Red Dragon Inn

Red Dragon Inn Home Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark

Welcome, traveler!
( Member login. Not a member? Register here. )


Search    Memberlist    Usergroups    Forum Help   
Gallery    Shop    Jobs    Auctions    Pet Shop    Lottery   
Register    Log in 

Confluence

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic   printer-friendly view    Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark Forum Index -> WestEnd -> Broken Parts, Missing Pieces
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Ketch Creeley
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 207
See this user's pet

11613.30 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:17 pm    Post subject: Confluence Reply with quote

A worried man with a worried mind
No one in front of me and nothing behind
There's a woman on my lap and she's drinking champagne
Got white skin, got assassin's eyes
I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies
I'm well dressed, waiting on the last train

-Bob Dylan, Things Have Changed.

October 17th, 2016

The days strung themselves out in a line of gray, unpainted aluminum. In hinges and door locks, in polished chrome casings. The line was automated: skeletal black steel fingers with bifold knuckles gripping metal sheeting that passed in eight-second intervals. Three point five seconds to spend on inspection. Two to flag any imperfections with yellow, perforated tape. One to click the button on the counter. One point five to push the rest of the unwanted thoughts away: sleep-saturated skin in the morning, coffee strong enough to start a nose bleed. The tic in his jaw that wouldn’t subside. An overwhelming sense that he was missing something.

Sometimes he thought, in that last eighth of a second before the metal clacked forward again, that it was his goddamn mind.

He wore blue coveralls with the name George stitched in white on a purple background. Above, a glorified shower cap mushroomed out over a bald head. The body supporting it was stocky and six inches shorter than Ketch’s. The difference in height had required some adjustment of balance and was one of those carryovers Ketch still found oddly fascinating. George was too top heavy for economy of motion. He was a lumberer and a trudger, and was not what Ketch thought most would consider an attractive man. Not that any of that mattered.

Five feet to his left was Marna cracking her gum as she made check marks on her clipboard. By her build, he suspected some orc in her bloodline, but distant. Just enough to make the eye double back over her figure. She smiled at him. George smiled back. She did have a nice smile. George had always thought that.

When he'd caught up with George in the tavern on Leeds just where August said he’d be, Ketch meant only to pull the surface from him—just enough to get by for three days, get the piece of paper August wanted, and get paid. But they’d sat there for five hours as the tavern filled and emptied again, splitting screen time between duels and Milt Pappa’s 1972 no-hitter at Wrigley. They drank Silvermarks as Ketch worked his way through a pack of cigarettes. George didn’t smoke, so Ketch kept the tray to his right.

Eventually, they struck up the kind of temporary camaraderie that came from drinking in close proximity. George knew a surprising amount about the Cubs for a man who’d been born and raised in RhyDin.

“They thought his wife was taken and sacrificed for a satanic ritual. The Ripper or some such name.” George swallowed another gulp of beer and inspected the label like it’d tell him something new.

Ripper Crew. Ketch nodded but didn't correct him. He knew the story about the pitcher’s wife but couldn't remember how he did. The macabre anticlimax of her car turning up five years later in a pond nearby, her body still behind the wheel.

“I’ve thought about it some,” George said, rapping the bottom of his bottle idly atop the counter until condensation dribbled onto it. “If it was some kind of comfort that she drowned, instead. I don’t suppose it would matter much after five years.”

Ketch watched a pitch sail unswerving into the catcher’s glove, the jolt that ran through the catcher’s body, the gesture of the umpire’s hand. “It does. If you think it doesn’t, you don’t know ***.”

****
By midnight he thought he could’ve been wrong about that, too. Beer and whiskey lodged deep in his system, bathing nerve endings in a cool neon glow that pulsed in the tips of his fingers. Everything inside him felt like it’d sunk below the level of his head. When he stood up, the world shifted politely on its axis to make room for his sway. He hadn’t been this good and drunk in awhile.

