Into the Light, a serialized fantasy novel by Joshua L.A. Jones
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.
Read more of Into the Light
Start from the Beginning
Happy Christmas and a well to do New Year to you as we present chapters 7-9 of Into the Light, an urban fantasy novel in serialized parts. The twists and turns of Blake's Moxley's mind will soon reach an axis, flummox a fulcrum, and turn the lever of the world but first the madness must be made to manifest so it too can put on its party hat and dance out in the festival of darkness and light. Hold on, it's going to get weird.
Into the Light
The vigor and confidence Blake had has slipped away after his last loss over the weekend but his wish to move out Manhattan has grown stronger since the bookie will not give him extra time to pay. The Monday morning is dull with overcast as he walks down Broadway to work.
Just before the official end to the work day, Juli approaches Blake and tells him they are going out. He nods and takes a long whiff of the jasmine scent rolling off Juli and then shuts down his computer. She chooses the avenue and the place to unwind. An English style pub called Pandemonium with a backwards blue circular sign in the window that reads--nepO-- is the destination. Blake thinks put a tism on the end and that explains a lot in the world.
The shadows play with the movement of outside lights as they rotate, illuminate, and conceal the regulars at the front of the establishment through a large pane window as Blake walks in. The drink specials are painted red on a chalk board. This is a place where those who wish to be seen are and those who wish to hide. The smuggler cheers for the doctor as he wins a bet at the track and the cop buys a drink for an ex-con all within Pandemonium.
The bar surface stretches along the whole right side and at the end, blacked out with a curtain, the shade shrouded back booths. The air smells of fried fish and the hand carved teardrop inlays on the face of the old oak bar intrigue Blake as they walk down and grab a small block table with steel chairs. An azure cube candle holder with no candle sits idles as a centerpiece next to a brass incense holder that reflects errant rays of light passing through the pane glass window. Two pieces of unlit cone incense huddle on the plate while stuck pointing to the low ceiling. Grizzled old men sit at the end of the bar staring at a small television screen inside an open cabinet hung on the wall.
Blake turns to Juli with a question posed on his lips but she preempts him.
“I know. Where did I find this place? I was in between reading Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradisio, when the poems prompted me to do a Google search the city for places called Inferno but Pandemonium came up. It’s like retro-English Punk Pub Primitive but cool. I came here with some friends, who you will meet in a few, and never stopped coming,” she says with a quick wink. The blood begins to flow between his legs with verve making his crouch to hide his growing erection.
“That wasn’t what I was going to ask,” he says trying to wish away his immerging hard-on.
“I was going to ask if you knew anyone here but I guess that was answered. Who are the friends?”
“You’ll like Cyn and Belladonna. They’re not like the people at work. I met them over a year ago and don’t know their real names but I think Cyn is short for something sinister and Victor is coming too.”
Cyn and Belladonna take themselves way too seriously and they profoundly suffer from what human psychologists call the The Illusion of Knowledge. Go ahead, look it up, I’ll wait.
Silly little hormones and compliments can really mold a mind in such annoying ways. Well back to the story and what’s important here is how Blake reacts or more importantly how he doesn’t. Oops, did I just give away too much. Don’t worry, you won’t get it all. Surprises are in store.
Blake rolls his fingers across his chin and hopes Juli doesn’t notice him leaning forward to help further conceal the throb from down below.
“Cyn, lovely. Let me guess a Goth performance artist?” he asks and thinks why is Victor coming?
“No, she’s a financial planner I think. Why, would that bother you if she were?”
“No, would it bother you if it bothered me?”
“Why, did you expect me to be lame?”
“Why did you expect me to be lame?”
“No, I knew you weren’t, but a girl can’t be too sure. It takes the fun out of probing you for flaws,” she says.
The waiter shimmies up. Blake orders a Campari and soda and Juli a dirty Appletini.
A television flickers at the corner of the bar as Blake strains to make out the picture. He scratches his left ear lobe with his thumb nail and thinks I got to get better shampoo, why am itchy? Juli lights an incense cone. It fizzles but then a thick stream of milky smoke pours out. The column of smoke catches a draft and rides.
A news flash on the screen piques all at the bar and the volume is turned up so the street noise is washed away. On screen, a reporter in a trench coat stands at the steps of the downtown courthouse brushing back his bad comb-over. Then, he looks up to the camera while holding his hand to his right ear. A crowd of protestors begins to surge around him and a small man with a black moustache exits the courthouse doors. Policemen flank him.
“The ruling has just come out. The man known as Pigeon-man has just been sentenced to three hundred hours of community service and his immigration status will be up for review. The environmentalists around me have just become unruly. They’re yelling, spitting and throwing signs at the Pigeon-man as he is being escorted away by the NYPD. Honestly, I thought the sentence would be more severe since he did break the Endangered Species Act. These protesters are getting even more agitated, back to you Steve.” The volume goes down and the bar resonates with boos.
“So what’s this pigeon man?” Blake asks Juli over the growing noise of the patrons.
“He’s some immigrant who kept pigeons on his roof as pets and he killed a Peregrine falcon because it was killing his birds. He shot a male bird from one of the breeding pairs that live on the Chrysler building I think.”
“That’s awful. I like falcons,” Blake says.
The girl in a tan shawl at the next table over runs her fingers through her blonde hair highlighted with purple and silver. She eyes Blake and thinks he’s cute and says, “Me too.” Juli turns and gives her a scornful look that would destroy the atomic bonds in carbon.
“Oh nothing, just saying I like falcons too” the girl says and realizes that a claim was staked. She pushes her chair back and heads to the bar. Blake fidgets with his tie and sits back.
Two striking women, Cyn and Belladonna, Brooklynites, part the crowd near the bar and pass through untouched. Cyn, a woman who makes hipsters swoon, taps Belladona’s shoulder and points over to Juli. Belladonna, a part-time dominatrix and full time Billie Holiday enthusiast, cracks a sultry smile and they catwalk down the aisle. Juli catches sight of her friends out of the corner of her eye. She spins in her seat to get a proper view. When the women notice Juli notice, they dip at the knees and lift their arms as if some victory of the sexes was won in a pretty size zero dress. Jul stands up in a shot. Blake stands, his mother would be offended if he didn’t, and looks down at the table wondering if there’s enough room for everyone.
“Belladonna and Cyn are here Blake. I hope you like Tequila,” Juli says.
Victor follows behind a second later dressed in an achromatic gunmetal gray suit.
The women hug and present side to side facial kisses only the air will ever feel. Blake shifts his semi-hard cock so the zipper will keep the old boy down. Victor stands behind the girls and lifts and lowers his eyebrows like he was Groucho Marx.
“This is Blake. The guy from work and he has a rent controlled apartment all to himself,” Juli says.
“Oh I got it from a friend. I was just lucky,” he says and sits.
Blake tries not to look but glances over the pretty women. Cyn’s brown varnished skin and jet black hair makes him think of Greece and her clear gray eyes so cold they could freeze nitrogen gives a chill. Her slinky black spaghetti strap dress shimmers in the meager light. Blake does a faster look over of Belladonna as he fakes like he checking out the patrons at the end of the bar. Belladonna is Cyn’s physical photo negative. Her dark blue knee length dress absorbs the light around her. Belladonna gives Blake a little wave.
Blake, sheltered by his glass, just listens to the women talk. Victor goes to the bar and returns with a snifter of cognac. He grabs a chair near the women and spins it around. The whole city is listening if you listen for it Blake thinks. The word Gnostic floats across the happy minute of conversation as an hour would be too much. The word has power and attractions attention.
Victor maneuvers his seat between Juli and Belladonna. Blake rolls his eyes for a second and then feels pressure coming from behind. He ignores it as Victor leans into the table turns to him.
“So Moxley you don’t look so bad tonight, but nothing compared to Victorious. You haven’t even made a move. My radiance holding you back?” Victor asks.
“No, just your aftershave,” Blake says with a smile.
“Touché’ my boy. Excuse me,” Victor says scoots closer to Belladonna.
A smell of musk and cigars leans on Blake. He feels the pressure again. Someone is approaching. Then a hand clamps on Blake’s shoulder. Attached to the smell is an attitude and it’s a man who thinks he is the center of all knowledge. The man, a Mr. D.B. Verges, wonders should I laugh in my Barry White voice. No but it’s time to work my magic.
