Start from the Beginning
Been a few weeks since we added more chapters of Into the Light, an urban fantasy novel. There are twists and turns to come in the serialized adventure/road to ruin. We implore your gracious eyes to glance upon the original form of this odd chronicle. Now, we present chapters 10-12.
[FYI, as we are mostly a comic book publisher, we are willing to partner with other publishers with our prose. Please use the contact page to query us if you are an interested party-literary agent, editor, publisher.]
Bugatti, Rolls Royce, Fisker, Bentley, Mercedes and all manner of luxury car, bronze, pewter or black as obsidian, line up and idle on the swooping crescent driveway in front of the main house of the Guilder estate. Immigrant valets in red vests helm the drop off and direct the drivers to pull behind the guest house named “Constance” on the west side of the property when done delivering their payload. Fur wearing matriarchs and silver haired foxes of industry with thousand dollar black ties mingle on the walk leading up massive double oak doors. Blake and Carlton, hands in pockets, buzzed and grinning, survey the scene from the slate walkway.
In an Aston Martin Vanquish, a young white prince of three boarding schools, dressed in hip-hop attire with a crown of cornrows drops off his proper father in black tie. The sound system in the Aston Martin begins to boom as the father exits the sports car and the tires spits white stones at the valets as they try to wave him over as he cuts the wheel and rambles by the confused attendants. A squeal of tires peeling out is heard as the Aston Martin reaches the blacktop of the road. Blake imagines himself as the kid smiling, giving the finger to all of rich folk, as he hits the gas of the Vanquish. His lips hook up in smile.
Blake pats the head of a cherub statue next to ornamental iron torch and looks over to Carlton who gives a man with a decorative silver capped cane a handshake. Smiles and nods give promise to more interaction later in the night. An impulse just to run away flows over Blake as Dulce Gabbana gowns with Harry Winston loaners and Saville Row suits brush up against him. Then, a boisterous laugh like a Soviet Commissar startles him.
“Blake my boy. I’m glad you made it,” Mr. Guilder says hidden in the crowd.
“Oh, it’s been too long dear and so handsome,” Mrs. Guilder says.
The crowd in front of Blake disperses. A white haired couple, regal and sharp, walk arm in arm to Blake. Some of the partygoers raise their hands trying to get their attention but to no avail. Blake has their focus. The Guilders in all of their regalia, blackest of the black ties, the most clad of the diamond clad, stop and look Blake up and down. He manages a fainthearted smile.
“Blake my boy give me hug,” Mrs. Guilder says.
Blake is without ability to deny the true master of the domain. Mrs. Guilder moves her husband aside and squeezes Blake to near unconsciousness.
“How are you?” Blake asks after his release.
They laugh as if such a question never needs to be asked in their presence. Mr. Guilder grabs his arm and walks him into the main house where the interior was based on Winter Palace of the Czar. Crystal chandeliers from Ireland caress the vaulted entry way and prismatic beams of sparkling light fall on the checkerboard floors of the grand foyer as Blake is hauled to the greeting room, round with a high polish, that drafts below the grand butterfly staircase forever caught in a down stroke. The indoor temperature begins to rises with the collective body heat of the guests that begins to overtake the soft baby powder scented air.
“We must go Blake but we will talk later,” Mr. Guilder says and they make their leave.
Carlton pushes his way through a pestilence of partygoers and shoots a look into the old library as he clacks by in his hard soled shoes. The books are gone replaced with a gallery of expressionist paintings, abstract bronzes and naturalistic marble sculptures. He thinks the pieces must be on loan for the event as he spots Blake, alone, nibbling on a finger sandwich.
“Dude what happened?” Carlton asks.
“I was jacked by your parents,” Blake says.
“Sorry, but for some reason they like you. Dude hold on. Here comes that pompous prick Dr. Billings.”
A stork of a man in a full length coat with fur lapels, so tall that he seems off balance, steps up to Carlton. Blake wonders how they made such a long and narrow jacket.
“Carlton, haven’t seen you at the club for golf in quite some time.”
“I have been working on some foreign deals that have kept me indisposed. This is Blake, Dr. Billings.”
“Oh, Blake is it. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Blake.”
“No Dr. Billings. Blake is his first name. Blake Moxley this is the esteemed Dr. Billings head of Oncology at? I’m sorry but where are you now?”
