Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 34

~ The Worldless Rose1

Catherine's office building
The brass bar was in her hand and, reflected in the pane of glass, she saw her own gloomy expression, a dour match for the high gray limestone walls, the low gray clouds that loomed above her. A sea of gray suits and gray trench coats surged up and over the concourse, parting at the rock she’d become, streaming around her through adjoining doors, muttering and mumbling at the morning and at her. As late as she, they eyed her with exasperation.

“You thinking about making a run for it?”

Joe was at her elbow, umbrella aloft. His gray overcoat and his charcoal jacket billowed unbuttoned. His dark tie, half done-up, flapped in each swoosh of conditioned air from the building.

“Could we?” As he nudged her with an elbow to a sheltered corner haven, a strafe of rain drilled the pavement. She imagined a gray-faced god, his cloud-cheeks puffed with wind, his lips pursed, the streets sluiced with a giant’s bucket of water. She imagined Rosie’s sculpture in place in the churchyard garden, the rain in intimate rivulets over it; imagined their chambers below, the inexplicable flicker of storm-light playing into their rooms, across their rumpled ivory bedding ...

“Who’s the mannequin?” Joe asked.


“You know. Hair guy. Perfect teeth guy. The guy who looked like he wanted to–”

She raised her hand, flapped the words away. “Don’t say it. That’s Harcourt. He lives in my building.”

“Maybe you oughta move,” Joe said, grinning, his own hair wild in the gust and damp.

“Yeah. Maybe.” A vision took her, one so strong she had to turn away lest Joe see it played out on her face. One hand was buried in his perfect golden hair and at that place where her shoulder curved to her neck, his teeth, his perfect teeth, scraped away all inhibition, all decorum ...


“So?” she echoed, blowing out a breath. Something at the bottom of her purse demanded her attention.

“Articulate, this morning, aren’t we? Good thing we don’t have court. You just now getting to work–”

“Too?” She smiled up at him and a blush crept from his collar. You’re so easy, Joe. “And where did you get the umbrella? It’s not exactly lawyerly fashion.”

“The old one’s toast. In a trash can on 8th Avenue. This one ...” He tilted it out, closed it, opened it again. The orange and black, striped and spotted wings fluttered as if in flight. “I got off a street vendor. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. It’s my new, umm, statement.” He twirled it, swung it up and over their heads and at her trill of laughter, blushed a deeper red. “Ehhh, it was the only kind the guy had. You take it. My gift.”

“Good idea,” she said, closing her fingers around the handle, raising it higher.

“Wanna get a coffee or something? Not here though.”

“You sure?” She glanced past him to the door and back. “Duck under then. But let’s make it something, because I really shouldn’t have any more coffee.”

Even before they reached Worth Street, the rain pattered away and though clouds still scudded by, she collapsed the umbrella, clamping it under her arm much as she clamped down on her own feelings – folding away her urge to claim ... to exclaim. There was work to be done, a focus to achieve, an emptiness to fill. What’s this, she thought, wishing for a free hand to rub at the beginnings of a headache just above her eyes. Must be the weather.

She heard a muffled tsk, a sharp intake of breath, a resigned huff. Her sideways glance at Joe caught him working something to the surface.

“Let’s take a little detour,” he said, and he stepped off the curb toward Foley Square.

The benches were puddled and empty but on the lawn, in the weather’s respite, a single woman began a dance of meditation, moving gently into morning, calling others to join in the fluid Tai Chi. Doors opened onto the streets and a bustle spilled out into the park.

Billy, sliding down steps railing on crutches
She felt it behind her – a rumble, an oncoming rush of air. Catherine reached out for Joe’s arm to slow him. A man in a fedora swooped by on a skateboard, headphones at his ears. His rocker-bottomed crutches he carried like ski poles, leaning left and right in a figure-eight around them. At the courthouse steps, he kicked away the board, and in spins and twists and freezes made his way to the top. His descent – a slide down the long railing – deposited him at their feet. Balanced on one crutch, his legs pedaled air.

“Hi Billy,” she said.

He came to ground with a slow, sweeping bow, a doff of his hat, a broad smile, gone with a lyrical, twirling backward-glide away.

Foley Square benches
“That’s wild – what he does.” Joe watched the man already threading the maze of lime green benches and the startled crowd, his arms spread like wings. “I saw him out here last week and I was sure he was wearing trick shoes but–” He turned to her, his brow furrowed. “Hold the phone. You know this guy?” He chuckled and offered his lopsided grin. “Why am I not surprised. I guess you know the lady doing Tai Chi too. Don’t bother with an answer,” he said when she drew in a breath. “It’s a rhetorical question.”

She could tell him about Billy’s hips, about the congenital defects of both; how unaided he could walk only a few steps without pain; that he’d just come back to the city with a Fine Arts degree; that he’d designed an experimental crutch for dance and sport; that he was a metal artist and would be a teacher at LaGuardia High school in the fall; that he’d married his high-school sweetheart; that they were soon expecting their first child.

But she couldn’t tell Joe about Father’s diagnosis when Billy was only five years old; how he’d refused to be sidelined even as a child; how he’d struggled on the stone circles and the steps to the Great Hall; how he’d prevailed against the wind to fall exhausted in a heap at the barred door ... how Vincent had righted him, steadied him and led him in.

How could she know that his grandfather had scrimped to save for a hip replacement which at the age of ten, Billy had refused and later, kept refusing. Or that Peter had found a special therapist in Chicago where an aunt lived and that it had been twelve years since Billy left the Tunnels.

