Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 26

~ That Shadow, My Likeness 1



It fed him, this light, this ... lightness. In these moments – joyous, large, unrestrained – he knew transcendence. He became the light, expanded with it, was both its dawn and its destination.

The darkness … displaced.

One creature …


One being …


…

…



He could not divine when the light would lessen, where or how far he might travel within it, when he would again feel the floor solid beneath his feet or know the confines of his clothing, when his great breath would be bound again by his lungs …

return

the echo of his heart, the thrum …

a slow kaleidoscope of color, of voice …



Welcome ... this place in-between



Beautiful ... this place of dreams

Familiar

the thrash and simmer of surf, the scudding wind through vale and heath

Urgent

the grip of forearms, a roughened shout. Ready

leathers taut in his hands, life between his thighs ... a nickered anticipation, the press of knees

a spray of pebbles, the sweep within a rock-lined maze … a flush of birds, their upswing loud in a blue and brilliant sky

and in the clear air, a lark’s elated song

The rising mist, the scent of sun-warmed stone and leather, of sandalwood and jasmine. His name in her voice, calling, calling to him with love. Resonate. Lingering. Her hands on his, threaded through, his guide …

Is this then a touch? Quivering me to a new identity … 2

... a quieting drum, the fade to grays and browns, to rusts, to shadows shimmering with veins of mineral stars. His hand on chiseled cuts, a shoulder rolled to stone … a spill of water to his cupped palms, a craving of thirst sated ...

Her whisper. Know this

You are ... we are ...

Rich in hope


A running dream ... Though he reached for it, the vision faded.

Except for the consciousness of Catherine. Always.

Vincent splashed his face and ran wet fingers through his hair. A few drops trickled down the back of his neck. The water held an unusual chill, colder than the changeable pool at camp, colder than any other known to him, as if it streamed over ice instead of feldspar, mica and quartz. Fordham Gneiss, Levon had long ago instructed. The oldest of the city’s bedrocks. Manhattan Schist. The Hartland Formation. Inwood Marble. The foundation making possible New York’s skyline ... and their world below. He’d described the deposit of the layers, showed them maps of the varying depths of each, explained why there were few tall buildings in Greenwich Village, why in midtown the skyscrapers stood in dense clusters. Yet when asked about the glacial temperature of the waterfall, he’d shrug. Magic’s my guess, he always said.

He called it Bucking Mule Falls, a miniature of the one near his childhood home in the Bighorn Mountains. Five hundred foot drop, he said, fetching a shell-encrusted box from a high shelf, a box crammed with photographs. He sorted through a stack and laid out a row on his workbench. They were small and square with deckled edges and in black and white, but the fading landscapes blossomed with Levon’s reminiscence. Not a ribbon or a veil. A horsetail. As boys running the tunnels, Noah and Stuart and he would often end up here, daring each other to plunge their hands into the pool, betting who could bear the raw temperature the longest. Afterwards, they’d hurry on to Levon’s for a snack and a story. Porcupine Falls, Crazy Woman Creek, Cloud Peak, the Medicine Wheel, Ringbone Lake. They were always rewarded.

Not far now. Left at the third corridor past the cascade, across the bridge above Wind River where the whistling gusts still white-capped the shallow stream, then the first passage north.

Vincent with a torch
He’d last walked this path with Kanin and Winslow, carrying food for a three-day journey and the tools necessary to seal Levon’s doorway – forever, he’d believed. At the final junction, he stood sentry, sensing no one, the stillness from the radiating corridors nearly perfect, stirred only by a skitter of wind along the walls. The passage floor, a hard, black amphibolite, showed no prints. And the gate was secured as they’d left it years before, the bars wrapped with chain, heavy links threaded through an iron staple hammered into stone, finished with a massive padlock. He hefted it in his palm. Still strong, if flowered now with the bloom of rust, the only key on a wrought-iron ring safe in Father’s cabinet. The torch thrust through the rods, he inspected the illuminated chute. At its floor, a single metal rung remained, a scattering of gray bolts – remnants of a ladder that once led Above.

***

“Let me go up first,” Kanin said. “Or Vincent.”