“I’ve resigned my post at St. Vincent’s but am still active on several boards in the city but now my salary comes by way of pharmaceuticals and options of course. Would either of you boys like a Cuban? Smuggled recently,” Dr. Billings says.
“Thank you. I would love one. Blake?” Carlton says.
“Sure, thank you.”
“Hear about Barry? Made partner a few months ago, but I’m sure you have seen him since that.”
“Yes Dr. Billings. He told me all about it. Very impressive.”
“It’s not a degree from Harvard medical but at least he can assist me in the finer points of legalese. So, Blake what do you do?” Dr. Billings asks.
“Mostly boring office work, account management, research. You don’t want to know about my life.”
“Please, no. Go on,” Dr. Billings says as he brushes back his white mantle of hair. Blake thinks this guy is fucking with me so why not fuck back.
“Well, I did help to find the right distributors for a film company last month and they have been taking it royally to their competition.”
“Really what company is this so I might delve through their numbers?”
“What?” Carlton asks.
“You know Reemer Films. They are now the forth largest porno video company in the US. They might even have an IPO soon.”
“You jest?” Dr. Billings asks.
“No,” Blake says, pauses and continues, “They should soon be the largest distributor of gay porn, and fifth in straight. Good PE ratio if you know what I mean.”
“Seems your friend is quite the comedian Carlton,” Dr. Billing says.
“Well, he has been rather amusing since he was in the hospital,” Carlton says.
“What happened Blake?” Dr. Billing asks.
“Allergic reaction. Spider maybe?”
“Oh. Carlton, nice seeing you and don’t be a stranger at the club,” Dr. Billings says, nods like a grandfather acknowledging his toddler grandson who just pulled out his penis, and makes his way to a group of elderly dowagers wearing furs long dead.
“Moxie, that was fuckin brilliant,” Carlton says.
“That guy is an arrogant asshole. Takes himself too seriously and putting down your own son is fucked up,” Blake says.
A female server stops and presents a silver platter with champagne. Blake grabs two. He chugs one and puts the glass back as he get a craving for Oreos.
The Guilders have climbed the left side of the swooping double staircase and reach the second floor’s balcony above the crowd. They are shepherds surveying their flock. They turn to a man on a bench behind them and raise their hands to signal him to begin.
Haunting ambient sounds begin to reverberate in the ethers. Harmonics upon harmonics and the sound of a thousand Amethyst crystal goblets being stroked on the rim imbue wonder and confusion into the crowd that is not easily impressed. An armonica, an instrument once banned for its supernatural tones, created by Benjamin Franklin, fuses the atmosphere of sound into a single mind. Mr. Guilder points to the instrumentalist and he starts playing the Hustle. For a few moments, the guests listen until they recognize the disco song and laughter overtakes the nebulous chimes of the once banned instrument. Mrs. Guilder gives the musician a glance and he stops. Mr. Guilder puffs up and step to the railing. He lifts his hands in a sermon pose.
“Let’s eat and be merry for tomorrow we tarry in the trenches of society. Remember my friends Machiavelli is amongst us, so be princes and not paupers, and keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Enjoy!” Mr. Guilder says.
The guests are directed by the wait staff to their seating in the vast ballroom now a converted facsimile of a German Bier hall. Carlton goes with his parents to the head table and Blake waits silently at the outer edge near the kitchen doors. When all the other guests are seated, a waiter leads Blake to his table.
The glass tables are trimmed with silver edges and hold small platinum statues of Roman gods enacting Greek myths as centerpieces. The seated notice Blake as he walks up visibly tipsy and some whisper to each other and other continue as if he didn’t exist. Before he sits, Blake asks the waiter to bring him a double shot of Jagermeister and any India pale ale. The two married couples hear and turn to each other to keep the obviously single guy at bay. Blake wrenches out the chair.
Not looking, he plops down on hard back chair slick with a white linen cover a little too hard and a spike of pain runs from his tailbone to his temple. Blake bites down trying not to swear and a hand taps his left shoulder. He glares at the pale hand and then his eyes trace a narrow arm to a bowtie around a narrow neck and a narrow but young face pale like old snow. Glowing red eyes from a teenage face look back. Blake thinks of Bobbi’s yellow eyes and adrenaline surges causing his skin to go hot and his heartbeat begins to palpitate through his chest.
