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Dear Muse, can I have my breakfast now...? - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
robling_t
robling_t
Dear Muse, can I have my breakfast now...?
Right, so, I was thinking until it got fairly close to the day that this might break down as three separate scenes, but apparently not; thoughts on how this flows in a single long sequence...?


***
Some of Jason's talents are wasted on a kitchen. "Tell me at least you only stick to the bloody pop-songs in class," I say over the latest musical selection.

He continues to corset his roast with twine. "'But by night I'm one hell of a lover' --"

He's not done the washing-up from last night yet. This may be Jason's way of suggesting that it's my go at it for having contributed so much to the mess when I'd baked the scones this morning, or he may simply have got seduced by his roast on the way to the sink. Either way we're out of forks. I step up and start drawing the water.

Jason finishes his lacing with a flourish. "'Or maybe a bite'," he nudges me, and I drop the spatula I'm trying to wash back into the soapy water. Bite, I echo grudgingly, fishing for it. He grins happily and goes back to trimming out his meat, heaping round chunks of root vegetables and tucking aromatic bulbs into every crevice.

(Another canard, that. Garlic is only an issue to the extent that anyone would reconsider being intimate with someone who stank of it.)

Finally Jason opens the oven and shoves the dish inside. He's drawn out a line, falling silent, waiting, waiting for me to give the callback -- I slam the spatula down into the water; "Say it, for the love of..."

I stop myself, because Jason is looking at me. "Trev?" he says, instead of the ritualised response.

My hands are trembling. "Yeah," I answer the unspoken question, slumping over the dishwater. "Think I had better. Soon."

It is possible to abstain for some while. The Eighties were proof of that, terror a powerful motivator. But not indefinitely. The Eighties were proof of that as well, for too many of us. It's like asking a diabetic to go cold-turkey from insulin. It ends about as well.

There's a senior-living facility shares grounds with the nature centre. (Although it's a matter of finding someone who's not on some interesting cocktail of medicines, if I wanted to be careless about adding to my collection of habits I might as well move to Portland.) They're bored and lonely, and one more rambling story about that odd young man sounds like Gran getting confused about what was on the telly last night again, if I don't come to visit too often. It grates, to hide behind how curious my request is, how literally unbelievable, but faced with some of the alternatives little else bears thinking about at all.

Sometimes I feel as if I should have my prospective company sign a release.

I've never been sure why there's a guard-house, I've never seen it staffed. Perhaps it may be, after dark. I walk on by and stroll along to the side of the complex, past the nature centre. No ducks on the pond, but there are goslings, and an old woman is tossing them crumbs. She's laughing, calling them out; Silly little geese, aren't you? My ear catches the lingering trace of an accent worn smooth over time, rounded cobble on the shingle still barely recognisable: an Englishwoman, some time gone.

She's as happy to hear familiar tones, when I ask to join her on her bench, even debased as my tumbling Celtic vowels may sound to her. You remind me of my grandson. He needs a haircut.

I let her wander into a conversation about her family, her past, her life, chattering about rationing and how she'd been evacuated during the war, bored rigid on a farm when she'd never been out of London in her life. Try finding something to entertain city children in Powys, I say. And allow myself the apologetic smile, when she regards me in bemusement: Erm, I'm... a bit older than I look, yeah.

The change in her face, as she really looks at me. And then, the straightening of an old hunched spine, the small nod; after everything, we remain British, even here in this strange land. There's a way that even this is done. "Right, I've had a good innings, but I suppose I'm ready to go now."

"No, that isn't what I, erm, I mean, that is a risk, but, I don't need to, I'd just like a bit, but if you'd rather just go home, or..."

I'm babbling. She pats my hand. "Well then. We'll just do our best, shall we?"

I look at her hand lying over mine, the pale blue rivers tracking courses across knobbed joints. Gently I turn it over, raise her wrist to my lips. She gives a little laugh at the oddly courtly gesture: Not the neck, dear?

Not for this, I breathe against her skin. The scent she wears is powdery, cloying. Old. I nip at the skin above the veins, letting her grow accustomed to the touch. Surprised squeak above me as my teeth sink home --

It's good, it's too good, it's always too good. The world is hot and wet and iron. Oh, my, she's gasping, oh... my. The voice of a girl, discovering what love is. But I can't hear anything but her heart, racing, more, more, give me more, more of this this heat, this rhythm drumming in our ears, it's...

