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Chapter 7
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 471
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:51 pm    Post subject: Chapter 7  

Chapter 7

Warning. This story contains strong language, scenes of violence and other matter that may be offensive. For mature readers only.
The wonderful thing about Wendy is that she always took whatever anyone had to say at face value. Leif was grateful that he didn’t have to try to explain everything or try to rationalize anything, not that he would know how to do explain any of it. She just sat there soaking in the story like a sponge and she had the uncanny knack of asking just the right questions in just the right places to get the most information out of the story. When Leif was done the two of them just sat there, the quiet of the apartment surrounding them as they both took a moment to fully digest what he had said.

“Man, that is some crazy stuff Lee. If I didn’t know you better I’d say that you were suffering from hallucinations brought on by a diseased brain from all of the alcohol that you have been drinking.”

Not that it truly annoyed him, but sometimes having a paramedic for a friend who was armed to the teeth with entirely plausible medical explanations for everything from a tooth ache to Bigfoot sightings sometimes got under his skin. Leif was just grateful that he wasn’t a hypochondriac, by now he would be living in a completely sterile bubble safe from microscopic germs and her scary explanations.

“Who really knows, I mean it’s not that I haven’t done enough damage to myself with my drinking that I could be just imagining it all.”

Wendy patted his hand and Leif could tell that even though she hadn’t completely dismissed the idea of a blistered brain, she still took his story as what really happened until it could be proven otherwise.

“This guy, Tetra, I’m worried that this is just the beginning of a dangerous pattern. He seemed happy to just give you idle threats at first, but now he is drugging you and throwing you out of cars. I’m scared that the next time the two of you meet it is just going to escalate.”

Leif nodded in agreement, he had to do something to get some control back into this situation with the pseudo detective, hell he had to get some control back into his life.

“Maybe you should call the police, file a report, at the very least you will find out if he is really a detective. If he isn’t then he will be in trouble for impersonating a police officer, if he isn’t then he will be trouble for kidnapping you.”

Leif thought it over for a second, “I don’t know Wendy, what if Symphony is really in some sort of trouble with the law. If I go to the police then I might somehow get her into more trouble or they might be able to track her down easier.”

Wendy turned to face him, her vivid green eyes had gone a shade darker, Leif knew that she was upset because they only did that in reaction to some hormonal sign from her brain.

“Let’s say that the police are really looking for her, they must be looking for her for a good reason, right? I mean putting aside Tetra’s strange tactics for a minute, if half of what he said was true then maybe it is better that they find her.”

Logically he knew that she was right, but Leif was throwing logic out of the window and replacing it with loyalty and concern.

“Even if it was all true I still wouldn’t go to the police, she watched over me in the cemetery. She took care of me when I was going through what ever in the hell I was going through at the apartment. Besides Wendy, I’m telling you this Tetra guy and his buddy, whenever I see him I know he is lying and I know he isn’t what he says he is.”

Wendy sighed feigning exasperation and took her leg off of his.

“That’s the problem with you tiger types, loyal to the end.”

Leif gave a mostly empty laugh, as if his Chinese zodiac sign explained everything. Wendy leaned over and grabbed her black purse that was sitting on the table. She rummaged around in it for a moment and like most men Leif was amazed that women could find anything in their jumbled purses. She pulled out a small black object about the size of an old portable, cassette voice recorder. It wasn’t until Leif saw the two silver prongs that he recognized it was, she handed him the Taser.

“I can always borrow one from another of my coworkers when I’m on call, until this all sorts itself out I want you to carry this with you at all times.”

Leif was about to protest and give it back to her when she just held up her hand palm outward to him.

“Nope, I know you can take care of yourself, I know that you a big strapping guy who isn’t afraid of anyone. But, as my friend I want you to promise me that you will keep it on you at all times. You may be strong, but I don’t care how strong you are, when you are faced against two people, one of which might already have a weapon, you need every advantage that you can get.”

Leif turned over the Taser in his hand getting a feel for its weight, the macho part of his mind told him that he could handle whatever may come his way. Then he remembered when he first met Tetra and how even with a security gate between them he still didn’t feel safe from him had he wanted to hurt him.

“I promise Wendy, let’s just hope I don’t end up in jail for electrocuting an officer of the law.”

Wendy scoffed, “They would take one look at his get up and thank you for shocking him back to some fashion sense.”

She reached back into her purse and pulled out a wallet that was made out of the same material that the purse was and was identical in their design. She opened it and began pulling out a bills ranging from twenties to singles. She tried to hand it to him but this time Leif outright pushed her hand back to her purse.

“I don’t need your money Wendy, I can manage.”

She tried to give him the money again.

“Don’t forget I just got done cleaning your apartment, I saw those bills, how long can you live off of whatever it is that you have saved up in your bank account.”

Leif didn’t bother to mention that he only had just the bare amount in his checking account to keep it open. Lately he had been living off of the money that he could find when he scrounged around the apartment.

“Wendy… I will manage, I can manage. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, but you know how I am about debts.”

