Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 67

~ From the Storm, the Long Calm, the Darkness, the Swell 1

From the smoke and blare, the sharp, concussive flash, the scene materialized in Catherine’s mind’s eye – Flynn defending, defenseless himself, himself the cross-hatched target of his partner’s weapon. The two children cloaked in his vest and huddled in the tub behind him were likely unseen had there been time and reason to note their presence. No, something – something else – intervened in that moment of decision, in that eternity fallen between two beats of two warrior hearts.

“Albie,” Eimear managed. “Is he all right?”

Neal’s response was delivered more thunderously than Catherine suspected he planned, his armored restraint, the necessary curb and bridle of emotion, finally given slack. “He doubled over, went to his knees. I thought he was having a heart attack, but when my ears started working again ... and my eyes, because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing ... I realized he was praying. Thanking God.”

“That he hadn’t,” Martin clarified, “mistaken for a weapon a flashlight that glinted like gun metal.”

Eimear flushed, Catherine presumed, with equal measures awe and anger and defense; she had, herself, embraced the same triad of passions. Palms and fingers flat together, Martin gestured for calm and thanksgiving. Still, Eimear’s voice kindled. “And that it wasn’t in the grip of a child. If he’d have shot Flynn, ‘twould have been Flynn’s fault, not Albie’s. And for Albie, a rending of the heart more survivable than the death of two innocents by his hand.”

“That’s pretty much what Flynn said, pretty much word for word.” Neal’s face was wine-red to Eimear’s carmine and his breath came just as fast, just as ragged. “But my thinking–” He slammed a fist to his chest. “My thinking is the difference wouldn’t matter. Either outcome, I’m finished.”

Eimear’s glare moved Neal back a step. “But there was a third outcome!”

“Yeah? Well, he was damn lucky. The risk he took, Eimear ...”

“Albie knows a deeper trust of himself now. You all do, because of that risk!” Eimear rounded her fierce scrutiny on the group. “Flynn’s confidence in you, in your reflexes and intuitions ... could he offer you anything more? Will you dismiss that gift? Will you ignore it?”

“He should have left it for us to handle! We have rules. We have training so we can function in a shi–  In a ... a situation. The last we heard from Flynn, he was on the roof. We sure as hell didn’t expect to find him on the scene. Maybe three, he told us. Three perps. We were primed. We ... expected! Maybe that’s what he wanted!”

“What do you mean?”

Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer. A first lesson of law school.

Eimear knew. Not an hour earlier, over coffee at her kitchen table, she’d confessed her greatest fear. During other bleak and black times, Flynn had retreated, but never this far, never this desperately. She’d stammered and faltered, couching the feared finality in cushioned words. What if ... what if he decides to leave me? Leave her, this home, this life. Were his actions other than instinct to protect, to stand between two children and terror, between Albie and crushing guilt?

Martin started toward her. “A leanbh,” he murmured.2 Seized then by a fit of coughing, he staggered back, braced one arm on the porch column. “A leanbh,” he ground out again from there. The unfamiliar words seemed an endearment underscored with caution.

Neal's spiraling frustration whipped back, disappearing as if hauled hand over hand, coiled into a box, its lid snapped shut, if fragilely secured. He pinched the bridge of his nose again, and Catherine noted his hand shook. Sean and David exchanged a leaden glance, one shoving his fists deep into his pockets; the other returning to a grave study of his shoes. Too respectful to offer platitudes to Flynn’s wife, too aware their words would be colored by exhaustion and spent adrenalin. So like Vincent. Mute if he could not offer truth.

“What ... do you ... mean?” Eimear repeated, regardless of Martin’s choked message and the thudding silence from Flynn’s crew.

Catherine, listening with a concerned look on her face. She's standing outside, a house and lawn behind her
Someone, another of you who loves him, tell her it’s not that bad, Catherine longed to beg. But for weeks, since the incident at the Yeshiva – possibly longer, possibly always – Flynn suffered. The press pressed, his supervisors, perplexed and beleaguered, pressed themselves, rattled after him. His crew-mates, men who must gear up, while Flynn must gear down,3 wary, perhaps warier, of him. The depths and reaches even she would never truly fathom, Eimear accepted with the reverence of faith. That Flynn was lost to himself was a fear Eimear must face, and what Dark Truth she could hear ... she would.

