Wednesday April 20th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the recovery.

Definitely getting into the rhythm of working at the bakery now. This morning went very smoothly and I felt totally comfortable with pretty much everything. It's good to get to here before things get crazy busy in the summer with all the tourists coming in.

Max had a fun day playing with Natalie at her house and around the farm. I was expecting to have to pick him up shortly after I got back from work but he was having such a good time, and Becky was fine with keeping an eye on both of them, that I just took some much needed time for myself.

A little more of that and I might actually start replying to comments again...


The knock on the door was not unexpected, but the man doing the knocking was a surprise to Emma. Her boyfriend was ten minutes late for their date (or, in his world, right on time) but the man on her front porch was not her boyfriend.

"Yes?" she said from behind the flimsy security of her locked screen door. The evening breeze gifted her with the scent of the lilac bushes lining her driveway, but also with a faint hint of the man's aftershave. She didn't recognize it but thought she might like her boyfriend to try it.

"Emma Brunson?" the man asked. His voice was deep but soft. His tone almost apologetic. In blue jeans and a white t-shirt she might have asked him in for a drink in different circumstances. Maybe if he hit the gym a little harder than he'd been hitting the burger joints.

"That's me all right," she said, smiling without realizing it. "How can I help you?"

"You've got this all wrong, miss," he said with a smile that did not reach his eyes. "It is I that can help you."

"Is that right?" Emma leaned against the door frame and crossed her arms. Tilting her head to the side, she asked, "How so?"

"Many years ago," the man told her in a tone bordering on scholarly, "certain items were taken from your ancestors. Wrongfully so. You may know of the items of which I speak, you may not. It is likely for the best if you do not inform me either way. Regardless, as the lone surviving member of your family these items belong to you."

"I don't-"

"I am here to make you aware of the fact that, after a lengthy search, I have located these items. And that, for a reasonable fee, I will recover them for you."

Emma stared blankly at the man for a few moments. He returned her gaze patiently. Just as she fumbled her way through her thoughts and was about to reply, her boyfriend's truck rumbled into her driveway.

"I will give you until tomorrow to think it over," the man told her without bothering to look at the new arrival. "Have a good night. And please know that hiring me is most definitely in your best interests. There are others searching for these items who are not as... principled... as I am."


Greg said...

I'm not sure I've mentioned the bakery much in my comments, but it seems like you're really enjoying the job and picked it up really quite quickly. That's great!
Hah, Maltese time-keeping is just like Emma's boyfriend's! I like the details you provide here of how Emma's assessing the guy and deciding if she likes him or not, just as I like that you defer the resolution leaving her with a decision to make and a lot to ponder. I am very intrigued as to why the man doesn't want to know if she knows what it his he'd be retrieving though, that's fascinating!

The Master of Security was a thin man with a trim beard shot through with lines of grey. The moustache was absent, the nose was long and roman, and his eyes were the grey of weathered granite. I paid attention to his eyes, noting that from the moment I was shown into his office they never left me. They showed signs, to me, of a frightening intelligence; I had seen similar eyes at the Institute in London where the scientists debated arcane biological concepts, similar eyes in the Law Courts when the Judges convened and discussed the sentencing rules and how Justice (always with a capital J) should be upheld and determined. I also saw similar eyes each morning when I looked in the mirror and wondered what the hell I was doing.
He smiled, and the skin around those eyes crinkled, and I wondered how old he was. There was an artificial smoothness to the skin on his neck and the backs of his hands, but this was Chincherry, a far cry from London or Berlin or Istanbul. For a moment I regretted travelling with Cecily and being away from the advancement of science, the progress, the lectures, the reports.
"We think you know more than you're telling us," said the Master. His voice cracked slightly as he spoke, and I shuddered at the sound. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was familiar because its origin was unpleasant. "So you're here to talk to me. You're an educated man –" he paused, and I could feel his gaze running from my head to my toes and back again, "– although it would seem you've suffered a recent bereavement."
Educated? That was that obvious?
"I'm not sure I kno–"
"When you arrived here you were with a woman." His voice broke again just before the noun, and I winced. I know he saw it. "When we visited you, she was absent. Did she leave?"
There was a pause there at the end of the question. It meant, 'did she leave of her own accord?'. I looked down at my feet, forgetting to control my face while my memories of Cecily surfaced and I could see her face reflected in the dirty mirror behind the bar, the sodium lights bringing out a warmth in her skin that was so different in daylight. But when I turned to her the memory changed and she had the caved-in, blackened skull that I'd crushed beneath a tea-chest.
"Sit." A pressure on my shoulder, and where had this chair come from? "Memories are difficult things. As time passes we recover from them, but they're malarial. They can still resurface and paralyse us, even when we think we know them as truly as is possible."
"You made your own recovery?" I shouldn't have asked. I was intruding.
"I was tortured for seven months."
The length of that duration burned away the hold that Cecily's memory was having on me, and I looked up. The Master of Security looked down, and our eyes locked together in shared memories of pain.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks! Yeah, reading mine over I feel like I need to continue it at some point. Even if it's just to answer some of those questions for myself!

This is a fascinating and supremely well done portion of the story. What a great intro to the Master of Security. Excited to see where things go from here, as usual.