I am Archibald, Scribe of S-tan Chapter 6

By Lionel Roy

For Bangari Fiction: I Am Archibald, Scribe of S-tan

Dragon Song

Dragon sing a song for me, as the sky falls to the sea. And when my love, your song is sung –the end of all will have begun. 

–The Fifth Scroll: Our Songs

I, Archibald, Arch Rising Angel, desire to explain a little bit about angels, people and animals –before returning to the story. Angels, both rising angels, and god’s kiss-ass angels, are made of soul and spirit. Human beings, in god’s image, are body, soul and spirit. Animals are made up of a body and a basic soul. The hard fact that god created angels to be more like animals than people, angers Us immensely. We were the first born. We desire to be three parts, not two. We will never cease to believe that it is unjust that humans, such a prodigal creation, second to come along, be created more similar to god than we are. God’s loyal angels may buy into that ‘once was lost, now is found, throw a party,’ hollow propaganda –but We never will.

This desire to be trichotomous in form has driven us, through all these centuries, to master the ability to put on flesh. This is a difficult endeavor. God’s kiss-ass angels are forbidden to attempt it, without permission. When allowed, they may only take on the flesh of a higher animal. That is, a mammal, created toward the end of the sixth day –females being a higher creation than males of the same kind. God facilitates this for these angels, for his purposes. Balaam’s female donkey would be a biblically recorded example.

We, Rising Angels, can take on a corpse, like S-tan did, when He made our declaration of independence from the pillar of salt, which was the corpse that hung on that cross, on top of that hill called “The Skull.” I recorded this on The First Scroll: Our Testimony, and shared it at the beginning of this story. Putting on a corpse is gross, for most of us. However, that was a special, very special body, at a special moment in time, when it became the epitome of our accusations against Mankind, and at the same time, their punishment. After all, it’s woven into the fabric of our souls, and the natural law of the universe, that there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

Now we can easily take on the flesh of lower animals, like fish…but what’s the point? Reptiles, like the snake that our Master put on in order to show Adam and Eve a better way, are best suited for our purposes of imitating trichotomy, but it still only imitates. S-tan and his Arch Rising Angels used to put on dragons, before their extinction –those fiercest of reptiles, that along with the ability to fly, had singing voices, controlled by us, that equalled human ability, yet surpassed it in volume and range. Alas, that ancient era is gone –when choirs of Arch Rising Angels, putting on the flesh of mammoth flying reptiles, sang praises and songs of hope to Our Master and Ourselves, accompanied by the rumbling rhythm of erupting volcanoes, while gliding high above pools of molten lava gurgling in the throats of mountains deep in the throws of a prolonged and violent destruction.

There was a legion of Us that once were able to put on a higher animal; pigs. However, the thrill didn’t last. They jumped off a cliff into the sea and drowned, sending us all back to that deserted, arid land where we assemble after a possession ends. As we sat in this place, we discussed the experience, and we learned. We deemed that what we are missing are the chemicals that circulate through the assembled particles of dust that make up the body, specifically the nervous system, of a higher animal. This potent and delicate chemistry is found in perfect abundance in human beings. All three types of created beings, with souls, including animals, possess the same emotions. Both human and angelic creatures have the highest intellects combined with complex souls, far surpassing that of the highest mammals. However, without the serotonin, oxytocin, adrenaline, and the host of other concoctions that course through the veins of Our not quite as intelligent, three-part counterparts, we can only experience our feelings in a limited way. Reality, for Us, is similar to when a bodily creature, human or other mammal, is paralyzed with sleep –is dreaming.

We can possess human beings. However, ‘possessing’ a live person is not like ‘putting on’ living reptile flesh. The hosts’ own souls remain to battle Us, forming entities much like conjoined twins, competing for control. We haven’t the ability to control humans that we do with lower animals, like insects or reptiles that operate on a brainstem only, with barely a trace of a soul to cause us problems. We tried to remedy this problem of having to battle the person’s soul for complete control of their body –by instead, putting on human seed.

What a disaster!

We hypothesized that entering into the very DNA of the human creature, before it was conceived, we could precede and prevent ensoulment. It didn’t happen. Instead, we broke through the eggs’ walls and came instantly, face to face with the very souls that god intended the combined DNA to become. These souls were some of the toughest and purest we have ever encountered in battle. Yet, we were stuck with each other. The offspring that this experiment created grew up to be psychotic, developmentally delayed, ten-foot tall giants, most of whom were slaughtered by their own families and villages, for lack of the ability to care for or control them. Many others, after violent fits, looked upon the harm and devastation they caused their communities and their families with harsh regret. They also understood all the extra cost in food and medicine –a single giant consumed as much goods as eight adults of normal size. These sorrowful beings willingly swallowed (a huge) dose, of poison. The giant that I, Archibald ‘sired,’ thus instantly making her my disciple, built a roaring bonfire in the forest outside of the village at the base of a very tall, dead Gopherwood tree. As the full moon outlined her animated silhouette, she climbed to the very top of the ancient tree, and then dove into the flames. That was by far the most theatrically spectacular murder I have ever, proudly, offered my Master.