“Hi I’m Nigel Thorian. This is my sister Penelope,” he says and sits back so Blake can see the girl sitting next to him. A willow tree of a girl with a black dress hanging off her limbs like dead moss leans forward and smiles at Blake. Her dark black eyeliner frames purple eyes.
“Hello, Blake Moxley,” he says and thinks these are just a pair of Emo kids playing dress up, an imp and the wallflower.
The girl sits back and escapes into her iPhone but Nigel keeps looking at Blake. Not able to undress the stare, Blake decides to bore the kid into leaving him alone.
“Lovely weather we’re having,” Blake says.
“Not really, there are signs of climate change that will cause another ice age. Half the people here are to blame for it too,” Nigel says.
“But at least the sky is clear and the stars are shining,” Blake says.
“One day every star will go out and all atomic motion will cease in the universe. But, we probably won’t make it that long because an asteroid will hit the earth. The earth is due for another extinction event,” Nigel says.
“Well, we have our health and the ground is under our feet,” Blake says.
“A new bird flu could mutate and kill millions because just one person on a plane can go anywhere and infect just about anyone. You do know that the volcanic caldera in Yellowstone national park is going to erupt. A super volcano that will bury the U.S. in ash,” Nigel says and rests his forearms on the table.
“Aren’t we just a bundle of laughs. But I must say, I do like the colored contacts kid. Freaks out the old money,” Blake says.
“I don’t wear contacts. I’m an albino,” Nigel says.
Blake is saved by the first course of saffron risotto and quail eggs topped with arugula pesto. His drinks come and Blake can’t drink them fast enough.
The second and third courses come and Blake replies to polite questions from the others at his table. Nigel and Penelope keep to themselves. Desert is announced, black cherry chocolate soufflé, and Blake has had enough. He puts his cotton napkin on his plate and weaves his way out through servers.
Blake wanders the halls and finds himself outside on a second story veranda overlooking the sprawling grounds. He lights a cigarette. Amber light flickers from gas lamps posted by the tennis courts and pool. His thoughts turn to the last night and can’t conjure any emotion. No anger. No sadness. He just wants to get home, buy a few scratch off tickets, and sleep but Juli and the bookie come to mind.
“I have to change,” Blake says to dark sky above.
Alone and quiet, his thought give way to missing time and awakes in the back of the limo heading back to the city. Carlton is asleep with an empty glass in his hand as Blake stares out the window to a cityscape sketched in coal and diamond.
The limo pulls up to Blake’s building and the driver retracts the divider.
“You are home sir,” he says with a yawn.
“Carlton wake up man.”
“What am I back already? I just closed my eyes for a second.”
“No, we’re at my pad but you’re almost home.”
“Hope you had a decent time. Know it isn’t your thing but you need the practice.”
“Wasn’t bad. But the albino kid and sister I sat were creepy. The kid just talked about disasters.”
“Albino kid? There was no albino kid at your table. I’d remember, I put you there myself.”
“You must losing you’re short term memory as you get old because there was an albino kid and his Emo sister sitting there as plain as… well… an albino.”
“Dude, every time I scanned over to your table, you had your arms crossed and were staring into space or you were dozing. Fuckery abounds Moxie, what kind of meds did those docs at the hospital give you? I’d lay off if I were you. Call you in few days, now get out of the car. Money’s wasting.”
Blake climbs the stairwell to his floor and brackets of darkness brace against the slats of weak light coming through the landing windows. Very few people are still awake. Blake gets to his door and stops as he pulls out his keys.
Book Two: Metamorphosis. Chapter: 11
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
Heavy eyes open up but are weighted by the thoughts of the workday; eyes close and adjust to the light. Blake phases in and out. Tyger rustles the gravel and prepares to attack a cornered cricket. The disdainful faucet drips and the plugged in appliances are vampires of electricity. The sun fights to shine over the city of windows and a misty morning, an autumn morning, a morning filled with people wearing black raincoats.
Blake taps the rhythm of his heartbeat on the tip of his nose and then fights to his feet, floats to the shower with his slumped shoulders and soaks in the hot spray. Life passes by in blinks for Blake, every sound and footstep echoes as he gets ready. With a tie tied too tight, he can’t feel the cold on his face as he steps out onto the sidewalk. The city streets are alive with clusters of foot traffic. Losing time to daydreams of chocolate chip cookies and million dollar scratch off tickets, Blake makes it downtown.
