Iron Behind the Velvet - Chapter 41

~ There Comes the Swish and Sigh of Rushes 1

“Olivia has named your daughter. She’s chosen guardians for your children.”

Kanin’s eyes widened in surprise and sparked with a flash of anger. “She has? Who?” He searched Vincent’s face. “You? You and Catherine?”

Unflinching, Vincent nodded.

Kanin dropped his chin. “Tell me. Tell me her name.”


He drew in a sharp breath. “My mother’s name, my grandmother’s. A truth I did tell her.” Fingers pressed hard above his brows, Kanin slumped against the table.

“A family name then. Your family. Think, Kanin – what that means, what she’s saying to you with her choice.” After a long moment, Vincent returned to the torches, dousing one ... another.

Losing hope, you said. Before it’s too late.” Kanin raked his hair and surveyed the room, his gaze lingering on the now-dim foyer to the rooms beyond. “Maybe there’s still a chance.”


passage stairs
Single file on the steps, they left the meeting place for the work site. Vincent felt the push of Kanin’s hopes between his shoulder blades, the tug of Catherine’s need at his heart. When they topped the steep staircase and emerged into the wider corridor, Kanin stared longingly left, toward home. The subway’s rumble was loud, the 4-Train terminal only three levels above. Over it, he was sure he heard Devin’s voice ... Ditch it. Ditch it and run ... but it was only the wind, wind that whipped the corner, raced away and spoke no more, leaving him with a trudging companion and the wheel of his own thoughts.

Here ... our friends live here.

He'd touched the map, had spoken the words, and Stuart, Noah, Kanin and Mouse had leaned in without question ... without misgiving or hesitation, without flinch or qualm or quail. Hey! I know that place, Noah had said. Went up with Grandpa once. Vincent staggered back from the table, his heels striking the feet of the stone chair. He thumped into the seat and a vision formed, a glory in his mind ... Catherine ... on her face her wide, slow smile; in her hands a gift, a box. She held it out, drew back the lid ...

What if we ... how about ... we could ... then yes, yes that works, sure. Their voices were eager and interested, triumphant at the end but moving on to the next necessary decision with hardly a beat between. Mouse turned to the empty space where he’d stood, spun to find him, grinned and motioned him forward. Vincent, need you. The water trap. Bothers you, you said. Better tell.

And the work, life, the world ... went on.

Later, he searched for her, for a moment sharing the pure ray of her smile, but the vision quivered and winked out. As if he’d missed a step on a staircase – the plummet, the sudden void, the clammy touch of panic – his stomach lurched. The current of their bond, always a deep, purling channel, swirled in turbulent vortices. His senses flaring, sinew and tendon coiling, he prepared to move, to brave the sunlight.

Then ...

No, he knew. I’m all right. He swallowed a cry, against a lump of resignation in her throat. I’m all right, he knew again. And – voice-body-heart-soul-breath – the ripples smoothed away.


“You did this all by yourself?” Kanin shrugged off his pack and dropped it to the tunnel floor, already inspecting the overhead work. Beneath the newly-set beams, he wandered a slow figure-eight, his hands shoved in his back pockets. “How’d you lever that girder into place from down here?” He whistled and repeated the study. “I’m impressed.”

Vincent nodded his thanks and crouched before the tools arrayed on a low shelf of rock. “The augers need sharpening. Do you have your bit file? I have only the one.”

“I do,” Kanin said, bending to his bag and loosening the straps.

Between them a second stillness fell, broken only by the steady rasp of toothed file to dulled steel and, paced with their efforts, a duet of breath.


“Stuart and Noah never came down much. I don’t know them very well.” Kanin broke the long rhythm of their work. He traced two inches of honed spiral with his thumb, repositioned the bit against the sharpening stone and laid his file to the bevel.

“When we were boys, we shared much adventure,” Vincent said, blinking away his concentration. “The distance was nothing then, part of the fun, being so far from home. I spent two summers here, but we grew older, became ... interested in different things. Lost touch.”

Will you go north again this summer, Vincent? Father had asked, his eyes dark with an unspoken question. He’d weighed his answer, tempted by the unfettered days and the prospect of tunnels yet unexplored, but Lisa backed through the swinging door of the kitchen, in her hands a tray towered with stacked bowls, and he sprang from his chair, hurrying to relieve her burden, anxious for her smile, gladdening at her thanks, breathless that her shoulder might brush his at table ...

He mirrored Kanin’s testing gesture, but a nick still marred the steel. He leaned into his work, buffed at the flaw. “About the time you came to us, Stuart left the tunnels for a while, for college. Noah, to travel.”

“There’re more people here than ever came to Winterfest or to the annual meetings.”

“Solitudinarians, Father calls them.”

“I’ve met Liz, Noah’s wife. Olivia said they were close once. I’ve heard some stories.”

Um hmmm. Liz was a character. She still is.” His thumb raked the edge again and, satisfied, he nodded. “While you were gone, Stuart met Wren. Brought her Below.

“That must have caused Father some grief.”

“He was ... concerned, but Wren won his heart. Their baby comes this fall.”

“She works Above, right?  At the Botanical Gardens with Stuart? S’that where they met?”

Vincent smiled. “It is where they met, but not where she works. Wren is a lawyer, a child advocate attorney.” The bit laid flat along the stone ledge, he tapped one end. “It rocks a little. Bent. When I dropped it ...”