Central Park Arcade, night, lit steps
And she couldn’t tell Joe about that late, late night in the park, the lights from the arched arcade a golden glory on the sandstone terrace and the fountain and the Angel of the Waters, when she and Vincent and Father waited at the appointed time at the foot of the steep stairs for Billy and his grandfather to appear at the top or that Father and Sebastien both wept at Billy’s graceful dance down. And she couldn’t share the memory of walking through the trees to Cherry Hill, of Father, enlivened with questions, heedless of the uneven ground ... or of Vincent at the edge of the pavement with the headphones settled into place, of Billy adjusting the volume of the player until Vincent nodded – Good – or of his broad smile when Billy whipped out a second pair, clamped them to his own ears, twisted the knob again, again ... and showed them all he’d learned.

Central Park, Bethesda Terrace, night
With a bit of revision, she could tell Joe what Billy said to her the night they first met. Father and Sebastien were busy clapping each other’s shoulders, beaming with pride and Vincent ... Vincent toed the skateboard back and forth, planted his boot flat upon it, tested his weight and balance. She’d held her breath, electrified and watchful at once, all she could do not to call out a warning or rub her own tailbone. Billy sidestepped to her, leaned in close ...

Vincent told me once that I could bear the pain and the limitation of what I was born with.2 I had to prove him right. 

But she couldn’t say that, like his grandfather, Billy was a Helper; like his grandfather, a master of the slight-of-hand and that when he tipped his hat, when it tumbled down his arm to dangle from his fingers, he slipped her a folded note now secreted in the pocket of her jacket, a note she needed to read ... and couldn’t.

restaurant window, rainy day
The coffee shop was quiet in this in-between hour, the tables along the one side wall open, the stools empty at the counter. Only the window seats were occupied, the tenants bent over their pastry crumbs and yellow pads. Joe’s glared at their backs.

“That’s Bertlesmeyer. Order me a coffee, will you? Giant sized. There’s our seat,” Joe said, eying their favorite alcove. “Better hoof it back, Bertie,” he said to the intern homesteading the corner table, a menacing thumb hooked over his shoulder. “Moreno ...”

The young man stuffed his work into his bag and hustled off without a word. His companions soon followed suit. The door swung open and shut, open and shut. Joe grinned at her, rising up on his toes and smoothing his hair. When she laughed he flexed the muscle of one arm and for a moment, she forgot the division of her spirit, the apartness that was her consort. With a signal to Stavros, she pointed to her choices on the taped-down menu, then pressed her finger to her lips. His stark-white eyebrows arched in question but he kept her silence and stepped into the kitchen.

“I heard that. Moreno’s not even here this week,” Catherine said, piling her bag on top of Joe’s in the empty third chair, wedging the umbrella in against the back. She bent to retrieve a scattering of index cards left in Bertie’s wake. “He’s in Albany, remember?”

“Hey, all I said was Moreno’s name.”

The letter burned in her pocket and she hoped it would be news of Kanin’s safe and reassuring return, that Vincent’s concerns were unfounded – all of them – that it was not Mitch, that there was nothing, no one, threatening their safety, that he would be home sooner than he’d predicted. The words were surely neither urgent nor troubling. In the way of Tunnel couriers, Billy would know something of the contents or the mood of its sender. He wouldn’t deliver dire words to her in such a light-hearted manner ...

Would he? Her fingers worried the edges of the paper.

inside restaurant, looking out windows, rainy day
Joe fidgeted with his chair and turned toward the window. She followed his gaze. People milled in the park, hurried head-down along the street. If she’d been alone, Billy would have waited while she read, at least near by. She searched the benches, the lampposts, under the awnings of the vendors’ carts parked at the periphery of the Square. He was gone.

Alone ...

The word had taken on new meaning. At a familiar table in a favored diner, she sat with a man more than her friend, a man she knew and ... yes, loved ... but here with him, alert always to protect the exquisite secret ...

She studied his profile. What was the tell-tale quality that separated those who could from those who could not ... could never. Rosie’s question echoed her own long-worried hesitation. How much can you accept? Was it possible? Did Rosie see something in Joe? That something? His heart she didn’t doubt but his was a separate, harder question.

This was Joe and there were ... conflicts.

At the counterman’s call, he lifted his chin in acknowledgement and pushed from his chair. “Be right back.”

Though the message was folded small and tight, it yielded to her determined fingers; she held it in her lap, in the shelter of the table. Grateful now for the buzzing, over-bright lights, she scanned the cryptic sentences, deciphered the abbreviations with a mix of disappointment and relief.

From Aniela ...

She’d spoken with Dix. Kanin had returned. But she was called away to another job and wouldn’t be working in the basement of the shop when Dominic came for him this morning, didn’t know and couldn’t ask about Mitch.

There was this comfort, at least, but in the storm of the new day, in the face all the cruelty and deceit she would battle at her desk, her sureness that Mitch was nowhere near wavered and hung in delicate balance on the fingertip of her faith. Please, please. It cannot be.

Behind her, footsteps on the the hard tile floor heralded Joe’s return and the window mirrored his quizzical expression. She crumpled the note in her fist, and though she knew it a bootless plea, that their bond, however it worked, was not telepathic, she closed her eyes and wished for an answer in that rough, sweet voice, for a clear, definitive knowing ...

Or for a telephone …


Eimear's office, arched window cased in stone
Her office was a refuge for her, a welcoming place farthest from the classrooms, opposite the residence halls. In the old headmaster’s room, her window, framed in an arch of rough-hewn limestone, looked out onto the remnants of a once-grand lawn. Recently refitted, it opened now. She reached up to turn the latch.

The scent of rain breezed in, taking her to the sea’s rocky edge, to the high stone hill her mother gave her in song and story, the same stony scarp visioned the evening before, called out by The Blood of Cu Chulainn. But in her morning fantasy, the water moiled at the base of the cliff, showing its white skirts, and the waves crashed upon the strand and she was alone – no companion in Catherine, no wild rider on a dun horse. The schoolyard shimmered back into view. The sounds of the city rose in pitch – a siren, a hiss of brakes, a loud bass beat. Thunder and distant lightning courted each other in the sky, a potent dance of call and answer.

