001 – Garden of Dreams
Location – Spokane Valley, Washington
Date – Thursday the 8th of September, 2016
Part VII – Night
“Hey Dad? Did you pack my bag already?” Hannah question Charles, walking down stairs to the study.
“No I didn’t Sunshine,” Charles responds looking at his watch. “You’re hunting mentor must have done it earlier while they were here”.
Charles gets up out of his chair. “We’ll be leaving for dinner soon, you’ll be leaving for good”
“Really, it’s a bit early don’t you think?” Hannah poses.
“Nope, we’ll be heading to a hunter’s saloon that’s just outside of town,” Charles states. “We’ll be meeting Clarence there for dinner, and then we’ll be staying on after he’s left to wait for your new partner who’s coming to pick you up a bit later”
“Okay, I’ll be ready to go in a second” Hannah enthusiastically sprints back upstairs.
“She was that raring to go huh?” Charles smirks.
“And don’t call me Sunshine!” Hannah yells at the top of her lungs.
When they get to the car, Hannah persists that Charles let her drive to the bar, however, Charles refuses claiming that she would most likely share the driving with her partner once they get started, and that some of the roads leading to the bar can be a bit dangerous. Hannah gives-in rather easily due to already believing Charles wouldn’t let her drive in the first place, but she gave it a go anyway, just in case.
After about forty minutes of driving, they arrive. The saloon looks exactly like it should, like it came right out of a western. Minus the neon sign, Hannah thought. The neon sign brazen across the front of the saloon, just above the veranda, reads ‘The Drunken Huntsman, just a sip away from finding spirits’.
“Hey Dad? Do you know why they named the saloon that?” Hannah queries.
“No, why do they name it that?” Charles directs the question back to Hannah, jokingly.
“Dad…” Hannah aspirates.
“Oh fine,” Charles continues. “Well, Huntsman is pretty straight forward, this is a hunter’s saloon after all. Finding spirits is probably a reference to spirits, the kind of drink, and spirits, the other word for ghosts. But it could be a reference to a particular kind of ghost spirit that you have to be drunk to see”.
“That’s actually something that exists?” Hannah asks, furrowing her brows.
“Anything mythological exists” Charles recites.
“Again, your claim contradicts itself,” Hannah gets out of the car. “And I didn’t even mention anything from mythology that time”.
As Charles and Hannah walk inside, almost everyone greets Charles like an old friend and the ones that didn’t, rush over to introduce themselves as if he was a local celebrity. Hannah feels somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of noise everyone’s making for her father.
“Hey Chaz! Is that an escort behind you,” one man drunkenly spurs out. “Coz’ there ain’t no way a gorgeous young thang like that gonna stick close to an old fart like you unless there’s some kind of contract”.
“There is a contract actually,” Charles quickly retorts. “It’s called an adoption agreement, now get outta here before I deck yah”
“Wow really? You got yourself a kid? I guess I know the reason you quit huntin’ all those years ago,” the man deciphers. “Look, I’m sorry Chaz, little Miss Chaz, it won’t happen again”.
“You better be…” Charles continues.
“I am, and you know what, to prove it too ya, your first round tonight is on me, in fact, make that your first ‘two’ rounds” the man hands Charles some cash.
“Thanks friend,” Charles grins as he takes the cash. “Now go back to whatever drink you came out of”.
“Aye aye, capt’n” the man dances off towards the billiards table.
Hannah looks around. Despite the liveliness of all the patrons, there aren’t as many people here she thought there would be. Suddenly, she notices someone familiar behind the bar and begins dashing over with a smile on her face.
“Aunt Barbara!” she yells.
“Well as I live and breathe, it’s my little Sunshine,” Barbara reaches out to hug Hannah over the bar top. “How ya been”
“Good!, starting tomorrow I’m gonna be a hunter” Hannah bursts.
“I know, I heard from your father earlier today,” Barbara returns. “Is Charles gonna be huntin’ with you? Between you an’ me I think he’s a little too old, and a little too rusty to continue”.
“If you say it’s between you and her,” Charles walks up the bar. “Perhaps you shouldn’t say it loud enough for the person in question to hear you”.
“And what fun would that be?” Barbara teases. “You need to be told how useless you are. Could save this young lady some heartache”.
Hannah giggles. “I can’t remember the last time I saw you Aunt Barbara. Where have you been all this time?”
“Well I’ve been right ‘ere,” Barbara states. “Livin’, lyin’ around, and serving hot meals and liquor. And the last time I saw you was when you started junior high, didn’t figure you’d need be to babysat anymore”
“Oh, right” Hannah remembers, feeling a bit silly.
“So who is she gonna partner up with if it ain’t gonna be you?” Barbara questions Charles.
“Donavan’s eldest” Charles answers.
“Wow. Hannah do you know what this means?”
“No I don’t” Hannah leans back slightly.
“Aww, you’re gonna become super hunter if Donavan’s kid is gonna teach you,” Barbara stands tall. “The estate produces some pretty amazing hunters”.
“Estate?” Hannah tilts her head, arms crossed
“Well that’s enough for the reunion, hows about you set us up with a table for three Barb?”
“I can do that, you want any drinks to start you off?” Barbara asks.