Wendy leaned over and kissed Leif’s forehead, letting her mouth linger for a moment. Then she got up and smiled.

“Yes I know how you are about debts, be thickheaded all you want. Mind if I use your shower before I take off.”

For all that he had been going through the past several weeks he was glad that Wendy had not given up on him. Wendy knew that she could never be as close as Stephen or Kelly and she never tried to force her way into that circle either, but she was still a friend and a loyal one at that. In Leif’s mind that counted for a lot and he was glad to have had her company.

“Sure go ahead.”

Wendy rolled her brilliant green eyes, “Sure took you long enough, what were you doing that whole time, calculating your water bill?”

Instead of waiting for the answer she headed into the bathroom.

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

He couldn’t look, no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he wanted to Ignacio just couldn’t force his neck to turn his head and look out the window again.

“Mr. Steele, are you still there?”

The operator’s voice was still calm and firm, pulling him slightly out numb veil shock that his mind slipped into.

“I.” His voice shook without cause or function.

“I’m here.”

“The police and ambulance are almost there now Mr. Steele, but I need you to be my eyes now. The more information we have the more likely we can handle the situation.”

Ignacio listened intently; it helped take away from the looping image of the body hitting the concrete.

“I need you to tell me what you see, if that person is still alive you could be the only one who can keep them alive long enough to the E.M.T.’s to get there.”

Ignacio quickly glanced at the window; it was now more obscured by blood and gore. He felt his stomach churn as his mind reacted to the fact that he was looking at the aftermath of a human body. He turned away quickly focusing back on the dilapidated wall.

“The blood… the blood is all over the window.” The wall felt cool against his forehead and he squeezed his eyes tighter to blur out what was seared on them. The woman on the other end of the line was quiet but Ignacio didn’t mind, it meant that she wasn’t asking him to go outside the door and look at what was on that hard concrete. He could hear her faintly speaking to other people in incomprehensible code.

“Okay Mr. Steele, help is almost there, but it may be longer than we expected. Can you go just open the door long enough to tell if there is any movement? That’s all I need from you right now, is just to tell me if you see any movement. Can you do that Mr. Steele?”

Every fiber in his being told him no, no he could not do that, no he would not do that. Then his hand was on the handle, his thumb pressing down, the door resisting at first and then opening. First he cleared one inch then two inches, more and more of the night city scape coming into view. He paused as he saw a sock covered foot; Ignacio knew that this was the point of no return. He reminded himself that a life might depend on him; he continued to open the door. He was dimly aware the sound of sirens bouncing off buildings and streets toward him. The foot turned into a calf and then a whole leg which was covered in a well pressed, black business slacks. Then he saw the other leg, twisted back on itself at an impossible angle. Ignacio closed his eyes, took another large breath before continuing on. He opened the door the rest of the way and his mind stuttered as it tried to digest what it saw. Instead of a woman, there was a man in a business suit, his body a twisted mangle of odd angles.

“It’s a man.” It was his voice who spoke; Ignacio just didn’t remember saying the words.

There was blood spatter all over the outside wall in a radius all around the body, but there wasn’t a single drop of blood on that pristinely pressed business suit.

“Is he breathing Mr. Steele, are you able to see if he is alive?”

So strange, how can you fall so far and your sunglasses still be on.

“No ma’am, he’s not moving.”

As he finished the sentence he saw the squad car make the final turn and head straight toward him. The body kept getting closer and closer, but Ignacio was unaware of moving his feet. The man’s jacket was unbuttoned, there was a hole that looked like it was made from some kind of burn. He heard a door open and a strong voice shout out to him.

“I said move AWAY from the body.”

It was then Ignacio realized he was kneeling over the body and that the police officer was pointing a gun at him.

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

Leif sat up and rubbed at his eyes, he must have fallen asleep on the couch while Wendy was taking a shower. A small sheet of paper was taped to the unpowered television, Leif vaguely remember a dream about falling but like most dreams he had been having these days he couldn’t recall a single detail of them. He got up and pulled off the piece of paper, it was amazing how much better he felt today than he had been feeling the last few weeks. He sat down a brief flash of crimson entered his mind in the second it took for his eyes to blink, he paused for a minute and a brief figment of a memory entered his head. It wasn’t a dream about falling; it was a dream about watching someone fall. Leif shook the disturbing thought out of his head and turned his attention to the note.

[i]Dear Lee,
You were sound asleep and looked sooo cute so I didn’t want to wake you. Glad we had our talk, be careful out there! You know my number so don’t be a stranger.

Much love,

He folded up the note and placed it on the coffee table and went into the bedroom to get changed. A slight throbbing inside the back of his head let him know that a headache was setting in; he opened the medicine cabinet to grab the ibuprofen bottle that held his Excedrin. He downed two of the round pills and closed the mirror door, his stubble was growing back but he couldn’t help laughing at himself considering how ridiculous the I Love Yosemite More Than You sweater looked on him. Leif was about to go into his bedroom and change his clothes but he stopped to look over his now, almost clean apartment. He decided to not let Wendy’s efforts go to waste and finish the job.

