Theo left the front door wide open and simply shuffled off through the entry way while I followed a polite distance behind him.
There were three pairs of mixed gender shoes piled by the door and one orphaned loafer. A shin-high hole indicated someone had once taken their frustration out on the wall. Perhaps the missing loafer was still inside. A little further down was a hand print made with either dirt, blood or a little of both. There was a crooked landscape painting on the opposite wall of some anonymous farm.
“How do you know Jessie?” he asked over his shoulder.
It was hard to hear him due to large black mongrel dog barking and throwing itself against the back door. It’s wild nature and the mass of paw prints on the glass door indicated it was rarely in the house. The clumps of dog hair scattered across the floor proved it at least came in occasionally.
“I don’t know Jessie,” I said, speaking quickly. I had to give him my best sales pitch as fast as possible before he changed his mind about allowing me into his house.
“I’ve never met her. Nope, not once. Her father sent me here. Do you know Mr. Byrd? I bet not. He loves that girl of his. Anyway, my job, and I was hoping you could help, is to help her.”
Theo had flopped onto the couch and was now holding a 2 foot bong his lap.
“Help her do what?” he said before lighting the bong.
“I’m going to to help her with anything she needs assistance. For instance, it could be school…”
Theo exploded into a went hacking cough.
“Jessie’s not in school,” Theo said as his coughing spit started to stall.
“No, she’s not in school. But she WANTS to be in school.”
“She does?” Theo said, cocking his head like a confused dog.
“Of course she does,” I said. “She’s afraid to let you know that she wants to go back to college.”
I realized Theo probably spent most of his days either mentally or chemically confused.
“Yes, she is nervous about it and wants to act like she’s not interested in going back to college. So you and I have to be very clever and help her realize its okay.”
“You work for her father. She won’t like you. She only likes Cyndi.”
That was it. Theo, despite the fact that his limited brain cells were heavily damaged, had given me hope in reaching Jessie. I just had to play up my connection to Mr. Byrd’s secretary, Cyndi, and down play my pay checks from Mr. Byrd.
“So when will Jessie be home?”
Theo cocked his head to the side, returning to his confused dog look. Man, look at that guy strain to think.
“Late,” he said, but the reply came out with the inflection of a question.
‘What’s late?” I asked.
More confused dog looks from Theo. More painful brain straining.
“Maybe… 1 am?” he said, obviously guessing.
“Okay, here’s the deal. How about I come back at around 11:30. If you see Jessie, tell her a friend of Cyndi’s came by looking for her. Can you do that.”
Theo nodded his head and then pressed his face back into his bong.
“Okay, I’ll see you at 11:30 tonight,” I said, speaking v e r y s l o w l y.
Theo didn’t walk me out. Theo could use some time in a finishing school.