By Zachary Lutz
A master of deceit and a wearer of dark suits, the detached operative from Nightmare, Indiana transfers to Kent to exercise his strengths. Accepted into the Kent branch of an unknown organization, he is given a map with pin-pointed areas of interest and the number to a hotel. Here, the Nightmare Op records his nightly exploration of the Kent State campus and surrounding area in the midst of corruption and the seething mystery of blue and gold.
The afternoon was not illuminating. I didn't have the proper paperwork with me, which was something I blamed on Al, and his grey shirt. The library would not allow me to open a new account with just a wink. I thought about passing the shy librarian a coin and a kiss over the counter, but then I decided against it and wandered to the local history section. I found I was over-saturated.
I wondered if it was the eggs, or if it was my sense of displacement. I could not tell what broiled in my stomach, just that it was turning over like a devil. The librarian wouldn't get her eyes off me and I knew if I sat there any longer she would report to the local authorities that there was a strange suited man casing the place. Or, I thought. She didn't move when I left.
I found, after consulting my watch, that I had spent a considerable amount of time uneasy and glazing over books. This was an affectation. Really, I wasn't reading anything at all. It was the red eye catching up with me, and the fact that my sleep pattern was skewered entirely.
The parking lot swallowed me up and I took out Samuel and traced a line that would get me through downtown. A rush of blind exploration, that would clear the body of wrong. It has cleared me of many wrongs past. So too does the wearing of a good suit. I found quiet in the anticipation of the Cuyahoga river, which I descended upon from a jaunty iron staircase that wound into the ground. The hint of a noise ushered me onto a fiber-board walkway that stretched the shoulder of the bridge and continued on for the whole distance of my view. The sky was bruised from raining so much, but I had no apology to offer. It was the sky's own fault.
A kayak passed by in a great banana horror, and I watched in disbelief as the oars dipped among a frothy white film. The ends were marked 'KSU' which I immediately attributed to the university. I waved to them, but I was pale, and so the pilots smirked at what I imagine to be an equally strange observation on their part. I wanted to yell out, "Hi-Oh! Friend of the University!" but I knew it would only elevate the situation. And I was sure that they would tip right over and bob there in their puffed-black vests, gasping in desperation. I never start a fight where there isn't a fight. Diamond Cory would disagree.
Feeling a little dejected, but altogether confident that my regular breathing pattern had revived, I wandered along the river following a path north. It wove behind trees and I concentrated on a very restrictive walk so as to not disturb the sides of my bluchers with mud. There were sunken steps along the footpath that looked archeological, and I made a note of this.
Brady's Leap. It sounded like a cafe. I had a strange notion to yell here too. There was a placard with some historical information, and I quickly copied it down over a scrap of newspaper I fished out of my pocket. Here was a grassy gorge of a spot that was a thumbprint of green and it said that a Captain Samuel Brady leapt here in 1780 across the Cuyahoga to avoid a band of Indians. Twenty-one feet. An admirable distance. I made a few mimetic starts on the knoll and then I saw another banana coming up the river, and so I turned and went away.
"You, Tommy, get away from that!" (A woman from behind, on the path with her young.)
"Ma'am, I didn't see you there," I said, surprising her. She cupped the child against her and swatted at the broken amber claw of glass near a bush. She smiled up at me, beaming almost. Her turquoise sweater was loose and the neck of her undershirt came up to cuddle her chin with a warm nearness. The two wandered away and I turned back again, yawning at the deep washing vein of the Cuyahoga river.