out of the ashes

Sunday, July 18, 2010


For some reason, getting past the Men's store scene was difficult,as though the hurdle was too high and I kept knocking it over each time I jumped. But I'm right there...Maribeth is right around the corner.

Yes, yes, I will. I swear it.

He turned and left the entryway, continuing south along the street, unmindful of his surroundings, thinking of nothing but the piercing beauty of the voice. Amy had sung to him, and oh, how sweet the melody had been. He knew she was at his destination, waiting for him, and so he quickened his pace.

Some sense of embarrassment prevented Marvin from approaching the mansion with confidence at first. A sudden disbelief, or loss of faith, perhaps, coupled with the mirror that followed before him like a shadow in reverse. The rags he wore—had worn for what seemed an eternity—that suddenly shamed him more than ever. His face, his fingers with blackened nails. His feet without shoes.
How can I…meet her? Is that what I’m planning? Really? Am I that stupid? He gazed down at his clothes, to his bare feet, and then into the gutter where a stream of water flowed lazily by. Amy’s face drifted along in the sparkle of it. Raising his head, she reappeared in the reflection of a store’s window across the street. Marvin shook his head and laughed at the question. Yep. I’m just about that stupid. Screw my looks.
He turned the corner onto 8th Avenue, no longer considering turning back, pulled by the idea, the compulsion to see Amy, which was stronger by far than the reality of what he was. The mansion atop Logan Hill came into view soon, tucked slightly back off the street behind a filigreed wrought iron fence. A three-story stately Georgian Revival, constructed with hand-crafted red brick, white Ionic columns supporting a second story balcony residing above the front entrance. A beautiful set of French doors framed within the brick led to the balcony from somewhere on the second floor. The mansion’s trimming along the long eaves, dormers, and windows was the color of a freshly bloomed lily. He approached it warily, wrapped in his thoughts, and came to a halt behind a tall elm; sheltered from the street, but visible from any of the north-facing front windows, should anyone care to peek out at him. Which was unlikely, he thought. The place looked deserted.
An hour passed, during which time Marvin looked up and down the street a dozen times, sat against the tree and peered up at the columned portico, moved to the edge of the parking and looked into the gutter, back again to the tree, to the far eastern edge of the property, back again to the tree, wondering when Amy would come walking out, or appear out of nowhere and go walking in.
She is here, and we are watching her.
Go to the Governor’s Mansion…
Ah, bullshit.

Enough was enough. Marvin marched through the gate, up the steps, and then knocked on the front door. He waited. A moment passed without a response, and so he knocked again, this time louder. The sheers moved seconds later, drawn by a fingertip. They remained parted for a breath or two, and then dropped closed again. The lock disengaged, and the door cracked open.
Standing before him was a man roughly forty years-old, dressed like a penguin, wearing the predatory look of a buzzard.
“Yes, suh?” he asked in a deep-south accent. The man eyed Marvin suspiciously.
“Are you the governor?”
There followed a pause, and what appeared to Marvin to be a tiny snarling of the guy’s upper lip.
Finally. “No, suh, ah am not. The govunuh is out. What can ah do fuh yuh?”
“I’m lookin’ for Amy. He told me to come here. I’d find her here.”
"The govunuh?"
"Uh...no. Someone else."
“Well, whoevuh “someone else" is suh, he misinformed yuh. There is no one by that name who ruhsides in this home. Now, if yuh’ll excuse me…” He began to close the door.
“Wait! Goddamit…”
The door clicked shut.
No one here by that name? He wheeled around and scoured the sidewalk and the street beyond. Where the hell is she, then? I’d o’ seen her if she…He raised an eyebrow. Maybe whoever that Reb was…he was lyin’ to me. He glanced at his clothes again. Yeah, that’s it. He was lyin’.
I’m goin’ in.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2010

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