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Loss and Lies

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Crap. Useless. Crap. Crap. BS.

The mail was always the same. Flipping through it, he labeled each one as it went by, most of it falling into the "crap" category. He had moved in a couple weeks before this point, finding the apartment very quaint and the perfect size for him.

Circling the counter, Henry Townshend moved towards the fridge, throwing the door open and ducking to look inside. It was fairly full, for him. Usually it contained maybe half a carton of milk and leftover takeout from days ago. It actually had substance now though. Some eggs, chocolate milk, pudding, cheese and even some carrots. It was a small feat, but he was proud of himself. Slender fingers wrapped around a bottle of chocolate milk and fiddled with the top -- that was when the knock sounded on the door.

"Hm." The noise was more an exclamation to himself than anything. He let the fridge door shut and set the chocolate milk down on the counter, wiping the excess from his upper lip as he moved towards the tiny foyer area.

A glance through the peephole showed him an older man, wrinkles showing at the corners of his lips and around the edges of his eyes. It was his landlord. He seemed to be carting around something quite large in his arms too.

Henry unlocked the door and pulled it open, his landlord plastering on a smile as the tenant did so.

"Townshend," the man nodded, the smile still lingering on his face. Henry liked the man, but it also seemed sometimes like he wasn't all there.

"Hey there, Mr. Sunderland." Henry waved and took a step backwards, motioning into his apartment with the hand that wasn't holding the door.

Lugging the large item he seemed to be slightly struggling with, Sunderland trundled in, laughing softly. "Call me Frank, please."

"Can do." Shutting the door, he turned, retrieving his chocolate milk once more before following his landlord into the living area, where the man had set his parcel down on the couch and was now staring thoughtfully at it.

"How are you today, Henry?" He inquired, his eyes still intent on the item.

"I'm fine, I think." Henry nodded, one hand on his jean-clad hip, the other tightly wrapped about his chocolate milk. "I unpacked the last of my boxes. Took a short nap and I think I might go out into town in a few minutes to take a few photographs."

Frank Sunderland seemed to perk up at the mention of photographs and peered to Henry, his eyes widening. "That's actually the reason I stopped by." He pointed a crooked finger the front of the flat surface he had been staring at, causing Townshend to step around the couch and look down at what Frank had brought in with him.

It was a painting; a gorgeous landscape. Trees and a coastline across a lake, buildings dotted along the edge. Henry recognized it almost instantly; he had been there a few times...

"Silent Hill."

A slow nod racked Frank's head in response as one of his hands shakily rested on his chin. "The photographs you showed me the other day -- the ones you took in Silent Hill. I remembered I had this and figured you could use it more than I can." He waved his hand towards the empty walls of Henry's living room. "You're welcome to it, if you'd like it."

"It's beautiful." Henry's eyes were traveling across the colors. The blues of the lake and the sky, the different hues of green that dotted the trees. "Thank you very much, Frank." He glanced from the picture to a spot on the wall across from the television, over his couch. "How about there?"

Sunderland only nodded thoughtfully.

Henry continued the conversation as he retrieved a nail and the hammer out of his storeroom. "Where'd you get it from?"

Silence seemed to hang in the air for what felt like hours as Frank Sunderland milled over his answer, Henry already hammering the nail into the wall when Frank spoke up again. "My son brought it back when he and his wife went there awhile ago..."

Henry paused, sweeping his chin over his shoulder to look to his landlord. "I didn't know you had a son." Reaching for the picture, he turned back to the wall and fiddled with hanging it, taking a few moments to straighten it out. By the time he set the hammer down on the table and spun back around, Frank was sitting on the couch, his head in his hands.

"He went missing. Along with his wife... a couple years ago..." His voice was muffled by his hands, but there was no mistaking the hurt threaded into his words.

Under his breath he could only mutter a shocked: "Oh god..." That had taken Henry by surprise, but he didn't show it. His joints seemed to freeze for a few moments before he knocked them out of their pause and moved to sit down beside the landlord. He kept his palms planted uncomfortably on his knees as his eyes locked on the older man. He had no idea if Frank wanted to talk about it, but Henry felt that asking about it would help. He felt that anything would be better right now then sitting in that silence. "What were their names?"

"James. My son was named James. His wife -- Mary. They loved that place. They always went there." He dropped his hands into his lap, leaning back on the couch. Henry's pale blue eyes followed him as the man continued. "Until Mary fell ill... it was unexplainable. It just... happened... It ruined James as much as it ruined Mary. They started fighting all the time." Frank shook his head, knowing there was more to the story than he himself knew -- which hurt him all the more. "The last time I saw them, they had been fighting. It was... it was painful to listen to. Mary was drained, James was tired... there was nothing I could do."

He stared down from his open window to the old beat-up blue car that belonged to his son, who was standing by the open driver side door at the moment. He was yelling to his wife, who stood near the open trunk of the car. She was yelling right back.

They had been on their way to Silent Hill when they stopped by to see him.

He couldn't make out what either of them were saying, but he could see the hand gestures, hear the pitch -- he could hear Mary coughing. The yelling stopped and James rushed back to the trunk, placing his arms around his wife as she fell into one of her hacking fits.

They had gotten in the car and left after that, Frank closing his window and retreating back further into his apartment.

Henry hadn't realized he had been shaking his head sorrowfully, his right hand finding his way to the other man's shoulder. "I'm sorry..."

After a moment's hesitation, Frank nodded slowly, glancing over to the tenant beside him. "Thank you, Henry." With a bit of a struggle, Frank got to his feet, Henry following suit. "You know, you remind me of him."

"Of your son?"

Another nod. "You seem determined. Driven. And you're very cordial. You couldn't hurt a fly."

A half-smile tugged at Henry's lips as he followed Frank towards the door to the apartment, picking up the chocolate milk he had left on the counter when he went to hang the painting. "Thanks again for the picture, Frank."

"You're welcome. It looks good in your apartment. We're glad to have you here at South Ashfield Heights."

"I'm glad to be here." The smile grew as he and his landlord said their goodbyes, Henry wandering over to the living room window after shutting the front door, his eyes catching glimpses of the painting on the way over.

With a sigh, Henry took another gulp of his chocolate milk and stared out the glass to the growing dusk. He absently watched an old, faded blue car rip out of the parking lot of the apartments, turning left -- the direction of Silent Hill.