Every payday, Edrio very carefully opened the Sears catalog and very carefully placed an order.
It wasn’t always Sears; it wasn’t always a catalog. Sometimes it was Penney’s, although their catalog wasn’t as good, or the furniture store, or the hardware store for some paint or some molding.
But it was always payday, and it was always a very considered purchase.
Edrio’s house wasn’t all that large. It was the smallest house that had been for sale, as a matter of fact, and he’d gotten a very good deal on it because it was old, un-updated, and a one-bedroom. The Cape Cod house had last been updated in the 50’s, if the wallpaper was any indication.
The wallpaper was the first to go, the carpet, the trim. Everything was carefully replaced, everything chosen from the catalog spreads or the display lay-outs in the stores, the colors from Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens or color-matched to a Sears spread. The effect, were anyone to walk into his house, was slightly like being inside a catalog.
In the bathroom it was the most obvious, the small room showing the carefully-coordinated shower curtain and drapes, towels and garbage can and rug. His bedroom showed the only signs of personality, a stack of battered paper-backs in between leather-covered Barnes and Noble books on a display shelf. His closet was much the same, outfits picked from the pages of the catalogs, bought and worn as exact to those pictures as possible.
The catalog purchases covered over strangeness, of course – the circle of glyphs under the living room rug and the other one in the bathroom, the tone-on-tone runes on the carefully-picked out molding, some to keep monsters in, some to keep them out. But mostly, they were to cover over Edrio.
At night, he would lie in bed, as he had since he was a child, flipping through the pages of an ancient Sears catalog. “This is real,” he’d tell himself, in a ritual as battered and as old as the pages. “This is how real people live.”