This is s rough draft of a short story…
The powerful hint of death met him in the outside hallway as he approached the door. He hesitated a tick before pushing the key into the lock and turning. He let out a gasp upon entering.
Billy walked into the room while raising his elbow to his nose to block the acrid smell. His worst fears confirmed, Billy saw the bloated body of his father on the floor, a foot from the window. The body was entangled with the dusty light blocking blind that he reached for in vain to keep from falling into the valley of death. CPR was unnecessary.
One arm of the corpse had managed its way through the middle of the blind, and appeared to be less of a hand, and more of the head of a Loch Ness monster. Billy thought of how foolish his mind could be in moments of terrible stress.
He pulled his cell phone from his back pocket and dialed 9-1-1.
“Yes, there’s been an accident…please send the police to 42 Chestnut Street Apartment 1…no I’m not in danger…what?..no…no…I…f-f-f-f-found my father on the floor. He’s dead. Thanks. Okay.”
Billy pressed the button on his phone to hang up. He backed out of the door while keeping his gaze fixed on the body. His mind pumped fragmented thought after thought, his heart fired wildly. He got nervous, and didn’t know what to do. He wiped his hands on his corduroys, and took out a tissue from his back pocket. It took on the smell of the spearmint gum that abutted the pack of Kleenex. He pressed the minty tissue to his nostrils.
The tissue didn’t help at all. The smell of the room began to overpower him and he went to close the door. As he did, he noticed that the bookcase on the far left wall of the studio apartment seemed to be at an odd angle in its placement. Clearly it had been moved. Although the space of the studio was small, it seemed plausible to believe that even in the throes of death, Billy’s father would not have knocked it out of its alignment.
Something didn’t add up. Now the police were on their way, and Billy got nervous thinking about the new possibilities implied by the bookcase. He thought he could go in and take a quick peek behind the bookcase before they arrived, but he didn’t want to contaminate a potential crime scene. He didn’t know what to do.
He looked to the right down the hallway, and then to the left. There appeared to be no one else in the building. He rushed the palms of his hand through his hair a couple of times and then brought his hands together with the fingers entwined on the back of his scalp. Waiting for what seemed like an eternity, he let out a couple of large breaths and then started towards the door.
He pushed the unlocked door open again. The body still resided in its pool of decay. Billy walked on his tiptoes over to the bookcase, and tried to see around the back of it. The daylight was waning, and the shadows being cast from the window obscured the space behind the bookcase in darkness.
Careful to not touch the bookcase with his bare hand, he used the tissue he had from earlier to grip the bookcase with his left fingertips. In the same motion, he went into his pocket and withdrew his phone to use the assistive light to get glimpse of what might be behind the bookcase.
There just about as far as the angle allowed, there seemed to be tape, or some type of adhesive outline on the wall. Hanging from the adhesive were small inter-connected pieces of spiral notebook paper, the ones that are left behind when you tear out a page.
“Hey, put your put your hands on your head, and back away from the bookcase. Now!”•
“I’m Billy Vacha, I called you, minutes ago.”
“I said put your hands on your head and turn around slowly. Now!”
Billy dropped his phone and tissue to the floor and put his hands together on his head while slowly turning around.
The officer held his gun and gaze upon him.
“Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Billy Vacha. That’s my father over there. I’m the one who called you.”
The second officer that must have come in behind him must have been clearing the apartment while the first officer was occupied with Billy.
“All clear hear.”
“Hey Smitty, radio dispatch. Did they just receive a call from this guy?”
“Please officer, I just called the police when I found my father here.”
The second officer came up behind Billy and reached into his back pocket for his wallet, after picking up his cell phone from the floor.
“Yeah. This checks out. Dispatch confirmed he called, and his cell has 911 as the last entry.”
The first officer holstered his pistol, but not his gaze. He looked at Billy, and through him.
“What the hell are you doing here at the bookcase? Why did you not go outside after finding your father? You’re contaminating the scene here.”
“I saw this bookcase away from the wall, I thought that there was something behind it.”
“Hey Craig, the medical examiner and coroner are on their way over.”
“This here is Officer Smith, and I’m Office Craig Jacobs.”
“Yeah, we’re going to need to get a statement from you.”
“I just came over here to visit my Dad because I haven’t heard from him in a week.”
“How did you get in here?” said Officer Smith.
“I have a key.”
Jacobs looked at him as if trying to discern some unknowable truth and added, “did you see forced entry or did anything seem out of order?”