Pensive at the outset, for the last hour of their trek, Kanin had been closemouthed and withdrawn. Vincent was surprised by the sudden outburst, but when Winslow turned and glared at them, he edged into the shadows.

Winslow barrelled his chest. “What? You think I’ll break the ladder?”

“That’s not it,” Kanin retorted.

“Then you need to tell me straight to my face what it is, then. And stop that snickering, Vincent. I hear you. I hear you real good.”

Kanin stood in the circle of lantern light, his head down, the muscle in his jaw jumping, but he cast a sly look over his shoulder and mumbled something that, to Vincent, sounded like Foghorn Leghorn. Confused, he’d mouthed a silent What? but Kanin didn’t answer.

“Are you listening?” Winslow demanded. “I say, one’a you two boys’d better stand up. Right here!” He pointed to the ground at his feet, and when no one moved, stabbed the air twice more and growled. “I’m waiting. I’m goin’ to count to three. One. Two ...

“All right, all right.” Kanin long-stepped to the designated spot, his chin high. “It’s ... You ...”

“Say it!” Winslow boomed.

Winslow, his eyes wide
Kanin waved his hand back and forth in front of his nose, sniffed once, and Winslow drew up, showing all the whites of his eyes. Kanin’s shoulder blades twitched beneath his knapsack, and Vincent burst out laughing. Doubled over, he laughed harder. And he laughed until Kanin joined in, until Winslow braced his hands on his knees and howled.

Spent, they sank to a cross-legged seat. Winslow opened his canteen, gulped and spluttered and a round of laughter started up again. Still wheezing, he pulled a loaf of dark bread from the rations pack, then a small wheel of cheese, two apples. The end piece of a dry-cured sausage. He sliced and wedged their meal, and they fell to the business of eating, sobering to a silent agreement. What food was left over, Kanin packed with exaggerated care. Finished, he looked up ... nodded ... and led the way to the ladder. At the top, Kanin released the splintered trap door, crawling first from behind a cold, blackened furnace to a damp cellar lined, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with empty shelves.

Levon’s life-list of minerals and gemstones had once glittered on the wide planks. Manifest in pebbles and nuggets and chunks, his adventures were stories to be held cupped in the hands, peered at, their facets and cabs examined – boyish forays into caves, youthful dreams of panning for gold, an unsanctioned, off-trail meander in the Painted Desert. I was never lost! he declared, indignant after well more than half a century. There was beryl from Brazil – a secret mission, he said with a wink – perfect six-sided crystals, in colors of emerald and aquamarine and gold and peach. Azurite from a tour of duty in France. From Guatemala, a cabochon of imperial jade. A constellation of blue benitoite and glossy black neptunite from the California valley where he’d first met his Ellen, pried from the ledge of a dry creek bed where she’d perched to sketch the primroses. A shard of the pigeon’s blood ruby he unearthed in Burma. Hidden for weeks in the heel of his boot, by the time he made it home, little was left of it, but enough to have a chip set into gold filigree. Enough to hold out to Ellen, enough to entice her to say ‘yes’. Content in the memory, he daubed the crimson sliver from the pad of his finger to its bed under a slab of thick glass.


A great-grandchild! Father exclaimed, and Levon nodded.

I want to go home. See the ranch again, he said on his last visit to Father’s study. He rubbed his white-stubbled face. I’ll miss you all.


“I can’t believe he’s gone.” Kanin choked out the words, his arms slack at his sides. “Wyoming’s too damn far.” In his sigh, Vincent heard a pained wish – Maybe I should have moved with him – and Kanin’s face crumpled with a terrible longing.

His face … the same expression, dazed, defeated.

Kanin’s first Winterfest.