“Let me have it,” Kanin said. From the store of tools, he rummaged for a stubby wooden block, the small sledge. “I’ll straighten it out.”


At this moment she wanted time to slow, wanted nothing else but these last seconds to stretch into hours, into forever, into ... never. She squared her shoulders and gripped the handle of her satchel with both hands. As sparkling, as determined as a bottle rocket, Jenny whistled toward her, arms wide, pinning her in a hug she couldn’t return. Their cheeks pressed close; they sighed as one. It felt like goodbye.

“Hi, Ned,” she said over Jenny’s shoulder. Close by, but toeing an instinctive line, he spread his hands, smiling in surrender, his dark eyes soft with a devoted watchfulness. She heard a long note, knew a strobe of recognition – something in his stance, in his expression, in the sweep of hair angling across his forehead – but she blinked and it was gone. Only the clouded fluorescent flickered overhead, a pulsing signal to the maintenance cart rumbling along the hall.

“You ready to go? Joe gave you my message, didn’t he?”

Behind her, Joe’s door closed and the latch clicked into place. “Just now.”

“Well, I hope you’re hungry!” Jenny pulled away. Two roses bloomed on her cheekbones, but the high beam of her smile dimmed. “What’s the matter? You don’t look so good.”

“We’ve had some bad news ... a setback. Two, actually.”

“Well, I’ve ... we’ve ... got something to tell you that’ll take your mind off your troubles. Give me your bag. The newspaper too.”

She relinquished her case, but clamped her arm to her ribs, trapping the folded-over section, hiding the print. No questions, she pleaded, though she longed to smooth the ad, to point to it, to share the dream. After a second tug, her brows quirked to two perplexed wings, Jenny dropped her hand.

“Just ... go get your jacket. Okay?”

A setback ... so pale a word, so unjust to Phan, to Mr. Haas. How comforting it would be to collapse in Jenny’s arms, to cry out the unfairness, to worry her bootless efforts into tomorrow’s surer course on the shoulder of a friend, a sister. So much of her life went unshared, the bleak ... and the miraculous. Words welled up, need provoked, persuaded.

She met Jenny’s gaze. Not now, Cathy. Was it a plea she saw or the reflection of a deeper truth? Not ever. With a sigh, she tucked a strand of hair behind an ear, exposing her scar. Her fingers brushed the quiet ridge, but it was his touch.

Ned leaned against the edge of a desk. “You’re a little pale, Catherine. Do you feel like going ? We could ...”

“She’s fine!” Jenny declared. “Come on, Cathy. I made reservations for the balcony at Cortile. And I asked. Tonight’s special is that pasta you liked, the black linguine with shrimp and crab?”

She bit down on a memory, on an unbefitting, unexpected urge to giggle.

It had been dark when she arrived home, and cradling the warm, foil-wrapped package, she’d hurried to set the locks. Across the room, the french doors stood open. He separated from the shadows, crossing the floor in swift strides, and took the box from her hands, set it on the table, then gathered her up, nuzzling the curve of her neck and shoulder, exploring with tongue and breath.

“I brought you supper,” she managed.

Ummm. I taste it on you. Something ... spicy.” The glint in his eyes could only be described as ... hungry.

squid ink pasta
It was still new – his touch – and thrilling when he teased her, flirted with her. She imagined sitting face-to-face before the fire, her legs over his, twirling the sauced strands around the fork, delivering the peppery bite to his lips, kissing them clean. But when she tore away the foil and opened the lid, he drew back with a short, sharp gasp. His eyes widened and in a slow, obstinate swing – right, left, right – he shook his head. What is that, he asked. Linguine Nere Arrabiata. It’s delicious, she assured him, though nothing she said convinced him that squid ink noodles promised culinary – or any other – ecstasy. Later, when he emerged from her kitchen, a soup spoon and a jar of peanut butter in his hand, she burst out laughing.

“I wish I’d known,Jenny! I had a late lunch. Really late. I can’t possibly eat another bite.” And no matter, if I’d known, if I had to choose ... I wouldn’t have missed the pie.

Jenny’s insistence was a magnet, and molten within her, some secret nudged the surface. But from the corners of her eyes, Catherine surveilled the sanctuary of her desk, the white expanse of blotter, the books around it stacked like turrets, the telephone a lifeline she was desperate to grab. Ring, damn it! I need an excuse.

Almost five o’clock. What time did Dix close the shop? If she caught him before he left for home, would he hide a key for her? And the ad with its number begging to be dialed. Surely it isn’t too late to call. Everything she wanted demanded aloneness.

She found her courtroom voice, tempering it with apology. “I’m really sorry but I need to stay close. There’re some things I have to do yet.” She reached out, though Jenny was a step too far away. “Your news ... it’ll tell over coffee won’t it? Downstairs? We can get a good table this time of day.”

“Cathy, this is important! It’s not ... it’s not a coffee shop thing.” Jenny’s rosy blush darkened and she summoned Ned with a beseeching look.

“If Catherine needs to work, we could go to Temple’s for a drink,” Ned offered. “It’s just a block away, not that much farther than downstairs. I’ll call Cortile. Maybe I can change our reservations.

“Would you?” Jenny turned back to her. “Not the coffee shop. Please, Cathy.”