“Neal ...” Eimear spread her hands. “Please.”

Neal swallowed hard. “What stopped Albie–  What he said stopped him wasn’t that he recognized Flynn or a uniform or that the flashlight wasn’t a gun.” His voice splintered. “It was the look in Flynn’s eyes. A look of such ... welcome. Of peace. Not sadness. Not fear. A profound ... willingness. Just for an instant, Albie said, the room was so bright, he thought another flashbang had gone off. Then Albie yelled the code for no fire and went down; we crowded in behind him. Flynn should’a been knocked back, he shouldn’t have been standing, but there he was, between us and the tub, with his arms – well, one arm, the one that still worked right – held out, not up, but ... out.”

That terrible day, seven bodies on the ground, two further back in the tunnels she would later command he leave where they lay, leave to someone else’s duty, he stepped between her and a child holding her own gun in unsure hands.4 His driven rush subsided, Vincent made himself the target. It will be me, his bearing asserted. After all this ... it will be me.

Vincent, in a scene from The Outsiders, speaking to the boy holding the gun.
You’re safe here, he told the boy. She’d sidled around, desperate to lunge, to dislodge the weapon waveringly pointed at Vincent. You’re safe here, he repeated to a boy who’d just seen otherwise. In the terse moment between his promise and the bullet, he held out his hand, forgiveness in it of what would be, understanding of its necessity. Forgiveness he could not himself accept, understanding he believed impossible. An arrest of fate. It’s all right, the flawless blue of his eyes affirmed. Whatever happens. The line he walked was too fine, the swirling abyss either side a constant, dreadful drag, a lifetime of it enervating. Whatever comes.

Flynn’s eyes were the same blue. What Albie had seen, she’d seen herself.

Neal shook his head, his gaze cast down. “I said things I wish I hadn’t. It didn’t help, but I kept saying them, and I kept on the whole time I was lifting those kids out of the tub alive. Then the supervisor took his turn. What the f– What the hell, O’Carroll, over and over. Flynn shut down, even before Internal Affairs showed up to do their thing. He needs help, Eimear.”

Vincent, close up, speaking to Eimear before she left Below.That strong. Something that has never been. A secret that gives us strength. With every atom of Vincent’s faith in it, Catherine willed the bond braiding between them woven stronger. Eimear’s glance flickered over ... lingered. Remember, Catherine telegraphed. Vincent’s promise to you – Braithre. I will be that brother, should I be needed. And me, Eimear. You have me. We’re alike, more than we’re able to know. Their aloneness, you said, and ours, but also our delight.5 I’m your friend through this. I know your pain.

Eimear’s focus drifted back to Neal who stood rigid and intent. Through the grime on his face, a clear track traced what Catherine saw now was a threadlike scar linking the corner of his eye to the corner of his mouth – a coursing bead of tensioned sweat, perhaps a tear, dried now. Eimear moved closer, put her hand on his arm. “Thank you for bringing him home, for caring so.” She didn’t smile, but offered Neal a look of such tenderness, he was compelled to lift his chin. “You’re a good friend. You all are,” she said, encompassing Sean and David in her heartfelt ray. After a moment, she went on. “You said ... you’d be doing without the both of them. Albie’s on leave, sure.”

“A week, probably.”

“Only a week?”

“We took fire through the door. Should be routine.”

A weapon was fired. There’d be an inquiry, more than one. A firearms discharge investigation. An inquest, an interview of all involved, the findings presented by the shooting team’s leader to the DA’s office for consideration of charges. The paperwork would never cross her desk, not this time. Conflict of interest. For Joe, too, though he’d not been present to hear these details,  the one ballgame with Sean and David, fellow-chaperones, his invitation to the ceilidh, his relationship with Rosie, as new as it was, all raised red flags.