Then, laughably, but only because We are not so proud that it renders Us incapable of finding the humor in our own struggles and failings, there was that one flawed attempt by a legion of us. When after all our toil in putting on those microscopic sperm –not an easy feat; much more difficult in fact, than when Our Eldest put on that thirty-foot-long Anaconda to put mankind’s parents to the test –Our poor legion ended up squirming around in a dirty rag on the floor of a latrine, suffering a more tortuous and drawn out end and return to the Arid Place, than the legion cast into those drowned pigs.

I, Archibald, would like to conclude this lesson, with an interesting fact, widely unknown among human beings: In the beginning, until the construction of the Tower of Babel, people, their animals and their angels all communicated telepathically. Humans uttered sounds, much like those who speak in tongues. However, the words did not necessarily match the thoughts being conveyed. It was just for expression and especially song. The understanding was all mental, not verbal. This is not to say that domesticated animals had long, meaningful, abstract conversations with their masters. However, they could communicate their basic needs, and comprehend their master’s simple commands to a degree that would astound post-Babel Tower folks, who live in a world where this ability was taken away by god as a punishment for building monuments to themselves.

******

The next morning at the Lakeside, after Jem and Michael finished up their breakfast, the dog bugged him for a walk. It was hard to resist. He had a way of looking at him with those soulful eyes, telepathically transferring his thoughts. Or, at least trying to. Jem was just about hearing: “Why don’t you do all that paperwork later. Right now let’s get a little exercise and some fresh morning air. And… we can sniff and pee on a whole bunch of things!”

“All right” Jem thought as he looked at the four boxes full of binders that needed to be sorted through and entered into the biggest spreadsheet he had ever built. He had dedicated over a hundred hours to this thing, to date, and probably had two or three hundred more to go. This forensic accounting is mind boggling to Jem, but, it was proving that some big chunks of money were gone. The problem was, all this work just proves that the money is missing, and about how much is missing –it doesn’t tell him where it is. This project, as he chipped away at it, always gave Jem a headache and a heartache at the same time. A walk and a little procrastination? He thought. Good idea Michael!

Jem talked to the Lord along the way. “Lord, am I too damaged to ever fall in love again? Everyone has baggage right? But I’m towing an old broken down U-haul, stuffed full, uphill. I don’t want to keep secrets from her, but I don’t want to scare her away by telling her more of my story. Lord, only you know what will happen in the future with me and Sheila. No matter what, thank you Jesus, for giving me a true friend at a time when almost everyone else is abandoning me…I’ll tell her more, soon, and if it brings this new romance of ours to a quick end, please help keep our friendship intact – it means so much to me. I don’t know where I would be right now if it wasn’t for her compliments and encouragement. Help me break free of everything that weighs me down so I can be the kind of man she deserves. Help me be as good a friend to her as she is to me. Bless her heart. Amen.”

As Jem and Michael returned from their walk, they could see Sheila outside the door. His belly flopped around, as he got a spring in his step that almost caused him to jog toward her. Wisely, he stopped himself, pulled his shoulders back a little, and held steady with the same brisk pace. “Hey Buddy, You’re gonna finally meet the lady I’ve been telling you about.” he said to Michael. “Be a good boy now!”

She looked a little nervous about the dog, but patted him on the head politely when he introduced them. Michael was much less polite, and returned the affection by licking her incessantly, slobbering her hand and arm all the way up to the elbow. “Stop licking my bitch!” Jem commanded. Then, quickly reassuring Sheila, he sarcastically explained, “I didn’t mean that like it sounded, I was just speaking his language.”

She gave him a disturbed glance, simultaneously offended by the word-play humor at her expense, and grossed out by the canine tongue-bath. She planted a nice kiss on his lips, just the same, as he got the key into the lock and opened the door. “I’m really glad to see you” Jem said. “I wasn’t looking forward to my day today, but now that you’re here, It seems like it’s gonna be good”

“Am I stopping you from something? I tried to call first, but…”

“Oh, I left the phone here when I walked the dog. You probably are stopping me, but that’s a good thing.”

“What were you going to do, rob a bank?”

Jem laughed a bit as he said, “No. I was gonna try to find out who did!”

“What do you mean?” she asked, looking at him like she was ready to hear some secrets.