“No. I found the door locked and used my key. I felt something was wrong because I could smell the body as I approached the door.”
“Mr. Vacha, was your father sick? When was the last time you heard from him?”
“No, he was in good health for his age. I spoke to him about a week ago.”
“Well we can’t tell if there has been a crime here or not, so we’re going to treat this like a crime scene” said Jacobs.
Chapter 3: Friends In High Places
The Tower of Creation had existed for over two thousand years. It stood resolute in the Last City, and it was the tallest structure in the Southern hemisphere. Thousands upon thousands of Valkronians made a pilgrimage to see it everyday. It was the most visible symbol of The Creators Power, and it housed the White Palace, home of the Supreme and Supremess. The strong arm of The Creators was also housed in the base of the tower, as legions of Veeters guarded it. The tower was surrounded by a moat, and there were two large orbs that revolved around stone axis structures, that mirrored the orbits of Valkron’s twin moons. At the very top of the tower, above the White Palace, was the Wisdom Chamber. This was where the Supreme and Supremess met with their council. Today’s council was poorly attended, and this was done purposefully, as the main councilor, Majordomo Nimsey Schmuckins, excluded two-dozen Valkron priests, and the Legion Veeter Lords.
The morning sun and moon played light across the Wisdom Chamber’s largest meeting table. There were only three attendants at the table. Each studying the face of the others, and exchanging equal looks of disgust and bemusement.
“The last raid yielded very little, your Highness,” said the Majordomo Nimsey.
“How is it possible? We’ve nearly quadrupled the number of attacks in recent weeks. We’ve focused solely on the northeastern quadrant. That’s where he hid her all these years. He even said as much. She has to be there. Do we need to start going from house to house?”
“No, your Highness. We mustn’t do that just yet. We need to have the citizens on our side. If we lose the citizens, then we lose control over the entire world for years to come. Besides, we will have him go with Lord Lorimor on the next attack. We will make him show us exactly where he lived with her all these years.”
“He’s a frail old man. He barely survived his abduction.”
“I assure you, it would be unwise for us to underestimate him your Highness. After all, he was able to hide her for twenty years.”
Majordomo Nimsey placed his hands inside his oversized sleeves and rubbed his elbows as he awaited the reaction to his counsel. He had never been one to suggest ideas for consideration without fully knowing the result of the decision. Majordomo Nimsey was always three conversations and two plans ahead of any given member of the court at any given time. He calculated his words to affect the listener in such a way as to make them think that they were making their own decisions. He had a way of seeming humble, but the plain truth was that his ambition was so sharp, that it could slice a thread evenly in half lengthwise.
There were very few people within the inner sanctum of The Creators that could understand all facets and inner workings of the world of Valkron. Majordomo Nimsey, along with the present company of Supreme Feyath and his companion Supremess Shurlanth, were three such individuals. Supreme Feyath and Supremess Shurlanth ruled Valkron, with the help of Majordomo Nimsey’s counsel, or so they thought. This was how it appeared to many in the know. If order was perceived then order existed. Majordomo Nimsey thrived and relied upon this fact, and he allowed Supreme Feyath and Supremess Shurlanth to believe that they called the shots.
“I can’t impress upon you the importance of finding her,” Feyath said, as he looked worrisome trying to put forth an air of decisiveness. He pointed directly at Majordomo and warned, “She is the only thing keeping us from maintaining total control of the planet. If you don’t find her, then I’m holding you personally responsible. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, your Highness.”
Majordomo bit down on his tongue and tried his best to keep his composure. Majordomo Nimsey Schmuckins started his loathing for Supreme Feyath four short years ago, but it had not abated for one instant during that time. The boiling point was nearing, and he was doing his level best to not let it interfere with his bigger plans.
“Why do you just sit there, my darling?” Feyath chided Supremess Shurlanth. “You think that you would add something to these meetings, but you don’t say a word. When did you become so ambivalent?”
Nimsey noticed the scowl that she offered to Feyath, and then she looked at him. She let her look linger there longer than it should. If she wasn’t careful, he would find out about them. Majordomo Nimsey offered the rulers help in all affairs; even those affairs that Feyath tended to neglect the most.
“I’ve nothing to say. I’m tired of the searching. We don’t know for sure if it’s her anyways. Trantaxus is an old man, and a liar. The midwives would have brought her to me had she survived the birth. He is telling us what we want to hear. Anyone would after a year of deprivation and torture.”