Joe. I’d better call him back ... and soon.

Catherine rubbed her forehead, replayed his last words escalating with concern and demand. Cathy? Cathy! Ca–!!  Having in essence left the receiver dangling when she abandoned his phone call and followed Eimear out on to the porch, she’d not be surprised to see his car turn the corner and screech to a stop, the door open and Joe charge out, his face as flushed as Neal’s and Eimear’s had once been, as Martin’s was now.

“‘Tis not a reasonable ending,” Martin spluttered, “for a man to send a soldier in to do a job, and have that same man and a dozen more nitpick afterward the warrior’s every move. ‘Tis not dignified, what happens next.”

“Tactical review,” David said. “We know it’s coming before we start.”

“It’s how we learn,” Sean added.

Martin shook his head and huffed.”‘Tis not right,” he muttered, and Catherine could only ponder his roiled defense. “Not right.”

A photograph of a police ESU officer, sitting alone at a table where he will be interviewed about the incident he was involved in.
“They’re sequestered at the scene,” Eimear told her, a flashing pivot her way, then back. Her face clouded. “Separated from their mates, their lieutenant. First, of course, their guns are taken for inspection. They’re put in a car by a man in a suit, never left unattended ... unwatched. Escorted, they call it. At the station, their clothes are demanded, one piece at a time. Vest. Shirts. Boots. Pants. Removed in front of witnesses. All go into evidence bags. Evidence! And then the questioning begins. Isolated, they are, assumed guilty of something, if only it could be upturned.”

A close-up of the ESU officer, head bowed over clasped hands, waiting for the interrogation to begin. “We don’t look at it that way,” Sean said, though his jaw ticked. He put his arms behind his back, shifted his feet wider apart. Catherine wondered if Vincent ... afterward ... must stand for this, if, beyond his own cross-questioning, he felt this ... examined.

“So I will, for you, then.” The music of Eimear’s voice dulled to one grim note, sustained long after she fell silent and, glowering, panned the group. Only when her squared shoulders relaxed did the men’s braced attentions ease. Everyone took a breath. A spiraled strand of hair adhered to her cheek, and she raked it free. “It comes at a good time for Albie and Maricel and the baby,” she murmured. “With pay, yes?”

“Yeah. Silver lining.”

“But Flynn ...”

“Suspended. Captain said psych. Flynn told him to go ... well, you can fill in the blank.”

Eimear eyed the brass latch, the thumb-shined lever. Soon she’d mount the stairs ... confront the closed bedroom door, the stone wall Flynn laid up. Flynn with no river of retreat running through the darkness, yet as distant, the geography between them vast and obstacled. She sighed and turned back to the men. “The babies in the tub ... were they hurt?”

Martin followed quickly with a query of his own. “Did no one – a neighbor, the sister of the hostage –  even mention the possibility of children in the home?” Had they known, then surely – a different strategy, a different outcome.

But a better one? Vincent whispered, close to her ear. Catherine touched the warmed place on her neck brushed with his imagined breath.

“Not babies,” Neal said. “Not really. A boy eight years old, his sister nearly six. Scared but okay. When the perps muscled in and the yelling started in the living room, they hunkered down in the bathroom closet. I don’t think it’s the first time they’ve had to hide like that.” Neal looked away, a wince narrowing his eyes. His chest rose and fell, rose and fell. Catherine couldn’t name the single emotion graying his voice and his face – an amalgam of frustration, resignation, something tender and unhardened, something steeped in tears. “Turns out,” he went on, “they’re the boyfriend’s, and the boyfriend’s had his rights revoked; they weren’t supposed to be there. When they didn’t run out to see what was going on, the woman – the hostage – figured not to mention ‘em and hope for the best. Figured right, it turned out. And no,” Neal went on, anticipating at least Catherine’s next question, “they hadn’t been reported missing. Children’s Services took ‘em in until they can locate their mom.”

