You Don’t Know
“What you might not know, Hilter – in fact, I can guarantee you don’t know about this, because you’re new in this town and all – but Treeburg was on the receiving end of some of the Nazis who came over as part of Operation Paperclip. Have you ever taken a drive down Stonetown Road before?”
“I have not,” says Hilter. “I’m more the type to go for a walk than to just take a drive. But let’s say I have – what are you hoping I would have noticed?”
“Well…” Cooper rubs the back of his head. “Well, even if you had, you still probably wouldn’t know about this. Okay, so down at the far end of Stonetown Road, past the turnoff point that takes you across the Wanaque Reservoir to Treeburg Ave in Wanaque and Haskull, if you keep following it, there’s a street called Snake Den Road.”
“Snake like a serpent?” Hilter asks inquisitively.
This catches Cooper off guard. “Uh… yeah, sure. If you want. I think that’s just a coincidence.”
“And a convenient one at that,” Hilter says, dropping a wink. Cooper lets that wink drop right to the floor. “I’m merely amused at the coincidence, that’s all. Life is very ironic that way, like how my first and middle names are Hilter Odolf and you’re telling me about a Nazi theory. Anyway, please, continue.”
Cooper slowly takes a deep breath. “Oh-kay. So there’s Snake Den Road. If you follow that road all the way to its end, you’ll come across a really weird house that’s shaped like half a tin can, it’s like a really tiny airplane hangar. It’s painted purple, and like, everything about it is purple, too; purple plants, purple car, purple lawn ornaments. I’m pretty sure the lady who lives there even has purple hair. There was a rumor in school that she’s a witch who fled here way back in the sixteen’hundreds to escape the Salem witch trials…”
Hilter raises his eyebrows.
“…but I don’t know if I believe that. Folks are just kooky back here in the Treeburg woods, and the deeper into the forest you go, the kookier the folks get. Anyway, just past that house is a big dirt parking lot. The parking lot – and most of the woodlands past that purple tin can house, too – belongs to the Weis Ecology Center. Have you heard of it?”
Hilter scribbles for moment. Once he’s caught up, “I believe I’ve heard the name. It sounds familiar enough, at least.”
“It’s been in town for a long time. Since the nineteen’fifties, I’m pretty sure.”
“Ah, I see what you’re getting at.”
“Then let me get there,” Cooper injects shortly. Hilter raises his hands as if to say I surrender. “The Operation Paperclip Nazis all came over in the nineteen’fifties. Before that, Snake Den Road ended right at Weis; after that, the road was continued and a bunch of houses were built so the Paperclipped Nazis could have a place to live. Like I said before, a very select few of those Paperclipees were given funding to continue the work they were doing under Adolf Hitler’s regime. One of those select few got to live here in Treeburg – the government wanted to space them out across the country, y’know? So they’d be harder to find. That’s why they picked Treeburg, this backwoods-ass town is about as secluded as it gets.
“So the special Nazi scientist – let’s just call him Doctor Weis, for argument’s sake – he set up shop at the end of Snake Den Road and continued his work. Now, what was he working on? It must have been pretty important, yanno? Pretty unique in order for the yoU-eSs government to give him funding to keep working on it. Otherwise, he would have just been sent to NASA or something. You following me?”
Hilter Odolf Williamson nods his head to indicate that he is following Cooper down this road as it goes deeper and deeper into the kooky Treeburg woods.
“I think Doctor Weis was doing something with genes. Like, gene splicing, genetic alteration. Making mutants, in other words. Another thing you don’t know about Treeburg… well, about the whole country, probably, because this stuff is pretty secret, I only know about it because of a YouTube channel I watch; there’s this crazy underground tunnel system beneath the entire country that the government uses to move supplies and secret technology and important leaders and stuff like that around without being noticed. They connect to all the major cities, all the important army bases – the secret army bases too, like eSs-Four and Area Fifty-One – and if you dig really deep into the Freedom of Information Act section of the Cee-I-Aye’s website, you’ll find maps of where the tunnels go, and more importantly, where they open up to the surface world. And guess what?”
Hilter knows what Cooper is going to say, but he doesn’t say it out loud. If anything, he guesses that Cooper’s question is likely rhetorical. And guess what? He’s right about that, too.
