Anton jumped at the sound of the doorbell. The Seth Thomas clock above the fireplace read 11:57.
Only ax murderers ring doorbells at midnight.
If he ignored them, maybe they would go away. He reached for his wineglass and sipped. Eyes closed he savored the spicy vintage.
Anton set down his glass with a thump. Crimson liquid splashed over the rim. “Hold your horses.”
He stomped towards the front door. “I said, I’m coming already!”
Anton drew the curtain back and tried to get a glimpse of the jerk who was interrupting a spectacular shiraz. Ice crystals painted the glass. Beautiful. And completely opaque. He sighed, flipped open the deadbolt, and cracked the door.
Icy fingers of wind crept in, sending a quiver up his spine. No one was on the porch. Anton slammed the door shut, grumbling.
Anton whipped around and flung the door open. He stuck his head out to look around. The motion sensor tripped and the porch light came on, blinding him. He shivered again. It had nothing to do with the arctic air.
He looked down. An antique steamer trunk perched on the edge of the steps.
What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks?
Everything was silent, the country lane deserted.
Curiosity killed the cat.
He grabbed the trunk and wrestled it inside.
Anton paced around the heavy wooden chest, debating whether he should open it. He stooped to take a closer to look at the intricate carvings. Men and women adorned the top, in compromising positions. He frowned. No. It was all men. The relief was detailed, the tiny men seemed to wriggle and writhe. His lips curled in distaste.
Anton grabbed his wine and drained the glass. He glared at the trunk.
The chest called to him, begging him to open it. He reached for the wine bottle and poured out the dregs. He gulped it down.
You only live once.
With a jerk, he flipped open the lid. Anything to stop staring at those shocking engravings. Inside, he found the trunk filled with clothes. Atop the carefully folded fabrics, sat a creamy parchment envelope.
The paper was textured, thick almost like linen. Expensive. Anton pulled out a crisp, folded letter and read, wide-eyed.
If you are reading this, I am no longer of this world. I always admired what a proper gentleman you became. Despite your virtues, you never did have a sense of fashion. I thought you’d enjoy sprucing up your repertoire.
Anton grimaced. His mother’s brother had been sweet, but a bit of a dandy. Wealthy and eccentric. Shunned by the family for…lifestyle choices. Anton pawed through the clothes. Sequins and gold lamé.
Such a cliche.
He pulled out a cranberry satin vest and held it up to the light. The navy paisley was subtle, tasteful even. It would match his Armani suit.
This I can do. In homage. RIP Leo.
Anton tucked the vest under his arm and headed up to bed.
Anton slammed the front door.
What a bitch of a day.
He blushed. Internal monologue or not, there was no cause for foul language. It had been a nightmare of a day though. Richard in accounting had complimented Leo’s vest, and Anton had made the most inappropriate rejoinder. It was as if his tongue had a mind of its own.
He needed a drink.
Anton perused the liquor cabinet. His fingers trailed suggestively over the usual suspects. Cabernet. Merlot. Pinot Noir. He hovered over a bottle of Old Crow.
What’s that doing there?
He cracked open the bottle and took a deep draught. It burned going down. He coughed. The amber liquor tasted faintly of burnt toast.
A foreign thought superimposed itself.
Anton shook his head. He walked across the room, taking another pull.
“Fuck!” The curse echoed in the empty den. His toe throbbed where it caught against the corner of the trunk.
Nestled amongst the sweaters a hatbox caught his eye. Anton slipped off the lid and flipped the fedora onto his head with a flick of his wrist. He surveyed himself in the mirror.
Fly? What the…
Dual voices warred. Anton’s stomach flipped. His reflection grinned at him and winked.
Anton’s hands moved of their own volition, pulling out a lilac, pinstripe suit.
Yes. We’ll wear this tomorrow, when we ask Dick, in accounting, for drinks.
Leo smoothed the silky fabric and squashed Anton’s screams.