When he got to the bathroom he found something very strange in the bathroom. All around the drain, caught in the seam of the metal drain, was sand. It was red sand, the size of grains of salt, the color of ochre and blood.

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

Lux waited, it was all that he could do now, for all of his resources he could not pick up on Symphony’s trail again. When he had acquired this car he had chosen it for its amenities, one of which was the comfortable interior. Though having to sit in one spot for several hours at a time was taking its toll on his physical form. He cast the discomfort aside, this pain was nothing compared to what awaited him if he did not retrieve the woman. He absently rubbed at the carving of Amon-dyu with his base of his thumb.

After getting rid of his nuisance of an aid he made his way back down the fire escape at the back of the building. After hours of fruitless searching he knew Symphony had gotten away again, if he had another aid at that moment Lux probably would have killed him too. He decided to follow up on the only lead he had Mr. Leif Tollart and had gone back to the car; he knew it was only a matter of time till Tollart led him to Symphony. By the time he had gotten back to the car he saw the police roadblock and the ambulance, their lights pulsing off the side of the abandoned apartment complex. They were speaking to some man with skin and facial traits that marked him as a half-breed of some sort. Lux easily avoided the notice of the emergency crew and had made his way here, staking out the apartment building of Tollart, who was more than likely drunk and passed out.

He took out his small notepad and wrote down a reminder to himself to check into the matter of the half-breed who had called the authorities – if he had witnessed anything he would have to be dealt with in time. Putting the pad away, he resumed tracing the face of the delicate carving. Minutes passed and then hours, Lux had had enough and was about to go up to Mr. Tollart’s apartment and force him to lead him to Symphony. That was when Tollart’s front door opened, but instead of a tall blonde man walking out, a curvy woman about in her late twenties walked out.

“And what is this Mr. Tollart?”

He watched the woman close the door; her brown hennaed hair was freshly wet from a shower.

“Dipping into the cream all the while drinking the milk, eh?”

She got in to a small compact car and began making her way down the street; Lux followed her at a safe distance.

“This day is turning out to be far from a waste.”

Lux smiled, his perfect white teeth gleamed back at him in the rearview mirror

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

It was nearing evening by the time he had finished with all the work, he hadn’t realized just how bad his apartment had gotten and this was after Wendy’s exuberant effort. He picked out some freshly laundered clothes getting ready to hop in the shower, when a strange impulse took him. Leif reached into the pocket of the pair of jeans he had been wearing the night he met Symphony and pulled out the lavender piece of paper that had her phone number on it. He grabbed some change from the candle holder and made his way down to the liquor store to place the call.

Leif couldn’t really say why he was calling or, just a few days ago he wouldn’t have called even Wendy if was bleeding out of a mortal wound. Maybe it was his reconnection with Wendy that made him want to reach out, he pushed the thought aside and decided that once again he was being too self-analyzing – a trait that Kelly fought so hard to at least dampen. Leif reached the payphone and dialed her number, once again a warbled message that was only one word away from the one he had on his machine came on.

“Hi Symphony, this is Leif, I was just calling to see if you would like to come by my place and talk a bit. Something strange happened with that Tetra guy the other day that I’d like to discuss, give me a call 262-6432.”

Leif hung up the phone and headed back to his apartment, his mind was too preoccupied to notice until he was at the security gate of his apartment complex and then it hit him. The whole reason he had to use the payphone was because his own phone services were long since disconnected. He shook his head feeling like a complete and utter fool. He fished out what remained of the change in his pocket but it wasn’t enough to make a second call. Of course he could go back to the apartment and gather enough change to make another call but what would he say.

“Hey Symphony, just come by because that number won’t work, why… because I’m such a loser that even my phone is disconnected.”

It was bad enough that he made the mistake in the first place, he wasn’t about to make a further fool of himself. Instead Leif went back to his apartment, locked his doors and hopped into the shower. He let turned up the hot water to an almost unbearable temperature, as he let the cascading water ease out the tension in his body and his mind he noticed that his hands were shaking slightly. He looked down at his pruning hands and knew that it was his withdrawal screaming its protest. At the height of his self-medicating he would have fervently denied that he had gotten to a point that his body was dependent on alcohol. But standing here, naked in the shower with his hands shaking, the signs were all too evident.

Leif bowed his head, letting the pressure of the shower head beat water on the back of his neck, but no matter what he did he couldn’t stop thinking about his shaking hands and how nice it would be to have just one drink, just one swallow of something fiery and warm. The urge to drink was almost unbearable then he heard something very out of place coming from his living room, it was a ringing. He tilted his head trying to pinpoint it, the muffled electronic ring sounded again and it sounded just like his phone. It couldn’t be his phone, his service was disconnected at least three weeks ago, Leif turned off the blazing hot water and pulled back the flimsy plastic curtain craning his neck out. Unmistakably the sound came out of the living room, the telltale ring of a phone, muffled and thready, but there it was. He quickly grabbed a towel and jumped out of the tub dripping water; he rushed into the living room and picked up the handset from the cradle. The only sound that came from the telephone was dead silence.


