The Interesting Life Of Henry Walton Caines.
“Has anyone seen my keys?” said a woman as she frantically searched the couch cushions.
“No, I haven’t… what did you do with them when we got here?” asked her boyfriend.
“Well, I thought I put them on the table when we walked in, but they’re not there.”
“So you don’t even know where you put them, perfect.”
“Babe, would you just shut up for a minute, please, you’re really not helping the situation.”
“You’re always losing your shit, it’s not like this is the first time. This happens constantly.”
Henry Walton Caines stood against the wall watching the chaos he created unfold. His lips curled up into a smug shit-eating grin. Henry knew exactly where the keys were and it brought him great pleasure. For Henry had a secret that nobody knew. A dark, twisted, sick addiction. He was a kleptomaniac, and had been for most of his life. But Henry didn't just go around stealing anything that caught his eye; he had a particular obsession with stealing keys. Henry Walton Caines was a serial key stealer. When he spotted a set of keys, just sitting there, all by their lonesome, he couldn't resist, he had to have them. Often Henry would attend parties for the sole purpose of stealing keys. People were always so careless at parties, they just toss their keys on the table and don't give them any thought until the moment they're leaving.
Henry had a meticulous system for abducting keys. He didn't just grab and pocket them without any thought. He takes his time and plans his attack. At the first opportunity he strikes like a shark on an unsuspecting swimmer. Henry had almost been caught a few times, but he always managed to talk his way out of the situation. Picking up someone else’s keys was an honest mistake. All keys look the same, right? Once Henry gets a hold of a fresh set of keys, he plants himself and waits. He waits for the owner of his newly acquired gem to come searching. To Henry this was the greatest entertainment in the world. He could hardly contain himself most of the time. Sometimes he would even offer to help look. Just to rub salt into the wounds.
Henry had been stealing keys since he was 11 years old. It started off around the house, he would steal his father’s car keys and hide them in his bed room. He quickly graduated to stealing keys from complete strangers. At coffee shops, school, stores and his favourite, parties. Henry’s key collection grew at an alarming rate. He had shoe box upon shoe box filled with keys in his closet. No one ever suspected the short curly haired kid was a thief of an unusual breed.
At one particular party Henry came across a set of keys that were made for a king. Each key was engraved with an intricate design. The moment Henry laid his eyes on the keys he knew he had to have them. He was so excited to steal this particular set of keys that he didn't even wait; he didn't plan and plot his next move. He swiveled his head scanning the room for nosey bystanders. No one was looking, he was in the clear. He hurried towards the kitchen table. The keys were sitting there, just staring at Henry. He snatched them up quickly and left the room. Henry had gotten away with another successful seizure. He had got what he came for, he no longer had any reason to stay. Henry always felt out of place at parties, considering most people were there to have fun and socialize.
“You’re leaving already?” asked Arthur.
“Yes, I have to be going. I had a great time though, thank you for having me,” said Henry.
“Well, I’m glad to hear. To be honest, it always looks like you’re having a shitty time.”
“I don’t exactly fit in with this crowd, Arthur. Or any crowd as a matter of fact. I rather enjoy my own company,” said Henry.
“Why do you even bother coming then bro. I mean, I invite you over and over again and you always come and pull the same shit.”
“I don’t understand. What are you getting at?” Henry fidgeted with his collar nervously.
“At every party, you stand in the corner all alone, staring into space.
“I don’t feel the need to speak with your ‘friends’, what could they possible offer to someone like me?”
Arthur was silent for a moment. He just stared at Henry with a stern loathsome look.
“You’re unbelievable man. You know how many times I’ve stuck up for you. I thought you were my friend. But, the truth is, you’re really just an asshole, Henry.”
“Thanks again for having me. Always nice chatting, Arthur.”
Henry made his way towards the large mahogany doors and out into the cold night. As he walked he heard the keys jingling in his pocket, it reminded Henry of his gift. Henry walked down Fisher Street. It was filled with bars, taverns, and plenty of drunks. Henry wasn't one to go into these places, but, today was different. He felt like celebrating his new acquisition. He continued to walk until he came across a small quiet tavern.
“I’ll take a beer, please. Preferably a lager, if you have.”
“We only got one type of beer here buddy, it’s a home-brew,” said the barkeep.
“A home-brew hardly sounds legal, but how quaint. Yes, I’ll try one of your ‘home-brews.’”
Henry sat in a booth, fiddling with the keys in his pocket. Every couple of minutes, he took them out and examined them. There was a small brass tag on them that read, 334 Weller St. Suite 5. Henry noticed this from the very first moment. In fact it was the glare off the shiny brass tag that initially caught Henry’s eye. At this point, Henry was on his second beer. He finished off the last sip of his “home-brew” and threw a dollar on the table. He then headed back out into the night. He stumbled to his front step and struggled to open his door. Once inside his key-infested apartment, Henry emptied his pockets and jumped into bed. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow. A gust of wind blew through an open window, rattling the thousands of keys proudly displayed on the walls.