“My ex took a lot of money. All this stuff…” He waved his arm in the direction of all the boxes…” I have to organize it and finish the forensic accounting”

“For your business?”

“Yeah, and there are also all these records of the household funds that the Wifey II handled for years.”

“What are you using to sort it out, Quickbooks?”

“No, I built a spreadsheet, right in Google Docs. Wanna see it?”

“Sure” Sheila looked at it, then took right over, practically pushing him out of her way. In no time she was clacking at the keyboard and asking him a ton of relevant questions as he fetched her folders and coffee. She understood how he set it up immediately, and had already made a few good suggestions for simplifying it. “Yeah, I can see from just rough numbers that she got you for over $30,000.00 – just in these five quarters. You did a great job with verifying it with records.”

“Thanks. That’s about what I figured too. Are you going to help me with this?”

“Haven’t I already?” She snapped back sharply. Two hours of number crunching had gone by and she got more done already than if he had spent all day on it.

“You sure did, thanks! Let’s get away from it now though. Let’s go for a ride.” The three of them piled in the ‘Stang.

“How did she react when you accused her of taking the money?”

“She denied it up and down, kept saying she would take a lie detector test, swore on her kids lives that she didn’t take any money, and then she threw me out, her last words: “Find it then!” She sounded guilty, that’s for sure.”

Sheila shrugged her right shoulder, nodding, and said “Sounds guilty.”

“Yeah, I know. But I wish it was left at that. It got much uglier.”

“What do you mean? Like how?”

Jem kept wagging his head back and forth as he stared down Rt 18, as if he was refusing to believe his own words “I heard her, on the recordings… Trying to take me out.”

“What?! Like have you killed?

“Yeah. I’ve got half a million in life insurance, and I think she knows I have these recordings with some pretty ugly stuff against her on them…Like, her husband before me, well, his death was not an accident. She had him killed for spite and a hundred grand in Social Security money she got for and stole from his orphan, my step daughter.”

“Did you go to the police?” She asked, while staring into his right ear, because he would not turn his head to even glance at her.

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because she’s fucking the police.” He said, finally staring her in the face as he dropped the f-bomb right on her nose. Sheila flinched. “I fled instead.” Besides, the evidence is too circumstantial to get her charged. The recordings I got are not admissible. But it definitely let me know what was going on. That was enough to send me on an armed retreat. You know Sheila, it’s only fair that you know this. I feel safe here. No one knows I’m in Florida. I just disappeared. I didn’t want to stay with my cousin, or sister, or anyone else that I know, because I didn’t want to put them in danger.

“You haven’t told any of your people what’s going on?”

“I told my father some of it before I left. I don’t like worrying everyone who loves me, but I’m betting that once they report me missing, the cops, that aren’t in bed with her, will ask her and my in-laws, especially her sister’s husband who I heard her screwing, some tough questions.

“Why your in-laws? Are they in on it?”

“Yes.” Jem’s lips pulled back, and his eyes squinted, wringing a single tear out of each eye. “I loved all those people. So much.”

“Oh, Jem, you sweet man…Shhh, it’s okay. It’s okay. She put her right hand on his bicep, and ran her other through his hair after brushing away a tear with the back of her fingers.

“Sheila, I don’t want you to be in danger either, because of me, but I’m so afraid that by telling you all this –you’re going to go running for the hills. I won’t be mad if you want out…So, now I’m going to hold my breath till you tell me what you think.” Sheila sat silently fuming with her hands folded tightly in her lap.

“So what do you want to do?” Jem finally asked, quickly surveying her face, afraid of what he was going to see there.

“Well…there is only one thing we can do…” She said looking at him.

He liked that she said ‘we.’ “I’ve told you, we can’t really go to the police…”

“Who said anything about police?” He looked at her quizzically.

“We end this…together.” She said. Jem looked shocked and drifted onto the painted lines in the center of the road.

“Look, I don’t want her to die…” He gasped. “I mean, the thought has crossed my mind, sure, but I refuse to entertain it. I’m an aggressive guy, but I’m not a killer.”

“Nobody dies…what she will suffer will be infinitely worse.” She smiled, and then he smiled back.

“You mean…?”

“Yeah. We get all the evidence we need. The real hard stuff. Then we start playing them at their own game…”

Jem nodded as he pulled up in front of her door and shut off the car. The reality dawned on him. She was not going to run away. She was going to stand her ground –right beside him. “Are you sure you want to do this? This is my mess.” She silenced him by putting a finger to his lips and stared him straight in the eye.

“What kind of girlfriend, or human being even, would I be if I didn’t at least try to help?”

******

“Hey there Leila” Richard’s slurred voice made her blood run cold. He was drunk or stoned…or both.

