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16. Exiled – Trimming Loose Ends

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I came full circle, back to Maven’s in record time. From there, the bar was just a trip upstairs. Harley was still there. I swear, that place never closes. Lucid wasn’t around. Neither was Harley’s daughter. She was alone. There was a lot of that going around lately. I came in as she was cleaning tables.

“Hey, look what the cat dragged in,” she said, smiling up at me.

“Hey Harl, got a minute?”

She looked at her watch. “A couple. What’s the trouble?”

I sat myself down at a table that she’d already been to. I looked at myself in its shining surface. I looked terrible. I looked like a liar. I looked like I hadn’t slept. Like I was dying. I put my hands over my face, trying to rub my eyes and make it go away, I reopened them to find the same sight awaiting me. I shook it off and looked at her. She was sitting on a table, waiting. I was wasting time.

“Um, you wrote down stuff, right?”

“What do you mean?”

I was being too obvious. I took a breath and tried to compose myself.

“You wrote, you know, what happened. You were one of the narrators. You were the ringleader of the circus, once upon a time. You wrote down how you got there. Right?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. What is it to you?”

I shrugged, sitting back, trying to look comfortable. “Oh, nothing. Just curious. You know. Being there’s so many stories going around, and being you saw so much, it would have been a good idea for someone to write it all down. You know?”

She shrugged. “I suppose it would have been.”

 

I wasn’t getting anywhere. If anything, I was losing ground, and fast. I looked around desperately for something, anything to play off of. I was going to lose. And I knew it. Angyl would kill me for this. I needed that story. She knew it existed. It was known. But Harley wouldn’t give it up. She was denying ever writing it. This was going nowhere. Losing time. Think, think…what am I going to do?

“Come on Harley, everyone knows you wrote it down. You had to get it out.”

“Get what out?”

“The pain, the madness. All those people, dying. You had to write it down.”

She got up. “Some things are better left unsaid.”

“Like what?”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “Like why you’re an orphan. Why Maven’s father is dead. Why the great family we have is down to the very few of us.”

And I dropped the chair back to four feet, from the two I was leaning back on. They’d never explained my parents’ unfortunate deaths to me. They said it was gang related. An “incident” – as they called it. No names. Nothing. Harley choked on her words and went back to cleaning. I got up.

“You know what happened, don’t you?”

She stopped cleaning and turned back to me. “You’re not getting it. Understand me? Nobody is. I know that something’s up. And I won’t allow it to get destroyed with the lives that are already going downhill. Maven’s too far gone to be saved, and so are you. I’m not giving you cause for vengeance now. I’m not creating another war. You have enough to handle. Just remember. The family takes care of itself. Of its own.”

And she walked away. She went into the back and continued cleaning. I stopped breathing for a moment, unsure of what to do. I had failed. I wouldn’t get it. She wouldn’t help me. I didn’t expect her to, but the truth still had me shocked. She wouldn’t bend. She wouldn’t yield. What now? What do I do? I needed that story. I needed it like I needed oxygen. I had failed. I was screwed. I got up, looking around nervously. And I ran home.

I ran home with every ounce of strength I could muster. I tore the place apart, compiling every sheet I could find. I put them in a box and put the lid on it and tied it shut. I made it look like it had contents of some importance. It was a lie. It was just so that Angyl wouldn’t kill me. So I wouldn’t look bad. I would keep my honor intact. I had achieved my purpose. I would keep it close to me, throwing it wherever it needed to be exactly when it was needed. And if Angyl opened it, I’d take off running. And never stop. Never.

I put the box under my arm and trotted back to the Dragon. Angyl was there. I could smell gasoline. I went to help her, dropping the box on the floor, in a corner far away from anything. Nothing was said between the two of us. She wanted to ask if I’d achieved what I set out to do. But she looked at me, I nodded, and that was it. Conversation wasn’t necessary. After a few minutes, I decided to leaf through everything, before we burned it. Or parts of it. I went through some of the boxes, reading selections here and there. I read some of them several times, trying to memorize them in the few moments I had. I had to hold on to as much as I could. It would all be gone soon. I had to try and remember. I had no other choice.

Colt would help Maven get here. I looked up from my page when she came in. I nodded and continued leafing through the pages. She looked worse than I did. But we felt the same. This was wrong. And yet, we were here. Ending the chain. Starting fresh. We would make it stop. Forever. Angyl came out of the back, trailing gasoline. We both moved outside. I had left my box at the bottom of the pile, covered by other material. She never knew.

 

And she lit it up. The Black Dragon burned. It burned for ages. As it would always burn. It took with it memories, ideas, years of madness. All the pain and misery that was left in there. It had everything. Angyl had arranged the bodies, collected her pieces, and we’d set the place ablaze. This was the end. This was where everything started. And this was how and where it would end. With us. Here and now.

We had burned the place down. Soon, only a frail frame would remain. And ashes. Nothing more than that. No words. No pictures. Nothing to prove that the blood spilt here was real. And it would all fade out, become a bedtime story, a fancy fairy tale. Nothing more than fiction. And so, we come full circle. As it started, it has ended.

Brought to you by the Trio of Treason.

Always and Forever.

And Never.

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