His voice was tentative and unsure as he waited for a response, a quick and unbidden image of the scene in Poltergeist where the little tow headed girl talks to disembodied spirits though a toy phone played itself out in his head. The warbled ring sounded again and it came from the left of him. He kept the phone to his ear and turned to look, his breath held for reasons he couldn’t explain. It sang out again and Leif rolled his eyes and shook his head at his own stupidity, he let out the breath he had been holding and placed the handset back down. He made his way to the old, barely working intercom that patched through to the main gate at the front and pressed on the newly cleaned, square white button.


His voice came out as frustrated and impatient, he was sure that it was either some random person who had pressed the wrong apartment number, another tenant who had forgotten their keys or a delivery person trying to get in.


The familiarity of the voice made him pause a little longer than he wanted to; the last person he expected to be ringing at the front gate was her.



Leif pressed the button to send electrical current to disengage the lock.

“Come on up, uhhh, just let yourself in okay?”

“Sure no problem.”

He unlocked the main and security doors. Leif rushed back to the bedroom and quickly mopped off the remaining water on his body, he slipped on a pair of random jeans and a brown button down polyester blend shirt. By the time he had finished buttoning up his shirt he heard the door opening.

“Just make yourself at home, I’ll be another minute.”

He scanned his bedroom for anything that regarded personal hygiene but nothing was in sight. Her voice came diluted and muffled through the bedroom door, “Wow, look at this place!”

Defeated in his search deodorizing products he decided that at the least he was freshly showered and in laundered clothes and that was itself a vast improvement over his normal state. Leif made his way out of the bedroom to greet her; today she was wearing a multicolored blouse that had what looked like moonstones buttons. The small blocky patterns of luscious gold’s, reds and whites played against soft, small odd shapes in almost pastel violets, greens and dark earthy browns, all of which reminded him of a Klimt painting. Over this Symphony was wearing a dark green, simply knit sweater that was so fuzzy it looked like it was growing fur of pale green. It had oversized white buttons that she left unused for the sweater was open. Of course, as always she wore the same jeans that spoke of eternity and he idly wondered what she wore when she did laundry.

In her hand she has a large Trader Joe’s paper bag that was filled, out of the top he could see bread and freshly cut Foxglove and something that ominously looked like a wine bottle wrapped in a smaller paper bag. She smiled widely at him, her brown eyes glittering and the prints that the crow left at the sides of her eyes came into view again. He walked over to her taking the bag from her slender hands that ended in fingers that a pianist would be envious of.

“Let me put these in the kitchen.”

As Leif turned to put the groceries in his under stocked kitchen the felt her arms wrap around his waist and felt the warmth of her face as she rested it on his back.

“It’s good to see you Lee.”

Leif paused letting the moment stretch, she felt so warm against his back. He knew that she wasn’t saying it in the sense that she was just glad to have his company again but more in the way that she was glad to see him in a more human and functional state. But even though he did not know Symphony well, he knew her enough that unlike most people who say such things, her happiness to see him again could very well be as straight forward as that.

“I’m glad that you’re here.”

He was pondering at how to disentangle himself from her unexpected embrace, for even though the contact sent his skin tingling, the longevity of it began to stir a disquieting uncomfort at having someone almost reach beyond his well laid walls. Then as soon as it was about to become more of a problem than a puzzle she let go and he finished his journey to the kitchen.

“It’s weird that you just showed up Symphony, cuz’ I was just thinking about you a few hours earlier.”

The lie of it came out easily, he had been thinking about her for most of the day until thoughts of booze pushed her out and occupied his mind like an oversized troll in a bar with low ceilings.

“Well, I got you message, but the number you gave me wasn’t working.”

Leif tried to make his laugh sound easy and natural even though it came from a feeling of complete embarrassment.

“Oh yeah, that… sorry about that.”

Something tinkled like tiny bells as he heard her sit on the couch.

“No worries Lee, I decided to just drop by.”

Leif put the bag on the tiled countertop.

“Would you like something to drink?”

He opened the refrigerator and sighed inwardly as half-finished beer cans stared back at him longingly and one old milk carton whose contents looked more like cottage cheese than milk gave him accusatory glares.

“Water will be fine for now.”

He grabbed two red plastic cups.

“Tap okay?”

“Yes that’s fine but no ice.”

Leif filled both cups somewhat relieved; he didn’t know whether Wendy had filled the one ice cube tray that didn’t have cracks in it. He came back out into the living room and handed her cup to her and sat at the opposite end of the couch.

“You’ll have to be patient with me; it’s been awhile since I’ve had any company.”

He smiled as he said it, trying to pass it off as a joke with no real punch line than the self-effacement it provided, even though he meant every word he said.

“Patience, my dear Lee, is my greatest virtue.”

Symphony held her cup up in a gesture of salute; Leif brought his up and touched its rim with hers which was followed by a dull and flat sound at plastic made contact with plastic.