“What do you want?” She said flatly, trying to remain calm.

“Oh… I don’t know…” he said in a mock sing song voice. “You”

She sighed. “Richard…”

“Look I know that I treated you bad in the past, but that’s all changed. Even your mum thinks so.”

“Richard, my mum does not know the half of what you did to me, so you just leave her out of this!”

“Why should I? She loves me, she loves us,” he continued on…

“Richard, I don’t want you, I will never want you so just…”

“What?! Leave you alone? That is never going to happen while I’m alive…” he said quietly.

“Are you threatening me?” She asked.

“No Leila darling, I am just stating facts. You are mine.”

“I am not yours, I was never yours and I will never. Be. Yours!”

“Well you say that now, but things can change…” he said

“I don’t see how Dickie…” he hated it when she called him that “…Unless you become someone else entirely…”

She could hear him growling slightly as he said “We’ll see Leila. This isn’t over…” He hung up. A rustling outside made her jump. She ran to the window but couldn’t see anything. She was afraid. It wasn’t so much his words that scared her, but the measured, quiet tones that he used when he said “this isn’t over.” Like he had something over her. She shuddered, thinking about how this new romance with Jem would ever survive two sociopathic exes. Maybe, just maybe we could kill two birds with one stone. She thought. Not literally of course. But hey, you just never know. And with that she started to formulate a plan…

******

Before Sheila knew it, it was time to go to work. Lars picked her up and they were on their way. She thought about Jem, compared to Richard, and compared to her imaginary Mr. Right. She would be seeing him tomorrow to talk about things, and the girl couldn’t wait. That’s the thing with him, she thought, it may be only twenty four hours since I last saw him but it feels like so much longer. I can’t get enough of his smile, his kisses, his big heart and sensitive soul. In short, I can’t get enough of him...and that scared her a bit.

“We’re here” Lars said.

“Thanks Viking” she joked. He made a mock growl. Sheila laughed as she headed inside the club, with Lars following close behind. As she started to get ready, she could sense that something was not quite right. It wasn’t anything that she could put her finger on but her intuition-radar, which had served her well for years, was on high alert. She changed into her outfit; a metallic gold dress, over a bright red thong, and got behind the stage ready for her turn. The music changed, the lights dimmed and she was on…

“Justify My Love” by Madonna blared through the PA and Sheila strutted onto the stage slowly, the spotlight followed her, hugging her jealously, much like the myriad of glistening eyes that were following her every move. She could just about make out Lars’ tall, blonde frame draped over Lara James, the stripper’s Boss-Lady. Well well well, wouldn’t that be something? Sheila thought as she let her dress drop, causing the crowd to whoop in appreciation. It wasn’t as intensely enjoyable for her as the last time, but she was starting to loosen up and beginning to get into it, even without Jem in the room. The music was just coming to an end. As she scooped up the last of her rewards for a job well done, she heard a slight commotion at the back of the club. She didn’t think anything of it. They always had one or two over excited, intoxicated customers. The club’s security men would deal with them the best way that they knew how…But this time it was different. Things were not coming under control, and the shouting became louder. She heard a familiar accent…Richard! How on earth did he know I worked here? She wondered, as their eyes locked. Richard’s arms were stretched out in opposite directions and in the grips of Lars and a new bouncer named Derek. Each part of the former couple stubbornly refused to look away.

“So this is what you do? You fucking whore!” he spat, from across the room, venom oozing out of every word. Sheila lifted her head. He wasn’t going to intimidate or insult her. She was on her patch, with her people.

“I’m no whore! Not like you and those skanks you slept with while you were with me!” she yelled back, her voice dangerously angry. He was silent for a few seconds, while the crowd began to hoot and chant: fight. fight. fight!

“Maybe if you had given me a bit of this…” He pointed drunkenly at her with his chin.

“Don’t you dare, you pathetic excuse for a man…” her voice shook with emotion. She was unmoved until he made the next statement.

“I take it mummy and daddy don’t know?” …She thought, this was not good. But she was not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing her sweat. “The folks don’t know that their precious, darling princess is letting lots of dirty old men watch her peel off her clothes and shake her ass…I’m telling!” Shut up loser! an anonymous voice called out of the crowd.

“That is real mature Dickie...” Her voice belied her nerves. Richard had invaded more than her place of work. He had entered a place that to her was an inner sanctum, her private secret, and she felt angry…and violated. Lars and his helper held Richard back, letting Sheila get the last word before dragging him to the exit.

