Author Topic: Midway Manifestations  (Read 1153 times)

Fiametta Belmar

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Midway Manifestations
« on: May 24, 2013, 06:56:12 PM »
The first opening night in a new town on the Midway was always the most exciting. Rides that went up like mysterious, sleepy relics from some forgotten time overnight; only to roar to life once the sun went down brought its own kind of buzz to the city.

There was something about a Carnival. A unique sensory wonderland that kindled the inner child in everyone. The lights that beckoned and dazzled, the games that were played; risk measured and taken with a deep breath and a proper taunt of the ego only a true Carny could master. The smell of cotton candy, popcorn, the adrenaline thick in the air amidst the squeals of sheer delight and terror.

 Or maybe it was the allure of the expanded view of one's own city from the top of a Ferris Wheel or Roller Coaster that gave one a different perspective. Lingering for a few seconds just a little closer to the stars before plummeting back down to earth; a dizzying contrast of of highs and lows.

Whatever it was, Fia loved it. She thrived on the freedom and heightened energy a Carnival brought to a sleepy town that was aching to shake some dust from its wings. This was her kingdom and this collection of oddballs, seekers, drifters, grifters and misfits were her family.

The Carousel Queen walked amidst the sleeping rides of the Midway in knee length studded black boots, frayed denim shorts, a ribbed white cotton tank layered beneath a well-worn, black motorcycle jacket that looked like it had seen better days.Though a late Spring chill had set in overnight, Fia didn't seem to notice. She radiated her own inner heat that remained unaffected by the temperature around her.

 Thick waves of mahogany and chestnut were brushed back as she produced a hand rolled cigarette from behind her ear. Her own blend that flared to life the moment it touched her lips, without the appearance of a lighter. A trail of tobacco, cardamom, and clove passing in her wake like a lingering dream, warming the air with its spice and its tell-tale stories if one were to watch the smoke closely before the Spring air swept it away.

Her mismatched gaze panned over the lot. Born with a condition known as Heterochromia, one eye was a vivid peridot green and the other a burnt amber. Her Mother had always told her that she was born with a foot in both worlds and her eyes struck the balance between the two.

Thick lashes swept low to provide shade from the afternoon sun. Her hand lifted for another slow drag as she watched a group of boys riding their bikes beyond the fence that surrounded the fairgrounds. Squawking and gawking away like a swarm of seagulls to watch the rides go up; pointing out which ones they were going to ride once the sun went down.

The carnival lay out was in the shape of a horseshoe designed to not only entice revelers with a gradual progression of unique experiences, but also to maximize spending. The crowd would enter the open end and by natural instinct, would usually proceed up the right side. The Games would be the first attraction along the right side of the horseshoe. Rides were located down the center, with the Carousel always being the first attraction as a sort of visual centerpiece for its universal, ageless appeal. Followed by the Ferris Wheel, Tilt-a Whirl, Zipper, Dragon Coaster and so on. After the games and rides, the crowd would find more kid friendly rides coming down the left side of the horseshoe and of course, concessions .

The men were busy at work setting up the rides. Fia gave an upnod to Boz who ran the Tilt a Whirl, or what the Carny folk called the "Iron Bitch." Both for its sheer size and strength and the fact that it was a bitch to set up.

"Hey Boz," Fia shot a hand up to the heavily tatooed man. "The Bitch bite ya today?"

Boz shook his shaved head from atop the ride, looking every bit the warrior who had slain a beast. The wicked scar running up the left side of his face from his mouth to temple a monument to another time--another war. He never talked about it and no one ever asked. That was the nice thing about a Carnival family. No one ever asked about your scars or judged you for them, so you never had to explain unless you elected to tell the tale.

"Nah. I'll give you half my cut tonight if you do, Fia." Shouted back without missing a beat, a waggle of a well chewed cigar between his teeth. "Just you know...without the third degree burns."

Fia gave a snort of amusement and a snap of her teeth at Boz. Still bleary-eyed from the long night of travel and not exactly awake without the benefit of some good,strong coffee.

"Yeah? Thought you blew most of your take on that townie." Mouse shouted up to Boz from the coffee cart. Mouse was less than half of  Boz's size, a slim man with a jester's grin and sharp eyes that could spot a mark a mile away.

"What's that you said?" Boz half-growled around his cigar. He'd give Mouse half a chance to shut his mouth.

Mouse was particularly verbal. Whip-smart with a book always tucked under his arm and one of the best "talkers" of The Midway. He sat in the Dunk Tank, often referred to as the "Dunk Bozo" and prided himself on taunting the local townies to fork over their dough to spend and throw. Any townie within his radius was fair game for humiliation since the insults were announced over a loudspeaker.

"You know, that redhead with the bad dye job that cleaned you out and left you passed out with your pants around your ankles underneath my trailer?" Mouse wandered over with a cup for himself and for Fia. "Hey Queenie. Drink up. Y'slept the day away. Boss Man's gonna be pissed."

Fia issued a grateful murmur-kiss to Mouse's cheek for the coffee, cupping it between her hands and savoring its warmth as she sipped before cutting him a sideways look for his comment. "He's been pissed for a week. Not my problem." She took another drag.

Mouse gave Fia a long, considering look. "You gettin' those headaches again? They any worse than before?"

Fia shrugged, cheating her chin towards her shoulder before exhaling slowly, suddenly very interested in the story the smoke was telling as it curled around her shoulders.

"Took a lot of heat in that last city, Fia. He covered for you with that Mayor."

"I know." She tensed, shoulders stiffening before she whipped her head around and hissed low. "Mouse, you know better than anyone. I can't always control what it shows them. It's not my..."

Mouse chuckled. "Oh I know you don't control it darlin', and it's not your fault. But you open the door....and Consideration," He tapped the book under his arm, "Like an angel, came and whipped the offending Adam out of him. Leaving his body as a paradise" He dropped the book in her lap, a beat up bandana stuffed between the pages serving as a makeshift bookmark. "Henry V. Some good s***...and you never answered me."

Fia stared at the book in her lap as if she'd find the answers to his question in its pages. "You on a Shakespeare kick now?" She countered his question with a question, a bit sullen and defensive. A hand came up to shield her gaze from the sun that was peeking through the haze of cloud cover to shine down over the Midway. "I'm just tired."

Mouse tugged the bandana from the spot he had saved in the book and placed it over Fia's mismatched eyes to shield them from the sun.

"Fortune is depicted as blind, with a scarf over her eyes, to signify that she is blind. And she is depicted with a wheel to signify?this is the point?that she is turning and inconstant, and all about change and variation. And her foot, see, is planted on a spherical stone that rolls and rolls and rolls."

Fia was silent for a long moment. For a Dunk Bozo, though he played the part, Mouse was no fool. She tugged the bandana down from her eyes. "I hate it when you quote that s*** and it starts making sense."

"Man's gotta pass his time on the road somehow, Queenie. Besides, it infuriates the townies that are too stupid to get the insults." He paused. "Don't worry about it. Boss man'll get over it. He's just pissed about not making the nut this week. Speakin' a not makin' yer nut," Mouse whirled around and yelled upwards." Boz I didn't forget you sweetheart. I know you're heartbroken up there over your tragically short-lived towie romance. Yo Jingles! Throw a tune out here for Boz! Like the walking dead out here for chrissakes."

As if on cue, "Gold Digger" started blaring from the speakers. Jingles was the Carnival's resident "Juice man." He was not only responsible for keeping the music piping, but ran all the generators and collected fees from each ride operator for "cut in" to the power supply. Had his tongue cut out while he was serving a nickel in prison and ever since, mostly spoke his mind through his music.

A bunch of the crew started laughing as the song piped out over The Midway. This was a common ritual as the men took their afternoon break. The labor was hard and they'd be working well on into the night once the sun went down. Good coffee, music, a few smokes and a decent meal got them through the late-afternoon slump. Boss had strict rules about no booze during set-up. Kept the injury count down.

 Andre's voice boomed down from atop The Zipper, the ride jockey wiping the sweat from his face with a rag he dragged from his pocket. "She take my Money! When I'm in need..Yeaaaah she's a triflin' friend indeed......."

" F*&^ off man...yeah...funny. Let's all have a good laugh." Boz jumped down. "Y'aint in the cage yet, Mouse. Give it a rest." He growled and chewed the hell out of his cigar, giving Mouse a murderous look before flipping off Jingles up in the booth for good measure. "You've all had your fun. I gotta piss...."

"Aw Boz...c'mon. Now I ain't sayin' she a gold digger..."Mouse started joggin' back in time to the music to match Boz's lumbering steps. "Fia, I'll catch you later, girl. Get down girl, go head get down."

Fia gave a soft chuckle as she watched the two move off, tossing the last of her cigarette she headed back towards her Carousel. She always made sure all of the figures made it through the travel day and off the trailer okay without any damage. If there was, she did the touch-ups and repairs herself.

Jumping up on the platform, Fia curled a hand around one of the brass poles before she stroked her palm lovingly along the flank of one of the horses. A soft hum in her throat, pitched low as a familiar warmth pulsed against her hand. There was a distinct energy to each of these beautiful creatures.

Unlike other carousels, this one was mixture of various animals both standard and mythical in nature. Not only horses of every color, but a myriad of other creatures such as wolves, ravens, foxes, swans (black and white), unicorns, lions, tigers, pegasus, dragons, serpents, mermaids, and even a phoenix.  Each figure was unique, not one of the figures was carved alike or duplicated. Each meticulously crafted from a different kind of wood from all over the world with its own unique properties. The Dragon was carved from the Alder Tree, the Wolf of African Blackwood, the Lion from Lignum Vitae, The Unicorn from American Holly and so on.

For those who chose to sit during the ride, they would find themselves seated not on mere makeshift benches, but on golden chariots carved with angels.

When one of the new owners suggested they replace some of the figures with the newer fiberglass versions for maintenance and practicality reasons, Fia's initial instinct was to to burn his house down with him inside. However, restraint prevailed and she suggested the owner taken a ride on the carousel first before making the final decision. No one really knew what changed the man's mind that day, but after taking a ride on Fia's Carousel, the suggestion was never brought up again.

Fia eased herself into one of the chariots to enjoy the rest of her coffee. She enjoyed this time to herself when things were still quiet. It allowed her to get a feel for the fairgrounds and the town. In between sips she listened. Not just to the music that Jingles had piping over the Midway, but something else entirely. Her head tipped as if the little Cherubs were whispering to her from their carved perches upon the chariot. There was work to be done and in a few mere hours, The Midway would come alive and shake the dust off this town's dreams.

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2013, 06:57:49 PM »
"But I wanna go on the Dragon Riiiiiiiiide!" A child's tantrum has the uncanny ability to not only to pierce through the dull roar of a Carnival in full swing, but also through the shield of even the most sainted parent's sanity.

One such world-weary soul was presently having his arm torn from its socket by the sheer will of his precocious six year old tugging his Father towards The Dragon, a roller coaster that was one of the Midway's favored attractions.

"Jimmy, I'm sorry. I told you, the man said you were too small for that ride. When you get a little bit older, we'll ride it together okay, big guy? Hey Look! How about the Carousel?  How great is this is, huh?"

Fia lounged against a rather lopsided ticket box, enjoying a cigarette and a brief lull between rides. She sized the Father of the boy up in a few seconds; as was her custom for every person who drew near to her sphere. The man had kind enough eyes, dulled by too little sleep. Over worked and under valued from the look of the defeated slump of his shoulders. Usually indicative of the slavery of a 9-5. No wedding ring either. Divorced perhaps and this is his weekend with the kid. Hell, poor bastard was doing his best. But there was something else she caught there. A deep sadness darkening the periphery of the glow of that forced cheerfulness.

"NO!" Jimmy roared and kicked the air at the injustice of it all. "Carousels are dumb. They are for girls. I want to..."

A shrill whistle pierced the air. The only thing high and sharp enough to cut through a tantrum. Fia withdrew her thumb and index finger from her mouth. "Hey kid...c'mere a sec." Up tic of her chin to the boy.

Jimmy stopped in his tracks, suddenly frozen from the attention from not only a stranger, but a girl no less. He promptly ducked his head behind his Father's leg.

Fia snorted with vague amusement and shook her head. "Oh no, don't play shy with me now. You were roarin' like a lion with a thorn in his paw a second ago, and now you wanna play lamb?"

Jimmy's Father ushered him forward with a few reassuring murmurs and a boost of confidence patted into his boy's shoulder that it was ok to respond. "Come on Jimmy, answer the nice lady. He's a little upset you see because he loves Dragons and..."

Fia held up a hand to halt the man's explanation before tossing the last of her cigarette away, exhaling a trail of smoke. "All due respect Daddio, but the little man can answer for himself.  Kid's got lungs on 'im and a voice of his own. Do 'im well not to forget it cause he's scared."

"I'm not scared!!" Jimmy shot defiantly up at Fia.

"Well, now you're back. That's more like it." She bent a knee to get down on the level with the kid and look him eye to eye. That peridot-gold gaze finding and holding suspicious blues. " think my Carousel is dumb, huh? Just for girls?"

Jimmy hesitated, wanting to squirm away from being put on the spot but oddly transfixed by the woman's two different colored eyes. It was weird. "I....I wanted to ride The Dragon. They won't let me and...."

"Lemme tell you something, darlin'. Don't ever let anyone tell you what you can and can't do, understand? Now you can choose to whine and cry victim, or you can realize that the only place your limitations really exist is up here." She tapped his forehead with her finger. "So you like Dragons, huh?"

Jimmy nodded and Fia eyed they boy for a long moment, she gave a furtive glance towards the carousel, a choice was weighed momentarily, the scales eventually tipping before she finally spoke. "You wanna ride one?"


Ha. She liked this kid. Fia leaned her forearm on her knee before pitching her voice low in a conspiratorial whisper. "So what if I told you that on my Carousel, you could not only ride a Dragon, but ride one that flies without a track. Whad'ya say? You wanna give it a whirl? See if you got it in you?"

 " I use my imagination, right? And pretend I'm on a Dragon?" An eye-roll as if this was the same dumb thing all grown-ups say.

"No." A glimmer, just the briefest of  flashes in her mismatched gaze like summer lightning. "Not quite like that." Fia did not elaborate any further.

Instead, her focus shifted to the line cuing up behind the ticket box before rising to her feet. "I'm done with my pitch, boyo, your choice. Choice is everything you know. Ride or walk." A gesture of two fingers away from the Carousel.

Jimmy eyeballed the Carousel and then Fia with a wary look as if this were some kind of trick. As if trusting the advice of a girl would be breaking some sort of six year old boy code. In the end, curiosity won out.

"Yeah, Ok."

Fia nodded. "Alright then. Let's have your ticket little man. You ridin' too Daddio?" A brow arched. She gestured towards her Carousel with a tip of her head.

" wife....." The man paused. The barest hint of a cringe there and gone before he shook his head in a mental reboot. "She was the one that always loved carousels. The spinning never quite agreed with me. His Grandma asked me to take some pictures of him on the rides so...." He lifted up the camera in a half-hearted gesture, his voice trailing off.

"You sure?" Fia gestured for the other people to come on through, taking tickets as they passed. "Come on through folks and ride The Carousel. Tickets please and make sure you read the sign before riding. I ain't a Flight Attendant."

A side-glance back to the boy's Father under the night shade of lashes. "You know, a ride on the Phoenix over there would do you wonders." A stolen secret there and gone in the corner of mouth that lifted ever so slightly. "Besides, I bet your boy would love it. You'll hardly notice the spinning after awhile. Trust me." A wink before she gestured for his camera. "I''ll take some shots of the two of you."

"Yeah...C'mon Dad. Before someone else takes the Dragon!" Jimmy pulled his Father towards the Carousel.

The man relented. "Okay..Okay, go get on your Dragon.  I'll be along in a minute." He let Jimmy go on ahead before he handed Fia the camera. " Hey thanks for doin' this. It's pretty straight forward. Just point and shoot and all that. Zoom is over here."  The man paused as he noted the sign next to the ticket box that Fia mentioned earlier.

The sign read: Owner and operator of The Carousel not responsible for loss of Limb, Valuables, or Sanity. Buckle up and Ride at your Own Risk.

"That's pretty funny." He chuckled.

"It's not a joke." Fia replied evenly.

The man hesitated, trying to gauge if she was going to finally break into a smile and admit to messing with him.  When the smile never came, he cleared his throat.  " this thing dangerous?" Suddenly looking at the Carousel with a little trepidation.

That mismatched gaze of green and amber swept the man up and down in an assessment, looking more around him than at him directly before flashing him a reassuring smile. "For you and your boy?" A slow shake of her head. "Should be a great ride. C'mon a little. You just have yourselves a good time and I'll be capturin' the moment for posterity."

She ushered the man on through with the barest of touches to his shoulder. " Like I said... try the Phoenix."