Tis a hard day, after all.

Not yet ready to face her desk, she stood at the window. There was clamor to uproot the straggling azaleas, the gnarled lilacs, to remove the mossed and broken cobblestones in favor of flat concrete. Already a contingent of ten-year old boys had a standing appointment with her. Every Monday now for more than a month, after lunch, they would crowd her door, jostle for the two chairs, the last-in sprawling onto the carpet and they’d talk at once about the virtues of exercise and hours in the sun, dismissing the television lounge, swearing they’d wear the knee and the elbow pads, if only they could skate away their afternoons and weekends.

She’d let them go on, their arguments honed in huddles on the playground, so adamant, so beseeching, too precious to cut short. Watching them, listening, she was hard pressed to see the imprint of their shattered starts. Perhaps today she’d tell them she had the promise of a donor, that work would begin as soon as a plan was chosen and a contractor approved. The yard would remain, however, in all is faded glory. The skate pad, necessarily spare, would take the back corner near the alley, a little-used square of grass beyond the swing sets. Good enough.

The soft rap on her open door startled her and her head snapped around. David. Zivah. She pressed one hand to her throat. Had she made a noise? Snarled in surprise?

“Whoa!” David said, rubbing what little was left of his hair.

Zivah frowned. “I want your job. That’s no secret,” she said. “But not today, okay? Try to stay among the living.”

Eimear almost laughed out loud. Zivah hated asking people for money and she was two years from retirement. “Just having a bit of daydream. What’s up?”

“I’ve got those wish lists you wanted for the library and the gym.” David handed her a sheaf of papers. “Classrooms and cafeteria to come. Tomorrow, I hope. Wednesday at the latest. I know we’re late with it.”

“I can talk to the printer, push the deadline some. Everything else is ready to go,” she said, sitting down at last.

He rubbed his head again. “I hate holding you up, Eimear.”

“‘Tis nothing, David. The campaign won’t truly start till May Day.”

“That’s, what, ten days from now?”

Shoo,” Zivah said. “We don’t need any help reading the calendar.” Though David had pulled the door closed behind him, she lowered her voice. “We’ve got a problem. A real wrench in the works.”

Eimear took a deep breath, eyeing the stack of mail in Zivah’s hands. There were things she wanted to think about – Catherine’s laundry, for one, the peculiar shirt and the look she gave it, all familiarity, all anticipation. Flynn ...

And things she wanted only to push out of her mind.

Zivah dumped the weekend’s mail into her inbox and took one opened envelope from the top of the pile. "Tell me,” Eimear said, scooting up her chair to the things she could not avoid.


Ah, no,” Eimear grumbled. Zivah didn’t need to say more. “And I was going to tell the boys today they could all put skates and boards on their wish lists. What happened? Did we lose them?”

“No, no, not lost. Qualified. They’re all enthused about the gift but they want the pad enclosed with a stone wall to match the neighborhood originals, not a wood fence ... and they–"

Woodlawn, high stone wall
“And they want us to find a second donor for said wall.” Her guess confirmed by Zivah's pinched expression, a flare of temper matched her cheeks to her hair. “And that means taking yet another set of bids from stonemasons, if I can find them, and locating reclaimed stone that matches no less, like it’s lying about on the roadside, free for the taking, and and since I can’t be sure we’ll find another donor in this century, it means changing the focus of the whole campaign, as I was using the Gunderson Gift on the cover of the flyer!” She twiddled a halting bodhrán’s beat against her desk top with her pencil, then pitched it across the room and folded her arms. “Damn it!

“You need a good cup of tea,” Zivah said, rising to her feet. “A good cup of tea. I’ll be back in a few. That’s the worst of the mail there, by the way. Don’t be afraid to read the rest of it.” At the door, she turned. “Oh, before I forget. I haven’t taken the messages off the machine yet. Want me to? Before the tea? Helen said every time she answered the phone over the weekend, whoever it was hung up. The machine’s full. Probably kids.”

“I’ll do it,” Eimear said. Sure a note of panic seeped into her voice, she made a show of rummaging her bottom drawer. I should have known, should have been early this morning. “Is there any tart, do you think? Pastry?”

“I’ll check,” Zivah said, “and send David to Artuso’s if there’s nothing.”

“Go along with, why don’t you. He’d love your company.” She summoned a convincing smile. “A walk in the spring rain. What could be better?”

When the tap of footsteps faded away, Eimear crossed the floor to Zivah’s office, closing the door between their rooms. She stared at the machine, considered walking the entire apparatus through the woods to Van Cortlandt Park Lake and tossing it in. She stabbed at the playback button, then hurried to adjust the volume to its lowest. Just as Helen had described when she’d called Saturday afternoon. Eimear had listened with her eye on the garden table, her guests readying for tea, a numbness edging into her consciousness, a tingling detachment. Time after time, Helen said, she'd answered to nothing save for once ... when a man had asked for her.

No message. He just mumbled your name ... and waited. It was weird, the other calls, the hang-ups. I thought you ought to know.

The messages on the tiny cassette in her pocket echoed these – a wheeze of breath, a clattering and an ominous silence – then a time stamp, like a counting-down of hours.

She let them play through.

And there it was. The same coarse voice, the stoney laugh. The same final message. "Tell him. An eye for an eye.”


“What's this?” Joe asked, thumping two tall containers in the middle of the table. “I trusted you, Radcliffe.”

“They’re smoothies. Made with yogurt. They’re good for you.”

He sank into his chair with a groan.

“You can pick, Joe. Either one.”

“And I’m picking between ...”

