Montag, 13. Januar 2014
you are right on time for chapter three
You ought to know by now, but I will repeat it nevertheless:
Whenever you read a part of this story, you need to be aware that there might be strong language, violence and even nudity.
Not that I am promising any of these things. But if it should jump you from behind, eventually, don´t complain
Where were we... right. City. Summer. Heat...
This remarkably hot summer has long since outlasted the citizens patience.
Nobody likes melting asphalt
Empty streets, again? Oh come on, this is getting old. There must be some distraction to watch, somewhere down there...
... ah, here we go. A man has left a shop. Let´s see
Seems he already regrets it
Really, who could blame him. Look at the merciless sun in the almost cloudless sky
Today, this heatwave has no plans on ending
But naturally, there are some people who hope this summer will last forever
Finally, after weeks and weeks of brutally high temperatures, the authorities have given in and opened some of the hydrants in the streets
And while the adults prefer to hide in their air conditioned concrete- or brick, your choice - caves, the children enjoy this opportunity to play with the waters and cool down tremendously
Not all children, it seems...
Oh wait, look who we have here, is it the rabbit for real?
Those even strides, this determination- no doubt about it, it´s the girl again
But this time, she has no teenage bullies on her heel, and as soon as she reaches the shadows of the old factory buildings she is slowing down to a steady pace
And now she is casually strolling into that same lane again. Interesting... let´s follow
Without the briefest hesitation, she pushes the rusty door remarkably hard and enters the slightly cooler grounds of the building
Judging by her relaxed bearing I´d say, this no alien territory to her...
But shush now, she reached the third floor
"At the sink!"
Aha. So much for that. Apparently elated, she moves on into the semi darkness of the room
In the far corner, not all too surprising, she finds her white haired knight, busy, cussing a little under his breath
"What are you doing?"
"I am shaving, kid. Needs to be done once in a while... but that knife is getting seriously blunt lately, so I need to be careful, ok? Be with you in a sec..."
Does anybody need better proof that Al is not familiar to dealing with children than that remark? It goes without saying that this could not work. And right enough, the girl steps some closer to examine his work so far
"You have been shaving to much already, part of your head is bald, too"
With some effort, he stiffles a laugh
"I did that on purpose, kid. It´s way more comfortable to wear the hair a tad shorter in this weather - you should know, I´d say, given your own new style, eh?"
The girl giggles at that little friendly joke
"Aw but no, I did not cut it. Kris did, he said I was looking like a complete hooker with those long curls, so he cut them off"
Kris? Have I not heard that name before...
Oh, right, the piano player. So this must be little Bethany
The rare smile falls from the man´s face within the blink of an eye. His jawline tightens visibly. Even his pale eyes seem to loose some more colour
Is this just air leaving his mouth through clenched teeth with a hiss?
Then it´s over. Expressionless as ever, he turns to the girl that looks up at him in slight confusion
"He is wrong, your hair looked very nice. And, just to mention, still does. Now why don´t you sit down at the table while I get rid of all that soap, ok?"
Unmoving, he watches the girl cross the room, clutching the knife tightly
While he is doing his best to remove the soap with the suspicious water from the tab, the girl still wonders why he is so upset.
She knows him well by now, she can tell when he is angry and that his silent fury is not flashing her way... it never is... but as most times, it totally escapes her what caused the beast to stir
She has learned early to read people, but her friend remains a mystery
Her eyes are glued to the probably most valuable item in the building: A massive chess board
"Can we play chess?"
"Later. After you did your homework. School..."
"... school first, I know"
With a heartfelt sigh, she flaps her workbook on the makeshift table in front of her and starts to scribble away after a moment
As the man strides over a little bit later, she is already completely focused
Most likely she does not even notice how he tries to catch a glimpse of what she is writing
Quietly, he moves around her and takes a seat on the other pile of large stones that serve as chairs here in his place
Surprisingly twitchy, he can only watch her for a rather short time befor speaking up, though
"If you need any help... "
Blissfully ignorant of of his anxiety, the girl keeps on scribbling
"Naw thanks, it´s just maths..."
Strangely enough, this seem to calm him down, and he patiently sits through, watching Bethany closely
"... DONE, yay! Al can we play chess now, please please PLEASE?!"
"Well, that´s what I said, right? Homework first, then another chess lesson. Told you before, a deal´s a deal"
Shaking his head in mild disbelieve, he follows the girl over to the board. A promise is a promise, is it not?
"Alright. White... begins"
A chess lesson? I am a horrible chess player, but the longer I watch those two at play, this looks less and less like a lesson to me
More like a downright battle between almost equal constestants
"Very nice one, kid. Well done"
"It´s your turn, make your move"
Complimenting your opponent will not always work in your favour, Al
Judging by his face now, Al is taking the girl´s efforts very seriously
Game after game they play, until suddenly...
"Shit! Al, I need to go!"
"Sure... now that I am winning for once..."
Obviously he did not recognize the slight undertone of panic in the girls voice
For panicking she seems to be now, for the very first time since we first met her
"Al I am not shitting you, look! It´s late, I totally need to be home before nightfall or they will ask where I have been!"
That face, again... makes you wonder...
"Will you be ok?"
"Yeah... but... would you come down with me and check the alley, again? You know, last week... that crazy woman was really scary..."
"Of course. Didn´t I say I would do it until you tell me otherwise? Come on"
Visibly relieved, the girl follows his lead
"Thanks again... I know I am such a wimp, but..."
"No need to be ashemed. That was a grown woman. You are a child. You need to be careful. Stay behind"
He systematically scans the alley behind the building, holding her back
"All clear. Move forward!"
As he follows her to the corner, the girl reluctantly turns around to say goodbye
"Will you make it on time, you think?"
"Yeah, no problem. I am fast... hey... that was a real fun day, today"
"I enjoyed it, too, thank you kid"
And without warning
The girl jumps the man and hugs him tightly
"Thanks Al, you´re the best"
And off she goes, leaving behind said Al completely taken aback
So taken aback, in fact, that his last greeting comes way to late to do anything but echo in the now empty lane when he finally comes around
"Take the long way home kid"
Minutes pass and see him staring down the alley, unseeing. I venture to guess that it has been a very long time that somebody touched that man in a friendly, unassuming way
But when he finally turns around, you can see the tiniest of smiles shyly nesting in the corners of his mouth