The fire had long ago burned out. There was nothing left but ashes.
I turned toward the door, forgetting about the lone chair in the room, and tripped, sprawling across the floor. I got up slowly, right knee stinging, but kicked the chair out of my way. The grating sound it made as it scraped across the wooden floor was satisfying. Damned chair.
I grimaced as I gave the chair a wide berth and walked to the door. I turned the old worn knob, its luster long gone. Hell, the door and knob, even the chair was older than me. In another time I had sat in the chair reading by candlelight and the glow from the fireplace. Music from a long-ago era had filled the room. Now the room was only the remains of a life I had known decades ago.
Returning to my grandfather’s dilapidated homestead had been a mistake. As I walked into the entry hall, memories crept into my mind. Grandma baking cookies. Grandpa playing cards. The hours I spent with him learning to hunt and fish. His old shotgun still sat leaning in the corner next to the entry door. I picked it up, cracking open the double barrel and the breach. Sure enough, it was loaded. The brass ends of the shells were now corroded from years of sitting in the gun untouched and uncleaned. He would have been appalled. Grandpa never let anything get dirty, least of all his guns. I put it back.
I pushed open the front door and exited the house. The porch once held a hanging swing where I’d spent many an hour listening to him tell tall tales while we drank lemonade. It was now barely recognizable, lying on the rotted deck in a broken heap. The once beautiful lawn he’d kept was now a sea of overgrown weeds and hay, dotted with the occasional flower that managed to eke out an existence in the tall grass and weeds.
Plowing my way through the weeds I found his old truck. After a bit of a struggle, I pried the door open. The interior was covered in dust and junk. The tools he’d used last were still sitting on the passenger side of the bench seat. He’d died in this truck—heart attack hit him, and he was gone. Grandma died a month later from a broken heart. I shuddered, the memories were becoming overwhelming. Slamming the door shut again, I spun so fast I was dizzy, but I had to get back to my car and away from this place.
“Robert!! Wake up!! You were dreaming again.”
I blinked from the glare of the sun streaming through the window and sat up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
She sat on the edge of the bed. “You dreamed about the farm again?”
I nodded. “Yes. this time I made it to the truck.”
“But you didn’t see the box?”
“No, I didn’t see the box. I don’t know where grandpa hid the money.” I threw the covers back and got out of bed. “All I have are these nightmares from the damn drugs. They aren’t helping me remember what happened all those years ago.”
“You told me there was a box of money. You saw him hide it.”
“I was sixteen years old when he died. I thought I knew where he hid it but when we searched the place it wasn’t there. I just can’t remember where it was. Damn it, Charlene, it’s been nearly twenty years.”
“But baby, no one’s been there since your grandparents died but us. We’ve gone over and over the place. The only way we’re gonna find out where he hid the box is for you to remember.”
“All the damned drugs you’re shoving down my throat are giving me a headache and flashbacks to things I don’t want to remember.”
“But baby, it’s a lot of money.”
Those baby blue eyes of hers were misty as she gazed at me.
“Okay, I’ll keep taking the drugs until we find the money.”