Author: Salkiethia PM
Is it one man living three lives, or three men living one? Enter Demetrius, an easygoing beggar. Meet Sanders, an author with a millionaire for a boyfriend. Tremble before Rafael, the sadistic redhead who orchestrates the life and death of those in NYC.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 7,211 - Reviews: 4 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 09-17-07 - Published: 08-11-07 - id: 2402068
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
If you believe in something, don't look too closely at the so-called truths behind it. -- Rafael
Demetrius was pleased to find the hot shower room unoccupied. He dropped the towel to the floor, grimacing slightly at the filth that coated the once white softness. Then he shrugged, deciding it didn't matter at all. If bleach and a washing machine couldn't get the stains out of it after being in contact with his body for barely five minutes, then nothing could. He didn't have to worry.
The water was blessedly hot after the chilly muck of outside city gutters. Demetrius shivered slightly as he stepped into it, reaching immediately for a washcloth and soap. The water ran yellow-brown as it flowed over him. He scrubbed away fiercely at layers of the muck, wondering if he'd accidentally remove some skin with the vigorous washing he was giving himself. Then again, it was one of those things that wasn't always possible to avoid. He just wanted to be clean.
Downstairs, he could hear Scheffen moving around – probably tiding up. Idly he wondered if the butler had had a day off lately. The more he thought about it – not that he was really around often enough to notice – he thought probably not. So, another thing found itself added to his already lengthy To-Do list.
About a half hour after he'd arrived, feeling clean for the first time in a week, Demetrius stepped out of the shower and found himself faced with yet another dilemma. Clothing. He needed some clothes… Someone had come in and removed the dirty towel lying on the floor, but no one had thought ahead to bring him anything to wear.
Deciding it was against his own best interest to go streaking around the mansion, Demetrius removed another towel from the closet and wrapped that firmly around his waist before opening the door.
The hallway was empty. Footsteps echoed softly downstairs – Scheffen, probably. Demetrius tiptoed along the upper hallway.
Blue door on the right – aha.
He slipped into the room and closed the door, letting the towel fall down.
The room was plain enough – faded pastel colors, simple wallpaper bordering and little decoration outside of a few potted plants beside the window. Simple – just the way he liked it.
Demetrius pulled open one of the dresser drawers and grabbed a pair of boxers and slipped into them. Then he went searching for something to wear over that. The closet only held formal wear – suits and fancy ties. Maybe the bureau…
Yes. A pair of jeans and a t-shirt a tad too small and Demetrius felt confident enough to pick up the towel, open the door and walk out.
He nearly walked into Scheffen.
The butler did not look surprised to find him there. "I thought you might be in there," he confirmed a moment later. "Sir, he is due back very soon for dinner."
Damn. "What time is it?"
"Nearly two o'clock, sir."
Demetrius blinked. I must be pickier about choosing clothing than I thought. Either that, or my shower was longer than usual.
"Um, wow. I guess I lost track of time."
"Yes, I suppose you must have."
"Wait – he's coming back at two? For dinner?"
Scheffen gave him a withering look. "No sir, he is arriving at two forty-five to prepare for his conference, eating dinner at four and leaving at five."
Demetrius paused, giving Scheffen a Look. "Are you sure?"
"Positive," the butler replied crisply. "I'm surprised you don't know his schedule yourself, sir."
At that remark, Demetrius pulled a face. "I deserved that," he decided out loud. "So, any chance of pulling Cookie's strings to get a really late lunch?"
Scheffen smiled – well, it was supposed to be a smile. What it looked like was closer to the face an old lady would make if she smelled something rotten in her house. "I suppose there might be one, sir," he said, and motioned Demetrius to take the stairs. He followed closely behind on the way to the kitchens, where a delicious aroma was wafting from.
But while his mind complained vehemently about how upset he was that Shane hadn't recognized him, he was really hiding his own reaction from himself. Finally it broke through.
Flight's coming back again.
It took all of one hour and about half of the next to reach his destination. By the time he got there, Sanders was complaining to himself about how much his feet hurt, how stupid it was that he needed to be somewhere when he hardly knew where the place was… All sorts of non-important things. He really knew he only complained though because he didn't like to think about sitting around all day.
The back of the alleyway was dirty and smelly. Sanders picked through the garbage, trying to ignore the stench of human waste that was coming from the mess. He was up to his elbows in half-rotted stuff when he finally got what he was looking for.
"Hah, thought I left those here." He pulled out the ragged, mutilated cloth that doubled as clothing and stripped off his not-so-pristine suit to make the exchange. The rags were slightly soggy, and even grimier then when he'd left them here, if that was possible. They smelled absolutely terrible, and felt like slime as he slipped into them. Already he felt chilly and sickly. The sores that were on his arm were no fakery – they were real infections.
Sanders eyed them with distaste. A hundred thousand types of diseases to get, and I end up with pus-filled sores on my arms.
A few had ruptured since he was last here – meaning of course, that his jacket sleeve probably had white stuff smeared across the inside. He must be careful that the infection didn't spread throughout his arm. A bit up on the bicep was fine, for reality's sake, but he drew the line there. If it went down any further onto his forearm, he'd go see a doctor for it.
At least it wasn't life-threatening, he supposed, though it was disgusting to look at and smelled god-awful at times. But they didn't hurt too badly, and they wouldn't kill him. Yet. So everything was, in a strange sort of way, just fine. Now hopefully it would stay that way.
