An extract from the last chapter of To Fall for an Angel...This scene is set in 1991...
A young girl pulled her weathered coat over her shoulders then glanced at the plate of half-eaten lamb and vegetables on the countertop in front of her. She shifted her weight on the stool and looked up at the tavern’s television next to the bottle rack.
‘Iraq is giving Israel a beating again,’ the barman said as the news channel displayed night-time images from Tel Aviv and Haifa. ‘I heard those cities are popular places for Russian immigrants. I wonder how they feel about getting hit by Russian missiles.’
‘This isn’t a normal world,’ the girl said.
‘So long as the fighting stays in the desert, I’ll be happy,’ the barman continued as he turned to the girl. ‘Europe’s had enough wars. We were not far from another one last year. Was that battle in Hungary or Austria? I can’t remember.’
‘Hungary,’ the girl replied. ‘It was on the border with Austria.’
‘Ah, that’s right,’ the barman said. ‘A lot of shooting but nothing on the news. I guess not enough people were killed, or too many countries were secretly involved.’
The girl reached up to her chest and caressed the hand-woven shawl under her shirt. ‘Many people died that night.’
The barman grunted. ‘Then where were the bodies and the military equipment? If any battle did happen there would be too much evidence to just bury under the snow.’
‘The planes destroyed it,’ the girl said. ‘Fighters came, bombed the fields and burned everything.’
The barman frowned. ‘How do you know? Were you there?’
‘It doesn’t matter anymore,’ the girl said as she pushed her plate away. ‘Thank you, for the meal.’
‘What?’ the barman growled. ‘You’ve just touched this food. You can’t survive a cold night with an empty stomach.’
The girl shrugged, then she peered over her shoulder as two men entered the tavern and retreated into the distant shadows.
‘Little girl,’ the barman whispered, ‘take my advice on men if you will not on food. Stay away from those two. I have seen them here before. They work for the Mafia and they trade pretty girls like you.’
‘I know who they are,’ the girl said as she retrieved a leather necklace from beneath her shawl. ‘Will you take this for the food?’
The barman lifted the leather cord from her hands and his eyes widened. ‘Is this silver? These wings would be worth a fortune.’
‘I don’t have any money,’ the girl said. ‘Nothing of value except for that.’
‘Your necklace must have been from someone special.’ The barman sighed and returned the leather cord to the girl’s hands. ‘I cannot take it.’
‘This was a birthday gift from my partner,’ the girl said as she ran her fingers over the angelic wings. ‘He was killed last year near the Austrian border.’
The barman scratched his thin grey hair. ‘Keep the necklace, little girl, the food is free. I already have enough to be concerned about. I do not want another ghost haunting my dreams.’
The girl gazed up at the barman.
‘I should not have called you that,’ the barman said. ‘Perhaps the gift is more important than I thought. Maybe they are the wings of an angel.’
The girl returned the necklace to its hiding place. ‘I was given both those names before, by two very different people.’
‘Promise me you will take care of yourself,’ the barman said as the girl stood up. ‘Otherwise, my hair may become whiter than yours.’
The girl smiled as she picked up a long bundle of canvas from the floor beside her stool. ‘We are not going to meet again. Thank you, for your kindness.’
Excerpt from the Vampire and Water Nymph thingy I’ve been writing…so, most depressed man realizing something good and being morose about it:
A few minutes of driving, and about a 4th into the walk, and Lucian understood himself better. He had her in the little marshy ponds. He wanted to see her by her element, as if she was as dead as him. She took of socks and shoes to roll up her pants to play in the edge of the water.
“I thought you’d drink it.”
“I have been threatening to do that, all over the place, haven’t I?” The joy radiating off her face in the late afternoon sun showed that this little was enough for her, that she was home, even so far away from her roots.
Here Lucian was, on the wrong damned island, and he couldn’t shake how wrong life was on a daily basis. So many things to envy this woman on…and to find her worth loving. In the brief moment where she stole the sunlight with mud between her toes, he realized that not chasing after this woman was going to haunt him just as much as holding his wife’s head in his hands, glazed in death.
She was right in wanting total surrender from him. If she knew it, by looking at him instead of at one silly little pond, she wouldn’t leave.
Lucian didn’t want her to leave at all, but she had to go. She had to. There was no way he could give her everything she was to him and keep his sanity.
Just a guy singing a lullaby to some baby birds
“Look,” I told him. Then I winced at myself. Perhaps that was the wrong word to use. “No weapon. See?” Crap. Did it again. “I just want to talk.”
Crow said nothing in response. Perhaps he wasn’t feeling particularly chatty after our little spat.
I continued to press. “I heard you singing.”
“You are mistaken. Crows do not sing.”
“Humming. Whatever. It sounded like a pretty song.”
Sightless eyes flashed in the dark. “Someone taught it to me. Cannot remember who. Cannot even remember the words.” Crow continued to keep his hands cupped together. He hummed again, quieter this time.
It was a sad little song, completely different from the tune the scavengers belted in The End of the Line. His purring voice joined the moaning wind and the creaking of the ship in an entrancing, somber concert.
I hated to break the moment.
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