Blake’s eyes don’t blink as a stubby man with a glistening bald head and a Hawaiian block his view to bar. D.B. thinks it must be destiny since I just saw a show on Gnosticism. Time to BECOME like how Jaspers’ book said.
This dude is a fool and not in the good Shakespearean way. That is my fault. I tried so hard with him and even influenced his name. Yes, that’s a big old hint.
If you were wondering, he once sold insurance but then had grand dreams of being an oil tanker captain, which didn’t realize. The first time he stepped on a commercial fishing vessel in Gloucester to see what it was like to be at sea, he promptly puked while they undocked.
“Hello, I am D.B Verges and I just overheard your conversation on Gnosticism. Are you or do you think you might be Gnostics? Knowledge seekers perhaps?” he says. Belladonna turns and looks at him like he was wearing a Santa costume smeared in feces.
“Hi there, I’m Bella and this Juli, and Jake. To answer your question, no not really and if you don’t mind this is private,” Belladonna says and thinks why do the crazy old guys always do this?
“Bella eh, what a beautiful namesake,” says D.B Verges.
“This is private so you can go back to Canada eh,” Belladonna says.
“Delightful, such a spirited, uh,”
“Bunch,” Blake says.
“Well, I was going to say woman but no. But really, you were discussing Gnosticism yes?” D.B Verges asks.
“No, actually I mentioned the band. Agnostic Front,” Cyn says.
“The thing is about Gnosticism is that it is misconstrued as being a new age philosophy when it was really in direct competition with Christianity. They believed that these divine eons existed in this realm beyond us and that the transcended God was called Depth and he could not be directly communicated with,” D.B. says.
Blake coughs and pushes his seat back.
“Dude, what are you doing? She said private. Don’t you understand what that means?” Blake says and stands up with his chest thrust out. Victor stands and looks around with nervous eyes.
“No this is interesting, seriously,” D.B says, puts his hand up to Blake, and continues, “Depth is like number one and there are all of these pairs and one called Wisdom or something like the capital of Bulgaria oh yes Sophistra, and they have this bad conversation turns into a material being but it is expelled into the void with amnesia.”
“Always the crazy guys Bella,” Cyn says and Juli chuckles as she sips her drink.
Blake crosses his arms and his eyes narrow as he can’t figure out why the guy won’t stop talking.
“See this thing had no memory and was in a void so it thought it was God and created the material universe and then all things after it. It was the God of the Old Testament! Wrathful, petty and actually evil. But there was some of that divine spark left over in the universe because he was from those eons and Jesus was an eon too,” D.B Verges says and tries to sit down. Blake pulls the chair away.
“Listen guy! I don’t want to be mean but we didn’t ask you to sit so just go back to where you were,” Blake says.
Victor nods quickly and says, “Yeah that’s right.”
“I know when I’m not wanted,” D.B. Verges says but then he thinks he hears the word ‘Masons’ drift from the bar. He just saw a TV show on the founding fathers and their ties with the Free Masons. He wobbles off but unknown to D.B. the patrons at the bar were discussing Perry Mason and not Patrick Henry.
“Impressive Jake,” Cyn says.
“Sorry. I was about ready to scream at the guy,” Cyn says.
“One more second and…” Victor says and is cutoff by Blake as he sits.
“… and another second would have gone by,” Blake says.
The pressure of his tormented bladder builds and Blake goes to the restroom. A line of regulars waits and at the table Cyn and Belladonna agree Blake is cute but not Hollywood handsome, nice but too nice. Juli does not care she likes him anyway. Cyn’s eyes flash and she wriggles in her chair. She pulls out directions to a club opening the next Friday.
“Got to go Juli. Bring Blake too. It’ll be outstanding,” Cyn says
“Definitely,” Juli says.
Blake comes back and rounds of tequila come and go with various toasts in different languages.
The end of the gathering comes quickly. The women hug goodbye. Cyn and Belladonna part the crowd as they leave untouched just like when they entered. Blake is relieved that the ordeal is done and wants to go home. He’s too drunk to have sex and figures he’d just say something stupid if he hung around Juli any longer.
He is about to say his goodbye when a drink comes from the waitress. Blake thinks it would rude not to take a free drink so he accepts. Victor stands, tosses his jacket over his shoulder and waves. He exits thinking only one more second and I could have been the hero. Juli orders a Midori Martini.
“I’m glad you got that weird guy away. He was starting to talk about religion. It never did anything for me and it ruined my brother’s life,” Juli says with sigh.
“Really, I’m sorry. I would have stopped that dude earlier if I had known.”
“Thanks. My brother was a gentle soul but I don’t think the world can have such people. He loved everything and was the only truly altruistic person I ever met,” she says.
“I have never met anyone like that,” Blake says.
“You remind me of him though. His name is Archie and he had this horrible experience with a home invasion and they tortured him. It was in the papers. He said he prayed and prayed but no divine helped came, and then the criminals were set free. So he vowed to destroy all untruths in religion. He’s now the loneliest person, I’ve ever seen. He changed so much before I graduated from college,” she says.
“Wow, that’s horrible. I’m sorry. If you want to talk about it go ahead,” Blake says
Juli looks into Blake’s eyes. He looks back.
“Archie said he had an anti-christ complex and created a thing called Atheosophy. His sadness made him want to burn all superstitions to the ground so he studied every religion. He actually wrote a great manuscript on debunking fake psychics who use electronic parlor tricks and the Internet. I’m sorry for rambling but I guess I needed to talk.”
“That’s fine with me go on,” Blake says as he looks into her tipsy eyes.
“Not much else to tell but now he runs an occult bookstore a few blocks from here. My family never talks about it. One thing I do remember him says was, ‘The Grapes of Wrath have gone sour and stained the pale theodicies of God’s way to man. Man is more than god.”
“Cool,” Blake says, coughs twice, “I still don’t know how I remind you of him though.”
“You do and I’ll tell you some other time. So you know, I made us plans. We’re going to a new club next Friday. Guess it’s time to go home and get some sleep. Ciao Blake,” she says, gets up and kisses him on the cheek. After exiting the door, she looks back through window and then blends with the foot traffic.
No hanky panky for Blake but at least he got to hear about Juli’s nutty professor brother. Nothing like saying to a guy “You remind me of my brother” to siphon the blood out of his penis. That and whiskey work about the same in my observations though but both are cooperation at this point.
And now the symptoms begin in his alteration.
Blake tips for his free drink and stumbles out of the bar. He checks his messages and has a text from the Bookie that reads See you on Great Jones Street sometime. He doesn’t care. He’s on autopilot. No longer buzzed, he is blotto and his battle with the tequila is lost. All he cares about is the pressure in his bladder as he gets a few blocks away. Almost falling, he regains his footing as he enters an alleyway and unzips. Blake staggers by a burly man dressed in four layers of ragged sweaters who is urinating between two piles of garbage bags. Before piss can soak his suit pants, Blake whips his dick out and spatters the wall as he rocks back and forth. The burly man can’t believe what the city has come to when a guy can’t take a piss in peace for God’s sake as he trickles, grunts and makes his leave.
The next day, Blake gives the Bookie a few grand to cool him off and stays in trying to figure out what team to bet on to eliminate his debt. The weekend does not give him enough time to devise a plan as Monday comes swiftly but the week dissolves as sugar in alcohol and Blake begins writing a journal after work. He doesn’t know why but the urge to write has possessed him.
He checks everyday to see if Juli still wants to go to the club opening and he can’t wait to get her alone. Then he’s off to the lush and proper gardens of the uber-suburbs for the Guilder’s party the next evening. Blake doesn’t know what makes him more nervous, the potential of scoring with Juli and her calling him a bad lay or seeing the Carlton’s parents, mythic figures in the financial sector.
“Every harlot was a virgin once.”
No alone time for Blake and Juli as the checkered mini-van cab is shared by four. The ride, a life threatening series of dramatic stops and starts, jams through the evening’s traffic and on to the club in Chelsea. Juli, Blake and Belladonna have their phones out and are trying to connect with their 4G networks but they pass through dead zones. In an act of generosity, the universe thins the downtown traffic and Blake tries to sit up straight only to get the pocket of his gravel gray coat caught on Cyn’s silver bracelets. The cab pulls to the curb and they spill out to the sidewalk. Each person checks their phone and finds the email Cyn sent with the VIP code.
