Bones: Part Two.

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

…in a stem glass with a silver knife balanced on the rim, on witch stood a large piece of sugar.

The boy entered Lapérouse on the Quai des Grand Augustins. He stood out like a fly in a lemon tart. A customer made to grab him by his scruffy collar but was stopped mid action by the barman. He nodded at the well meaning habitué, then shook his head vigorously. The lad made his way to a darkened corner of the ornate bar, inhabited by a single occupant. A man was laid on the chair, legs stretched out and crossed, emphasising his great height and slim build. Garbed completely in black, he resembled a panther ready to pounce.

“Bonsoir Sire. This one accepted your invitation, thanks to his greedy butler. We are down nineteen sous but the invitation found its recipient.” The word slipped off his tongue without effort. His intonation was as crisp and clear as a Sorbonne graduate, despite his appearance. A total reversal from his alter-ego on the doorstep of the Marquis.

“Good, good. So no injuries this time? Please do not call me by that name” The big man whispered, his voice akin to the hiss of a black mamba.

“No, erm Monsieur. What do I really call you if I can’t use the ‘S’ word?” The young man replied. His words were frozen in the air by a wave of the other man’s hand.

“Monsieur is sufficient, if you want to remain in this world; for now,” countered the older man. He gestured to the boy to sit and waved the barman over. “Give him whatever he wants.”

“A large absinthe please,” the youth said to the barman, who turned to his customer for approval.

“It’s his liver,” the man rasped, shrugging his shoulders. The youth rubbed his hands together in anticipation and studied his benefactor. To say he was mysterious was an understatement. The young man could never recall his employer’s features, no matter how many times they met, or how many errands he ran for him. He took the opportunity as he always did, to study his master now.

His face was long, the beard emphasising this, was as black as his attire. This contrasted his complexion, which was milky-white. There was no facial expression, as if he didn’t need one. His thoughts. feelings , emotions were on a different plane. The boy knew this to his cost and never wanted to revisit it. As for the rest of him, what could he say? One word – black. His clothes had no definition, resembling smoke from burning tar.

However, he paid well and the recipients usually did too. There were exceptions, like the old bastard that morning, who would fall short, or worse, carried out their threat of violence. The latter took him back several days to his last errand. The recipient, a minor member of the faux-aristocracy, didn’t even accept the package, instead opting to beat seven bells out of the lad with his cane. The thought of that young thug prompted him to enquire further.

“Would you like me to revisit our previous invitee sir?” He enquired, secretly hoping the response was negative.

“That will not be necessary. Unfortunately, the young Count can no longer attend,” the man responded, throwing a copy of Le Figaro to his assistant. The lad caught the paper and looked at the front page. His jaw dropped and he inhaled sharply.

Young Count dies in a freak accident.

He read the smaller print.

…was walking his dog in the Tuileries garden when both he and the pet were savaged by a larger dog. The Count suffered fatal injuries to the throat and died at the scene…

“Another one? That’s three out of three! All turned down the invitation or ignored me.” The newspaper shook, magnifying his trembling hands.

“Yes, a coincidence isn’t it?” The other man hissed. “So, there’s no need to return for a second helping of his cane.” The barman arrived with the absinthe in a stem glass with a silver knife balanced on the rim, on witch stood a large piece of sugar. No sooner had he put it on the table than the boy downed it in one, dropping the crystal into his burning mouth. He coughed violently and wheezed as his eyes watered from the potent green liqueur. The man sent a single Franc spinning towards his charge who caught it with lightning reflexes. “Nineteen sous you say? Such a low price for a life,” he added. The words sent a chill deep into the boy’s bones, extinguishing the fire of the absinthe.

“What do you want me to do now, sir?” Enquired the lad, fumbling with the paper.

“Call on the Marquis tomorrow at the same time for his acceptance. Then we can get on with organising the concert. Bring his response here and I’ll have one last job for you. If it goes well, you’ll have your freedom,” his master replied.

As the boy headed for the door a customer held out a cane and sent him sprawling to the floor. He got up and turned to observe the man stand up involuntarily then suddenly bent double as if punched by some invisible force. He spewed the contents of his afternoon’s consumption onto the floor of the bar.

Meanwhile, the dark corner which had played host to the earlier conversation was empty.

2 Comments

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Vivid imagination Brian.

    Reply
    • brian

      I’ll take that as a compliment Ken😂

      Reply

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