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Losing Face

“Tristan, come find me. I hoped you’d be here sooner,” Veia called to me in a far-off voice.

“I miss you, Veia…” Bleep! Bleep! Bleep! Bleep! My alarm was going insane. Shit! It zapped me into consciousness and I immediately sat up. I was sitting alone on a mattress in the only bedroom of the new apartment. Scéléra and I had seriously downgraded from the Obscurité suite. We were only able to afford to live in the poor side of town, but I actually really liked it there. The dingy worn apartment matched my perception of myself. We had a few things in common.

Scéléra wasn’t in the bedroom or anywhere else in the apartment. I wondered where she might be. Knock. Knock. Knock. Was that her? No, it was Heffalump. He was here to bring the Lady in White and the fairy water. He even brought some assorted fungi. Scéléra was going to try to make her own tea.

“Keep your eyes open,” he warned. “Somebody has been running around on the inside, talking to my people. They’re trying to get our guys to follow a new chief and take me out of the picture. We’re not safe. Somebody wants what we got.” Heffalump had run into some competition and therefore so had I.

“Do you know who it is?”

“No idea, but I’ll find out. Some stupid ass fool thinks I’m just gonna hand over all of my shit like a grade-schooler coughing up lunch money? Hell nah! Heffalump Woozle can’t kiss ass while bein’ kneed in the nuts! He don’t have that kind of coordination! I’m incapable of such a feat.” What a fantastic point. “All I know about him right now is that he’s screwing with my shit and he uses this symbol.” Woozle held up a piece of paper with a one-by-one inch black not allowed sign stamped onto it…that circle with the line through it that usually comes in red.

“I’ll look around.”

“Yeah, well I’m out. See you later.” Woozle left the building and I looked at the clock on my cell phone. One p.m. What could Scéléra be doing? Only a few moments after Heffalump left, the door burst opened again. There she was.

“Hey, love. I’ve returned from the market!” All she had brought home from the market were a few various pieces of paper.

“What are those? Oh, and Heffalump stopped by earlier.”

“These?” She held the papers up. “A bill, another bill, a list and some random shit…he did?” Surely she was curious to see what presents XannyClawz had delivered on this tomorrow’s eve.

“He left you a mushroom surprise.”

“Ah! Glorious! I shall become the maker of the most delectable tea in all the land!” That was quite a lofty goal; it would be hard to take that title away from Vera. She set the papers on the table and began to observe her presents. As she was doing this, something caught my eye. One of her random papers stuck out a bit from the bottom of the pile. There it was: the black circle with the line…a little NOT ALLOWED sign. What the hell? This was bad. This was very bad. This was a horrendous nightmare.

Maybe Scéléra wasn’t really on my side, even after everything we had been through together. We had made so many associations, so many different meanings… somehow this despicable thing had become one of them. Meaning in life is created by associations, and this one seemed to have a venomous destructive effect on all of our others. I snatched the symbol up while she was preoccupied.

“Welcome aboard, darlin’.” That was all the note said, just that and the symbol underneath it. ‘Darlin’? ‘Welcome aboard’? Maybe she was an enemy now, only here to spy on me.

“Let’s go over to Vera and Mal’s,” I suggested.

“Why?” She said it in an almost defensive way.

“I need to talk to them.”

“Um, okay. I suppose I’ll go along.” She didn’t want to go, but I was determined and she would certainly choose being there with me over being unaware of what I’d be saying. I had recently bought a used car for around three thousand dollars, though I told her I paid twenty-five hundred for it. It was an old silver Mercedes in less than great condition, but it was drivable and finally affordable now that I had been working under Heffalump for a while. Apparently crime pays. That’s probably why it’s illegal. But was I was doing ‘wrong’?

Mr. Nietzsche once said that “All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth”. I believe him, but those in power were certainly skilled at fooling the public into believing that nothing was subject to interpretation whatsoever. How sad, both because the powerful stooped so low and because the public was so gullible. I had lost all faith in humanity.

Anyway, the Mercedes quickly got us from the ghetto to Obscurité. We were there in only a few minutes. The two weren’t really too far apart. Ding! That elevator noise was truly unforgettable. I couldn’t tell whether what it filled my mind with was ecstasy, pain, excitement, love, hate, nostalgia or P.T.S.D. I hoped that there weren’t any investigators here today investigating shit for their sovereigns.

Thankfully none were. But Heffalump was here. He was very unhappy about something. Could it have something to do with the sign that was on Scéléra’s lovely note? I could hear him yelling from out in the hallway. Knock. Knock. Vera came to the door and opened it slowly.

“Oh! It’s a very good thing that you’ve come. We’re experiencing a crisis!”

“These people are going to try to fucking kill us,” Mal said. “They already got two of our guys.”

“And a piece of my goddamn clientele,” Mr. Woozle added. Were ‘these people’ the same people who Scéléra was apparently now “on board” with? They had to be.

“Are these the people who you were talking about earlier?” I asked Heffalump.

“Hell yeah they are, and I know who the one in charge is now. His name’s Dodge Davis, like the truck and the Confederate Caesar.” What a preposterous name. Had Scéléra joined some kind of hillbilly cult? That would definitely be a deal breaker. Her face turned white as soon as Heffalump said the name. Damn it.

“He’s got someone on the inside. We lost two men today because someone told him where they were going to be.” Mal didn’t know who the traitor was, but unfortunately I was absolutely sure that I did. Scéléra deserved whatever was coming to her. This was fucking ridiculous. Was she sleeping with the redneck ringleader too? I decided that it was time to reveal the spy’s identity. She fucking deserved it. I needed Veia anyway.