In front of the chic club, the velvet rope and bouncers in tight black keep watch over the queue as other doormen scan ID’s. The sentries, all linked through a wireless network, watch each others backs and quietly whisper to one another about how crazy the night will get. Blake and the women, three Valkyries dressed to kill, present their VIP emails to the head doorman, a bald guy in white with a neck as thick and round as a trash can. The brass doors to club Apocalypse open.
Blake watches Juli walk like liquid lightning in her tight fitting sleeveless red dress and Blake thinks Cyn and Belladonna are wearing the same black miniskirts and tube tops but Cyn is wearing blue but the night makes it hard for him to tell.
The bass beats punch the patrons through their hollow cavities and sign language is the only real form of communication. The virile scene pulses as the densely packed club is filled with a pageant of club kids, celebrities and weekend warriors with overflowing wallets who present themselves as perpetually posh. The brass door closes behind and the inside of the club is a sarcophagus. Blake begins to feel the vibrations pin him down as the group tries to find an open booth or place to stand near the bar. Prescription drug laden thralls hop and bob their heads to the Electronica pulse. They come to a tight space and slip in and Blake scans the scene.
Everything is silver except a few recessed unoccupied VIP booths in royal purple and fire engine red. The dance floor stretches along half of the west side wall of the club and groups gather to obstruct the pathways to tile bathrooms where people check their Blackberries and snort lines off their spare cell phones. Mirrored lights and lasers track the floor and walls. Shiny tight clothes are worn by most of the men and women as mild nudity occurs in the corners. Men and women dance in all combinations to the grind of beats and blasts of a klaxon over the P. A. Drug dealers with oversized Philip Patek watches and three piece suits slink through the crowd as they stalk new high end clients.
It takes time for the women get drinks but Blake waits still as a stone cat standing guard over the claim. A chill runs up Blake’s spin and he smells cigar smoke but knows there’s no smoking in the club. He has the feeling that something bad is happening to someone he knows.
Across town, D.B. Verges staggers down the street after having one too many Jack and Cokes and slides into an alley. He leans against the brick wall and looks out to the cars whizzing by. He takes deep breaths hope it will sober him up. An arm reaches out of the darkness behind and snags D.B. verges. He is dragged back into the depths and puts up a valiant struggle. The blade of a box cutter flashes in the meager light. D.B. Verges ends his journey in this life and is left for the rats to feast upon. Squeak, squeak, nibble, nibble, dust to dust, as the vermin lap up the blood that leaves a stain of rust.
Now this is part is fucked up even by my standards. Yes, I said a bad word but I’m not the one who created it; however, to be fair, fuck is one of you human’s better words.
Back in the club Apocalypse, Blake starts moving to the beat as the booze starts to lubricate his systems and he sees a predator a slither towards him through the crowd as Juli and Cyn hold their drinks high but never spill as they drop down and gyrate their hips to the hard beat.
Blake watches a woman in thin rim glasses and a slinky gold gown come up to him.
“I’m Bobbi. I have a booth. Want to go sit,” Bobbi asks.
Blake thinks Juli might get angry. He looks over and sees her talking with a George Clooney simulacrum.
Juli must not be interested in me Blake thinks.
“Sure. Lead the way,” Blake says.
She takes his hand and leads him through the bouncing crowd. At her red booth a bouncer stands guard. A bottle of Dom Ruinart Rosé is already poured into two champagne flutes. The little bubbles stream up in single file columns of carbon dioxide. The bouncer is handed a fifty and Blake slips into the booth.
“Please have a glass,” Bobbi says.
Blake lifts a flute high.
“Cheers,” he says.
The music seems to get louder and louder to Blake. He begins to feel a warm sensation surge through his veins, wrap around his stomach, and travel up to pulsing head.
The George Clooney clone winks and slips away leaving the women to wonder where Blake slipped off to? Cyn sees an opportunity in Blake’s absence. She asks Belladonna to get some more drinks, on her, and builds up the courage to cast her fears off into the firmament and hopes that her honesty and regard will not be dismissed. Cyn takes a final breath like a sniper before the shot and pulls the trigger. She whispers just audible enough, “I want you”. Heat seizes Juli and impulses of electricity elevate. She is unsure
“I had no idea,” Juli says.
“Yes you did,” Cyn says.
“I’m flattered but haven’t ever,” Juli says.
Cyn touches Juli’s hand.
As the virile scene, ecstatic in lights and bass beats, grows ever more crowded Blake’s vision slips and images overlap.
“So what do you feel like?” Bobbi says and slides closer.
“What do you mean?” Blake asks.
“I asked what do you feel like? Emotionally, physically, you know?”
“No. What do you feel like?”
“Like silk and passion wrapped around an orgasm”
“You’re kidding me!” Blake snorts.
“Well, it’s nothing to laugh at silly.”
“Yes it is,” Blake says and for a moment sees Bobbi’s eyes glow yellow.
“What’s wrong? You look frightened.”
“Sorry, sorry. Just thought I saw something. It’s nothing.”
Blake eyes begin to flutter and his muscles go slack as he begins to slump down in the booth. With the last of his will he flips his head up and through his heavy blinks his mind captures a shot of Bobbi putting on a cheap Frankenstein’s Monster Halloween mask. Blake goes limp like wet wool scarf on a line.
Through the hard thumps of the music, a bouncer with a Mohawk patrols the scene squeezing his way through a group of kids dressed as Victorian vampires. A clearing opens up and at the booth in front of him he sees Blake passed out.
“A drunk businessman, again?” he says to himself.
Blake is a slung like a satchel and the bouncer hauls him out and through a spasmodic crowd of people dressed like pre-revolution French aristocracy. At that moment, Juli begins to look for Blake but can’t find him so she goes back to the spot where Cyn waits with a fresh drink for her. She figures Blake bailed.
“Want to dance?” Cyn asks.
“Sure. I have to text someone first,” Juli says and pulls out her phone. She text Blake the message Where R U?
The sun comes through a window stained by neglect and shines on Blake’s bare back. He can’t remember a thing. Rancid air from an overflowing dumpster below seeps through the window. His eyes clear to see a bed with no blankets or sheets and from the size and unclean state of the room he surmises he must be in a flophouse. Blake takes a few deep breaths, sits up and looks around as there may be some one watching. He is totally naked and his clothes are gone.
A creak comes from the door and opens. A short man with thin suspenders clamping his stained sleeveless t-shirt is revealed. He peeks through the crack and roars with machine gun like laughter. Blake curls up to hide his genitals.
“Hey, my shit was stolen?” Blake says.
“I don’t know nothing,” he says with a Russian accent.
“Fuck. Could you call the police? Please,” Blake asks.
“Not again,” the man says and closes the door.
A few minutes later a knock comes. Blake shuffles over and opens the door a sliver. The man stands there with a set of clothes.
“Did you call the police?” Blake asks.
“Yes. These for you. Don’t say we don’t give you nothing crazy guy,” he says.
The man sets worn jeans, a sour smelling yellow sweater and a pair of old Nikes at the door.
“Now I must give statement to police. Der mo.”
About thirty minutes later, two policemen arrive at the room.
“Hey buddy, tell us what really happened? We have the statement from the clerk and he said you paid for the room,” a tall cop with a goatee says.
“I don’t know what happened. I think I was drugged at a club last night,” Blake says.
“Drugged? Right,” says a thick necked cop who then sips his coffee.
“Seriously, I don’t do drugs,” Blake says.
“Of course you don’t. You just lost your clothes and your wallet because you’re sober,” the tall cop says.
The police tell Blake that the room is in a motel in Queens and he can’t recall the ride over in any way. The room is searched and the cops find nothing. Blake gives the police his information and the thick necked cop goes down to the cruiser to look Blake up through the DMV. He comes back a few minutes later.
“Well Blake Moxley, looks like you are real and have no criminal record. Better get clean before you do,” the thick necked cop says.
“Should I file a report? What should I do about my wallet and cell phone?” Blake asks. The cops look at each other.
He is told he’s lucky they don’t haul him in but since there’s nothing illegal in the room and no proof he was naked in public that he should just go home. Maybe someone will turn in his wallet but it is unlikely.
The tall cop once passed out at a strip bar in New Jersey and the thick necked cop, named Buddy, can’t ejaculate without getting slapped by a rubber glove. Just thought you’d want to know because it goes to show you humans are a special type of hypocrite. And I love you for it.