“One tunnel runs directly underneath Treeburg, specifically underneath the Wanaque Reservoir. And, get this, Hilter: there’s actually a smaller annex-sorta tunnel that branches off from the one underneath the Wanaque, and do you know where that leads?”
Cooper is on the edge of his seat now, holding on to the arms of the chair for dear life.
“Right to the Nazi neighborhood back at the end of Snake Den Road. I never went back there when we lived in town because me and David had Owen Johnson’s trails to explore and stuff, but I bet if we went back there and took the map and drove to where the annex tunnel ends, we’d probably come up to a house. That’s the house where Doctor Weis lived, or maybe still lives! He probably keeps his lab in the annex tunnel because these tunnels are huge, you could have multiple fighter jets driving through there wing-to-wing and still have room to walk around. I think that Doctor Weis created The Serpent in his lab, because… I know you didn’t see the thing, but I did, and it wasn’t real. I mean, it was real, it killed my fucking brother, but… it wasn’t natural. There’s no fucking way it could have evolved on its own, not in the fuckin’ Wanaque. Oh, another thing you probably don’t know – nobody’s allowed to fish in the Wanaque. They used to sell permits, but they don’t anymore; nowadays, if you’re even caught walking through the woods around the reservoir, you’re liable to be gunned down. The guards who patrol it are armed with semi-automatic military rifles. Now, ask yourself, Mister Williamson – Hilter – why would the government try so hard to keep the general population out of a local lake? I’ll tell you why – because it’s not just a lake. It’s a fucking enclosure, they know The Serpent is in there and they’re trying to keep it secret. I don’t know what they plan to do with it, but… but going off how effortlessly it killed my brother, I’d say they’re probably trying to weaponize it. That’s always what our Goddamned government does with everything good in this world, isn’t it? They always try to fucking weaponize it.”
Cooper’s heart is beating at twice its normal rate. Veins have popped out on both of his temples, and Hilter can see that they’re beginning to throb.
“My parents don’t listen to a word I say, they don’t fucking believe any of this, but I know it’s true, I saw The Motherfucking Serpent with my own two fucking eyes and it fuckiNG KILLED DAVID! THE FUCKING MONSTER KILLED DAVID AND NOBODY FUCKING BELIEVES ME! NOBODY WANTS TO FUCKING BELIEVE ME! THEY’D RATHER BELIEVE THAT HE FUCKING COMMITTED SUICIDE IN FRONT OF ME, BUT HE WOULD NEVER DO THAT!”
Hilter has stopped writing at this point. He’s sitting calmly in his chair with his hands folded over his notepad.
“IT’S SO FUCKING EASY FOR MY FUCKING PARENTS TO TELL ME WHAT FUCKING HAPPENS WHEN THEY’RE NOT THERE, IT’S SO GODDAMNED EASY FOR THEM TO SPEAK ON SHIT THAT THEY DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU KNOW WHAT I TELL THEM? I TELL THEM YOU DON’T KNOW! And then they fucking get mad at me! They think I’m fucking crazy, but I, but, but I have a fucking better fucking grip on fucking reality than they do! They’re fucking delusional, they’re in fucking denial!”
“And you don’t know either, Hilter! You don’t fucking know what happened to David! You weren’t fucking there with us, you just fucking moved into town! This is a weird fucking place Hilter, weird fucking things happen in Treeburg, New Jersey, and you’re just a Goddamned psychologist, you get paid to tell your psycho patients they’re crazy, oh you’re so high and fucking mighty. You don’t know what really happened to David and I do, but you won’t fucking listen to me! Nobody fucking listens!”
Cooper stands up and whips a pillow across the room. Then, he goes to the end table between his chair and the couch, the table he and David would put the plates holding their Sunday morning breakfast when they were kids and they’d watch cartoons together, and he draws his right leg back and kicks it so hard that not only do one of the legs snap in half, but Cooper spills himself out on the hardwood floor.
“COOPER!” Mister Williamson shouts in a voice louder than Cooper thought the doctor capable of. “That’s enough, Cooper! You sit back in that chair and calm down or this session is over! I will let you yell, I will let you curse, I will let you vent your rage all you want, but I will not allow you to destroy my property. That is unacceptable, do you understand?!”
Rather than getting back in his chair, Cooper gets up and paces back and forth across the room, his face boiling redder by the step.