She bent over the cups to hide her smile and removed the lids. “This one’s carrot juice, banana, strawberries and vanilla yogurt with brewer’s yeast and wheat germ and this one ...” She pushed it toward him, his grimace predicting his preference. “Is raspberries, blueberries, apple juice and yogurt with a dash of protein powder and ginseng.”

“Ginseng? Isn’t that illegal?”

“I didn’t roam the woods for it, Joe. I just asked for it. Drink up. You’ll thank me later.” She stared pointedly at the stacked chair. “Isn’t this your gym bag? Haven’t seen it in a while.”

“Yeah,” he said, patting his stomach. “I need to get back to it. Quick. I hope. I mean, maybe. I mean–” The blush crept from his collar again and he thrust one foot from beneath the table, leaning out as if to assess the shine of his shoe.

Catherine peeled the wrapper from the tip of her straw and compressed the paper to a tight accordion, pulled it off and dropped it in front of him. “Watch this, Joe.” She touched the tube to the condensation pooled on the tabletop, letting a drop fall on the pleats. It squirmed as if alive and fanned open. Joe laughed and blew the paper off his own straw and it lodged in her hair.

“You kids behave,” Stavros boomed from the kitchen pass-through. “Or I’ll send you back to work.”

“Speaking of work ...” Catherine said. All she’d ignored over the weekend seemed ready to burst from her bag.

“Yeah. Right.” Joe twitched and twisted in his seat, uttering the same tsk and sigh she’d heard earlier. He drummed his fingers in a staccato rhythm..

She picked up her cup, jiggled the straw up and down. “Something bothering you, Joe?”

“Carrot juice,” he said, changing a subject as yet undisclosed. “That’s what, good for your eyes? Improves your night vision, right?”

Twilight vision, she almost said. In moonlight, by candlelight.

One evening in the library, she’d struggled to discern the markings of a tunnel map, the lesser-used entrances near her office important to memorize. Though she bent low over the pages, the half-dozen fat, white, reading candles massed on the table shed too pale a light on the diminutive script. She remembered her frustration, how suddenly, the inability to see well, to adjust, seemed symbolic, even prophetic. She remembered the well of tears. But Father took her elbow and walked her to the kitchen’s pantry where he mixed a healthy pinch of wheat germ with William’s chilled, fresh-pressed juices – apple and carrot – opened a tin of almonds and lectured her well on the careful addition of more Vitamin A, more riboflavin to her diet. That night, disguised as admonition, Father’s words comforted her. She heard in them what he didn’t say – there was a shift, a step forward – her presence further along the continuum of his esteem between accepted and embraced.

But she could share nothing of that memory, no story of their triumph. So little of our happy life ...

“Cathy? Hey!”


“You kinda drifted off. You tired? What’d you do yesterday?”

On a rooftop in the Bronx, at midnight, I experienced ... eternity ... with the man I love ... carried life-changing news to him that healed a desperate hurt. Witnessed coincidence beyond all explanation; felt the great energy swirling nearby. There were moments so exquisite, so crystal ...

She shrugged. “Had breakfast with some friends. Went to the grocery. Did laundry. A typical Sunday. What about you?”

“I saw Jenny yesterday. And her friend Ned.”

“You did? Where?”

“At the Cloisters. I was there with Rosie.” Her surprised met with an indignant splutter. “Now look. I’ve had it with the idea I’m light in the culture department. I read! I like history! I like arty stuff!”

You mean you like this artist, she thought, though she answered only with her smile.

“They know each other, it turns out.”

“Who? Ned and Jenny?”

Joe rolled his eyes. “Ned and Rosie.”

“Eimear said they might.”

“Rosie’s working on the stained glass restoration. Making these big rubbings, numbering the pieces before they take them apart.”

“She does stained glass too?” She looked at her hands, at her fingers splayed against the table. “Suddenly I feel ... so unimaginative.”

“You and me both,” Joe said, stirring the last of his drink. “But I don’t know about that. Just ... she's doing the photography and the cataloging.”

“Go on.” I could show her a window ...

“So she has to be out of town for a couple of days – a seminar or something up in Rochester – and they’re closing down the first gallery Monday. She needed to do this thing and I ... ummm ... went with her.”

“Joe, why is this so hard? You’ve told me about your dates before.”

“Yeah, I have.” His hand strayed to his loosened tie. If he pulled it free, balled it into his pocket and suggested a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, she wouldn’t be surprised. “Ned seems like a good guy,” he said instead. “He reminds me of somebody. Can’t put my finger on it, though.”

“I know. Me too.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “If we both think that ...”

“Must be somebody from work. Court maybe.”

“Or one of the station houses.”

“Jenny tried to call you, tried a couple times from the office while Ned and Rosie were talking. Something she wants to ask you, she said. Sounded important.”

There was a odd, sharp pain in her throat, as if she’d swallowed a square ice-cube whole. A chill of dismay settled in her stomach. What?

Joe slurped the last of his breakfast, but she pushed hers away unfinished. She probed for the source of the foreboding. Wherever it came from, whatever it meant, in a moment she knew its name.

It was loss.

Click HERE for Chapter 35.


The real Billy - inspiration for this character

Ad for Visa  (youtube)

Work It Out Music Video (youtube)


1. Richard Wilbur. Advice to a Prophet. Collected Poems. 1943 - 2004. (Thanks, Brandy!)
2. Bill Shannon. Paraphrased from his blog:


Krista said...

Oh, Carole. I kept hitting the refresh button once you told me this was coming, and I'm so glad I did.

What a tapestry you've woven here: the parallel lines of Catherine's lives, Above and below, intersecting Joe and Rosie's and Eimear and Flynn's.

Your "Billy" *sniffle* I think the real Billy would be proud.

And Father's gesture towards, how far they've both come. :)

Once again, fantastic work. :)


SandyX said...

