Before I could ask Janus to clarify his bold statement, he took me by the arm and led me through an ornate archway and down a darkened hallway. Dumbfounded, I went along with him without protest, my mind chewing on his allegations of Miriam’s early life. Finally, after a long walk, I could make out a small sliver of light coming from under a doorway up ahead. The sergeant stopped in front of that door, held out a hand for me to pause and then stood silently for a moment. He seemed to be listening for something. I myself heard nothing. Then, somehow satisfied, he turned the knob and opened the door. Light flooded into the hallway and he motioned for me to enter the room beyond.
I stepped into a room that, had my mood been more cheerful, I might have called charming. It was decorated tastefully, with a fine balance between the male and female sensibilities and with a small, crackling fire in its fireplace. There was one window, but its shades and curtains were drawn tight and, interestingly, the only furniture present and of note were two chairs, both of them comfortable-looking and facing each other in roughly the center of the room. I turned to look at Janus, unsure of what exactly I was to make of it all.
”The Room of Visitation welcomes you,” he said, and then insisted I sit down in one of the chairs, whichever one I chose. He then swiveled on his heel and made as to exit the room.
Well, I had no intention of “visiting” long with the man and told him that to be called to his home and then shuffled off into a parlor while he did God Knows What was simply not on the agenda. I demanded to be told what he knew of my wife and in no uncertain terms.
Janus’ frowned slightly, shook his head and then asked me once again to sit down. All would be explained soon, he said. The Lord only knows why, but I did as he asked. A moment later and he had left the room.
Sitting in one of the chairs, I began to feel foolish. I looked around the damnable room and realized how ridiculous it all was, how it seemed to be more of a charade of some sort and that I had fallen into the hands of a lunatic. I moved to stand up.
I heard a door open. I looked up at the only door in the room, but it remained as it was after Janus had left; closed and silent. I was not only sure there was no other door into the room, I was certain of it.
Then someone stepped around from behind me, behind my chair, and, with displacement of air and a rustle of cloth, sat down in the chair opposite me.
It was Miriam.
TO BE CONTINUED in Part 6.
All contents © Jim Beard 2012
Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at Amazon.com.