George’s skin was rougher than it looked. Gripping the man’s hand, Ketch shook it, palm to palm, thumb firmly curled. Some were trickier than others and put up a little resistance before giving in to the pull. Ketch figured it was some sixth sense mechanism of defense, though no one ever seemed aware of it when it was going on. But George barrelled right into him, his physical blueprint fluorescing and unfolding like a cactus flower in time-lapse. The familiar rush swarmed along Ketch’s forearms, and then it kept right on buzzing upwards without coaxing, which was unusual.

Ketch staggered backward after a three count as the landmarks of George’s life lit up within him like sparks flying from a bonfire. Unremarkable memories, many of them. The monotony had a lulling effect that he liked, though. A string of gray, aluminum days became gray aluminum months and gray aluminum years, and Ketch knew he’d sleep that night like he hadn’t in months.

[tbc]
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ketch Creeley
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 207
See this user's pet

11613.30 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The conversation Ketch had with George at the bar had been on his mind. He wondered if, somewhere in the haze, George thought of it too, considering how things had gone afterward.

Ketch laid a shoulder to the kitchen door; old glue crackled under the linoleum as he crossed the room and pulled out a chair to sit across from the man.

“I’ve been thinking over what we were talking about—that probably I should apologize for snapping at you.” He looked over at the sink’s drain board where a fly crawled across the rim of a bowl. “That wasn’t a good day.”

George’s face remained slack and unaware. A captive audience wasn’t much for prompting, after all. Ketch fell silent, the edge of his thumbnail running a thoughtful track back and forth beneath his lower lip. He thought about loss: about the things he’d lost and some he had yet to lose. He thought that some things he’d considered losses, he’d really just given away. And he thought about how he’d known he was doing it, too.

“How’s that for some *** psychology?” he said aloud, watching as the fly departed the bowl and settled on a spoon. Then, he picked up the coffee mug he’d left on the table earlier and drained the last drops of bitter brew from it.

George’s head jerked upright with a start. For a split second, their eyes met: the liquid-brown, pupil-heavy glaze of the drugged to stark, conscious blue. Ketch pulled a small, glass bottle from his pocket, squeezing the bulb on the dropper until dark liquid filled the stem. He touched it to the inside of George’s lower lip. “This is a new routine for me, this drug thing. Usually, it’s more cut and dried. But I’m experimenting with something this time. And I guess I should apologize for that, too—that you’re the guinea pig. But the end was always going to be the same.” Ketch stuck the dropper back in the bottle and sealed it up tight before tucking it away. He had no idea what the hell was in the vial except that Kate had said it was more potent than anything he’d find on earth. There’d been a few brief seconds as he exited the car, the two vials rolling in his palm and still warm from Kate’s hand, that he’d been curious enough to consider trying it out himself. But it wasn’t full blown oblivion he’d ever been after, just a small share of it.

“If I was more of a dick, I’d ask you now if you think it makes a difference.”

George’s shoulders and biceps tensed and relaxed as the liquid spooled a sublingual path into circulation and hit his nervous system, sending him gently back into his narcotic retreat. When Ketch had shown up on his doorstep the night before, George had answered in striped pajama pants, a half-skinned apple in his hand and confusion written in his features. It took fifteen seconds for the lightbulb to go off, and just as quickly the shifter dimmed it again.

Ketch sat back in the chair watching George slide away. “You ever been asked what your story is? ***, I hate that question. The pieces are interchangeable, the result is the just a different configuration of the same scabs. So what’s the point? Most everyone here’s got stories like that. Some get better, some get worse, and some are just stubborn bastards that apparently like how it feels to run in place.” He thought about the helplessness and hopelessness he’d seen and how he hadn’t felt that way in a long time; he’d made every choice with his eyes wide open—or so he thought—and for the most part he knew what was coming on the other side. Maybe that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. After all, helplessness was also motivation of a kind.