The guards do not bother him and the office is empty. He’s early for the first time in months. The air is smooth on his tongue and the scent of garlic pickles drifts over from Richard’s cubicle. A car air-freshener cut in the shape of a pine tree is pulled out of his drawer and hung on Darth Vader’s neck. The computer fires up with a low hum and Blake stretches as he sits back. The familiar scent of jasmine swirls to his nostrils as Juli comes strolling over in tan suit and a curt smile lifts.
“Why didn’t you text me back after you left the club?” Juli asks.
“Lost my phone. No joke. I have to buy a new one tomorrow,” Blake says.
“That explains it. We have to talk but first how was the opulent evening in the burbs?” she asks.
“Oh. I didn’t know I told you about that?”
“You did. On the way to the club. So?”
“Well it was crowded with people who have people. You need a reference just to look at them. People just living to out do their neighbor and buy the next fashionable piece of art as their souls seem to be bought and paid for.”
“Well thank you for such detail. When I usually ask a guy how was it? I get fine or shitty. By the way,” she says and pauses to long for Blake’s liking, “you get the news yet?”
His heart rushes a beat and a bead of sweat forms on his forehead.
“No. What? Haven’t gone online to read the paper today,” Blake says hoping his mishap didn’t so how make its way onto the internet.
“Well it isn’t that kind of news. It’s office news. Auggie got fired. Something to do with tampering with the database. Someone hacked them and adios Auggie.”
“Sucks for him. Can we talk later? I’m sort of behind after taking that sick day and all,” Blake says
“Drinks later? We have to talk about what happened that night.”
“Sure, it was a weird night” Blake says and squeezes his knees so hard his fingernails bend.
The day is almost done and Juli C. walks up to Blake like a strutting cat. The ending bell dings and the office quietly goes on standby. Blake checks his emails and there is nothing from the bookie.
On the street, the yellow cabs whizzing by becomes a blurred tunnel of light like a time lapsed photo to Blake. No cabs stop for them. He turns to Juli.
“Can we walk? It’s not that cold out?” he asks.
She nods but isn’t happy about it.
The hurried race on the sibilant city sidewalk begins with a first step until a last step is taken to a dive bar, sawdust floor included, named Shaky’s. Hipsters and theatre people are packed in like a subway car. Conversations about Fixie bicycles and the Rothko exhibit swirl among the deep v-neck sweaters and scarf clad thespians. A suitable table in the corner is found where Blake and Juli can scope out the twenty-somethings with the scorn they deserve.
“What do you want?” Blake asks.
Juli wiggles into a comfortable position and waits for Blake to speak up. The waitress, a curvy woman with glossy skin in a sky-blue waitress uniform from a fifties diner, drifts through the crowd as if they were smoke. Blake gazes up to her and he blinks with astonishment. The waitress looks like nurse with almond eyes at the hospital.
Juli noticing him staring at the waitress and her arms cross. The waitress pulls out an order pad and steps heavy on one foot. Her weight then shifts to the other foot bowing out her leg.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asks.
“We would like tow martinis, please,” Blake says.
“And how would you like those martini’s towed?” the waitress asks. Blake realizes what he said and his face goes straight through blushing red to purple.
“Just kidding. Two martinis it is. Can I have a credit card so I can run you tab?”
“Sure. It’s been along day,” he says and hands her a Visa. Blake’s left eye begins to twitch.
The waitress with almond eyes struts away with a poker player’s confidence knowing she has the upper hand. Juli turns to him with suspicious glint and thinks a grown man reduced to idiocy by a pretty lady. Bitch. That’s my job.
“Blake what’s wrong with you?” Juli asks with tarnished pride on her tongue.
“I think she’s the nurse from the hospital I went to. Might have seen me naked and I’m a little freaked out.”
“Nothing big. Just an allergic reaction.”
“Really, sound awful. But why would a nurse work here?”
“Nurses paid shit.”
“I guess,” Juli says, coughs, and slips off her jacket. She pushes her boobs forward so Blake is sure to notice.
“Hey. Uh. The club. What happened?”
Juli’s eyes flare and she scoots close to the table.
“That’s what I wanted to ask you?”
“Did you see who I left with?” Blake asks.
“So you didn’t see me leave with anyone?”
“No. Why? ”
“Nothing. Things are just a little blurry.”
“Why did you leave me?” she asks and puts her hands on her knees.
