The Early Arrival of the Late Mr. Blake
Matt Wilder's Toyota pickup sounded like it was about to die. This was a sound that he heard pretty much every morning at around 8am, a distressing soundtrack for his daily commute between Indian Springs and Blaine. The miles were starting to add up on the old truck, to a total that increasingly seemed to spell "new truck". Unfortunately, his financial resources seemed to consistently add up to "not a snowball's chance". Somehow, at 38 years old, Matt had expected to have more to show for his life than a divorce, a broken down truck, and a pile of bills that you could hide a small town under. Then again, he hadn't really expected to be working at a place like CB Mortgage. As its only real employee, Matt was treated like a favourite nephew; the kind you work like a dog and reward with compliments and pats on the back, instead of pay raises and company cars. Still, there were worse jobs, and it did pay the bills, or at least most of them.
Matt was shaken out of his contemplation by a particularly violent sputter and an alarming gasp from the engine, as he pulled into the driveway in front of the small converted house that served as the offices of CB Mortgage. Once the oily smoke had cleared, the air outside was quite pleasant, as May mornings tended to be in Northeast Georgia, deceptively cool with the underlying threat of heat and rain to follow in the afternoon. With an aura of determination, Matt stepped into the building, prepared to immerse himself into a day of interest rates and property values.
Inside, Matt went straight to the coffee maker and started his daily routine. He needed that first cup of coffee, leaded, to get going. He walked past the door of the small office where he'd worked for the past 8 years, stopping in front of the large oak door in the back of the main room. At first, he raised his hand to knock, out of habit, then shook his head slightly and turned the handle to open the door. Appalled at the filthy state of the door handle, and now his hand, it took him a moment to notice that the spacious office was occupied. Seeing Mr. Blake sitting in his chair behind his desk, Matt closed the door again and took a step back.
He paused for a moment, taking a couple of deep breaths and rubbing his eyes, before opening the door again. Blake was still there. Matt rubbed harder, but Blake stubbornly refused to stop being there. Matt quickly closed the door, his mind racing as quickly as his heart. He had to resist the urge to compulsively keep checking the office, because his brain simply would not accept what his eyes were reporting. True, Mr. Blake did own the company, and the office he was in was his, no problem there. Sure, he wasn't normally in this early, but that was hardly sufficient reason for Matt to be as startled as he clearly was. However, and this was the part that Matt was struggling with at the moment, Clive Blake had been buried Saturday afternoon.