“Be that as it may, but Majordomo Nimsey believes it likely that the child did survive the birth. He recently spoke to Meara the Midwife in the village before she died.”
“Yes, it is true, I spoke with her. She claimed that she wanted to seek forgiveness from the Supreme and Supremess for a grave mistake.”
“And what was that mistake?” Shurlanth asked.
Majordomo relished the tension on Shurlanth’s face. She was realizing that he didn’t share everything with her. He was amazed at how easy it was to manipulate her. He knew that if he gave her the few things that Feyath could not, then she would allow him to lead her toward all of his ends.
“Meara told you that the child had been still born, and she wrapped it in bloody rags, and took it to the base of the tower where she gave it to Trantaxus. Apparently, she had been involved with him for some time, and he had convinced her that your child was the one that would fulfill the prophecy.”
“That’s impossible. She died.”
“Did you see the baby?”
“No. I didn’t, I couldn’t bear to look.”
“That night was the night of the two-moon eclipse. It was the night foretold in The Rote. You gave birth to a baby girl, and that baby girl was hid from you and taken away by a Veeter traitor.”
“This cannot be true. Can it Feyath?” she searched her husband’s face for an answer.
“It makes sense. It all fits. Trantaxus was wise to take her from us and hide her. If what is expected of her comes true, then Valkron will be forever bound to our rule. We will become immortal and rule for all of time.”
“This is too much for me. I’m having a hard time believing it,” she said.
“Don’t worry,” Majordomo Nimsey grabbed both of their hands and said; “we will prove it to you by bringing Trantaxus before us. He will tell us the tale, or we will take what he cherishes most from him.”
“And what is that?” asked Feyath.
“Well, he believes that the child is his granddaughter. We will threaten him with exposing his true nature to her when we find her.”
Majordomo Nimsey searched their faces, trying to glean any hints of what they were thinking. They were holding up pretty well under the duress of the news. Majordomo knew that Feyath’s ego was so large that it wasn’t hard for him to believe that he had sired the chosen one. However, Shurlanth needed more coaxing. She needed to come to terms that a baby that she believed dead for over twenty years, could suddenly be alive.
Majordomo pushed his chair back from the table and bid the Supreme and Supremess a fair afternoon. He knew that come evening that Shurlanth would be in his chamber awaiting her due. He needed to stop by the apothecary to get the staving potion. He could ill afford his seed impregnating Shurlanth now. He chuckled at the notion that she thought he was sterile. It was a known fact that in engaging in a life of servitude, all Majordomos were required to volunteer for sterilization. Somehow Majordomo remained intact, but that was another secret story that he held within the deepest vault of his being. At least he could get his manhood to work, unlike, Feyath. He and Shurlanth would pant heavily when engaging in their coupling, and laugh heartily recounting the many tales of the futile attempts that Feyath made to dazzle her. Cuckolding Feyath was one of Majordomos greatest victories.
Majordomo Nimsey descended the grand staircase that ran from the Wisdom Chamber to the White Palace, and then he continued down the long hallway to the gimbtwaiter dock. Majordomo had the holder call for the gimbtwaiter. When the operator arrived in the basket, the holder opened the gate and allowed Majordomo to enter.
“Where to, sir?”
“I need to go to Lorimor’s quarters.”
“The Lord Veeter Commander’s quarters, immediately.”
The basket descended the tower in a slow fluid motion, until it arrived at the top floor of the base. This was where the Lord Veeter Commander’s quarters were located. Majordomo Nimsey trusted virtually no one, but he trusted Lord Veeter Commander Lorimor enough to be able to enlist him in the majority of his stratagems. Ruling required gaining the confidence of and knowing how to extrapolate the most out of your assets. Lord Veeter Commander Lorimor was the greatest asset in the Veeter command. His strength and bravery were legendary, and he had risen to assume the rank of Lord Veeter Commander when the previous Lord Veeter Commander abandoned the post.
Majordomo Nimsey knocked on the door of Lorimor’s quarters. There was a shuffling from behind the heavy oaken door, and an audible grumbling. He must have caught Lorimor in an inopportune time.
The door latch clicked and wind rushed out from the red crack that was forming around the door. A straining voice came from inside, “come in.”