Catherine checked her watch, but the hour blurred. “Well, okay, but–”

“No buts.” Jenny said, taking her arm.


“I’ve marked these so all the holes will match up. Then we’ll drive this rebar through all three, but after that, I don’t know how we’re gonna lift them. You got any ideas?”

antique bit and brace
On his knees, the brace and bit positioned against a penciled -V- on the rough-hewn timber, Vincent knew Kanin spoke to him. The words filtered through, their question prodded him. There was no here. Only her ... with her. His hand stole to the lapel of his jerkin and when he clutched at the leather, he felt the close echo of two hearts. Everything ...

“Vincent? Hey, you all right?”

Kanin gripped his shoulder and a moment later eased the tool from his grip. He sank back on his heels and rubbed his face, wincing at the raised welt crusty under his fingertips. Kanin sat down on the beam and held out the canteen.

“You want some water?”

For a moment, he stared at the offered flask, then reached for it and tipped it up. “Thank you,” he said, after a long swallow. With the back of his hand, he wiped his lips and chin.

“You were– Was it– Is Catherine all right?”

Vincent nodded and took a deep breath. She called to him, her reassurances as resonant as her grief. And it was grief he ... she felt. And wariness and resolve and faith. “She struggles ... to share but not to burden.”

“How does it work? Your ... bond. Can you read her mind?”

“No,” he said on a long exhale.”  Willows whiten, aspens quiver, little breezes dusk and shiver thro’ the wave that runs forever ... 2 How might he explain the miracle – the seeing, hearing, feeling, the streaming landslide of love? 3 He spread his hands. “The same as for you. You awaken just before Luke stirs. When he cries, you know if he’s angry or frightened, hungry or lonely. When Olivia–”

“I know what she’s thinking, all right.”

“Do you?”

“You and Catherine haven’t been together long enough. You haven’t had time to irritate her.”

“You’re wrong about that.” He reached for the brace. “Mouse repaired the pulley, replaced the rope with cable. He’ll bring it soon, I expect. We should finish the drills.”


Vincent swung the sledgehammer home, a dozen solid blows necessary to drive the steel rod flush. “Do we have enough rebar to finish this section?” he asked, when his breath evened.

“We’re gonna need some extra, I think,” Kanin said. “There’s more vibration here than I expected.” With gloved hands, he twisted another ridged bar set. “Funny that Noah knew your friend’s entry, that he’d been there before with his grandfather.”

The head of the sledge resting on the floor, Vincent leaned on the handle. “It was so long ago, Noah surely met Martin’s predecessor. Before he retired, the old priest spoke of wonders he’d seen on travels deep beneath this city. Martin believed him to be ... confused.”

“I guess Leo gave him a tour. Must have trusted him.”

“Yes.” He gripped the hammer’s handle, waiting for Kanin to step back, then battered the next pin in.

“I met Leo a few times. At Levon’s.” Kanin reached for the last length of rebar. “They’d play chess on this little set. It was tiny but lots of detail in the pieces. Silver and gold instead of black and white. Anyway, Levon always complained he needed his gem scope to see the board, and they’d gripe back and forth. Then one time I was there, Leo brought Levon a present, a special scope. Levon snatched it up, but it was a trick scope, one of those sideways things. Apparently he saw the inside of my ear. Leo laughed the rest of the evening.”

Ah! His laugh.”

“Yeah, it was all wheezy. Like that cartoon dog, what was his name? Manfred? Muttley? Or, wait ... was it Spike? Do you remember?”

Vincent chuckled.

“Oh,” Kanin said. “Right.”


“When I was a boy, Leo brought us all angle scopes.” At last propping the sledge against the wall, Vincent dropped to a seat, cross-legged on the floor.

“Would’a been fun, able to see around the corners. You go down to the maze with it?”

“Of course.”

“You know, I might have one too.” Kanin hauled his pack into his lap and, from a pocket, drew a silver-wrapped square. He broke it in half, tossing a last bite of chocolate to Vincent’s outstretched hand. “Levon gave me a box when he moved away. Said Leo made it. A cigar box with these layers glued up, all notched out and carved. It was crammed with full-sized marble chess pieces I didn’t know he had. I don’t play, so I never took ‘em out, but ... the scope was wooden, wasn’t it? About three inches long?”

Um hmmm,” he said, touching a chocolate-flecked finger to his lips. “Rosewood.”

“I think it might be in there. I’ll dig it out when I go home. Save it for Luke.” Kanin folded the foiled paper smaller and smaller. “Anyway, Noah says the latch system in that sliding slab’s really unusual.”

“Mouse was impressed.”

“Maybe we can duplicate it. Sounds really secure. And have you seen those doors he was talking about? Round stones six feet across, two feet thick? They roll out of a pocket and block a passage?”

“I haven’t. There’s so much geography here I’ve not explored. They sound the perfect fix to the perimeter junctions.”

“We should take a look after dinner ? The deepest are four levels down. Don’t want to hike that far hungry.”

Hmmmm.” As if he could hear faint music, he turned an ear above.

“The way Stuart described them, they’ll take some time to carve. A week or two each one, and we’d need at least eight. Then getting them there and in to place. If I ...” Kanin leaned forward, his elbows to his thighs, his hands clasped.

“If you what, Kanin?”

“I was just thinking. When we get the major projects done, everybody else could go home and I could stay on, work by myself. If Olivia liked those rooms ...”