“To an early dinner I hope you enjoy and many more toasts to come.”

Though he grimaced a little on the inside at the thought of trying to scrounge around in his cupboards to fill in all the necessary basic ingredients that any meal might have – like salt – but it was a better toast than he had made in recent weeks, which primarily were to a dark living room and the hope of getting drunk.

“Cheers.”, they said in unison.

Leif took a drink and almost immediately spit it out as the processed city hit his taste buds, if it wasn’t clear water he would almost want to say it tasted gamey. Instead he smiled and swallowed, all credit due to Symphony she didn’t look phased at all by the horrid tasting swill.

“I don’t suppose it would do me any good to try to beg for a rain check on that dinner you were just talking about. I’m not exactly sure if my kitchen is in any state for cooking, it just might set fire to itself in protest.”

Symphony’s laugh was full and chimed, he heard the tinkling sound of bells again but this time he was able to follow the sound and around her ankle was a tarnished, silver chain with about twenty bells. Each bell had the same shape but very faintly Leif could see that though all the markings were similar in style, the bells all had different tiny etchings on them that made it look like some sort of foreign language.

“Don’t worry I plan to do all the cooking.”

“That’s exactly what I’m worried about.”

She reached over and punched him lightly on the shoulder, the gesture said without any words needed that she was determined to fulfill on her plan to cook. This wasn’t exactly what he had planned when he called her but at the very least he would try to push away all his anxiousness at Symphony seeing just how desperate state his finances and life were in. He watched her light maple eyes scan his walls.

“Where did they go?”

He followed her gaze to the lighter colored, square and rectangular patches of paint on his walls where his picture frames used to hang. The sudden mental images of all the pictures he had hanging on his walls of Kelly, Stephen and himself, threatened to flood into his mind.

“Where did what go?”

“The pictures frames?”

He felt his hand start to shake and tried to sabotage the cool indifference he was trying to exude. Leif placed his other hand over the treacherous, shaking one and pretended to scratch an itch on its surface.

“I took them down a long time ago.”

Symphony stood up, walked over to the wall that had the missing frames and placed her left palm on one of the squares.

His throat was dry and his lips felt chapped, he could almost taste the flat beer that was just sitting there in his refrigerator. Symphony had her eyes closed as if she was trying to listen to a child whisper a secret to her through a tin can with a piece of string as the conduit for the conversation. She opened her eyes and was now looking at him.

“Are you hungry?”

Desperate to be away from the topic and the bare walls of his living room Leif suddenly found himself famished.


Symphony took off her sweater and held it out toward him while looking around.

“Where can I put this?”

Leif got up and tried to hide the fact that his legs suddenly felt weak and rubbery at the lack of support of liquor. He took the sweater from her and made his way to the bedroom.

“Meet you in the kitchen.”

Leif nodded and once in the bedroom closed the door slightly. He sat down on his bed, placing the soft, green sweater beside him and tried to mentally purge the desperate ache his body was screaming for out of it. He got up and as quietly as he could began to open his dresser drawers looking for random misplaced bottles that he might have accidentally stored there one night. Coming off of several binges he had found empty or nearly empty bottles in sock drawers, or in cupboards and one night he woke up to a litter box, filled with fresh litter and a bottle laying on top of it. He could only assume that at the time he had mistaken his drink for articles of clothing or food or, as strange as it may seem, a cat. He was beginning to lose all hope when, as he was reaching under the dresser itself when he felt the cold, hard shape of what could only be a vaguely, square shaped bottle. Leif pulled it out with a sense of triumph and then saw that the red, aluminum cap had been lost whenever it was that he put this bottle of vodka under here and because of that there was not a single drop of potato derived drink left. In a moment of unchecked frustration turning to hot anger he stood up and cocked his arm to throw the bottle through the wall.

“Hey Lee, come here, I want you to try something!”

Her voice cut through the moment and he checked the motion at the last moment. He shoved the bottle in a drawer and closed it; he took a deep breath gaining a modicum of self-control. Leif knew he didn’t want this night to end badly but he knew that if he was going to make that possible he was going to have to cut her visit short before he said anything he was going to regret later. With his resolve back under his control he walked out of the bedroom and as the turned into the living room, saw her turning out of the kitchen holding what looked like to be two wine glasses filled with a dark, cola looking liquid, but without the carbonation. During the time the was fervently looking for anything to tide him over she had donned a white and red striped, cooks apron with large, black type that said “Kiss My Ka-boobs.” Leif almost laughed, wanted to laugh but that dark need wouldn’t let him. His eyes hungrily zeroed in on the offered glass while his body screamed that it had better be what it wanted.

“What is it?”

She smiled while handing it too him, the glass was one that she must have brought with her, it felt heavy and full of promise.

“It doesn’t really have a name; it’s something that I make, sort of a home brew.”

Leif took it and had already brought it halfway up to his lips, his mouth watering in anticipation, when he heard her clear her throat. He looked up and delayed the liquids imminent consumption.