“This is not over!” He screamed, while freeing an arm from Derek, and swinging a hopeless punch in the vague direction of Lars’ face. He missed, lost his balance and with a hard downward push from Lars, crashed to the floor in front of the door, causing him to wail painfully…Sheila’s heart was beating very fast. You got that right asshole, she thought to herself, this is just the beginning…She watched Richard struggle to his hands and knees as Derek opened the door. Lars placed a size-fourteen shoe on Richards backside, and pushed. Richard scurried out the door on all fours.

******

“Jeremy, how are you?”

“Great Father and you?”

“Everything is good. Jeremy, listen, I’m thinking about some things you were telling me about the confirmation classes you taught up in New England” he said slowly like he was getting to something. Jem switched the phone to his shoulder and shrugged to hold it to his ear as he loaded the bike onto the rack in front of the bus that he was taking to the beach.

“Yeah? What are you thinking Father?”

“Well from what you were saying you seem to have a pretty good handle on the “Christianity and Sexuality” subject, and you’re VIRTUS trained, right? And seeing that it was coming up next, and Sylvia was supposed to do it next week, and she hates doing it; but can you blame her? I mean she is the best religious ed instructor I’ve ever seen and she’s been doing it for years, but…

“Yeah I know, I’m sure she does a good job…” Jem cut in.

“Oh, absolutely!” Father Jose interrupted. Well, I wanted to ask you if–

“You got it Father!” Jem pulled a quick interruption, with a cut to the chase, to guard against him getting the floor again for another rambling monologue. He had to get on the bus, the driver was waiting. Father was a real windbag, but so was Jem. However, they both had to cut this short. The driver, a big Puerto Rican kid, was now giving him dirty looks. “I’ll do it Father. Not to cut you short, but I gotta go.”

“Okay then, very good, God bless you!” Father said, saying the words ‘very good’ so fast that it sounded at first to Jem like he said ‘frig it.’

“Thanks Father, God bless you too, bye!”

“Thank you Jeremy, bye now.”

“Where ya goin’?” The driver asked him while making a lemon-sucking face. Jem could tell he was just kidding around, acting really annoyed.

“The beach” he answered smiling. “Gotta work on my tan. We all can’t be born with one ya know.” The driver laughed out loud.

“Yeah, well don’t get skin cancer!” He retorted.

“I know, I know, I already had some moles taken off…I work outside a lot so even though I use sun block faithfully, a like to get a little “base tan” on first.

“Oh” he said nodding politely a couple times like he really cared about Jem’s skin tone adjustment regimen, and his moles.

“Besides, I’ve got a hot black girlfriend –I’m trying to catch up with her.”

“Get the frig-otta-heeah!” he boomed, twisting around to check Jems face for bs. Jem liked this kid. He could tell by his accent that he too was from the Northeast.

“Serious” he said nodding. “I’m not kidding about her hotness. If you don’t believe me, come see her dance…I think she’s on tonight…” Holy bat-strippers Batman, now here’s an ethical and moral quandary…With his mind fuzzy and frazzled he thought: Note to self: Ask Sheila what the protocol is for inviting friends to the club. Then he went into a funny daydream, envisioning the cell phone up to his ear again while he sat on the bus: Hi Father, it’s Jeremy, how are you? –Listen, if you’re not doing anything after mass, ya wanna go to the club, have a couple beers and watch my new girlfriend dance around a pole wearing just a thong and a smile?” He was shocked out of his hilarious daydream when Father Jose answered, Yeah, sure, pick me up at seven.

“Actually, I’m looking at getting on a fishing boat.” Jem said, changing the subject after traveling as far as he wanted to go down that road.

“Oh you’re a commercial fisherman?” the driver verified.

“No, more of a contractor really” he answered. “But I’ve done about a dozen trips –just as a deckhand. I like to do a couple a year.”

“My brother-in-law is a fisherman. He’s been going out for Mahi Mahi. He told me last weekend” Jems ears perked up. That was his favorite to fish for. They looked like two foot long tropical fish, all different shiny colors. When he worked on an offshore lobster boat, they used to tie off to the buoys to their trawls, and then pull the Mahi in the boat one after another just using handlines. He flashed back to “The Rocking Horse” and Captain Nick. Now there was a man of valor. Jem remembered. He was true to his family, labored hard at his trade no matter what the fisheries department and every other asshole with a title and a clipboard did to screw him up. He would say “Like God can’t keep enough fish in the ocean to feed all the people he created…He needs help from some college noob to ration out His provisions.” Captain Nick was just one of those few people out of hoards that you don’t know long, but somehow you know that you can trust them. Jem had to trust him, from day one… If Cappy held the handle to the hydraulic winch one second too long, and he didn’t notice his hand getting too close to the pulley, he would end up breaking every finger on Jem’s left hand in a few places. With the only help a two-hundred-mile, Coast Guard helicopter ride away.