“I think she would.”

“I don’t know,” Kanin said, inspecting a thumbnail. “The furniture’s all so ... big.”

“That can be changed. The storerooms are full here and with plenty of strong and willing friends to carry–” He inclined his head. “Ask her to come.”

“Too far to walk with Luke and the baby ... with Althea. And alone? I don’t think so.”

“She could take the subway.”

“Maybe, but Luke’s talking a blue streak. You never know what he’s gonna say. He might spill the beans.” Kanin straightened his shoulders, and a small, proud smile curved his lips.

“Then one of our Helpers could drive them.” Vincent rested an elbow on his raised knee. “You remind me of me just now.”

“How’s that?”

“A No for every possibility presented to you. It cannot be is a habit of thinking, one you must break. Trust me in this.”

“Maybe ... just for a few hours ... maybe Mary could watch ...”

“Send for her, Kanin. Or better yet, go to her.” Vincent raised a hand to stop the quick objection. “We can spare you for an evening. Those stone doors will be there for your study tomorrow and the next day and the next. But Olivia ...”

“Won’t wait forever.”

“Deserves the chance to choose. And you must be strong enough, brave enough, to bear her decision.”

“You mean if she says no ...”

“If she says yes.”


“Listen,” Catherine said. Please listen. “I need five minutes.”

“Fine. I’ll sit right here and wait.” Jenny plucked at her sleeve and circled the bracelet on her wrist. “Five minutes, starting now.”

Ned shifted from foot to foot. “Why don’t we go on, Jenny. Grab a table in the bar before it gets too crowded.”

“That’s a good idea,” Catherine said. “I’ll just be a–”

“You go, Ned,” Jenny urged. “Cathy and I’ll walk over together.”

“Well ...” The word drawn out into two syllables, he seemed unsure, but after a studied glance from face to face, he turned for the elevator, his hand in his pocket. Catherine heard the questioning chink of keys.

“Okay,” Jenny said, pointing at her watch.

Chocolate Ice Cubes
Catherine dropped into her chair. Joe’s scribbled messages were weighted with a saved-back tub of Chocolate Ice Cubes, her favorite from Joe’s stash. Pencils, pens, her card file – everything swam in a choppy sea. Jenny sat nearby, her arms folded, her legs crossed, her foot jiggling with impatience. The old school clock high on the wall ticked on as if in countdown.

“I have to make a couple calls, Jen.”

“Go ahead.” Grinning, Jenny lifted her shoulders.

“They’re private.”

Jenny’s smile flattened a degree. “What? You want me to wait in the lobby?”

“Would you?”


“Joe’s still here. You could–”

“All right, all right. In the lobby. I’ll be standing by the elevators.” A desk away, Jenny turned. “But I mean it, Cathy. Five minutes.”

Catherine spun her rolodex to Dix and Brenda’s card. She closed her eyes, listening to the droning burr of the call, to the answering machine when it picked up. Business hours are– Dumped to its cradle, the receiver clattered. There was no message she could leave.

She unfolded the newspaper and reached again for the telephone, but froze, her hand hovering above the handset. She heard a hum, felt a vibration, and looked to the faulty light fixture overhead, but it was Jenny bustling back, triumph almost a song in her wake. With no time to search for scissors, she ripped the ad from the classifieds, tucking it to her vest pocket. It rustled when she smoothed it with her hand, a spoken poem, a talisman. What we have is worth everything.

“I can’t wait,” Jenny crowed, dragging the chair close to Catherine’s. “I can’t wait for Temple’s. Get out your calendar, Cathy.”

The expected question – What? Tell me! – was unnecessary. Already she knew the answer and delight should have been all ...

“We’re getting married! Yes, I know, I know it’s fast, but, well, why wait? The wedding’s in Charleston, at his family home on Sullivan’s Island. There’re three floors, every one with a wrap-around balcony. You can see the beach, Cath. It’s in the back yard almost! There’re palm trees and those live oaks with all that moss floating down. And the flowers! You won’t believe it. Ned’s shown me pictures. But here’s the best part. Five bedrooms! Five! Enough for all of us, Nancy and Paul, Rebecca and Bill, Beth ... and you, Cathy. We’re thinking August. Everything’s slow in August. We’ll pick a date that works for everybody. September, October if we have to. A long weekend. A big party. There’s plenty of time, time to arrange this.” Jenny searched her face and grabbed both her hands. “You can’t say no, Cathy. You can’t. You’re my girlfriend. I love you. I want to share this. I mean, really share it, and that goes both ways. So no more stalling. Whoever he is ... it’s time. You have to bring him with you.”

... and a slice of earth went missing, scudding into the narrow chasm cracked between them. We make ourselves a place apart, behind light words that tease and flout. 4 Light words floated away, fragile bubbles on a thieving wind, and no lexicon, no wordbook whispered a new vocabulary.

Click HERE for Chapter 42


1. Amy Lowell. In a Castle. from Sword Blades and Poppy Seed. 1921.
2. Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The Lady of Shalott. Part IV. 1833.
3. paraphrased and combined: Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass. Song of Myself. 1855, and Siegfried Sassoon. Miracles. From Picture Show. 1919.
4. Robert Frost. Revelation. From A Boy's Will. 1915.


New York City Utopia said...