Levon paced a corner of the Great Hall, regaling an assembly of children with the tale of Persephone in the Underworld, pulling garnets like pomegranate seeds from his pockets, garnets gathered from a storied, faraway chamber, garnets reputed capable of illuminating the night sky or the darkest tunnel. With calloused fingers, he brushed the wall behind him and told the story of hematite, a common rock made glorious with the myth of Mars, of his spilled blood evident even in their own walls. These long, dark red streaks. Here. See? To wear an amulet of hematite, to carry it in a pocket, would bring invincibility, he said, would protect against madness. Kanin stood at the perimeter, alone, hunched against the unfamiliar chill, against the celebration, listening, almost desperate in his attention. Levon looked up, meeting Kanin’s clouded gaze over the last rapt ring of audience. At the story’s end, he promised another – Later, my young inquisitives – and approached Kanin as one might an injured bird, proffering his hand in tentative greeting.

In the wintery months afterward and on into spring and summer, at each week’s end, Kanin would grab his pack and set off north, offers of forays topside or entertainments Below deflected with a raised hand. He’d return in time for his next scheduled shift, sometimes brooding and unapproachable, his brows knit in a sullen glower, sometimes industrious, his ideas, his contributions rapid-fire.

The years passed, nearly three since that Winterfest, and Kanin seemed to settle into place, to soften. He spent fewer days apart from the community. He stood closer when a group would circle; no longer the first to leave a gathering. Less brittle, surer, when he’d raise his eyes in greeting, his wide, gentle smile would follow.

***

Levon had cared for him, had guided Kanin through the isolating pain that had propelled him Below, had helped him heal.

Or so they’d believed …

Did you ever tell Levon your truth, Kanin? How you must have missed him, all these years.

***

They’d often worked together, taken supper at the same long wooden table, and with others, ended the days with long swims beneath the falls, with noisy competitions on the dry packed sand of an ancient ocean bed. Once, months after their journey to close Levon’s doorway, after a hard-fought game of scatterbase, Kanin approached him, a towel around his neck, another held out.

He’d smiled his thanks.

“You hold back,” Kanin said, wiping his jawline.

Vincent threaded the towel across his shoulders, under his hair, spread his hands palms up, and shrugged. “Yes.”

“So do I,” Kanin replied. “So do ...” His voice trailed away, whatever admission he’d been about to share forgotten. Without a word or even a glance of hello, Olivia sprinted past, falling into Jesse’s arms eager for his kiss, and Vincent lost his breath, as if Kanin’s heart ... stopped ... in his own chest.

***

You’ve loved her so long.

The lecture once boiling in his mind simmered, then stilled.

Don’t make her decisions for her, Kanin. Tell her everything. Let her decide. And perhaps her sun will reach into the dark hollows, the bleak valleys. His hand strayed to the secret pocket of his cloak, to its folded-away truth. Perhaps ...


He found no evidence of any recent traveler, neither Kanin nor intruder. The corridor was melancholy, the air dampish and stale, but not fouled by bitterness or anger. If he could pull apart the lock or break the chain, if he could force the rusted hinges to give way, he’d find only a ladderless chute beneath a caretaker’s cottage, below a trap door barred with planks from the shelves of the cellar above. He loosened the knots at his throat, sweeping the cloak from his shoulders, and backwards from the gate and on far beyond the junction, he brushed his tracks from the dust.

A decoy ... smoke … no connection. Catherine had been right. A thin layer of tension peeled away but still ... Kanin. Where are you?

And still … MD.


Years ago in the earliest days of the community, the chambers scattered throughout the northwest tunnels were homes to a contingent of their more ascetic membership: the hermit, an anchoress, the skeptics, the solitary ... the independent, the self-sufficient. The unconventional, even for Below. Theirs was a peaceful province.

But the colony shattered. Here, an unexplained violence occurred – grisly murders still unsolved, spoken of rarely, and always in hushed, guarded voices, behind a shielding hand – the obscure rationale for the drawing of the northern demarcation, a boundary not to be crossed, the world on the other side kept out. After ... some moved south to their central city; more congregated in the northeast. For years, only Julianna remained behind, as removed as Narcissa, hardly more than a myth, at last moving to a chamber nearer others, but still a strenuous descent from Stuart’s rooms. How she managed was a mystery, and Liz reported they rarely saw her – until now – a regular sentry for the crews.