“I made the first one, now it’s your turn.”

Leif clenched the glass tightly and then he made the connection that she wanted him to make a toast. He looked off to the left trying to think of something, all the while all he wanted to do was quaff whatever it was.

“To… to…”

Symphony waited politely.

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

The coolant gave off a sweet smell as it plumed out of her radiator, Wendy stood back a foot from the opened hood of her car, watching it vent like steam like a geyser. It was at least half a mile to the next gas station and he inwardly kicked herself at not having chosen the “Roadside Assistance” option on her insurance. She moved away from the front of the car to the side of the road, kicking her front tire with little satisfaction.

Another car roared by, not even slowing to gawk, she wondered idly if chivalry was dead. She thought of calling her roommate, but by now Yolie would be at work and not be able to get away to come to her rescue. It was just her luck that after a day spent nursing Lee back to the land of the living, cleaning his apartment and feeling great about reconnecting with him that something like this would happen. She had meant to tell him about the sand and the coroner’s report, but she didn’t want to do anything that would stall Leif finally opening up. She put her face in her hands in, the top of her brown hair shining red in the sunlight.

Wendy was about to get up and begin the half mile trek off of the freeway to see what could be done about her car that was now doing its best imitation of a spitting gargoyle, when she heard a car slowing and its tires biting into the rocky gravel of the emergency lane. She popped her head up and leaned far back to make sure that she wasn’t becoming delusional and she saw a black sedan rolling to a stop just behind her car. She popped up to her feet and bounded over to her potential savior with the exuberance of a kitten. From the driver’s seat a well-tanned man with grey eyes and a Rastafarian tam got out of the driver’s seat. He was wearing brown khaki jeans and a green shirt with a white marijuana leaf on it that read “100% Hemp”, he closed his door, smiled and his teeth were perfect and brilliantly white.

“Having trouble?”

The man had a scratchy voice that reminded her of Michael Wincott.

“Yes! Thank you sooo much for stopping.”

He closed the distance with one hand outstretched; his nails were so short and neat that Wendy wondered if he had them manicured. She shook his hand and suddenly a story of a serial rapist that preyed upon women who were stranded came to her mind. Wendy shoved the ridiculous thought out of her head; it was in the middle of the day on the side of a busy freeway. He moved in front of her car and studied the scene.

“Well I am sure that you have figured this out already for yourself, but it looks like you have overheated.”

Wendy sighed in exasperation.

“Yeah, I’ve been losing a lot of fluid because of a hole in the radiator, I keep putting that aluminum powder stuff in it but I know that’s only a quick fix.”

“Very true, eventually you will want to get this radiator replaced or this will just keep happening more and more often.”

Wendy nodded, it had been on her list of things to do for a long time now but she just never found the time. The man turned giving her a sympathetic smile.

“Well do not worry yourself, I will make haste to the nearest gas station and return with more coolant, water and Alumina Seal if they have it.”

She caught the fact that he was putting on the knight errant voice and laughed.

“The least I can to be keep you company on the way, such noble deeds should not go unrewarded.”

He smiled widely, his white teeth out shining his capturing grey eyes. He opened the passenger side door for her and she got in, after she was safely deposited he closed the door and it made a heavy thudding sound of a well-built car. As he made his way to the driver’s side Wendy noticed that the passenger side door didn’t have a handle which struck her as odd, it didn’t even have the hole where a handle might have once been. The man got in and closed his door behind him.

“Your door is missing a handle.”

He started up the engine and it was almost as quiet as whisper.

“Yeah this is a refurbished car that used to be in service to federal agents.”

She engaged her seatbelt while the car was already in motion.

“I can’t thank you enough, you a real lifesaver. My name’s Wendy by the way.”

He turned to smile at her and his eyes were half lidded with satisfaction.

“Lux… Lux Tetra”

To all my readers thank you for your patience in waiting for this chapter and thank you for your diligence if you read it all the way through. I know it was huge, but after such a long delay it was the only way I could breathe some life back into it.

So we have a few decision points to make, one for Ignacio, pretty simple one here, does he run from the cops or stay and let the chips fall where they may relying on his innocence.

The second one for Leif, after all this time fighting with his withdrawal symptoms he is being offered a drink of unknown ingredients by Symphony. Does he refuse the drink in case its alcoholic or does he trust her and take the drink and the risk of falling back that dark hole.

As always I’m open to any other suggestions, direction of the story or critiques.
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Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:51 pm    Post subject:  

I warn that I WILL have to take a couple days to review the rest of the story and catch up on this chapter so be patient with my reply but it's a comin'! Been greatly looking forward to this!
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Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject:  

Thunderbird wrote: I warn that I WILL have to take a couple days to review the rest of the story and catch up on this chapter so be patient with my reply but it's a comin'! Been greatly looking forward to this!