Thank you!
You leave us aching with poor C once more, but the V & Kanin part is so satisfying in many ways.
I'll probably spend the day trying to imagine the push of someone's hope between my shoulderblades, and [joking cap on] tomorrow night dreaming of the multiplication of angle scopes ;-)

Vicky said...

Thank you, Carole! They are finally talking, Vincent and Kanin.

Am I unreasonable if Lisa annoys me even in flashbacks?

You're gonna kill me with that letter! I wanna reach into Vincent's pocket and take it and...

And jenny! I'm afraid I haven't changed my mind: She would scare me with Catherine's secret, you know? She is so... so, loud, so impulsive. And in this scene she was bordering on enfuriating! My heart just breaks for Catherine.

Another terrific chapter, my friend. I wanna make it into a B&B movie!
Love you.

Krista said...

Thank you...this was so worth the wait :)

I love the little jokes you've thrown in here---the ink noodles (I'm with Vincent there LOL,) Kanin trying to remember what Levon's laugh sounded like and forgetting that Vincent hadn't even seen the cartoons he was talking about (and what a nice comment on their friendship that is, by the way---Kanin forgetting, just for a bit, how different Vincent is,) and Kanin's belief that V and C haven't been together long enough to get irritated with each other. Heh. If only he knew....:-)

And can almost feel that chasm widening under her feet every time she talks to Jenny. I feel so bad for her...

Great job, Carole. :)

Carole W said...

Thanks, Claire. I think V is surprised that asking, admitting, relaxing doesn't bring the world's spin to a stop. I think he might have underestimated his friends too. It should prove an interesting revelation to him as he as time to contemplate, and soon, talk it over with Catherine.

Yes, I feel for Catherine too. It's been a rollercoaster day. You know, I've always, always felt it was harder on Catherine than Vincent. Imagine a lifetime of avoiding, of second-guessing her words, or tempering her enthusiasms. Cathy needs a girlfriend, one without limits. Didn't Joe say Eimear was coming by? Where is she?

Angle scopes are a real thing. We may need to search for one for a certain little boy. :-)


Carole W said...

Vicky, hugs! Thank you.

I'm with you on the issue of Jenny. My POV isn't going to be popular, so I'm glad you understand. Since a particular point in the episodes, I've been very unsure about her. I just don't think she's ready - she may never be.

From Jenny's perspective, though, and to be empathetic, imagine your closest friend for years being so obviously secretive. You might be okay with that for a while, but one day you - or rather, I - would be compelled to ask Who? Why? It's just not normal to never share and since The Watcher, Jenny has known there's someone very, very important to Catherine about whom she knows nothing. Less than nothing, really. She knows that Cathy is keeping it from her. I don't think that strengthens a friendship. One day, over something large or small, there'd come the tipping point.

But more about all of that in #43. I should say no more. Stories must have conflict and resolution particularly toward the end!


Carole W said...

Thank you, Krista! As you do, I enjoy V's sense of humor and his regularness, if that's a word. When he's relaxed and feeling comfortable, he's a different man. I'm glad you enjoyed these little moments - and ick on the squid ink pasta. ick,ick,ick (though I've never had it and though black is my favorite color in all other things).

Yes, Jenny's on one side of the chasm and Catherine's on the other. It's inevitable, the rift, and is the thing V made clear to C, that their bond, their secret, exists in contradiction to her dreams and expectations. I just can't imagine Jenny being eternally satisfied with Catherine's secrecy. In real life, she'd get downright mad, maybe stomp off. There'd be tears.

But, as I often say, More (about that) Later. ;-)


Carole W said...

PS, Vicky. Lisa is annoying, even in flashback. Even Vincent sees his memory of her as a flaw, one he buffs at until he's satisfied it's gone! LOL.

SandyX said...

Vincent with a spoon and a jar of peanut butter! That's an image I'll keep in my mind. So "normal" and so adorable!

So, now both Catherine and Vincent are carrying significant little pieces of paper ... I like Catherine's - am still wondering about Vincent's.

And how about our Vincent giving Kanin advice on negative thinking? “A No for every possibility presented to you. It cannot be is a habit of thinking, one you must break. Trust me in this.” Yeay!

Jenny: On one hand I just want to tell her to STOP, let it go, let it be ... let Catherine be. But on the other hand, if forcing the issue will bring C closer to being able to share ...

It's difficult to read these scenes where I can feel Catherine struggling so. I want her to find a release. She deserves it.

I agree with Vicky about Lisa, even in a mention in a flashback elicits an involuntary grrrrr from me.

Are we getting closer to a reunion for Vincent and Catherine? I so want these two to have some time together .... enough with the wishes and visions ;-) soon ... please?

Thank you for another wonderful chapter, Carole. I hope you got your chocolate and your sleep. I'm thinking you must like your chocolate in big blocks, lol. First it was the "Big Hunks" and we get the "ice cubes" in this chapter. I wasn't familiar with either, so thanks for the pics of the chocolate ice cubes (yum).

Big Hug!

Carole W said...

LOL, Sandy. I have been having chocolate dreams lately. Wonder what that means?

Our Vincent is a fast learner. He just needed the right teacher. He may not always be sure that it cannot be is wrong thinking - there are many issues he's yet to address - but it's definitely a step toward 'not being afraid to deserve it', as C admonished him in AFAPK.

