“Ha, in your face!” Veia splashed my face with cool river water…‘in my face’ indeed. It was mid-morning and we had decided to run off on our own for a while. We deserved some alone time every now and then. We were waist deep in a secluded river that we had stumbled upon only thirty seconds ago. As my water-blurred vision began to clear, I could see her standing in front of me. The sunlight danced across the water and circled around her.
Her black hair that now reached past her shoulders was dripping wet, covering sections of her face. I splashed her first, so I guess I deserved it. She smiled, I smiled, and the gap between us began to close. It was a fucking miracle: we were happy! We were in love.
“Fuck you,” I said jokingly, grabbing her and pulling our drenched bodies together. The stream twisted and turned and flowed all around us. Her arms looped around my neck and we slowly kissed the water off of each other’s lips. Veia wasn’t quite as warm as usually was. It was the river’s fault. I’d have to fix that.
“‘Fuck me’? Okay, I’m waiting.” How bold, truly fantastic. I would forever be turned on by forwardness. This was even better than a game show with an all monkey cast and crew…but maybe we already had those on all the main TV channels…
“Hmm, well I’m ‘the Terrible’ for a reason.” She seemed excited about this.
“Ahh! I’m afraid.” Suddenly I was back in the room that the dead bird Mortimer had been dismantled in. There she was, standing in front of me just as clearly as she had been in the river.
“Be mean,” the young Veia said.
“Be mean,” the Veia who stood in front of me in reality said. I was back in the water, back in the real world…probably. This was all very confusing. As her shirt and our pants flew to a drier destination I noticed a few large white scars in her side and the middle of her chest.
“How did these happen?” I ran my fingers along the mark on her side.
“Not everyone likes me, you see. The one on my chest happened in juvie. I spat on one of the officers who came into my cell so he slashed me with a knife. He said ‘That’ll learn ya, bitch,’ but that was a lie. I only learned how to hate. As for the one on my side…never smoke weed in a park in the daytime or a religious anti-weed zealot may pay you a visit and slice ‘n’ dice the fuck out of you. He said he was doing the world a favor and then he robbed me.” I wasn’t surprised, but I was still angry. She could tell.
“Don’t be upset. Today is a good day. You have the fairest maiden in all the land with you, remember?” She was right. Her words tossed an image of the school back into my mind, but thankfully I stayed aware of my surroundings this time. “I know how to put you in a good mood…” She slapped me across the face with something soft and wet. Whap!
What the fuck was it? Oh! She had slipped her bra off and was using it as a weapon. Whap! She slapped me in the face again, maniacally laughing to her heart’s content. Then again…whap! That was the last time. I snatched it from her hands and lightly slapped her back before sending it back to the shore with the rest of our things. I preferred it being there anyway.
“Oh no, he’s getting aggressive now. What a pity…don’t hurt me, Mr. Terrible.” Oh no! I grabbed her more forcefully this time and she dug her fingernails into my back. It was glorious. I began to feel more like an animal than a human. My primal carnal self had emerged. Soon our ‘delicates’ were removed and sent floating downstream. We would have to go commando on the way back.
Skinny-dip sex is a bit different than regular landlubber sex. Since bodies move slower underwater, our bodies were moving more slowly under the water. It was good…an intimate orgasmic experience…but naturally, as we became more aware of the sluggish physics of underwater sex we decided to move back onto the bank.
Though the spot in which we laid while getting laid was really sandy, we didn’t notice. There are times in life when the setting isn’t very relevant. She was now even more stunning and desirable than she had been when we were younger, and she felt…incredible. We weren’t cold anymore. Her eyes, her body, her mind, they all dazzled me. We fit together perfectly. Our euphoric movements confirmed it.
“MmmIloveyou,” she said to me.
“MmmIloveyoutoo.” By the time we finished we were laying in the grass somewhere other than where we had been before. Damn.
“Oh wow, we fucked right off of the beach!” We undoubtedly had.
“I wonder where we are.” I could hardly contain myself. This was great.
