The yellow sticky note was stained with coffee, as if Henderson wrote hurriedly to get down his last instructions before his death. It took me a whole minute to read his indecipherable scrawl, “If you digest these books, your mind will never be the same and remember… clothes make the man.” The brown overcoat smelled musty, like an old man had worn it. I can’t describe old man smell, except that most people have smelled it when they were young and when they get old, they can’t smell themselves.
It was baggy and way too long to wear. It was too long for Henderson and I’d never seen him wear it. It’s true that people get stranger the older they get. And most people thought I was already strange, so I was in serious trouble.
I opened one of the leather-bound books and tried to read it. I was a reading level behind in school, but this was a different language. “Impossible!” I laughed. “That old man was crazy.” But then I thought about his prophesy coming true. He must’ve poisoned himself; that was the only explanation.
I left the books in the box. School was in a couple days and I had real problems to solve, like bringing up my g.p.a. and avoiding the bullies at the bus stop.
I hadn’t thought about the books in weeks. It was a soggy Saturday when I was lying in bed and they entered my mind. I googled the words. The language didn’t exist. Henderson said that selfish knowledge was kept to oneself. Maybe he was right, and some things can’t be found on the internet. But then again, I couldn’t read the books, so they were useless.
The door slammed. My mother was home. “Andy, take out the garbage!”
“But mom, it’s raining!”
“Do it or you’re grounded!”
“I didn’t have a rain jacket, so I put on Henderson’s coat. My mother ignored me when I walked outside. I moved the trashcans to the road and walked inside.
“Who’s there!” She screamed.
“It’s only me,” I said. I thought this would calm her down, but she ran to the telephone in a panic. “Police! Come to my house at once! Someone’s broken in!”
I ran for my room, not knowing what to think. Had she been drinking?
I sat down on my bed and looked at the old book. Suddenly, I read it and the problems plaguing me that week were answered.