“So this isn’t some come-to-Jesus confession where I’m about to commit to fixing *** about myself. Because I’m not. Which is probably pretty obvious given that you’re still sitting there, yeah?” He didn’t mean to be long-winded but found once he’d opened his mouth, the words kept pouring out. “What bothers me, sometimes, is the fact that I don’t want to; I don’t know that I ever have. You’d think a person would want that after awhile, right? Some sense of personal redemption. That’s how it’s supposed to go. It’s in Maslow’s hierarchy for Christ’s sake.” Ketch wouldn’t have even known about that damn pyramid but for a psychiatrist Mimi had visited in New Mexico years back. It stuck with him because Mimi had been fixated for weeks afterward on the bright gold pinnacle of self-actualization that capped the top.

He thought now of redemption as he learned it: with his father’s eyes blazing furious accusations down at him from the pulpit in that small church built on the edge of the reservation. “You have his eyes.” It was always meant as a compliment, but Ketch had never found a way to take it as such. He sat on that pew Sunday after Sunday and he learned to be still beneath his father’s eyes as they lashed out at the congregation while his mother’s hand tightened across his knee as if to keep him anchored.

Ketch leaned forward, hands dangling between his knees as he watched the slow rise and fall of George’s chest, the occasional twitch of his fingers tangling with the invisible in midair. He wondered whether there was some linear pattern to the man’s thoughts or if they were just amorphous, free-floating things. Maybe there was nothing at all. Maybe it was just a different kind of stillness. “There’s comfort in the familiar,” he said, picking up the empty mug and looking at George’s counters, then the cabinets which contained exactly four of everything. He thought George was a man that would understand the sentiment. “I guess that’s one of the few things I’m not ready to give away.”

Rising, Ketch returned his chair to the opposite side of the small oak table, rinsed the dishes by the sink and left, closing the kitchen door quietly behind him.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ketch Creeley
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 207
See this user's pet

11613.30 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The shower cap deal was starting to piss him off. Ketch had no idea how it had never bothered George and he wondered what the hell it was meant to do anyway beyond providing some unnecessary appearance of sterility among car parts. Yanking it from the top of his head, he stuffed it in his pocket while he waited in the pay line. Around him there was the usual talk of layoffs, recent game scores. George had a few acquaintances besides Marna but they didn't seem to be in the line with him. Good.

He inhaled the scent of bluebonnets and stepped across the threshold, remembering his smile. The grey-touched woman holding a stack of envelopes smiled back. Her hand came up and passed over her hair, smoothing a piece behind her ear. When she handed over George's envelope, the diamond chip in her wedding ring winked in the fluorescent lighting and Ketch felt George’s tired old anger rise like bile that he swallowed back again. She held onto the envelope for an extra two count, and Ketch had trouble discerning whether it was he or George who’d taken up the obsession with counting.

“He's got meetings out of town tonight and tomorrow. I was thinking about making meatloaf,” Angela said, coyly sliding the envelope over George’s thick palm. “What do you think?”

George clipped her off a nod and broadened his smile. “I think that sounds fine. Just fine,” he said, giving her a wink that put color in her cheeks.

Turning to go, he spotted Marna at the end of the line. Her disapproving look followed him out.

Then he was back on the line, the counter in his hand, that last of his lunch sitting heavy in his gut, a sea of gray swimming before his eyes. Click, click. Click. Ketch tugged at the shower cap impatiently, then pulled it off again.

Marna snapped her gum in his direction. “Quality control will get you if you keep messing with it.” George shrugged and made another click on his counter, avoiding her eyes.

“That's a dangerous game you’re playing, you know, another man's wife,” Marna said. The way her eyes narrowed made him feel like a piece of bait wiggling on the line. A year off and on that George had been sleeping with Angela and Marna never said a goddamn thing until today.

“I'm not the first to play it.” The response was uncharacteristic of George. Ketch knew it even as he said it, but that did nothing to prevent the words. George would have said something more mild-mannered, figured out a way to detour the conversation.

His jaw ticked once, twice, kept going until he rubbed the heel of his palm across it. When had he last slept properly? Slept without dreaming he was awake? Days? Weeks? He turned into Marna’s stare head on. “What?”