Thanks for the bedtime reading! It was well worth the wait. The answering machine message reminded me of the creepy messages in Watcher. Makes me hate this guy too.

Poor Catherine really does have to keep a lot of secrets from her friends above, huh? Nice little cliff hanger with Jenny. I'm ready for the next chapter now ;-)

Vicky said...

Sitting here, nodding at Krista's words. (Great job about the bond, again!)

How do you manage to come up with such fitting titles, hmmm? This one was perfect!

Stonemasons, eh? :-D

I love Joe! Ah, how much can he accept? It seems so obvious, and yet so unpredictable...

Beautiful, intriguing, as ever, Carole! Oh my, I had something else to say and I forgot...)


Carole W said...

Thank you, Krista

Father softened a while back - how could he not! But he was a tad stingy with the letting-on. He desperately needs a girl-friend of his own. ;-)

Thanks for enjoying Billy, Krista. When I read that quote from his blog, about enduring, it just seemed so right that he be a part of this world.

You know how to keep my spirits bolstered. I'm always exhausted after posting a chapter. It seems to take a lot from me, but having comments, knowing you've enjoyed the read, makes it all so worth it.


Carole W said...

Sandy, I hope the creepy messages don't give nightmares! I hate the guy on the phone too. But Catherine should be, if Eimear would ever give it up and share, very sympathetic.

Catherine has it extra hard, I think. The few times I've had something I really really needed to keep quiet, I felt like I thought about it all the time! It was work NOT to say something.

The next chapter ... ahhh. I do have several pages of notes and narrative that were too much for this chapter. #36 should be quick to write, though tomorrow I really need to clean the house. I've neglected it mightily for the life in the Tunnels.

Thanks for reading and for leaving remarks. It makes me want to keep going.


Carole W said...

Vicky! I wonder about Joe. He seems so rooted, but I can see "it" happening with ...

Well, better not give away the story tonight! :-)

This title came from Brandy's poem search. She found it, sent it and I've been trying to get to the proper chapter for weeks to use it. Things needed to fit and it's taken me forever to get here. Now what will I title the next chapter?

Thank you for reading, and always, thank you for your encouragement and care. I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter.


Sonia Who? said...

When I read in the sidebar that you wrote Billy into the story I wondered how you were going to accomplish that. I thought he was just going to have a short cameo appearance where Catherine spots him on a city's street doing his routine. It's wonderful how you incorporated Billy into your story and made him a ex-tunnel resident and current helper. Very good and touching background story.

Are you going to tell Billy about putting him on your story? It would be fun to know his reaction to it. Wonder if he would be a fan of the series.

Love all the imagery used in this story, especially Vincent on a skate-board with headphones on. Almost like watching the events instead of just reading them. Your words are so vivid and express so much emotions so adeptly.

I love Joe's humor; he's such a wonderful guy and good friend. And because he cares so much about Cathy I think he would accept Vincent. I hope Catherine can share her secrets with him and Jenny soon, as well as with Eimeer, Flynn, Martin and Rosie.

Wondered what Joe tsk and huff was about. Did he think that Catherine wasn't having coffee because she might be pregnant?

It made me laugh to think that Joe might be worrying about his physique due to the possibility of him getting intimate with Rosie soon.

It's fun to be able to know what Catherine and some of the other characters of the story are thinking most of the time. Their internal dialogue and their daydreaming it's very intriguing. Catherine seems to get lost more often in her musings and visions than anyone else, except maybe Vincent. Wonder if Vincent and Catherine share their daydreams/visions at the same time?

So, is that the gauzy scene (Vincent's perfect teeth on Catherine's neck) you told me my drawing inspired you to write? If so, I must do and send you more steamy V&C drawings soon. I would love to have you use at least one of them on your story. Just wish I didn't take forever to do just one drawing and didn't get disappointed so easily when it seems I can't make them come out the way I want them to.

Another great chapter. Thanks for the good read and not making us wait too long between chapters. You're doing great. Can't wait for the rest of the story to unfold.

Carole W said...

Sonia, what a thoughtful comment. Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed the videos. When I read about BShannon, he seemed to fit. I don't know how real people feel about having their names and faces in fiction like this - there's probably some kind of copyright infringement there, even more than fan fic itself. We should probably keep it to ourselves. Hopefully, he won't Google himself and tell me to cease and desist! LOL.

Do you think Vincent DID or DID NOT try out the skateboard for any distance? I'm still not sure myself! He's a natural athlete though. I can sure see him with a frisbee in the park.

I think Joe's tsk was for himself, reasons soon to be revealed. :-) You nailed it - he's getting back to the gym just in case! Eventually I do want to write the Joe/Rosie story, but I should keep most of it out of I/V or it will never wrap itself up!

Now to your drawing - the perfect teeth scene just popped into my mind as Joe was making fun of Harcourt. (Sometimes these characters take on lives and dialogue of their own and I just have to go with it)

YOUR drawing has inspired a whole other scene that will manifest in a future chapter. I wish everyone could see your sketch now - it's very very VERY inspiring!!!! But yes, you MUST do and send me more. You have real talent.

V and C do share some bond-feelings though it is still vague for Catherine - she's still learning, but as it (the bond recognition) becomes stronger for her - she'll know more when it's happening. In this chapter, the tapping headache - that was Vincent's ... mostly. And the feeling of loss - when V heard Kanin's plan to seal off Martin's garden, he certainly had strong feelings of dismay. The feeling of loss though ... there may be something coming on Catherine's side of the river to explain that feeling from her POV soon.

When you say it's almost like watching events rather than reading ... that makes my day. That is what I aspire to, what I try to achieve. It's really good to know it's working. This kind of comment is a real encouragement. Thank you again.


Ann B. said...