I'm just thankful to have readers like you Thunder, take all the time you need. I'm not sure if you noticed, but I did my best to write an overview. Its a little slapdash and not very well done, but it is there for anyone who needs a brief refresh. Of course if you want to read further back to catch up then don't let me keep you.
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Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:34 pm    Post subject:  

When I read the last chapter I realized I might've missed one or two and so this give me cause to get back to reading through the whole thing again - plus that puts so many useful details in mind as we proceed from here. But yeah, shouldn't take me tooooo long.
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Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:21 pm    Post subject:  

Good luck with that, you're a braver man than I.
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Tikanni Corazon

Joined: 25 Oct 2009
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Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:52 pm    Post subject:  

Hey Emperor! :)

Great chapter, and well worth the wait! I didn't even notice the length, to be honest. There was that much going on, that I think I could easily have read on even longer. And what a point to stop on! Will Wendy be okay, won't she? All good stuff that makes me want to read on.

A couple of things I noticed...

Quote: Putting the pad away and resumed tracing the face of the delicate carving.

This doesn't quite sound right, or finished is more like it. I think it either need to begin with 'He put' replacing the 'putting, or replace the 'and' with a comma and 'he'.

Quote: He grabbed to red plastic cups.


Quote: She had meant to tell him about the sand and the coroner’s report, but she didn’t want to do anything would stall Leif finally opening up.

And I think this sentence needs a 'that' in between the 'anything' and the 'would'.

Aside from that, the only thing I noticed was a lack of comma's in a couple of places (though I am personally prone to overusing them, so you might need a second opinion on that ;))

As for the DPs, I think Ignacio shoul stay where he is. He'll only get himself killed if he tries to run. And Leif...I think Leif should refuse the drink, and tell Symphony why, and how he's feeling. It may turn out to be a non-alcoholic drink anyway. She seems to be able to sense what he's thinking and feeling, so maybe it's some kind of home brewed remedy to ease the withdraw symptoms of alcoholism.

It really was a fabulous chapter, Emperor! I hope it won't be too long before the next installment!:) Can't wait to find out if Wendy is going to be okay, or how she will react to being in Tetra's car, now that she knows who he is. Fab!
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Posted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:04 pm    Post subject: I Think......  

Y'know, this was so worth waiting for. YAY! MORE!!!

There are several spelling boo boo and a grammar issue or two, but over all it's an enjoyable chapter. I like Ignacio's reaction to the dead person, but I feel there was a lack of WTF moment when he realised it wasn't a woman. He wasn't stressed much (If I reacall correctly) when he saw her fall, so I kinda missed the "OMG WTF!" about it turrning out to be a guy. But, it was fun to "see" his reaction non the less. I also wanna deck Wendy, but that's a whole nother can of worms when it comes to what I call "Some people's children". I dun' care the explination, a car with no quick way out with a stranger? Yeh, she needs a kick, but I like that you did it that way. Lets us know her lvl of brain activity right off the bat!

DP...DP....I'd say Ignacio should bust out crying. Maybe even blather like an idiot and throw up. Stuff like that would win him the most sympathy, and lean towards his innocence.

As for Leif, blow off the question of alchoholisism with somthing like "This ain't booze is it? My AA guy would so put my head through a wall if he caught me with a drink at this stage." Or somthing to that effect. It gets across the importance of him not drinking while not sounding too accuseing towards Symphony.

Over all, loved it, want more, keep up the god work!
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Posted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:26 pm    Post subject:  

Ok, I may have just given myself a reader's headache here but I just sat down and read this from beginning to current end. (And it wasn't your writing that did it either - that's been truly excellent all the way through!)

I always like doing this with stories now and then, and with this one, its been all the better to. Why? Because this is one very incredible intricate plot! Easy to lose so much between chapters. Having read it all through now, I beleive I know exactly what is going on here. Symphony is just... brilliant!

Lux is a great character as well. In fact, the whole weave is one big beautiful tapestry! Keep this up! I'm terribly interested to see more now ;)

Ok, so there were a few typos here and there in this chapter, starting from about halfway through, but they weren't too bad. Your writing has improved a lot from the first chapter I read of this - much cleaner editing. Until I caught this Quote: He grabbed to red plastic cups. I would have had no niggles whatsoever here! There were a couple more along the way but again, nothing severe.

These characters are amazingly well detailed. The clothing notes - always something I'm lacking in my writing detail - were both meaningful and impressive to me.

I don't want to just give away the clever things you've woven into the story so far - hoping others may eventually decide to read through the whole way to catch some of the more subtle hints I would never have picked up on without having done so. Truly brilliant stuff! You do forshadowing and subtext extremely well here. Very impressive.

Ok, so DPs:
Ignatio: has nothing to fear from the police. I feel his sudden realization of how he was found over the body was a matter of some of that shock and awe (WTF!) that Pope was saying was missed - he was knocked out of a solid sense of reality there, approaching for a closer look as if in the dreamlike state of one who's paradigm has just been shattered. And yeah, now that I read the rest of it, the whole scene made perfect sense. What to do? Simply back up and apologize and be ready to answer any questions. He'd quickly want to speak with his bro about this as soon as he can, however, and he might also too ask his sister for some post-morgue delivery info on this particular body. I'm still wondering where that third vanished to as well... hmm...

