Mr. Wilby

by Shaun Terry

James opened the door to greet Thomas Wilby. James needed help and had gone to his local Priest in order to try and get an answer. Father Thomas had called “a few Parishioners” and had Mr. Wilby suggested to him.

As Mr. Wilby’s appearance materialized in James’s mind, white stripes of reflected light shone off the black patent leather shoes as he stepped into the room. Mr. Wilby’s face exposed nothing worthy of note.

“Hi, there. Mr. Wilby, right?”

“Yessir.”

“Won’t you come in?”

“Thank you.”

Mr. Wilby’s thin lips barely moved. His voice was like store-brand orange juice pouring into the room, neither thick nor thin, neither sweet nor bitter. One could easily forget every feature of Mr. Wilby. His eyes were small and round, like those of a rat, but they were so dark that one couldn’t find the pupils. He wore a tan trenchcoat over his tailored suit. He had a medium build.

Each day, Mr. Wilby went to the local coffeeshop and ordered a tall breve. The baristas there secretly called him “The Accountant.” He didn’t say “Thank you.” He didn’t say “Hello” or “Goodbye.”

“Here it is. This is the room,” James said. He waited for a response, but the man just stared into the room. James thought of turning on the light, but he just stood there with the man, instead, doing nothing, waiting.

Mr. Wilby’s face was stiff and thick, as he scanned the room. The black, withering vine, which crawled from the powder blue antique painted lamp, down the cracking, ancient plaster, disappeared into a mauve electrical socket. The lamp was older than the 1960s suburban home. In the corner, was an old color television set. It looked soft and peppered, thanks to a network of dust, cobwebs, and old, dried out dead insects.

Mr. Wilby had noted that it was a Craftsman home, like a lot of homes on the block. It’d probably been built between 1964 and 1966. The outside was painted hunter green with cream-colored columns. It wasn’t yet falling apart, like some homes in other parts of the city, but it wasn’t as well maintained as most of the houses on its block. The bronze number plate on the front of the house had turned brown over the years, and it was now hard to make out the 206 it was meant to convey.

Mr. Wilby had walked up to the front entry at a moderate pace, and he took in the rows of hedges, the wooden front porch swing on the wooden porch. It had probably been a cute house at some point. The doorbell worked well, thought it made no difference to Mr. Wilby, except that he didn’t have to swing open the screen door in order to knock.

Mr. Wilby observed the pair of matching blue recliners, with the zig-zag lighter and darker material forming the pattern on the chairs’ upholstery. He crouched down and watched the burgundy leather briefcase leave his black leather gloves to land on the floor, before he opened the briefcase.

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