She watched the man join his boy and wove her way around the carousel to make sure the riders were secured and the Carousel was completely filled. There was only one figure empty. A rider was missing on the Serpent. A frown darkened Fia's features. In a light crowd she didn't mind, but when the Carnival was in full swing, she never liked to start the Carousel without a rider for all of the animals.  It upset the balance of things--in many ways. "We're waiting on someone?" The words spoken soft and low, almost a question.

She felt him before she heard him. The energy was palpable and hit her in the back like a shove seconds before his voice reached her ears.

"You waitin' on me?" The man's voice from behind did not startle Fia. On the contrary, she smiled when she turned around as if he were a guest she had been expecting.

There you are.

Bearded, broad shouldered and just enough liquor in him to allow easy access to the worst of his demons. The man's dark eyes traveled up and down Fia's body and she didn't have to use her gifts to know his mind.

In every town, there were always more than a few men that were looking to see if they could score with any number of the girls at the Carnival. After all, they saw them as easy carny trash that were there and gone in a matter of days. Strange, exotic creatures they wanted to pet in their natural habitat and staple their hides to walls like trophies.

"As a matter of fact, I was. Wouldn't want to start without you. You wanna take a ride, darlin?" Her hand stroked along the Serpent, running a hand over the carved scales and cocked her head to the side as if she were considering the suggestion in its hiss.

?Ride at your own risk, eh?" The man glanced at the sign before his eyes were magnetically drawn back to her. "I can see that.  Looks a little dangerous.? Speaking as much about Fia as her Carousel. Black boots on endless legs, a lick of leather and that dual toned stare. Hell yes he wanted a ride.

He crept closer to her, climbing up the platform and infringing on her personal space and pitched his voice low so only she could hear. ?This the only ride you offering baby doll, or do you have something a little more, I dunno?private??  He asked, brows darting upwards at his implication.  ?Cause if you do, I wanna be first in that line.?

 Fia's mismatched gaze narrowed fractionally. The man was close enough that she could smell his breath, laced with whiskey and see the wraith-like shadows that crept in the corners of his eyes. A stab of pain to her temple threw her off balance momentarily, she curled her hand around the brass pole behind her for support. Her hands burned against the metal.

Get out of the way. He will learn.

 Fia took a moment to center herself, the pain in her temple finally ebbing before she opened her eyes. A dangerous flash in that green and gold gaze. "Oh darlin', this is gonna be the ride of your life. You just trust me and hop on. Don't even need a ticket. This one is on me hm? I'll come find you afterwards."

Fia waited till the man was on before she eased her way back off of the platform with a call over her shoulder, "Here we go folks. Enjoy the ride."

As she moved back off of the platform to start up the Carousel there was a familiar pull she felt at her navel as it started to turn, as if an energy line had been hooked by the slow turn of the wheel. She closed her eyes momentarily to center herself after the familiar swirling sensation took hold. A whirl of lights and flashes of colors behind her eyelids. Snippets of conversations touched her ears, snap shots of moments that chiseled the character of a man choice by choice.  Shades of light and dark in a blurred array of watercolor visions.

"Steady now." She murmured to herself as she slowly opened her eyes and fixed her gaze on the Carousel to find the Father and Son. She raised the camera she had strung around her neck into position and began to snap the photographs as promised.

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2013, 06:59:10 PM »
"Hey! Hey! Did you see me?" As the Carousel had reached its final turn and the rider's began to exit the platform, Jimmy burst through a between a couple that had just about to link hands. He whirled around to nearly slam into his Father. "It was real, Dad. The Dragon! I could feel him, Dad! We were really flying! Really! And the fire was real. I could feel it. And he talked Dad! He talked! "

The boy's Father looked dazed, tugged along by his son, he tried to register what he was saying while still processing what he had seen himself. "That's...that's great, Jimmy."

"But Dad....did you see?"

Fia eyed the Father closely from her usual lean against ticket box as she lifted the camera in a little wave.

"I....sure saw... something," the man answered. Still trying to get his own bearings and was at a loss in the moment of what to say to his son.

"And what's that, Daddio?" Fia tipped her head as she drew closer to the two and handed the father back his camera. A quirk of her mouth that skirted on the edge of a smile. "Got a few in there I think'll be fit to frame."

"You didn't lie." Jimmy looked up at her in awe. "It was real. Like you said."

"I do many things, kiddo. Lying ain't one of 'em." She leaned down to speak to the boy. "Y'remember what he told you now,hm? And no more whining. No one likes a whiner, kid." Her gaze lifted to his Father.

 "And you..." She pitched her voice low so only he could hear. "Would do well to remember that it wasn't your fault. What was her choice." She touched his arm briefly, feather-light..

Jimmy's Father looked at her and ran his hands over his face to mask the shock there, his voice barely above a murmur as a shaky laugh ended in a constriction of his vocal chords to strangle the emotion bubbling up there. "I feel like I'm losing my mind right now." He whispered to Fia. I don't know how any of possible."

Fia nodded but said nothing. She knew his mind was working overtime to find purchase on something to get a handle on. Something it could process and control based on the input it was used to.

"Jimmy, you tell Dixie over at Candyland that Queenie said you and your Dad can have whatever you like. It's on me."

"Cool! Thanks! C'mon, Dad." He was pulling his Father along as if what he had just experienced was the most natural thing in the world. "Hey Dad, can I bring those pictures to show and tell?"

Fia chuckled as she watched his Father's shocked expression. "Kids are better with acceptance than we are." A faint shrug. "Take yer cue from him, Daddio. That boy's stronger than you think. And so are you."

She gave a wave to the two as they said their goodbyes and moved off, her attention shifting to he sound of w retching nearby.

The drunken man staggered to the railing and grabbed it with both hands as if it were a life line.  He tried to steady his legs but couldn?t and vomited over the railing and into the matted grass of well-worn path.

?Must not do well with the spinning,? one passer by said to his wife.

?Ugh?that?s why you don?t drink and ride, man.?  Another said with a laugh as they took a wide berth of Albert?s second salvo of gorge.

Albert looked up to give a retort but the world was a spinning kaleidoscope of blurred colors that seemed to move of their own accord, pulsing and pounding in tune with the sounds of the carnival, wrapping and merging to assault his senses.

He went to close his eyes but his mind screamed no.  The beating waves of spinning sound and blinding colors were one thing, but other things crept behind his eyes.  He?d seen them while he rode that accursed carousel.  Shadowy things with beating wings swirling high above him; their wings buffeting him relentlessly while undulating shapes moved in and out of the darkness. Sinister serpent like beasts with guttural growls which issued forth from beyond the gloom of his consciousness. Predatory things that seemed content to wait. As if they knew their time to feast would come soon enough.

?Don?t close your eyes,? The man said to himself.  The dark things were waiting.  ?God what's happening to me??  He asked and shuffled down the railing, refusing to let go with either white knuckled hand as if the rail was a tether which kept him from what he?d seen.

He swallowed hard, a sour taste in his mouth which Albert felt was not from the vomit.  A strong smell of sulfur hung low in his nostrils.

The colors and sounds continued to swirl and warp around him like water tumbling down a drain.  He tried to look away and looked over his shoulder to see the woman standing against her podium and staring intently back at him, head cocked just so as if she knew.

As if she had seen.

She knows, the man thought as he stared back, unable to move. His feet stayed rooted to the ground for some time as he just stared back at her before he doubled over as if he had been punched. One hand slamming into the ground before he went to his knees.

Fia watched the man for a long time, allowing him to get his bearings before finally strolled over and lit up another cigarette, looking down at the mess of a man at her feet before crouching down to get right on his level like she was approaching a wounded animal.

He shrank back from her, crab walking back on his hands till he hit the edge of the fence. "G-get away from me. W-what did you d-do to me?" The tremors shot up through his spine and shook through his large frame, and he looked at his hands as if he didn't recognize them.

Fia examined the end of her cigarette. "I didn't do anything darlin'. It's all within you, y'know," Her tone was casual, conversation-like.

"Y-yer a damn witch or somethin." He pointed an accusing finger at her. "Y-y'ou did some voodoo *&^* on me."

"Hard to face your demons isn't it? Easier to shift the blame on someone else." She held up her hands innocently. "I'm not, judge, jury or executioner darlin'. Nothing was shown to you that your consciousness was not ready to accept. In fact," she tipped her head. "Your soul insisted. But cheer up. We're only shown what we need. Could be a turning point for you." Tongue in cheek.

She paid no attention to the man doubling over and vomiting again, the shaking of his body suddenly violent as he pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. "M-make it stop. P-please."

"Only you can do that I'm afraid. Not my department." She said softly, not entirely void of compassion. "How long the release happens is up to you.  The more you resist, the worse it will be."

The man groaned and fell into the fetal position.

"You know where the meaning of the word Carousel comes from?" She continued on. Matter of fact, as if they were two friends discussing trivia together over a beer.

The man kept shaking his head from side to side. Trying to stave off the visions that lingered in the periphery of his consciousness.

 "I'll take that as a no? It's from the Italian word carosello, meaning 'little war'" Fia eyed the man a long moment, before she leaned in close to whisper. "I'll let you in on a little secret. The war is inside you. And it looks to me like you've lost quite a few battles. So why don't you go on home tonight darlin' and think long and hard about whether or not you wanna lose the war."

Flicking her cigarette over the fence she rose to her feet and moved back towards the line cuing up again at the ticket box. A glance over her shoulder at the man, her eyes tracking him as he stumbled towards the exit and Mouse's words from earlier came drifting back to her again.

And Consideration, like an angel, came and whipped the offending Adam out of him. Leaving his body as a paradise.

Isaac Wheeler

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 07:36:41 PM »
Heat waves radiated off the dirt lot as the Carnival slowly grew up from the ground like a mechanized automaton grafted to the greenbelt outside of town. This was the kind of heat that could make time itself stand still?like a snake sunning itself on the road. Isaac Wheeler lounged in what little shade could be found in the lee of the freshly erected Show tent. Sunlight glinted off the highly polished knife blade as it sliced through an apple and then served as a makeshift plate when Isaac lifted the slice to his mouth. A black dog, clearly a mutt, lay on its side next to Isaac with its long tongue hanging out to fight the heat. Every now and then Isaac would lazily cut and drop an apple wedge to the dirt which the dog, his dog, gladly ate.

Though the hustle and bustle of set up day erupted all about him with rides slowly going up, tents popping tall, gamers setting up their booths and plush and the concessions people haggling over their placements with the Lot Man, Isaac merely reclined in the shade. All that was missing was a cane pole and he?d be right at home on the Savannah River. But that was many years and even more miles in the past.

Despite the lazy pose, Isaac kept his eyes roaming around the Midway. The gunmetal grays kept a hard, distant look as they observed Boz working a wrench on the Bitch, Andre coming down off the Zipper for a cold drink and a break and Boss Man Bennie waddling back to his trailer; clearly pissed about something. Very little escaped his keen look though the only movement was the occasional knife slice and apple wedge lifting to his mouth.

?Aint that a sight.? Mouse said as he leaned against a white washed fence where concession tables were being set up.

?What?s dat?? Andre asked, with just a hint of Jamaican sunset coloring his words. He paused to adjust the red bandanna wrapped round his head and collection of dreadlocks. The Zipper was nearly set and ready to rip. The imposing Andre was taking a break with the smaller Mouse; the two shooting the breeze over a cold coke in the rising heat.

?Just Isaac, man. Guy doesn?t do jack s*** and jack blew town awhile ago.? Mouse said with a nod across the Midway to where the tall, yet slender man reclined in the shade of a tent. Mouse placed his arms between the pickets and rested his waifish frame against the slat. ?I mean look at him We?re all busting tails to get set up and he?s just sittin there.?

?Shiiiiiiiiit,? Andre responded with a baritone chuckle. ?Don?t go messin' with da knife mon. Trust me on dis.? Andre was shaking his head while crooked teeth flashed in a grin.

"He's not pullin' his weight." Mouse glared Isaac's way.

?Boss mon likes what he brings in. He puts on a good show." Andre focused his gaze in Isaac's direction. " Why you tink he always gets da Back End for his shows? He trows da knives and dey trow cash.? Andre said after a long sip of his soda. ?Don?t make no sense ta have all da townies stay up in front. Why you tink da Zipper and Boz? bitch are back here wit him? Pulls dem all around da arch and spreads da money around.? Andre continued, unconsciously reiterating what Mouse already knew.

?Still don?t make it right.? Mouse answered stubbornly. ?We?re all a family here. We chip in and help everyone out. Cept him.? Mouse pushed off the fence and tossed his Coke in a nearby trashcan. ?It ain't right. I?m gonna say something to him.?

?Your funeral, mon.? Andre said with another laugh and gave Mouse a rough pat on the back. ?I?ll be on da Zipper if?n you need me.? He said in parting. Andre had always given Isaac a wide berth and didn?t see a reason to change what had clearly been working for him.

Mouse jogged over towards Isaac and, trying to be friendly, offered him a wave before coming to a stop in front of him. ?Hey man. Me and Andre could use some help up on the Zipper. We?re almost done and a couple of extra hands could really help.?

Isaac glanced up from that Tom Sawyer recline of his and squinted that hawkeyed stare up at Mouse. He didn?t say anything to Mouse, just offered an ?Easy boy,? to the dog when it lifted its head and gave a low growl. The dog continued its stare for a moment before dropping its head back to the dirt and resumed its panting. Isaac lifted another apple wedge to his mouth and he just continued his stare.

?Cmon man.? Mouse said, glancing at the mutt a little unease. ?Like my Dad always said, ?Many hands make light work.? We?d be done in no time.? Mouse tried again, the smallish man too talkative to be rebuffed by simple silence.

Isaac pulled the knife from the apple, its finely forged blade reflecting the sun?s hot rays back up into Mouse?s face as Isaac gestured with the blade for Mouse to step to the side. ?Blocking my view.? He said while chewing, just a ghost of a Savannah drawl on his voice as he spoke.

?Oh?? Mouse said almost apologetically. He turned left and then right, unsure of which way to move before finally stepping to his left. ?Sorry. So?you gonna come help??

?No.? Isaac said after a swallow and dropped another bite to the dog at his side.

?Seriously? Cmon?? Mouse gave an encouraging clap. ?I?ll pull the stick outta your ass and then you can move around up on the Zipper a little easier.? He said with a laugh to show Isaac that he was only joking; like he always did.

Isaac gave a negative shake of his head as he focused his eyes to the distance to watch the slow assembly of the Carousel. Mouse?s teasing insult didn?t even appear to register until he finally glanced back up at Mouse. ?Your father sounds like a fool.? spoken as an observation as he dropped another bite of apple down to the mutt.

?Least I know my dad.? Mouse joked back, though his annoyance was mounting. A jerk of his chin towards the mutt. ?Seems you got no problem helpin' stray dogs. We?re all kind of strays here, y'know. Ain't no difference.? Mouse said, trying a different tact.

?That?s because dogs don't have any guile.? Isaac said while glancing down to the mutt. ?People?? a wave of his knife to indicate everyone around, eyes squinting against the sun. ?They?re full of it.? Another rough spit of several apple seeds to the side to punctuate his words.

?Yo Wheeler!? One of the Roughies responsible for unloading the gear and supplies from the trucks called out to Isaac, who turned away from Mouse to look in his direction. ?Gonna be awhile fore we can get your stuff off the truck. Gotta unload some other stuff first.?

Isaac?s face registered a brief frown of annoyance. Finally, he returned his attention to Mouse saying, ?Excuse me.? That lazy plantation prose still hanging in the air as he uncoiled from his recline and gave a stretch to idle muscles. ?Cmon boy.? Spoken for the dog who promptly got up and followed after Isaac; the pair leaving Mouse behind without a second thought.

?Asshole. We?ll see what the Boss has to say.? Mouse muttered as he walked away towards the Big Boss? trailer.
Maybe it was just the heat, or growing up in the Deep South, but Isaac always moved with a certain measured slowness. The easy glide of feet propelled him without hurry or impatience to stand in front of the Roughie.

?What was that about my things?? He asked with a drawl that was even slower than his footsteps.

?Just gotta unload some other stuff first. Make it easy on everyone with the way its packed.? The Roughie answered, a little uneasy at the proximity of the knife thrower while backing up a step or two.

?Nah.?  Issac took a final bite out of the apple and tossed the core to the dog. He chewed thoughtfully for a moment, wiping a bit of juice to keep it from dribbling out onto his five o'clock shadow. ?Think I?ll take care of it myself. No one?s supposed to touch my things anyway.? He said before walking away and sheathing his knife along the small of his back. He made his way into the back yard where all the trucks were and hauled himself up into the smoldering trailer which contained his things. He ran a hand gently across the top of the well crafted crate which contained his knives.

?This is a bunch of crap, Boss.? Mouse said as he walked into the Big Boss? trailer.

?Mouse?I aint got time for your s***. It?s hotter then the hinges of hell out there and my advance man, Lark, hasn?t made good with the local fixer just yet. Whatever your going to complain about just be cool about it until I get this sorted out.? Boss Man Benny growled around a well chewed cigar. It had come as a surprise to Benny that Lark hadn?t palmed the right people into letting them set up shop without all the proper paperwork. Never a truly big deal, but just one more problem to get around.