The police give him subway fare. He’ll get a bill in the mail. In an hour, he gets to his apartment and realizes there are set plans for that afternoon. Blake figures after the weekend is over, he’ll go buy a new phone and get a new I.D. First he must go to the Guilders.
Blake tosses and turns for three hours but gets some sleep only to be rattled out of repose by the alarm. He taps the rhythm of his heartbeat on his nose and lumbers out from under the knit blanket. The time to go to the Guilder’s party in Silver Ridge, at the Haven Estates approaches like a hawk above diving down to talon a pigeon below. His ride will be there in a couple hours.
Hunger has taken a tight hold of his stomach and wrenches it in knots as he chews his left pinky nail and dreams of Oreos as he checks his refrigerator for anything sweet. Nothing but a black banana and a pile of dead flies. He drags himself away and hurls the clothes the Russian him into the garbage. A shower brings no relief. As he steps onto the slick bathroom floor, Blake shakes his head.
“Juli. What the fuck happened?”
He wants to call her but decides some experiences are best kept hidden. As Blake dries off, Juli ushers Cyn out of her apartment.
“We have to do this again,” Cyn says.
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.
Jim sort of riffed T.S Eliot on that quote … In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo… but he is the Lizard King and can do anything. Guess he was wrong.
A black stretch limousine, beyond all sense of decorum, rolls as a chariot after a triumph at the Circus Maximus to the front of the Alexander building. Blake dons his best black suit and feeds Tyger before heading out the door. Carlton Guilder with swirls of cropped hair sips Johnny Walker Blue in the back of the limo and looks at his phone for the time. Blake slips out into the day and the world looks odd like the city was painted in watercolors. The city of windows growls in anticipation.
The driver, who looks like a shaved ferret to Blake, gets out and opens the door. He waves in acknowledgement. Carlton’s gleaming smile and saucer sunglasses reflect the timid autumn sunshine. He scoots over to let Blake slips in across the black leather. The driver closes the door.
“What the Hell are you doing? Let’s go knob the hobs,” Carlton says.
“Nothing,” Blake says.
“Touchy, touchy, touchy,” Carlton says and thinks this is going to be a horrible day if Blake keeps up the attitude.
“Sorry, I’ve had a bad couple days. So how long is this exercise in pretense going to last?”
“Chill, I brought you along to help you,” Carlton says and coughs.
“You brought me along for what?”
“To help you out of the bullshit.”
“Man I don’t need your help getting out of the bullshit.”
“So, you admit to the bullshit.”
“Of course I do.”
“Cool. Anyway, let’s get some free drinks and chow and see if any dignitaries’ daughters are there to impress. Most of them will probably be in high school so you have a shot,” Carlton says.
The limo shimmering like a piece of polished coal passes through the city of windows. The sounds of the streets do not penetrate the back seat. After ramming though a few congested streets they hop onto the FDR Drive that runs along the East River. As the buildings that scalpel the horizon cut off in the distance, the automobile that protects the fragile leaded glass minds of the passenger from the changes in economic levels launches onto I-87 after taking exit eighteen.
Power resides in social agreements such as laws, contracts and cash. The rich are allowed to have more. You agreed to it. You put faith into it. Money is nothing but a contract and power one person gives to another. But in a moment, it could all be gone. Power is nothing in a vacuum. Fun huh? Well, here are some rich folks to poke fun at as Blake falls slowly apart.
The destination is the Haven, in Silver Ridge, a place of sound, sight and out of mind, a true twilight zone of the idols, where Henry the Eighth and the Sultan of Brunei would be embarrassed by the excess.
“Moxie, get me the brandy will you. I don’t want to get there and be sober. Shit I haven’t been sober in that area of the country since I was ten.”
“I know what you mean, sort of.”
In a few brief exits and turns, the landscape changes to modest houses and buildings unable to go above certain heights because of zoning. Carlton drinks from the decanter and Blake sinks back. Carlton keeps his tongue from tasting the air and squashes certain comments before they come out of his mouth. His friend looks off, so he will allow him to get a buzz before prying.
Concrete and asphalt open their arms and bow to give way to cobblestone streets in the land of Silver Ridge. Houses get farther away from each other on the side of the road. The hills rise from the coast and transform with a gradual progression of old growth timber to resemble the Black Forest of Germany.
Blake holds up his hand to the light through a lowered window and inspects his digits. His finger glow with halos of light and Carlton snickers.
“Moxie you just get stranger every day but you’re not as strange as my father. Listen to this. He bought his own gas tank, or should I say station, and when gas is cheap he buys it and fills his huge ass tanks. Plus he’ll only drive the Rolls, twice a fucken year when he has insurance on it. June and July. Otherwise it’s the secret Honda Civic. He’s got solar panels, a fucking windmill with an electric turbine hidden in the back acres. He installed rain barrels, with my aid of course, to harvest rain water to water the lawn and plants and use in the toilets. Guy went all conservation on us.”
“That’s good though,” Blake says.
“Just another manic driven behavior though. He’s done it my whole life. When I was a kid he heard about saving money by not using you toilets all the time. I had to piss in one toilet downstairs and only flush it twice a day to save water.”
“It’s one thing to make money but it another to keep it,” Blake says.
“Really? The guy’s a billionaire and he buys toilet paper in bulk, three ply and makes a single ply by unrolling it and then re-rolling for one bathroom and double for him, it lasts for about a minute when I visit. But you won’t see any of that when his buddies are around,” Carlton says and swigs down the last of his booze.
Blake sees the massive estate coming up and breaks into a hot sweat as they reach the first iron gates. The main manor house looms above the rows of majestic trees lining the snaking driveway scattered with white stones. As the gates open, Blake thinks the place reminds him of a college campus. He knows this is not a college campus. It is more Versailles than Vassar. The divinely manicured main lawn is something that golf courses fantasize about.
Into the Light Continues...
Start from the Beginning
Once again, we present in a working fashion, Into the Light, an urban fantasy novel: chapters 4-6. Why three chapters this week? This is because next week will be all out of sorts as determined by the holiday. So please feel free to checkout previous chapters if you have not and enjoy this odd tale of a man's trip to ruination where the path of hell is paved by good intentions and transformed perception. Blake has a off-beat ride on the destiny machine. Oh and the grand conspiracy from the shadows helps.
Into the Light
Darkness cracks, the seal of night shatters and the morning is set in a cobalt glass sky. Fallen leaves litter the stone avenues as the city blinks with anticipation of the day. The lines of connectivity spread their coils.
Blake taps the rhythm of his heartbeat on his forehead knowing he will be late for a very important fate determining date. Out of bed in leap and he rolls into the shower that spits a weak stream. Time moves faster and faster as he gets ready.
On the street laced with sunshine, Blake’s phone vibrates as he stomps along. He slips the device out of his jacket pocket and sees another text from the Bookie that reads Pay up.
He thinks I’ll deal with this later and comes to an intersection alive with city noise, clustered with business suits, and steps off the curb. A Port Authority bus screeches to halt at the crosswalk and Blake hops back. His pulse quicken with the near miss.
The pedestrians flood across the avenue as horns honk and the sound of a police whistles cuts through the din of diesel engines and pneumatic hammers pounding away at the Con-Ed construction site a block away. The city of windows contains millions of people alone the chilly bright morning with nothing but their own thoughts and distractions to keep them company.
As Blake steps over the curb and avoids the corner newsstand fully stocked with papers, he walks through a column of reflected sunlight from the skyscraper across the street. He lifts his hand to shield the light. The dirty little details of existence cannot be denied in the gleam. Blake picks up his tempo and reaches full stride six blocks away from his office. Cold sweat runs down his sides from his armpits. He passes by an alley and out of his peripheral vision sees the disembodied reflective orbs like the night before float in the shade of an alley.
“Him!” comes from the alley.
Three thugs in cheap plastic Spider-Man Halloween masks become ballistic objects and hurl themselves out after Blake. He takes off down the street like a terrified field mouse through the thicket. His hard-soled shoes clack like castanets on the pavement and the shock jabs his lower back. He grips his briefcase tight.
The tallest of the thugs gets one step behind him and grabs at Blake’s shoulder. Without thinking, Blake swings his briefcase backwards and the blunt edge lands a solid blow to the predator’s knee. The man tumbles and rolls to his feet. The others continue the pursuit as a people on the streets step aside.