Martin’s face wrinkled up. “Fearfully, 'tis if she can be found.”

“Copy that,” David put in. “We left with a bad feeling.”

As Eimear must, her work a daily reminder of the toll of travesty and tragedy, Catherine understood bad feelings. Too many children neglected and worse, the cracks in the system jagged and wide. If only they could fall straight through to the tunnels.

“I have friends at ACS. I’ll find out what happens to them, to the boy and his sister,” Catherine said.

“Could you? Great. His name's Reggie. We never hear ...” David’s voice trailed off, but her offer elicited haggard, dry smiles from the gathering on the porch.

Eimear circled the bracelet watch she wore, bringing the round face into view at the bend of her wrist. Without checking her own, Catherine felt her pulse beat against the cool metal, the echoing tick, tick. Eimear met her gaze. Children’s court well in session, by now Wren’s case – Edward’s – could be decided. She nodded. I’ll find that out, too.

David and Sean reset their caps and checked the position of their cruiser, monitoring a mirror-polished, decades-old Cadillac as it crawled by, the leafy street so narrow, the side mirrors barely spared. One man’s stomach rumbled.

“Let me make you boys some breakfast,” Eimear appealed. “Coffee, at least,” she amended, when each declined.

David squinted at the sun. “Thanks, but I’d better get home, hit the sack.”

“Bravo Team’s taking our four by twelve today,” Sean explained, “but we’re on again at midnight.”

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow ... 6 After a few hours of sleep, hopefully a decent meal caringly prepared and company for it, after too short a time at liberty to attend their own lives, their own loves, not nearly enough time to accept and assimilate one shift’s crises before facing another’s, these men would report again to their station house – to the shop, they called it, a sedate name for a destination anything but – ready and willing to bear on and bear up, regardless. Regardless.

How, she wondered. Why, she knew.

David shook Catherine’s hand, and Martin’s, then Sean followed suit. Eimear walked the two men down the steps to their car and kissed their cheeks and whispered something in their ears. She waited and watched, waved as they pulled away, and from the sidewalk stared up at the second story landing’s window. Always, until now, Eimear had believed the shadowing would pass. But this time, she’d whispered, this time something is very different. And that’s before I tell him about the calls and the drive-bys.7 And before ... this, as well – whatever happened overnight that returned him home bruised and battered, more than silent.

And she wouldn’t. She’d not tell Flynn, or Martin, or Rosie; she’d not file a report at her local precinct. Now now. Catherine met Eimear’s lowered gaze with a quick nod of empathy. I understand. I wouldn’t, either.

Neal dragged his cap from his back pocket, drawing Catherine’s attention. One side of his mouth lifted in a subdued, quarter-smile. “Thanks for checking up on those kids,” he said. “If it’s possible ... I’d like to send Reggie a new flashlight. Flynn had to give it up to the detective ... evidence. Poor kid flipped out when he couldn’t have it back, started screaming at Flynn, you promised, you promised, you promi–” At Eimear’s returning tread, he broke off, and Catherine had no time to question Martin’s reflex of surprise, or his sad Ahhh, nooooo, hardly masked behind a balled fist and a practiced cough.

Eimear slipped her arm around Neal’s waist. “He’s not in the hospital.” She sighed and leaned against his arm. “Should he be?”

“He bashed up his left side when he hit or landed or whatever, but nothing’s broken. Well ... a few ribs. Two fingers on one hand. A subluxation of the shoulder he popped back in joint himself. The mini-bang scorched his face. I’ve gotta guess he’s got it all going on in there – flash blindness, headache, tinnitus.”

“Did they rule out concussion?”

Neal situated his cap, tugged it lower. “They? Who’s they?”

“Was he released from the emergency room, or did he just walk out?”

“He refused to go, period. EMTs taped him up on the scene. He says he’s fine, and that’s all he’ll say.” Neal’s tone threatened to ratchet up, and he started for the steps. Two treads down, he turned back, gentled again. “He never lost consciousness, Eimear. He doesn’t seem disoriented, no nausea. I don’t think there’s any traumatic amnesia. He’s just not talking. He just seems ... done.”