?Isaac is just out sitting in the shade while the rest of us are busting humps to get ready for tonight.? Mouse continued, ignoring Benny?s problems in favor of voicing his own. Mouse proved to be the definition of loquacious and rarely stopped talking long enough for another to get a word in. ?We all help one another, its part of the gig?your gig, Boss and he ain?t pulling his weight.?

?Jesus Christ, Mouse.? Benny sighed while the AC rumbled overtime to keep the trailer cool. ?Isaac pulls his weight on the back end. We aren?t off the nut yet and until we are, Isaac can do what he wants. Once we?re making profit then we?ll see. Hell, nobody ever even talks to him and the only one he talks to is that damn dog. Leave it alone, Mouse. Less you got beef?then by all means?take it up with Isaac himself.? A good chew to the cigar as it shifted from one side of Benny?s mouth to the other and then back again. ?You got anything else?? Asked as he picked up the latest issue of Amusement Business and blindly thumbed through it just so his hands could be occupied.

Mouse sat in the chair a moment longer before hopping up. He stalked out of Benny?s office, leaving the door open to let all the cold air escape in a rush.  Let Isaac sit in the shade and Benny twist in the AC. He?d busy himself with happier people. Hell?he might even go talk to Isaac again just to annoy him.

Isaac had arranged the crates in a way which would allow him to open and unpack in the desired order while the tent and stage were erected. The first crate he opened contained his collection of throwing knives. Worth more to him than any of the carnys he worked with, Isaac paused to admire the cold construction of highly polished steel. Isaac loved knives. They took skill to use and their metals were emotionless and unsympathetic. He had built them himself, honing raw metal into the razor perfection he now held. All of them unique and perfect.

He ran his thumb across the edge of one and frowned. Not nearly sharp enough. He leaned back against a stack of crates and produced a whet stone. A healthy amount of spit provided just enough lubrication to keep the blade moving smoothly over the stone as he honed its edge.

?There you are!? A feminine voice broke the silence around Isaac while he sharpened his throwing knife. Isabella Caroway, a cool leggy blonde and the knife thrower's current assistant shouted as she stalked towards Isaac.

?Here I am.? Isaac answered without looking up, steel gaze staring intently at the swirling knife edge.

?You?re not even going to look at me?? The tall blonde asked as she set her suitcase and purse down on the dusty ground amidst the semi-circle of crates.

Isaac made no reply; the only sound that of steel against stone.

?Well? I?m quitting. I already talked to Benny and he gave me my cut. He?s pissed by the way. Thinks your show knife throwing show isn?t going to be ****ing s*** without someone to throw knives at.? Isabella had a mouth on her when she was upset. ?He also wants to know why you go through assistants like townies do funnel cakes.?

?Finished?? Isaac finally asked, while absently glancing at his tattoo of a knife splitting a mask in half from top to be bottom.

?Completely.? Isabella snapped as she put her hands on her hips, blue eyes roaming around his things in frustration, as if  looking for a way to get back at him for what he had done. ?Though I think I'll take this as a little souvenir.? She announced and moved to pull one of the banners advertising the knife throwing act off a crate. She knew full well that Isaac had personally sketched and drawn the banner and thought it a perfect way to take something from him the way he had taken from her.

Isaac?s granite colored gaze snapped up at what she said. He set the whet stone on the crate. Gone was that slow, southern ease and in an explosion of movement and speed, flung his knife end over end to plant its tip in the banner and the crate below. Such speed seemingly impossible coming from a man who ordinarily moved and spoke in such a leisurely, languid fashion.

By the time Isabella looked up from the still vibrating knife Isaac had regained that lazy lean against the crates. He wagged a finger to and fro at her, indicating that wasn?t a good idea. ?Don?t think you?ll be doing that.? He said while fishing in a shirt pocket for the soft pack of Lucky Strikes he always kept there. ?Boss already paid you out. You?re not getting anything else.? He said around the cigarette as he struck a match and brought it up to light the smoke.

Isabella jumped as the knife sailed in under her arm and pinned the banner to the crate. She turned wide blue eyes of surprise on Isaac. ?You could have ****ing killed me, Isaac. Jesus! Between this and what you did last night, I?m out of here!? Though she left the banner alone.

?What I did?? Isaac asked amidst a pale gray halo of cigarette smoke. ?Perhaps you should think on what I didn?t do.?

Isabella simply stared long at hard at Isaac. How dare he say such a thing to her after what he did!  Isaac, meanwhile, took another lazy drag and blew the smoke out through his nose as he watched the mutt sniff around Isabella?s bag.

Isabella looked from the dog to Isaac.  ?You?re ****ing crazy, you know that?? Said while moving forward to shoo the dog away. ?Shoo?go?? She said, waving her hands to get the dog to move without having to get very close to it. ?You two deserve each other.? She said in a parting shot as she picked her bags up and stiffly walked passed Mouse and out into the Midway.

The minute she left, she was forgotten.

?Yo Bells!? Mouse called after her but to no avail. He rounded the corner, a confused look on his face to find Isaac leaning against a crate and slowly sharpening a knife, cigarette dangling from between his lips. ?What? You scare another one off? What is that? Seven this month?? Mouse asked as he came up to Isaac.

?Persistence is not always a virtue, Mouse.? Isaac said as he pulled the cigarette from his mouth and exposed gritted teeth in a wolfish way while checking the sharpness of his blade.

?I just don?t get what makes you tick, Isaac. We?re all a family here, man. We?re all entertainers. Boz on the Bitch, Andre on the Zipper, Fia and her crazy ass Carousel, Jingles, me in the tank, Lucille with her reptiles... everybody. What gives??

Isaac smoothed his lips into a thin line before pulling a second dagger from the crate. He began to sharpen it, though he pinned Mouse down beneath the heavy slate of that gunmetal gaze as he did so. ?Entertainers? Is that what I am?? He asked and gave a small chuckle of amusement. "No?Mouse, you merely think you entertain. People can be entertained anywhere," he continued lazily. "A football game, a cinema, a television, even a book can entertain. All that is just a mind-numbing escape; opiates for the masses. I cut through that haze and snatch them right to the present. People don't come to a Carnival to numb themselves. They want to take a chance on the night, to brave a ride, to see something strange and different. To risk their boring and pathetic lives, if only for a night, so they can actually feel alive. That?s what I do. I show people their fear.?

He held the knife up and twirled it along his fingers as if it was tumbling. ?I take their fear and I hold it. I transfer it to my assistants and then, when they are primed, I bring a few brave souls to the stage and let them experience it firsthand. Because when I throw this,? he held the knife up for Mouse to see, ?In that split second they don?t truly know if they?re going to live or die. And in that moment they feel more alive than they ever will be." He rose finally as if to indicate he was done with the conversation, setting his knife down and turning to look at Mouse.

 "They pay me to feel alive. They pay you for a chance to shut you up.? Cigarette was between his lips as he dug a quarter from his pocket and flipped it to Mouse. ?Why don?t you get a head start on that now??

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2013, 12:06:27 PM »
"I mean, what does he want from me?" Lucille, the 5'10" snake charmer and reptile handler leaned against Fia's Carousel. Somehow managing to gesture wildly with the hand that held her cigarette, and not spill her coffee in the other. The redhead was a throwback to the pin-up girls of the 40's in both her classic beauty and style.

"He was so bitchy after the travel day, I thought he wanted to eat, right? No, he didn't want that. Then he was so restless last night, I didn't even want him in bed with me, but of course he insisted as he always does. He doesn't know how good he has it. Does he even realize where he'd be if it weren't for me? I swear, I need a new male in my life. If he doesn't shape up, I'm going to kick his ass to the curb or dump him in a river somewhere. "

"You know you don't mean that," Fia mused. Mismatched gaze of green and amber glanced up from her paint job to her friend. She was currently touching up the paint on one of the Pegasus wings that had chipped during travel.

Her hair was tied back in a ponytail to keep it off her face while she worked, denim shorts were covered in paint splotches here and there as well as her legs. She paused to take a sip of her own coffee. "You know you'll kiss and make up before the end of the night. You two always do." Fia eyed the end of Lucille's cigarette warily as the redhead gesticulated wildly, adding as an afterthought,"Don't ash on my handiwork, Cilles."

To the casual observer listening in on the girl talk, one might think that Lucille was referring to a boyfriend or a lover. But in fact, Lucille was referring to a 700 pound Alligator named Rufus who was part of her act. Lucille was in charge of all manner reptiles including various snakes and lizards that intrigued the public, but Rufus was the star. The two had a rather love/hate relationship at times.

Lucille huffed out an exasperated sigh as she exhaled the cigarette smoke from her lungs. "Travel days are stressful enough without him being a diva. Like I need that sh*&t." She waved a hand as if dismissing the subject all together. "By the end of this day I'm going to need Andre to hook me up with some of that good s*&t he has in his trailer."

There was an easy, comfortable silence that fell between the two women as they enjoyed their coffee that could only be born from two friends that knew each other well enough to negate the need to fill the silence between them. Fia and Lucille had been on the road together for two years now and in that short time, they had developed a certain bond between them.

After a few moments of watching Fia paint, Lucille inevitably turned the conversation to gossip which she knew Fia disliked as a general rule, but the redhead just couldn't help herself.

"You hear about Bells quitting?" A brow quirked to Fia.

Fia nodded in affirmation to Lucille's question. "Saw her stomp out of here earlier. Mad as hell." A brief shrug of her shoulders, but her eyes remained fixed on her work. The gossip not interesting enough for her to pull her attention.

"Mouse was crushed of course. Pissed as hell at Isaac." Lucille continued on. The topic too juicy to let go of just yet. At least not until her coffee was finished. "Think he was kinda sweet on her. So now he's on a rampage. Went in to bitch to Benny about him not helping with set up."

Fia set down her brush for a moment to enjoy her coffee. "Being on the road constantly was tough for her. Days were real long. I think she had a different image in her mind of what it as going to be like. Pretty thing like Bells feels more at home on a velvet cushion somewhere." Another shrug. It was just how Fia saw it.

Lucille's voice suddenly fell to a whisper. "Word is Isaac nearly turned her into a pin cushion last night."

"Cilles...."Fia rolled her eyes at the redhead. "Spare me the drama, please. You gotta stop talkin' to Dixie. She stirs that stuff up more than the cotton candy.

Lucille held up her hands, as if in a state of innocent surrender. All wide blues and thick, curled, pin up lashes even at 8am. "What? I'm just sayin' there is a reason he can never hold an assistant. And then I always end up covering for the latest Show Ho because you absolutely refuse every time Isaac asks you. Stubborn bitch that you are." Added with a quirk of her mouth that held lingering affection there for the Carousel Queen.

Fia laughed and shook her head slowly. "I made Isaac a deal. He knows what it is. He rides my Carousel, I'll be his assistant. So far he has yet to agree." It was an ongoing battle of wills between the two.

"Can you blame him? I've seen people come off this thing white as a sheet, Fia." Lucille ashed her cigarette off of the side of the platform, careful not to get it on the Carousel to avoid Fia going apesh*#t.

"What's so scary?" As if she didn't know. "You had a positive experience last time you rode," Fia reminded her as she finished the last of her coffee and took up her brush again.

"Yes." Lucille sighed almost dreamily, touching her hand just above her breast as if she were getting choked up by the memory. "That's how I was guided to my poor Rufus. It was Isaac who helped me bust him out of that horrible Circus, y'know. You should've seen the conditions they had him in, Fia." The memory of it had her nearly as red as her hair. "I wanted to tell Isaac to skewer them."

"He probably would have. You know how he is with animals." Fia looked up at Lucille from her seated position a hand coming up to block her eyes from the sun on her face. "Move to the left a little, will ya darlin'? Sun's gettin' in my eyes and I gotta finish this so it has time to dry."

"C'mon Fia," Lucille pleaded, stepping to the left to block the sun. "Help a girl out. I don't know what went on with Bells or the others, but I've done it before and he's been nothin' but a gentleman with me, Gods honest." She crossed her heart.  "It's that whole Southern manners thing and whatnot. You can get someone to cover the Carousel for a night. I got my hands full with Rufus."

"Nope. Besides, he kinda creeps me out. He's always watching me with this look like I'm some kinda ticking time bomb or something." Fia said and shot Lucille an easy grin and shrugged. "Guess Rufus is just gonna have to deal with his jealousy. Besides, you and Isaac get along alright. He's always hangin' around by your tent after all."

"We share a love for the reptiles and music from the forties." Lucille shrugged. "For that reason alone I think he tolerates me. Rufus absolutely loves him and he has this mighty fine collection of Benny Goodman records that he plays while he practices that I am seriously thinking stealing if I wasn't afraid he'd cut me." Added before tossing the last of her cigarette off to the side. She eyed Fia for a long moment.

"You know Fia...might be a good lead in to get you back into doing shows again. We still have all your costumes in storage. You should get back into doing the fire show...or the pyromancy thing. It's been a year...since...everything." She hedged. "You were good. Real good. What was an accident you know? You can't let that shut you down, girl. I think it would be good for you to get back into it. You have a gift."

Fia stiffened, slowly lowering the paint brush as her hand was beginning to shake. "Benny put you up to this? I don't want to talk about it Cilles. I'm not over it. I can't risk that happening again. Ever."

She still had nightmares about it. The burns, the man's face, the people screaming and running from the tent."

"It wasn't your fault. The townie was the one who got violent first cause he didn't like what you saw in the flames." Lucille defended, fiercely loyal to her Carnival sister. "Throwing stuff and cussin', causing a huge fuss. You were defending yourself. Besides, Benny?s Advance Man worked out a deal with the Fixer and took care of everything. Free and clear with no heat to worry about.?

Fia shook her head. "Free and clear? I still have to live with it. I lost control. I don't know how to control it." Fia said quietly, smoothing her shaking hand along denim as if she were smoothing out her nerves before looking back at Lucille.

?It?d help put a little more jingle in your pocket too.? Lucille added. ?You know how Benny is always going on about the nut and how we?re not off it yet.? Lucille gently reminded Fia, who had a?less than congenial relationship with the Big Boss. ?More attractions, more shows, more money less having to talk to him.? Lucille presented it as a win-win for everybody involved. ?It?d be fun to see you do it again. Just think about it, ok?"

"I can control the Carousel a lot better, and it's better for me. Because they don't know I' know..doing anything. Mostly they pass it off as a bad trip from too much beer, or a bad corn dog or something. The Pyromancy is different. It's more personal." There was a finality in her tone that suggested this conversation was over.

Lucille knew better than to press her friend further. The wall had gone up and if she knew her well enough to know she'd get burned if she pushed her any further. Perhaps literally.

"Well I suppose I'll have to cover for Bells tonight myself....again. Just hope he doesn't turn me into a pin cushion or something. If he does, I'll come back and haunt your ass and this Carousel, Fia, I swear. He's a strange duck, Isaac. I can't tell if I want to f^*& him or run from him half the time. It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. That's what they say about all the serial killers. But he was so quiet. Kept to himself that one did."

Fia laughed, appreciating Lucille's humor and the moment of levity. Even if she was comparing Isaac to a serial killer. She felt the tension slowly ease from her body, her fingers relaxing from their clenched state as she pulled a hand rolled cigarette from behind her ear; suddenly needing the fix. It flared to life in moments. No lighter necessary as she touched it to her lips. "You're terrible," murmuring around the cigarette before exhaling lazily. Her mismatched gaze admiring the cloudless, wide open blue of the sky that fed her gypsy heart.

