ADVENTURE THE 39TH: BLOODY MOTIVES
For those unfamiliar with the posting structure of a blog: postings appear in the order they are made by their author, not necessarily in the order that would most benefit an ongoing series such as the one you are about to read. Since the purpose of this blog is to be an ongoing thriller, simply removing the previous chapter to alleviate confusion is not an option – since no one coming to the series after the first chapter had been removed would be able to follow the story line.
Therefore, if you scroll down or visit the archives in future months, you will be able to read this continuing drama in the manner and order it was intended to be read. For this reason and purpose each subsequent adventure in the ‘Eddie Mars’ serial will be marked by a number. If you follow these numbers marked at the top of each chapter in their numeric order - eg ‘Adventure the 1st’ - you will be able to follow this continuing saga.
For those savvy to the blog world – this disclaimer may seem redundant, and for that no apology is made. This disclaimer is meant to better acquaint new readers in how the entries in this blog will be posted and how best to follow the series from this point on. And now…
ADVENTURE THE 39TH:
Brendyl Valley is a weary traveler’s wet dream; a paradise straight from Disney’s fantasy land. It’s a point on nobody’s map that time forgot to catalogue, nestled away from the rest of human bing-bang. However, like all dreams – superficially, at least, the surface rim of playfulness can be deceiving.
I try to look back along the path we came but discover that the giant bonsai bowers have obstructed my view. In the air there’s a faint fragrant scent of something reminiscent of honeysuckle – but I doubt it. Warm sunlight filters through towering branches in straight proud and humid lines cast along the ground - like a series of powerful searchlights encouraging young wild flowers beneath them to grow.
Everywhere I look, it’s a botanical garden decked in great natural mysteries – plants I’ve never seen before, all neatly arranged by some inspired hand for maximum visual impact – though how many outsiders this place gets each year is open for discussion.
If I had to guess, I’d say we’re the first of our kind in a mighty long time. Because as we’re led past a series of quaint mushroom-shaped hovels that look like something out of Grimm’s Fairytale or the land of OZ, the cocoa skinned inhabitance gaze on us as though we’ve landed from Mars. Their curiosity and apprehensions are quelled by the sight of Nazinja leading the way, whom they all quietly acknowledge with a polite bow.
“You may take off your coats,” Nazinja tells us.
I would have anyway. With the sudden rise in temperature I’m soaking wet beneath the heavy tarp and fur. So, I disrobe down to my undershirt and hear some polite chuckling from behind. I turn to see a few of the native girls, delightfully amused at the sight of my sticky cotton knit tank glued to my taut Caucasian body.
“You must excuse them,” Naz’ tells me, “They have never seen fair skin before.”
“Yeah sure,” I stammer, though now I really don’t feel like I’m in Kansas anymore.
We walk a considerable distance – I say, ‘considerable’ probably only because I can’t decide which hurts more; the soles of my feet from the journey or my heavy head from lack of sustenance and soft pillow to bury in up to my burning eye balls. I suddenly realize it must be half a day since we dined in the mountains.
About a mile in, the dirt road we’re tramping on turns into a tiled mosaic path that appears to have been made from some rare sparkling gem stones severely polished for maximum glare. The dense foliage gets thinner and suddenly there it is: a glistening alabaster fortress so grand in scale that it seems to dwarf everything around it – particularly us. I feel as though I’m an ant standing at the base of some great unearthly monument to all that mankind ought to have been in the outside world by now, if only commerce, fear, self doubt and loathing hadn’t made us so terribly sick with jealousy for one another.
A mass of glistening steps lead upward to a magnificent landing where two stately attendants patiently wait. When we’re within earshot, Naz’ says something in a foreign tongue that sends them scurrying for the gate just beyond – an impressive ironworks of scrolls and curls. We proceed into a gigantic courtyard inspired by Greco-Roman influences. In the center is a large tiered circular fountain sprouting fresh water high into the air. A cluster of doves have gathered to bath and drink from the large tray at its base and Naz’, sensing our need for rejuvenation, encourages us to stay behind in the garden to await his return.
