This Silent Well of Sorrow (Part 4 of 5)

tswos

Part Four of Five

SPIRIT

“Do you remember my name?”

Landon Connors took a long, slow drag from his cigarette. Back turned toward the man speaking. His eyes were on Michelle whom he could see through the open flap of the ceremonial tent. He had meant to leave her out of this, but she was as stubborn as she was beautiful. When the Fed’s Paranormal Ops began eating itself, she had walked away from her career and was aimless. Connors offered her direction, but their relationship had… evolved. It was…complicated, at best.

And now, behind him, two dear friends were one and the implications were like the proverbial albatross.

“Which one?” Connors replied. He withdrew another cigarette from the pack in his inner pocket, lighting it off the dying embers of the last. He dropped the spent butt to the ground and crushed it beneath the sole of his Berluti Gaspards. “Are you Sam, Samael, or Guy?”

“I can’t be all three?”

“No,” Connors said. He turned, stealing one last glance of Michelle before doing so. She was tossing a log on the fire while Tracy paced back and forth. He needed her, needed them both. “And the three men I admire most, the father, son, and the holy ghost, they caught the last train for the coast… the day… the music…died,” he sang, slightly off key, but then, he was under a lot of strain.

“He was dying,” Starbiter said. It was Guy’s voice, Guy’s face, somewhat — the eye patch and disheveled hair not withstanding, but the intonation, the accent, all wrong. No, it was clearly Sam Hill wearing Starbiter like a ragged suit, ill-fitting and threadbear. “I climbed inside to keep him alive, like I did the other, but the difference is, I’ll give him back, once he’s healed.”

spirit

“You know what this will do to him,” Connors said. “He’ll feel empty, his spirit will never be the same.”

“I know, I know,” Samael said. He reached out and took Connors cigarette away from him. and filled Starbiter’s lungs with smoke. He coughed, but smiled.

“Guy doesn’t smoke,” Connors said, lighting another.

“Yeah, well, Sam did.”

A tear slid down Connors’ cheek as he approached his old friend. He hugged him then and Samael returned the gesture. They clung to one another, Connors sobbing, as they were locked in a fierce embrace they neither wanted to end.

“Damn it,” Connors said, finally pulling away. “I’ve missed you. Thea misses you.”

“I realize we shouldn’t be here, now, but if I didn’t intervene, Guy would be dead, discarded in a shallow grave, and we wouldn’t be able to stop what’s coming.” Samael rolled his neck, exposing the deep bruising.

“What the hell did Guy stumble into?”

“To answer that,” Samael answered, “will require us visiting the place of interment.”

“Guy’s grave?”

“Not his,” Samael said solemnly, “but the one he dug, that which led to all this.”

Samael dropped the spent cigarette to the ground and stamped it with the end of his willow staff. Allowing the repurposed branch to support his weight, he moved stiffly, but with purpose, out of the tent to stand beneath the night canopy. A star, perhaps startled by the former celestial’s emergence, fell from the heavens, its wake like a blazing wound  slashed across the black canvas overhead.

A pale imitation of my own fall, Samael thought. As spectacular as that had been, his rise and subsequent rebirth had too been but a unceremonious reflection of the conflagration that had wrested him from his former glory. As Connors rejoined the others, he swallowed the pain in the body that he was so diligently working to reknit. So fragile, he thought, but so delightfully —free.

“I know what you are.”

Samael turned to see Tracy’s approach. She was a pretty girl, would soon be a beautiful woman. He reached out toward her, but she recoiled from his touch. Behind the steely exterior was a wounded bird. She too has fallen, he thought, perhaps even further than I.

“And I know what you are as well,” he said.

“Don’t,” Michelle barked. She stormed across the field to stand between them.

“Ah, a tale of two mothers,” Samael said. “No offense meant, my dear.”

He heard Connors’ approach and pushed forward, walking toward the observation platform. The climb was painful, but it felt good to feel anything again. When Sam Hill had given up his flesh and Samael became a spirit trapped in a hole in the ground, the loss of a tactile perception of the world around him was true torment, far worse than any physical pain one could endure.

“You understand their reaction,” Connors said as he joined his friend, looking out across the Oppenheim environs. “They both have suffered inconceivable loss and your…kind has been instrumental in both.”

“I was reborn, not far from here,” Samael said, as if Connors had not spoken. “And born yet again, so near the same place.” He took a lit cigarette from Connors’ hand and inhaled deeply. “The fabric between worlds in very thin here.”

“What are you not telling me?” Connors asked. He laid his hand on Samael’s shoulder.

“Everything,” he replied, “everything…”

to be concluded, Thursday, November 1

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