When Balfour brought him back to the house, he found the front door open and men going back and forth with eerily similar boxes he’d found in his room a month ago. The dried bell flower charm tucked on top of the door to his room sent out a stress signal, which he’d first passed off as Steven moving around in the house. He followed a larger guy with goatee and bold head in, through the living room and straight to his bedroom. The two others nodded to him while they past him with a new collection of smaller boxes piled on their arms and he nodded, having a very strong out-of-the-body experience in broad daylight.
He found Cedrick, his sleeves rolled up, taping up the next box before slapping a sign “fragile” on its side in the middle of his room using his bed as a table. The wardrobe doors were open and a skinny guy was head first in that, his but up high, dragging out another one of his brown boxed he’d shoved there.
“What are you doing?” Efren demanded, flabbergast. The bag he was holding fell to the ground, but second later he felt a quick knock on his shoulder asking him to step out of the way, which he obeyed, seeing how big the guy behind him was.
“Oh, hi!” Cedrick called and stretched his muscles. “I think this is the last of the knickknack boxes!” He sounded ecstatic. It was obvious he enjoyed whatever he was doing. He patted on the box he’d just closed and the big guy picked it up and turned, stopping only long enough to give him time to get out of his way. “I have most of your things packed, but there are some books I wasn’t sure about. I gathered the obvious ones, but you should check the apartment in case I missed something.”
“Missed something…?” He echoed like a parrot.
“Yes! You know, like I know Steven doesn’t read cowboy stuff, but maybe you have some novels I’m not aware of. Steven reads a lot of various things and his shelf keeps changing so fast I can’t keep up with his speed. So, are there any other books around?”
“No,” Efren shook his head, “I kept my books here.”
He waited Cedrick to continue, but instead the secretary turned his attention back on the book piles towering on his bed. They had been rearranged by size, mixing them up pretty bad and Efren could already hear himself groan when he was trying to make sense of them again. He saw his journal set aside, sitting near his pillow alone. It didn’t match with others, but at least this time it was together with others. Without thinking he went straight at it, picked it up and hugged it tight against his chest before backing away, close to the door with an easy access. He watched Cedrick do his job in silence, trying to comprehend the sight he was seeing in front of him.
“So, why are you packing my things?”
He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer, but he had to and with gritting teeth, he prepared to hear some weird contradiction Steven was famous for. He felt tears tugging the corners of his eyes and as undignified as it would look, he couldn’t care less, because as he saw it, a man being tossed out could afford that moment of weakness. For right now, he felt very tired and small. A dread sunk in his abdomen that maybe a similar site was taking place across the town as they spoke. Another secretary doing the dirty work of their master, but he’d be digging through women’s laundry and picking his way through jewels instead of books. Because the men in Custer family did not do their own dirty work.
“Well, technically, you died. Which means you kept your end of the bargain until the end!” Cedrick said with the warmest smile he’d seen on the man’s face since they’d first met. “You’re free!”
“I’m… free?” He felt his heart take flight on a news like that and plummet down into dirt. This was a bit sudden. “And?” Efren demanded. Now what?
“Didn’t you wish to be free?”
“Are you serious? You’re suppose to arrange Steven’s life and… how… no, when… what, where am I suppose to live now? Couldn’t you at least give me a day outside to find a place? You should have told me! I just got out of a hospital, for crying out loud! Instead you toss me on the street?”
“That’s been arranged.” He nodded with satisfied smile and pointed the man to pick up next box.
Efren was thoroughly confused – him being tossed out?
Another guy made his way past, pushing him deeper in the room. The charm he hid on the first day here chimed. Everything hummed and he couldn’t decipher if it was in his head or he was really hearing it.
“Been arranged…” he echoed softly.
He felt the shivers run down his hands and suddenly, it all came crushing down. He had been on sick leave, he wouldn’t get payed enough to even cover food! Shouldn’t he be thinking of people, who could help him in a situation like that? Why was his mind so empty now? Yeah, arranged! So he’d sit in the car with the guys and have them put him down, where? He had no place to send them to, no place any of it would fit. Maybe he could borrow Marc’s couch for few days, but where would he put all this? He had felt desperate when he’d last time offered it, but this looked like a farce! What would he say? Hey, hi, sorry, but here I am with my hundred and one things, and, yes, well, could you move, like, your entire apartment so I can fit all the boxes in?
“Gentlemen, could you give us a minute?”