Isaac Wheeler

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2013, 11:58:31 PM »
The upbeat swing tunes of Benny Goodman?s rendition of Honeysuckle Rose danced their way from Isaac?s record player.  As the black vinyl spun its sounds one could almost imagine 1938 New York City and the buzz within Carnegie Hall, which was where this LP had first been recorded.  Hard to imagine that such music could come from the middle of the Great Depression.
Isaac sat on a bench alongside his Indian 841 motorcycle.  He had never been a man of many possessions, but the motorcycle and his record collection numbered high on that short list of importance.  Sitting shirtless with suspenders hanging down over trim hips, Isaac hunched over to tighten a bolt with a socket wrench; the quick succession of clicks competing with the static and popping between songs on the King of Swing?s album.
Head canted to the left to observe his work.  The motorcycle was showing her age with various areas of metal pitted through years of use, the olive drab paint scheme developing a slight patina here and there and the fawn colored leather of seat and saddle bags long since showing signs of wear.
The ole timer Isaac had met during his full scale retreat from the prearranged future his family name ensured him had sold the motorcycle to him for a song.  He?d been on foot at the time and traveling the backyards and backwoods of South Carolina along the I-95 corridor to nowhere in particular.  A handful of cash along with a promise to give the motorcycle a good home had turned Isaac?s retreat into a full scale assault on a self-forged future.  That handshake sealed promise and the freedom the motorcycle represented was why Isaac had held onto the Indian despite several switch backs and pitfalls along the way.
A few more adjustments and tightening of several nuts and he?d be done.  The gearboxes on the 841s were notoriously twitchy, but like most machines, if you took care of them and didn?t ask them to do to much they?d rarely let you down.  Unlike people.
Isaac wiped the grease away from a hand before reaching back behind him for his mason jar full of iced tea.  Cubes clinked as he took a long pull of the cold refreshment before setting it back down on the rough and ring stained wood of the table.  Flicking the sweat from the jar off his hand before wiping his own from his brow Isaac glanced down to the mutt stretched out across his threadbare and near worn out bed.
?What do you think Boomer??  Isaac asked the mutt who popped his head up at the mention of his name.  ?Good enough for government work??  He asked, patting his thigh as he stood up to pull the needle from Benny Goodman.  Though he needed to make a run into town before the cake eaters starting queuing up outside the arch, he had a few things to attend to within the carnival boundaries.   Boomer gave a lazy pursuit; never in any more of a hurry than Isaac.
He buttoned up a simple grey shirt and slowly rolled the sleeves up to elbows, a black hat added last as he strolled along the Midway with a bag of peanuts to keep idle hands busy.  Steel sharp grays noted the slow pace of the morning along the different stalls, games, rides and attractions.  The first few nights in a new town always guaranteed late mornings for many as the newness of the town enticed the carnys in the same way the carnival did the townies.
Isaac cracked and tossed another peanut into his mouth as he wandered through the reptile tent looking for Lucille.  Despite the somewhat pressing matter facing the knife thrower who had no one to throw knives at, Isaac took a moment to cautiously admire the naked power of Lucille?s various snakes and other assorted reptiles. The knife thrower eventually meandered his way to the back of the tent and the large tank which had been set up there.  He leaned up over the edge and gave a look before tapping the water with the palm of his hand.  A few moments later Rufus surfaced a few feet away from Isaac.
?Trouble on the home front??  He asked with a ghost of a smile and that lazy Savannah drawl after taking one look at Rufus.  ?Mmhm.?  He concluded as Rufus eyeballed him. The knife thrower offered the alligator a freshly cut piece of chicken from a nearby bucket.  Isaac watched as Rufus slowly came forward to nip the chicken from Isaac?s hand.  A moment later Rufus had tossed it to the back of his mouth and bit down.  Isaac found something oddly comforting in the sound of massive jaws and teeth cracking through bone. He merely watched as the apex predator swam a slow circle about its tank; Isaac surmising Lucille?s present location given her absence from the reptile den.
?Hey!  You?re not supposed to be back here!?  Came a shout from behind Isaac as Tommy came rushing forward.
Isaac turned a half circle, far more willing to put his exposed and defenseless back to the 700 pound predator behind him than he was the roughie coming at him.  Duplicity was a trait far more expected in humans rather than beasts.  He gave another lazy toss of peanuts into his mouth and waited for the kid to get close enough to recognize him.
?Just what do you think you?re?oh??  Tommy stopped dead in his tracks when he recognized Isaac and dragged a hand through hair, suddenly sheepish.  ?I?m sorry?I?I didn?t know it was you, Isaac.  
Isaac, for his part, just brought a finger slowly up to his lips.

Tommy halted his stammer of apologies as he undoubtedly realized he was alone in a tent full of snakes, an 800 pound alligator and the knife thrower no one really wanted to talk to.  Not knowing which he should be more afraid of, undoubtedly only made matters worse for Tommy.
?Y'er Alright. Calm down. They sense your anxiety.?  Isaac instructed. Though his tone was lazy, his eyes were sharp as the daggers he threw.
Tommy got a handle on his discomfort and finally managed to apologize for the misunderstanding. "Just making sure?umm?ya the Townies get curious.? Tommy was still a bit green and trying to earn his stripes.

"S'alright. Go on now. Flag'll be up soon."  Isaac made a jerking motion with his chin, dismissing Tommy and turned back to Rufus.  The Alligator, restless and annoyed (possibly because it knew Isaac?s presence would pull Lucille away from the tank) slowed to a stop in the middle.
?Mamma out gossipin'??  A wry smile with the question now that Tommy was out of earshot.
Rufus merely gave a blow of air through his nose and slowly settled back beneath the surface of the dark water.  Isaac gave the water a few more pats in lieu of a goodbye as he looked down at Boomer.  ?Guess that?s a yes, eh??  Boomer merely licked his lips and gave a woof at the chicken bucket, far more interested in a treat than where Lucille was at the moment.  ?Don't be greedy. Or I'll toss you in the tank.?  Isaac playfully chided the mutt before heading towards the Carousel.
?Speak of the devil and he doth appear,? Came the leisurely dogwood drawl as Isaac strolled up behind Fia and Lucille and heard them mention his name.  Boomer gave a low woof and loped ahead to wiggle through the railing and throw himself down at Fia?s feet?his way of demanding a rub.  Isaac merely stared for a long moment before blowing a sigh of resignation.

?Rufus is still sulkin'.?  Isaac offered as he tipped his hat to Lucille, the closest thing he had to a friend at the Carnival. Southern upbringing often held his tongue and hands in check; that sullen silence around most replaced with a rural charm for the few who deserved it.  But even then, it was always reserved, something always held back.
?Fia.?  He included the Carousel Queen in his greeting as he lazily settled forearms down on the railing in a lean.  Blade sharp grays settling on her and her paint job while pointedly ignoring the shameless bid for attention at her feet. ?Isabella quit.?  Never one to use extraneous words, he confirmed the gossip flying around like tumbleweeds. A glance at Fia for a long moment, seemingly unconcerned with the length of time of its duration before speaking. ?You mind, Lucille??  He asked though that disquieting stare hung where it began.

Lucille rolled her eyes and threw up her hands. "Do I have a choice?" A glare at Fia.
?How bout it Fia? Wanna give Luce a break??  Isaac shifted his request for an assistant to Fia. His eyes were unmoving as he tossed a few peanuts up to his mouth.  ?Promise I'll only miss by a little.?  He offered as a sweetener while holding up a hand. "Scout's honor." Something like a dare in his smile tucked into the corner of his mouth.  He knew the deal as well as she did, though it certainly didn?t deter him from pursuing what he wanted.  
The look lingered for a moment or two more before Isaac shifted his gaze down the center of the Midway.
?Flag?s up.?  He commented, noting the red triangular flag hanging impotently in the heavy summer air.  It was the indication that the Carnival kitchen was open and serving a hot meal to members of the Carnival.  ?Wonder if Buford made something edible today??  Absently  to the two women as he pushed off the railing and chewed on the last few peanuts.  ?Think about it, alright??  Vowels stretched with that antebellum drawl as his final words were tossed like a few peanuts to both women before he ambled towards the flag, seemingly unconcerned with whatever answer either might give.

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2013, 10:25:13 PM »
Fia was nervously fidgeting with the peridot necklace she wore around her neck. "Pele's tears," her mother had called the stone. The necklace had been given to her by her mother on the day of her birth, for she had seen the fire at once in her child's eyes. A striking combination of peridot green and burnt amber. And so she had named her Fiametta, or her "Little Flame" for her fiercely independent spirit. In her infancy, she did not even have a crib for her mother claimed that she had melted it and that, "No bars will ever cage her."

She gazed at the moon, vibrant and bright outside the small window of her trailer. It always seemed to heighten everything in her sphere. This full Harvest Moon was already pulling at the raging tides within her. She vaguely remembered an old gypsy telling her once that the veils between between worlds were at their thinnest on nights like these. Her temples throbbed. Her resistance was making the pain worse, she knew, but she was not going to risk losing control again.

Rusalka's "Song to the Moon" played on the vintage record player next to her bed; somehow, it soothed her. Her Mother had been an Italian opera singer of limited fame or notoriety, but possessed a purity of heart and voice that were unparalleled.

Fia had not taken well to any type of schooling and to this day, had enormous difficulties reading that went beyond any vague, limiting label of a "learning disability." Letters seemed to rearrange themselves on the page before her, forming their own messages that had nothing to do with the story within. Yet she yearned for stories from a young age and so her Mother had read them to her since she could not read them herself. "You read the flames my darling..and you read people. That is your gift."

That is my curse. Fia had thought, but she never spoke the words aloud to her Mother. She could never explain the ache she had within her to be able to one day read herself. She had a love for beauty, knowledge and truth in a way that she could not fully articulate in the limited language of her learned tongue. It sang like a Phoenix song in her bones, a battle-cry for destruction to burn away all that was false in a world that had felt too far too limiting for the wanderlust in her soul.

And so, for most of Fia's youth and until her Mother's death, the world would be her schoolroom. The two had traveled together to various small venues in the manner of two gypsies wanting to savor all the sensual pleasures the world had to offer. The same said pleasures eventually took their toll on her Mother's life.

Pacing in her trailer, she knew something felt off before she even set foot on The Midway. Perhaps it was the moon. Mismatched gaze of peridot and amber avoided the flickering flame from the candle on the table, beckoning her with its own gypsy's dance. Eventually, her gaze was pulled magnetically to the blue heart of the flame. The message came right away.

Why are you afraid to lift the veil? Why do you run from what you are?

Fia strode over to the table and blew out the flame, then turned to yank the needle off the record. Her fingers twitched and burned as she did so, nearly melting the vinyl.

"My Little Runaway..." A voice whispered in the darkness of the trailer.

Later that evening...

The night at the carnival felt like any other night. The rides clanked and caroused around hair pin turns, the shouts of excited townies drifted from one part of the Carnival to another; mixing and competing with the strident calls of the barkers as they sought to round up impressive crowds for tented attractions. Everything seemed normal?

But everything wasn?t normal.

Fia eyed the Harvest Moon off on the horizon; the orange tinged disk hung low in the sky and served as a cosmic marker for the seasonal transition upon the land. Summer was giving way to autumn and the moon served as the vanguard to the coming change and reordering of things; a primordial cycle as old as the Earth and Moon itself.

Fia noted a few townies commenting on the moon here and there as they queued up before the carousel, but its significance went largely unnoticed save for its color and fullness.

But something felt off. The usual ease and banter that Fia had as a ride operator was missing. Even the guiding hand of the Carousel felt distant, a song on the radio just as you drove out of range of the station. The vibration and frequency muddled somehow.

Fia suddenly became aware of a high frequency buzzing sound. The kind of sound that cut through conscious thought to drill right through skin and bone to pierce deep within the mind. Heterochromatic eyes tried to blink away the sensation, to look and see if others heard it as well. But all appeared normal; to everyone save the Little Flame.

Trying to ignore it, Fia suggested this animal and that for the chosen riders and moved back to the control dais. A moment?s hesitation stayed her finger as it hovered over the start button. A little warning, a shadowy thought fluttering like birds? wings and then it was gone and the button was pushed. She took a lean against the podium, elbow against the worn wood with chin resting on the palm to watch?

And that was when Fia knew something was definitely off. The Carousel seemed to accelerate out of control as it spun faster and faster, ethereal lines of lights and colors trailed behind their source like a photograph of high speed traffic. Sounds multiplied and echoed weirdly as they blended with the phantastic sights assaulted her eyes. Everything moved, danced, and chased itself in that never ending cycle?except the faces of the riders. They merely stared at Fia with each revolution, a distant interest on their expression as if they were watching and waiting for something climatic to happen.

Fia felt herself pitch forward, falling towards the enveloping darkness of unconsciousness. The last thing she remembered seeing was the burning disk of the Harvest Moon, an all seeing eye of the being she was about to meet.

It was a golden light that flooded through her completely first, warm as the Sun, and the voice that follow had a similar effect. Its vibration more beautiful than any symphony ever composed by mortal or angel.

"It is time now, dear one. For your name to be cleared. For the truth to be brought to light. You are a Catalyst."

"Why did you bring me here? You're cheating and you know it." She ground out. "This is entrapment."

"No. This is what we call necessary intervention. A rift has occurred, the veil is thin this evening and you have been resisting.You refused to look into the flames for the messages. You cannot hide forever."

"Semantics. And I prefer to look at it as selective participation."

"Why are you so hesitant, my Nasreen?"

"Because they demonized me." Literally. "Not that you would know what that is like. You were always the golden boy" Fia spoke with thinly veiled venom.

"Their ignorance and perversion of the truth is not your concern. The truth may be repressed, perhaps for thousands of years, but all will be brought to light. Stop running.They have vilified you for long enough. It is time now. No more hiding. All will be brought to light. All that must be revealed, shall its proper time. The shadows can no longer hide or repress the truth. It is part of the expansion that is taking place. We all must do our part."

"Who the f*#k wants to look at their shadows? Yeah. That's going to go over well. " She still wasn't buying it. It was in her very DNA to question everything...even him.

"Their soul will choose. If not, their journey will just take longer. I am nothing else if not patient. You know this. Your job is to open the door. Whether they choose to face it and walk through the fire, is their choice."

"Do you know how isolating this is?" She snapped."People either think you're a freak, insane, a damn witch, or trying to con them. Hell, I'm my own walking sideshow. Who needs the Carnival?"

"It is the rare person that wants to face his shadows. Nevertheless, the only way out is through. One can not recognize their light without first acknowledging their shadow-self. It is the order of things....And when have you ever cared what others thought? Dear one, you are my original rebel after all. He had no idea what he had in store with free will when it came to you."

There was amusement in his voice now, a warmth and fondness that melted some of her meticulously constructed wall. It was his capacity for humility that had always brought it down and humbled her to her core.

"I miss you." She admitted, the words catching in her throat. The vulnerability of the statement like a ribbon that had her slowly unraveling. "You saw me. You never judged me or tried to control me. It's awful on this God forsaken rock without you."

"There has never been separation between us. Only the one you have created with your mind and your resistance. I need you here now. I need your abilities for this purpose. Will you do this for me?"

"Do I have a choice?" Her voice wavered as she spoke.

"You know you do. I would never force you.I have always loved you. You were with me to the end."

"I know. I hated him for that too. What they did to you."

"It was my journey. I chose it. As you have yours."

"What do I do now?"

"You Wake up."

"Fia! Fia can you hear me? Fia...."

Fia slowly opened her eyes to the sound of Isaac's slow drawl and his face leaning over her.


I am Lilith, Grandmother of Mary Magdalene

I am Lilith, whose sexual fire was too hot for God.

I am Lilith, the First Woman, who chose the rage of exile over the cancer

Of servitude.

I am Lilith, Mother to the Mother-less.

I am Lilith, whose blood covers the moon.

I am Lilith, standing on owl?s claws at a woman?s crossroads.

I am Lilith, the Whore in the gateway of the Temple.

I am Lilith, whose serpentine tongue caused Eve to laugh, and pick the


I am Lilith, Revolving Sword of Flame ? scorching hypocrisy from truth?s

white bones.

I am Lilith, free-moving in the Wilderness.

I am Lilith, spirit of night and air.

I am Lilith, in whose dark caves transgressors find sanctuary.

I am Salome.

I am Morgan le Faye.

I am the Queen of Sheba ?

My hair is black, and I am ?dark but comely?,

(Solomon sang my song!).

I am Eve?s big sister.

I am Lilith, Mother to the motherless.

I am Lilith, whose sexual fire was too hot for God.

I am Lilith, living in the Shadow.

Waiting. For you.

-Cosi Fabian

Isaac Wheeler

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2013, 10:26:16 PM »
?Let?s give her some space people.? Isaac called out while gesturing for the crowd to step back and open up the area around Fia.  He was growing frustrated with the crowd, especially those that had their cell phones out to video and/or take pictures of the woman passing out. Were Isaac ever to reconsidering his opinions on humanity he need only see a scene such as this: a crowd of people and none offering to help, only play voyeur. Vultures.
?Look at me.? It was not a request as he turned his attention back down to Fia. He dragged his forefinger across her cone of vision to get her pupils to focus and then follow.
"Outta di way. Let mi tru." There was a commotion at the back of the crowd; the sound of people getting pushed out of the way for a moment before Andre?s giant frame pressed through the ring of people.  The Jamaican came down to a knee next Isaac. ?Saw da whole ting.? Looking down at Fia while he spoke, that thick Jamaican patois lending a certain musical quality to the situation. ?Was turnin out da Zipper when mi eyes saw Fia fall. Da moon be doin' sometin strange. Yah doin' okay, sistren?? Andre asked Fia tenderly.
Fia blinked, mismatched gaze of peridot and amber finally focusing on Isaac?s face. She felt burdened with the full weight of her body again. Somehow, it pained her; the air in her lungs, the feel of her clothes against her skin. The golden, weightless warmth that that she had felt moments earlier had gone. She felt as if she had been unfairly torn from the safety of a beautiful, lingering dream. The voice was gone and with it, her solace.  Annoyed and resentful, she batted Isaac?s finger away from her face. "I'm fine. Get y'damn finger out of my face, Isaac." Fia growled and tried to sit up.
?I?ll take that as a yes.? He said dryly after she swatted away his hand like a cornered tiger.
?Sistren, Go slow.? Andre placed a large hand on her shoulder. He knew it wasn?t in Fia?s nature to do anything slow any more than it was to accept help.
?C?mon?let?s get you up.? Isaac's slow drawl mirroring the deliberate gripping of her hand within his and the gentle pull to get her into a sitting position. He glanced down at her hand wondering why she was so warm to the touch all of a sudden.
?Yeah?I think she?s going to be alright.? Isaac said as he stood and eased Fia to her feet though kept a supporting hand around her waist. ?I think the best thing is just to get her to her trailer so she can lie down for a bit.  Lucille should be done with her act, she can watch over her.? Isaac making the snap decision after looking into Fia?s eyes. She was awake and conscious though she looked a million miles away. Whatever had happened had seemed to seriously affect her. "Who's gonna run the Carousel?" A jerk of his chin towards the people peering at the scene and walking around.
"Dem pretty 'orses goin 'ave to cool dem 'eels fer a spell. Dat wheel don' turn for nobody but Sistren here."
"I'm fine." She shrugged off the hand. Not wanting to be touched at the moment. A part of her etheric body still pulsing and sensitive. Like she had been divided from her own shadow for a time. Any contact felt too much of a burden in the moment. "I just need to lay down for a bit. Tell Benny. I'll cover the loss outta my own pocket."

