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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Monday, 18 June 2012 03:27

Five of Swords

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Image from the Darkana Tarot Deck - http://dandonche.co/store Image from the Darkana Tarot Deck - http://dandonche.co/store Dan Donche

Larry peers. He arches his fingers to erase his reflection in the window. He has seen movement in the left behind home, and wants to prove himself right.

Again, there it was. Black moving in black, in form and precise. Keeping the boy's eye until it hurt from forgetting to blink. Bit by little, the boy thinks he can see in the dark. The black is cleaning itself from his view.

"Hands," he hums into the glass. Stiff, spotted fingers kept pattern over a dark bowing of fibers. All being more and more defined despite the dark. In his hypnosis, the boy hadn't realized the lantern on the small table. It wasn't his vision that was better, it was the room that was brighter.

Eventually, Larry had a shadow painted on the trees behind him. When his eyelids gave way, he would flinch against a sting of tears rushing over eyeballs. His vision settled and matched sight with a man who had been staring at him since he first balanced his hands on the dark house's window.

Larry was frozen, choking on saliva, and immobile against the dirty glass. The sound of the home's door broke the child's concentration. Still fixed on the old man, who was still working his fingers across the thin black threads, he footed towards the threshold. He had not heard the man ask him inside. He walked in invited.

The boy made short distance to the old man's sitting room, and took a small chair across from his host. The old man was now intent on his project.

"Who are you boy?" the hermit asked, fatigued and dusted.

"Lawrence," peeped the raspy youngster.

"Your family's name?"

"I forgot."

The curmudgeon pressed his thumb against the rows of fine black, and slid against them creating a sharp whine. A small stringed instrument sat on the man's table, he brought the bowed threads against. The sound tensed the boy's shoulders. The ring kept unseen hands on the boy, he dared not move, and could not. 

"Do people speak of me?" spoke the man.

"I don't know."

"There was a reason you came here. To investigate a lonely old soul? Catch him sleeping? Take his things?"

"I don't talk to the people in town. I came because of other stories."

"Other stories?"

"The devil," his voice shook, "The devil lives here. That's what the boys say. That why it's always dark. There are no animals that go near here. Loud music gets quiet when you're close to this place."

The old man showed no interest in the boy's hypothesis, "This should scare a child of your age." "I'm not scared of anything."

"Had the devil been here waiting for you? You wouldn't have run frightened then?"

"If you, sir, were the devil. Where would I run?"

The elder picks up his instrument and tests his strings. He holds a threaded stick over the child's head. "Have you seen one of these?"

"Yes. It's a bow. The street performers use them in the markets."

"What it's made of?"

"Sheep's stomach. I asked of of their jugglers."

"Any stomach will do boy."

Larry shuffled, tapping his chair legs on the planks. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Bothering you. Sir. I'll leave."

"If you go now. You'll die, son."

Larry petrified himself in the chair. Clutching his seat, pressing the chair leg against the half scissor hidden in his sock.

"There are four others," the old man tightened his bow. "If you want to survive this house, you will give them to me."

"You? What will you do with them? How will I give them to you?"

"I applaud you, boy. You do not defend the honor of those bastard children you pick pockets with. You save your own hide."

"Why you?"

"You said it, Lawrence. The devil lives in this house. Don't you hear his music?"

"Will you hurt them?"

"No not I. Little demons, child."

"Will you hurt me?" 

"Not if you let me have them."

"Martin. Be easy with Martin. You can have the other three, but Martin is my friend."

"All of them," the old man said, meeting eyes with the boy. Choking him with indignation.

The boy's face was contorting, holding back his bladder. Angrily he kicked the chair from behind him. Larry ripped his sock revealing his broken scissor. 

"You stay back. You devil fuck. You can't do any of this. If we find you near us, we'll kill you."

"If you had not truly believed, you would walk out of here as calm as you came. The fear is all the faith I need, child. You do not need to see my end of our arrangement. You just need to tell me they are mine."

Larry didn't answer, he ran. Through the missing door that had opened for him. Over bones that belonged to small animals he hadn't walked over before. Through the trees, panting hard, coughing in the chilling wind. Music screeching, inches behind him, louder each mile he'd put between himself and the cabin. 

The leaves covered the sun until he was running in the dark. He would bash his ankles against arching roots, and collect mouthfuls of spider's webs. The boy's hips crushed against the trunk of a tree, ripping his pockets, and scattering coins on the ground brush. He drops to his knees patting the ground with fury to collect the fallen money. "I stole it fair," his mind screamed, "not for nothing! Not for nothing!" They were lost. He ran again, thinking he heard music.

A barn was in sight. An old edifice, stricken with webs and dander, giving an empty appearance. The open door strung across by dusty silks. The boys used a hole in the barn's side, the sight of spiders kept other children from curiosity. Anything worth stealing from this place was long since looted. It was a home for the five runaways. As safe as they were allowed to feel.

He would damn the spiders, and hurt their homes. Larry rushed through the barn door, laced with white, pale from the frightening dash. He wanted his friends to be aware of his ordeal, to fear along with him. He could only yell. Shouting blankly through the barn. There was an other yell. Short and strained with scared violence.

Lawrence stopped shouting. The other voice ceased, still running passed him, and stopping yards away from the boy. Looking back, Larry saw Martin.

"Larry," Martin's voice was constricted, "somebody stole Donavin's coins." 

"Martin... Martin..." he said through bloody tonsils, "you fucking... you fucking stabbed-"

"I'm sorry!" Martin began to run to the door. "The noise has the police on the way!," he shouted behind him, "They can't find me."

Looking around. Ground level. The highest he could lift his head. He saw the three boys, panting to death, clutching abdomen, and dying in the straw. Greedy Donavin, bringing assault for his lost coins. Larry stole them fair. Mott crying his final breath out. Harold, knees down, head against the floor, not moving.

Larry peers. He arches his fingers to smudge sweat from his forehead. He has seen movement in the left behind home and wants to prove himself right.

The police have occupied the barn. They inspect from boy to boy. They do not ask if they are hurt, if they need help, if they have homes. Larry raises himself. He chokes a lea to the policemen. He removes the half-scissor from his stomach, and presents it to the men. The inspector before him gets wide eyes, draws his pistol in panic and shoots the boy in his eyebrow.

Martin runs. He is running from the report of gunfire from the barn. He can hear music loudly behind him. The sound is getting quieter, he feels safer.

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Last modified on Monday, 18 June 2012 17:44
Tone Baker

Anthony Joe Baker Jr. is a steamer cook from Thomaston, Georgia. The son of divorced former bouncer Anthony Sr., and former stripper Martha (who still goes by her stage name Krystal). He emergency dropped out of college in Missouri at 20, and took a train to California to be a homeless musician.Too lazy to write stories, he turned plots into folk music. In the absence of drugs, he wrote a few of the stories. Featured only once in a college literature magazine, and lost the magazine's competition to a four line poem about an opossum getting its tail cut off.

His lazy ass will write some books some day.  

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