Carlton’s house was strange to say the least. More than strange really, disturbing. Anyone of delicate sensibility who saw it may have been shocked, even horrified, because of its macabre appearance. Carlton’s way of life revolved around building computers which circulate human blood. Naturally Carlton engineered his home to be run by such a system. On the face of it that would not be a bad thing, but the problem was that all of the blood tanks, aerator, pumps, filters and miles of tubing were exposed throughout the house.
Carlton was a skilled engineer, a gifted mechanic and even quite a talented carpenter. But he would not touch any job that involved cutting out and replacing sections of sheet rock. He would never dream of hiring anybody to do that kind of work either. As a result there were bundles of tubes carrying blood around the ceilings of all of the rooms, in the hallway and from room to room. A fish tank full of blood that had streams of tiny bubbles in it, which would have been very suitable for a quiet spot in a closet somewhere, was on display in the main living area of the house.
Carlton also thought of himself as very artistic, in that silently suffering way of someone who knew that they were under appreciated. When he had built the computer connections to each room he had intentionally left all of the hardware exposed, but, to his mind, had done something very arty with it. He built the plastic blood vessels and their support frame to look like vines weaving around a ladder-like structure. He was quite delighted with the effect, but to the uninitiated it looked alarmingly like a mess of entrails, as if some gigantic creature had been disembowelled by large pieces of crane rigging.
Then there was the smell. The cloying, coppery odour that is unmistakably blood. The smell that you hope isn’t what it smells like, because if it is what it smells like, then something very bad must have happened.
Luckily for Carlton he did not have any friends who visited, and there was no reason for a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker to come anywhere near the house. If any of them had it would probably have been the beginning of an investigation and psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Carlton Feathers.
It was Saturday, and Carlton was going out for a leisurely brunch as usual. He was pondering Frank’s parting words and his thoughts came to Rachel. What was it she had said about going to church? He asked the car’s navigator for directions to Anchor Baptist Church, and found that it was in a southern suburb of Salt Lake City. It would take a while to get there. Still, it was a pretty day, with a sky so clear and blue that it looked like it went on forever. A ride into old town would be different, and it would be right about time for lunch when he got there. He would check out the location of the church, just in case.
He shook his head at his train of thoughts, and a flicker of concern warned him about going from contented bachelor to stalker in one leap. Forget Rachel, forget church, he should just stay out of it. Why was life so complicated? Why were even, what seemed like, little choices, now so laden with doubt? Whatever happened to the carefree days of youth? What was so bad about falling in love? These questions streamed through Carlton’s mind and he found himself driving to old town.