Chapter 11 Why the Hell aren't you Alone?
We walked up the steps in the dark and sparingly lit hallway, climbing floor after floor. This eerie feeling had been present and seemed to be building ever since Jess and I had stepped foot into the apartment building. Jessica finally stopped to knock on a door on the fourth and final floor, the name Tarp etched into the wooden door above the slot for mail. After waiting a few minutes, the door with the bright red color, which was chipping finally opened and the distressed face of a young Indian woman appeared in the opened slot the door and its frame. She had a nose piercing and dark bushy eyebrows above her hazel eyes. The woman was wearing a white oversized blouse, black dress pants, and had her long curly dark brown hair in a high ponytail.
“Why the hell aren’t you alone?” The women exclaimed, scrunching her eyebrows together in annoyance. Her eyes, which were in clear distress, were sweeping back and forth between Jess and me.
“It’s fine, I can leave,” I say. I turn to Jess and say, “I’ll be downstairs in a cafe or something, I need a cup of coffee anyway. Just call or come and find me when you two are done,” I say not wanting to put up a fight this early in the morning with a person I had yet to formally meet.
“You sure?” Jess asked with a frown on her face. “This was supposed to be our day together.”
I nod. Obviously, I had looked forward to spending the day with Jess, but I had known that my coming to visit wouldn’t and couldn’t interrupt the life she had built here for herself the past few weeks. Besides I was curious as to why this woman is so against me listening in on what they have to say. Whatever, I’ll just ask Jess later. The deemed somewhat weird woman in the doorway still looked conflicted but didn’t seem to change her mind about me stepping foot into her apartment. She moved aside letting Jess pass her. As Jess enters the apartment, she glances back at the last moment and smiles, saying, “bye, see you in an hour or two, ok?” And without as much of a word or glance in my direction, the bizarre woman, who had yet to actually acknowledge me, closed the door more or less in my face. Turning around and starting my descent of the staircase back to ground level, I pulled out my phone and see if any good cafes are already open around here.
Hardware Société was open so I decided to go there. The reviews seemed good and the menu wasn’t too expensive for a Parisian cafe, it wasn’t that far to walk and it was nice out so I walked through the park, taking the Rue de la Bonne. After ordering french toast and a cafe au lait, I sat down in a window seat and observed the few people that were strolling around outside, enjoying the sunny weather.
Being pulled out of my thoughts by my buzzing phone was not something I had been counting on, but when I looked at who had tried reaching me, I packed up my few possessions and made my way to the counter and paid for my breakfast, before walking out into the city.As I crossed the street towards the metro station of the Two Train, I texted Jess that I was going to meet up with an old friend. I wasn’t lying per say, but I knew that if I told her more she’d worry. From Anvers, I drove to Blanche and then got off the metro and walked the few blocks towards Montmartre.
Graveyards had always been a place of subtle discomfort to me. The idea of hundreds of people’s final resting place crowed together all in one place, without honoring the individual had always bothered me. I wasn’t alone in this view. The Fae generally agreed with this mindset, which combined with the reality that Faes usually don’t die of natural causes had always been at the forefront of a discussion surrounding the question of how we should honor our dead. The Fae did have graveyards in Avalon, but they were rare. We usually burned our dead and then planted trees combined with their ashes, to represent a love that keeps growing even after death.
The bright blue sky was increasingly becoming cloudy and grey, reflecting my mood and state of mind. The Montmartre cemetery had always reminded me of New Orleans, a city that appeared to pull me back at the most uncanny of times but always seemed to feel like home. I stopped walking in front of the grave of Alexandre. Dumas had been an exceptional friend and one could always count on him having an interesting, often even hilarious story to lighten the dark days. I had been sad to see him go and usually came to visit his grave whenever I find myself in Paris.
Steps could be heard behind me. I knew who it was and not bothering to look up I asked annoyed, “what do you want?”
“Nothing really. I just wanted to talk. You seemed like you could use an old friend,” the person answered.
I looked up. There sitting on top of a wooden cart filled to the brim with corpses some mutilated, some not was an in darkness shrouded figure. On the handle of the cart perched an owl. As they reached up to lift their hood, the sleeves on their leather jacket slid back to uncover two heavily tattooed wrists. Upon seeing the speakers face, I recognized the wearer of the jacket.
Ankou. A diety known most commonly as the personification and henchman of death and the guardian of cemeteries. It was rumored that whoever crossed paths with him, wouldn’t live long enough to see the seasons change.
I gave a huff of exasperation. Just my luck. Of course, I would cross paths with the one person that I had been dutifully ignoring, successfully might I add for the past millennia.