I'm working on the rest of the Jenny scene now. You're right, C does need a shoulder. AND she needs some alone time with V. I'm working on that too.

Glad you liked the pnb image. I laughed when it came to my mind, thinking of him working that snack out.


Ann B. said...

As always -- Amazing.

You have captured the relationship between Vincent and Kanin perfectly. In the series Kanin was the only one besides Mouse to treat Vincent like a "buddy". And although Mouse is a good friend, there is only just so much depth you could go into with him. Father and Devin had too many secrets and the other tunnel dwellers had just enough awe to preclude that degree of familiarity.

Had to laugh about the squid ink pasta. Great visual of V. I get the mental image of a small child drawing his lips in and backing away with big eyes! It seems that V has gotten over his uneasiness in C's apt though. Rummaging through the cabinets for peanut butter? YAAY! Where do you come up with this stuff? I looked it up on the internet and it actually sounds like it would taste good but look really bad. May have to find some and report back.

What wonderful news of Jenny and the mystery that is Ned. I have a feeling that there is finally going to be a desperately needed breakthrough here and Ned is going to be the doorway. Is he perhaps a helper? One that Catherine has met and does not remember that well? I think that Jenny already knows quite a bit more than we think, she just needs it to be OK for her to share that knowledge.

And that box.. it seems to be building towards being a doorway for both Kanin and Martin.

And yes, PLEEEEZE get Catherine and Vincent together soon!

I found another song that seems to go well with this chapter. Hope and questions answered and new beginnings...

Carole W said...

Oh, believe me, Ann, I am trying to get V and C in the same geographical place. There's just a lot of story to tell first. I'm sorry it's taking so long. Next story I won't begin posting until I either have it finished or I'm far along. No more of this posting as I write it. I know it's frustrating.

I'm glad you like the V and the PNB jar image. Yes, he has become quickly comfortable in C's apartment! Like other revelations, it wasn't as scary as he made it out to be - crossing the threshold. Once he commits, he's there, you know? He's brave enough to meet the challenge ... or else he is faking it until he makes it. LOL. Either way, it's all good. He's relaxing into his true self, loved into it.

It's maybe hard to tell, but C and V have been truly together for at least 8 weeks by the time I/V begins. They've had a little time to get comfortable.

I don't know where that black pasta thing came from ... it just jumped into my mind. I've never had it myself. Has any one? What's it like?

Uh oh, about Jenny. You may want to throw something at me after the next chapter.

You've hit on something about Ned though, but that's a whole other story .;-)

I've never heard Regina Spektor before - she has a beautiful voice. Thanks so much for the link. I love finding new artists.

Off to sleep, so that tomorrow, I may type.


Ann B. said...

Guess what I found! Anyone in the mood for seafood?

Brandy said...

Dear Carole,

Leaving us aching indeed. I think you're going to see a revolt among your readers if V&C don't get some quality along time together soon. ;)

I sympathize with your Jenny dilemma. She is impulsive, not flighty, exactly - my thesaurus has many synonyms for "bubble-headed" under that entry - she's too smart to describe that way.

And poor Cathy. Being pressured to share, and not only share, but almost DEMANDED that she produce her mystery lover. Somehow a weekend wedding trip doesn't seem to be in their future.

Your poem today is a classic - Kubla Khan. I am lucky enough to own "Of Hope and Dreams," and it contains a track of Vincent reading a bit of this. But it has two phrases that struck me, as "chasm" seems to be the word of choice for this chapter:

"But oh ! that deep romantic chasm," and "And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing."

And now, Coleridge.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Vicky said...

What? What's "of hope and dreams?"

Carole W said...

More later, Brandy, because I'm fixing supper (not Nere Arrabiata but grilled salmon with a pineapple salsa) - but to speak to the brewing reader revolt ...

Should I hold the chapters back until That Time arrives? Sorry folks, but there's a lot of story to tell that. at this point, I just can't skip. Try to imagine reading the whole story start to finish - it wouldn't seem so long 'in between'.

It looks unlikely for 'contact' in chapter 43, given the muse's whisperings today, probably in 44. But I can hold the chapters back and publish several at once or even hold off until I'm finished, if it's too frustrating.

Opinions welcome.

Carole :-)

New York City Utopia said...

Noooo! Please don't hold the chapters back!
Individual readers may refrain from visiting this area of your blog for a time, if they'd rather wait ;-) ;-) ;-)
(a bit like someone I know who won't read any unfinished story)

Vicky said...

Echoing Claire with another grand yelp from Paraguay: NOOOOO!

SandyX said...

I want to see V&C spend some time together, but I didn't mean to complain about the time it's taking to get there. Please don't hold back the chapters! It'll happen when it happens. Anticipation is a good thing.

Everything going on in the story right now is so good. Don't you dare hold back on us now ... then you really would have a revolt on your hands!


Kemara said...

Just wanted to let you know I'm still here. I moved into a new apartment last weekend, and things have been crazy. This chapter...whew! I was ready to smack Jenny for being so pushy. But at the same time...I had an image of Ned and Jenny's garden wedding watched over by a certain angelic statue with all our friends Above and Below in attendance. I'm sure you have something else in mind, but that just popped into my head.
And I'm with everyone else....keep posting as you makes my day to find new chapters.

New York City Utopia said...