“If only,” Martin whispered, having eased to Catherine’s side. Concern pleated his face that Eimear, bidding Neal goodbye, didn’t see. “But ‘tisn’t over. ‘Tisn’t over at all. Not for him.”


Water surged along the cobbled passage upstream, the surprising swells undulating as if with the motion of some undersea creature. Restricted for a moment by the narrowed circumference of the culvert’s mouth, the force through the aged facing blew fragments of masonry and mortar into the air. The water pocked, and on the other shore, his friends took cover. Midway in his crossing of the already rushing stream, Mouse ducked the flying debris, doubling over in defense. There was no time, no time to shout instruction; he could only will that Mouse hold fast to the rope. The pressured tide struck and struck hard, took Mouse under and away ... and then it came for him.

Panicked instinct, both brutal and blessed, siren and silence, a desperate push-pull. Everything that was yet to be. Yet ... all that was his. His. Between heartbeats, Dr. Wong had once told him, lay an eternity, the little death, a fathomless void outside of time, a nothingness of peace, and in that utterly brief, exquisitely still moment ... he rested ... and in next, the valves of his heart insisting, confronted terrible, unacceptable loss.

Tumbling and knifing, he could only ride the current, one arm wrapped with slack rope, the other flailing, trailing, searching. He bashed into a solid wall, was snatched back and pitched again, and again, and again, until he struck a crosshatch of iron. A grate! A rusted filter blessedly fine, the suction to it, through it, like gravity – inevitable, a universal truth. As he was drawn to it, Mouse would be, too. He was here. Here! He had to be. His heart was too big in his chest; his lungs screamed with demand. The last breath he’d snared was nearly meted out.

Determined hands under his armpits dragged him out, around his midsection lifted him free of the mud. The muscles of his belly grabbed and scooped, grabbed and scooped for air. His breath returned in rough shudders, the sound, to his own ears, unearthly, at once guttural and shrieking. He scraped away the soppy strands of hair caught in his mouth, the sodden mat that screened his vision. Beside him, where he’d dropped him in the brown ballast sand, Mouse lay too still, his skin the same under-worldly shade as the gray blanket Stuart snapped from its tight roll. Vincent scrabbled over. The rubbled ground of brick-shard and gravel abraded the skin of his palms, gouged his knees, but it was breath; it was feeling. Pain meant life. Pain meant hope.

Click HERE for Chapter 68


1. Walt Whitman. As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life.
2. A leanbh. Gaelic: My child.
3. from Chapter 51: I Know of Nothing Else But Miracles
4. The Outsiders. Season 2.
5. From Chapter 51 again.
6. William Shakespeare. Macbeth. Act V, Scene v.
7. Chapter 62: Over the Wide Curve of a Trembling World.


Anonymous said...

Carole, I have been so worried about Flynn, and now Mouse is in trouble. You won't let anything happen to him, will you?

As you know, I do not like thinking about The Outsiders. Your focus on that moment between Vincent and the boy changes that for me, and I am going to watch the episode again. I was moved to tears, reading this. The conversation between Vincent and Flynn cannot happen too soon! How will it come about? Vincent has so much on his mind and now there's a crisis below. It is so sad that another little child has had a bad reaction to Flynn, even though he has done the right thing.

There is a lot to be anxious about in this chapter, but you always make me anxious in a good way. Thank you!

Your friend, A'bella

Carole W said...

Thank you, Annabella! I really do cherish your generosity and am so encouraged by your support.

Yes, indeed, the Outsiders episode is miserable (on several counts! I chafe at the stereotypical southern accents, but that's a rant for another day.) I imagine the aftermath, Vincent leaving for the deep ends of the earth without a word to Catherine, and what and who he wrestled with there. I don't think he and Catherine have talked about that time in much depth yet, much kept private/secret, depending on his variable perspective. But that's subject matter for either a dedicated chapter or a follow-up story, probably the latter, or I'll never drag this story to the finish line.