“Fine, pace around, then!” shouts Hilter. “You know fucking wh–” then he stops himself. With closed eyes, Hilter slowly draws a deep breath through his nose, holds it, then lets it lazily puff out between his lips. He then opens his eyes and sees that Cooper has stopped pacing around. “I apologize for raising my voice like that, Cooper. May I tell you something that you don’t know?”
Cooper nods his currently pale and blank face.
“I am not a normal human being. I have a mild schizophrenia spectrum disorder – in our current context, what that means is that I am very perceptive of the emotions of others. When somebody displays an emotion very strongly around me, I have the tendency of contracting that emotion. It’s sort of like seeing someone yawn and then yawning yourself – hell, sometimes all I need to do is write the word yawn and it’ll make me yawn – but regardless, it was very unprofessional of me to raise my voice at you like that. I am sorry.”
It seems as though Cooper doesn’t know what to do. Usually when he starts yelling at his parents they just scream right back, except they’re a lot louder and a lot meaner than Cooper is. They don’t understand that Cooper isn’t yelling to be mean, they don’t know how Cooper’s brain works. Sometimes he just gets carried away, he can’t always help it. They don’t know that though, they just think he was born an angry boy and he’ll always be angry for his whole life. They’ve never said sorry before, either.
Cooper sits down in the chair across from Mister Williamson and puts his hands in his lap. His shoulders are slumped and he’s looking down at his feet. A few moments of silence pass, then he feels a hand on his shoulder.
“This is, eh… this is the first time you’ve been back to your neighborhood since your family moved away, isn’t it, Cooper?”
Cooper nods his head without looking up.
“I have to imagine that with all the commotion and stress of moving, you never got much of a chance to properly say goodbye to David.”
“He didn’t kill himself,” Cooper mumbles, still looking at his feet. “The police would have found his body if he had. He didn’t kill himself.”
Hilter gently pats Cooper on the shoulder a few times. Then, “Listen, Cooper. Normally I wouldn’t suggest this for any of my other patients, but your case is rather special. Unique, in a word. You and David spent a lot of time back in the woods behind the pond up the street, correct?”
“Yeah,” Cooper says, finally looking up. Not up at Hilter’s face, but up from his feet. “In the woods all around Fricker. Owen Johnson made a lot of trails.”
“So I’ve heard. And the last memory you have of the woods around Fricker is a not so good one, to say the least. It’s almost lunch time now, and normally I’d end the session here, but like I said: I believe your case is unique. So, here is what I suggest: why don’t you go and take a walk back in the woods. Go down to the reservoir if you’d like, or stay in the shallower parts, whatever you want. I’ll order us some food when you’re gone, and when you get back, we can continue our session. Is that… does that sound fair?”
Cooper is looking up at Hilter now. “Yeah… I think I’d like that. Thank you, Mister Williamson.” He hops out of his seat and starts towards the front door. “I won’t be gone too long.”
“Well, you don’t know that,” Hilter says jokingly, but when he sees the look of contempt on Cooper’s face, he course corrects with, “I’m sorry, bad sense of humor. I only mean to say you can take as long as you’d like. I don’t have any other appointments scheduled for the day.”
The frown doesn’t turn to a smile, but it doesn’t stay a frown either. “All right… thanks.” Cooper quickly shuffles out the door.
Hilter falls onto the couch in a heap. “Christ, Hilter. What the hell is wrong with you? That was totally… ah well, it seems to be smoothed out now.” He reaches over for the phone on his end table that still has all four of its legs, then dials the number of Cooper’s mom. He tells her the session is going well and that he’d like to extend it into the evening if that’s at all possible, and of course it is, Cooper’s mom is thrilled to hear that a psychologist is actually getting through to Cooper, and the fact that he’s spending a day away from his dark bedroom and his angry music only thrills her more.
After the phone call, Hilter takes out his laptop and orders a pizza for delivery, then he begins to do some research on the Weis Ecology Center Cooper was talking about. What he finds surprises him – the facility has been around for a long time, even longer than Cooper is aware of, in fact – but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of a Nazi presence in the area. Although, that specific information probably wouldn’t be displayed on the front page of the facility’s website. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, as they say, and so Hilter continues his digging long into the afternoon.
The pizza is cold by the time Cooper returns to his old house, but that’s all right. At that point, Cooper doesn’t have much of an appetite left anyway.
Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the twelfth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~