I returned home to an empty house. April had left a note on the refrigerator saying she'd gone to the post office and the grocery store. This was a pretty typical thing for her. Every time her online business received a large order she'd head to the post office to ship it off and then run to the grocery store for a cheap bottle of Merlot for us to share that night. I would have complained about her absence at such a critical time, but frankly, I loved Merlot too much to risk losing my share.
In the quiet solitude of the apartment, I threw the journal down on the desk and began leafing through it. Immediately, it became apparent I had a long road before me. Though the notebook wasn't thick, almost all of the pages in it were filled, front and back with very small handwriting. To make matters worse, he wrote like one would expect a doctor to and various parts of it were practically illegible.
However, the information contained in it was impressive. The book spanned almost his entire hypnosis career from his graduation from college until his death. It quickly became obvious that, even though he was a fraud on stage, he was actually a very talented hypnotherapist when he could use drugs. His patient logs made him seem like a miracle worker as he helped people break addictions, deal with repressed memories and break bad habits of all varieties with very few sessions. So impressive were his results that I had a hard time understanding why the practice failed.
But then, as the pages of the notebook turned, so the story of his life unfolded. Soon, he found himself confronted with allegations of unethical behavior regarding his use of drugs. Though no patients brought up objections against him, his peers didn't like his choice of method and, slowly, their campaign began to eat away at his client list. Though he didn't say it outright, he alluded to the possibility it was due to his Russian ancestry and the ongoing cold war.
In the years he took to the stage, there were few entries. Though he reported on performing research in the use of sound to hypnotize, probably as a bid to become a legitimate performer, he didn't seem to make much progress or have much success. His voice, by all accounts, was wrong for the art and the type of presence he commanded seemed to prevent patients from feeling at ease enough to go under.
However, once his father died and his life settled down, the book began to fill up again. He apparently discovered the Internet somewhere in that time and had begun researching new forms of hypnotism that could be better suited for him. The most promising was hypnotism through light. The latter pages of his books were filled with clippings and studies about experiments with LED lights and various projectors designed to relax and entrance the viewer, making them susceptible to hypnotic suggestions.
It was fascinating material. Though I was well-versed in psychology, I wasn't familiar with hypnotism and this crash course on all things hypnotic engrossed me for hours on end. So much so that I was completely oblivious to April's return home, her trip to the computer room or her shuffling around in the kitchen until, after nearly forty five minutes of being ignored, she walked up from behind me and kissed me on the cheek.
“Oh, hey,” I said jumping to life.
“Hey yourself,” she caught a glimpse over my shoulder, “Whatcha reading?”
I held the notebook up for her to see, “It's Dr. Jeffery Marx's clinical and research notebook. It's pretty much everything he did in the world of hypnotism and psychology between his graduation and his death.”
“Ah, I see,” she said sitting down in the chair next to me, “Any mention of our road or it's mysterious effect?”
“None whatsoever, but some interesting reading about hypnotism through light if you're interested.”
April held her hand up, “I'll pass, but thank you.”
“Had a feeling.”
“So, tell me how your interview with the other Mr. Marx went?” she said eager.
“Horrible,” I said looking up at her.
April leaned back in the chair and took a sip of a coke she'd laid on the counter behind her, “He wasn't helpful huh?”
“No, he was plenty helpful,” I said as I closed the notebook, “That's to say, after some persuasion. It's just that he didn't have much useful to say.”
“Another dead end?”
“Another one,” I said letting out a heavy sigh, “I can't even consider the curse anymore because there was nothing special about father or son. Neither seemed magically inclined enough to curse a dung beetle, much less a mile-long stretch of road.”
“So what do we do now?” she asked trying to look upbeat.
“I don't know. All I've got now is a hunch.”
“I don't know,” I said standing up from my chair, leaving the notebook on the table, “Something about this Marx guy didn't feel right.”
“What do you mean?” April asked puzzled.
“Well,” I began my hands waving through the air trying to signal the random thoughts washing through my mind, “You see, usually, when someone gets a visit from the police, they're nervous, uneasy but helpful. He however, he seemed almost smug you know?”
“I see,” April said, “Do you think he was hiding something.”
“Perhaps. Or he could have just been a real jackass. I straightened him out. But something isn't sitting well.”
“Do you think he might have something to do with the crashes?”
“I don't think he cares about the road either way. He's got his money. But something just seems off about him. Like he was too eager to paint a bad picture of his father or too eager to write me off.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing that I can do right now. No evidence, not even a crime really. Having an attitude isn't criminal, though sometimes it should be.”
April stood up and positioned herself in front of me with her arms folded across her chest, “Then you, mister, would be prison for a long damn time,” she said poking a finger into my chest, “And I'm not waiting up for you.”
I chuckled to myself and started pacing the living room, “Regardless though, this case is dead in the water and I get to call Mike tomorrow and let him down.”
“I thought you were going to call him today.”
“Sorry,” I said with a scoff, “Got busy reading.”
“I'll forgive you, but I don't think he will.”
“Probably not, but the case is dead anyway. It's just a bad curve, created by some lazy road designer, that's all that there is to it.”
“Too bad that won't be enough for Mike,” April said with a smirk.
“It's not enough for me, but I'm pretty much out of leads here. Maybe I'll get away without being fired.”
It didn't matter though, the case was dead and, frankly, I was sick of police work. The cases I had worked prior were much more straightforward than this wild goose chase through Hell. In the matter of a few short week's, I'd banged my head against a brick wall so many times that it was finally bleeding and I was ready to stop.
I scratched the back of my head and tried to push all of the work related thoughts out of my mind. With a sharp exhale, I turned to face the window. It was evening and the sun was setting. My apartment, complete with westward exposure, had just gone from getting blared by the evening sun to being privy to one of the most beautiful sunsets of the year.
I reached over and grabbed the wand on my blinds and opened them up partly to let in more of the view. Wanting to share the moment with April, I took three steps backward watching the orange sun peek through the blinds until finally I backed into her and she wrapped her arms around me.
Then, without warning, it hit me. A look of total shock came over my face and I turned to April and said, “I've got it.”
“Got what?” she asked, puzzled.
“I know what's going on along that road,” I spun around to face April and I grabbed her arms. My face must have been lit with excitement because April's eyes brightened as she saw my face, “I've got it figured out.”
“What's going on?” April stammered, “Are you sure?”
“Not at all. I need to interview one more person but I bet, if I hurry, I can catch him while he's still at work.”
I immediately started piecing together my personal effects, grabbing my wallet, a jacket and my keys. Just as I began to sprint for the door, April called out, “Who?”
I opened the door and started to head out. I stuck my head back in just long enough to say, “It's a secret, you can put me in prison later,” before dashing off.
I'm sure April made some unintelligible utterance before I dashed away, but there really wasn't any time. Instead I called her up on my cell phone and explained it to her as I drove back into the country.
However, as grateful as she was for the call, I knew she was going to let me have it when I returned home that night.