Jack stared at his reflection, he had been trying to shave but his hands were shaking too much. He contemplated the creases underneath his eyes, “laughter lines” his mom used to call them. He hadn’t done much laughing for the last few years. He put dark thoughts to the side for a moment, after all today was the day.
A week ago he had received a reply from Charlie, his old buddy, agreeing to his proposal. Charlie had agreed to meet up at Yaquina Head and together they would enter the old lighthouse a final time. Jack hoped that this trip would exorcise the last of his demons, banish the ghosts and horrors of his past. He had cried for over an hour when he received word that his very own living nightmare, Raymond Stokes better known as “The Oregon Joker”, had finally gone to the chair. It was about a week after receiving the call from the state authorities that he had decided to contact his fellow survivor Charlie Derwent and ask him to join him on this symbolic trip. He hadn’t been sure if Charlie would agree, they hadn’t spoken for fifteen years and maybe Charlie had managed to move on. But he wanted to tell Charlie the news about Stokes and he knew that he needed to visit the lighthouse one last time but he couldn’t go alone.
He finished getting dressed, taking his favourite purple tie from the coathanger and slipped on his grandfather’s pocket watch. He was really nervous and he wanted a drink, but he told himself that that was all over, drink and drugs were a crutch he didn’t need anymore. Stokes was dead and in hell where he belonged, so Jack could finally move forward and stop running. All the preparations for the day ahead had been completed, he had arrived in Lincoln City on Monday, so he could spend a few days getting to know the area. He had chosen the Looking Glass Inn because it had looked nice on the website. He had always been good at organising things and no detail had been spared. He had arranged for a taxi to pick him up from his hotel at 1.30pm and he would go to a little restaurant called Mo’s that he had picked out in advance, he had phoned them up last week to make sure they had cinnamon and raison bagels. They had recommended their famous fish tacos but he had politely asked if he could just have coffee and the bagels. He couldn’t risk not being able to have his favourite snack on such a big day, he told them at exactly what time he would be arriving and they had promised him they would have some in. He had calculated the exact time it would take for him to get from the hotel to the café, he would spend 25 minutes there exactly and then the taxi (that he would pay to wait outside for him) would take him to the lighthouse and he would arrive at 2.30pm, it was a 33 minute drive from Lincoln City to Yaquina Head. Charlie was due to arrive at 3.00pm.
He was aware that he tended to get very obsessive compulsive when he was nervous and his travel plans had been pedantically planned to account for every minute. This compulsive behaviour had afflicted him ever since that night with “The Joker” 20 years ago. Had it really been 20 years ago to the day since that terrible night. He had aged so much, experience had worn him down, he had been frightened to live for so long but not anymore, this day would change things. It was important to him psychologically to face this fear and it would be fitting that Charlie would be there, he hoped it would help Charlie as well. He had allowed himself a 30 minute gap to wait for Charlie, that would be his last chance to summon up the strength he needed to step over the threshold into the lighthouse and up those spiral stairs. His head swooned just at the thought of going up those stairs again, he put his doubt to one side and grabbed his wallet and made his way to the door, ready to go into the lobby and wait for his taxi. He made sure that his toothbrush was at the correct angle and was to the left-hand of the sink, he turned the lights on and off 22 times and then he left his hotel room. He set off with just a glimmer of hope for a better future growing in his heart but what he didn’t know was that despite all his meticulous planning Jack would never see Charlie Derwent again….
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