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Archives for : July2014

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25. The Collapse

25 - ch25

I was home – it was my day off. Lucid was at the shop. I decided to hang around, try to see if Relic wanted to do anything. She was coming into her own, that age of rebellion when she learns the more important lessons of life. She’s got to decide if whom she is now is who she wants to be for the rest of her life. It’s hard being a teenager, I would know, I was there once, once upon a time. It feels like an eternity ago. The madness of youth. The ever-changing trends. I was swept up in the insanity. And miraculously, I didn’t drown. Look at that.

I hung around, cleaned here and there, checked in on what Relic was up to. I left her mostly to herself. She didn’t need me harassing her all the time. She didn’t need me consistently on her case. And I tried my best as a parent to respect that. It just takes getting used to sometimes. That’s life.

Lucid would be home kind of early. He didn’t stay too late; he just worked the earlier parts of the day. They had Angyl to work at night. Besides, business was kind of sketchy since Syn died. Time passed since then but it felt so…uncertain. You woke up and kept going because it was expected of you, because it was necessary. You couldn’t stop and wonder. It was gone and over already and that was that. Lucid trudged through the door, closing it quietly behind himself. He seemed…lost. Out of his own skin. I got up to kiss him but he seemed so cold…I thought better of it. I reached out for a hug anyway, which he returned. But he was still lost. Still vacant. I followed to where he sat down, pulling a chair next to him.

“Hey Hun, what’s up?”

He shook his head, trying to clear his mind. “Nothing. What’s Relic up to?”

I shrugged. “Living.”

He nodded quietly. “Good.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” He said it in such a soft tone, bordering a whisper. He coughed and repeated himself, trying to make it sound real. Trying to make it sound true.

“Lucid, really. What’s up?”

He shook his head, getting up. I followed him with my eyes as he walked out of the room. I could hear the clink of glasses as he poured himself a drink. I followed behind him a few paces carefully. He was looking down. I reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. He shook me off and sat back down.

“If you knew something that you knew better to get involved in…but it could save lives, would you act on it?”

“Like what?”

He shook his head. “I got out of the game for the most part. I stand on the sidelines, I let the runners run, the dealers deal. I don’t intervene in business that’s not mine. I can’t risk it. We have a life, a family, we…can’t.”

“Lucid, what’s going on?”

He looked around. “The kids are up to no good.”

“What kids?”

He looked around. “The kids. The Trio. Maven, Rev…and Angyl.”

 

I shrugged. “What kind of trouble are the little demons up to?”

He looked up at me, locking eyes. “The worst kind.”

“What business is it of ours?”

He shrugged. “Exactly.” He got up, taking the drink with him, sipping quietly, nodding. I could hear him repeat the word to himself quietly. He turned and went to the bedroom. I watched him go, shaking my concerns away.

For half a second, I was going to march down to the tattoo shop and sort this out. I wanted to slam Angyl into a wall and get the truth. I wanted to headlock Rev or shake Maven. I wanted answers from anywhere. But I knew I’d never get them. So I quit. I didn’t worry about trying. It would work itself out. We had a family now; we couldn’t afford to play the game anymore. It was gone and done. We were out of the loop.

There was a new goal now. To protect our daughter. To raise her right. Let the explosion happen without intervening – let it spread, as long as the debris didn’t stretch to our home.

24. Breathing Conspiracy

24 - ch24

The next order of business was Syn’s funeral. We all went as a group. Lucid, Relic, Serkis, Layne, and myself. Pandora took Maven with her. Rev went with his demons, also known as Colt and Irish. Jack and Gin showed up. A lot of the kids from the show and the parlor showed up. A lot of the bar’s regulars were there. And then of course, there were our special guests. Guests I had met in my younger years.

Saint Crowe.

Damien Thompson. Or – Klyde.

They stood shoulder to shoulder, both shrouded in black, faces hidden from the crowd. Syn’s significant other wasn’t present; Pike skipped town when she died. Suspicious. Angyl Hunter was there, in the back, watching in silence. And the other pair of suspiciously black-clad mourners?

Payge and Set Drake.

The living legends themselves. Here, in the flesh. To mark the end of the cycle. They were free now if they so chose. Syn had controlled their lives. Her death freed a lot of people. From fear. From persecution. We could breathe easy at last.

Syn wasn’t hated, but there was a lot that wasn’t known about her that came to light in a very…unconventional way. Her horrors, his mistreatment of people, the cruelty that she truly was…that girl was cold beyond cold. She was dead. We were here more to rejoice. Her “sudden” death raised questions, sure, but who wanted to investigate? I mean, really. I saw Officer Bishop at the funeral as well. I made a mental note to ask him about it. He would know anything that needed to be known.