“I have no idea. It’s wonderful.” She was right…it was nice, the not knowing. It’s pretty fantastic to be naked and lost with someone in the woods, as long as it’s with someone you like. Clothes aren’t fun. But we eventually found ours, all except for the underwear, then headed back, back, back to the shack, shack, shack.
“We should do that more often,” I suggested. “It’s nice when my mind and body get to be in the same place for a while.”
“Oh yes, I agree! Next time in a tree!” That sounded good to me.
“What do you think it would be like if Shadowshade showed up while we’re having sex?” Hmm, I hadn’t really thought about that before.
“It would be pretty weird. Maybe he would be into it.”
“Is ‘pretty weird’ bad? It usually isn’t. I wonder if he watches us already. I’m not sure that I’d mind, considering he’s a Shadowshade.” That was an interesting thought. Veia would be into S. watching us fuck. The experience junkie was intrigued…we soon returned the lair of Dee Gaggles. She was standing outside with the other Products of Society and was the first to spot us as we returned. She was zooming toward us and appeared to have something to say.
“Welcome home, lord and lady. There is a matter that requires your attention.”
“Whatever could it be?” Veia asked.
“Come inside, I’ll show you.” As we entered through the small wooden door, the crowd outside stared intently at us. We were slum sovereigns, miscreant monarchs. We would be expected to handle whatever this was. Shit! Against the back wall of the building was a dead body, and he hadn’t been dead for long.
“He took two bullets in the chest,” Dee said emotionlessly. I knew this guy. His name was Damien. He had been there at the parking garage and the park. I even remembered what he painted on the wall: “I don’t want what you need, so you want to make me bleed.” I remembered because I could relate to it. Who did this?
“Who did it?”
“We don’t really know, but whoever it was left a letter. Here. Miss Gaggles handed me a letter that had been folded in half. I quickly opened it, wasting no time…
“Hi there…or whatever is supposed to go at the top of a letter,
You aren’t alone anymore, I see, but you’re more alone than you were before your little disciple died. They aren’t quite as resilient as you might believe them to be. It was easy to kill him…very easy. You are a murderer. You’re a criminal, you and your damn cronies. I kill in the name of justice. You and yours are next in line to be sentenced. I’ve chosen the death penalty, for you especially. See you soon, Ivan.
A ghost of midnights past”
Just underneath this was a symbol that I recognized. It was a little silhouette outline of George Washington throwing dollar bills into the air. I remembered this symbol only because I liked the fact that the money he was throwing had his own face on it. It was a nice touch. I knew exactly what it was.
“This symbol is on the side of the bank that leads up to the Glassway. I’m going to go there now, before any more of this shit happens.”
“Okay, but take someone with you. The rest of us are going to protest. The state is trying to pass a law that will make it legal for police officers to kill the homeless at their own discretion.” I could feel the anger seeping out of Dee’s skin. God damn.
“It’s basically like that already, Miss Gaggles.”
“I’m going to go with her.” Veia was angry too. “They’re going to need all the help they can get.”
“Okay. Everyone but me will go with Dee. You’re right, Veia, they do need the help. I have experience in dealing with psychos. I’ll be fine going alone.” So it was settled.
“I’ll see you soon, on the other side of these adventures.” I bid them all adieu.
“And we’ll go to the forest, to the birds and the bees that live in the trees.” Veia winked melodramatically. And with that we were off. ‘Show time’, as they say. I found it rather odd that this vigilante person thought they were killing in the name of justice. That’s what the police and the military called their killing too. So did Dodge Davis and all of the ones who ever killed someone with a lethal injection or an electric chair. Those who killed Jesus were doing it in the name of justice, just like the Nazis gassing the Jews. It’s all a matter of opinion. Justice doesn’t exist.
I didn’t kill in the name of justice. I didn’t need false justification like the others did. I didn’t try to kill in a way that was ‘right’, it just wasn’t ‘wrong’. Animals have no sense of these concepts. Why should we? They’re simply manmade suppositions, things that can never be proven one way or another. It’s pointless to say that something is objectively right or wrong when you can’t prove it either way. The words are useless when discussing morality.
