A DARK SHADOWS short story


Nancy Eddy

    Quentin Collins emptied another bottle, his third--or was it his fourth?--and tossed it across the room.  Julia Hoffman's visit was still on his mind.  Barnabas needed his help?  He couldn't even help himself at the moment.  Somehow, losing Amanda was the last straw.  There was a knock at the door.  "Go away," he muttered.  The knocking became more insistent.  "I said go away!  I don't want to see anyone!"  Still his unwanted visitor pounded on the door.  "Is that you, Julia?"
    A man's voice answered, muffled through the wood.  "It's Chris Jennings."
    Quentin hesitated before finishing his whiskey.  He wasn't ready for this.  With a wry twist of his lips, he realized he never would be.  Rising to his feet, Quentin found that he was stone cold sober.  He opened the door.  "Come in, Chris."
    "Thanks."  The two men stood across the room, neither one moving.  The last time they had met, Quentin's memory had been less than perfect.  He found himself wishing for that time again.
    Chris ran his fingers through his hair.  "I just saw Julia.  She said she'd tried to talk you and you threw her out."
    Quentin opened another bottle of whiskey and poured himself a generous measure before offering some to Chris.  When Chris refused with a shake of his head, Quentin shrugged and took a drink.  "Look, I need some time."
    "Nice that you've got time.  Some of us don't."
    Quentin set his glass on the table loudly.  "Why don't we just get it out into the open?"  he asked. "You didn't come her because of Julia--you came to see the man who's responsible for your problem.  I wouldn't blame you for hating me.  I know I would, if I were you and had to face that again."
    "To tell you the truth, I'm not sure how I feel.  For so long, I wondered, why me?  I thought maybe I had done something wrong.  Then when Barnabas and Julia started trying to help me and discovered why I am the way I am--when Julia told me, I wanted nothing more than to put my hands around your neck."
    "And that's changed?"
    "I don't know!!"  Chris began to pace the room restlessly.  "I've managed the last eight years--I'll go on doing it.  It's not me I worry about."
    Quentin understood.  "Your sister.  Amy."
    "Yeah.  She's--she's really a special kid.  If she ever foudn out the truth--that her brother's a--I'm afraid it would destroy her.  And she'll have to know one day."
    "Julia might find a way--"
    Chris cut him off.  "She's tried.  And even if she helped me, that wouldn't stop Amy's son from carrying the curse.  There is no miracle cure."
    Taking a deep breath, Quentin nodded.  "I guess I know that.  It wasn't Charles Tate's portrait that cured me.  Count Petofi transferred the curse to it."
    "And he's dead."
    "As far as anyone knows."  Chris turned away.  "Look, if it'll help, feel free to throw a punch or to--"
    "It's tempting, but it wouldn't change anything."
    "It might make us both feel better."
    "I can't clear your conscience for you, Quentin," Chris said.  "You'll just have to live with that."
    "I have--for over seventy years.  Everytime I thought about Lenore, about what her son would have to go through  because of my stupidity--"
    "Only she didn't have a son.  Only a daughter.  I don't think she ever knew that she was a Collins."
    "No.  Mrs. Fillmore wouldn't have told her.  It was probably for the best, all things considered."
    "Yeah.  Are you gonna call Julia about Barnabas?"
    "Maybe tomorrow."
    "Then I'll be going."  Quentin walked him to the door.  In the doorway, Chris spoke again, "Oh, Quentin--"
    Chris came around without warning with a hard right that connected easily with Quentin's jaw.  Quentin staggered backward to the edge of the bed, watching as Chris grinned.  "You know, you were right!  I do feel better.  I'll be seeing you."  He closed the door behind him.
    Quentin lightly touched his sore jaw, then collapsed onto the bed, laughing . . .

|| Home || FanFic Vault || E-Mail ||