You caught the quiet clue from Martin, his ahh, noooo. I was hoping that scene wasn't so long ago as to be totally forgotten, or not that memorable in the first place! I know you didn't start in reading this nearly 5 years ago, and who could recall it from then if so, but thanks for making my day by remembering that detail.

There are lots of ends to gather up, and it's a little scary, but I have a list of things to accomplish. Boringly, tops on it, before I can write on, is spring housecleaning, which I have put off for forever. I'm only giving it two full days though, and after that, whatever's still lying about we can just wade through.

Thanks again for reading,

Mamacrow said...

Dear Carole - What I love about this chapter and your writing in general, what I find so wonderful and amazing is how you take scenes from the show and expand them,sometimes redeeming them, but always deepening them. Catherine's understanding of where Flynn is, because of where Vincent has been, and her understanding of what will be needed was wholly satisfying.

When I read your stories I focus on every word, I treasure them, I look forward to them. Each is important and unique. Thank you so much for all your effort and stress and joyous worry that goes into your writing. It is very much appreciated. - Karen :)

Anonymous said...

Carole, in this chapter, I was drawn particularly to your depiction of how damaging -- dare I say, insulting -- those post-conflict "investigations" can be. It is terrible enough to put your body and life on the line, to have to make life and death decisions in stressful and extremely confusing situtions, and then to have every single one of those decisions and actions questioned afterwards by a panel of people who weren't there, some of whom have never even in been that kind of situation before. Flynn's teammates try to put it in the best of contexts by insisting that they learn a great deal from these examinations. But there's no question that these investigations automatically cast a negative light on whatever has happened -- no matter the outcome.

And for someone like Flynn, who is suffering terribly from his own internal darkness and isolation, these investigations just make everything worse. And "worse than worse" (to quote Mouse), they make him withdraw from the very help he needs, from his teammate's comradeship, from professional counseling, and more importantly from Martin's fatherly shoulder, and from Eimear's love and consolation.

At this point, I have a feeling that only Vincent could break through and reach Flynn now. The extraordinariness of Vincent's situation would certainly get Flynn's attention, when all else has been rejected. From there, sharing their experiences, talking about their struggles, moving through the Darkness and out the other side together -- THAT is the way to brotherhood and healing for these two warriors.

I am heartsick for Flynn right now, for his courage and recklessness. He seems almost suicidal. I hope help and healing come soon!

Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Before I answer your posts, Karen and Lindariel, I just want to say thank you and I love you guys for being so supportive and generous. Annabella, you too! I am so glad I've the opportunity to get to know you and look forward to all that is to come.

More in a bit!

Brenda K said...

There is an important contrast being drawn between how Flynn (Above) must function as a warrior & defender, and how Vincent (Below) is enabled to serve the same destiny. In a civilian context, Flynn's only option is to be a police officer or firefighter, perhaps - and both are subject to official "second-guessing" by uninvolved analysts after each such incident. As Lindariel has noted, that can be emotionally and psychologically debilitating to a personality like Flynn, who is already self-tormented and driven.

But Vincent only has his internal self-dissection to torment him retrospectively. His community does not subject him to these 20-20 hindsight exercises, and indeed, he has the sympathetic sounding board of Father, and others, in his community, to help him smooth over his self-doubts as best they can. And yet they live in the same internal reality - which suggests that the strongest factors in their troubles are internal to themselves, not externally imposed.

Carole W said...

Karen - I am typing out in capital letters and pinning to my bulletin board, the words "joyous worry". It will be a reminder that the emotion I'd not quite named is worth it. Thank you!

Redeeming and deepening scenes - that's all I ever hoped to do - to create a new story vested in what we know. Thank you for finding that in this story.

You are incredibly kind to me, and I love you for it. I can only work harder toward deserving such support, and I promise to.


Carole W said...

Lindariel, you have absolutely manifested my thoughts about Flynn and Vincent and the spectacular and singular plane on which they need desperately to meet. You've seen through to the heart of these two warriors - I'm printing this out and taping it up so I will not veer from this clear direction. Thank you!!