Three wavy lines huh? Enki... You and I have far more in common than I had suspected! (looking forward to commentary from you since you've caught up close enough to start voting on some of the polls btw... ;) )

Leif: If this guy can't get a drink soon, he'll be nearly impossible to have a meaningful discussion with. I can sense that this amazingly detailed depiction of a man in alcoholism crisis comes from a place of first hand knowledge and I admire what it must mean that you are here, writing so excellently, with us now. That must have taken some amazing strength, my friend! Your scenework with him in regards to this was absolutely above and beyond par - I could feel the character's experience as if it were first hand (side note: I rarely feel so emotional in reading as I did with that beach scene - holy crap that was some powerful stuff!)

And I have a strong inclination to think that Symphony knows all too well what he'd need right now - and it may not be alcohol, but if it isn't, its still something that will take the edge off. I don't see him fighting the urges so hard right now so much as just being without and suffering for it, so he doesn't have the spirit to resist yet that one needs to earn to consciously face such addiction. Thus, he'd be ready to drink it down without a second thought. I say he toasts to... hmm... that's a tough one because he still has a hard time being appreciative for anything really. A toast to what brief rays of light are currently beaming through the stormclouds that have become his life's sky.

Yep - I think this must be one of those 'best of IF' tales here coming together, E. Greatly looking forward to more!
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Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:08 pm    Post subject: Re: I Think......  

Tikanni wrote:

A couple things I noticed

Good eyes Tikanni, I fixed them and I appreciate you pointing them out. And thank you for your comments as well. I hope as well that it won't be as long between the next installment.

PopeAlessandroxXVIII wrote: I like Ignacio's reaction to the dead person, but I feel there was a lack of WTF moment when he realised it wasn't a woman.

I realize that Ignacio's reaction to the gender wasn't extreme, but there are circumstances to allow for his muted one. He has just come off a long period of being in a trance like state while working on his drawings. Then after seeing the initial body drop and nothing being on the sidewalk, then the next thing he sees is gore spattering the window - so there is some shock there. Sorry if I sound like I'm defending, I'm just trying to clarify. :-)

PopeAlessandroxXVIII wrote: I also wanna deck Wendy, but that's a whole nother can of worms when it comes to what I call "Some people's children". I dun' care the explination, a car with no quick way out with a stranger? Yeh, she needs a kick, but I like that you did it that way. Lets us know her lvl of brain activity right off the bat!

Once again, I'm not trying to defend, just clarify - more likely than not its my fault as the writer for having such a long hibernation period in between chapters. I certainly did not Wendy coming off as dumb, maybe I'll have to go back to that scene and make some changes. It also could all boil down to this author needing an easy out, by not making it such an issue it gets Wendy in the car - which as the author is exactly where I need her.

Thunderbird wrote: Easy to lose so much between chapters. Having read it all through now, I beleive I know exactly what is going on here.

This has been my greatest concern with Symphony, I wish there was an easier way to address it. Maybe I just need to pump out chapter a lot quicker ;-)

Thunderbird wrote: I don't want to just give away the clever things you've woven into the story so far - hoping others may eventually decide to read through the whole way to catch some of the more subtle hints I would never have picked up on without having done so. Truly brilliant stuff! You do forshadowing and subtext extremely well here. Very impressive.

First of all, I still can't believe you read it all the way through. I don't know where you find the time, dedication and effort to pull something like that off. It's no wonder you got a headache! There is nothing more that I would like is for other readers out there and do that exact same thing. I would have bid on the Catch Up Challenge but my fables are paltry compared to most. Secondly, thank you for the compliments and critiques I appreciate them both and I deeply appreciate the fact that you took the time out to see the story as a whole and not as installments. I will find the time in my crazy, busy life to pay you back in kind somehow.

Since it seems that everyone so far agrees that Ignacio should stick around I may only make the decision point as to whether or not he will take the offered drink from Symphony. I'll wait a few more days before I put the poll up in case anyone else has something interesting to add to the potential decision points.
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Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:23 pm    Post subject: Chapter 7 Poll  

Poll is up, go vote.
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Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:00 am    Post subject:  

Sorry I'm so late in on this one, but pleased to get here before the poll closed. I could have swung for Wendy getting into the car like that. What was she thinking of? Anyway, too late now... and I can't wait to see what adventures she is in for now.

I thought I had a good grip on the previous chapters of the story but I think I'm going to have to go back and re-read, or at least read your synopsis, because there are some fine plot details that I feel ought to be in my grasp and aren't, just yet.

Anyway, I can't tell you how delighted I am to see this SG moving again. Your chapter layout is much more pleasing on the eye than some of the earlier ones, and although it has the rough feel of a first draft (style and grammar-wise) it is rich and immersive.

I've made my vote, based on my take on Leif's personality - even though he knows it may be bad for him, he's willing to allow himself to fall for Symphony's otherworldly magic.

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