By the time I arrived at the city, it was only mid-afternoon. There were still a few hours left before I would go to the Glassway, so I decided to stop by the familiar fairy forest park before continuing on. As I sat on the bench that Veia and I once sat on so many nights before, it was almost as if she was there with me. I could see where she would be if she were there. I could hear her voice…her arms around my neck, her lips against mine.
The park was much more peaceful during the daytime than it was at night. Bright beams of sunlight shone through the leaves of the tall trees that towered above me. They danced across the stone floor and into the water fountain that they made shimmer like a liquid diamond. They reminded me of the beam of light that once shone into my childhood room. Thankfully my mind spared me from having to revisit that part of my life when I made the connection. I was sure that this courtesy was only temporary.
In between the beams of light was something very strange. There were microscopic spinning gears and floating puzzle pieces dancing inside the white golden glow. I had no idea how I was able to see them, but I could. The wind blew them all around and they began disintegrate and form the world around me. They all came together to form reality.
I stood up and went to the fountain, where I could see my reflection in the shimmering surface. A gear twirled around inside of my eye, spiraling around and around. I saw, just for a second, the gears that spun the world into what it was. They soon faded off into the distance, floating in the direction of the Glassway. It was time to follow them. The sun was setting.
Before long I was pulling the Crown Vic into the same parking spot that Soren, Simone and I pulled into so long ago. I could see them when I got out of the car, and I remembered something.
“I remember this spot better than I would like to,” Simone’s silhouette said to me just as she had before.
“Have your ghosts started walking? Are they circling around you now? Are you flirting with your demons? Have your skeletons let themselves out of the closet and come to play?” Shadowshade asked the all too familiar question. Fuck. Now it was my ghosts dancing around. Life is a carousel going round and round…everything keeps coming back again. Is it always the same, the same script with different actors? It seemed that way at the time.
I slowly made my way across the street and up around the tall bank tower with the George Washington symbol, following the Glassway ghosts that wandered on ahead of me. Night had fallen at last and its darkness now covered the stairs in front of me. Something was about to happen.
“Not all of the Glassway spirits are merely spirits. The one you don’t notice is the one to notice most.” What did Shadowshade’s warning mean? What, or who, wasn’t I noticing?
At the top of the staircase I curved around the building’s side. The Glassway stretched out before me, almost the same as it was in my dreams. It’s truly bizarre returning to a place that one has been before. My subconscious thoughts were bleeding out of my mind and becoming something real. I jumped across the ledge, the one that poor whatever his name was had fallen from, and now stood atop the cool glass. Where was the writer of my letter? Had I read into the George Washington symbol too much? Maybe I had.
Wait a second…no I hadn’t. Across the glass bridge, on the side opposite from where I had entered, a dark figure lurked in the shadows. Did it know that I could see it? Surely my stare would soon give it away…and it did. The person stepped out into the light on the far edge of the bridge.
“Hello, Ivan the Terrible. Do you remember me? I’m sure you don’t know my name. I don’t believe I ever told you. You have memories of the Glassway, don’t you? It just so happens that I have some of those too and you’re a part of them. My dear love fell from this place one night. It was long ago…
“Just before he was to jump safely off of this bridge, you startled him. He jumped too early and fell to his death. You and the others went out partying while I stayed behind. You’re a murderer. I’ve seen it on the news. I know who you are. You will know who I am as well. I am Adrianne. I have become the night, and I will serve you justice.” What the hell?
“See?” It was Shadowshade again. Yes, I certainly did. It would have been nice if he could have been a bit more specific with his warning. Adrianne. That was her name. I could understand why she was angry with me, but this would not end well for her. I had to teach her to stay away from me and my friends. Unfortunately she would have to learn the hard way. ‘An eye for an eye’, right? Even the Bible agreed with that. I closed my eyes and took in my surroundings. I breathed in the night air and listened to the music of the city. An ambulance’s siren blared far off in the distance…it was time.