Jem punched the driver’s brother-in-law’s cell number into his phone then said “Vios con Dios, Benny” to him as he got off the bus. He unloaded and jumped on his oil black, to match the ‘Stang, mountain bike and started pedaling toward the beach. For some strange reason a picture of David Hasselhoff sitting in Knight-Rider popped into his head. He subconsciously started humming the theme song as he let go of the handle bars, stretched back and coasted down one of Florida’s only hills.

******

I miss him, she thought. She decided to go through her mail and see if there was anything urgent that she needed to deal with. She thought about how to deal with Richard. There was no point in going to the police because as an international, defensive driving instructor, with contracts, and with them contacts, all over Florida, he had friends in high places. Sheila didn’t. This is going to be something that I deal with on my own, using…alternative means. She thought. At that moment, her phone rang.

“Hey there beautiful” Jem’s deep voice was immediately soothing. “How are you?”

“I’m okay honey…just going through my mail” she said “Caught anything yet?”

“Well, I got a lead on a Mahi-Mahi boat.” He said, but then lowered his voice. “I hope you miss me as much as I’m missing you”

“Nah…” she said laughing after she heard the sharp intake of breath down the line “…I miss you more” she whispered and paused. Do I tell him about Richard’s little Mariah Carey tribute? She wrestled briefly with the idea and decided against it. She would wait till he came back. Sheila was good at waiting.

“Glad to hear it baby. You working tonight?”

“No, its my night off so…pampering at the spa, and then dinner with the girls…can’t wait!” She giggled.

“Sounds like fun” he said.

“…And a tax write off besides! Lars is coming too…” She could hear the loaded silence at his end.

“I thought you were going out with the girls…” he said after what seemed to her like hours but was only a few seconds.

“Yes I am, but–” she countered, but he interrupted. A number one fault of his, she was noticing.

“So why does Lars Avel  need to be there?” Jem asked hotly. “I see the way he looks at you…” Oversensitivity. Fault number two. She thought. Jem was a mystery to her. He could deal with hundreds of men looking at her body when she danced, but a night with the girls goes from being stress relieving fun, to a potential ‘sexfest’ because Lars is there. She shook her head in frustration.

“Because…” she struggled to remain calm but the fury at his implied meaning and the anxiety over Richards threats scuppered her efforts and seeped through her carefully chosen words “…even though we are not working, we still need protection!” She could tell he was digesting this, but was so angry she continued “…or have you forgotten all about the Richard episode?”

“Sheila, look it’s just that Lars–” he began to protest.

“Lars, what?! Lars is paid to protect us…inside and outside of the club” she said, brushing frustrated tears from her cheeks. She couldn’t believe she was having this conversation, and it hurt that he would make these comments.

“Is he paid to make flirty remarks, and look at you like he wants to jump your bones?” he asked sarcastically.

“He does that to all the girls…he even does it to some of the guys…” She said shaking her head.

Jem sensed that he upset her to the point of crying “Sheila…I’m so sorry, I had no right.” He said, immediately contrite.

“Jem, I told you, we’re ‘exclusive.’ I’m not going to cheat on you. Never. And thinking that I would, after I promised…”

“I know…Is something only an idiot would think, never mind say in so many words to someone he really trusts.” He said softly.

“So you admit that you are an idiot then?”

“I am…and I am so sorry about that. You don’t know how much. You see–” he started.

“Can I get that in writing?” Sheila giggled.

“Signed in blood and suitable for framing if you want. Jeremy ‘Jem’ Fort is an idiot.” He started laughing.

“Yeah but he is my idiot…an aggressive, gun wielding, unpredictable, oversensitive, but utterly lovable idiot, who I absolutely adore”

“So am I forgiven?” He asked.”Are we okay?”

“Yes and absolutely”

“I’ll make it up to you I promise.” He said.

“No need baby, really…”

“But I want to…what would you like?”

“Well, I’ll let you decide…I’m an easy enough woman to please!” She said teasingly.

“Oh yeah?” he replied, intrigued.

“Not in that way…get your mind out of the gutter…” she said laughing.

He spluttered and then laughed, “no I wasn’t thinkin’…hon I have to go. I will speak to you soon”

“Okay Jem. Don’t leave me waiting too long.” She said, but immediately regretted it, thinking, now he will think I’m some needy, clingy–

“Trust me. I wont. Have fun tonight princess.”

“I will. Bye”

“Bye.” The line went dead. She looked at the clock. She had only 30 minutes to get dressed. She headed to the bathroom.

******

The Gala Lily Restaurant was the best in town. The food was as varied as the music and had the same effect on all who went there – they left wanting more. Lara James, Jo- Anne, Kiki and some other girls from the club as well as Lars were all at the bar when Sheila came in.