Hmm... regarding this crisis with Jenny, I must say I spotted my dark twin hiding around the corner with a bat in hand, but I'm fairly confident you'll talk "it" into tameness... the miserable thing being fairly influenceable.

Carole W said...

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~ Gene Fowler

That's how it is somedays, for sure. Anyway, I just wanted to share that. I laughed out loud when I read it this morning.

The polling results re: post or hold the chapters:

Most had kind, patient encouragements for which I am truly grateful. Hugs, you all. I'll keep posting. (I can't believe I'm coming up on two years work for this story.) I'm anxious for the wrap-up myself!

One of the obstacles C and V must overcome is separation. Underlying the many, perhaps too many, themes of the story is that issue. I just don't see C moving below for good and ever and so they need to find some wider doorways between the worlds. Things will be lost and gained along the way. Wanting to be together, determined to be, will encourage change, I promise.

In the case of Jenny/Catherine, I'm not staring at the white page - I have a lot to say. It's the paring that takes the time.

I had a friend, someone with whom I'd shared the gamut, who abruptly, inexplicably disappeared from the friendship. 20+ years later, when I run into her, it's very very strange. We once knew each other well, but we'll never speak again and I still don't know why.

So in Jenny's defense, I can imagine how odd and frustrating it would be to have a close friend close herself away bit by bit, to know she's deliberately not sharing. I'd wonder and wonder. Jenny's frustrated and maybe even a little bit frightened. She misses their old intimacy. Maybe she knows that if C is made to choose ...

And yet there is a serious stumbling block. What could it be? Why hasn't she told already? Catherine will explain - or at least I hope you'll see her POV when I'm done.

Well, enough from me. I spent all day yesterday working on our taxes, my mom's estate form, Jenny's. Now cleaning. erg. But it must be done ....

~ Carole

Anonymous said...

May I tell each of you posting here that sharing your thoughts and Carole's is fascinating! This is what an episode discussion must feel like. Thank you for insights and's wonderful!

Carole, I came to read about me in your sidebar...I'm teary. Thank you! Nancy

Brandy said...

@Vicky -

"Of Love and Hope" is the official BATB CD. It has music selections and a bunch of LOVERLY tracks of "Vincent" reading poetry. It was until recently available through Amazon - now the used copies are going for $200+ !

New York City Utopia said...

Brandy, when you mentioned "of hope and dreams" (meaning OLAH) a few hearts simply skipped a beat at the crazy thought that there might be another less known CD out there!
For those among us who don't have OLAH (anyone???) I think I have a spare copy of its recent reissue ;-)

Vicky said...

What Claire said! Even when I own all three BATB soundtracks, when Brandy said "Of hope and dreams" I did a double take... Unreasonable? Me?

Wow, I can't believe "Of love and hope" is out of stock again! It wasn't, just a month ago. I have two copies, the original (falling apart) and the 2005 re-issue. I wasn't able to find them in online music stores, we should tell Lee to do that. ;-) hee

Krista said...

Oh, Carole. The story you've woven here...Noah's grandfather knowing Martin's garden (or rather, Seaumus' garden :-)) Catherine on one shore and Jenny on the opposite one, all the currents between them and the things that are...that must remain unsaid for now. This is a powerful, compelling vision you've given us.

And a vision with moments of utter lightness too--I love "regular guy" Vincent with his jar of PB&J (and I second, third and fourth him on his choice over the black noodles LOL.)

Kanin and Vincent are so, so believable---you've got the knack for "man speak."

Great job, again and still :)


Anonymous said...

Carole, once again, another marvel. It is so wonderful to see Kanin really reconnecting with Vincent at last and finally beginning to come out of his doldrums and see the possibilities.

Poor Catherine and Jenny! I never considered the dangers of Jenny's impulse control issues, just her big and generous heart. Of course, Catherine would have reservations about sharing such a big secret, Jenny would pick up on that right away with her intuitiveness. A difficult situation, one I hope can be resolved without Catherine having to relinquish a dear friend.

Hope my email was helpful with your project. I'll be sending more thoughts/information your way later.

Regards, Lindariel

NYC Utopia said...

What this fresh reading brings:
Your magic makes me wish for actual manual work alongside a close friend, during which we might talk like this - slow and measured.
I also want to remember that the right scrap of printed paper smoothed flat in a pocket can be "a spoken poem"...
And finally, this Jenny feels twice as annoying as upon my first reading. I feel for Catherine, but her silent impatience is an equal match for Jenny's hurricane-like one.

Krista said...

Rereading this again, I find myself more annoyed by Jenny too. I know she has good reason to want Catherine's ear---after all, a wedding is good news---but she seems so...thoughtless. Unintentionally so, surely, but I'm not sure that makes things better.

Picturing the scene in my head (and I can do that because you write so vividly) it seems that even Jenny, in her enthusiasms and her joy, should have realized that something was not right with Catherine..and that "setback" comment still rankles.


Krista :)

Carole W said...

Thanks, Krista! You know I struggle with man-speak, but I hope all these years, listening to T work with others, listening to his stories of work at the end of the day, have given me the right tone and quality to talking while doing.

Yes, it's Jenny's enthusiastic breeziness that bothers me where it concerns the secret of V and below. More to come on that in the next chapter, of course. I have a great deal of sympathy for Jenny though, even if I have serious reservations about her impulse-control.

Thanks for liking regular-guy Vincent here. He didn't get enough screen time, did he. :-)


Carole W said...