Majordomo Nimsey pulled the door open, and saw the Lord Veeter Commander bending another Veeter over backwards. They were standing there in loincloths, and Nimsey could see every muscle of each of them tensing. The Veeter bending over backwards was doing his best to resist the tension Lorimor was applying, but Nimsey could see that Lorimor held the fine advantage, and that it would only be a matter of time before he relented.
“Do you yield?”
“Do you yield?
Lorimor applied more pressure to the Veeter, and there was a loud snapping noise, followed with an extreme shriek of registered pain, as Lorimor snapped the spinal column of the Veeter and allowed him to slump to the floor in a sea of screams. The Lord Veeter Commander went to the table and unsheathed his blade and brought it over to the broken Veeter, he brought it neatly across his throat silencing the screams with one final gurgle.
“I’m glad you’re on our side.”
“Which side is that?”
“The right side.”
“Some might disagree.”
“All that do find their throats liberated just as this one did.”
The Lord Veeter Commander walked over to the table again and used a towel from the table to wipe the blood from his blade. He sheathed his sword and assembled his leather armor. He tightened the straps on the sides creating a more snug fit, and then bound the wristlets to his arms.
“What is it that you want, Majordomo?”
“Who says that I want something?”
“You always want something.”
“Yes, and you always give something.”
“All that I have, I give in service to The Creators.”
“Please, spare me the lines from The Rote.”
Lorimor walked over to the bar and poured out a glass of wine. He made a gesture to the Majordomo, asking if he wanted a cup. Majordomo declined.
“I need you to travel up the Northeastern quadrant again. We believe we know where the child is located.”
“Are you sure this time, my troops are getting tired of holding back on the raids. When will the Veeters get what is promised to them?”
“In time Lord Lorimor, in time. These last few raids will yield what we expect. We have finally derived the information from Trantaxus.”
“I told you it would take a long time to get that old bull to break.”
“Anyone will break if you apply the right kind of pressure,” Majordomo said as he stared into the eyes of the Lord Veeter Commander. Lorimar held the gaze and then looked Majordomo down to the floor to the carcass of his comrade. Majordomo noticed the blood pooling around the open throat of the dispatched Veeter.
The Majordomo considered what was more dangerous, the hand the held the sword, or the voice that held the hand. Nimsey had a healthy fear of Lorimor, but he also felt confident that he could best him in all forms of thinking. As strong as Lorimar was, he lacked the finesse required of a patient man. Majordomo was a patient man.
Lorimar came over and grabbed the Majordomo by the left shoulder and patted him on the back. “I’ve got to hand it to you, you did get him to talk, but remember what you promised me.”
“Yes, how could I forget? He will be all yours when we are through with him.”
Nimsey knew that above the bravery, that above the strength, that what really motivated Lorimor, was revenge. He wanted to give back to, or more accurately take away from Trantaxus, what Trantaxus had taken from him.
Lorimor was missing three fingers from his left hand, which was his non-sword hand, and he no longer had a left ear. During his flight from the Tower of Creation, Trantaxus cut his way through a legion of Veeters, culminating with a final confrontation with Lorimor in which he bested him. Lorimor had been waiting twenty years to pay the bill, and having Trantaxus in a cell in the Tower of Creation was not easy for him. If it weren’t for the Majordomo’s extreme insistence, then it was highly probable that they would awake one morning to find Trantaxus in a pool of his own blood.
Timing was everything, and Nimsey knew that all the seeds he had planted were ready to sprout into a garden that needed harvesting. Soon he would be able to watch the final pieces of his plan come together, but he needed just a little more time.
“Please leave me Majordomo. I must take rest before the raid. Are you sure that the Northeastern quadrant is where we will strike?”
“Yes, and this time you will have a guide with you to show you exactly where to find the child. And please, be careful, I wouldn’t want anything to happen to Trantaxus during the raid. It would be a shame if he were not here to stand trial for his betrayal.”
“Just make sure it happens after you have the girl.”
“How will we know if she is the right one?”
“Because, he will give his life to protect her. Remember, to apply the right amount of pressure, and we will have our prize.”
Majordomo Nimsey left Lorimor to clean up the mess he made, and found his way back to the gimbtwaiter. He got back in the basket and rode up to his own quarters. On the way up, he stopped at the apothecary to pick up his potion. They had been preparing this brew for ten years now. Luckily for him, no one questioned the veracity of his intentions, as they believed that he was picking it up for the Supreme.
Once inside the apothecary, he was escorted to the rear of the dispensary by the novitiates in training. They found it an honor to deliver the Majordomo to the Chief Pharma. He walked through row after row and desk after desk. A couple hundred novitiates were busy at mixing potions and other curiosities at each of their desks.