“I’ll have two fingers of Jack Daniels single glass, thanks” Charles recites.
“Can I have a glass of cola please?” Hannah leans on the bar.
“I’m sorry hun’, unfortunately we don’t get too many minors in here so I’ve never stocked any” Barbara apologizes. “How about a glass of Canadian club?”
“What’s that?” Hannah queries.
“It’s blended whiskey, got ginger ale in it” Barbara informs. “You’d like it, it’s perfect for a first drink. It’s nice and light so it won’t make you feel like a blimp afterwards. Of course, only if Charles says you can”.
“Sure why not?” Charles accepts.
“Okay it’s settled,” Barbara concludes. “Head over to table numbered ten and I’ll bring them over in a jiffy, along with some dinner menus”.
“Thanks” Charles and Hannah unite.
Not long after, their drinks and menus arrive. However, after finding what they want for dinner, Charles and Hannah decide to wait for Clarence to arrive. Clarence is an old friend of Charles who would sometimes visit and even look after Hannah every once in a while. Clarence would always come to visit on Hannah’s birthdays, and without fail, would always bring a birthday present with him. All of a sudden, the saloon door opens and an average looking man walks in. He’s sporting black suit pants, a buttoned white dress shirt, a loosened blue necktie and a beige trench coat. He walks over toward Charles and Hannah.
“Hello Charles, Hannah, sorry for keeping you waiting,” Clarence apologizes in a deep, gravelly voice. “How are you two?”
“I’m good Clare, how about you” Charles returns.
“I feel fine,” Clarence states. “This autumn weather, sure is autumny isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is,” Charles awkwardly responds. “How about a drink?”
“Just water thanks Charles,” Clarence aspirates. “It didn’t end well the last time I drank”
“Right…” Charles agrees. “I’ll be right back”.
“So Hannah,” Clarence asks. “How was your final week of school”.
“It was interesting,” Hannah twiddles with her fingers. “Today we had some really strange substitute teachers come in”.
“Really? How were they strange?” Clarence pries.
“Well, there was this weirdo male teacher with his hair dyed bright red who looked like he was straight out of university, and a little blonde haired girl who’s even shorter than me was acting as a P.E. teacher. She made fun of some of the guys in the class, but she looked like she should still be in middle school” Hannah explains.
“Really? How strange” Clarence responds as Charles places a glass of water in front of him. “Oh, how could I forget?” Clarence reach inside his coat. “Happy Birthday for tomorrow Hannah” Clarence congratulates Hannah as he hands her a wrapped box and an envelope.
“Wow thanks, what is it?” Hannah inspects and shakes the box slightly.
“It’s a surprise, but you must promise me to only open it tomorrow. Also, try and keep it away from your new hunting partner. It’s a pretty valuable object,” Clarence smiles slightly. “But you can open the envelope now, it’s got something even more precious in it than the box”.
Hannah quickly opens the envelope, wanting to learn what could be more important than the actual present. She expects a sappy or mind blowing message, maybe some money inside but is surprised to find only a photo. It depicts a young smiling woman with dark-brown hair sitting down on the end of a bench, holding a small baby, wrapped in a blanket. The woman’s long hair is in a messy plaid, it hangs over her right shoulder. Two children are in the way of the camera, and are facing the baby, as if they are enamored with its sleepy looking face. They’re facing away from the camera, so Hannah can only make out their Caucasian skin and the kids’ hair colour. Black, and Blond. Time stamped; The twenty-fifth of December, nineteen-ninety-eight.
“What’s this a photo of?” Hannah asks.
“It’s not what, it’s who,” Clarence gets up slightly to point more accurately at the picture. “That baby, is you, and that woman, is your mother, your real mother, as far as I can tell”.
“What? Seriously?” Hannah’s flabbergasted. “This is…, how did you find this? I thought everything from before being adopted by Dad was destroyed”.
“Charles thought so too, but I came across this photo during my travels,” Clarence continues. “This was taken by a photographer who, at the time, was taking themed photos of young and new mothers. When I came across the photo, I explained how the young mother looked exactly like an adopted girl I knew”.
Clarence was right, the woman looked exactly like Hannah.
“We’ll, I’m sorry but I’m gonna have to leave early” Clarence concludes.
“Really? Aww that’s too bad,” Charles states. “Can’t you stay for dinner”.
“No, unfortunately,” Clarence regrets. “Well, hopefully I can meet you again for your next birthday Hannah”.
Hannah stands up, with a tear in her eye. “Thank you Clarence”
“Don’t mention it” Clarence forces a smile.
After Clarence left, the dinner that Hannah and Charles had ordered arrived. When they finished, Hannah played some rounds of billiards with the other patrons and Charles, killing time, waiting for her hunting partner and mentor to arrive. Later, Hannah starts to feel sleepy and sits down in a chair and checks her phone. It’s just past ten Hannah thought to herself after seeing the time light up on the screen. Charles walks over to Hannah while she’s focusing on her phone, not really paying attention to her surroundings.
“Hannah?” Charles probes to get her attention.
Hannah looks up in a daze. “Yeah?”
“I’d like to introduce you to your new hunting partner and teacher,” Charles states as Hannah eyes widen with disbelief. “Kirein Steins”