“You alright? You seem--” Marna’s gum snapped twice more in rapid succession, as if the action might jar loose the proper descriptor.

“I'm fine.” Ketch made another click on his counter and stepped closer to the passing sheets of metal.

Marna’s gum provided another trio of snaps that made Ketch grit his teeth, and then they both watched the line in silence.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ketch Creeley
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 207
See this user's pet

11613.30 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“This is the part where we go off course.” Ketch faced the kitchen chair toward George and sat himself a foot and a half back, old green linoleum crackling and peeling up beneath as the wooden legs of the chair scraped over it.

Staring at the sallow complexion of the man opposite him, Ketch waited to feel something—a twinge of guilt, anticipation, or regret. Maybe even fear. But nothing came. Like the gray sheets of metal he’d become accustomed to watching on a daily basis over the past week, the thoughts in his mind were nondescript and dull, moving by at a steady, unremarkable pace.

A long, thoughtful exhale and Ketch reached forward as he’d seen Mimi do on so many occasions before, and took George’s hand within his own. He closed his eyes and felt the tether of his own consciousness slip away from him.

The last coherent thought he had was of how much he must have thought of himself to resist this before, and what he must think of himself now to be giving in.

***

“And then?” Nat asked, reaching for the beer Ketch pushed in front of him. The old Sweeper popped the tab but instead of drinking from the can, he just held it under his nose, inhaling while the peaked angle of his thick brows implored the shifter to continue with the story. Puddled on the floor in front of the kitchen sink was the story’s subject.

While he nursed one beer and held the cold condensation of another against the swollen ridge of his cheekbone, Ketch searched for the right words to explain what it had been like to invade poor George’s soul. It had been something like a drug-induced high: a sense of ecstasy and unity, but larger, grander, more robust--a confluence of energy on a massive scale. Words dropped from the tight formation of his frown slowly, “It was euphoric in a way, like the hand of a god braiding two souls and tying them off in a single knot. Closeness and awareness of individual parts and the whole all at once.” It had been just as much torture as ecstatic rush, like fingers tiptoeing politely up his spine and then peeling his skin off from the inside. He’d blacked out shortly after.

“That’s a little esoteric for you,” Nat said, placing the can back upon the table, gnarled hand loitering around the rim, tipping it back and forth idly as he considered the body by the sink. “So you want me to get rid of him, then?”

“Nah.” Ketch shook his head, ignoring Nat’s first comment as he tipped his can back until lukewarm beer funneled down the back of his throat. “I still need him. I’ll take care of it when I’m done. I need more practice.”

“I can’t say whether I’m surprised you finally did it or not,” Nat said.

“Probably inevitable, yeah?”

“Inevitability also makes a convenient excuse when one wants it to.” The old Sweeper searched Ketch’s face, then his gaze drifted to the collection of cups and bowls by the sink.

Ketch gave a sullen shrug and rubbed a bruise forming along his temple. Nat flicked his thumb in the direction of the bruising. “He get you or you get that getting him?”

“Both. I came to back in my own body and he was hoofing it for the back door. I don’t think he knew what was even happening, just running on blind instinct.”

Adrenaline thrust another endorphin rush upon the shifter like an earthquake’s aftershock as his consciousness reseated itself firmly in his own body. Familiarity returned slowly and he had only seconds of relief before George rose from the floor and started to half stumble, half crawl in the direction of the back door. Ketch hooked his boot around the man’s kneecap, and once he had him on the floor, slung his forearm around George’s neck and tensed the muscles until the other man went limp beneath his grip.

Dropping back to the floor with George sprawled over the top of his thighs, Ketch counted his breaths until they steadied, palm scraping from forehead to chin, tender spots lighting up and flashing white-hot against the back of his eyelids as he moved across them. “I deserved that,” he said, touching the knot forming along his temple. He swore, head thumping back onto the ground, eyes fixed on George’s ceiling where the plaster was cracked and caved in above him and spread in thin lines like the fragile filaments of a spider’s web. Inexplicably, Ketch began to laugh. A cracked sound, like the ceiling above, his laughter filled the room and ballooned from him in uncouth gasps and ragged hitches that wracked his chest.