2 handprints on the tunnel wall in red paintThe distance from Levon’s to the entrance under Spencer and Leighton Avenue measured less than half a mile but the path was arduous and serpentine, through corridors so narrow he had to turn his shoulders to pass. A jagged incline inside a fissure of bedrock led to a spoked junction below Van Cortlandt Park. This last portal to the world Above was naturally guarded, a difficult journey for the fittest, a test of memory in or out. But he found the marker, a blaze of red paint faded almost to brown, two palm prints side by side.

I remember the way.

***

The area was off-limits to young explorers. It is a rule, Father decreed, his expression grave, and there will be no discussion. Am I understood? Seconds passed and Father had just turned away when Devin pressed Vincent’s foot with his own and the corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly. It was only a matter of time.

The events, the place, figured in numberless late-night stories. They’d sit, six or eight or a dozen of them, cross-legged and huddled close to a brazier or a camp fire or a conglomeration of candles, and soon enough, someone would venture the magnetic words – the dog’s-leg off Spencer, the rusted grate at Leighton – and they’d all lean in, drawn to hear the story whispered again and again.

Nobody knows who. Nobody knows why.

Devin was particularly deviled by the silence maintained by the adults, but it was Mitch who roused them to that first midnight journey – dared them, called them names, strutted before them making clucking noises. When Father went for his bath, Devin smuggled a map from the cabinet and made a hasty, rudimentary copy of their route. On the chosen night, with portions of their suppers wrapped in napkins and secreted in their pockets, a single canteen between them, six started out – Devin and Mitch jockeying for the lead, then Zilpha and Rebecca, then Pascal and Vincent.

They’re the littlest, Mitch sneered. They’ll turn tail and run. Just watch.

Devin called it counting coup.

“What’s that?” asked Rebecca.

You don’t know?” Mitch laughed and pointed. “Girls. You should’a stayed home.”

“Why don’t you explain it, then,” Devin countered, “since you know everything.”

“Just a minute and I will.” Mitch busied himself with his shoelace and the group passed him by.

“You tell us, Devin,” Zilpha said, looking over her shoulder at Mitch still bent to his shoe. “I’d rather hear your version of it, whatever it is, any day. Or Vincent’s.”

“It’s French,” Vincent offered. “Couper. It means to hit or strike. To cut.” Rebecca shivered and linked her arm with Zilpha’s.

Devin rolled his eyes. “No cutting, no hitting. When we get there, you just have to run up and slap the door. The Indians did that. It was cool. They’d try to sneak up on an enemy and touch him and run off without getting caught.”

“Who’s gonna catch us?” Pascal squeaked.

“Nobody,” Mitch boomed. He jostled his way to the front again. “Those stories are for babies. Nothing out there. Let’s get going.”

“Nine miles as the crow flies,” Devin said. But there were no birds below.

The trip was longer on foot than it appeared on Devin’s primitive map and although they maintained a steady march, detours were necessary to avoid the sentries, adding miles and minutes to their journey. The rumble of traffic intensified as they passed under the Cross Bronx Expressway.

“How much farther?” Rebecca asked.

“We’re past halfway,” Vincent said. “But the lookout at the reservoir will spot us if we keep going this way. We’ll need to go down a level. There’s supposed to be a rope bridge and a stone staircase. Then it’s a straight shot north under the park.”

“I don’t know,” Pascal said. “It’s getting late. We won’t make it back for Saturday breakfast. Father’ll figure something’s up.”

Mitch stuck his fists under his arms and waggled his elbows and Zilpha whirled on him, swiping the air with her torch. “Stuff it,” she barked before Mitch could make a sound.
“I have weekend duty in the nursery,” Rebecca said. “First shift. You know Mary. She expects me on time. She’ll come looking.”

“All right, all right,” Devin stopped and turned. “We should have started earlier. Who wants to go back? Who wants to go on?”

Pascal and Rebecca scuffed at the ground. Zilpha dragged the strap of canteen over her head and passed it to Devin. “I got a piece of cake too,” she said, rooting in the pocket of her long vest, “if it’s not all crumbled up.”

“We’ll cover for you till you get back,” Pascal promised. “Be careful.”