I hate funerals – that’s why I don’t get into detail. I’m not much into fine-tuning anymore, just the bare facts. The hard evidence. I made my way over to Officer Bishop as people were clearing out. To avoid anyone overhearing. I elbowed him slightly as I went by.

“What, you don’t say anything to me anymore, Hadley?”

I wheeled around. I hadn’t been called by my given name in years. Harley was a nickname. Officer Bishop smiled wide at me. I came back and hugged him tight.

“How are you these days, Sylum?”

He shook his head. “Same old. What do you need?”

“Need? I’m offended, you thinking that I would only…”

He cut in. “Do you need something or don’t you? I know you better than you think, kid.”

I laughed. “Yeah. I kind of…need to know who killed Syn. I don’t need to know why.”

He looked around, thinking about it. The crowd was clearing out and Lucid was waiting. He reached out a hand for a shake, which I took. And he pulled my body into his, holding me to him. He bent to whisper in my ear.

“You’ll know when I do. Promise.”

And we parted ways.

He was right – I only called him when I needed something. We couldn’t be friends. We couldn’t have a normal relationship. Things had been so different when we were both younger. There might have been something between us, or it might have been puppy love, or desperation. Take your pick. But dealing with Sylum is always…difficult. Hence why he’s – Officer Bishop. Using his first name too often stirs up the past.

 

I went back to Lucid and Relic. My poor girl. She’d never been through all this before. This was new. And probably terrifying. I tried to remember my first funeral. I couldn’t. I bent down and kissed her, patting her head.

“I’m going to go to work and help the people there. You want to stay with me, or go with your father?”

She looked around, considering her options, but she ended up shrugging. I stood and looked at Lucid. He smiled and kissed me.

“I’ll take her. I don’t want her around the drowning anyway.”

“Thanks Hun. I’ll see you both later at home, okay?”

They both nodded and with a few more hugs and kisses they were gone. I walked to the bar alone. I could feel the eyes watching me. I could hear the steps behind mine. I took a few dozen steps before wheeling around.

“Do you two honestly think I can’t hear you?”

Saint and Damien were standing there, smiling wide, heads held high.

“We just couldn’t resist,” Saint muttered, speaking around a smoke. He shuffled through his pockets for a pack, which he held out to me. I took one from him and lit up while we walked back to the bar together. It was nice to have company.

Sure, I wasn’t best friends with them either. They were acquaintances from another time, another place. I was so young then. I was just a child. Foolish. We walked along like old friends, joking here and there. As bizarre as it seemed or felt, it was still something worth cherishing. It was better than being alone. And in times like these, where everything was questionable, nobody could be too careful. Everything was up for debate. Reality especially.

We got to the bar. Everyone was dressed in their finest. It was only proper. After awhile, when everyone had been settled in, Rev wandered in. As usual, we busted each other’s chops and he was on his way again. Not after making a bit of a mess, which I had him clean up. That clumsy child dropped an entire tray of drinks. Kids these days, completely hopeless. Heh.

I stayed at the bar to the late hours of the morning. Damien and Saint helped me carry out some of the real heavy mourners. On this day of days, I was horribly grateful to have them. At some point in the night, I left to go over to the Black Dragon, to see how things were going at the old parlor. They were equally packed with mourners. I did the typical “meet and greet” with all of the people I listed earlier, exchanged more shows of affection with my husband and daughter, and returned to my post. Cleared out the place. By the end of the night, all I had left was Damien and Saint.

“So, you boys getting out of here or am I locking you in?”

Saint nodded. Damien said nothing to me all night. I didn’t really expect him to. They both got up we all shook hands and they made for the door.

“Ah, before I forget,” Saint started. “Just be a tad warned, there’s a bit of a storm brewing. You might want to keep your head down. You know, just until it settles down.”

“And when will that be?”

Damien had already slipped out the door. Saint was hanging on, leaning on the frame, halfway out, halfway in. He thought about it a bit.

“You’ll know. Trust me.”

And they were both gone. I was alone.

Syn was buried. And as I learned when I went to the tattoo shop, the unthinkable had happened.

Maven Merrick. Rev Ransom. And Angyl Hunter.

Had met. And made good, close friends.

 

More to come in the next piece, if you don’t mind, it’s time for me to sleep.

Enough excitement for one day.

Sweet dreams.

23. Match Made in Hell

iIJuu

All great things must come to an end. But it was the end of Syn that marked the coming downfall of the old way. Pike and Syn are the current owners of the Black Dragon, Angyl’s place of employment, and the local tattoo parlor. They’ve been running the place for years. The death of Syn was more important than you’d think. She was more than just a local business leader. Syn came from a very special family. And like most of us, she was the last of her kind.