“Those memories you refused to return awhile back,” Ketch said, gaze swinging from afternoon shadows falling through the windowpanes to Nat.

“You found the backroads.”

“I guess.”

“Via substance or--” Nat gave a trilling fan of his fingers.

“A girl, some kind of half-fae.” Aoife deserved much more than that description, but Ketch was guarded--perhaps even selfish--with what he knew of the dreamwalker. Her face floated through his mind like a balm, momentarily creating a drag in his thoughts; the strange cast of her eyes tucked behind a dark wing of hair, her name forming a sigh that he refused to exhale. He held the notes of it in his chest until it lilted out through a ripple of his fingers atop the table.

Nat eyed Ketch, then tsked.

“You’re one to talk,” Ketch said, finally stealing away Nat’s untapped beer.

“I’m an exception,” Nat said confidently. “Dreamwalker, huh? Most of the ones I know, you let them in once, they can come in again at any time. I wouldn’t have messed with her, were I you.”

Ketch waved a hand, fishing through the package of cigarettes on the table. “She wouldn’t stay long if she did decide to visit.” His Zippo flared, adding an orange cast to the dimly lit room. “Point is, could you take something and make sure you got the backroads, too? So there’s nothing left, total void?”

Nat was quiet, a too-long forefinger tracing the thick knuckle skin of his other hand while he studied the shifter in silence. “It’s possible. Something like that would take more time, more finesse than these old hands are used to.” He wiggled the knobby fingers for the euphemism. “You’ve got me curious now. What is it you’re interested in getting rid of so completely?”

Nat looked again at the body of George on the floor, the soft inhales and exhales that lifted his shoulders. Ketch shared the same view for a few moments before his attention returned to the ember of his cigarette and the shingle of ash he scraped against the side of an empty beer can.

“Me,” he said.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ketch Creeley
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 207
See this user's pet

11613.30 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two days later, Ketch returned to George’s house while late morning tucked into early afternoon. He showered perfume from his skin before going through the contents of the lockbox August had requested, upended all of it into a bank deposit envelope and tucked it into his bag. All that was left after that was George.

Ketch thudded down the stairs into the kitchen and took up his usual spot across from the man. Steady experimentation over the course of days meant it came easier this time, and there was less resistance on George’s part when Ketch spread his palm over the other man’s forearm and pushed his way inside. When he came back to his own body, there was little struggle and more a release of endorphins that left a twilit residual high. He knew without a doubt that he’d left something behind, some piece of himself— perhaps inconsequential, perhaps not. He didn’t care, either way.

He thought about apologies, about Salome, about the strange riddle his life had become, but in the end he left George’s without having spoken a word, the man half in, half out of his chair growing stiff with rigor mortis and the dishes from the sink arranged neatly to dry on the drain board.

For a span of hours the world tilted and skewed off-balance to one side--that old feeling he’d had when he’d come upon George at the bar. Ketch suspected it actually had little to do with George and more to do with a growing understanding of the way things were. Afterward, sitting in his car watching the windows of Charlie's Bar and wondering where he’d sleep that night, his equilibrium felt righted. Like one of those coins he'd put in the old machine some weeks back as Fin wiped down the bar had kicked off something different. Nostalgia stirred like dust beneath his boots and tangled with something new and alien.

Come have a drink sometime, she said. Tell me about where you've been. Seen your fair share of sunsets, looks like. I know the feeling.

On that November night, when the weather was thinking about turning cold and he was thinking about where he was going to go next, Ketch found himself standing in front of Charlie's staring at the shape of her silhouette as it moved past the window.

Then he walked inside.

(segue here)
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic   printer-friendly view    Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark Forum Index -> WestEnd -> Broken Parts, Missing Pieces All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Dragon's Mark Producer - Rob Portinga
Original site design © 2005 by Nomad  •  Forum design © 2005 Isaura Simon