Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Kurtis leaned back in the broad oak chair, his head gently throbbing. He let his gaze wander from the ordered stacks of papers on his desk to the expanse of woodland visible through the loft window. God he loved this place. So many memorable things had started here, filing his patents, launching his business, even his lovely wife Meg had come to him here, at a chance meeting during the open house when he’d bought the place.

“I’m making tea dear,” his wife’s voice drifted in from the kitchenette, “would you like a cup?”

“Yes sweetheart, that would be lovely.” Opening his desk drawer, Kurtis reached past the Band-Aids and his EpiPen to the bottle of Tylenol, of which he dry swallowed two before replacing it and closing the drawer.

He couldn’t help but think how things would have been different if Martin Lockman had gotten to that open house first. Kurtis smiled at the memory, moving around to the front of the desk and leaning against the wood top. He thought of Martin’s excitement at having found this place, and his plans to purchase it. If he hadn’t had that ‘accident’, he’d have made it on time. He could picture Martin’s face, fuming over the mess of ruined metal that had been his car after the blowout.

“I always liked this place Kurtis,” the voice startled him, making him jump off the desk, “it should have been mine years ago.”

Kurtis wheeled to the figure seated behind him, speaking comfortably from the black high back mesh chair behind the metal and glass that was the desktop now between them.

“Martin?” Kurtis stammered. “What the hell are you doing here, and what have you done to my desk?”

“Oh come now Kurtis, you know very well that this place is mine, has always been mine.” It was Martin smiling now, with the sympathetic look one reserved for lost children or stray dogs.

“You get the hell out, I don’t know what game you’re playing Martin, but I’m having none of it. Get out.”

“I don’t play games, Kurtis, I never did. It took almost a lifetime to find a way back to where it all started, and to set things right. No accident this time Kurtis, no accident at all.”

“What the hell are you talking about, what’s happening?” The room about him was changing, nauseating him as book cases changed to glass doored cupboards, the couch morphing into two easy chairs and a reading stand.

“I mean you didn’t sabotage my car this time Kurtis. Honey in your coffee instead, anaphylactic shock. Shame, really, you could have done so many good things.

Kurtis shook with anger and fear. “Get – Out – Of – My – House.”

“It’s not yours anymore, so you’ll be leaving in a moment, not me. You see you took my life once, and it’s taken some time, but now I’m returning the gesture. I’ve simply taken it back.

“You’re not taking anything, I’m sure as hell not leaving and in a moment I’m going to call the police.”

“Oh Kurtis, you really don’t get it, do you? I’m not going to take–I’ve already taken, and as you’ve already left, I’m merely humoring you while reality catches up.”

“What’s all the yelling about?” Meg padded gracefully into the room, carrying a tray with coffee and cookies to the desk and setting it down. “Are you going to work in here all day?”

Martin pulled his wife close to him, wrapping his arms around her lithe waist. “No my dear, I think I’ve done enough for today.”

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