The door slammed behind me as I stumbled in, shivering. In truth, it wasn’t that cold, but the rain chilled me to the bone. I reached into my overcoat to retrieve my handkerchief in an attempt to dry my face off, only to find it was just as damp as me. Giving up on this exercise in futility, I decided to investigate my environs. This gave me great pause as I realized I had barged into this humble shack without permission completely on the assumption no one would live in such squalor. I feebly called out into the darkness, asking if anyone was home and apologized for my rude entry, explaining that the rain demanded it. I heard a slight rustle to my left when I saw a vaguely shiny-blue glint lower itself. Upon half a second of thought, I managed to place an item to the nebulous shape it made in the negative space that was the room I now inhabited.
It was a gun.
I told the owner of the shining revolver I meant no malice, and that he need not worry about me causing trouble any time soon. He simply laughed and said he wasn’t in the least bit afraid of yours truly, and that my belated manners saved me from being set atop his mantle as a new trophy. I took this to be a joke and simmered down a little, taking my hand off my old .45 that was snugly concealed under my thick coat. The man plopped into a raggedy old chair opposite the door, and resumed what he had been doing prior to my barging in- light whittling. It looked as though he was carving out a small bear figurine from a smallish block of wood, but I didn’t investigate too far into it.
“Not many folks come out this way, now’days…” the whittler said, more to himself than to me, “Can’t say I don’t enjoy that. See… See, we have this nice little community ‘round here… We don’t have no fights, no gamblin’, no nothin’… It’s too small a commune to have too much vice. Y’know what I’m getting at?”
For some reason or other, I was a little unsettled upon hearing this. Outside it appeared as though there were only one or two more wooden shacks nearby, but no more than that. To call that a commune seemed off, not to mention the amount of emphasis he put upon the word ‘we.’
Something was up here.
“I’m not here to start no trouble, mister. I’m on a bit of a mission, and a long one at that… See, my brother got beat up awful bad a while back ‘round these here woods. So bad he can’t walk or talk no more… Real pity- he used to play baseball, don’t you know. Mighty fine at it, too. Nowadays he’s better off as a base than a basemen.” Upon my uttering of this, every muscle of the whittler’s seemed to tense visibly. I gathered I had found my first suspect.
“See, mister… I want to get back at those men in ways the police can’t…" I continued, "In grand ways, ya dig? I want to get the man responsible for putting my brother in a chair and return the favor. Now then,” and here I pulled my gun from its holster, “if you so happen to know something… Anything important to my cause, tell me. And I saw how you reacted when I told you about him so I know you know something. Don’t tell me I’m wrong.”
The man simply laughed as a dull, metallic noise rang through my head like I was a bell that had been rung. I had been hit from behind by some other, shadowy figure, and while I was unconscious I was dragged down to the basement to meet the commune the man had spoken of before. They all have broken legs and the trauma they experienced leaves most of them mute.
I now know what became of my brother. My greatest folly beyond coming to this Godforsaken shanty was not realizing my captor flinched in response to the word ‘basemen,’ as it was too close to ‘basement’ for his comfort. If anyone ever reads these memoirs I placed beneath these floorboards, please… Tell my family I’m sorry that I’m not coming home.