“I thought you were busy. Didn’t want to bother you when you were talking to that guy who looked like George Clooney,” Blake says and thinks fuck I can’t tell her what happened. She’ll think I’m a chump.
“That guy didn’t look like George Clooney. He was hitting on Bella anyway,” she says.
“So you didn’t…?”
“Oh god no.”
“Oh. Sorry for taking off with that woman. I just didn’t want to get in the way,” he says and thinks I fucking blew it.
“Next time tell me so I don’t worry.”
“I will. By the way, what’s the name of your brother’s bookstore? I was thinking of going,” Blake asks he gazes into her eyes hope to reconnect. She looks away.
“S. O.S, it’s only a few blocks from here. If you need to know anything about mysticism it’s there,” she says.
“S. O. S, what does that stand for?”
“Syncretism and Occult Store. It’s a bizarre of the bizarre or that’s what Stiggy calls it.”
“Stiggy, what’s a Stiggy?” Blake asks.
“Stiggy your brother?”
“No no. Thanks god for that. He just works there,” she says.
The waitress with almond eyes comes back and dips as she places the drinks on the table.
“Here you go,” she says.
“Thanks,” Blake says and Juli flashes a snide grin.
“Is there anything you want to talk about?” Juli asks.
“No. Did you have fun?”
“It was an interesting experience.”
“What did you want to talk about then?”
“You answered my question. I just wanted to know about why you left,” she says and thinks why don’t you like me?
“All right,” Blake says and thinks she hates me.
Missed opportunities pass right in front of the dwellers of the city of windows, the city that never sleeps, where it’s all right in front of you.
They talk. They have another martini. They complain about Johnny Tragen and not being able to roll over personal days at the end of the year. They kiss each other politely as Juli wraps her coat around her shoulders heavy with disappointment and she tries to give Blake money for the tab.
“No. I got it. The least I could do for making you worry,” he says. She waves a timid wave as she exits the door and kicks off the sawdust from her shoes onto the sidewalk.
The waitress with almond eyes comes up and puts a piece of paper on the table.
“Check?” Blake asks.
“No. It’s my number. I have a really great show to go to tonight if you want to come?”
“Yes. What’s your name?”
“Blake Moxley and yours?”
“Amesha Spencer. If you want to have a good time, call me around eight thirty.”
“All right, cool,” Blake says.
“And don’t worry about the check. It’s on me,” she says and winks.
The waitress with almond eyes turns around and enters the rustling crowd. Blake figures why not? Haven’t been laid in months.
At the Alexander building, Blake hits the code and the door unlatches with a thudding click. He hustles up the stairs and waves to Ms. Braque as she sweeps her doorframe.
“Have a lovely night Ms. Braque. Sorry I can’t talk. Real busy,” he says.
“I understand. You have a lovely night to but I know you will,” she says brooming away.
He pushes the door open and looks for men in masks but there are none. He checks his cell phone and has a text from his Bookie that simply reads I know where you live.
“It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish.”
Blake closes the door behind him.
“Fuck the bookie, not worrying about it tonight” he says as he passes by Tyger’s glass enclosure.
He showers and then waits an hour to call but messes up the attempt. An itch runs through his scalp and he digs at it only to draw blood. After cleaning the wound, he vows never to bite his finger nails again and goes to call Amesha.
“Hi is Amesha there?”
“This is she. Hello Blake.”
“Impressive. I’m told I sound different on the phone.”
“I can always tell. So, the agenda tonight is to obliterate boredom and see reality in a new way.”
“We are going to an avant garde fashion show.”
“Fashion show?” he asks.
“All right. Do you want me to come get you?”
“No, you will be picked up in forty-three minutes.”
“My address is…”
“I already have it. Google. Good bye.” Click.
He has never gone to a fashion show and thinks you must try everything once. As he continues to get ready, he feeds Tyger and plugs in his electric toothbrush into the socket to charge since it is running low on power. He wonders if she is interested in him because he was sitting with Juli. Pretty women like to compete with pretty women.
“No,” he says and slips on charcoal gray slacks and a black v-neck cashmere sweeter over a blue Egyptian cotton oxford along with his dark burgundy English wingtips.
Forty-two minutes later, Blake waits outside feeling over dressed and a little too warm for the temperate autumn night. A forest green Bentley pulls up and he looks in the back seat but Amesha isn’t there. A driver in a classic chauffeur uniform, tufts of white blonde hair exposed under the cap, waves him in and Blake wonders how the hell could she afford this?