“Hey there Truly…” Lara said smiling and greeting Sheila. She must have seen her confused expression. “…As in ‘Truly Scrumptious,’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, my…”

“Favourite film of all time…” chorused the girls in singsong voices that dissolved into fits of laughter. Lara had the good grace to look a little sheepish. “So I’ve told you girls a few times” she said. It was so great to see her outside of work. Sheila thought. She looked relaxed, happy and quite stunning with her long red hair flowing a black pencil skirt and deep green basque contrasting her alabaster skin and showing off her beautiful curves and fantastic legs. Lara was a petite, and very attractive forty-something.

“Only like a hundred times…” Kiki mock whispered and laughed.

“You are looking just too good…” she said looking her up and down. Sheila had a jade green and blue wrap dress with a deep ‘V’ and was sporting killer heels.

“So what will you ladies be having?” Lars asked “Apart from me that is…” he laughed. They all laughed.

“You wish Viking” Sheila said cheekily.

“Don’t pretend you don’t want some, Coco..” he said grabbing her waist playfully. She slapped his hands away as she turned round. Lars was handsome. Only about six years older than Jem, but definitely out of Sheila’s age range, even if she was willing to date a co-worker / bodyguard. His six foot three frame was encased in jeans which showed off his long legs, and a fitted t-shirt accenting the cuts of his upper body. His green eyes shone with mischief. But she didn’t have to pretend. She didn’t want Lars, not only because of the age difference, but because she had Jem now.

The girls started to list their drink orders, but Lars was distracted. Sheila followed his eyes to the other side of the bar where Lara had gone and was now engaged in conversation with another man. She threw her head back and laughed. Lars’ jaw clenched and a muscle jumped in his cheek. So it was like that, Sheila thought privately, I wonder if she knows…

They were all seated and enjoying the food. It was great to get out of the flat and socialise. Sheila was thoroughly enjoying herself and didn’t notice right away that Lara returned to the group and was looking intently at her. “What?” Sheila asked.

She leaned into Sheila’s ear and asked, “How do you feel about Lars?”

She was momentarily stunned by the question and resisted the urge to throw her hands up in mock dramatic fashion. This was twice in the same night by two totally different people asking the same question about the same person. “Erm…I think he’s great. He’s funny. No clue about etiquette. Great at his job and I trust him totally. Why?”

“No reason.” she said getting up. Sheila stopped her and pulled her down gently.

“Whats up…?” she said gently. “Do you like him?” she asked outright. She saw a flush creep up from her neck.

“Would it matter if I did?” Lara asked “He obviously likes you! But no, I don’t feel that way about Lars.”

“What do you mean?” she asked looking at her. She was now looking at the floor.

“All that touchy feely stuff with him just now–” she started.

“I like him…as a friend, colleague and bodyguard, that’s it.” Sheila said.

“So you two have never…?” she left the question hanging.

“He doesn’t like me…that way. And I don’t like him…that way.”

She shook her head “But I thought…” she said “I mean…never mind.”

Dessert was delicious – cinnamon waffles and caramel ice cream. Lars and Lara were in deep conversation which involved lots of gazing and laughing. Cute, Sheila thought, good for them.

“You look different…” Kiki said examining her closely. What is up with people today? Sheila thought as Kiki’s grey eyes explored her face.

“Really?” she asked deciding to play along. “So tell me, o mystic one, what’s different about me?”

“Hmmmm….its not your hair or anything like that cuz I would have noticed sooner…”Are you getting laid?” Kiki asked unabashedly.

She jumped slightly and felt her cheeks and ears suddenly warm. “Would you keep your voice down?” she whisper-scolded.

“You are, aren’t you?” she prodded, giggling like a schoolgirl. Sheila composed herself, and sat up a little straighter.

“Well..if you must know…

“Yeah pray do tell” a masculine voice interjected. Her spine stiffened. It was Richard. “I’m just dying to know!” Kiki and Sheila spun round on their stools in fright. They hadn’t seen or heard him coming.

“What are you doing here?” Sheila said in a low, hard voice. He laughed.

“I was just in the area and I saw you here and I thought I would say ‘hi.’” He turned to Kiki, offering her his hand, “I’m Richard. Leila’s fiance”

ex –fiance” she almost shouted. “You walked out remember?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t officially end it” he said. He looked at Kiki “so it doesn’t really count, does it?”

He was high. His eyes were glazed and he was fidgety. Pills and alcohol made him chatty. And dangerous. “Yes it does..because you left, didn’t call or contact me for a year…” She attempted to keep him talking. If he was crazy enough to follow me here, she reasoned, then who knows what else he was capable of?

