25. The Icarus Syndrome



Doyle died simply. Or so they told me. The actual truth of it didn’t come out until later. I was simply told that he was dead. Case and point.

Translation: I am free.

Or am I?

How did he die? We’re not sure…there were so many possibilities. I knew because Serkis told me. Another late night visit, another blood-covered girl. It was all the same.

Doyle was beaten, broken, stabbed, shot…you name it and they found it in him. Sylum was at the head of the investigation. It wasn’t a long case – rival drug dealers burst in during the night, kicked the shit out of him, and left him for dead. Open and shut.

At least that’s the story we told the fans.

When it came to Doyle, nobody was all that…adoring.

            Things were far from simple. Things were insanely far from simple. It was a few weeks later when this all surfaced. I was getting along with Sylum better, but I couldn’t seem to charm my way into getting out. I tried everything I had up my sleeve. And when that failed, I pulled out the last ace.

I’m young. I’m cute. And I’m stuck here with a guy.

I spent every waking moment with him, poking and prodding and trying for any sort of leeway. No such luck. We were sitting around one night, talking about, I’m not sure…and smoking. He always shared. I was next to him. He wouldn’t touch me. Serkis’ warnings are always cashed in if broken, he told me. Knowing her, I believed him.

It was late – we’d been up all night talking. At the moment, I couldn’t remember what was so interesting. Sylum had gotten up a while ago to take some medication for a headache. I remember having to shift position. He had come back and I’d curled up next to him. I only remember vague bits and pieces of events. Nothing solid. Nothing continuous.

“If you did touch me, you think Serkis would ever know?” I asked softly. I had the tone of a child, asking a friend, hypothetically, if I could get away with my crime before the parents got home. He shrugged.

“I’m not risking anything with her. She is vicious, that one.”

I smiled at him. “Mr. Big Bad Law Man is afraid of little ole Serkis. That’s funny. You’re scared of a girl.”

“You’re trouble, you know that? And I’m not afraid of her. And that girl is far from little. And you damn well know it. What are you playing at?”

“I don’t play games. I just lead the distraction.”

“Oh, that’s right.” He poked me in the side, a childish sort of motion. “Happy now?”

I laughed and shrugged. It was a foreign concept for him to be with people – that was obvious. He was alone in his little steel cage and it suited him. He was safe and nothing could hurt him. He had security on all sides – anything he needed, Doyle provided. I brought this to his attention. He just got quiet.

“And you know everything, do you? You’re the expert on my life?”

“I’ve been kept prisoner in your apartment for weeks. I’ve had massive amounts of time to formulate my theory. It holds water.”

“Does it?” He was trying to outwit me. I smiled wider.

“You lock your bedroom. What the hell am I going to do to it?”

“Everyone has a right to privacy.”

“How come you never bring anybody over?”

“I have you here.”

I laughed. “My room locks. From the outside. And don’t pretend you didn’t know that.”

He was losing ground and he knew it. He got all huffy, took in a deep breath and started. “I don’t think my lifestyle is any of your business and if I want to be alone and it suits me, you should respect that. This is my territory and you are just a visiting guest, the traveling show. And who are you to lecture me on or about anything? You’re just…a child.”

I jumped up and kissed him. To shut him up. To prove my point. And he didn’t stop me. Everything in him shook for a moment. But he didn’t push me away. I was right and he was wrong. And he knew it. Loneliness is a disease.

Needless to say, I finally saw what his room looked like that night. And I got to sleep in a real bed for a change, instead of my makeshift deal down the hall. For the first time in weeks.

Serkis showed up the next morning. She had news. Doyle was dead. And I was going home. I would leave my newfound security. I would leave Sylum and I would stay away. I would go nowhere near him. There was an investigation going on. I had to let him do his job.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to kick and scream. Serkis said that Doyle was dead. She said that Sylum knew this in advance but had kept the information from me. Serkis had requested to tell me herself. I felt betrayed. I was thrown back to the hellish little group that I had started with, my misery packed over my shoulder. I wanted to cry and kick and scream. I wanted to tell Serkis that this wasn’t fair and why. But that wasn’t possible. That would mean Sylum’s condemnation. Then again…he betrayed me first.