Blake’s lungs burn as he flees. He begins to slow as his stiff shoes tear up his ankles and the laces become untied. Blake knows he must make a decision. He sees a light turning green and rushes though the oncoming traffic. A yellow cab honks as it breaks. A Port Authority bus almost clips his left shoulder but Blake keeps going.
The assailants stop in their tracks blocked by the flow of traffic. Blake never falters and gets over the curb. He takes off his shoes in stride and full out runs until reaching the entrance to his office. Blake stops and scans the streets. No men in masks followed.
He thinks could it be the bookie’s Collection Agency? No, had to be random. Other office workers push by Blake and a crooked smile breaks onto his flushed face as his heart pounds. He chuckles. The endorphins have him. He thinks getting mugged had to happen eventually.
“At least, I’m on time,” he says. Blake catches his breath, bends over, and picks out small stone embedded in his socks. He slips his chestnut wingtips back on.
In the lobby, seething with the bitter odor of floor polish, the wand metal detectors pass over the minions of commerce. Blake waves to a few people but they look away. The elevators teems, a squished box of night crawlers, everyone is bait, and Blake slithers in. Then a balding barrel-chested man in Armani, who smells of garlic and cheese, speaks harshly to the confines.
“God damn elevators on the Westside are out of commission and I have to take these bastards and walk all the way over. Well that’s what I get for coming in this early,” the man says. Blake snatches a glimpse of his gin blossom nose and thinks who is he? W.C. Fields? The elevator stops and half the workers step out.
The elevator rumbles as it ascends and soon the number forty lights up. Blake hopes there is coffee left but knows there will be nothing left of the bag of Chips Ahoy. Ding. He pops the Purell out of his pocket and passes through the doors.
The other offices on his floor seem smaller to him this day and Blake decides to take out some cash from his new credit card to pay the bookie as he passes by an accounting firm. Not the full amount but enough to get him downgraded to the roughed up category. Then he will propose a proposition.
Blake smiles as he enters the office and trips through the doorway all the way to the closet/break room where the coffee pot and copier huddle in a strange symbiosis. The old unplugged coffee maker hides behind the coat rack, overburdened by black windbreakers. Next to it a gray, gutted filing cabinet rigged with red tape and a thick cardboard shelf holds the common goods. A lone brown jar of year old, now solid, creamer remains unmoved as an idol in a shrine none dare violate.
The room smells of toner. Blake becomes disoriented by the pungent chemicals and shakes his head to knock away the dizzy. It doesn’t work so he rolls his neck and it cracks sounding like a piece of bamboo splintering. He ambles to the coffee pot and grabs a mug stained with brown ring inside. The cold coffee runs down his throat like tar but his need for a stimulant overrides the disgust.
The coffee is strong and thick and bitter. He can taste it in the back of his eyes. Fine grainy grounds are left on his tongue.
The market’s opening bells sounds and the race commences. At his cubicle, Blake drops into his swivel chair and opens the steel drawer to pull out his MP3 player. The computer boots up and he enters his password-Balzac69.
Time does have some grace on those who toil and the morning slips away to afternoon like a note under the door. Blake almost forgets to go to lunch, but then the scent of jasmine drifts over him and Juli, the ex-model, strides by with sharp pivots of her stiletto heels. She nods towards the door and looks to Blake. She rolls her eyes in boredom and walks away with a city pace. Before she reaches the elevator in the hall, Juli wonders why Blake acts like he does and if she has any personal days left.
Here’s the thing about Juli. She’s a pretty girl and not getting attention offers her a challenge. Not that she wants to have sex with every guy who ignores her, but she just wants to know that they want to. She is certainly an interesting woman. There was a time when she went on a field trip and fell off a horse into a pile of horse shit in front of her classmates from her Manhattan private school. They laughed. Oh did they laugh. She vowed revenge and I very much wanted her to go through with the little schemes, but she never did. Ever since, she loathes leaving the city and does everything in her power to never look like a fool. Not getting attention from men makes her feel that way. Feelings. Feelings. Feelings. What would you flesh vehicles do without them? That was rhetorical. Of course I know. Now back to the fun. Did you lose your place? That’s all right. Read it over and skip this part. I’m going to step out for a bit and send some images of a man’s mother into his head while he bangs his secretary.
Blake pulls off his earphones and a bark from the background makes him twist around in his chair. The corporate rash that cannot be scratched August York, a black wearer, a name dropper, walks up.
“Moxie! Ha, ha, ha, I know, I know, Blake what are you doing for lunch captain?” August asks.
“I’m going to get a dog from a vendor. Sit in the park. What are you doing Auggie?” Blake asks before he can stop himself.
“Was going to go to the Mexican food truck parked a block over, but I’m going with you, hurry up, let’s go,” says August York.
Blake rises and the blood once restrained rushes down. The sensation of hot sand being injected by a hypodermic needle stings the bottom of his feet. He drops back into his chair and rubs his calf through his thin suit pants.
“What the Hell Moxley? Get up, I’m hungry,” August says and rubs his stomach over a black fanny pack. Blake’s eyes become slits and thinks he should just tell the idiot off.
“I’m coming. My leg just fell asleep and I got to save my presentation,” he says and jabs at his keyboard.
They shuffle and scuff the polished floors across the building with their smooth hard soles and Blake says nothing. August won’t shut up. Hard soled shoes clack on the polished floors.
“Which cart? Right or left?” August spits out.
“The park, remember?” Blake says.
As they approach the revolving door, August waves Blake on. He enters the vortex and August grabs the door and jams it forward. The barrier bangs against the back of Blake’s head and paddles him out onto the sidewalk face first but he braces his fall. The skin of his palms grinds on the concrete.
August exits with his mouth covered to muffle his laughter. Before Blake can retaliate, a pain shoots through his leg. Blake turns over and get to his feet. He brushes off. Blake screams in his thoughts I’ll get you fucker!
August’s black fanny pack dangles under his loose jacket and Blake knows this vinyl pouch contains his identifications, most important of all, his security pass to the sensitive file room. The ID takes time replace.
“Nice asshole. This one’s going to show,” Blake says.
August shakes his head and steps by. Blake’s eyebrows lower. When August gets one pace ahead of him, Blake lifts the tails of his jacket, unclips pack and snatches the black fashion faux pas away. A bewildered August turns to see his fanny pack being thrown into midday traffic. Blake walks alone to Battery Park.
Standing on the grass munching on a hotdog, Blake watches a young man on the sidewalk with a bright blue mohawk, in skinny jeans, roll by on a skateboard. He flips the board end over end and lands the trick. Blake chews his hotdog and mustard drips.
His cell phone jumps in his jacket pocket. He dumps the rest of the hotdog in a trash can and slips out his phone. Another message from the bookie reads-The Collection Agency has been notified.
Blake sees the clock on the phone. Time has run running away like a smiling naked child from their frustrated mother. There is an afternoon meeting that is mandatory.
Alone, staring at the glowing numbers as they light up and fade in the elevator, Blake daydreams about Oreos and milk.
The meeting in the conference room goes by in pulses. Johnny Tragen from the West Coast office interrogates mid-level management and executives from the suburbs sit with arms crossed. Graphs, glyphs and Power Point presentations flood the next hour as problems concerning efficiency are addressed. Time-tables, market shares, new software and search engine optimization come and go in the circular conversations. Johnny Tragen tells everyone, “I’m not going back to the Left Coast until this place is full of Rock stars.”
The rest of the day flows away and down the corridors of cubicles, Juli again wonders why Blake paid her no mind earlier. The arrival of a challenge takes root with long thin vines.
She finishes her research and thinks time to strike. The strut of her walk treads on many hearts, but they have never ignored her. She comes to find Blake absorbed by the screen and under the spell of his music. Juli decides to give him a scare.
Slipping behind him, she clamps down on his shoulders with her slender talons. Blake mashes his keyboard and spins around while taking his earphones off.
“What the? You could have given me whiplash. Damn,” Blake says. “I was just coming over to invite you for drinks with me and Victor. I’m sorry if I startled you,” Juli says and flutters her thick eyelashes.
“Oh, thanks, I was just going to go home and sleep. I’m already decimated from yesterday and today,” Blake says and wonders why he couldn’t smell her perfume.