Like I said, the kids have their own lives. They see things their own way. Let’s walk you through the secondary characters.

Jack and Gin. Aren’t the names cute? They were boyfriend and girlfriend – they were the main attraction at the show. They were the top names under Maven’s. They had power and prestige…and the talent to get on each other’s nerves with the slightest effort. I had respect for them – they could do half of anything. Card tricks, eat fire, juggle, you name it – they did it. They had a talent for the art of deception. Perhaps that’s why they stuck together so long. They only made the world believe that they were troublesome together. But in the long run, they were truly best suited for one another.

Then there’s Irish and Colt. They’re Rev’s lackeys. See, Irish is Rev’s girl. She’s his right hand. Never, ever, elect a girl as your second in command, especially if you’re involved with her. That just makes things complicated. It makes it hard to pull the trigger when she screws you over. Yes, I say “when”, because it’s bound to happen. Sooner or later. Colt Brogan is the top of the chain under the happy couple. He’s more rational minded than Rev could ever be, more fair. He’s the kind of boss the streets need. Someone to balance things out, clean up the mess left by years of madness. From years of Ransoms and Merricks ruling the roost and fucking up. Someone like him is the cure. If he survives to get his chance. I have high hopes. Sometimes, that’s all you can have. Hope.

 

The kids had their lives, I tried to keep track of them as they came and went from the bar. When I heard Angyl was in town though, that perked my interest. Being Lucid worked at the shop, well, I had to stay informed. Whenever I wasn’t at the bar, I was there. I met her – we shook hands and everything. She seemed level headed for the most part, but she had the charm. She had that darkness in her that made you want to follow her, no matter where she was headed. You’d start smoking or drinking if it would allow you to spend more time with her. She was just very…inviting. In her own way, she had a mesmerizing quality. It was charm. She was born with it. You can’t learn something like that. She inherited it.

I was suspicious, as most people tend to be. I grew up with it and learned to ask more questions as I got older. And after asking questions, I realized I didn’t truly want to know the answers. That’s the way life went. And perhaps I could be more edgy around her, but she was an accomplished artist. She had a portfolio and everything. Angyl Hunter was the real deal. Through and through. And I couldn’t help but respect her for it. But that didn’t mean that I had to fall in love with her or bend to her beck and call or anything. I did what I had to – I got by. I ran the bar. I spent time at the shop. I lived on the sidelines. My years in the field were over.

Rev came by, as he usually does. His lackeys hang around, run their reports through here. As much of a cocky brat as he is, he’s fairly organized. A lot of paperwork in his organization. Then again, that could be a very foolish decision. It’s his choice. It’s his job. I won’t tell him how to run his boat. Not that he would listen anyway. He seldom, if ever, does.

I cleaned the glasses and I listened to the talk that night. I was the barkeep. I did my job. Syn was dead. I knew this because I had seen so much, I knew more than most. I was older – I was theoretically wiser. I knew because I had to know. I knew she was dead before the vulgar masses swelled to mourn her passing. Nobody was truly mourning though. They were inwardly cheering. She was dead. It was over. The chain, the cycle, the pain that she’d caused in her lifetime, the dozens of other lifetimes she’d destroyed or ended…the reign was done. She was no more. How could we help but be psyched?

I worked – saying hello to Rev. He helped a lot. He didn’t have to, but he did, and I appreciated the extra hand. Sure, he talked back a lot, but he was a kid, that’s how they are. And I don’t miss a beat; I throw it right back at him, just as quick. Irish and Colt work pretty steady. It’s a good cover and it’s straight money. It’s a job. That’s the bottom line with most careers in this world. It pays. It’s a job. Case and point.

Rev and I exchanged harassments and he was on his way for the night. I knew tomorrow would be a nightmare. He laughed and sauntered out the door with Irish. Colt disappeared along the way. I looked over my shoulder to find Lucid standing behind me. I bent back and kissed him. He smiled and held onto me.

“Who’s watching Relic?”

He smiled. “Who?”

I laughed. “You know, our daughter?”

“Oh, her. Well, I met some nice bikers outside, they said they were going to go score some coke, I left her with them.”

I nodded. “Oh, alright. Now, where is she really?”

He laughed, my body shaking with his. “She’s with Serkis and Layne. You know that.”

I nodded again. “Never can tell with you.”

He kissed me again. I looked over at one of my other bartenders. We exchanged smiles; I threw her the keys.

“Do me a favor and lock up?”

She nodded back at me, leaving Lucid and I to disappear ourselves. We moved upstairs, to where I lived, where I always lived. He’d moved in with me, being he had no other home. Serkis and Layne were always kind enough to take care of Relic for us whenever we wanted or needed time off. Due to the upcoming disaster, this was a perfect time to unwind.

And so, we did.