated her eyes with his own. "This is it, Abby. This is our last chance. Aren't you tired? Tired of all those words?
"I know." Tears streamed down the mother's face. "I know."
"Why are you crying, Mommy?" Lyrica asked.
"It is her last chance," Eric said with resolve.
"But why does he have to be so...so...aversive?"
"I don't care what he is, Abby. He comes highly recommended."
"We did not make this decision lightly. Now did we? We are out of options."
She swallowed a sob and nodded in agreement.
Eric gave his best smile of encouragement and turned to Cadwell. "Please. Continue."