The rope bridge was narrow and swayed in a current of air above a fogged gulch. Devin studied the twisted manila railings and shifted foot to foot. Mitch clucked under his breath. “Shut up, Mitch,” Devin growled. “Shut up or go first.”

“Look at the map. Is there another way?” Vincent asked.

Devin shook his head. “We could double back about three hundred feet and then go topside through the park and over to the cemetery and down again from there, but ... we’d have to ... Jerome Avenue ... you can’t ...”

Mitch smirked. “I vote topside.”

“We either all cross over or we all turn back.” Devin drew himself to his fullest height. “ And that’s the only vote we’re gonna take.”

“I’ll go first.” Vincent crossed, and Devin, but when they turned to wave him next, Mitch had disappeared. “He’ll rat us out,” Vincent said and Devin nodded, glum.

...
...


“This is it.” The torch wedged into a crevice, Devin fished the map from his pocket, smoothing its wrinkles against the wall. Vincent leaned at Devin’s shoulder and traced the way from the last junction to this, their destination above. The cut in the rock narrowed and steepened before them, the stairwell out. Invisible fingers of cold and colder air clawed the paper from their grasp. Vincent rushed after it before it was lost.

“Give me your hand,” Devin commanded, a can of spray paint aimed at him.

“What for?”

“Come on. We gotta leave our mark. Watch.” Devin shook the container, the rattle of the mixing balls loud in the confined space. A wet hiss, a blurt of crimson ... Devin pressed his palm to the stone. Vincent laughed and held out his open hand.

“We’ll do it again, up top.” Devin promised.

***

Counting coup,” Vincent murmured, spanning the memories with the spread of his fingers.

He turned his back to the wall, listened with all his senses. A big leap ... a dozen warrants. Had Mitch found this place, he would surely recognize his sour scent – the embittered envy, the churlish bravado – but the air was merely dank, unbreathed, the wind voiceless.

They could take no chances. Unoccupied now, too remote for permanent sentries, too exposed, too dangerous … too haunted. The entire section must be sealed off on each level, cut from their territories forever, even the approach to Levon’s gateway. He would be the last to see this territory of the tunnels.

He retraced their once-fearless path. At the bridge, the fog that had hidden such treacherous depths was lifted. He knelt to test the fastenings. The plank treads seemed drawn more closely together, the ropes less feathered than he remembered. A chiseled-out stone pocket held a half-dozen flares amber with pitch, still sharp in scent. As if its bearer would soon return, a long rod wound fat with flax slanted at the wall. He brought it to his nose. Sulfur and lime – a candle that could burn underwater.

He’d been this way only once, over twenty years ago. Someone ... Who? Julianna, perhaps, and he imagined her companionless walks.

He tipped his flickering torch to the soaked flax. A hot, bright-white flame burst forth, illuminating a craggy canyon, stark grandeur carved by nature’s zeal. He looked down on coral-colored hoodoos, twisted rock spires, needles and fins and pillars, a sight that would have brought them to one knee at the edge and tied their tongues in panic. Father, Devin might have muttered, in a tone both resigned and relieved, and they would have turned back, never to cross the bridge, never to question the prohibited or brave the out-of-bounds. Sometimes, he mused, seeing clearly into all the corners forces the greatest adventures to be abandoned.

I’ll go first ...

Each rung returned a memory ... the nights on her balcony, toeing a stubborn, uneasy line, the intrepid explorer stymied, the child braver than the man ...

Catherine. I tried your patience, almost overlong ...

Only almost, Vincent.

He lowered the flare over the abyss and the treacherous ravine both reflected and sponged-up its light. Without the shadows, the landscape would have no dimension, no mystery.

Sprit that form’d this scene,
These tumbled rock-piles grim and red,
These reckless heaven-ambitious peaks,
These gorges, turbulent-clear streams, this naked freshness,
These formless wild arrays, for reasons of their own
I know thee, savage spirit – we have communed together … 3

His arm outstretched, he dropped the torch and it spiraled, end over end. Light-dark-light-dark-light-dark-light. Cleaving the river below without a splash, the candle gleamed beneath the water, a burning heart.

Ready.