“Please. I need an excuse to get away from Victor. You’re the only guy I trust around here. I accidentally made plans with him last week. Come out for two drinks and I’ll get you a cab home,” she says knowing all to well what the outcome will be.
“All right,” he says and thinks wait, I know how to get the bookie off my back now.
“Sexuality is the lyricism of the masses.” Charles Baudelaire
This comes from a guy who once ate a booger in an alley.
The private club Subterranean, sunken below the streets, of which Juli is a Silver Member, is the final destination. They descend a few stone steps and Blake’s eyes get trapped by Juli’s bra strap pushing through her light blue blouse. He thinks that bra sure must struggle with those awesome tits. A glass door chimes as they step through and fades, a drop of food coloring in a gallon of water.
A few people, scattered and lurking, inhabit the brass lined bar of the cigar club so they grab a circular table near the back where the smoke is thin. The long room is cast in shadow made darker by the deep brown hardwood cladding on the walls. Victor, pale as curled milk, scans the smoking salon. He grabs the flat back chair and pokes his stork legs out into the seam where the tables and the small back bar make a pathway.
Juli slides in close to Blake’s and makes his nether region tingle. Blake thinks she’s only getting close to make the act look genuine. Blake squeezes his knees together until the drinks come, Martinis for all. His foot starts tapping.
Blake thinks Victor looks like a barn owl as he chirps away and Juli interjects to lead the discussion on how obnoxious Johnny Tragen can be. The bookie comes to Blake’s mind.
A cramp stills Blake’s foot as he sips his dry Martini. His skin feels tight as wet leather being left out to dry in the sun and his heart skips when Juli looks over at him. She winks and her lips curl with an impulsive pucker.
“Moxley, what do you think of Lou Garew being promoted to COO?” Victor says. Blake barely hears him. The surge of sexual anxiety has overloaded his circuits. He blinks with a hard pause.
“I don’t much care for either candidate but Mr. Garew is the lesser of two evils, and he is less likely lay anyone off,” Blake says and puts his mouth over the rim of the glass.
Blake wants leave with Juli and have sex like wild baboons. He grabs a quick glance at her and runs his eyes down her slender arms. Victor gets up and goes to talk to elfish girl at the bar and Juli turns to Blake with pouty lips. She puts her elbows on the table and cradles her chin. Blake squeezes his knees. His fingernails dig in.
“So are you ever going to ask me out or am I going to be Sadie Hawkins?”
“What? I thought. What?”
“You heard me. When do you want to go out?”
Blake’s mind seizes. He forgets how to talk and struggles to find the words. Images of undressing Juli and rubbing her with baby oil arise. He thinks if I try too hard she will run. The words return.
“I don’t know. I’m sorry but I just got over a relationship and don’t think I can do that right now,” he says.
She lets loose a laugh as if possessed by Thalia and flips her hair back.
“I don’t mean getting into a relationship, I don’t want that either. I mean go out, meet some friends later and maybe who knows?” she says and knows if she pushes he will flee.
“Oh, I’m sorry sure. Wanna go out?” he says and thinks you are a stupid fuck.
“Yes and let me plan a fun evening. I know some really fun people and a few places,” she says and winks. He is captivated by her long silky lashes. The conversation turns to work again and the time passes under the warm buzz of alcohol. Juli finally gets up and yawns.
“Well, we better go home so we can get rested. You getting a cab?”
“No, I’ll walk. I’m not too far,” Blake says.
They ascend to the sidewalk. Pleasantries are said and Blake watches her elegant gait take her through a group of Chinese tourists staring and pointing up at the skyscrapers and thinks wow she must be made of pheromones. He begins his plod through the bustling the foot traffic. For a second, Blake wonders where Victor went but shrugs his concern off.
Down the blocks, Blake passes by the flamboyant troops of the night, out in force, early in the evening. In their nonconformist fashionable garbs, boas and pashminas, silver tongue bells, purple tinted glasses and fake alligator boots, they await entry to overpriced clubs. Thin cigarettes flick out into the street. One fashionista in faux fox fur flicks a smoke at Blake but he never breaks his gait. The smell trigger a nicotine craving and he slips out a smoke for the first time that day.
“So much for fucking quitting. Cookies were making me fat anyway,” he says and draws a deep inhale.
Blake decides to text the Bookie with his proposed compromise and gets reply after a few minutes that reads Fine. One more D O N. He ponders going to a rub and tug parlor for the first time as thoughts of Juli breasts make it hard for him to walk. He looks to the upcoming intersection and thinks what can I bet on for this last double or nothing?
Blake crosses and looks over to a grocery store’s black awning covering racks of produce. There stands a man in a Spider-Man mask. Terror expands in his stomach and adrenaline mixes a cocktail of fright and flight, Blake shakes and thinks just keep your head down, he might not notice. I don’t know if I can run with a hard on?
He keeps his pace and the anticipation of another chase makes his skin tingle and his sight brighten. All other people on the streets seem to be in slow motion as if held back by a mass paralysis and are tethered together by rubber bands. He shifts his way into a throng of pedestrians and slows to the crowd’s pace. Blake looks back to see the masked man not moving. His head turns forward and directly in front of him, under a Greek restaurant’s yellow neon sign, is another man in cheap plastic mask.
Blake runs, a wolf on a deer hunt, and dodges the forest of people in his path. Time slows as he sees another guy with a flimsy children’s mask leaning on a closed ruffled metal security screen two doors up. He sweeps across the sidewalk to the very edge and tight rope walks the curb. One false move of his nimble feet and he will fall into the river of cars.
Blake’s tie flies around his neck and he grips his briefcase tight. At the corner, he goes in the opposite direction of his building to see if he can throw the pursuers off. He ducks into an alley and positions himself behind a fire escape and waits to pounce with clenched fists.
Blake is drenched in sweat. His insides tingle and spasm. After thirty seconds, no one has come by so he looks both ways and makes his way to his building using indirect streets.
Blake gets into his building and passes by his mailbox. Out of the long hall behind the security partition, Mr. Rocinante wearing a checkerboard shirt appears out of the shadow of the stairwell and stares at him with light bulb eyes. He nods and Blake nods back. The man opens the door Blake with a slow steady shake of his head as his gray comb over falls across his face.
“You all right, you look my last horse Alonso after chasing down a perp in the park. I sure loved that horse, but as you can see I paid for my little adventures. Rode for thirty years, now I can’t walk too good. Be careful kid, watch what type of saddle you sit on in this life. Well, nice talking to you Blake, I got to go play some cards,” Mr. Rocinante says and pats Blake on the shoulder.
“Thank you, Mr. Rocinante. I will check my saddle,” Blake says with a slight smile.
“No you won’t, young people never do, well good bye,” he says and clears his throat and waddles down the darkened hall. That was weird Blake thinks.
I’m so glad that discourse happened. Took me eons to plan and get the right guy with the name. I mean, if I’m going to send a guy off on a Don Quixote like adventure then I better at least give Blake a clue. But, he won’t get it. They never do. But I try.
In the apartment, Tyger hides among the cricket carcasses. Cockroaches scurry into the walls as the lights go on and Blake hobbles inside. There are no men waiting to ambush him just a few calls. He thinks it’s strange no one called my cell. He purifies his hands with Purell.
Two messages blink on the machine balanced on the arm of the couch. Blake thinks who really wants to be connected all the time? It’s being owned. Furniture.
He recognizes the numbers. He wishes he didn’t. The first garbled message is from his parents who refuse to leave the Rust Belt town they emigrated to in the seventies. Not even when his father was offered a position at Bio-tech firm in Pittsburgh did they wish to move on to wealthier surroundings. The second is from Carlton Guilder.
Blake hesitates to call back on the land line and remembers the day he went to Trinity College and met Carlton, never Carl, his one and only roommate throughout the experience. An industrialist’s son, Carlton toted expensive luggage and designer clothes for a day trip to Nantucket.
Blake rolls his eyes while remembering their recent conversation about high volume trading. Dread smacks him in the back of the head like a drunken aunt.
Blake sits and rubs his throbbing temples as a sacrifice to the goddess stress and closes his eyes wonders if he can even get a coherent sentence out? Images of Juli tearing off her blue blouse run wicked race through his thoughts.
Blake fidgets with the phone knowing most likely his father will answer with his York accent but considering the time his proper mother, the linguist from Dover, who his friends called “hot like Juilia Ormond”, or the over-arching faces of Janus, his sisters, the twins, could answer. He hopes his father will answer is the only thought in his gyroscopic mind.