Faltering --

I've left it too long I can't stop

Her passing rocks through me as climax, sweet enough to send me blind for a few precious instants. Yes. Oh, yes. No.

Yes.

Her name was Doris. I kiss her hand before I lay it into her lap and rise from the bench on wobbling legs. She looks as if she's merely fallen asleep in the spring sunshine, faint smile still upon her lips.

The part about spilling blood is bollocks as well.

I haven't spilt a drop.

The long walk home is as much an excuse to gather my thoughts as anything. It's not as if anyone can prove that I was there, after all, no CCTV videos, no chip on a fare-card dutifully recording my movements for the transit-authority. But still I can't help but cast glances behind, waiting for the sirens, the whistle, the hand to come down on my shoulder. The roundabout route my feet trace out is bred half from wary instinct and half a desire to physically put everything behind me, to simply be a moving body until I'm too exhausted to consider my situation in the world.

But I've never been able to outrun myself. Eventually I turn up at my own door, legs past cramping at the effort of dragging up two flights. Jason, bless him, can read from my face what I've done. "Do you need me to... call somebody?"

I'd rung Max from what had to be one of the last public phones in the city, somewhere I wouldn't be able to find my way back to if I were asked now; still, Jason's concern is touching. "Just... need a shower."

Jason all but stands me up in it, and he's waiting at the door when I come out shaking in my dressing-gown. He leads me to the settee and sits me down in front of a programme about kittens. "I don't think this is how you treat shock," I say when I realise what I'm staring at.

"Nah, that just came on," he says, but he looks a little guilty. (I'm fairly sure that sometimes he wanks to nature-shows.) "You gotta take better care of yourself."

It's a point I could argue. If I had the strength, just now. Jason disappears into the kitchen, and comes back a few minutes of playful kittens later with a mug. Tea's not his game, but it's the gesture. "Mate," I say, with a nod.

He sits beside me, gives an awkward blokey sort of thump to my back. "Need you to make the rent, dude."

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Comments
ljgeoff From: ljgeoff Date: February 9th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Another great piece. The only thing that bothers me is how the murder of the woman is so okay. I mean, Trev is shook up, yeah, but it's all poor Trevor. How about Doris? She was old and ready to go? Maybe if that was more implicit, I'd be okay with it. I mean, she's all very calm about it, but he told her that she wouldn't die - that he'd have care of her.

Actually, now that I think of it, I can see word getting out how Trev provides pain free assisted suicide...

robling_t From: robling_t Date: February 10th, 2011 06:46 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Aaaand welcome to one of those Bits You're Never Sure If You Just Tweaked It Even Farther From Working, yeah... {sigh} He does say (or tries to {pokes Muse}) that death is a risk but not his intention, which she accepts as valid terms; the dynamic that needs to be coming across overall is that Trevor's misjudged his own state of mind RE being able to stop himself when she does end up in trouble, because he's been pushing against his conditions-of-existence a little too hard. The problem is how to pull that off without it bellyflopping into an unattractive puddle of Vampire Angst...

(It's entirely possible that what's missing here is another feeding scene where it does go better. Which is the sort of call that can only be made by stepping back for a look when there's more of it...)
ljgeoff From: ljgeoff Date: February 10th, 2011 10:37 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
I totally agree with the "more of it" -- Keep Writing is always best.

I'm really loving this, btw.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: February 11th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Oh, yeah, Muse is hardly stopping now, man... {sigh}
huskyfriends From: huskyfriends Date: February 17th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Well done. Not even on Trevor's reaction, but Jason seems to take it too well. Does he know where Trevor gets the blood?
robling_t From: robling_t Date: February 17th, 2011 10:40 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
I would certainly say from the looks of things that none of this is new to Jason or even the first time he's seen specific reactions, which implies that there have been a few Heavy Conversations along the way by this point, yeah... Fair question though, may be worth thinking about flashback sequences to where they are talking through the various aspects of each other's conditions.

(Trevor doesn't actually feed over at the senior village very often, BTW. It's a little more anonymous to offer a few bucks to undocumented workers... or college students, which the area's not exactly short of either. :) )
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