______


He hurried along the stone circle, down two levels, taking an unguarded passage east into camp. His concerns addressed; his duty, always, to protect those who gave him his life, his now glorious life. Catherine. He broke into a steady lope, a deliberate meditation, one that allowed the wandering of the tree-lined brook of his dream, the sun-drenched orchard. He felt the cushion of the sage-green moss. Knew the perfume of apples ...

Eat something before you go.

The aroma of peppercorns, of garlic, of fire-roasted tomatoes teased the air. Hungry. Hungry. Nearly faint with it. With the forgoing. Not so very late. Someone was still awake, tending the fire, stirring supper. Something left for me. His mouth watered. Need quickened his step.

He emerged from the corridor, riveted to the low flame, to the kettle. Swiftly, silently, he closed the distance, his eyes half-closed, already tasting the long-simmered stew. A lone man bent close to the grate, ladling the peposo to his bowl.

Kanin.

The cookpot was scraped clean, the meager heel of bread on the cutting board a mere crust. Kanin turned, the soup spoon at his lips, the only sounds in camp the snap of embers, a smoldering moan.

“What?” Kanin grinned around a mouthful. Swallowed.

The ink-black fury coiled and struck, and a miserable bellow splintered from him. He backed away from the fire, from Kanin, from appetite and thirst and fatigue, from temperance, from forbearance. Out ... into the tunnels ...

Out ... to the upper levels ... OUT ...

No light, so sensation of flight, of freedom ... no escape ...

A flat-footed, spine-jarring, gasping race ...

Ready for you, finally ready.

The taunting voice spat the words from his shadows, mocked him ...

You are ready for nothing …



Click HERE for Chapter 27


_____________


1. Walt Whitman. That Shadow, My Likeness. Calamus. Leaves of Grass. 1860.
2. Walt Whitman. Song of Myself. Leaves of Grass. 1855.
3. Walt Whitman. Spirit that Form’d this Scene, #282. Leaves of Grass. 1881.

23 comments:

Krista said...

Wow..this is just something else. I really enjoyed reading this, but poor Vincent..going through all that and missing dinner too. Kanin is such a twit. :-/

I'm really looking forward to more. :)
-Krista

Carole W said...

Thanks Krista! I'm so happy to get back into the story. It felt like months between chapters.

I'm frustrated with Kanin too, but there's a lot of story to come.;-) Let's cross our fingers for him.

I'm so grateful for your comments and really glad you enjoyed #27.

~ Carole

New York City Utopia said...

It was worth the wait. Thank you for everything... but the cliffhanger, of course ;-)

Carole W said...

Thanks Claire. I'm hoping to get back closer to a chapter a week now, if my muse and the outside world will cooperate.

The ending I'd originally planned for this chapter would have been worse, cliff-hanger-wise, but there's this ... instead, that scene will come early in the next chapter, and perhaps 28 can end on a more contemplative note.

Carole W said...

I couldn't figure out how to forward a comment left on Chapter 1 of I Carry Your Heart that was meant, I think, for this story. The reader had a concern that I want to answer here, in case others feel the same way. So I've copied it:


Romantic1 said...Glad to see you back. Really liked the new chapter but worry it is leading us to the I'm-too-dangerous-to-love carousel. Hope not. Love seeing Vincent and Catherine face things really together as a couple. Look forward to the next chapter.

April 28, 2009 2:52 PM

Here's my answer:

Carole W said...
Hi Romantic1! Thanks for the welcome back. I missed the writing, but real life ...

Did you mean this comment for the newest chapter in Iron/Velvet? I'm going to try to transfer it over there, in case others have the same question.

I assure you - that particular carousel isn't in operation here. I think by the end of the next chapter, your worry will be addressed. I enjoy writing the gauzy scenes too much to have him pull back now! (Plus Brandy would hunt me down and have my head).

I'm so grateful you're enjoying the story. It keeps getting longer but I'm having some real fun here. Thanks so much for reading.

Carole

There's a lot left to this story and it seems that it only becomes longer the closer I get to the long-imagined end scenes. I'm really honored by the response to it so far and cherish all of you who visit. :-)

Carole (again)

Vicky said...