“Hello, Moxley residence,” his father answers.
“Hi dad, how are ya?”
“Ah Blake, listless but good and yourself?”
“Uh good, I’m sorry but my machine is eating the messages again and I didn’t understand you said,” Blake says.
“We wanted to know if you will be with us for Christmas?”
“I don’t know dad. It’s a little too soon and I don’t know what work will bring.”
“What rot that company you work for is! I know you have done bits and bobs of work on the weekends. Don’t let them over work you. It will give you spots. Please find out soon, for your mother’s sake, and if you are spending it with some dimwitted toff, don’t let her giggle in the background when we call.”
“Fine. I will call back soon. Bye,” Blake says and yawns.
“Fine,” his father says. Blake knew that guilt would be employed and a very successful hire it is.
Blake grabs his cell phone and hits Carlton’s number in his contacts. Carlton lives only a few miles away in the Upper West side but the city miles are as distant in degree as an inch to infinite
“Hello, this is Carlton. Start speaking. I’m in the car so hurry up.”
“This is Moxley, you rang?”
“Why yes I did. What fuckery have you been up to man? Haven’t seen you since the witch went batty at that fundraising cruise. Wait, yes I did, but for only a few minutes at that bar. Is that psycho bitch still hounding you? I told you if you need help getting her to vamoose, let me know.”
“That issue was resolved months ago.”
No, Blake didn’t but that’s for another story entirely. Also, Carlton just snorted some fake ecstasy he bought off his doorman. The doorman hates him for giving him a Whole Foods coupon for last years holidays instead of cash. Carlton will of course have the doorman fired for such a transgression when he finds out the drug was bunk.
“Oh, cool. I called you remind you, if I already told you about the party in the Haven, or otherwise inform you about it. My parents love you for some reason and I said you wouldn’t want to come but I’d transport you there if it killed me. Think of it as networking,” Carlton says.
“Man that’s okay. Don’t want to network,” Blake says. Spittle collects on the mouthpiece of the phone.
“No dude, you need to. Multitudes of my fathers’ friends will be there getting smashed the whole weekend for the charity golf event at the club. They get a lot done between the tees and you need to fucking play golf.”
“Man I told you about my attitude towards nepotism.”
“Nepotism rules the world and if you want to slug your way through slowly and waste the limited left over time of your looks, fine. Your hair is thinning by the way and you’re not twenty anymore. Anyway, my momz wants you to come to the bash. I’ll get us back to the city early if you want.”
“Fine, fine, just tell me when.”
“Not this but next Saturday, I will call to confirm in a few days and will pick you up with a car. Have fun Moxie,” Carlton says, taps the touch screen to end the call and exclaims, “Shiiiiiitttt! I wanted to see if it was his neighborhood where the truck with all the costumes crashed. Oh well.” Carlton surmises it will be better to go another route around that area. Blake’s streets are always cluttered.
Blake hated the truth of his friend’s words but finally it was time to take advantage of what the world put in place for him. An image of Juli taking off her skirt bursts through his thought of meeting bankers and Blake scampers to the bathroom. The thought of her tits falling out of shirt makes him release in his pants before he can get them down. He takes them off.
So the other deeds are done in order to deliver himself to the dominion of Nyx. After his shower he brushes his teeth, gums and back of the tongue and gags. Rinse, spit and repeat, as some water drips slowly pulled by gravity to his chin. Irritation paints his face as he realizes he doesn’t have any Oreos. He wipes the water, and the look, off his face as the light switch falls without sticking. He thinks well one good thing as he saunters over to his bed.
Blake says, “Now I lay me down to sleep. What the fuck! I’m surely beat. And if I die before I wake, it will not matter I have nothing at stake.”
His buzzed and dreary eyes fall. He sees a pure purple glow through his eyelids. The radiant color diffuses to black as the wind wafts in rhythm through the alley. The Earth spins for a moment and Blake’s stomach lurches to his throat. He holds back but kidneys quiver with steady pressure. He might just whiz all over his bed.
He grabs his cock and squeezes making his way to the low flow toilet. A high pressure stream dings and rings off the porcelain. Blake smacks his dry lips. He needs a sip of water.
Blake steadies himself with his left hand on the vanity as the stream come to a dripping end. A spider, that fantastic spinner of nightmares, phobias and respect slinks behind the sink. The cockroaches will not leave for Blake but they will not forsake this poisonous critter. The little hunter works his way under the spigot by avoiding a clump of shaving cream.
Now for scene from a spider’s point of view. It’s short and kind of gross. Enjoy.
The spider clings upside down and its compound eyes detect a dark passage. It climbs into the bend inside the faucet. A vibration rumbles from below as it holds fast in the slick cavern. The world trembles. Pressure builds. Bursssssssssssssssssssst.
The tiny hairs are not strong enough to hold on and it lets go to ride the wall of warm water. It reaches the cavern’s entrance and struggles to hang on to the opening. Grabbing, gripping, fighting, finally the force overcomes the tiny ambush assassin and it enters another dark passage being pulled down in spasmodic pulses. Its journey ends in a pool of burning fluid. The one that digests from the outside begins digestion within. Proteins, lipids and carbohydrates begin to separate from the whole and histamines seep out in Blake’s stomach.
“Graa, uh! What the fa?”
Blake rattles his head as he wonders what chunky shit just flowed out of the faucet. His mind, a shaken snow globe, his eyes, fogged as mirror in a bathhouse, his walk, but a shuffle. Blake bumps into the dull edged door frame where the peeling wallpaper of a thousand faded petunias wrinkles and falls. He drags his feet along the bare floor so not to trip, but as he reaches his bed a splinter rises to meet him. The puncture brings a flood of anger from the crown of his head down to his overgrown toenails. His blood flashes hot as the sensory input dwindles. Blake snorts a sigh and shakes his head.
He turns on the light, sits and lifts his callused foot above his opposite knee and finds no evidence of injury.
“Nothing. Good. Now if I only owed nothing. Screw it, that’s tomorrow.”
Blake falls back in bed and the veil of sleep fits snug.
If you thought this was inspired by Kafka, would be right. Congratulations on being such a smarty pants but that won’t last long.
“In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something not altogether displeasing to us.” Francois de La Rochefoucald
In the city of windows, the sun trumpets a glorious day and the strumpets who walked the streets with now cashless Johns return to rest for the next night’s prostitution. Taxis find their marks and limousines wait for their masters’ beckoning as traders of the day willfully barter away their souls for a tip of the iceberg. Landlords examine their property while the coyotes bay in the museum of natural history. Another cycle in the city of windows just like the day before grinds away. A news report comes blaring out of Blake’s alarm.
His eyes do not seem to open as he rises up to look at his window.
“Shit, what the?”
He stares at his fingers the size of pickles. Blake staggers to the bathroom, turns the faucet, and cleanses the thick goop from his puffy eyes.
After a minute of trembling and splashing water on his warm face, he is able to see. Pit eyes look back. An over pumped balloon from the Thanksgiving Day parade replaced his face. He knows he must go to the emergency room.
Blake exits his apartment but the universe spins and hits him to the hallway floor that smells of dried urine. Unable to move, his sinuses fill with fluid. His eyes cloud and a gray outline, child sized, approaches in broken fits of motion. Blake sees a smooth white mask with glowing orb eyes hovering just above his nose. Echoes of voices are heard and all goes pitch black.
In curtained off ER bed, Blake comes to consciousness and feels his hand being squeezed. He recognizes Ms. Braque to his side. The scream of child getting stitches in the next bed over overtakes the background noise of the emergency room.
“What happened?” he asks and his eyes flutter.
The darkness calls him back and Blake sleeps.
In a semi-private room, he awakes a couple hours later. Blake hears the hacking cough the man in the bed to his right and turns to look. A curtain that runs from wall to the foot of his bed blocks off the other patient. A monitor beeping his vitals signs sits on a stand next to an I.V. tree placed by the bedside. Through the open door to the right, the groans of the infirmed roll over him from the hall. The smell antiseptic burns his eyes and nostrils as the room fills with light.
Blake realizes he’s in a hospital and a nurse with almond eyes enters. She slides her hand on the bed’s safety railing and examines him like meat.