Another wonderful chapter Carole! I agree about your ability to paint word pictures. Makes one feel they were actually there. I spent quite a few minutes looking at videos of Billy. Amazing! The way you wrote him into the story it felt as if I was sitting on the sidewalk along with V, C and the others.

I really liked reading about Catherine and Joe. Seems like the world Above often gets short shrift in a lot of fanfic. I also noticed that she was experiencing a bit of a headache... Could it be an echo of Vincent's hangover.... Hmmm?? I laughed out loud at that thought.

I do have question. How do you all find those great literature quotes? I understand about googling images, kind of. But how do you find a qoute if all you have is a mental image or idea that you want to convey but no real words for it?

Vicky said...

The quotes? It's because she's so good!

I agree Catherine is very dear to Joe, but telling him abuot Vincent would still be a little complicated; it's not so much about what he could accept, but about what he'd be able to compromise. But then, Flynn's case would help Catherine make her point, if he got to question her about all those unsolved cases and their motive... Still not easy though.

Kemara said...

Another fantastic chapter as always! I laughed out loud at the thought of Vincent on that skateboard...too funny.

I loved Billy...must Google more about him. I don't know if I ever said, but I have "very mild" (according to the doctors) Cerebral Palsy. You can't really tell except I walk with a slight limp and tend to stumble all the time. Anyway, I did volunteer work with a group that uses horseback riding as therapy for physically/emotionally disabled kids. I've also had several friends with CP. It never ceases to amaze me what these people can do if they put their minds to it.

I really enjoyed the whole scene with Joe and Catherine. They have a kind of brother and sister dynamic that works very well.

Can't wait to see the steamy artwork! We need some of that soon.

BTW, have you read those stories I sent you yet? :)

Brandy said...

Ooh, ohhh, steamy artwork? I'm there! Please Sonia, don't feel shy - share!

Carole, another beautiful series of elements weaving themselves together. I am anticipating - I can see set-ups you're beginning to make. Hmm, who do we know that's a stonemason that could find reclaimed stone? :)

Glad to see I'm not the only one panting for a steamy scene. Wow, the "his perfect teeth" line was great. He does have very white teeth, and they're in lovely shape, but they're certainly on the far end of "normal." They are perfectly Vincent's though, and I suppose that was what Catherine was thinking.

Found you a modern poem this time, about all the plot lines you're bringing together.

Alberto Ceras

I weave, I weave
Although no strand has passed
From hand to hand
For countless ages now

An unseen coat perhaps
Of endless absent threads
One that none may truly want
Or ever care to wear

I weave, I weave
And yet no yarn nor cloth emerge
A fragile phantom shroud

To clothe a formless fantasy.

Carole W said...

Ann! It's great to hear from you again. You're exactly right, the headache was a bit of Vincent's.

I'm still watching the BShannon videos too. I may add one to my morning "get ready" routine. I listen to The Flower Duet from the opera Lakme then Tommy Emmanuel playing Serenade to Summertime to get myself calmed down enough to enter the "other world" of writing. I think if I add even the short Visa ad, I'll feel more able to do.

I'm glad you liked my Above scenes! LOL, I'm so relieved that the Vincent/Martin conversation is over ... for now ... it was SO HARD to make just two guys sitting in the dark not even able to see each other have any substance! NYC is so full of sights and sounds - I'm pleased it had visual presence when you read it. Very pleased.

As to the quotes. My method is to get a feel for the chapter's theme. Then I just start reading poetry - generally authors that figured in the series- the Romantics, the Transcendentalist, Shakespeare and the like. Sometimes it takes a day or two of reading to find a title that works. Sometimes I have to change the title as the chapter progresses.

I have favorite authors - Rilke, Wilde, Whitman, Dickinson, Coleridge, Yeats - and I often go there first, but I'm finding more and more poetry I've never read and I get lost in it sometimes.

Now The Worldless Rose came by way of Brandy! She's shared several poems here and I've found several most perfect titles from the poems she found.

Sometimes I'll google a theme or an image - say, courage or disappointment or warrior or storm or spring and "poems". Things, wondrous things, pop up. And lastly, I'm glad to say - that English degree has come in handy.

The job I wanted all those years ago? Patricia Livingston's - Literary Consultant to BatB and Ron Koslow. Oh, how I wanted that job.

Thank you so much for your comments, for taking the time to write. I really do appreciate it.


Carole W said...

Vicky, you are a mind reader! The line - Joe's was a separate, harder question - is about that very thing. Joe has more to accept that just Vincent's being ... there're the ... bodies.

And I've been wondering, really wondering. Just how many of those maulings were actually associated with Catherine? How many of them do we KNOW were found by the police? Yes, the Pilot, and C was involved with Carol and the brownstone, BUT she wasn't there when the police came.

Stephen Bass' injuries would be suspicious and associated with her presence. But when she was shot by Mitch's crew and V dispatched them, we don't know for sure, do we, that the police found those bodies? Perhaps they were ... moved.

The Watcher's death was one most definitely associated with Catherine.

My mind is blanking on more, but I'm going to give this some thought. (I know that dirt-bag Spirko from the S2 ending trilogy had specific photos given to him by Paracelcus - but I try to avoid those episodes! Watching again might answer one of my questions though)

Still, I do believe that Joe understands self-defense and defense of loved ones or the innocent. And yes, the Flynn story might help :-).


Carole W said...

Kemara, your stories are my treat for finishing the chapter. In fact, they are to be my bedtime reading tonight! I'll send you some feedback ASAP. I'm looking forward to them.

I'm glad you laughed. I can so imagine V on the board, his hair and cloak flying. I just don't want him to take a header and break anything important!

I love Joe and always wished he'd had more screen time. He's a great guy and he's fun to be with. He needs a good girlfriend.