After stuffing his suit into an empty garbage bag and tucking it away behind the trash bins, Sanders lit out of there, going at a near sprint towards the place he remembered being before. He skidded into sight of them, all on their knees, holding out old cups, hats and bowls. At the sight of the other beggars, Sanders slowed his rushing strides to a sort of limping running walk until he was in the main heart of the group. He fell to his knees and put out his hands, cupped together, asking with the rest of them for some form of pittance that they might eat that day.
As always, Sanders was amazed at how easily people could just walk by, ignoring this mob of suffering with hardly a twitch of conscience. We are part of the scenery. It was true – to the people going by, they might have been stone statues of beggars rather than beggars themselves.
How easily we are defeated by a sense of purpose! As if business and dollar signs were the only important things in the world, set above even the pleas for help offered up by the downtrodden.
Sanders grimaced a little at that thought. He was a writer by nature, and couldn't help turning even the worst situation into a scenario for a book of some sort or another. It helped pass away the time, certainly, but often it left him with such a bleak outlook on human beings in general that any writing he did felt more like a rant than a story.
"Please – some change, a few coins to eat?"
Thin voices provided the perfect background of white noise for thought and Sanders lost himself in it, nearly managing to forget he was on the streets of New York City, begging for money he didn't need for food he wouldn't eat. Sometimes reality was just too much to stomach.
"You sound frustrated, Donna," the woman's dinner companion observed.
"Do I?" The words dripped scathingly from her mouth. "What a coincidence, Carl – I feel frustrated."
"What went wrong today?"
"What didn't?" she growled back. "First our prime suspect – who fit all of the descriptions offered up by witnesses – isn't the same person as the actual killer, according to the witness who had the most contact with him. But here's the really strange thing – Stanton identified a photo of the suspect as being the killer, but said he'd never seen the actual suspect before."
"Identical twins maybe?"
Donna considered it for a moment. "No, I don't think so. Wouldn't he have used that as part of the defense if it was true?"
"Hmn. Did the personality check?"
"What do you mean?"
"Did the suspect's personality – what you observed of it – fit that of someone guilty of murder?"
"They all look guilty to me!"
Carl shifted. "That may be your problem, then. If the witness identifies based on personality, then perhaps the lack of personality in the actual suspect, versus the perceived in the photo is why your witness identified one but not the other."
"That doesn't make any sense!"
"It does, but in a very convoluted sort of way, and it has the downside of being un-provable."
"Then it does me no good and I'm still at an impasse for why the witness's recognition skills are split."
"You could always blame it on nerves."
"Can't prove it."
Carl studied Donna thoughtfully. "Maybe you wouldn't have to," he said slowly.
"Stop sounding like one of those ancient murder mystery cases where everything fits together perfectly," Donna growled. "There's no way we can use a piece of information without proof behind it to back it up somehow. Doesn't matter how tiny, but we need some concrete foundation for the house to be built on. You know that!"
Carl nodded. "Forget I mentioned anything."
"Not too difficult," Donna muttered.
Maybe there was no reason for it. Tonight was the night.
A taxi pulled up, driving slowly to maneuver its way between the junk car and a few shopping baskets piled high with garbage bags that had been left in the middle of the road. He flagged it down only to discover his waving arm hadn't been necessary.
The door opened and a pair of mostly drunk men tumbled out, cursing good-naturedly and banging each other on the backs. They were too well dressed for this area. Much to well dressed.
One door remained wide open, but Rafael shook his head. The driver shrugged and pulled the door shut before driving off, skillfully maneuvering between the obstacles on his way back up the street.
Two drunk men.
Correction – two loud, drunk men. Could it be better?
Maybe, if they had been soft drunks. But where's the fun in that?
Rafael slipped up behind them, not a difficult feat considering what a ruckus they were making. A length of wire – the thin kind, used for cutting clay or making delicate jewelry – sat neatly in the palm of his hand, twisted a bit.
One of the men fell down, and sat on the ground, staring stupidly up at the other one.
Debased to simple cavemen. Incredible how such a simple drink can do such mad things to one's mind.
The standing man's hands flew up to his throat, and a strangled gagging noise escaped him. Rafael grinned, feeling the thin wire begin to cut with the force he exerted on the ends. Convulsions came, making the man lose his footing.
Rafael pulled back harder, and the wire pulled back further, slipping easily through the layers of flesh and blood vessels to come to a stinging halt around the spinal cord. He twisted the ends around, tucking the loose, sharp edges into the base of the man's skull. With his head down in a normal position, it looked almost like the dead drunk was simply sleeping.
Rafael looked down at the man's companion. The stupid thing hadn't even moved.
So much the easier.
It would have been nice to use a new toy to kill this one as well, but he hadn't planned on encountering more than one special victim today… What to use?
Simple stabbing wouldn't be quite exciting enough, and gunshots were definitely off-limits.
Simple stabbing… Make it a little more – flavorful.
A pair of knives came out. One was a penknife, small and simple. The other was simple as well – a butcher's knife, still with dried pig intestine juice splattered over the blade.
At least the man on the ground had the presence of mind to look afraid, even if he was slobbering all over himself in the process. Victims that were too happy took the simplicity out of his work.
But now –
First the butcher knife, to chop through bone. Then the penknife, acting like a pairing knife, peeling skin back from muscle. If he'd had time, he would have flayed the drunk's whole body. A wailing siren cut into his decorating, though, and Rafael had to slip away, leaving his knives, shirt and a pair of fake finger prints behind.
Watching CSI comes in handy sometimes…