"WAIT!" Garrett shouted before I reached the door. I froze, confused, and slowly turned around to face him. His face, the kaleidoscope, had changed once again into a mask of fear. This confused me even more, but I did not have a chance to ponder for very long. "I cannot let you leave this house."
"W-w-why not?" I stuttered, a habit I had had when I was young resurfacing for the first time in years.
"You read it, did you not?" I nodded weakly. Garrett continued: "I cannot let you go out in the world with the knowledge of that poem."
"But why, sir," I spoke up. "That poem—it's the greatest thing I've ever read. It's quite possibly the greatest thing ever written. Why do you keep it locked up in that safe?"
"There are some things you do not understand. The generation in which you were raised prevents you from doing so."
"At least try to explain?"
"No." He was firm about that.
"I have a flight to catch tomorrow. To Hollywood for a CGI job," I pointed out. I refused to let him lock me up in his house forever.
"Then you should not have read it," he snapped irritably. "Come," he beckoned. I followed without complaining.
He led me back up the hallway to a room near the top of the stairs. It was simply furnished, like the rest of the top floor, which hardly mirrored the lower level. A small window was covered in dirty curtains of eyelet lace, underneath which was a narrow bed.
Garrett told me that this was my bedroom and that was where I would stay until he decided what to do with me. Grudgingly, I went in and sat on the bed. I glared at him like a child.
"You can't do this," I said, sharply. "I have a flight tomorrow to Los Angeles. I have a life ahead."
"One that involves selling out, proving that the world has become useless and greedy," he yelled, furious again. He then seemed to think he had said too much.
Once again, the old man had captured my curiosity. I was beginning to notice a trend.
"So this is what it's about, is it? Selling out?" I asked, a sly smile spreading over my face. From Garrett's expression, I could tell it was. He could not deny it.
"You are naïve," Garrett growled.
"Am I really? Because I do not shut myself up in a house like you, hiding my accomplishments from the world, does that make me naïve? Because I experience more on a day-to-day basis than English tea and crumpets?"
This seemed to hurt him. My smirk faded when I saw his face crumple in. I began to feel sorry for the old man, and my chest tightened in regret. I apologized again, my stutter coming back. His kaleidoscope face shifted again, into an unreadable expression.
"You are not," he said briskly. "However, I suppose I cannot blame you. As I said, your generation prevents you from fully understanding the dangers of currency.
"Since the beginning of time, humans have been obsessed with two things: money and glory. It has become increasingly intermittent in the last century, proved by events such as the Depression and the Black Sox Scandal. With this competition, morals and values decrease. Look at the state of politics today! Leaders in politics and society are greedy, and money has corrupted them into affairs and scandals.
"You wondered why your aunt Olivia's parents disapproved of me? They were of the wealthier British class, and bred many fine racing horses. You can imagine their dislike when they found out their debutante daughter was involved with an American soldier who had neither a proper handshake nor business skills. I was set on writing, and, well, in those days having a knack with poetry and prose never got you far, financially speaking.
So, once the war was over, we eloped and her family disowned her. We lived together in a small house in New England, this house. We had three beautiful children, but, like you, they were born at the wrong time in history. The Space Race had just begun, and they put the first man into space the year our daughter was born."
I listened to him speak and my anger ebbed away. Everything but his voice seemed to disappear until he mentioned me, which brought me back to the present. I was all too aware of my surroundings. Garrett continued.
"My children grew up in what was the age of the skateboard and the easy-bake oven. Possessions and movie stars captured their attention. They hardly even read a book," he added sadly.
"So you understand, until you have lived eighty-six years you cannot even begin to comprehend life and humanity as a whole. Your generation, though they may fight it, does not know everything.
"Do not try to escape tonight. I will bring you food in the morning," he said, finally bringing a conclusion to his monologue. He stepped out of the room and closed the door. I heard the ominous click of the lock, which told me I was locked inside.