?But Fia,? Isaac began to say though was cut off as Fia twisted from the hand upon her hip.  She turned away from Isaac and Andre to walk unsteadily towards her trailer.  No more willing to be contained than a wildfire.  
?Dis be a weird night, Isaac-mon.? Andre said while making the sign of the cross over his face and chest while Fia headed home. ?Strange tings be happenin. Mouse been dunked with almost every trow, your knives don?t be doin what you whisper dem to, da carousel?it don?t be makin no sense.?
Isaac gave a hard stare at Andre for several moments at the mentioning of the strange events of the night, most notably his show. There had been... an issue with Isaac?s act tonight; namely the knives not going where Isaac had intended them to go. Strange near misses which appeared to be out of his control.  
 ?I tink she been talkin to da Iyaman.? Andre observed as he watched Fia move into the night.  

?The what?? Isaac asked, his impatience with the island accent drawing eyes away from Fia and back to the islander.

?Da iya?? Andre made a gesture with his hand to indicate he was saying higher, ?Iya mon?
?The higher man?" Isaac asked with dwindling patience.  
Andre nodded and looked back to Isaac. ?Sistren got dat innerstanding in her eyes. I seen it before. Back 'ome in Jamaica wit da spirit men." He glanced up at the moon and shook his head before looking back at Isaac.  ?We 'ave a sayin' in Jamaica:  ?Di ol'a di moon, di brighter ih shine.?  She ol'soul ma Sistreen, ba she be 'avin a tough road goin' back where she be runnin' from. She ain' be at ease wit her shine.?

?S'just an off night. S'way the cards fall sometimes.? His only comment back to Andre as he placed a cigarette between his lips.  Isaac never had much use for spirits and religion.  Done more harm than good over the years.  But still, Isaac didn?t know what to think of the changes seemingly happening around him. He never lost control of his knives. Tonight he did. Mouse hardly ever got dunked. Tonight, he couldn?t stay dry. And Fia?who knows what had just happened to Fia. The hair on Isaac?s neck stood up just a little bit as he stared at the Carousel and couldn?t shake the feeling that the ever revolving wheel was also somehow involved.

Said I hear the words of the Iyaman say:
 "Babylon, you throne gone down, gone down;
 Babylon, you throne gone down."

~ Bob Marley "Rastaman Chant"

Isaac Wheeler

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2013, 11:31:29 PM »
Carnival breakfasts were a tradition dating back nearly a century now. A chance for the various workers and acts to congregate at the cook house around a common meal to share tales of the previous night?s ups and downs, the takes, the scores, the rubes and everything in between. Often an arena of bragging as well as good natured shaming for the previous night?s wins and losses; the long tables under Buford ?Cookie? Bullis? tent provided a communal place to eat and inevitably the arrangement fell along professional lines. The Agents who worked the games all sat relatively close together, the Roughies, the Ride Jocks, the Talkers and so forth all fell into their long established and hierarchal places.
Eschewing such proximity, Isaac and Boomer had claimed a spot towards the end of a row. Close enough that an uninitiated eye would consider him part of the group though in reality Isaac ensured a level of detachment which he privately considered wholly separate. Isaac tore a piece of bacon in half and dropped one half to Boomer while chewing on the other. He noted almost everyone had arrived by now though there were always a few late risers from a long night spent working hard for those last few dollars or turning out just a few more rides and shows.
?Good today eh?? Slow drawl drug out around a full mouth as he watched Boomer all but inhale his half. Isaac chuckled as the scarred stump of a tail was set to wagging; the mutt clearly wanting more. ?Gonna make yourself fat.? Isaac chided even as he broke off another strip to Boomer?s delight.
Mason jar of sweet tea was picked up which sent cubes clinking against the glass. Steel grey gaze moved unseen over the assembled group as Isaac?s hawk like attention took flight to circle around the various conversations. Riding the verbal thermals, his attention went unnoticed while he merely ate and listened to the various back and forths before him.
?I tells ya?I nearly blew my pipes trying to get em over to me.? An agent was saying while shoveling scrambled eggs into his mouth. ?All night just yellin and yelling, tellin em how I could guess their age, their number of kids, their weight?didn?t matter s*** to me what it was. Thought by the end of the night I was gonna end up like Jingles.? This brought a chorus of nervous laughs for the reference. The Carnival?s resident juice man had lost his tongue while doing a stint in Sing Sing, or so the story went, and hadn?t spoken a word of his own since, but any man who had endured as much was a man to be wary of.
Isaac gave a squint down the table and placed the owner of the raspy voice as man named Beans. It took a moment to place what game he ran as Isaac rarely associated or even spoke to the agents. As a showman (and a working act at that) he rightly considered himself on the higher end of that particular carny social division. Isaac did remember that Beans was the carnival?s A&S man and spent the nights guessing peoples age or guessing their weight. Isaac was pretty sure he constantly underestimated women?s age and weight so as to come off as a charming and sensitive agent. Didn?t matter either way, the A&S was a hanky pank?Isaac knew Beans charged more for each play than the overhead of his prizes so a few well-placed losses here and there coupled with some personality probably helped him to come out ahead.
Growing bored with the Agents table, Isaac shifted that slate colored gaze about, looking for something of interest while scratching behind Boomer?s ear. Another conversation finally caught that hawk like attention and so it circled over a group of ride Jocks listening to Boz retell his story from the night before
?So there she was?smoking hot blonde. I?m telling you guys she was easily a 7?on a bad day.? Boz spoke with a barbarian growl that easily matched his scarred visage and muscled physique.
?She be more of a tree, if we be tellin' tru, Boz-mon. Maybe she make 'er way up ta four o' five depending on how many Red Stripes we bein drinkin.? Andre?s Caribbean accent bouncing in and interrupting Boz while he waffled his hand from side to side in the classic maybe-maybe not gesture.
?She?was?a?seven.? Boz pointedly reiterated while shoving Andre back over to his seat with a laugh and a good natured elbow. ?Smokin Seven. Long blonde air, Daisy Duke shorts and ****in tits out to here man.? Boz gesturing with his hands to indicate the endowment of last night?s angel. ?So I?m hanging outta the dog house of the Bitch hollerin down at her. I know we?re about to drop the awning for the night so I gotta get it in quick ya know?? He paused to tear into a biscuit.
?Prolly a lot lizard.? Mouse chimed into the silence brought on by Boz?s chewing. ?You lose your take to another professional lady of the night?? A quick duck by the Terrible Taunt saved him from Boz?s gravy slathered biscuit turned missile though he came back up undaunted.  Show Ho? Shownuff.?
?You gonna ever come up with new stuff?? Boz grumbled, less and less amused with Mouse and the similar style of his jokes.
?When it stops being funny or you stop falling for it every night.? Mouse cracked back unforgivingly like a whip lash. ?It?s what I do.? A bit of pride puffing those words as Mouse?s dunk tank was one of the first attractions people saw upon entering the arch and remained consistently popular.
?Won?t be laughing when I drown you in your Bozo tank??
Back and forth banter was a mainstay of the Carny breakfast ritual and plenty of it abounded along the tables. Isaac could tune in and out of such jokes as if changing grooves on a record and never miss a beat. The drifting arc of lazy attention circled round the assembled carnys in search of a more succulent prey. A few moments of silent studying until it lighted upon a topic of more seriousness. He pulled a biscuit in two and sightlessly offered the first half to Boomer who gobbled it happily while Isaac watched Benny converse with the carnival?s middle management team consisting of Frankie, the twins Don and Dave and Twitch.
?Well it?s going to make a difference, Benny. If we got a different owner that?s going to influence how I deal with the cops. I mean,? Frankie paused to spit tobacco across the dirt and turn his skinny frame away from most of the carnys at breakfast, ?it might influence how much patch money I got to make deals. Might not be a big deal to you if we got troopers crawlin round?but it might to them,? a half nod over his shoulder to indicate the assembled group.
?It?s just a rumor.? Benny said while wiping a hand down his face. ?Still on the nut and we gotta deal with these rumors. We hear this all the time.? Spoken in a tone of projected confidence meant to put the other men at ease though Benny, himself, heard the words ring hollow.
?They just rumors, Benny?? Twitch asked as he crossed arms over his spindly chest and rocked back and forth on his toes. ?You still even gonna be Boss? Cause I aint gonna work for some forty miler who aint never been part o no carnival.? Twitch continued while his left eye constantly moved and bounced thus giving rise to his name while also making it difficult for Benny to concentrate with his answer.
?I?m on the show.? Benny finally answered with a definitive jab of his cigar, indicating he was a serious part of the carnival. That fat cigar was then shoved between plump lips for a chew. ?Aint gonna happen. Business as usual. We got a strong show and we aint for sale.? He gave a glance to the Twins. ?Dave, stay on top of the concessions. I don?t want to hear about another joint running out of something. Same goes for the checkup, Don. If one more agent comes and bitches to me about his money I?ll start praying for a change of scenery. And don?t let me catch any of you talking about this with the others?else you?ll be the one getting the change of scenery.?
Isaac pulled away from the conversation as he dropped a piece of ice down for Boomer to crunch into. As he glanced back up, intent to quietly observe the continuation of breakfast and contemplate the ramifications of a potential ownership change, he noted Lucille heading down to his end of the table. The red-headed pin up glided past the invisible barrier to invade his overly large though well-crafted personal space to sit alongside him.
Boomer popped his head up, stubbed tail wagging a mile a minute at the advent of new stimulus while Isaac subtly recoiled from the intrusion and leaned back in his chair to recreate some of that disturbed distance.
?Good morning, Isaac.? Saccharine sweet smile as Lucille bit into a wedge of breakfast melon. ?Good night the other night??
Isaac stared back at Lucille. Gun metal gray blinked a few times during that passage of time while he placed that sing song lilt of her voice to a school yard where one child knew something the others did not and reveled in that secret knowledge. ?Bout like any other.? He finally offered, that slow drawl deflecting the direct shot of her question.
Lucille gave a victorious little smile as she lit her first and favorite cigarette of the day. Cerulean gaze narrowed into disbelieving slits as she eyed the knife thrower. ?Bout like any other, huh?? She repeated; enjoying how Isaac?s recalcitrant nature all but snapped her good natured trap closed. ?Well?that?s not what I?ve heard.?
Isaac?s brows slid upwards at the obvious challenge laid down by the snake charmer but his face remained an impassive mask; the path of his thoughts as difficult to navigate as Minos? famed Labyrinth. A slow sip from the Mason jar was coupled with a chicken playing stare leveled at Lucille. ?Guess you heard wrong.?
?Mm. Doubtful.? Lucille gave a waggle of brows in answer to that dour expression and turned to look down the rows of tables. ?Hey fellas?? In a loud voice sure to attract attention. ?Guess who went into town the other night and actually hung out in a bar?? Called out while pantomiming a finger pointing gesture at Isaac.
The words had no sooner left Lucille?s mouth than conversations started to stall out and end completely. Like dominoes falling in a row, Lucille?s little announcement rippled throughout the tables until most everyone was staring down at the pair. Isaac gave Lucille a cautionary look before slouching back into his chair with arms crossed over his chest. He so rarely took part in the banter that he never expected himself to become the target of it?besides?most thought better of it if the desire even existed.
?Funny.? Single word voiced as he looked back at dozens of faces staring at him as if they all expected him to give a speech about it. He passed the awkward moment by producing a pack of Lucky?s and packed the box against the base of his palm several times over.
?I thought so.? Lucille confirmed as shoulders bobbed in hardly concealed mirth. She took another bite of her melon held daintily between two fingers and waved her little finger at him. ?Gotcha.?
?Mm. Would appear you did.? Isaac conceded while slowly exhaling a chest full of smoke into the morning breeze. ?How?d you?? The question going unfinished as a certain name bloomed behind his gray gaze. ?Dixie.? Said knowingly as soon as the name materialized. She was the carnival?s candy flosser and reigning gossip queen.
?Dixie.? Lucille confirmed with a laugh and a scratch behind Boomer?s ear for good measure. ?She does more than just sell cotton candy ya know.?
?Bulls***.? Boz calling out Lucille?s accusation. ?I don't believe a word of it."
?I dunno mon, dat moon be a crazy ting?making all kinds of disbelievin happenin.? Jamaican patois signifying Andre had taken his turn. "Could be makin' even a Mime a Mockingbird.
?Wait?? Mouse chimed in. ?Isaac went to a bar? You talk to anybody?? Mouse asked, ready to answer his own question and provide the punch line before Isaac could speak. ?Cause we all know you don?t talk to anything that ain?t got four legs.? Spoken to a round of laughter. It was rare that Isaac became a target as opposed to throwing at them so the other carnys got their laughs in while they could.
?They let Boomer in?? Mouse continued as he would have had he been sitting in the tank. ?Lemme guess?you told them he was your seeing eye dog or something right?? Mouse holding up a hand to his ear. ?What?s that boy? Isaac?s at a bar and wants a sweet tea?? Imitating an episode of Lassie to the amusement of those around him. ?But he never talks so how?s he going to order one? OH?you did it for him? Well that?s a good boy.?
Isaac listened to the barbs and riposted with silence and a stare; letting those who wished to make a few cracks at his expense have their moment. That was the ritual and fighting against it was like chumming the waters?only made things worse and attracted more attention. Far better to endure in silence and let it die a natural death. Filter clamped between fore and middle fingers, Isaac held the cigarette out to the side to knock the ash free of the rolled paper. It had been an odd night. He wasn't quite sure what possessed him, what with him being suddenly and inexplicably social. Perhaps Andre had been on to something with the moon affecting his blades, the dunk tank and Fia?s carousel. Maybe that?whatever it was?had extended to him giving humanity a whimsical chance.
Though when Mouse kept digging and then targeted Boomer Isaac had had enough. Mouse had a practiced way of getting through the thickest skin. It?s what made him such a great Dunk Bozo and no one was permanently immune.
?What?re you?new?? Isaac finally asked when Mouse was done. The use of that particular question, asking if Mouse was new, brought a quick silence to the other carnys. Implying that Mouse was inexperienced or displaying bad judgment, calling someone "new" was a serious accusation in the Carnival family.
?You know, I think being in that cage does things to you, Mouse.? Isaac finished and tossed the last of a biscuit down to Boomer. ?You should really learn when to turn it off." He paused, ashing his cigarette and giving Mouse a long considering glance. "Or maybe you can't. Maybe you're terrified of what you'd hear in the silence.? That lazy drawl had a way of cutting even deeper as the words tumbled slowly and steadily from Isaac?s lips. Not just skilled in throwing knives with his hands; he could hurl their verbal equivalent with practiced ease as well. Most carnys were an observational sort though Isaac?s reserved nature and stage performances made him especially adept at reading between the grimy gutters of humanity.
A sudden chill fell over the breakfast tent as the other Carnys suddenly became very interested in their food.
?Just makin jokes. Way to kill the vibe, man.? Mouse continued to chew his breakfast with a sullen grind to his jaw. Something about what Isaac said sticking him in the ribs more than he'd like to admit and the blade was wedged deep. He picked up his well-worn and weather beaten copy of The Scarlett Letter. ?I?m off to hang with more evolved company.? The sudden change saw sarcasm creeping back into Mouse?s tones even while he flashed a good natured grin. Nothing could ever keep him down for long. He paused to fill a mug with coffee before heading off towards the trailers.
Isaac blew the held smoke from lips and nose while leaning back in his chair, tipping it back onto his back legs. A pat to his thigh had Boomer hopping up for a rub. The Stray that was Isaac?s personality loped back out to the perimeter of the group as his attentions once again retreated inward and detached himself from the group dynamic. He was there and not there all over again.
?Yo Queenie! Up and at em.? Mouse called while banging on the screen door of Fia?s trailer. The sonic assault rattled like shaken sheet metal as he banged again. ?Carpe that f*&#n' coffee.? Syllables stretched out and pitched skyward as he tried to entice Fia from her humble abode.
?The sun himself is weak when he first rises, and gathers strength and courage as the day gets on.? Said with another nerve rattling knock on the door. ?If it?s good enough for Dickens, it?s good enough for me and you!?