No one knew that he had his humble beginnings many years ago in this very room. He made very sure of that. All that knew of his former life were eliminated. It took some doing, but once he had set the plan in motion, it took on a life of his own. Not even Shurlanth had an idea of who he really was.
“What seems to be troubling you today Majordomo?” said Chief Pharma.
The head apothecarian had beaten Nimsey to the punch by initiating the conversation. Somehow, the only person in the Tower of Creation that vexed the Majordomo was the Chief Pharma. He always seemed to have something to say, and something else in meaning. Nimsey was weary of their interaction, but needed the Chief Pharma for his expertise in his art.
“I’ll need another bout of staving potion.”
“That’s the second time this week, Majordomo”
“Yes, it appears the Supreme is quite active.”
“It would appear so,” said Chief Pharma looking out over the ledger he was writing in.
“Please, I’m in a hurry.”
“As you wish, sir.”
Nimsey didn’t like the smugness on the face of Chief Pharma. There was something else there. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was something else. He took a seat on the bench and watched as the Chief went into the adjoining room. It took longer then he had anticipated, so when the Chief finally arrived with the potion, he stood up sharply.
“The Supreme does not like to be kept waiting.”
“My apologies, Majordomo. I’m afraid it was unavoidable.”
“Please see that it is done more quickly next time. I wouldn’t want to have to explain to the Supreme why his potion was delayed.”
“No, sir, that would be unfortunate for both of us.”
Nimsey noticed that smug look again. He turned from the Chief and exited the apothecary retracing his steps through the rows of novitiates.
He hopped back into the gimbtwaiter and finally ascended to his last destination for the day. When he arrived at his quarters, the centuries on either side of the door were immovable as he strode past them. He held no fear of them, even though he knew what they were and what they were capable of doing. He slipped through the door, and moved through the front four rooms of his quarters, until he got the fifth back room. When he finally entered his inner sanctum, he increased the illumination of the already lit oil lanterns hanging from the chandelier. He then directed his gaze at the sheer curtains that concealed the contents of his swarthy bed. He knew she would be in there pleasuring herself while waiting for him.
Majordomo went over to the bed and pulled aside one of the sheer curtains; the pungent musk met his nose. Writhing on the bed was the Supremess Shurlanth. She had her left hand knuckles deep within the darkness between her legs. He drank the potion he picked up from the apothecary and discarded the container on the table beside the bed.
She was ready, and so was he. He removed his robe and climbed into the bed, placing himself on top of her. She removed her hand from the darkness and grasped him fully guiding him into her. They moved for drawn out moments, and they fought against each other violently until they met a rhythm of agreement. Once the song began to play, they soon unfolded into each other and with a final shudder collapsed into a heap.
“I love you, Nim.”
“Not yet. Not yet.”
When I think of all that I hold dear;
I smile for my treasure.
Of my family, work and career,
My family gives most pleasure.
I think, I need, I know, I love.
Gifts bestowed from life lived well.
Of all the things I’m thankful of,
Thoughts of you, my heart does swell.
A man’s mere worth is hard to measure,
for time beats down upon his hope.
A man counts most on what gives pleasure,
Among lasting things to promote.
I can’t know how, or why I have,
Or what I didn’t do.
For none of this makes me glad,
As glad as I am when I’m with you.
When I think of all that I hold dear;
I smile for my treasure.
A man of luck I boldly dare,
to hold this formed conjecture.
Mellow buzz permeates my system.
Melting towards my head.
Sure to cause a hard throb tomorrow.
Never gonna break my stride.
More alive by deadening the senses.
Habitual endeavors lead to solid repetition.
No one knows, just how many.
Limited by the limitless.
To be beheld by the eyes of a beauty is bliss.
Drunks glow like pregnant women.
Their bellies full and round.
Written while on an Elevated train heading into The Loop searching for a job in Chicago. Circa 2006.
By Christopher Hickey
Is this the place?
Traveling light, with a heavy heart.
Where to start?
Expel my doubts,
They’re still here.
Resume your life.
Resume is your life.
Paper defines worth.
Can I exist without succinct definition?
Having tried to fail, I succeed.
Failing to succeed, champions my complacency.
Walking to stand still.
Preying on hope.
Waiting for good dough.
We're all on a road to somewhere.
O zi minunată!
Island boy, city life.