Claire - I loved your image of working alongside another. Imagine the conversation that focus, goal and time devoted would ease.

Thank you for rereading these chapters. That you will means so much.


Carole W said...

Lindariel, oh, yes. You're email was most helpful. I'm anxious to have your further thoughts. I meant to respond - oh dear, didn't I? Let me check my email. I hope it's not sitting in my drafts folder.

The next chapter is a deeper study of C and Jenny's relationship. I'll be very interested in your response to it. :-)

I have hopes for Kanin and Olivia. He has to find some too. I hope his visit goes well!

Thank you so much for reading and for your kind and thoughtful responses to the chapters. It means a lot to me that you'll take the time to write.


RomanticOne said...

voice-body-heart-soul-breath...pretty much covers it all doesn't it? Such a sweet way to describe that brief moment of concerned connection between Vincent and Catherine.

I've always liked the way you "fleshed out" the relationship between Kanin and Olivia. It's one of the many reasons this story has kept me interested.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carole!

I didn't receive your reply email, so I hope you still have it in your drafts folder. As a matter of fact, I hope you still have the response I sent to you, because my teenage daughter accidentally deleted my copy!

Will have more for you soon. I was on the road this weekend for a big family reunion and to visit my parents in their new apartment at an assisted living facility, so I didn't have much time to devote to your project. Fortunately, my parents seem to be transitioning well to this new phase of their lives. It was a HUGE struggle getting them to acknowledge that this needed to happen in order for us to be assured that they were safe and receiving the kind of daily care they need.

For the past eight months, my siblings and I have been turning our lives upside down in order to make sure one of us was with them 24/7. It has been a very difficult and draining year, complicated by health issues for our teenage daughter as well. You can imagine how vastly relieved we all are to finally have Mom and Dad placed in a wonderful facility and to see them beginning to make new friends and become active in their new retirement community.

I'll be in touch once I've had a chance to get my bearings after being away from home and job for a few days!

BTW, I can kind of sympathize with Jenny for being a bit overbearing with Catherine and INSISTING upon some time together. Poor Jenny is VERY accustomed to being put off and put off and put off because of Catherine's work and mysterious private life. But now Jenny has really, really, really BIG, LIFE CHANGING news, and I can't blame her for basically putting her foot down and INSISTING on having a moment of her dearest friend's time, or for being a bit blind to Catherine's unrest.

I also must say, after some additional thought, that I really have never seen Jenny as being untrustworthy with a secret or an impulsive blabber-mouth. Yes, she is impulsive about speaking up and sharing her "visions," but I also think she very zealously guards her friend's privacy. I think Catherine's biggest fear with Jenny has always been Jenny's "psychic" capacities and the possibility that Jenny might guess her secrets before she's ready or has permission from Father and the community Below to reveal them, NOT that Jenny would blab to someone else.

Just my two cents.

Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Thanks for liking that joining of words, R-1. Their bond is something so special - it's hard to describe it otherly enough. :-)

Thanks too, for liking the Olivia/Kanin thread of this story. Their story was so powerful and I always wished we'd seen them again.

As always, thank you for reading.

Carole W said...

Uh, oh, Lindariel. You might not be speaking to me after the next chapter. :-)

I didn't find my drafted email, so I must have written it in my head. I did copy some very helpful parts of yours to a document I intend on forwarding to a couple people. I got lost somehow in the responding. I will, tonight for sure, and yes, I still have your original email. Thanks for your help with our project.

I took care of my mother for many years too. I really understand the toll the worry takes. More about all that in my email though.

My best,

Anonymous said...

Carole, don't worry at all about my reaction to your next chapter. I'm sure I'll like it. Your Jenny will just be different from my Jenny. No problems!

Sorry to have been out of touch the past few days. I've been in the hospital. First of all -- I'M FINE! Don't worry!

Monday afternoon, I began experiencing this weird numbness and tingling in the right side of my face and scalp. My first thought was -- STROKE -- so I had my husband take me to the ER. After a CATscan and lots of bloodwork (all negative), they were pretty sure I WASN'T having a stroke, but still couldn't completely rule it out, or the possibility of TIA (transient ischemic attack) or a brain tumor, so I was admitted for an MRI (spent 2 HOURS in that machine -- YIKES -- good thing I'm not claustrophobic!) and overnight observation.

The diagnosis -- Atypical Bell's Palsy. Put simply, my facial nerves have caught a "cold," resulting in stroke-like symptoms. The condition should clear up completely over the next few weeks with no lasting impact on my health. Fortunately, I have a relatively mild case -- my speech is unaffected, I can swallow without difficulty, and close both eyes completely. Given the other possibilities -- stroke, TIA, or brain tumor -- I'll take the Bell's Palsy and feel quite lucky, thank you very much!

I will email you shortly with more thoughts for your project. And no worries about your Jenny! I'm sure everything will be fine!

Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Lindariel, what a terrifying few days you've had. I believe you - Bell's Palsy is a nothingness when compared with the other tested-for conditions. I'm so glad to know this is what it is and will soon go away. I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through this, but very glad you can give us this positive news.

I have your email and I'm fixing to answer it. You've given us some very useful information.

Thank you for your good wishes for Jenny. She's doing really well - bored with sitting quietly and not using her eyes much - but she's following orders and taking it very easy for a few days.