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2013, 08:00:30 PM »
Fia awoke with a start, a sheen of sweat soaking through the cotton tank she wore, clinging to her skin like the residue of what she had tried in vain to bleed from her system the previous evening when all had gone awry with the Carousel. The taste of ashes was fresh in her mouth. She remembered the taste well. Her dreams were often littered with them.

She reached for a hand rolled cigarette to drown out the unsavory taste. Lit the moment it touched her lips without the appearance of a lighter or match. Cinnamon, cardamom and clove interweaving on her tongue to compete for dominance to spice the ripe fruit of her mouth.  

She dreamt of him again. He had been a consistent catalyst in her soul's jagged and riotous evolution. The plot twist in the final act, an offered hand when she had been poised at the precipice. Perhaps each had been a synergist for the other. He had always told her this and somewhere, deep within her, she wanted to believe him.

They had been dancing this dance each knew well for centuries, though admittedly, He had the steps down better than she. Perhaps it was because He had been wise enough to listen. Silent where she was vocal, accepting when she had always questioned. The detached, and yet never indifferent observer, where she had always been the revolutionary on the front lines.

Her Achilles heel in many ways, He anticipated her like no other. Able to discern from the slightest angle of her chin, the flash of her gaze, the barest arch of her foot that she was about to run. He weathered the violence of her storms lifetime after lifetime with an unnerving calm in the center of the all seeing eye. He spoke to her the same as he had the first time. Kindness without condescension. Love without conditions.

It was a blessing it had just been his voice and the feel of Him. If she had seen his eyes it would have been her undoing. She had spent thousands of years trying to shake the memories. His essence had firmly taken root to the core of her and she had tucked it away like Hope in her Pandora's box of sucker punch lessons. All the work to contain all the wild within now coming apart at the seams. He had unraveled her with such ease and shaken her convictions to their core.

Still, she ached to see him again. He had always treated her as an equal and never an acolyte by asking her to stand beside him yet never behind him or beneath him. He knew too well that particular slight was a deep wound still tattooed on her soul from a prior incarnation.  

The night she had broken bread with the twelve she had called them her brothers. They grudgingly tolerated her, but only because he asked it of them. It was not within them to truly accept her as one of them. She was not oblivious to the sideways looks. Adept fisherman, they cast nets of jealousy and judgment. While parroting recited, hollow lines meant to please. Their intent was to jockey for position, if only for a moment, to bathe in the baptismal waters of his gaze. Resentful of the special place he gave her at his side.

Not that she had cared. She was well used to the staring and the whispers and she'd always answered with a raised chin and a look that blazed. His gaze had always been a cool Revelation, hers was Baptism by fire.

The bread had tasted like ashes that night.

And in the end, her "brothers" had closed their eyes and ears to her. The wild fire of the truth she issued too dangerous to their straw dogs of hypocrisy. And long after he transcended, they spent their days making sure their names were anchored firmly in the ever changing tides of their revisionist history. While her own role had diminished to that of the repentant whore.

She was the flame on the sacrificial pyre. But the sacrifice had been him, and her time with him was the only true joy her soul had ever known.  

Forgive. Accept. He is calling you home.

 She breathed out the word with the smoke in answer. The ache in her lungs more to do with a seed of sadness than anything to do with the smoke that curled there like beckoning fingers. She whispered a single word;


In the darkened corners of the trailer, the shadows smiled, as if the tide had turned in their favor and the light from the candle dimmed ever so slightly.

Mouse's booming knock set her nerves on edge. She dragged her body from the bed like she was pulling against the tide, limbs heavy as she threw the door open for Mouse. The sun poured over her skin, and she squinted her mismatched gaze of peridot and amber against the light. It felt like counterfeit gold compared to the light she had felt coursing through her from his presence.

Had it been him? Had she imagined it?  

The ache in her chest from the void had her fighting the urge to take the coffee and slam the door in Mouse's face, but she checked herself. She had been unforgivably rude to Isaac the other evening when he had been trying to help. The moment had been stubbornly knocking at the door of her conscience. No sense in proceeding in kind with Mouse.

Her brow arched at Mouse's kid gloves look, while her tongue poised for a hiss. "Yes? I'm fine. Haven't passed out again. Still breathing. Lucille already came by to play Nurse."  

"Y'had us all a bit worried. You think it has anything to do with the headaches you've been getting?" He noticed the dampness of her shirt.  "Jeez Fia, you're soaked. You have a fever?" He stepped forward to reach a hand to her face.

As he advanced, she didn't retreat, but brought her arm up like a sword to block his touch. "No." A pause. "Nightmares." She pivoted to change her shirt before moving to the basin by her bed to splash water over her face and neck before reaching for a towel. She took a moment behind the fabric to recalibrate before lowering it again to face Mouse. "I'm good Mouse. Gonna grab some breakfast here in a sec. Would you give me some time?" She threw on a pair of jeans and waited for him to get the hint.
Perhaps in keeping with Isaac's observation, Mouse never knew when to stop. He thought he had a solution that always seemed to improve Fia's mood, so he took The Scarlet Letter from under his arm and thumped it upon her bed. "Thought we could try again. I think you'll like this one. It's been a few weeks. Just a few sentences to start, yeah? Can't hurt."  

Fia stilled. The longing in her as she looked at the book spiked at a fever pitch before she turned partially, thick lashes lowered to half mast over her mismatched gaze. Peridot warring with Amber. "It's...the letters. Could you just..." The words were lead-heavy on her tongue. "Read it to me?" It killed her to have to ask.

Mouse hesitated. "Fia, I know you can do this. If you'd just try."

"You think this is a matter of trying? Or lack of intelligence?"

"No." Mouse back pedaled. "I'm not saying that, I think if you..."

"Don't you think I want this with everything in me?" Her temper was rising, she was starting to feel cornered. Her fingers began to twitch and burn. She needed air and fast. "Forget it. I'm sorry. I just need a little...air and I'll be...."  

She burst from the trailer to move towards the cook tent. The heat on her skin unbearable. She was ready to ignite. Her temples throbbed, words reverberated and echoed.  

Forgive. Accept. He is calling you Home.

 Fia pivoted, as if trying to escape from the words only to nearly slam into Mouse again.

"Just the cover. Just try the cover." Mouse was in her face again as she pivoted.

 As he held it up. Her mismatched gaze focused on the letters. They began to move before her, rearranging themselves of their own accord.


She squinted at the letters before they rearranged once more.

Tell...React...Her Test.

 "Just one word, Fia. You've been able to do it before."
"I said NO!" Her palm hit the book as if she were pushing against a wall before the book erupted in flames, reducing pages to ash and scattering the words to the winds. Fia recoiled back like a spring, as speechless as Mouse before she took off across the Midway at a run towards the Carousel.

I had a dream last night
I dreamt that I was swimming
And the stars up above
Directionless and drifting
Somewhere in the dark
Were the sirens and the thunder
And around me as I swam
The drifters who'd gone under

Time, Love
Time, Love
Time, Love
It's only a change of time

I had a dream last night
And rusting far below me
Battered hulls and broken hardships
Leviathan and lonely
I was thirsty so I drank
And though it was salt water
There was something about the way
It tasted so familiar

The black clouds I'm hanging
This anchor I'm dragging
The sails of memory rip open in silence
We cut through the lowlands
All hands through the saltlands
The white caps of memory
Confusing and violent

I had a dream last night
And when I opened my eyes
Your shoulder blade, your spine
Were shorelines in the moonlight
New worlds for the weary
New lands for the living
I could make it if I tried
I closed my eyes I kept on swimming

~ Josh Ritter

Unintended Consequences

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 08:07:18 PM »
??ngele Dei, qui custos es mei, me, tibi comm?ssum piet?te sup?rna, ill?mina, cust?di, rege et gub?rna. Amen.?
The chanted prayer reverberated within the cavernous halls of the church as the priest guided his flock with the ancient language.  The prayer was echoed back by the congregation, stilted words stumbling as new born tongues struggled with the antique language of Kings.  Marble glistened wetly in the glow of candle light while sunlight streamed through stained panes on high.  Angelic statues with silver swords gleaming stood sentry over venerated saints while altar boys flanked the priest on bended knee.  The entire building, procession and ritual bespoke of awesome power while reiterating messages of meek humbleness.  Of shackled servitude.
Such an incongruity amused the figure sitting in a pew towards the back of the large hall.  Chartreuse colored eyes swept round the assembled parishioners and noted with a certain satisfaction that the pews were sparsely filled, attendance slowly waning as the years drug on.  And who could blame them?  The flock would scatter without a shepherd to tend to them, and this absentee shepherd had been gone for some time.  Perhaps someone else would tend to their needs?  The thought and the potential contained within brought a momentary hedonic smile to his lips.  Eyes were, however, inevitably drawn to the crucified Christ above the priest, His eyes cast upwards beneath a thorny crown, agony mingled with forgiveness upon his handsome face.
The medieval iconography pulled a frown from the man?s generous mouth.   A certain anger revealed at the expression though tinged with regret for what could have been; the lie which had flown round the world on winged words would soon be revealed and expunged.  One leg was shifted over the other in a gentlemanly cross as he reclined against the hard wood of the pew.  The faint smell of lemon wood polish tainted the air as it mixed with that of incense. Frankincense and Myrrh gifted the air with their perfume while dusty paper of little read books littered the pews.  Less the bitter scent of decay; more the quiet smell of opportunity.  Fallow fields and idle hands becoming a checkered chessboard of pieces to play with.
A newly arrived smell competed and ultimately dominated that of books and wood thus drawing his attention away from such mundane things.  Light and airy, the soft fragrance of lavender bolstered by a base of vanilla heralded her arrival.  He turned his head as the late arrival quickly genuflected while making the sign of the cross and hurried along his row.
?Pater noster, qui es in c?lis, sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra??  The Lord?s Prayer droned onward in the background of his attention as leonine eyes watched her approach with the lazy interest of a coiled viper.  Her white dress, so unlike the black threads of his ruthlessly tailored suit, hugged her sylphlike body and revealed all the danger held within her curves.  He assessed her as the type of woman who knew she was beautiful and was unafraid of enjoying it?revealing it.
She offered an apologetic smile as she approached, such a visible lateness creating the urge for contact and the desire to blend in amongst a group in order to lose the stigma.  ?You mind??  She whispered as she nodded to the space next to him.
He returned the smile, covetous mouth twisting upward as he nodded and plucked his cane from the space alongside him.  The silver wolf?s head glinted as it passed through a shaft of light before he set it against the pew in front of him.  ?Hardly.?  Dulcet tones inviting her to sit alongside him while watching how her tiny golden crucifix settled upon the hollow of her throat.
?Can?t believe I?m so late.?  She confessed in a whisper as she settled, painted nails tugging her skirt towards her knees before putting a proper cross of heels at her ankles.  ?My husband?he doesn?t believe.?  A glance down?the sorrow within that simple phrase revealing the entirety of her marriage.
?How fortunate.?  Throaty purr of hypnotic tenor as he angled his lithe frame towards her, placing her and not the godly devotion proceeding at the altar at the center of his attention.  ?For me.?  Clarified with a disarming smile as she lifted her eyes to his in question.
She took the compliment for what it was, a coquettish curve of her secretive mouth forming despite the impossibility to grasp the layered meaning of his words.  Blue eyes with an inner halo of gold lingered upon the golden green magnetism within his for an improper moment or two longer than necessary and then shifted to watch and listen to the priest.
His attention, however, lingered upon her. The mass droned on around them, winding down to its conclusion while he watched without staring, admired without leering, caressed without touching and uncaring when she noticed.  He had placed her and her alone at the center of his attention, her occasional glances and demure curve of painted lips confirming that she enjoyed the visual pedestal he had placed her on.
Forward fingertips danced like raindrops across her bared shoulders, a certain naked wantonness to his touch along heated flesh.  Her jump not one of shock and outrage, but of enjoyed surprise as he gave her the slimmest of tastes of what worship alongside her husband could feel like.  Head canted to the side, leonine eyes watched as she nervously turned the golden band upon her finger; physical symptom of the beginnings of doubt and desire.
The final amen was spoken and the congregation began to stand, slivers of separate conversations rising to the rafters as the viper uncoiled to lean towards the little mouse caught within its gaze.  A whisper brushed lips against the shell of her ear, lascivious words corrupting sacred vows with his pleasurable venom while causing a blush to flare upon her cheeks.  Her scent lingered within his senses as he withdrew, a hand falling to squeeze the smoothness of her thigh as he stood.  He held her gaze a moment longer before leaving her to catch her breath.  He plucked his cane from the pew and strode towards the front of the church without a look back to the woman who could do nothing but watch his departure.
No longer his house, the interloper tingled with the anticipatory sensation of a thief when they crept where they did not belong.  ?Hello brother.?  Flippant greeting as he strode by a statue, gleaming sword held high, to stand along before the crucified figure nailed to a wall.
?Once again I find myself standing beneath you. The King of Kings.?  Defiant and unbending stance as he stared upon the tortured figure. Words embittered with remorse for all that had happened.  ?I respected you once, a long time ago.  Agreed with your vision, shared your faith.?  Ebony cane tapping, almost nervously upon the marble floor.  For all his arrogance and sophistication, he still felt naked standing before Him.  ?Yet you allowed yourself to simply surrender and be nailed to a cross and still had the temerity to forgive.?  A disbelieving shake of his head, free hand smoothing locks of jet back from his brow before sliding over darkening stubble which appeared as if no amount of shaving could ever lighten.

"I know you have been talking to her...trying to reach her. Perhaps she?s even convinced herself that she still loves you. After all?you gave her such a special place at your side.? His mouth flat lined at the thought. ?Did you think you could hide her from me forever and I wouldn?t find her?  My shadows whisper to me that she has refused to forgive your...? He paused, his mouth hooking in a cruel sickle of mockery before delivering the word in bastardized bow, ?Master.?

He leaned in to whisper as if he didn?t want the Angels that flanked them to hear. ?I know her much better. I know what still stirs and licks upon the ladder of her spine. You made one tragic mistake when you cast out the seven from her and left the one. Did you think you could sway my Queen to your side? That she would have ultimately forgiven that original slight when he cast her out so cruelly?? A soft snort. ?That woman was not built to play pawn and puppet.?  

