"Alan?! Oh wow, I didn't recognize you with the beard." Timothy moved over to Alan's table. Alan rose and gave him a generous hug. "It's been -"
"Years. Yeah. Not since Austrum. Good to see you! What are you doing now?"
"Working for my Dad, property management and sales." He pulled his name tag out of his jacket pocket and flashed it, Wallace properties. "I was just over at the Register of Deeds doing a title search for a client. Glad they connected all this." Seven years ago, the Colby county offices and Register of Deeds had been relocated beside the Historical Merrimon Library and Museum. Both buildings were conjoined by several interconnected walkways and pedestrian bridges. At the time, Alan had disliked the increase in traffic, but had since enjoyed the convenience on occasion.
"Yeah. It's become a bit of a crossroads."
"I think Dad got a dividend or something when the property sold. Apparently we're related to the Merrimons. Which is fine with me considering they own half the county. So what are you up to since Austrum?"
"I taught for awhile after, but that didn't work out like I'd planned. Now I do a lot of work...consulting."
"Sometimes. I stay busy."
"That's good. Have you seen Paul...or Deidre?" Tim looked away nervously as he asked.
At Austrum College, Deidre and Timothy had dated briefly during Tim's freshman year, but they soon broke up and Deidre had quickly moved on. Tim never did. In the awkward silence following his question, Tim had begun fiddling with the books nearest to him. He had become that nervous mooning young man all over again. Alan felt sorry for him.
"I haven't spoken to Paul in years, but Deidre and I keep in touch occasionally."
Alan had never really been close with Tim. He often wondered why Tim had hung around with them at all. He and Paul and Deidre were a collection of oddities and outcasts but Tim was old money and was possessed of all the social standing that afforded. Alan had always suspected that Tim was a bit of a social tourist and had used his association with the three of them to accentuate his standing by lending himself the air of being a rebel. Whatever the reason he had begun hanging about with them, he paid for any pretense he may have had with suffering. Even after their break up and despite his obvious yearning, he lingered to stay close to Deidre.
"Tell her I said...hello...next time you talk to her."
"Sure." Alan put a comforting hand on Tim's shoulder.
"So - uh - what kind of consulting do you do?" Tim gestured at the table at Alan's paperwork and books.
Alan glanced across at the table, searching the piles of books for some simple way to answer Tim's question. A copy of the false Necronomicon lay closest to him beside the smaller book of translations from the original, beyond that The Golden Bough and The Black Arts, Liber Logaeth, Sepher Sephiroth, De Heptarchia Mystica, an English translation of Die Tür Des Bösen, and near his chair, his own personal magickal record.
"Well I haven't really left history behind, I've just gotten a little more...specific." Alan felt his gut twisting up with stress. He hated this. The feeling was always worse than when he came out to someone as a homosexual. With any curious stranger he was able to brush it all off and play the part of the anonymous weirdo at the library, but it had been a long time since he had to come out of the occult closet to someone he knew. Finally he decided to just blurt it out. "I do research and investigations into occult and magickal phenomena."
"Hmph - Figures. You guys were always into the weird stuff." Tim had picked up one of the books and flipped through to a section of pages illustrated with complex arcane equations. He looked at the pages as though he could not tell which end were up. He turned the book around twice and then settled it in the correct position. He traced the designs with his finger. "You don't actually believe in all this crap do you?"
"The world is often more expansive than we think. I'm still searching for the full extent of my...beliefs." Alan bristled a little, preparing himself for a verbal altercation.
"Mind if I have a read?" It had been so long since they'd seen each other last, Alan had forgotten Tim's bullish propensity to jump in head first. Nonetheless, he was surprised by Tim's sudden interest and quietly pleased.
"Okay. If you're sure. You're kind of jumping into the deep end with that one." He gestured to the book Tim held, Die Tür Des Bösen.
"I'm a big boy." Tim smiled. Raising his hands in acquiescence, Alan gestured to the reading chair opposite his table. Tim sat and began reading. Outside the snow was falling now in thick jutting flakes. Between the support column near his chair and the shadow of one of the angled covered walkways, Tim was framed in a bright white triangle.