The door opens itself and he slides in. The driver accelerates pinning him to the headrest and a solid black partition goes up. Blake’s heart begins to race. His hands sweat and he can’t stop the growing and uncalled for erection in his pants. He places his hand over his crotch even though the partition is up.
The pewter clouds in the sky have stalled and twilight has dominion of the city. The William Tell Overture begins to play on the sound system of the Bentley rising in gradual degree. Blake watches the city streets blur by through the window until they hop on the Williamsburg Bridge. Thirty classical music minutes later, they reach a dilapidated industrial site in Brooklyn, a factory of cement and broken glass.
The Bentley drives through chain link gates as tall as street lights that are capped with razor wire. The car pulls in a lot where Hummer Limos and Maybachs, the New Testament to power and mobility, sit next to piles of broken cinderblocks and twisted iron rebar. The lot is absent of human life but rats dash among the piles of debris.
The driver gives the Blake a silver ticket with a bar code and a red ribbon for his lapel. He gets out and follows a purple velvet carpet bordered by large hemp ropes covered in tiny colored mirrors, a linear mosaic. At a loading bay, he comes across a slate board held up on a steel tube easel with letters written with sea glass that reads West. An arrow points to a red door where an exit sign hangs above. On the door, ENTER is written.
Blake’s skin gets cold and he wants to run when he sees men in suits who look like they work for the Secret Service close the gates and begin to walk towards him. Blake passes through the red door and a man dressed in a suit of feathers holds out a white device.
“Ticket?” the man in feathers asks.
Blake holds out his ticket and the scanner beeps.
“Have a nice time. Go to your right and your seat is in the second row mid way,” the man says and pulls a cigarette from behind his ear.
Blake enters through a rusted doorway into to a massive industrial space and sees Amesha sitting in an empty back row of fold out chairs wearing a black lace gown and not much else with her hair tied up. The warehouse is lined with rows of chairs on a concrete floor that bend around a central raised catwalk with a large white backdrop like a movie screen. Close to the catwalk stage are chairs draped with white linen and filled with people wearing shiny black suit sporting elaborate wavy hairdos. One man in a tight metallic bodysuit with the build of a linebacker and a shaved head stands at the front of the catwalk guarding it from any would be violators. Blake approaches Amesha and slips into the open aisle seat.
“Hello, thought you’d be in the car but,” Blake tries to finish but is interrupted with, “Shush. I’ll talk. You listen until I say you can. Don’t speak nod,” she says. Blake nods.
Shades are dropped over the windows by a hidden stage crew and eliminate any outside sources of light. The room is a dark as a moonless night. New age music begins to play with guitar harmonic tones and a few dim floor lights near the stage pulse. A layered melody from crystal chimes covers the guitar harmonics as Latin incantations that Blake cannot understand are piped in through a secondary sound system up in the rafters of metal bones.
A pounding and violent, a rhythm evolves and as soon as it starts, it stops. Lights suspended in the gantry above the catwalk strobe and the backdrop lifts. The stage is naked. Cheers from the crowd last a moment as silence falls and the music starts again. Blake looks at Amesha and she does not look back. A mechanical cranking sound vibrates the floor.
Above the catwalk, from the suspended runway, stage a banner drops and reads A Machine in God’s Path. It floats across the runways airspace and then slips serenely back up through the void. Amesha turns and says, “Ex Machina, is the title of the show. The designer is Grace Asmodeus.” Blake shrugs.
A thunderous stampede of models is what Blake expects but a torso with no legs fitted with a sheer indigo shirt hovers and the rounds the catwalk held up by wires. A pair of mannequin legs follows wearing tan Capri pants and staggers around the catwalk like a drunk puppet. For ten minutes, one after another, various body parts are clothed in this new collection and float around the stage until a series of expressionless heads fitted with knit hats are dropped from the gantry and dangle.
The music stops and the light go on to reveal the crew above. The audience members clap and nod in appreciation. Blake thinks those mannequins must have been hard to cut up. Amesha giggles and says “Punch and Judy of the fashion industry.”