He paused, taking a moment to turn a ring upon his finger. ?We are not so different you and I. We admire her spirit. Is that why you left my beloved within her soul when you cast out the Seven?  Because you respected her strength and independence?? A dry curve of his mouth. ?Ah Yeshua. The original feminist. Thought you could heal her within your little Magdalena??
A slow forming smile cruelly split his lips as no answer appeared to be forthcoming.  ?Our love for her cannot coexist. She will choose. My shadows are ever present and no matter how fast your light travels, I will have arrive there first.? A grim promise as pulled a vestige of another time from his pocket and placed it upon the rail before the Cross, a reminder of what had and will happen again.  ?Why won?t you answer me??  Almost pleading for just a single word of Grace after all this time?though upon the silence handsome features hardened to that of granite denial.  ?She will turn from you?I will see to it.?  Spat with the venom of ancient hatred as he turned his back on suffering visage to nearly collide with an approaching priest.
?My son?your soul seems heavily burdened.?  The aging priest spoke with gentleness, wizened eyes taking in the black clad figure before him through his spectacles.  ?Perhaps you would care to confess your sins to Him??  A nod back towards the Cross.
He glanced back towards the Cross, noting the fig he had placed upon the rail with smug satisfaction before turning back to the priest.  Oh how he appreciated the arrogance of the belief that one could not speak directly with their God.  ?Very well intercessory.?  Cool composure returning as the anger of silence faded, the moment of vulnerability hardening into another plate of armor to be stacked upon the rest.  ?Perhaps you are right.?
The priest nodded, a faint smile borne from unease at the way the man had called him intercessory sprouting upon his elderly features.  He could sense something off-putting roiling from this one?s frame.  Confession would definitely do him good.  ?This way.?  A hand offered in the direction of the confessional.
?Forgive me father for I have sinned??  Hollow words beginning the man-made ritual.  ?Immensely.?  The pleasurable exhale from the memories spilled forth into the darkened room, the crimson curtain obscuring the lackadaisical posture from view.  One of his favorite past times had long been corruption of the clergy.
?And what are these sins??  The soft voice of the priest coming through the screened window as he listened to that pleasurable sigh and shivered despite the warmth within the church.
?They are too numerable to name.  You have neither the time nor I the inclination for enumeration.?  Lacquered prose bored as he admired the iron ring encircling the middle finger of his left hand.  Etched deep into its surface was a scorpion, eyes set as twin tiny rubies shimmering in the faint light of the confessional.  ?But I have enjoyed each and every one.?
?Why do you find such enjoyment in these sins??  The priest asked, silently crossing himself while wondering just who and what sat on the other side of the flimsy confessional screen.
Eyes lingered on the scorpion for a moment longer, the figure shrugged before leonine gaze peered through the screen.  ?It is in my nature.?  Amused, offhanded answer from the Scorpion while he inspected the blackness of his jacket, a moue of distaste pursing his lips as he pulled a single misplaced thread from his sleeve.  He curled it between fingers and cast its imperfection away from his body.  ?Now tell me of your sins, Father.?  Purred as fingers knocked softly on the dividing wall between priest and confessor.
?My sins??  The priest asked, clearly confused.
?Mm.  Indeed.  Is not all man fallible?  Are they not all capable and committers of sin??  Spoken as he uncoiled from that uncaring lean and pressed his ear against the wall to better hear the uncomfortable breathing of the priest, lapping up the sudden discomfort as thirsty beasts do water.
?Indeed we all sin, however this is your confession.?  The priest spoke and leaned further away from the dividing wall and screen.  In his long service he had never had a confessional go like this.
?And who do you confess to, Father?  Do you speak directly to Him?  Or another priest perhaps?  It must be so hard,? voice greasy with oily sympathy, ?to hear the burdens of others while never alleviating your own.  Where does this tangled chain end, hm?? Asked while fingers continued to tap against the wall, a metronome of conscience while lips pressed directly against the screen.  ?Tell me.?  Whispered words promising forgiveness, understanding and acceptance.  There was no compulsion in his tone, just the assurance that it was okay, that it was needed.  ?Tell me and embrace that which we are taught to deny.?
Amusement nearly cackled forth as he heard the sucking in of the priest?s breath, the sound of hands rubbing the face and that delectable sound of temptation taking action.  He listened while the priest confessed; the smile which formed born of a malignant joy when the priest confessed the lies he had been living, the shame and sadness.  Attention divided, the silver wolf?s head of his cane parted the curtain a fraction revealing the woman in white waiting for him.  She had made her choice as had the priest.  There were rules to the game after all?their choice could not be compelled any more than his has been.  The smile turned slick with desire as leonine eyes noted the absence of a golden band.  He stood and fastidiously adjusted both suit and hair until they appeared perfect.
?Very good father?you sound relieved.?  Spoken with the knowledge that he had crippled a man?s faith, as uncaring as he would be when he corrupted other vows this morning.  ?You?ve set your stones down today?which is good because I have another, equally enjoyable confession to attend to.?  Stepping forth from the confessional booth and leaving the priest alone with silent tears.  It was in the Scorpion?s nature to tempt as much as it was in man?s to give in.  Just moving pieces around the eternal board.

I am always here.  Your choices have caused you to stray and so my voice grows faint in your ears.  You need only to choose to return and I will welcome you home for in choice lies the opportunity for salvation.  The whispered words emanating from the behind the altar of the church going unheard as the Scorpion escorted the woman away.

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2013, 08:39:22 PM »
The lights along the midway began winking out sporadically as this venue and that ride finally called it a night and began the arduous process of closing down.  Halloween had been an exceptionally busy night for the Carnival; the grounds stuffed full with all walks of life seeking a bit of fright on a night known for its thrills.  Children ran parents ragged hidden behind masks while riding sugary highs and romances bloomed with a sudden squeeze at an unexpected scare in the haunted house.

But the following nights?  As dead as those who inspired the myriad of costumes.  Tucked away safely in their homes with candy laced hangovers and battling the effects debauched parties few had the inclination or energy to turn out for the offerings of a carnival.  Such were the crests and troughs of carnival life; excitement over the money made one night turning to disappointment over the doldrums of the subsequent evenings.

Fia felt right in the middle of that balance as she exhaled a chest full of hand rolled smoke while sitting within one of the chariots on the carousel.  With one knee pressed in close, that mismatched gaze ticked between the dying lights of the carnival and the growing sparks cast like diamonds upon the ether.  The carousel was dark, powered down early after the last few riders had tumbled forth and Fia sat within a jagged edge of shadow while staring up at the moon, its milky crescent curved like a bow above the earth.

Forgive.  Accept. The words still played and replayed in an endless loop within her subconscious, roiling atop the burning resentment which remained slow to cool.  

Thoughts of what she had done to Mouse still lingered round the edges of conscious thought, Fia fighting the memory of his face as his book had turned to cinders around his fingers. Such things wore heavily upon the head of the Carousel Queen while she took another drag from her cigarette and watched the slow turning wheel of Big Eli. He is calling you home. The words pulling her gaze from the Ferris Wheel to the glowing nub of her cigarette.

?Hell with it.?  Fia whispered to the darkness as she unraveled herself from one of the chariots.  ?I?ll bite.?  Immune to the chill in the air, Fia smoothed her hands down over her skirt before pushing the sleeves of her well-worn motorcycle jacket back up to slender elbows.  She pressed two fingers to her lips and then placed them upon the forehead of a hand carved carousel horse.

She lingered beneath the lights of the arch of the Crossroads Carnival. A look over her shoulder before she stepped through the arch at the Candyland booth to check that the gossip mongering Dixie was currently busy with juicier prey for the moment. She didn?t feel like fielding questions in the morning.

 The town wasn?t that far away, the Carnival setting down within close proximity though still allowing the carnys a degree of privacy.  She briefly considered "borrowing" Isaac?s motorcycle but dismissed the idea as quickly as it had formed.  No sense in borrowing even more trouble.  Knee-length studded black boots carried her away from the carnival, the lights dimming as she crossed the no man?s land between carnival and civilization.

She was hard wired for rebellion, but this incarnation had her trying to walk the tight rope and find the balance which was reflected in her mismatched gaze of peridot and amber.

 Away from the whirling lights of the Midway, another light show in its own right had begun once Fia stepped from the ever revolving wheel of the carousel and spilled her into the veins on the streets.
All that wild within pulling at the seams of her as the shadows whispered, beckoned, clamored for her attention. Her head tipped as the smoke that escaped her lips, curled around her shoulders and translated their words for her. No filter. Figures.

Striding into town, hands tucked away into the pockets of her jacket, Fia had no real plan or destination.  Footfalls disappeared into the fugue of the past, aimless steps reflected in the cracked mirror of her equally disconnected thoughts.

?You gonna throw a girl a bone??  Asked with dry murmur as her gaze shot skyward. Suspect. ?Or is that somethin? else that?s on me to figure out??

It was this time of year that Fia found herself missing her mother the most. Fall had been her favorite season because she had always said the crisp air ushered in possibility. Whisking away the old and dying and whispering promises of new life and direction in the months to come.  The opera singer had been taken from her when she was only seventeen.  Embracing womanhood and on the cusp of becoming an adult, Fia had been devastated.  Her mother had also seemingly been the only one to understand her?gift?  The only earthly soul to accept her until she found the carnival.

?Could use some of that direction, Mom.?  Fia whispered, a soft request to her mother?s departed spirit as she made a turn to the right at an intersection.  The traffic light, flashing red, twisted and swayed on the wind.  Left, right, straight?didn?t matter to the Carousel Queen. The lack of direction echoing the broken compass within her.

In the distance Fia heard the ringing of bells.  Church bells. He is calling you home.  One direction as good as another, stubbornness refusing to confess a word as the synchronicity of moments lined up like dominoes before her, she hesitated before cursing softly and then headed in the direction of the bells.

Guided only by their sound, the church took some time to finally find though when she did, Fia came up short with breath stuck in her chest as peridot gaze first fell on the fa?ade.  A weaving of Byzantine and Gothic revival, the varied styles flowed rather than competed into a masonry masterpiece.

 The limestone reflected the silvery moonlight, the stone shimmering beneath the pallid light.  The Great Rose Window hung suspended above three Roman styled entry arches, faint illumination of muted light and candles from within ghosted through its thousands of panes of colored glass to graciously invite those beyond within with its warming glow.

Fia flicked her cigarette away as she crossed the street.  Despite the hour a pair of gentlemen stood outside the doors, clearly waiting for anyone to approach.  ?Welcome.?  The first said as he approached Fia, a tri-folded flyer offered into the space between them.  ?I?m Daniel.?

?Daniel.?  Fia measured his name upon her tongue, and it registered in the ever see-sawing balance in her gaze. ?Pleasure.? She did not give her name in return.  A brow arched as she tentatively reached out for the flyer, mismatched gaze peridot and amber scanning it briefly.  ?What?s  with the bells at this hour??

?All Souls Day.?  Daniel answered, gentle smile for the woman as she glanced to the flyer.  ?Though our doors are always open, today is especially important.  Today we honor all who are unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends.  The bells soothe those souls still toiling in purgatory."

A soft snort at his answer. ?What about the rest of us here? You ever think this is purgatory??  Fia mused under her breath before she set down the flyer. Her gaze returned to the man with a slight incline of her head after she had rendered him momentarily speechless. ?Sorry Daniel.? Her mouth held a soft curve of sincerity. ?Been awhile since I?ve stepped foot in a church. Not my usual stomping grounds you know what I?m saying??

Daniel smiled at the woman. "Perhaps you have a soul you wish to pray for??  He asked, opening his body to beckon her towards the doors of the church.

?Don?t we all??  Fia asked, mismatched gaze shifting from the man to the house of God behind him. The choir was rehearsing upon the altar, their voices touching something deep within her.

 A flutter in her pulse, something skimming under her skin in anticipation though she could not put her finger on it.  Her thoughts returned to her Mother.

 ?Perhaps I?ll light a candle in case she?s lost her way. Thank you, Daniel.?  Murmured softly as she stepped past Daniel and into the Lion?s Den.

Unintended Consequences

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2013, 11:55:41 PM »
Continued From Above

The Hallowmas crept forward into its third day as the debauchery of a corrupted All Hallows Eve gave way to genuflection on All Saints Day before the celebration of All Souls Day.  The triduum would conclude with the day?s celebration and remembrances of those souls toiling until purgatorial stones could one day be cast off.  The day being important to the faithful flock of the universal church; the Hedonist gave the day his special attention as well.  Given the late hour of the evening, the mass was just concluding, large pockets of humanity spilled out onto the street; their good deed done for the day.  

Such a shame that a Holy Day of Obligation followed All Hallows Eve so closely, the Scorpion mused as he moved opposite the streaming crowd exiting the church.  How like Him to give with one hand and then take away with the other.  But then that had been the 5000 year irony of His creation:  stacking the rules of the game against the pieces upon the board.  

The smell of cloves clung to both suit and skin as he exhaled; the smoke trailing behind the steam engine of sinful desire as he continued towards the church.  Rawboned body was propelled forward with the lazy gait of one who had recently overindulged.  So many souls begging for a release to agonizing denial, so many faces hidden behind masks allowing latent ego a shameless escape while so many roles played themselves out if only for a single night?that was the deliciousness of All Hallows Eve.  He was simply too much an epicure not to partake on a perversion of pagan rituals.  

Idle hands had suddenly been very busy with so many pawns cast out upon the board.  Whispered promises had positioned some, lies and half-truths fed the egos of others while still others required another, special, kind of coaxing.  The Hedonist eschewed the concept that busy led to barrenness?quite the opposite when one peddled his unique wares.  

Covetous lips spread round the hand rolled clove in a sickle shaped smile for the ease of the night?just give them permission, voice the excuse on their behalf and they would commit.  

The Scorpion?s progress towards the church became stymied as chartreuse stained eyes drifted through the growing darkness to note diminutive buds of light scattered throughout the cemetery behind the church.  The small space provided for a nest of headstones, some much older than the current church, lying twisted and sprawling; the desiccated bodies beneath forgotten and long ago rotten beyond recognition.  Small clusters of souls huddled round alabaster crosses or traditional curved headstones in order to pay homage to their dearly departed with both flowers and flame.  

A bare hand strayed to the side, prurient fingertips caressing across the wrought iron bars of cemetery fencing; the carefree gesture of one unburdened by miserable regret and denial.  ?Dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres,? whispered in that primeval tongue as the scorpion branded ring of iron sang a siren?s note with every impact to a bar.  ?How quaint.?  

A caliginous narrowing of eyes as he watched a woman light a candle and
place it with the others amongst a collection of stones.  
Steps finally arrested by the sight, a hand lifted to grip the bars as if they were a prison gate.  Golden green smear of eyes peered at the incarcerated beyond with a satirical smirk of incongruous pity upon the comely planes of his face.  

Imprisoned by their belief, locked down by their narrow views they had sentenced themselves to spiritual death row.  He would become their last second reprieve and pardon their deprived spirits.  After all, the only way to resist temptation was to yield to it.

A brisk wind stirred, flickered the flames which stared back from the darkness of the cemetery like Medusa?s petrifying serpent gaze.  The chill pulled the Hedonist from his musings and aided in the resistance of bantam flames.  Something about that leaf whirling wind gave him a shiver as it defeated the flimsy barrier of suited sable; the biting chill portending more than just the coming winter.  

The diluvian flow of humanity from the church had dwindled to a feeble trickle of ones and twos and eased the Scorpion?s walk towards its front fa?ade.  Contrarian path forced those he approached to fork to either side of his body like a river round a stone; the gentlemanly tapping of his cane warding off those who wandered too close.  

With their sins freshly washed and their hearts full of saintly devotion, the lingering people provoked little interest from the Hedonist.  He would strike when the iron was hot with desire, when their mouths were desert dry from pleasure deferred and gratification denied.

The Hedonist paused before the western fa?ade of the church.  Leonine eyes prowled up the length of the accompanying campanile.  White washed stones of limestone matched the bell tower to the church in both color and style as they soared past the roof of the church proper.   Heavy bells toiled to and fro as they rang to announce the holy day to the masses.  

Oh how they clung to their past even as the world powered and progressed right by them, such an antiquated way of looking upon a modern world?and all in the name of tradition and history.    

?Such a waste.?  Spoken amidst a final exhale, words brimming with compunction as he contemplated the time and money dedicated to erecting such a thing.  What else could have been done with that time?  What earthly pleasures enjoyed in lieu of heavenly devotion?  

The unanswerable question sped from his thoughts when muscles suddenly stiffened, jerked taught by a primordial responsiveness to a long lost sensation.  The Hedonist?s head snapped raptor like over a shoulder to retrace an invisible path leading away from the church.  

?You?ve come home, hm?? serpentine whisper or words uncoiling from between lips parted by pleasurable surprise.  The question voiced to the empty space about his body as he turned, eyes prowling along the previously taken path towards the heavy bronze doors of the church.  

?Was it faith or doubt which guided your runaway steps??  The upward curling of lips fought against the pull by fingers stroking over his stubble strewn jaw; the question would be answered soon enough.

A fastidious tug to the sleeves of his jacket reset the line of his suit before he moved towards the steps of the church.  Everything was just as it had been upon the previous Sunday.  The travertine floor, a checkered pattern of peacock green and coral red, glistened in the soft glow of burning candles.  The choir looked resplendent in their angelic white gowns shot through with an inverted lambda of yellow, the arms of the V wrapping over their shoulders as they continued their musical devotion from the chancel.  

Everything the same and yet something deliciously different.

The Scorpion watched from the shadows of the vestibule, comfortable in the servitude of darkness while eyes prowled about the relatively empty nave in search for his little runaway.  Never one to hurry, the Hedonist remained content to catalogue those who remained within the walls of the church before eyes set upon her.  ?Ah?there you are.?  Words purred as smooth as anointing oil when eyes fell upon her standing before the votive candles.

He curled round the back of a fluted marble pillar, fingertips trailing along the ridges a hair behind his progress as he turned to advance down the central aisle.  With no need to rush, he took the moments to watch her from a distance.  She was different then when he?d last seen her though he instantly recognized the certain spark within, the spark which had eluded him for some time now.  But no longer.  

How ironic that he approached the ancient and rejected first bride down an aisle which had seen countless weddings before the image of the one who had rejected her.  Perhaps he would claim her in the same fashion, turn the agonized image upon the cross into a witness of their dark union upon His altar.  Such thoughts provoked a triumphant smile upon his face, the expression remaining as he looked to the crucified Christ upon the wall.

I wonder?is it beyond you to trick?  For surely you cannot expect me to believe it would be this easy?  Or have you merely just given up your millennial long game of hide and seek?   Voiceless thoughts directed to the silent figure upon the wall before turning both gait and eyes away from Him in order to fully appreciate his quarry.

Upon close inspection he felt the magnetic pull from within threaten to turn him inside out as the insatiable desire to possess what had once been his tempted movement within straining muscles.  Impossible to be completely immune for she had been his equal in many regards, he struggled to resist the dance of his mahogany haired Samodiva as she beckoned across the ages.  

?It is said prayer is quite powerful?whom do you empower??  Susurrant words breaking the silence and thus the allure of what promised his destruction if he relented too early as he came up alongside her,   aristocratic features half illuminated within the flickering glow of the candles burning beneath them.  He gave no indication or care that such a question might interrupt, eyes flicking downward to winsome fingers tracing around the circular edge of a prayer candle?s glass cup.