After he’s left us, Migrya looks around the place with an eagle eye for fine detail. It’s not the beauty of the place she’s admiring. That sort of sublime satisfaction is beyond her. No, I can already see the wheels in her mind plotting her next big escape.
When I’m certain we’re alone, I decide to give Migrya a piece of my mind. She’s had it coming since the cave and now I’m feeling just enough of an itch in the brain to give her what she deserves.
“You know, Angel...” I start off, “you’re some piece of work.”
I’ve caught her attention – superficially at least. She gives me a doe-eyed glance of faux innocence. She’s good. Very good. Just not good enough.
“High hand me again like you did back there in the cave and you’ll be doing it with four fingers instead of ten.” I inform her.
Her fakery gives way to a less fragile reality.
“So,” Migrya replies, “Chivalry is dead?”
“And you’re lucky you’re not,” I remind her, “I could have killed you back there for lying to me about the list.”
She suddenly seems exhausted. I can’t tell whether it’s real or just another act to draw out my sympathy – like I have any left to give.
“What does it matter?” she says.
“To me – nothin’” I admit, “Only I got a job to do and you haven’t made it any easier.”
“And I’m a woman…” Migrya adds.
“Thank God,” I reason, “I couldn’t handle any more surprises today! Besides, I don’t put you gals up there on the pedestal. I don’t sentimentalize you.”
“Because you’re never up to the flattery,” I explain, “Because…it’s cheap. Just like you. You know exactly what I’ve been after from the start. Same as you. So stop pretending like you’re Little Red in the big forest. We both know there’s only one hood you’d rather ride!”
I seem to have broken through to her at some base animalistic level; cut through all that evasive self-pretend and for the first time, she truly unsettles me, because behind that imaginary cloak of pixie dust she’s nothing – not a woman, not even a person – just an elegant shell that’s been hollowed from the inside out. I’m staring at the abyss of a human being – the unflattering truth after its soul has decamped.
“I suppose I’m too tired to resist you any longer,” Migrya admits.
“Listen up, Coquette,” I tell her with ice in my veins, “You got the wrong guy. Today, the part of the fool will be played by somebody else!”
Out of the corner of my eye, Nazinja suddenly appears – his heavy tarp and fur replaced by an elegant flowing robe of white silk with gold laurel embroidery. I get the distinct feeling he’s heard our entire conversation. There’s a satisfying grin on his face as he beckons us to his side.
“You’re rooms are ready,” he says.
. . .
Naz’ is quite the host. We’re shown to a suite of adjoining antechambers, each unfolding with its own myriad of homey treasures. There’s a library with a very high ceiling and a baby grand parked like a Buick off to the side, just in case one of us gets the sudden urge to Rachmaninoff. Beyond this room is a conservatory brimming in lush tropical foliage, its panorama of stained glass windows overlooking the edge of a great precipice that plunges deeper into the dark emerald valley far below. The third room on our tour is most welcome – a bath that’s really more like a modest pool with two ornately carved fish spouting hot spring water into a marbled basin.
“You will find clean towels and new clothes in the adjoining boudoir,” Naz’ informs us, “The servants will make ready your dinner when you have had time to rest.”
It’s only after Naz has left the room that I’m suddenly aware of the fact there’s only one bed in the next room; large, ornately carved four poster mahogany and cushioned in an over stuffed satin comforter with large shams. Oh, well. Guess one of us’ll have to take the couch. There’s plenty of those scattered everywhere and a divan that’s big enough for three. She’ll be comfy on that! Chivalry? Who’s she kiddin’? It died with the cod piece and Errol Flynn.