The crowd begins to clap with even more fervor as Grace Asmodeus, covered from head to toe in a gossamer red veil, rises out of a trapdoor on the stage. The main lights go out again as small purple LED lights on the floors create arrows to direct the foot traffic out of the improvised space. Grace’s booming voice comes over the loud speaker to the shock of Blake.
“My intention was to show that clothes can make the Man, I can, and I know I can. An added benefit is that since I didn’t have to pay models fifty thousand dollars each, I decided to donate pieces to MoMa. Go in peace.”
The audience exits, under the cover of murmurs, as Grace descends back into the body of the catwalk. Amesha grabs Blake’s hand and leads him back out to the Bentley. The driver starts the engine and they glide out into the streets of Brooklyn.
“Did you like the show?” Amesha asks.
“Short but I like short and it was nice performance art,” he says with a growing gleam in his eyes.
“I actually worked for Grace long ago. Well, we worked together. It was complementary.”
“You’re too young to be on a second job. Are you a nurse too?”
“I am many things and am older than you think. I modeled when I was thirteen and burned out before I turned twenty. Grace however was an assistant who no one would give a chance until I referred her to a now defunct fashion house.”
“Thanks for doing this. Never been to a fashion show and aren’t as bad as I thought.”
“I’m happy to expand your field of experiences. Would you like a drink?” she asks.
“Uh, sure. Grace sure is gifted,” he says and she pulls out a decanter and a glass from the center console.
The partition goes up and gives them privacy as they pull to a stop light. Blake looks at her longingly through the passing shadows.
“Gifted? Yes. Like you. The most intelligent see society and know how to be both sunlight and shadow. People like you are so beyond the norm that when you create, it seems confusing to the average. True?” she asks.
“Sometimes,” he says.
“Most people are asleep and want boundaries Blake. Don’t let their boundaries stop you from exploring new things or forever go in circles,” she says.
“You just met me, what makes you think I’m gifted?” Blake asks.
“I see it in your eyes. They haven’t been dulled by the evils of the world yet. I can feel you’ve been held back and that those around you cannot truly see what you are capable of but these are preparations for your next step,” Amesha says, grabs Blake by his collar and presses her lips against his. Touching, rubbing and groping heats both of their bodies.
They pull up to a high-rise with a façade darker than the surrounding night and she leads him in by a silent staff in the lobby. They only move with their eyes. An elevator with art deco doors opens as they walk in arm and arm. She hits the orange thirty-five button and the doors seal. She pushes him to the wall and runs her hands down his back and grips his buttock. Her supple body presses hard against his throbbing member and they make out as people get on at every floor. Blake cannot believe what he is doing as he opens his eyes to see a thin man in an all black suit wearing sunglasses. The man dips his sunglasses and a glowing amber eye winks. The elevator door opens and the man slips out. Blake thinks that dude was creepy.
Nothing exists but touch and they get off at the thirty-fifth floor almost falling to the white marble floor as they exit. She leads him to an unmarked room and punches in a code on the door lock. The door opens and displays a long narrow room and at the end a window wall looking out onto the city. A king sized bed sits square in the center of the room.
Clothes rip and fall. Gasps and moans fill their ears. Hands slap skin and marks of red raise and become sensitive. Pulling and pushing, biting and scratching heighten the anticipation. Silk sheets embraces them as they slide on the bed and writhe like entangled serpents. Hours pass and time slows down as every touch lasts a lifetime.
Blake is the first to penetrate the ecstatic membrane and rolls away drenched. The silk sheet sticks to his lower back and legs. He gets up goes to find the bathroom that is behind a frosted glass door that illuminates as he approaches. The bathroom has no towels or toiletries and is perfectly white. The heated floor tiles make him stand on his toes as he lets loose a torrent into a toilet with more buttons and displays than his parent’s home theatre.
He hears Amesha cough and Blake goes out to see if she is needs anything. She is awake but pretends to be passed out. Her eyes are slivers but she can see Blake. Blake examines her and not thinking she’s awake goes back to the bathroom to get a drink out of the faucet. With water in his system, Blake goes back to the bed and watches Amesha’s chest rise and fall until he is captured by asleep.
The night moves like tar through the window until a flash from the surging storm strikes the lightning rod on the tower a few blocks over and for a moment the sharp light cuts through the buildings. Blake is awakened by the trailing thunder and slips over the side of the bed. He stands in front of the window wall as lightning streams in squiggles across the low clouds as if Van Gogh attacked the canvas of the night with violent brush strokes.