So delightful... As always, I can just see it all! (Um, may I kick Kanin for this once? May I? May I?)

Feels a little like my trip to NJ: I enjoyed every minute of all those long hours, but yet I wanted to get there so badly, and look back at it all as a whole... I am sooo starting this delightful story over once it's done!

Thank you, Carole. Love you!

New York City Utopia said...

*Re: Romantic1
How could we not be a little anxious, with this slightly worrisome title that follows us all along?
As far as I'm concerned, I already miss Martin, Eimear, Rosie, and a certain garden ;-)
Which leads me to:
*Re: Vicky
Why wait until it's done?

Carole W said...

Vicky, Kanin needs to get right. We'll see what we can do with him real soon. He's getting on my nerves too.

These flashbacks and memories of Kanin/Winslow/Devin/Mitch just came from nowhere and pushed and pushed at me until I let them out. Originally, I had planned ... none of this. I'm glad the imagery was strong enough to make it seem real.

Thank you, Vicky. Always.

~ Carole

Carole W said...

NYCU - Here's a hint about #28 - and I promise to stick with the title of it this time. After the Countless Songs ... Eimear and Martin come back from the pub. Martin's just a bit tipsy, I think. He needs a little garden sit down before he heads off to bed. And V ... needs to talk about some stuff.

Vincent is having some growing pains, but you know how I love him, how I love C & V together. I won't let them fall.

I miss my Other Characters too. Flynn needs some attention. Joe needs some attention
(and a girlfriend). Why am I not typing on the story right this minute!!

There's a school of fan fic thought that frowns on the "Other Character" - too out of canon. I'm fond of these guys though and I do hope they ring true enough to the mood and temperament of the original story. I'm grateful, Claire, that you like them enough to miss them, and that you're thinking about the garden too. :-D

~ Carole

Carole W said...

PS to Vicky - Given the discussion on the BBTV list today, perhaps I should find Father a girlfriend. That might fix what ails him!

Maybe Della in The Thing with Feathers. She's the right age and English is actually too old for her but they will become friends and one thing and another happens and Father finally meets Della and and and ...

??? Carole

Indie said...

WOW ... is appropriate! The imagery is very strong - olfactory, visual, auditory, tactile - it's all here. I agree with Vicky - it's as if I were there on the journey myself, inside Vincent's head.

I'm expecting the lecture that "cooled from a boil" is roiling once again. Eating up Vincent's dinner after all his efforts! That can't be good.

I also agree with New York City Utopia. I miss your cast of new characters. In fact, I hope you'll expand this, or sequel this, to give us Joe and Rosaleen's love story (of which I'm confident).

I wonder about Jenny's new man, Ned. There's more there than you've told us.

Have you thought of publishing this series as a fanzine? You have enough material and I would love a hard copy.

I've gone on too long. Keep up the good work. This is a great story.

Indie

Carole W said...

Indie, thanks for such a nice review and your encouragement. A hard copy fanzine? I'd thought of a private project through lulu or another such place, but under the radar and not for sale, of course, but for gifts.

Ned ... I haven't forgotten about him. And Rosie and Joe ... Theirs is a story to be told, for sure.

I really appreciate your comments–thank you again.

~ Carole

Krista said...

And here we are again, just short of two years---two years! (Still, the wait is and was worth it, never fear.)

I still want to kick Kanin in the shins, is that okay? ;)

I love the expansion---the explosion of feeling, the layering here. This is just...sigh...wonderful. But poor Vincent, stressed out and starving to boot. Kanin is a fortunate man, in more ways than one *evil grin*

Great job, again and still.

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

And what a grand two years, Krista! So many many memories. It's wonderful to have real friends with whom I can be my complete self. Bless BatB for that, for bringing so many of us together.

This chapter originally came a month after the previous one. I'd had some difficult RL weeks, two years ago. But getting back into the story really helped with the sadness. You all were so kind to me then, and you still are.

Kanin is kickable. But his coming back can't be seamless. I'm anxious to get Olivia and Kanin in a conversation though. Could be a doozy.

And Vincent is hungry, no matter we never got to see him eat. His motor revs at a high rate. He has to eat.

