Monday, June 12, 2017

Convenire Aliquem

     Closing his comic book, Gabriel Seagrass sighed, “we have to wait until the next one comes out.” He stood up from the chair, leaned over the bed and gave Clara Darin a peck on the forehead. “Night Tampon Lady.” If he’d paid attention, he would have caught the slight movement of her brow and the wild look that filled her eyes. He might even have recognized that as shear disgust at the nickname. As it stood, the teenager saw none of that. He rushed out of her little piece of the world and disappeared behind the flowery curtain.
     “Easy, Gabs,” a young woman ordered. “You almost knocked me down.”
     “Sorry,” Gabriel called.
     “What’s the rush?” she asked.
     “Mom’s coming home today,” he answered, his muffled voice barely audible to Clara.
     “Silly boy,” the woman muttered as she slid through the flower curtains into Clara’s vastly reduced world. “And, how are you today?” She took Clara’s wrist between her fingers and stared at the clock on the bedside table. “Oh. I’m glad to hear that.” Leaning closer to Clara, she whispered, “I went on that date.” Pulling the sheet up, she tucked it around Clara’s shoulders. “He was cute,” she rolled her eyes, “and kind of ridiculous.” A soft chuckle later, she whispered, “and funny. So funny. I cried last night.” After changing the saline bag, she said, “don’t be silly. I laughed so hard I cried. My face actually hurt.” She poked a finger into her cheek, “still hurts.” Once she’d updated Clara’s chart, she said, “It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. I’ll be back later, dear.”
     Though the nurse took more notice than the teenager, neither looked Clara in the face. And so, both missed seeing the only response she could muster. When she was once again alone, she let out a terrible roar that echoed in her mind and petered out before it ever reached her throat. She was absolutely the worst thing about being locked inside herself. For the umpteenth time, she began counting the tips of the leaves and flowers on the curtain. The counting was the only thing she could do to distract herself and 90% of the time it didn’t work. Her mind constantly wandered back to the day she discovered the stories were true and all she’d done while thinking the griffin stories were a load of shit. She’d betrayed everyone. And for what? For a future of bedpans and regular rotations so she didn’t develop bedsores? She silently screamed again.

     A height-deficient, stocky, leather-clad, tattooed badass kicked open the door to the suite, growling, “this’ll do. You’ll love the view!” She barreled into the Stadium box, skidded to a halt and shouted, “well fuck me running backwards with a chainsaw. Ain’t this some kinky ass shit?”
     “What is?” a soft voice asked.
     The badass spoke over her shoulder, “Haley, come,” she waved.
     “Tristy… I think that’s your brother,” Haley said, pointing.
     “No way,” she scoffed, “he’s not that stup—.” Carefully crossing through the room, she sided up to Domino and let out a roar of laughter. “These boys are in a pickle,”  she coughed out between snorts, “or, rather, their pickles are in a jam.” When she’d eased up laughing enough to stand upright, she stood on her tiptoes to put her face up in Domino’s and said, “if I pulled.” His eyes bulged out as he vigorously shook them while simultaneously straining against moving his head. “I wouldn’t do that,” she confessed. From her belt, she removed a knife with a six inch blade, “what do you think first?”
     “Oh my. Not that one,” Haley said from behind Tristy.
     “No? What about this one?” Tristy tapped the knife against one of the ropes and Domino choked.
     “Definitely not that one,” Haley giggled.
     “Must be this one then,” Tristy decided as she slid the knife across the another. After thirty seconds of sawing, a strand snapped.
     After a solid minute, the ropes gave and Domino’s left side collapsed, which was all he needed to begin untangling his tally-whacker from the noose threatening it’s life. With his pecker saved, he ripped the gag out of his mouth and shouted, “I’m gonna kill those bitches!”
     “What bitches?” Haley asked.
     “Cut him down,” Domino ordered. “The bitches that come up here with us.”
     Tristy slammed the flat edge of the knife into her brother’s bare chest, “you cut him down.”
     “Aw. C’mon, sis. I gotta get some clothes on and go find those bitches,” Domino whined.
     “You ever notice, I’m always saving his dick?” Tristy asked Haley. “What is that? I don’t even like dick.”
     “You’ve done a great deal of work in the field,” Haley said. “Hey. Maybe you can open up a penis protection shop.”
     “I can’t believe you just said that to me,” Tristy said, shaking her head.
     “Would that make me a private dick?”
     “No. Honey, that would make you a jock strap.”
     “What? How?”
     “Penis protection,” Haley answered.