Flynn is isolating himself - in some ways that will be made clear (soon, I hope) in order to spare/save Eimear from himself (which sounds familiar). It's over a seemingly small thing or two, too, small compared to his larger life. But it's often the little things than trip us hard.

When I learned about taking the clothing of an ESU/SWAT team officer piece by piece after an incident I saw red! I can't imagine having to TAKE OFF MY CLOTHES in front of an investigator as if I were the criminal. I'm seeing red all over again thinking about it. Grrr!

Thank you so much for reading so closely and being willing to engage with these characters. I can't adequately express how grateful I am and how lucky I feel. Your thoughtful responses and interactions - and your friendship - mean everything.

Hugs for this and so much more,

Carole W said...

Brenda, thank you for your very interesting take on the similarities and contrasts. You've given me some very meaty bones to chew on - some considerations I hadn't understood. I am truly grateful for them, too, and will lay them up against the future storyline to make sure I'm on a clear track.

You're right - we never saw Vincent being questioned by the council after an incident. After the China Moon confrontation, and after the Outsiders - we got nothing! I have to wonder just who cleaned up the battle sites (for lack of a better description). It had better not have had to be Vincent.

Given the discussion of the council members before the confrontations with the Outsiders, I have to believe there was post-incident study, if not exactly investigation. Any time there occurred a threat to security due to an action of Vincent's - or anyone else's - I'd think there might be review. In Chapter 63 there's a scene of such post-review - granted one I made up out of whole cloth - about an incident in the park prior to Vincent's finding Catherine that might have called attention to the tunnel entrances and threatened exposure. That isn't quite the inspection Flynn has to go through, but I'm sure Vincent internalized it and found it heavy.

You're right about Flynn and Vincent sharing an internal torment, self imposed, self punishing. Each feels himself alone, and yet ...

And there-in lies a good hint to some upcoming story. :-)

Thank you so much for reading and for reading so closely. Your responses make me think, always. I really am lucky to have your counsel and insight and friendship.


Brenda K said...

Your assumption of post-incident review Below is likely correct, but unlike the procedure Flynn undergoes, its focus is not to figure out whether Vincent's actions and decisions were justifiable, but on why they became necessary in the first place. The underlying premise is that the community owes Vincent its best efforts to help avoid the need to invoke his special capabilities on their behalf. It would be quite dangerous, I'd think, to subject Vincent to the kind of review Flynn will get -- the interrogation/cross-examination for hidden motives, poor judgment, uncontrolled action -- all with an undertone of condemnation and condescension for not being able to avoid the violence, and bloodshed.

As much as we line up on Flynn's side against his examiners, we Above understand that our community is not so tightly knit as to foster the implicit trust in our armed protectors that Below can afford to have. Because we cannot grant the authority to kill without coupling it with our vigilance against its abuse, even the Flynns must endure this post-event dissection. For us Above, there is no reasonable alternative, unfortunate as its effects are on the emotional/spiritual health of our protectors.

Carole W said...

True, about Flynn and his partners and the necessity of their scrutiny. I don't think that's a bad thing, just that the requirement causes men and women like Flynn some emotional distress. And certainly Vincent doesn't undergo those same considerations of too much force, however, there is canon evidence that his actions were assessed.

Father was supremely agitated about him breaking the rules and bringing a stranger (Catherine) below. He questioned his actions, his judgement, the risk he put to others, and I don't doubt it was discussed in a council meeting afterward. Vincent stood his ground, swearing there was no other choice, but still, I'd bet William had something to say about his *rash* behavior. I'd easily imagine Father calling him to private and public task, much as they did Mouse over breaking the rules.

Mouse said Vincent breaks the stupid rules all the time, though Vincent probably does get special treatment, and he's allowed certain liberties and goes possibly more unchecked than others. Still, I'll bet Father raked him over the coals more than once.

Thanks for the concepts to cogitate!