As a matter of curiosity more than tact, I let Migrya hit the showers first. While she’s swimming about like a porpoise that only just saw the ocean for the first time, I decide to explore our rooms a bit further. The library’s well stocked. Just about every great literary masterwork from the last 600 years is on the shelves, preserved and catalogued alphabetically. I’m no musician, but the piano also seems to be in tune. A large built-in credenza houses some interesting bottled elixirs. The first one smells a bit like bourbon; the next, like champagne. It must be brewed locally.
“Well,” I hear a familiar voice behind me, “It seems you’ve found your element.”
I turn in place to see Migrya looking like I’ve never seen any woman – before or since. She’s draped in a translucent gauze negligee; its shimmering fabric dotted with flecks of gold dust that sparkle as she floats toward me; quite fragile and quite haunting. The cascade of natural light filtering from the bath passes through her frock, creating pools of deep flesh shadows in all the right places. In this outfit she really does live up to my moniker for her – ‘Angel.’
“You play this scene as though you were plotting a murder,” I tell her.
“I am,” she admits.
“Oh, yeah? Who’s the body?”
She smiles like a thirsty wildebeest, that glycerin of fresh soap making glossy her devil-lips.
“That’s suicide,” I tell her.
“Only if I lose,” she admits.
“I always win.”
We kiss again, so tenderly that you’d swear we’d done this before – at least, to each other.
“How nice for you,” I suggest, placing by arm around her waist, drawing her closer to me.
“I’m a very patient woman, Mr. Mars,” she whispers into my ear.
“You’re a bitch,” I whisper back.
There’s a gurgle of a laugh that passes softly out of earshot.
“Aren’t we all?” she adds.
“Well, touché,” I reply, sliding my rough free hand between the gauze to caress the rounded arch of her smooth shoulder flesh, “Finally, a woman who understands her own sex.”
I let my other hand slide up her back until I can feel the fresh matted strands of her thick mane between my fingertips. I grab a shock full and give her head a slight tug.
“I could kill you,” I remind her.
“Not very practical,” she tells me.
At this point in the conversation, I’ll agree with her – at least on that. I plant one on her lips - but good. She throws her back into it this time, arching forward like the cat I know her to be – filling me full of her hiss. I’ve made up her mind. My own takes a bit more convincing. But I’ve already decided one thing. I’m going to enjoy this.
We make love on the furry Persian rug at our feet, writhing like a pair of fresh salmon. She hasn’t been touched in some time. I can tell. She’s misplaced the mechanics but learns to free flow like a pro as we move from carpet to the nearby couch. I don’t think I’ve ever had better and my memory’s pretty long…at least as long as...
She gives just enough encouragement to keep me going until we both finish up in a big way with mutual satisfaction. Afterward, nothing’s said. She clings to me like a thin strip of gum, sticky sweet to the touch and slightly out of focus.
After a few drawn out moments of quiet stillness, I reach for one of the decanters on the nearby credenza.
“How ‘bout a drink?” I suggest.
She nods. I pour. We wash down the last hint of our passionate exercise with a smooth liquor that neither one of us can identify. Then – almost hypnotically – we lose consciousness in each other’s arms.
. . .
I awake in the faint filter of pale sunlight the next morning, in bed, rolling over to discover Migrya lying next to me - quite dead; shot execution style in the head. I rub my eyes as though to shake myself back from the edge of a very bad dream. But it’s no use. It’s all true and there’s nothing I can do about it. She’s gone and with her, all the secrets of tomorrow and last night.
Nazinja startles me by suddenly appearing at the foot of our bed – fully formed as spirit into man. No gun. No motive. No nothin’. Just a polite glance of satisfaction written across his face.
“It is of no consequence,” he quietly informs me, “Yours is a higher purpose.”
Exactly what that ‘higher purpose’ will be I’m sure I’m about to find out.
Eddie Mars will return in his next big adventure:
THE WHEEL COMES ROUND
on April 20th, 2008.
@Nick Zegarac 2008 (all rights reserved).