“How are you Mr. Moxley?” she asks and thinks I bet he’s attractive when he’s not all swollen like this.
“Confused and puffy,” Blake says.
“Puffy. Yes you are puffy,” she says and thinks I bet he has a large cock, maybe I’ll check later.
“Can I have some water?” Blake asks.
“There a pitcher on the chest next to the bed when you clear up a bit more,” the nurse says and gives Blake a wink.
A lean female doctor, in a bit of disarray with her hair back in a loose ponytail, arrives with her lab white lab coat riding her shoulder. With predatory eyes, she investigates Blake and thinks she recognizes him but dismisses the thought.
“Mr. Moxley you had a nasty allergic reaction. Good thing the E.M.T.’s found you on the street and got you here. We are going to keep you for observation overnight and most likely release you tomorrow. In the meantime, we are going to give you more anti-histamines. It will make you sleepy. So try to rest,” she says and drifts away into the light of the doorway. He thinks I like the doctor, she looks like a cup of mocha ice cream. She’s TV pretty.
The nurse administers the anti-histamine and leaves. As the compound invades his bloodstream, Blake is drawn into a bath of liquid sleep. The night is filled with dreams of webs and sirens. Not even projectile vomiting from the sixty year old man in the other bed over can interrupt Blake’s slumber.
The morning comes with a bland breakfast of eggbeaters, turkey bacon and slimy fruit salad. Blake nibbles and signs insurance forms. Blake needs to find a ride so he can be released and thought makes him almost want to stay in the hospital. There is only one person. Carlton.
Blake calls and gets a “Be there soon as I can.”
After changing into his clothes, he is wheeled down to the first floor near the gift shop. People brush by Blake as he waits and stirs in the wheel chair. He just wants to get home, tell work what happened, and forget but knows there will Carlton to deal with.
Carlton, draped in a tan suit and squawking on his iPhone, makes his way through the crowd outside on the bustling city sidewalk with ease and poise that only comes with disposable income. Through the window, Carlton dips his four hundred dollar sunglasses and sees Blake at the front desk. He passes through the automatic doors and pulls off his sunglasses like a secret agent.
“Hey brother, what’s going down?”
“Carlton, sorry to call but you are the only person that doesn’t work at these hours.”
“That’s fine man I was bored anyway.”
Out on the street, Blake hears honking and people yelling “Asshole!” With a few more steps he knows why. A double parked yellow Hum V blocks a lane of traffic. Carlton squeezes his electronic keypad as the vehicle roars to life and the doors click open. Carlton circles around the front turning back to Blake with his arms held wide as he nods.
“Dude,” Blake says.
Carlton peels out without regard for mere mortals and a cab slams on the brakes as Carlton cuts in front of him. They are cursed in Turkish. Carlton looks at Blake with sunglasses at the tip of his nose as he flies down the street.
“Well Moxie, what fuckery is this? I call and then you end up in the hospital,” he says and rips a smoke from his shirt pocket.
The window falls with a mechanical buzz. Carlton thinks come on Blake give me a good one.
“Shut up,” Blake says.
“Mox, what did you do? Fuck another twenty dollar whore and not get tested”
“No seriously, what happened?” Carlton asks.
“They told me I had an allergic reaction. Probably an insect bite but they couldn’t for sure. Might have been a spider or bed bugs,” he says.
“Shut the fuck up. Bed bugs are vile. I guess I know why that germ freak-what’s his name?-sealed himself up in his hotel.”
“How weird Hughes.”
“The guy you were just talking about, Hughes” Blake says.
“I thought it was Burns, like the Scottish poet?”
“No that was an episode of the Simpsons,” Blake says.
“Could have been a spider huh?” Carlton asks and ashes his smoke out the window.
“Sure as shit wasn’t Charlotte,” he says with a smile.
“You know the kids book with the spider who saves the pitiful piggy from sausagedom.”
“You could use her at your parties, all sausage.”
“Good to see you back Moxie. Let’s get some food before we take you home. On me, how about Thai?” he asks.
The rest of the encounter is but a flicker of memory for Blake. He barely listens to his friend’s business plans as they eat at a corner restaurant called The King and I and he makes excuse to leave as soon as he can. Carlton offers to take him home, but Blake declines. The friends guy hug and Blake exits to flag down a cab.
At his door, Blake gets his keys out without a sound and he opens the door. Ms. Braque’s door swings open and she steps out with her broom. With a bowed head, he turns to her.
“Ms. Braque thanks for being at the hospital,” Blake says.
Shock comes over her face and she steps back with her hand to her heart.
“What? I didn’t know you were at the hospital. Are you all right?”
“I saw you there,” he says.
“No, I wasn’t there. I wish I were though,” she says.
“Oh, I’m sorry it must have been the medication,” Blake says.
“Well I hope you feel better,” she says.
“I will. Bye,” Blake says and steps through the door.
He locks the door, feeds Tyger and jumps into bed wanting nothing more than to sleep but other issues gurgle deep in his gut.
Did Blake see Ms. Braque at the hospital? Maybe? Maybe not? Maybe she’s one of my spies but doesn’t know it and I controlled her thoughts? Maybe she’s just a liar? Maybe it was her clone there that was engineered by space aliens?
Nah. She’s not a clone. Also, we’re going to skip the rest of the night in the story. Blake has some rather repugnant biology to deal with and who needs to have images of him splattering watery diarrhea on the rim the toilet bowl as he sits because he couldn’t get his pants down quick enough. You are most welcome.
The next day Blake walks to work under the blue sky spiked with silver skyscrapers spitting prismatic light like massive sparklers. He thinks it is a glorious day in the city. The chill of autumn just intensifies everything. Blake crosses the street and dodges overzealous cabs with a smile. All that’s missing Blake thinks is a good cup of coffee and scratch off ticket as he steps up to the sidewalk. A Starbucks sits right in front of him but he keeps on going down to the Financial District.
In the lobby of his office building, the guards scan Blake up and down. A new day guard gives him a hard pat down. Up at Milton Communications, Juli C. is already at work in a blood red suit she decided to wear just for Blake.
A woman in stiletto heels and a tight wool suit stands in front of Blake in line for the elevator. She talks on her cell phone like an infant to her boyfriend and Blake thinks she must either be kinky or baby crazy.
The ding signifies the arrival of the next lift. Blake lets a few others to pass by but then a few wet nosed brokers from Maecenus Capital Management push though and the door begins to close. He shoots out his arm and stops the door. As Blake steps in the baby brokers step back like scorned house cats and Blake realizes he is sneering like a mad dog.
A smile beams across Blake’s face as he exits on his floor and straightens his tie. When he gets to his cubicle, he sees Juli and sits down quick before he gets aroused. Wow, she looks crazy hot he thinks. She must have just walked by. I can smell her jasmine perfume.
The Jolt cola and the ephedrine he has stashed in his desk provide the needed lift and he goes into fast forward. He puts on the headphones and Juli sees this and thinks Blake will be mine. The morning passes into memory.
At lunchtime, Juli grabs her Hermes bag and struts over to Blake’s cubicle. He looks and takes off his headphones. A quivering grin tries to hold fast on his lips.
“Where were you yesterday? You missed a hell of an incident,” Juli says and presses her breasts against the cubicle so to lift her cleavage. Blake side glances at her breast and then looks straight forward.
“I was sick. What happened?” Blake asks and bites his lower lip to stop from getting an erection.
“Some V.P. of marketing was sacked, like all those involved with producing this film have been sacked,” she says.
“A Python riff, funny but seriously I’m glad some of the fat is being slashed. There are like ten of those guys that do nothing,” he says.
“Do you want to go to lunch?” she asks with a twitch of the nose.
“I’m still sick, sorry,” he says.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you later,” she says.
“Yeah, cool. See you later,” he says.
“Okay, talk to ya later and feel better,” she says.
“Thank you,” he says and thinks maybe I shot a shot with her?
Blake stays a little late to catch up and waits for every one to leave before heading home. He stops to grab a bag of cookies, smokes, and a few scratch-off tickets. A block away from his building Blake gets a text from the bookie. He replies: Don’t worry. All will be paid.
Blake sleeps without dreams through the night. Soon the dawn prepares to explode a bomb of light and diffuse the particle stream into the blues of the atmosphere. Ms. Braque stands on her fire escape and stares at the newborn day.
“I can’t be responsible anymore,” she says and sips her coffee.