I'm glad you're enjoying the Joe/Catherine scenes ... even if we are way overdue for some V/C steam. I do promise to get them together soon. Maybe they deserve a bit of a vacation when this is over? Someplace totally uninterruptible?

Thanks so much for reading, Kim!


Carole W said...

Brandy, I am shameless. I'm not even through setting up possible take-off points for future stories. Next chapter will have more than one.

Yes, where oh where will Eimear find the proper kind of stonemason? I'm going to get Dominic and company jobs to last for years. No hard times for my tunnel helpers! And where might Eimear find a new donor ready and able to give?

This poem! So eerily fantastic. I can see the shuttle moving in the air without benefit of hand. How do you find these? Ann was asking about the process. Mine is just random reading with a bit of Googling thrown in. What about yours?

Yes, you have it and I'm glad you liked the moment. Vincent's teeth are perfectly his. And like his hands, they are Catherine's. Certainly we all agree his hair is most perfect!

Now I'm ready and wishing for a gauzy scene together too, but this is one of their perpetual problems - their apartness! Things must change - some answer must be found. If I can get to the end of this story, I hope to offer a few small but impacting suggestions.

I do have a reunion gauze scene perking in my mind that should ease our collective pains.

Great to see you here! Thanks, Brandy.


RomanticOne said...

I enjoy reading all the comments at the end of the chapters. I learn so much from everybody. The addition of Billy was awesome. I, too, agree we need to get Vincent and Catherine some time together. Their bond seems to give them a certain "energy" that carries them through the hard times when they are apart, but that energy needs to renewed. The photos are great. I think Joe has the potential. Catherine manages two worlds without stepping over the line. I think Joe is intelligent enough to do the same, to think through each situation and reach a conclusion he can live with. When you think about it, all our lives consist of separate worlds - work, home, friends who trust us with parts of themselves that are vulnerable, shared but precious moments with that person whom we love more than life itself. Our one life is full of different worlds. How boring it would be otherwise!

Carole W said...

You're so right, R1. Our life's tapestry would be boring with but one color or texture. And like Fox Mulder, I want to believe and I agree with you, I think Joe has tons of potential. The time must be right to pull back that curtain - and we'll see what he's made of.

It's funny - It seems like forever since C and V had any time together but it's only Monday morning and they were together Saturday night and Sunday - not all the time and not piled up in bed together as they most definitely should be - but I think I can make some closeness time occur soon. I don't want to give the story away and truthfully, sometimes it takes it's own direction almost out of my hands, but I'm expecting at least some semi-gauze tonight (in the story).

Now, I've promised and I must deliver. To the keyboard, first thing tomorrow!

I'm glad you liked Billy and the photos. I sure had fun with both this chapter.


Brandy said...

Dear Carole and friends of the posting board,

I have 2 ways of searching for poems. One, is my favorite spot, is the Famous Poems and Poets site ( They have an internal search engine that allows you to search by author or theme. I often pic a keyword that strikes me as a good summary of the chapter I've read and search for that.
The other way is a good old Google search. I almost always enter a search in "poems about blank" format.

But you mustn't spend too long at either of those, or I'll have nothing to offer and wow you with!

The need for authors to care for the tunnel residents is one that makes me grin. We all want to see them prosper, like us all desiring to "nest" for Catherine and Vincent.

Thanks for the welcome. It's great to be back.

Carole W said...

Look, I spelled my own name wrong when I signed my last post! Arggh!

Brandy, I'm anxious for your next find.

Today I stared at the blank screen ending with 592 words after 6 hours, not because I don't have anything to say but because there's so much that needs to happen, I had trouble picking a starting place. What helped me focus and actually get started was the finding of at least a working title ... The Mad Coupling of Hope and Force (Pablo Neruda)


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole,
I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter! I love how C feels the bond in these ways! Was glad to have Joe around as much this time - I love him and his relationship with C (and one never saw Jay "acting" - a real natural talent). Yes, how much can he accept. Perhaps he'll be so happy with Rosie that he can accept "everything" and there can be this wonderful circle of friends - C&V, Martin, Ned/Jenny, Eimear/Flynn, and Joe/Rosie. I also enjoy the illustrations. Billy was a wonderful addition. And yes, C&V were together some over the weekend, but they are due some quality time!!! I love to lose myself in this story - you bring everything to life in such a wonderful way that I feel I'm right there with them!

You're doing great and I'm looking forward to the next installment!!

XO, jitterbug

Carole W said...

Bless your heart, Jitterbug! You know how to encourage me! Thank you for ... everything.

I love Joe too and want him to have a good girlfriend. I agree, Jay Acovone seemed so natural in his part. From what I've heard from those attending the conventions at which he appeared, he is just as nice in person as his character seemed. Next chapter has a bit more Joe in it. Eventually I will write the Joe/Rosie story.

C and V will, by then end of this day, Monday, have some stuff they really need to talk about. It may feel like a very looonngg day - comprising several chapters. Hopefully, when all is written and you can read through all at once, it won't feel like such a long time between ... meetings.

In the interim, there's always flashback. And the promise of tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. It really means a lot to hear from you.


Joyce said...

Well, I was afraid I would not be able to pace myself until you had completed chapter 36! I just completed this chapter and now I am hungry for more. Reading your words brings all of the characters alive. Especially Vincent and Catherine and how their thoughts are never far fro each other. The passion you write about between them is totally believable and very erotic. I can't wait for the next chapter!

Carole W said...

Joyce! I apologize for the delay - I try to post within 3 weeks of the last. For the last few, I made it in almost 2 weeks, but I was out of town a couple of times in the interim since #35. And I'm behind.

Also, I am terrifically slow, as folks will attest. I hope I don't drive you nuts, but I'm very pleased that you read all the way through and still want #36.