     The awkward silence around the mahogany dinner table would have been reason enough to flee, but Commander Randle Dante, Sr. sat confidently at the head. No dinner would be served. Business would be proposed, voted on, and decided. Resisting the urge to pop his knuckles, Dante finally began, “I call to order this meeting of the Shadows of Guru.”
     “Point of order,” one of the eight raised a spindly arm, “is this an emergency?”
     Halbot, Dante thought. “Yes,” he answered.
     “Very well.” The arm lowered and the masked man replied, “proceed.”
     “In the darkest hours, you’ve made the toughest decisions. You know this. You know this with every fiber of your being. Tonight,” he paused. I can’t believe...shh. Just say it. He continued, “tonight you have a choice to make.” From a pocket inside his cape he pulled out a map, unfolded it, and laid it on the table. “The Southern Battalion strongholds,” he said as he pointed, “here, here, and here...” he stood up, “...are vulnerable.” He waited for that information to sink in. “General Peters has neglected his duties to the realm, preferring to whore out the military to protect the Slaver’s Consortium. That General Peters has begun moonlighting the Southern Battalion is of no concern. That he’s left the entire southern section of Poterit Dan open to all manner of skulduggery is an opportunity.”
     “Hang on!” third from Dante’s left, interjected.
     Of course, Sloopy. By all means, hang on. “Yes?”
     “Where’s the emergency?”
     Dante continued his speech, “when President Thicket learns of the General’s extracurricular activities this opportunity will vanish. As you know, the President has a very distinct view of what consists of loyalty. Not only will General Peters be removed from his position, he’ll likely be incarcerated, his assets seized, and his family and friends ruined.” He pushed back his chair, stepped away from the table, and walked behind Sloopy. “The emergency is one of timing,” he leaned his masked head next to Sloopy’s and said, “what General Peters and the head of the Slaver’s Consortium know about the Danian elite...”
     “Ahh,” erupted from Halbot.
     Standing back up, he rested a hand on Sloopy’s chair. “We either save General Peters from himself and thus preserve the current state of affairs. Or, we let him burn for his crimes and potentially lose any advantage his illicit knowledge might have given us.”
     “You want to bring that jackass into the Shadows?” Halbot asked.
     “Never!” Dante exclaimed. In a much calmer tone, he added, “I want him to suffer.”
     “Why?” came from the mask next to Halbot.
     You know why, Juniper, Dante chastised silently. Aloud, he said, “only three types of people exist in this world: Shadows, Sons, and tools of Guru. The general has proven himself a willing tool for the Sons. He knows the severity of the game he plays, the lives he commands, and the responsibility he owes to the realm. He’s made his bed out of nails and for that he ought to experience the pricks.”
     “You don’t want him in. You want to flip him?” Juniper questioned.
     “No. Given the green light, I plan on interrogating him, and then dropping him off in the desert next to his son.”
     “No!” Sloopy exclaimed, masked face whipping toward Dante.
     “Oh, yes. These are dark hours. We’ve got tough decisions to make. When it becomes apparent that Major Peters has disappeared, the President’s watch dogs will turn their attention to General Peters. Much as it took us a mere blink to find out how dirty he is, it’ll take them less. The decision has to be made tonight. Either I interrogate him or the Army Crimes Tribune does it.”
     “Don’t pretend ACT won’t investigate if a general goes missing,” Juniper warned. “General is high enough up the food chain that the President would notice.”
     “I hope he does,” Dante replied.
     “Do you suppose he’ll tell you anything?” Sloopy asked.
     “Yes,” Dante stated.
     “How can you be so sure?” Halbot asked.
     “I know how to ask.”
     “What do we lose if ACT gets him,” the otherwise quiet masked man two seats over from Halbot wondered.
     “He’s providing security for the upcoming auction,” Dante began. “We have this chance. If we fail, we’ll never stop the Sons.”
     The basement of Major Dickinson’s house was sound proofed and covered in mirrors. He enjoyed practicing his auction calls from the small podium he’d built in the center of the room. From the moment he’d gotten into auctioneering, he’d built and improved his practice hall. With the mirrors, he could examine every angle of his presentation. His mentor had convinced him that it absolutely helped to have a slave stand on the auction block. For this purpose, he’d picked up a little girl at his second auction. She’d been grown for sometime now, but that didn’t stop him from practicing on her: first he auctioned her, then he bid on her, and after he won her, he forced himself on her. As far as he was concerned his mentor was correct. His confidence and overall performance had only improved as he tucked years under his belt.
     Initially, he’d tried to keep the girl a secret from his wife, but some secrets are impossible to keep. He shouldn’t have worried though. His wife was equally keen on having a slave. She’d taken to the idea immediately, and laid claim to the girl as their domestic. From that moment, the girl had been trained to keep house, cook dinners, and pleasure both master and mistress. That last was a feat she rarely succeeded in.
     Half way through his practice auction, his wife called down from the kitchen, “do you have to do that now? I need Fleisch to make dinner. Did you forget that you’ve got company coming over?”
     When her voice had broken his roll, he’d instantly huffed and ground his teeth, thinking, she always does this. He’d managed to keep his trap shut as he listened. While he’d never admit to forgetting, he frequently, lost time again, damn it! To his wife he hollered up, “he ain't company! He's the boss,” he left out, of the Slaver’s Consortium. Dropping the gavel on the podium, he grunted, “you heard her. Get your ass up there.” As an after thought, he bellowed, “dinner better be good. You hear? It better be good.”

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