Thank you again! for rereading and for not kicking ME for taking so long with this. Hugs.

Carole

Krista said...

It has been a grand two years, hasn't it? I remember how hungry I was for good storytelling when I found this site, and to think what came from that single click of a mouse. What a joyous ride it's been, and how nice to have found such good friends. :)

I've read a couple of fanfic versions of Kanin's homecoming and I have to say, I find yours the more believable. Olivia should be furious with him (and that conversation you're planning to write? That's going to be...tense, I'm sure.) And Kanin, fumbling his way back to belonging, to being whole...that's not an easy journey.

Kick you ? Never. I'm enjoying the rereading of this--it's like rediscovering an old, loved book.

Great job, again and still ;)

-Krista

Carole W said...

How does one make a 'hugs' smiley face?

:-) !!!!

C

SandyX said...

Hee. Now I'm going to think of Foghorn Leghorn whenever I hear Winslow.

"Know this. You are ... we are ... Rich in hope." What a lovely thing for Vincent, or anyone to know.

Thank you Carole. I say that a lot, but I mean it.

Sandy

Carole W said...

LOL, Sandy. I love Foghorn Leghorn and I love Winslow, and somehow in my head I just heard him saying "I say, I say ". Then I went to Youtube and watched Looney Tunes for about half an hour. What fun - I remembered most of them too.

I'm always grateful to know you found something to like in a chapter. It matters.

Hugs,
Carole

RomanticOne said...

I see Vincent's hunger as having many facets - food, literature, Catherine, life itself. I also enjoyed the second reading of this chapter. My Dad could do a wonderful imitationof Foghorn Leghorn and it brought back some funny memories. Thanks for that.

Carole W said...

Hey, R-1! Foghorn was always one of my favorites. When the notion came to me to compare the two, I laughed out loud all by myself in the room. It just felt right. I'm glad the image called up pleasant memories.

You're right on about Vincent's hungers. He'll be a happier camper when he feels more comfortable admitting them. Maybe somebody - besides Catherine even! - could help him understand that. Stay tuned! LOL.

Thank you so much for rereading and always for your kind words.

Carole

Anonymous said...

"The ink-black fury coiled and struck, and a miserable bellow splintered from him. He backed away from the fire, from Kanin, from appetite and thirst and fatigue, from temperance, from forbearance. Out ... into the tunnels ...

Out ... to the upper levels ... OUT ...

No light, so sensation of flight, of freedom ... no escape ...

A flat-footed, spine-jarring, gasping race ...

Ready for you, finally ready.

The taunting voice spat the words from his shadows, mocked him ...

You are ready for nothing …"

Oh Carole -- Today, I just had to go back and find this. You have such an uncanny way of painting Vincent's almost unknowable inner life. The much feared and therefore unknown, unexplored Darkness that boils beneath. His enforced entrapment Below and desire for Freedom Above. And above it all the iron-clad, yet fearsomely brittle, Control he desperately tries to maintain over it all -- perhaps needlessly?

And those moments when Catherine, or just even the briefest promise of Catherine, bathes all of that roiling mass in Light and Love, giving him a breath of that most rarified of senses -- Hope. Those are the moments we Readers live for, and that you convey so beautifully.

I love both the Dark passages and the Light!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Oh my, Lindariel. I read this comment and tears came to my eyes. I know you know how much it means to a writer to hear words like this. It makes such a difference in my morale - to know that what I hoped to convey was conveyed, that you liked how I tried to do it.

But you distilled Vincent's struggle so beautifully. You understand him, are sensitive to him, to Catherine's effect on him and his on her. I'm looking very forward to your V/C stories. :-)

Thank you again, so much.
C

Anonymous said...

Carole, re-reading, and I just have to marvel once again at the progression from "I'm ready for you Catherine," to "Out. Out. OUT . . . You are ready for nothing." Just a stunning portrayal of Vincent in all his unknowable complexity. Sigh. While I suffer for Vincent's agony hear, still there is such satisfaction in reading this beautifully crafted, visceral punch in the gut. You really do bring our hero to life!

Love, Lindariel