Plugs

As he died, Albert’s only regret was that he would soon be the subject of this ridiculous story.

I don’t want to go in.

He’s there now, didn’t hesitate. It’s his home though he’s been away for long years. I warned him, or tried to but who listens to me?

I saw his wife in the shadows just before she stepped through the door, and in that moment she seemed a huge, swarming shape. Then she moved forward, into sunlight and she shone.

Not as beautiful as her sister, but no one is. Tall, broad-shouldered, jaw strong, forehead wide, cheekbones high. Clytemnestra is handsome rather than lovely. She moves with deceptive slowness, but there are muscles evident beneath her rich robes. She’s a warrior queen and has not let herself run to fat. Her hair, red-gold in the sun burns like liquid copper.

The smile she gives Agamemnon is frozen; she speaks soft words of welcome and he is deceived. When she looks at me she sees no Trojan princess, merely a slave, hair lank and oily, back and shoulders hunched as if deprived of wings and ashamed of their nakedness.

‘Don’t go inside,’ I whispered to my master, my owner, my thief. In spite of it all, I did not want him to walk all unawares into his fate, for his end means mine. But he gave me an annoyed glare, sick unto death of my constant warnings and plaints, of the sharp dreams that have broken my sleep (and thus his) these past months as we travelled to Argos. He has no patience. He is sick of my madness.

He took his wife’s welcome as his due and went in to the bath she had prepared for him. Clytemnestra watched me and nodded slowly before she turned and followed him. I waited, held my breath, counted the beats until I heard him scream, heard the wet sound of a great axe burying itself in muscle and flesh, releasing blood into the air. She waits inside now; another man by her side.

I have seen this for so many days. Fate cannot be avoided. I am a Trojan princess. I step down from the chariot, swallowing hard. I put my foot on the first step and mount the portico. My end lies here.

For parts one and two of this story please visit my author archives or click here:

 http://www.dailycabal.com/2009/12/unanchored/

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Belinda and I walked along Merrick Road. Passing the site of the where the old Cajun man’s shoe repair store had been I felt a pang. I had only been away a day but now I knew I could never touch anything here again.

The ghost of the old Cajun man was sitting on the bus stop bench outside the house with the telephone pole with flower wreath on it making motions like he was feeding the pigeons. The birds poked in the sidewalk cracks looking for anything edible.

“His name is Roland,” Belinda said. “Call to him.”

 My pang worsened. I didn’t know where it was I was feeling it. There was no “me” left to have a pang in the gut. I had been shopping in this man’s store for years and I did not know his name. The dentist’s office and chain store sandwich shop, which now stood in the stores place, added an unsightly insult to my injury.

 “Call to him,” Belinda repeated. “He needs you. He is too far gone for me to reach him.”

 “Roland?” I asked. “Hello. How are you today?”

 As he looked up the pigeons took flight in a disturbed flutter.

 “You can see me, mon cherie?” he said. “I never knew you knew my name.”

 “Ask him to come to you. Take his hand,” Belinda said.

 I slowly extended my palm.

 “You must be lonely,” I said. “Come.”

 He stood, walked over to me, and took my hand.

As his fingers closed around mine Belinda removed her crystal rod from her pocket and waved it in the air. Roland, Belinda and I disappeared and reappeared in the cave. Men and women in trench coats like Belinda surrounded Roland. With crystal rods they directed him, like an errant cattle to a dark alcove of the cave. Roland ambled into the darkness with a strange obedience. There was a flash of light and I knew he was gone. Where I did not know.

 “Why did you do that?” I screamed.

 “We were only helping,” Belinda said. From the look on her face I knew she was lying. They were only helping themselves and using me, I realized. But why? I only knew it had to stop. It had to stop now.

 -End of Part Three-

At the mouth of the Cave of Endless Hamsters stood two squat dumpy smoke-colored creatures, each the shape of a bowling pin. The one on left was slightly taller, and it shook with mild internal tremors. Both creatures seemed to waver in and out of existence, as if simulataneously there and not there, and their eyes glowed redly. They held short wicked-looking spears.

“Toll,” said the shorter one on the right.

Anya slid down from the back of the Turtle (who had promptly fallen asleep after they had stopped moving), and her feline companion leapt down smoothly to land beside her feet.

“Toll for what?” Anya asked.

“Whatchu mean? For passage through the cave o’course.”

“Is this cave really so important that it merits a toll?”

“Um.” The shorter one scratched its head and the taller one shivered where it stood.

“Do you enjoy your job?”

“What? Why you ask that?”

“It seems to me,” Anya said, “standing at the mouth of a cave in the middle of a forest waiting for people to come by so you can extort them would be quite boring. Yes?”

“Being punished,” said the taller shivery creature.

“By whom?”

“The Green Empress. She’s still sore at us.”

“Why? What did you do?”

Neither creature answered, and their body postures indicated sheepishness.

“Look, my name’s Anya.” She motioned to the cat. “This is my reincarnated father. We’re just looking for a way to get home. If I can offer you payment, will you be our protectors?”

“What? Us?” The two creatures turned toward each other and appeared to communicate, whether subvocally or telepathically, Anya could not tell. After a moment they turned back and the shorter creature said, “What about the empress?”

“Let me deal with her.”

“What payment you got?”

Anya reached into the pocket on her jumper and pulled out the black tri-cornered tooth she had extracted from behind the ear of the Olifanz. Previously dull, it now glinted in the filtered light of the forest. The two creatures started forward, their forms abruptly shifting completely into reality, the tooth somehow solidifying their existence after exposure to the light.

She held the tooth behind her back and said, “Payment after we’ve found the way home. Deal?”

“Yes, yes, o’course,” the creatures said in unison.

“Great. So what are your names?”

“Mister Hopeless,” the shorter creature said. “He’s Mister Shiftless.”

“Right,” Anya said, scratching the Turtle underneath the chin to wake it up. “So, are you excited to see the Cave of Endless Hamsters?”

“Dunno,” said Mister Shifless. “Never been in.”

“Well, now’s as good time as any, right?” And she led the motley group inside.

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Previously:
01: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
02: The World, Under
03: Androcles Again
04: Look Into My Eyes, You’re Under

Archive for the ‘Susannah Mandel’ Category

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