There is a crossroads in town, one mile west of the 7-Eleven and two blocks away from High Shine Nail Salon on Fifth. Micah stands on the sidewalk with a bag of groceries and a cheap cell phone.
He bites his lip. Once, when he was seventeen, he tried to pierce that lip, and ever since he’s felt a raw slice of tissue missing from the inside, an aversion to needles growing into a panicked phobia he found difficult to control. Micah grips the groceries tighter, and the cool bite of air on his neck is comforting.
He read something about a crossroads once. In the old church, after hours, when his parents had left him with old Father Gregory while they were at work. A book on demons.
Micah can’t quite recall the contents of the book. He finds often that he can’t remember a lot of things, the past becoming a wash of unintelligible colors, unidentifiable shapes, faces he couldn’t place and places he couldn’t ever remember seeing. Micah supposes, then, he should be worried. But he isn’t.
He does, however, recall a picture, done in ink.
If you want a favor, bury a box. The picture showed a careful “X” of criss-crossed dirt roads, a single black square in the center. And bury in the box three items.
Micah blinks. The crossroads is just an intersection, not at all resembling the delicate calligraphy of lines and pebbles and tumble-grass the drawing had shown. There was nothing remotely religious about the quiet grey of cement, the crushed can of Diet Pepsi and THANK YOU COME AGAIN written twice on plastic, in red.