#10 – Secret, Sorrow, Saviour. Stalker.

February 21st, 2011


Two ShadowsIt was late.

In fact it was so late that most people would have, on first blush, characterized it was being early.  But for these two, neither of whom had slept, it was late.

They were meeting at exactly the appointed time, in exactly the appointed place.  Theirs was a simple arrangement, but nothing was left to chance.  Each was entirely aware of his duty to the other and expected from the other precisely what was expected of him.

“Doesn’t this feel a little Foggy Bottom to you,” the first had replied quite offhandedly when they’d first met.

The other hadn’t got the reference and said so.  “Watergate,” the first had prompted, “The Watergate building is in Foggy Bottom.  Never mind.”

“You know how to make this happen?” The first man asked.

The second man nodded, “yeah, piece of cake. I’ve already made contact.”

“Initiative, we like that,” the first man replied.  “Remember the objective.  No deviations.  No going off and being clever.  This is a job and it need to be done correctly.”

The second man levelled a cold gaze at the first, “hey, this isn’t my first rodeo, Jack.”  Jack was not the first man’s name.  “You wouldn’t be coming to a guy like me if you didn’t know I was solid.”

The first man nodded, satisfied.  “Stage one, then.  Call me when you’ve got it done.”

Folded HandsRichard McKinelle was dead.  He died in his bed alone; without his children or his new, young wife at his side.  He had died alone in a house filled with servants.

In his life he had been a master of Wall Street.  Scarce words were spoken of that grand old American institution that his name wasn’t uttered alongside.    He created kings and paupers with his wisdom.  He drove the indexes with his words; a few of which could turn a bear into a bull overnight.

In his life he had been a husband.  He had felt a burning passionate love for Gabriella Talon; the sort of feelings that swelled in the loins of young men.  Passion is an emotion in the extreme and such was the way of their marriage – a marriage of extremes.  There were the moments of elation – the birth of their three children – and there were moments of misery – when Gabriella learned of his indiscretion.

In his life he had been a father.  Father of a son and two daughters:  Richard “R.J.” Junior, Pamela and young Leticia.  He had nearly died of despair when they had left with their mother.  For weeks he paced the empty halls of Pinewood Manor.  For weeks he had called them daily in their new home in Grand City, but none of his calls was taken.  Gabriella forbade it.  For months after that he written weekly to them but none of his letters was received.

But in his dying, alone in his bed, as he breathed the last of the breaths allotted to him by his creator, he felt like none of those things.  The world had moved on.  The empire of a man who once shook the very walls of the Stock Exchange with his booming voice was now reduced to wheezing and gasping for air.  The once proud father had been all but completely alienated from his children for mostly of the last two decades.  The passion of marriage had never returned after his indiscretion so long ago.  He felt nothing for his new wife.

A sorrowful sigh was the last noise made by the man known as Richard McKinelle.  It was the sound of the last inhalation of breath leaving his body.  But as the body of the man released its final breath it knew not how apt was that simple sound.

Downtown At NightIt was just past closing after her fourth shift at The P & Q and she was walking home as had become the custom.  The bar was not a too-far walk away from her apartment and the area was not known as a bad neighbourhood.

This night, however, was an exception as Kerstin was about to learn.

As she passed in front of an alley between two shops she heard the rustling.  There was a breeze, so she didn’t think anything of it at first and continued walking.  Walking was something that she enjoyed.  It passed the time and it was the only form of exercise that she was even remotely willing to engage in.  Walking this late at night hadn’t crossed her mind as something that she should be wary of.

Jehua had asked, somewhat awkwardly, if she’d wanted a ride home after each shift.  Each time she had genuinely thanked him but had opted to not take him up on the offer.  Their relationship – friendship, co-workership – was still in flux, it was hard to deny the underlying feelings that welled up when they talked casually, but she wasn’t sure how much she could open up to him without opening up the rest of the pain that came with that past.

She was thinking about their first touch in years – which happened just hours before – as she walked.  It was a classic happenstance right out any of cheesy romantic comedy movie.  Each had reached for the same object and their hands had touched.  Each had felt the spark, that much was evident in their eyes.  Each had known that the other had felt the spark, too.

It was this recollection that kept Kerstin from hearing the sounds of footprints behind her.  It was that and the rustling of leaves in the trees planted in small beds in the sidewalk of the street on which she walked.  She hadn’t heard them come out of the alley when they’d seen her.  She hadn’t even seen the one who jogged ahead of her on the dark side of the street opposite her.

But when he stepped out into the light, she saw him.

And then he began to cross the street toward her.  Instinctively she stopped, although what instinct that action was drawing on she didn’t know.  “Pretty lady,” one of the men said, not to her.

“Very,” another replied.  “All alone in the dark.”  In another circumstance the cliché dialogue would have impressed itself upon Kerstin.  For now, however, she was merely scared.

There were four of them, standing in what one would call a circle, around her.  “What do you want?” She said attempting to sound galled, or defiant, but it sounded distinctly pleading.

“A little bit of your…  time,” the first of the thugs replied, stepping closer to her and reaching out his hands toward her hips.  She jerked back, bumping into one who was behind her.  The contact sent the four of them into a frenzy with her in the middle.  She screamed – nothing intelligible, just as scream – and her feet left the ground.

What had surely only been seconds seems as if it were hours and hours.

She became aware of the sound of screeching tires and shouting that was not her own.   The throng that encircled her cracked slightly and she felt a momentary relief.  The relief she soon realized came from two fewer men pressing themselves against her.  Then there was only one holding her against a wall.  In the absence of their cover she realized that her shoulders were bare.  The cool air of the night caused her to shiver.

The horrible sounds made by the man who was holding her to the wall were becoming overcome by the sounds that were coming from the street.  In another instant the man holding her down was being flung away from her and she gasped and stared in awe as her saviour delivered a consciousness-stealing blow.

Still reeling from the events of the preceding minutes she became acutely aware of her torn clothing, her missing purse, her lost shoes.  She watched the figure standing in front of her turn to face her, for the briefest moment she worried that perhaps a greater evil had simply defeated a lesser one and that this saviour was anything but.  But her fears were quickly assuaged as she recognized the face before her:

Frank Denzre.

Oswald GlendaleHe couldn’t stop thinking about her.  Oswald Glendale flipped the business card over and over again in his fingers.

The way her hair slid across her shoulders when she talked, so emphatically, so animated.  She smiled earnestly, her eyes lit when he’d told her that he was a magazine writer who wanted to feature her – which was a lie.

That face, it was perfection, its proportion were worthy of exaltation.  Her beautiful nose was the most elegant divider of symmetrical perfection he’d ever seen.  The soft, flawless tone of her skin was perfectly augmented by the shimmering green of her eyes.

He smiled and his tongue played between his slightly parted teeth as he thought about their brief encounter that night.  The sight of her, the movements that she made, the sound of her voice, all were seared into his mind.  With perfect clarity he could see her fingers as they reached into her purse and produced the business card that was sliding deftly between his nimble fingers.

Sarah,” he breathed again.  He would have her.  She would love him.  It would only be a matter of time.

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