Even with the address and driving instructions and satellite map, you still take a couple of wrong turns before you find Ampora’s place. Rather, one actual wrong turn, and one time you become certain this dirt track you find yourself on is not actually a road, and if you keep going you’ll end up driving into the lake or something, so you turn around. And then check the map again and begin to think you chickened out too soon, so you turn back. You creep in first gear through the bumper-high weeds growing between the wheel ruts, pine branches scraping the roof of the truck, and then suddenly there’s a neatly gravelled driveway with the numbers you’re looking for painted on a post at the corner.
The house — cabin? — yeah, cabin. The cabin is one of those modern-rustic chalet things, all peeled logs and glass with decking all the way around. Built on a steep slope, one story in front and two in back. Small, but nice. There’s a station wagon parked in the driveway. You park it in. He’s not escaping that way.
The doorbell does nothing. Disconnected? You knock, then knock again harder. You try to peer through the door glass, but the curtain is just opaque enough to foil you. The front window’s got slat blinds, so no luck there. You knock again.
You try yelling. “C’mon, Ampora, open up! I drove here from fucking Houston, you could at least offer me a beer!” Nothing. Maybe he’s on a nature hike. Yep, that totally seems the likeliest explanation.
He’s probably out back by the beach. You would be, if you lived here.
As you make your way around the side of the cabin, you spot something funny, and then something disturbing. First you see the firewood pile and chopping stump, unevenly split wood scattered around like he was trying to figure out how to do it. Gotta do the northwoods experience right, gotta wear a checked shirt and have a wood stove, can’t just plug in an electric heater like a regular person. Then you see the hatchet lying in the grass by the stump, and notice the smear of purple on its edge. You squat down to look closer, and find some purple among the wood chips, too. Not enough to be fatal or anything, but way more than a band-aid level boo-boo.
You resolve that if you don’t find him out back you’re going to break in.
Turns out that’s not necessary. You find him on the lower porch in back, in the shade of the house, painting. Rather, sitting at an easel, gripping a paintbrush like it’s a dagger, glaring death at you as you come around the corner.
You give him a smirk. “Sup.”
He snarls his reply through locked sharkteeth: “You utter fuckin bastard.”
Not precisely what you were expecting. You raise your eyebrows questioningly.
“You just had to go an fuckin ruin everythin.”
“Dude, I’m just standing here.”