"He's dead?" Jack asked.
"Good riddance," the old woman said.
"He was old," the woman said. "I ain't standing out here in the cold chatting with you."
And she turned around and walked back into the house. She left the door wide open, which Jack figured was good enough as invites go.
Jack walked into her living room and glanced around. It wasn't a guy's house, that was for sure. There were flowers and lace tablecloths and pillows and some downright scary life-like miniature dolls sitting everywhere.
Jack poked his head into the kitchen. "Um, yeah, do you mind if I ask just a few questions about your brother, Mrs. um, Mrs?"
"It's Mary," putting water on the stove. "Did you shut the damn door?"
Jack glanced back at the door, knowing it was closed, but not wanting to get Mary upset. More upset.
"Yeah, it's closed."
"Sit down," Mary told him.
Jack sat and watched as Mary poured three heaping teaspoons of instant coffee into two very old mugs. She dumped the steaming water into the mugs and walked them over to the table. She placed one cup of coffee in front of Jack and sat down with the other one cradled in her hands.
He didn't want to be rude, so Jack brought the coffee up to his lips. He had never tried coffee in his life. He took a quick gulp and couldn't help wincing at the horrible, acrid taste.
Mary squinted at him. "You're too young to know Jeb. Why did you want to talk to him?"
Jack shrugged. "He used to live in our house. I think he left some things behind. I was hoping to ask him about them."
"That wooden calendar. He killed our brother, you know."
Jack was trying to process that Mary knew about the Doorway before she had even moved on to the brother - now his brain was scrambling to catch up.
"What?" Jack said. "He killed his brother?"
"He sure did."
"I don't know, but Matthew was here one day, then the next day we were having his funeral. I was only seven years old."
Jack didn't know what to think. "So that advent calendar was Jeb's?"
"Sure was," Mary said. "And there was something weird about it too. Jeb and Matt were always hiding in the attic, messing around with that thing. They'd disappear for hours and I wouldn't be able to find them. They'd come back with unbelievable stuff. Things that we didn't have names for...then. Did you find that calendar?"
Jack just nodded.
"Have weird things been going on?"
Jack shook his head, but Mary didn't go for it.
"You're lying to me," Mary said. "That damn calendar lets you jump into different times and places. It's magic. They'd never let me use it, but I knew the whole time. That calendar killed Matt. I know it did. And now you've got it. Don't mess around with that thing. Just throw it away."
Jack looked down at his shoes.
"Listen Boy," Mary said. "You seem all right. I don't want to see you get hurt. You think Jeb could answer some questions for you about that box?"
"And you've got a calendar that jumps through time?"
"Yes," Jack said quietly.
"Damn it. Do I have to draw you a picture?" Mary said. "Go back in time and talk to him then!"