But then again, I’m an adult. I made the choice and I should stick by it. It is done and it can’t be taken back.  Every so often, I forget that I’m no longer the child that I used to be. I’m all grown up, there’s no going back. There’s no use longing for what’s gone. I’d swallow my pain and I’d follow orders because it benefitted the family. The family that was killing itself from the inside. Sweet, huh?

Serkis brought me back to my old place above the bar. They’d been keeping it up for me, she said. Everything was clean and exactly as I’d left it…maybe a little neater than I’d left it. Laundry was done, folded, put away. There was nothing that needed cleaning, fixing or relocating. She was at my side, patiently waiting. I hugged her close.

“Thank you.”

She smiled. “It’s good to have you home. Where you belong.”

Something about her words got under my skin, making every faculty of myself cringe. There was something ironic, almost sardonic about what she said. Serkis’ words were always well thought-out and intentional. She never said anything that didn’t have better purpose.

“It’s a crime to waste words, we only have so many,” she’d told me once. I didn’t understand her then, and I’m not completely sure that I understand her now. But it’s the fact that it was said at a point.

I sat down with Serkis across from me. She was a good distance away. I was paranoid that if I stayed too close to her for too long, she’d see right through me. She’d find her way through the deceit and tear the honesty out of me. She was just that good.

“So, who killed him?”

She laughed. “He killed himself. He got too big for his crown. The Icarus syndrome, I call it. He built wings to fly because he wanted to defy the laws of God. There are some laws you just can’t break. Hence, you drown.”

“So who helped him? Who tampered with the wings, held him under water? Who?”

She smiled a dry little grin, getting up as she did so. She shook her head, looking for words then shot me a little glance. “There’s only two killers in this family. And I swear, on everything and nothing, that it wasn’t me.”

And she turned with that smile and walked out, leaving me sitting there dumbstruck.

Damn. I was ready to get up and tear the place apart when I found what I needed sitting on the table in front of me. Smokes. Ha. The family just might be good for something. There was an envelope there too, and in it, notes from everyone telling me the latest or what they could do for me. Some of them made appointments. Serkis would be a very busy girl – I wasn’t working until a few days from now, Layne would be over today to make sure I was okay. Cassidy wrote that his services were always at my command. Grey wrote mockingly if I wanted to go for a relaxing drive in the future. Pandora sent her regards, explained that she was too busy at work to come by, but she’d see me there soon. And who’s left?

There was another slip of paper in the mix, with words simply stated.

“Nobody helps themselves. Family takes care of each other.”

It was written in broad sweeping letter, black and thoughtful. At the bottom were scratches in a dark red tone – two R’s, sweeping and intertwining. I wracked my mind, but could come up with nothing. The words were familiar but vague – so much had happened. So much to consider.

And yet I could never remember to forget this.

Only forget to remember what mattered.

It took me hours of pacing and consideration. Layne dropped by while I was ranting like a fiend to myself. I nearly attacked him.

“Who the hell is ‘RR’?”

He smiled. “You okay, kid? Sit down, come on, you’ll feel better.”

“I feel fine! Who is it? I’m sick of the games.”

“They’re just beginning. You know that. Everything is just part of the show.”

“This’ not fair.”

He grabbed hold of my shoulders and pushed me to the couch until I’d sit; he took a seat beside me. Close, but not too close. “There. You were making me dizzy with all the pacing.”

“Layne, the truth?”

He looked down at the ground and back up at me. “You know I can’t do that. There’s a lot going on. Let this settle out and then we’ll discuss it, okay? I promise.”

I didn’t want promises. I didn’t want to wait. And he knew it. My silence made him apprehensive. He patted me on the shoulder, got up, walked out, and came back. He had my guitar and his.

“Come on, I’ll teach you a new song.”

I wanted to laugh. He had this big dopey smile on him like a child that just found their birthday cake. He had that proud aura of someone accomplished whom wanted to share. I took my guitar from him and got comfortable, with him across from me. And he proceeded to teach. I would never deny him the chance to teach me a song – I think it made him happier than it made me. Either way, it was a mutually beneficial relationship. I didn’t mind spending time with him, and the music was good. So what the hell? The details of Doyle can wait. For now, all I need is the music and the talent that it takes to play it.

Every so often you get a good one. And when he throws you out, you can borrow someone else’s good one to teach you a song until you feel better. I don’t know…it made sense to me. But then again, I might just be insane. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

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