Thank you for your comments regarding C and V's passionate relationship. I'll blushingly admit, I really like writing their love scenes. Sometimes I kick myself for starting such a long situation of separation for them. LOL.

No words are more encouraging than yours. I want to keep their love alive and I'm very pleased you've found my stories readable. Thank you again.

~ Carole

Joyce said...

You have nothing to apologize for! I understand that sometimes "real" life gets in the way of our fantasy life. I am (almost) patiently waiting for the next chapter. I will be glad when they are reunited as well but the thoughts they have of each other might not be as enjoyable for them - but I enjoy them thoroughly. You are a true romantic in a cynical world and it sounds like you are appreciated by many fans.


Carole W said...

Thanks again, Joyce. I hope I can adequately convey how very much I appreciate everyone who reads here. I've received such gifts from the connection and interactions ... made friends. It's humbling and wonderful, and I still quake with nerves at each new chapter's posting. But I will keep on with it. :-)

~ Carole

Krista said...

Carole, this was a marvelous thing to wake up to this morning. (And wheee---I'm here again! :-) And perhaps this is part of something new you've added, but gosh, who do we know who's a stonemason and who could finish off that skating ramp? Hmmm ;-)

I said this going on two years ago and it's still true---you make everything in this tapestry come alive so beautifully. Fantastic work, again and still.

Carole W said...

Awww, Krista. What a nice way to begin my morning. You're good to me.

The stone mason/skating ramp isn't new to this version (the original appeared ... a year and half ago!! Argh!!!). This chapter is pretty much as it was - I made very few tweaks. A bit of continuity cohesion; I cut some wordiness. But indeed, yes, who do we know? :-)

Thank you for thinking this a tapestry. That makes me feel so good, so encouraged. If only I could speed it up!

Big hug,

Krista said...

LOL, maybe it's my light bulb finally going on that's new, then. :) But how...interesting...for her that she is so close (if she only knew!) to at least one master stonemason. Heh. :)

And um...I meant to say this earlier but that image of Vincent's "perfect teeth"? Good heavens. That's one awesome way to get the imagination going in the morning. :)

Great job :)

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

his perfect teeth should have been italicized! I fixed that. How many typos are there? Somebody help me. I promise I try to proofread, but I must just glaze over.

But wheee on gauzy morning images of V because I know for a fact you're working on a scene :-D

My favorite thing about this chapter was being reminded to watch the Bill Shannon videos again. He's really something. I don't know how I came upon his work or if he'd approve of his likeness in this story, but I like him being a helper. I look forward to how he continues on in the story.

Thanks and hugs again,

RomanticOne said...

Perfect teeth, perfect golden hair, perfect voice. If I were Catherine, I would be saying to heck with my job and apartment Above, look out Below, here I come! :)

OKGoode said...

The Billy chapter! Wheeee! I loved discovering him through your story the first time, and again here today. How delightful to find him a Helper and how appropriate. LOVE!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely present to come home to after a week of traveling without my laptop! Thank you! Thank you! I positively SHIVERED over the "perfect teeth" part. Can't WAIT to read that scene. LOVE THIS!!

Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

R-1 - I can't imagine pulling myself away either. Could there be too much of a good thing? Catherine does have lovely places to 'go' in her daydreams. Sigh



Carole W said...

OKG! Thanks for liking Billy. I don't remember how I came across him, but he seemed perfect as a helper. I have plans for him in the story - at least as a lead in for a future one.

I could learn a lot from the real Bill S. - and should.


Carole W said...

Hi, Lindariel! How was your vacation? Where'd you go?

LOL, I haven't written the perfect teeth scene yet, other than in this flash of memory. However, now that you mention it … there is a scene of reunion coming in a future chapter. :-D

Thanks for reading and I'm so glad you're enjoying the story.


Anonymous said...

It wasn't a vacation, Carole. I spent a week caring for my elderly parents. We are in the process of getting them into an assisted living center, but in the meantime, my siblings and I are taking turns staying with them, because they really cannot be on their own. Between my Dad's Alzheimer's and my Mom's mini-strokes, we are no longer confident that they can manage their multiple medications correctly, plus my Mom needs assistance getting out of bed and to the bathroom at night. My Dad feel and broke his collarbone several weeks ago, which has further complicated the situation. Hopefully, an apartment unit at the center will open up for them soon, and then we can all rest a good deal easier knowing that they are receiving proper care.


Carole W said...

Oh, Lindariel, I'm sorry to hear about your parents. I know this is a very stressful time for you and your family. I took care of my mom too, for many years. It's worrisome and heartbreaking.

No, this wasn't a vacation for you and I should have asked instead of assuming. I hope you're able to rest now that you're home. Remember to take care of yourself too.


Mamacrow said...

After many wonderful chapters I am finally writing. First off, I want to say you are an exceptional writer. Usually fanfiction that includes prominent secondary characters are not my go to for entertainment, but you have the ability to bring characters truly into the land if the living. They have a pulse! They have motivations, foibles! You even create complexity and life for well beloved characters. It is a singular talent. Very good work.
Your descriptions of place and movement are simply
transporting. I am truly in awe of your abilities.
Finally, I know your "Billy" in real life. Bump into him often. Truly there must be no coincidences. :)

Carole W said...

Mamacrow - thank you so much. I'm stunned, first of all, and very excited to hear you know the real Billy. I watch and rewatch the videos he has online. What I'd give to bump into him myself! I do hope I did well by his character in this story.

Please know this - you have truly made my day. Your words are so kind and generous. I can scarcely believe what you've said, but, oh, how good it makes me feel. I could hope to hear nothing more thrilling. I will only work harder now, in hopes of trying to live up to this. I am printing this out to read on days when I only stare at the white screen hour after hour and take hope from it. Thank you, thank you so much for reading.