“I think I’m one step ahead of you, Mal. Have a look at this.” I pulled the stamped note from my pocket. Vera, Mal, and Heffalump stared at the thing for a moment while Scéléra realized what was happening. “This is hers.” I gestured toward Scéléra. “I acquired it earlier without permission.” She darted out of the suite as fast as I had ever seen anyone dart before…I guess adrenaline can do that. The three of the others stood in shock, motionless, for about ten seconds. That was long enough for her to escape. I was finished with her, but I still couldn’t bring myself to kill her. I let her go.

“What the fuck? That bitch!” Vera screamed. She picked up a ceramic plate and shattered it against the wall. “Get out!” She shouted at me next. “You could be one of them too!”
“Yeah, it’s time for you to go,” Heffalump butted in. “You’re lucky I’m letting you leave. The reason she knew what she knew is because you told her.” Holy shit. I was losing face because Scéléra betrayed us. This was insane. Fantastic…these people were completely illogical. I was the one who found her out! Didn’t I deserve some credit for that?

Ding! Ding! And I was outside once again. Where would I go? Home? There could’ve been a hillbilly cult set up there. I didn’t want to go back right at that moment, and it was getting dark. Scéléra had almost certainly become a redneck’s bed buddy, so nothing was keeping me from following my dream from the night before. I would journey through the dark to the park.

“See, you can never trust anyone.” Maybe S. was right. I pulled into the very same parking space that the guy in the shitty car from our House of Chaos night had parked in. I could see the center fountain from here but Veia wasn’t sitting on any of benches.

Maybe she had given up on waiting for me. I wouldn’t have blamed her for it. I was used to being given up on. Everything seems to always get worse. It was as if I was dead already, just waiting on my body to figure it out. Maybe Veia had joined the Dodge Davis regime as well. I would never have expected her to transform into something like that, but I hadn’t expected Scéléra to either.

I sat down on the same bench that I had sat on during our night of insanity. I could feel Veia’s presence, as if she were still sitting there beside me. She was beautiful…transparent…imaginary, but beautiful nevertheless. It wasn’t tonight anymore, it was that. It was the night of the House. I closed my eyes and lovingly embraced the ghost of a bygone dream. It only made me feel worse…she wasn’t coming.

“God damn it!” I screamed. Done…I was done. I wanted to give up. Dodge Davis could kill them all. Hopefully he’d kill me too. What reason did I have to keep going?

“Shh! Not so loud, Sir Screamsalot.” The startling voice came from right behind me. I jumped up from the bench and whirled around to face her. “Scaredy-cat.” Her hair had grown since we last saw each other. It now fell down to her shoulders, still just as dark as the night around us. The dress she was wearing matched her hair perfectly. I was quite impressed. Was she wearing anything else? I certainly wouldn’t tell her to if she wasn’t. She wasn’t wearing any shoes; of that much I was sure.

“I came back,” I said somewhat nervously. Was I nervous? Ivan the Terrible never got nervous…right?

“I see, I see. Welcome back to the land of me. I’ve missed you…” She walked over to me and we held each other there for what was probably a long time, just not long enough. She was literally the girl of my dreams…why couldn’t it have been Veia that I ran away with so long ago? Maybe that would’ve made things turn out for the better, at least better than they had.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to come back. Lately things have been…extremely extreme.”

“Ooh, in a good way or a bad way?”

“Very, very bad.”

“Well, fuck. That happens far too often, doesn’t it? Tell me where to go, Sir Ivan. I shall follow thee into battle against the extremities.

“I’m not sure if you should. It isn’t safe. People keep dying, Veia.”

“Have you killed any of them?”

“Yes. Three.”

“That’s really hot.” She pulled me closer. “You’re Tristan Anderson, potential murderer of the three P’s! There was the politician, the priest, and the policeman. Am I right? They talk about you in the news, as I’m sure you’ve heard. You might want to try to stay off of the telly, silly. Otherwise they’ll tear your eyes out, peel your skin off, and burn you alive. No worries though. I’ve killed someone too, remember? That little asshole…you got to see.” Oh yes, I could never forget Marcus. That memory could never be erased. Her kill was in self-defense though. That didn’t really count.

“Do you know of Heffalump Woozle?” I asked.

“Ooh, Woozle? I love his name and his purple pimpmobile. I’ve met him twice.”

“I worked for him off and on until about an hour or two ago. Someone named Dodge Davis has been killing his guys and trying to take over. Today I found out that one of my closest friends has become one of Davis’ spies.”

“Oh wow, what cuntyness! I know exactly who he is. I hate that man. He has tried to fuck me every time I’ve ever seen him. He’s not attractive and he can’t even really speak the English language…”

“I have an idea!” We exclaimed in unison.

“What’s yours?” I asked.

“I know how to find him. I’ll pretend that I’ve finally decided to take Mr. Davis up on his offer…”

“You’ll go with him into his room,” I continued for her. Our plans were the same.

“Then Ivan jumps out and…blood! Ha! Maybe I can find a piece of glass.” This was fantastic.

“Mr. Dodge won’t be dodging anything anymore.”

“Yes! Terrifical! That’s lovely! We can roll his dead body off the bed and then sex on it until I break in half!” How perfect. Audacity is incredibly appealing.

“I’ll make sure of that…” We kissed for the first time since our reunion that didn’t make me feel guilty because of Scéléra. She wasn’t even a friend anymore. She helped someone kill my associates. They were just acquaintances, but still.

“I’ll call Dodge right away. He insisted on giving me his number. That wasn’t one of this best life decisions,” Veia said with a mischievous laugh.

“No, I would say that our good ‘ole boy is at the end of his winning streak.”

“Go ahead and give him a call. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” S. was on board. Veia heard him too, I knew she did. It seemed that our wavelengths were tuned to the same frequency. How rare it is to find that… it’s like catching a shooting star. But the romantic pleasantries were over for now. It was time for blood.

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