In the middle of the night Henry awoke to a loud bang. He turned on his light and peered through his window. It was just his neighbors’ Chevy backfiring, again. Henry stumbled to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water. His eyes were half closed, his mind still dazed from the home-brew. A street light flickered on and off, casting a stream of light that fell on top of Henry's nightstand. The brass tag caught the light, flickering in the darkness. Henry paid it no mind, he was too tired to give it any thought.
Morning quickly came. Henry woke up, showered, and brushed his teeth. He made his way down to the cafe below his apartment. Every morning Henry ate the same thing. Two poached eggs, one piece of brown toast, slightly burnt and a glass of chocolate milk. Henry had been going to this cafe for the last five years. From the time he entered the cafe to the time he left the only words he uttered were “Can I get some more jam, please.”
After breakfast Henry sat in the park reading the Sunday paper as he always did. He was a man of strict regiment, or at least he liked to think that. In reality Henry was a shell of a man trying to fill a void with material objects. Well one particular material object, keys. Stealing keys was the only thing that brought him any joy. He didn't know why, but, it just did. He simply couldn't resist. He wasn't stealing for financial or personal gain. It’s was an impulse, an addiction, an uncontrollable urge to steal. As he stood up from the park bench, the keys fell from his pocket. Henry was positive he had left them on the nightstand. But then again, he wasn't in the clearest state of mind this morning. Henry picked up the keys and stared at them. Weller St. was in the old part of town, it was filled with old dilapidated buildings and forgotten streets. Plenty of history, but, no one to remember it.
Henry decided to go for a little stroll. It was such a gorgeous day it would be a shame to just sit in his apartment. Henry started walking towards the old part of town, he wasn't exactly sure where Weller St. was but he knew he would find it eventually. After about forty minutes of walking Henry’s feet started to ache. He was wearing his new leather dress shoes. They looked great, but did they ever hurt his feet. To Henry, pain was a small price to pay to look good. He was rather vain in that respect. Henry sat down on the first stoop he saw. He laid down a handkerchief to protect his new slacks from the alarming amount of dirt. After ten minutes Henry regained his composure and stood up. As he turned around he was stopped dead in his tracks. He stared at the building in disbelief, 334. Weller Street. The building was five stories tall and looked like it was about to fall down. All the windows were still intact, but, it didn't look like anyone had been inside in quite some time. Henry couldn't make sense of it, but, the building looked oddly familiar. He felt as if he had been here before.
Henry mustered up the courage to walk up to the front door. The windows were covered in a thick dust. Henry peered through them, all he could see was a wooden chair and an old stair case. He jiggled the doorknob and to his surprise the door was already unlocked. He opened the door and slowly crept inside. The floorboards creaked with every step. The smell of mothballs and dust filled the air, making it difficult to breathe. Henry carefully walked up the stairs until he reached the 5th floor. Written on the door, in faint letters, the words “Michael Smerle M.D.” Henry stared at the door for several seconds before he finally put the key in the lock. It was a little tough putting it in, the door clearly hadn't been opened in many years. Henry turned the knob and opened it. Everything seemed so familiar. He walked around, poking his head in every room. Every office was empty, expect for one. In it sat a large oak desk with a brown leather chair behind it. The thing looked like it weighed about 500 pounds. Henry walked around the desk and pulled out the chair. He dusted it off and sat down.
The moment Henry sat in the chair he was overwhelmed with painful memories from his childhood. He was 10 years old again, sitting in a cold leather chair. His arms and legs strapped down. Waves of pain radiated through his body over and over again. A man in a white coat stood over Henry, he couldn't make out what he was saying, everything was muffled. His vision was blurred and distorted. A bright light blinded him from above. Henry quickly snapped back into reality. He was breathing heavy and sweating profusely. Henry now realized why this office looked so familiar. This was the very place he received shock treatment as a child. It was extremely difficult for Henry to cope. He had never confronted his past, or forgiven his mother. How could he, she allowed it to happen. How could they do that to a child? Henry was just a helpless boy.
Henry was in disbelief, this couldn't be happening, it was too surreal. How is it that these keys lead him here? What was the reason for this? These strange set of events brought him to the very place that caused him so much pain and suffering. This was too much for Henry. He began to get dizzy and lose his balance, sharp pains radiated through his body. He rose from the chair and lunged for a closed window. He finally pried it open as he gasped for air. He caught his breathe and leaned against the decrepit wall. Henry needed to leave immediately, he could no longer be here. He took the keys out of his pocket and stared at them for a moment. The shimmer was gone; it was replaced with a dull scratched surface that offered nothing more than confusion and disappointment. Henry opened the desk drawer, placed them in the very back and closed it.
The keys no longer had a hold on Henry. They were left for dead in a dark place, forever forgotten. If only he could leave his memories behind as well. This was one set of keys that Henry Walton Caines didn't need.
Dillon Meilleur is currently in his second year of Professional Writing at Algonquin College. Dillon is a friendly, outgoing person with a big heart and even bigger dreams. He hopes to one day become a respected published writer. Dillon has experience is many aspects of writing; short stories, scripts, advertisements, PR releases, narratives, satire and much more. In his spare time he enjoys working out, riding his bike and hanging with his friends.