by jason gusmann
visuals by rhoda penmarq
Hap Dixon in the Case of the Dark Tunnel
Chapter One: A Stout Chum
Her legs are thin and her dress is black; the picture above the sofa's cracked.
Mom is no longer in the picture in the brown wooden frame.
No blonde hair, no blue dress, no devil mask.
There is only blue sky and a russet tree.
Aunt Cindy sits on the left side of the green sofa in her short black dress.
She has short black hair and long white legs.
Her long white legs are crossed at the knee.
Her suspended white right foot shakes incessantly.
The black high-heeled shoe that dangles from it shakes along.
Bodie the dog sits on the orange rug near the green sofa watching Aunt Cindy's white right foot and her black high-heeled shoe.
Aunt Cindy watches Bodie and ashes her long white cigarette on the orange rug.
Bodie watches the ash descend, then turns his attention back to Aunt Cindy’s shaking foot and shoe.
Dad sits on the right side of the green sofa eating a TV dinner which sits upon a tan TV tray.
Hap Dixon sits between Dad and Aunt Cindy eating a TV dinner which sits upon another tan TV tray.
Dad and Hap Dixon watch the television in the big brown console.
The television is off.
What’s on for tonight, Hap? asks Dad.
Hap swallows what he is chewing.
I think I’ll probably just do some homework.
Aunt Cindy sighs.
Bodie growls at Aunt Cindy.
Maybe I’ll take Bodie for a walk first, though, Hap adds.
Sounds good, Hap! says Dad as he pushes his TV tray back and gets up.
Hap follows Dad, glancing back at Aunt Cindy.
I’ll just grab a light fall jacket first.
Aunt Cindy glares at Hap, again ashes her long white cigarette onto the orange rug.
Bodie follows Hap up the staircase behind the wall which abuts the big, brown console television.
Hap walks into his bedroom, which is sizable for a boy his age.
Hap sits on his bed, which rests against a sky blue wall with an oxblood red pennant on it that reads BASEBALL.
Hap’s bed is neatly made.
Hap sighs, Bodie, I just don’t know what to make of Aunt Cindy sometimes.
I know you don’t like her either, boy, but we’ve just got to make the best of it.
Hap grabs his fall jacket and springs to his feet.
Now, let’s go for that walk, boy!
Bodie wags his tail and barks happily.
Hap bounds down the stairs and Bodie follows.
Dad pauses lighting his pipe to say to Hap, Why don’t you stop by Yardley Shaw’s while you are out?
Hap replies, Sure, Dad, that’s a swell idea!
Dad wags his finger at them as they leave the house, Don’t be too late, though, Hap - it’s already getting dark.
We won’t, Dad! Hap calls over his shoulder.
Dad waves to Hap and Bodie while Aunt Cindy, still seated on the green sofa, takes off her black high-heeled shoes.
Hap and Bodie half-run, half-walk down the block until they see a stout young man in a navy blue polo shirt and plaid shorts waving to them from his front yard.
Hi Yardley! calls Hap.
Hello chum! calls Yardley Shaw back to Hap.
And there’s my Bodie dog!
Bodie quickly pads up to Yardley and jumps up on him, nearly knocking the stout fellow over.
Whoa there, Bodie!
Yardley reaches into his plaid shorts and pulls out a sweet for Bodie.
So what are you pals doing, painting the town red?
Hap bashfully kicks the ground.
No, Yardley, we’re just going for a walk.
Suddenly, Hap snaps his fingers.
Hey! I just had a swell idea.
Do you think it’s dark enough to use your telescope?
Yardley squints into the deepening dusk.
I think it just might be, Hap!
Oh boy! exclaims Hap.
This will be fun!