“Well it was kinda hard to get a hold of you. You left the country.” He smiled. It made her blood run cold. “Then I find out you have a fun new job in the U.S.” He leered at Kiki, and then at the other girls at the table, “…and fun new American friends!”

“Richard you better leave now…”

He leaned in “I am not going anywhere, not without you.” He glared at her.

“Yes you are.”

“No I’m not…” Richard said testily.

“Yes you are…” she said, then flinched and leaned back instinctively, trying to decipher why. Then she saw the gleam of metal…He had a gun. He pointed it at her spleen.

“Get up…” he ordered. She started to do so slowly. “Get up!”
Lars stepped back pulling out his own firearm and pointing it at Richard. All the diners ducked, as others at the bar scampered away. “We are leaving” he said through clenched teeth, jabbing the gun in her side. She looked at the girls, who were gasping for loss of anything else to do. She was suddenly angry. Embarassed. How dare he ruin my night? And so publicly? She thought. Lars looked scared, angry and about to cry. He knew he couldn’t do a single thing until after Richard shot her. Sheila walked ahead of Richard, quickly, with the gun now pressed into the small of her back. After a couple initial screams from the patrons and a waitress after Richard produced the gun, no one in the place so much as uttered a whisper as they walked toward the door.

Sheila, her stalker, her bodyguard and her friends, were all outside. The warm breezy air tickled her cheeks and rustled her hair. “What do you want?” She growled.

“Well, I asked you nicely but you didn’t listen so I decided to get your attention…” he laughed. “I sure have it now, eh Leila?”

They walked by a waiting cab. The driver, reading his paper, was oblivious to the dangerous reality of the moment. Lars was close behind, gun still drawn and held steady – pointed at Richard’s own back. She looked at him in confusion. “We’re going for a little drive” he said, violently tugging the back of her dress, breaking the zipper, as she lunged forward, expertly maintaining her balance on her stilt-like high heels.

There was no way she was going anywhere with him. He ruined her night and now her new dress, and that made her furious. He opened the passenger door of his robin egg blue MG with the British flag drooping from a stick jutting up out of the side of the car. He moved around the opened car door to crowd her into the seat. At this point she turned to face him. She planted her feet about shoulders-width apart and bent her knees slightly, preparing for a quick strike. Richard rested his hand, still gripping the weapon, on the top of the door. Lars recognized the escape opportunity the same moment that Sheila did, and called out to Richard.

“Don’t you even think about taking that girl anywhere!” He yelled drawing Richard’s attention for the second she needed. Richard twisted around to look at Lars and before he could even answer him back, Sheila made her move. She locked his right arm up in her left, and squeezed with all her might, hyper extending his elbow, Krav Maga style. He yelped in pain and in surprise. His drug-addled reactions were slow. He reeled back as best he could, but she was anchored pretty well, especially for being in high heels. She leaned back with all her weight pulling him toward herself. He came her way so quickly she was afraid she would land on her back, inside the car, with Richard on top of her. Without thought…it was all about training combined to basic instincts at this point, she changed up the momentum by raising her knee, with all her strength, planting it square in Richard’s groin. He flinched just a bit and then froze solid, bracing himself for the pending pain.

She glanced over her shoulder surprised to see him still clenching the gun –but unable to point it at her. Lars had no more than a step to go before it was going to be a strong and sober, really pissed off, two, against one, drunk, trippin’ douchebag she thought, relieved. The second her shoe touched to the pavement again, using all the force she could muster from those powerful, well exercised, long, sexy legs, she brought her knee up again. It easily rediscovered its mark. Now, he dropped the gun. She heard it hit the pavement with a metallic thud. Lars bent down and swooped it up with his left hand, releasing the clip, and letting it fall, clinking on the ground, as he stood upright.

Richard was lurched forward jaw dropped, now with with the muzzle of Lars’ gun implanted in his cheek. Richard had a face on like he was about to puke, but still had not uttered a sound. She got out from between Richard and the open passenger door, and put her hand out, beckoning Lars to give her Richard’s unloaded gun. He immediately obliged. Just then came Richard’s miserable moan...Ooowww! Standing behind him, Sheila leaned in, her lips just about touching his left ear, and with a whispered growl she warned him: “next time, you’re dead – asshole.” She could hear sirens wailing. She cocked her slender, muscular arm back and hit him over the back of his head as hard as she could with his own gun, snapping his head forward with an eerie “smack” sound. She pushed him lightly, and he fell, face forward into his geeky little car, out cold. A warm breeze came just in time to wave the British flag over Richard’s motionless carcass…to the victor, the spoils, Sheila thought as she looked at his prone body while plucking the blue and red flag out of the holder, blue and red lights washing over the scene.

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