Fiametta Belmar

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2013, 02:58:33 PM »

His presence was not announced through tell tale smoke of the hundreds of tiny flames which held her attention. Though she could not read in the traditional sense of the word, vibration was something she could map out effortlessly and fluently. Code that she easily deciphered through the many masked illusions of matter. Lips could lie, vibration could not.

 Her head whipped around as he drew near to her divided sphere, a lush curtain of mahogany and chestnut ripped away to reveal her face to him. Even the sacred geometry of its construction was divided, the Madonna and the Whore. Both ever present in the alchemy of this woman.

Her lithe frame was wrapped in leather, makeshift armor, though there was a tender vulnerability of lace that existed beneath if one were to peel back the layers of this multi tiered lotus. Though clove, cinnamon and cardamom spiced the ripe plum of her mouth, different scents anointed her skin beneath a veil of lace were one to draw close enough to whisper. Heady Hyssop, the purity of White Angelica, a single drop of Spikenard placed to the heart. As sacred to her as the memory of the soul it honored.

It was his vibration and not his face that she recognized, that felt so familiar. The irrefutable fingerprint of his soul.  There was an uncoiling at the base of her spine, a flame ignited. White hot kundalini demanding release as it wound up the column that barely managed to hold her together. It rattled behind the cage of her ribs, never quite reaching its intended destination. It would wait. It would be patient. Soon. A soft exhale poured from that sibylline mouth, angelic in its fall.

?Do you think so?? As if they had already been in the midst of a conversation. She spoke so easily to him it surprised even her. As if she knew he would understand her language.  ?It is not merely the prayer that empowers, but the belief?? she paused, ?and the intention.? Added after a moment. Her chin raised to indicate an elderly woman kneeling with a rosary. Fevered fingers moving over the beads as her lips parroted words she was taught would be the gateway to all which she desired.

Compassion, not mocking infused her voice as she looked at the woman, though there was something else there, a veiled tinge sadness from a divided Magdalene. ?People find comfort in structure, in repetition and ritual. The mind almost demands it?feeds on it.  However, without the belief, the alignment of intention with your words, they are useless. Scattered leaves to the winds. Recycled jargon. The ritual has eclipsed the meaning.?

She paused as she watched the woman?s fingers continue to work over the beads in their feverish haste as if she were trying to outrace her own thoughts. ?She does truly believe that if she completes the sequence, she will be granted her request. But?you see?? She lifted a finger to indicate around the woman. To trace the energy there that she saw in watercolors. ?She does not truly desire in her heart that which she prays for. She is praying for what her mind has told her she is supposed to want. What she has been conditioned to want.?

She could see the darkness around the woman, the murky waters of the lie she tried desperately to mask with the mantra she repeated and clung to. To drown out what her heart whispered, hoping to hold it under water long enough so that it would never again surface. Her perfectly constructed house of cards would come crashing down if she were to heed it. Fia did not cross into the boundary of what the woman prayed for. Her privacy held more sacred than the words the woman uttered.

?Guilt is a terribly thick cloak to carry on the shoulders.?Her voice was underscored with regret. She wished she could remove it from the woman. Give her permission to voice that which she truly wanted. ?But sometimes our true desires are more terrifying than the thick chains of a lie. We are afraid the truth will consume us, so it is easier to drag the chains. Especially when you've grown accustomed to their weight.? She finally turned her attention to look at him. ?Wouldn?t you agree??


On bended knee is no way to be free
Lifting up an empty cup, I ask silently
That all my destinations will accept the one that's me
So I can breathe

Circles they grow and they swallow people whole
Half their lives they say goodnight to wives they'll never know
Got a mind full of questions and a teacher in my soul
And so it goes

Don't come closer or I'll have to go
Owning me like gravity are places that pull
If ever there was someone to keep me at home
It would be you

Everyone I come across in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering but I'm never what they thought
Got my indignation but I'm pure in all my thoughts
I'm alive

Wind in my hair I feel part of everywhere
Underneath my being is a road that disappeared
Late at night I hear the trees they're singing with the dead

Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite forever orbiting
I know all the rules but the rules did not know me

-Eddie Veddar

Unintended Consequences

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Re: Midway Manifestations
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2013, 11:18:09 PM »
(Taken from live play.  My thanks to Fiametta's player for patience during the past couple of crazy months.)

The revelation of mismatched geometry of the woman before him nearly caused him to falter, though the Hedonist had long grown accustomed to last minute changes and weathered the crosswinds of her look with a slow forming smile.  While others would see a simple genetic trait, he understood the sacred symbolism within the opposing colors of her eyes; translated their meaning even before the brushed away strands of mahogany and chestnut settled.

?I would not know.?  Voice slick with rapacious desire as he glanced up from the tiers of votive candles set before them both.  ?I have never felt the weight of such a cloak nor have I burdened my legs with the chains of regret.?  Not exactly a lie, for his original betrayal had been borne from pride and thus been twisted into justification.

She was more than what he sought. Proximity allowed him to sense the dual presence within; the object of ancient desire linked inexorably to another, equally misunderstood, entity.  Unexpected though not disappointing, the Hedonist?s smile shone as he worked out the twisting of souls, the twining of fates.  What had first been seen as yet another obstacle turned into yet another opportunity for reprisal.  Oh the enjoyable irony of what stood before him, of what would become his.
?Guilt, like its cousin regret, is no more or less a child of choice.?  The Hedonist elaborated while continuing to trace the circumference of the crimson glass of the votive holder.  ?Souls like that one?? a nod to the praying woman who now fought the stiffness of servitude as she tried to stand, ?are victims of the beliefs and rituals you speak of.  But it is their choice and so it can be undone with choice.?  Fingers wafted through the heat of the flames, a wan smile forming as he influenced the markers of prayers as easily as he did those who had uttered them.

?She prays for the life of a husband she does not love who is as of this moment, withering away in a hospital bed.?  Whispered words violated the sacrosanct privacy without compunction.  ?Her heart has long belonged to another,? he continued as chartreuse eyes drifted back towards the woman as she sat upon the first pew.  ?She would be happy in his arms, but forbids herself such joys because of her?? a pause as the Scorpion ringed forefinger pointed skyward, ?Vows. I see a husk of a woman, so desperate for a drought ending soak that she is no longer capable of realizing she denies herself that which she so desperately seeks.?

Shadows whispered all around him, his dutiful servants conveying countless truths, lies, sins and salvation.  The cacophony of such things a whirling dervish of chaos that would shred the minds of the uninitiated into ribbons; reducing the sane to a catatonic and worthless existence.

He knew the truth of the woman?s crisis.  The false prayers for life when death was secretly desired; the illicit love of a lifetime stamped out beneath the jackbooted vows of a marriage gone horribly wrong.  Contemptuous glance to the crucified figure on the wall as if to ask if He was truly glorified by such false piety.  ?I see kneeling there the bastard child of doubt?s liaison with fear.  She prays for fear of embracing that which she truly desires, because the foundation of this house demands debasement of human desires.?  Shoulders lifted in a pitying shrug, angling back towards Fia with both hands wrapped round the lupine head of his cane.
He continued as he turned fully to face her once more.  ?Such a life of misplaced servitude will only yield unhappiness in the end.  You must know this to be true.?  Hinting at certain past events, at reproachful conversations held amidst candlelight, an inability to forgive; building blocks for his idle hands.  ?Regret is a far heavier garment than guilt ever can be.  Guilt diminishes over time while regret grows ever heavier, bends and contorts the spine with its remorseless wonderings of what might have been.?
His chartreuse gaze drifted back towards the woman; watched as she finished her prayer and then struggled to regain her feet from the stiffness such a subservient posture created.  ?That is not guilt which weighs her down, it is regret.  Regret at misplaced devotion?at honoring Him when she should have honored herself. ?

?But that is her.  What of you??  His question dismissing the woman without another thought as words pried past the slim armor of leather to get at that tender vulnerability in order to lay her completely open before him.  ?What do you regret hm?  What guilt burdens your delicate soul??
He knew many of the answers, though there was much time unaccounted for.  He had been close several times before, his queen always spirited away, his advance blocked by a multitude of pawns of the other side.  But no longer.
Fia would leave the half-truths and sticky white lies to the tireless spiders which enjoyed spinning webs. Though their patterns were intricate, even beautifully woven, they were ultimately predictable. Tender traps that she?d long since tired of through the ages.  She?d just as soon burn through them all. The fire within her craved something bold enough to burn true. Lying tongues were cloaked in too much residue to produce anything to truly move her.
The choir, which had just concluded the chant, fell silent for a moment before picking up the next selected work. The Scorpion pulled back from his lean upon the votive counter as the choir shifted from one song to another; the first mournful notes of Henryk G?reckI?s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs wafting through the near empty nave.  He tugged at his sleeves, resetting the line of his jacket before lifting eyes to hers once more, watching her carefully.
The mournful voice of the sole soprano that stepped forward to sing the Virgin Mary?s lamentations causing the Hedonist to cock his head and listen.  Ever a lover of music, that single voice seemed to fly through the cavernous church on angel?s wings.

?What of me?? Fia echoed his words, her response poised upon her tongue before she heard the first notes of the song. Fia?s head whipped around towards the altar as if yanked by an invisible chain that connected to the very essence of her being. Color drained from her face as she stood frozen, arrested in disbelief as the woman began to sing.

?Is something wrong?? Purred words slick with the unctuous quality of half-expectation.  The Hedonist turned to fully capture that mismatched gaze within his covetous eyes; preferring to focus on the fiery and untameable amber side.  His side.
?The song??She began, her voice barely above a whisper, the weight of grief pressing against her chest was almost paralyzing. ?Was the last piece my Mother performed before she died.?
?How tragic.? Sympathy oozed from every syllable from the Hedonists tongue. As he moved to walk behind her to her other side. ?How old were you??

?Seventeen.? She answered as if on auto-pilot. As the woman sang, she continued, her jaw setting itself hard against what wanted to seep in. ?My Mother wanted me to hear her perform it before she told me the words. You see I struggle with?? A shake of her head as she cut off the thought. ?She told me the words did not matter. We tend to attach our own perceptions around words. She asked me what the song made me feel.?
?And what was that?? He watched the setting of her jaw as it locked into place, committing every nuance of her face to memory. She was working so hard to keep it back. He could see it swimming so close to the surface.

The words caught in Fia's throat, a hard knot she had yet to unravel, to be able to find peace, and yet refused to be swallowed down; not this time.
?Sorrow. The unbearable pain of loss.? It washed over her in waves, so much so that her hand gripped a pew for support.

?Such a lovely piece. I?ve heard it before, though the translation fails me. What are the words?? Another lie, carefully woven into the rests between the transcendent spell the music was weaving.  He kept his tone soft, this maestro careful not to let his voice be the dissonant note to disrupt or intrude on the carefully composed moment he sought to exploit.
?My Son, My Beloved?? She began a loose translation of what her Mother had shared with her. ?Share your wounds with your Mother. And because my dearest son, I have you always in my heart, and will always serve you lovingly, speak to me your Mother, and make her happy. Alas, alas, I know you are already being taken away?my dear hope?? Her breath hitched, her gaze finally lifting as if compelled to the crucified figure above the altar.
She dared not utter another sound, for the delicate pane separating her and a soul shattering memory replaying within her subconscious was already starting to crack. Another word and she felt that the barrier would shatter.
?So cruel,? He murmured, so close to her ear. ?To experience such a deep love and to then have it torn from you. One has to wonder why such an injustice is necessary.? His hand slithered round to take her hip to turn her as if to embrace her into a dance.
Fia?s hands curled into fists, nails digging into palms hard enough to draw blood. As he stepped forward to take her hip, she was torn from the riptide of memory into the present.

She pivoted in easily out of his reach.  Steps that would mark the beginning of a different kind of dance to evaluate the man standing before her. She moved like a muse of Balanchine, an oddly divided swan queen. Danger within grace, Odile in a pas de deaux with Odette.
Though he felt familiar, she could not place where she knew him. The reverberation from his touch was intense, but the root of its remained hidden from her. Words flashed before her that had jumped out from the pages of the book Mouse had tried to get her to read. The book she had reduced to ash.
Threat?Secret?Tell?React?Her Test.
Like a photograph not fully developed in her mind?s eye. She felt an intense flash of heat above her brows, a burning sensation in the middle of her forehead.  She touched her finger to the spot as if singed, she stepped back, her vision suddenly blurred; a curtain drawn.
She was so close to knowing him. The Hedonist had felt the heat of that serpentine ignition; watched as it slithered round the mercurial caduceus of her spine and traveled upwards towards the wings of her shoulders.  Mouth had gone desert dry as he waited for its release, posture tilted forward with the anticipation of the faithful about to receive the transmutation of flesh and blood.  It had been too long since his last communion with her; body vibrating at the prospect of such a sinful reunion.
?It is only partially open. If you would permit me, I can give you extra help to that particular line of sight.? A finger was raised to the center of her forehead to do just as he intended.  He felt the barrier even as he crossed it, should have expected it though his own temptation had clouded his judgment.  A brow arched as his hand slowed its trek towards her brow, fingers tightening in a resistance that was not his own.
It happened so quickly, she did not know what hit her. The impact and sheer force of the energy so powerful it rocked her backwards after it entered through the crown of her head. A pure, blue light radiated from her as her hand lifted seemingly on its own. The hand felt foreign from her own, as if another had been placed over hers, larger and almost masculine in nature, with a strength that vibrated through ever cell of her body.  When he reached to touch the center of her forehead, the pulse sent the shockwave of brilliant blue from her and straight into the sphere of the man before her.
The Hedonist winced and screwed his eyes shut against the sudden intrusion of such undiluted light.  Long accustomed to shadows and darkness, such brilliance forced a recoiling step away from Fia.  A moment later shadows gathered and roiled forward like a storm surge upon a low lying beach intent on extinguishing such a powerful flare.  But now was not the time, such hallowed ground not the place and so the shadows drained back to the corners and recesses of the nave.
?Ah, Michael.?  The Hedonist sighed with recognized disappointment and a chartreuse glance skyward.  He pulled his hand from her face to look upon the watch wrapped round his wrist.  Its many hands ticked and spun at different speeds, tracked many kinds of time while the celestial zodiacs moved round the perimeter of the face.  ?Ever the clock watcher and over achiever.?  A spark of poisonous resentment staining the timbre of his voice; the Hedonist speaking to no one in particular.
?But it is not yet time.  You know the rules as well as I. A bit overprotective aren?t we? Is it fear which forces you to overstep your place?  Fear that she will enjoy what I reveal?? The prescient smile which slowly formed upon aristocratic features borne of surety in the face of silence.  
Eyes drifted downward to find the mismatched gaze of his absent queen, a whimsical smile upon his face. A long, considering glance given to the lovely little channel that stood before him. Wavering somewhere between admiration and annoyance. ?You must be?very strong to be able to channel his energy. My old friend was giving me a warning that I am not allowed to open it for you.? A tip of his head. ?The door that which will bridge the gap between us. Or perhaps he?s a tad jealous.?
A smirk was thrown over a shoulder to the winged statue behind him that held his sword aloft, though the warning was heeded?for now.  The Hedonist kept a wary eye on the powerhouse of a woman before him, intrigued that she remained almost unaware of the dormant power warring just beneath the surface.  ?You have powerful allies. You have long been a favorite of his. Though they will hinder far more than they help.?  Admitted while he produced a cigarette from a silver case.  His equilibrium returned, the Hedonist made no move to elaborate on his revelation.
The tip of the cigarette caught in the tiny flame of the prayer candle, the Hedonist paused to exhale a twisting column of calamus scented smoke.  ?I look forward to seeing you break such chains.?  Harkening back to their previous conversation.  His generous mouth split in a wry smile before extinguishing the bantam flame with an exhale from between pursed lips.  Eyes remained on the tiny wisp of smoke as both prayer and light were snuffed out with a single breath.
?Perhaps you will show you me your carousel in the meantime.?  Spoken as movement returned to latent limbs, a promised meeting in the near future voiced more as an absolute than question.  He allowed fingers to navigate the dangerous curves of her hips as he pressed past her. He?d leave her to figure out how he knew of her whereabouts.  The touch was fleeting though heavy with a promised insinuation of more.  It was, after all, in his nature.
Her hands were still vibrating, she had not expected what had just transpired between them. The aftershocks of the energy were still coursing through her. The sensation far from unpleasant, though her body took a moment to adjust. His words barely registered in her conscious mind, though a higher consciousness had taken in every word he had spoken.
 Fia noticed the pain in her forehead had vanished the moment he stepped from the building. She glanced up to the statue of Michael, his sword held high, a question forming on her tongue when her gaze fell to the smoke from the prayer candle that he had extinguished in his wake.
She glanced around her before her hand lifted to re-light the flame so that it burned anew. Hope was a flame that should never be extinguished. A final glance to the altar before she stepped from the doors of the church, oblivious to the soft sound of wings fluttering in the rafters, or the white dove that followed her home.

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