Memory of Stairs (Ginger Man 11E)

Mike’s mother lowered the teacup and saucer onto the low table in front of the sofa. “Your timing is actually quite good.” She stood, adjusted the sweater over her shoulders. “When we started cleaning out his room last month, it was — ” she sighed — “difficult.”

Charlie stood up, the glass of water still in his right hand. “We don’t have to do this now.” He was surprised at how sincere his words sounded, in spite of the eagerness he felt to start rummaging through Mike’s room. With a dismissive tsk and wave of her hand, Mike’s mother began walking towards the stairs leading to the second floor of her family’s home.

Charlie was familiar with these stairs, the creak of the third stair greeting him like a favorite pop song playing on the radio. He remembered something Mike had told him once about a Sherlock Holmes story he read, and counted each of the eleven steps.

Mike’s mother had started several paces in front of him and was walking more briskly. By the time Charlie arrived at the doorway to Mike’s room, she was already staring thoughtfully at the posters on the wall. She pointed to one of Yoda, wielding a green lightsaber, hung above the bed. “You interested in any of these?”

Charlie shook his head. “Not really.”

Mike’s mother nodded. “Guess we can just take them down.” She walked over to a pile of cardboard cartons next to the bed. “Figured you’d be more interested in these.” She opened the flaps of the box on top, waved a hand down. Charlie stared down — there were comic books and magazines, dozens of them. Charlied leafed through them quickly, not so much caring about individual titles but rather checking if there were any other types of content, specifically the one thing he was looking for, the only reason he had come to this home this afternoon. No — just comic books and magazines.

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