I stood there eyeing all of the pictures of you I had never seen and realized that I had played too many of the cards I didn’t have. Something caught my roving eye amidst you. I reached down and picked up the corner of a familiar manila envelope. It was thinner than the usual packages I would receive. I opened it with haste, partially tearing the corner of the letter and photograph it contained. I know I’ve lived a life rife with horror. I brought it to people and it always came back to me in some form or another but I never thought I would see this face in a photograph.
The letter read:
“Travis, We’ve known about this for a while but gave you the benefit of this space so as to help you keep your sanity. We will allow you these things and the continued safety of your loved one, however, at the price of our photograph contained herein. Your compliance will be rewarded with your usual fee and the freedom of your collection. Yours, Terrence.”
Expectations and reality. My hubris and the lax attitude that came with it with regards to my collection had now come to roost. And what was with Terrence using plural pronouns? Who was this person, or persons? Even if my plan for justice worked would I be putting more people in danger because of it? Was Terrence just a complex network that included my dinner partner from years before? What is this end game?
That picture though. That face that I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years. How could I do it? How couldn’t I? Both questions haunted me from the moment I saw the photograph until I finished the job.