By Greg Bullard
Welcome to part three of the nine part fiction series “Immortal Blues” by Greg Bullard. Returning to the scene of the crime offers few new insights aside from the fact that our killer means business. Did you miss parts one and two? You can catch up here, and then here.
Clear liquid, with a shimmering, silvery quality on its surface, danced unnaturally in the crystal goblet before me, lit only by the dim twilight of morning. I let my eyes trail down to the hand that held that goblet. I could just make out the vague outline of my fingers. The sky behind them was distorted only slightly by my otherwise looking-glass clear skin. Beyond the window, the stars, as seen through my hand and the goblet it held, gave shape to a road which led to a great stairway and in the far distance beyond a forest of stars twinkled in the light before dawn.
My focus returned to the crystal goblet as the first rays of morning sun peeked above the tall buildings of 5th Avenue to my east, across Central Park. The light passed through my windows and struck the contents of my goblet, which instantly changed to a fine, ruby wine. The light shattered into a thousand shards that flared and played amidst the fine crystal of the goblet and beyond, casting a Kaleidoscope-pattern of deep red splashes across the room. My hand holding that goblet was opaque once more with long, thin, strong fingers of unmarred alabaster skin. Had I human hands, they would be scarred and rough from use, calloused from countless hours spent with a sword, but I don’t have human hands.
Sighing wistfully as the road disappeared with the dawn, a road I may not take again for many years, I drank deeply of the wine. I took nourishment and strength from the care and love with which it was made. Each sip was a feast compared to the best of food made by even the most caring hands of man, a whole plate of which was merely a nibble of the sustenance I truly required. No amount of love and care invested into food or drink made in this den of banality and despair could match a tenth of the care my people take in crafting a simple table wine.
Sitting cross-legged on the thick rugs covering the floor, I closed my eyes and cast my thoughts back to the attempt on my life. I lived within the details, savoring each one. By the time I woke from my reverie, I had come to two conclusions. The blues man played with unnatural skill, and the person trying to kill me had left one other thing behind – a bullet.
Later, walking back to the scene as it were, the sun was high in the sky as I turned east and south in NoLita towards the Lower East Side. I stopped to get a loaf of fresh, hot Italian bread from a bakery I favored and tore off pieces it as I walked, chewed and thought. I had believed I was just wandering aimlessly last night, but had something drawn me down to the Lower East Side? Or had someone divined that I would be there? Normally those tricks don’t work on me, but clearly I wasn’t the only factor, there was the blues man to consider.
Stopping outside the alleyway where my assailant had been crouched and waiting; I let my senses really drink in the place. What I perceived made me feel queasy and oily as if I was soiled just by proximity, but that’s normal for this part of town.
Strangers walked by in a steady stream – disheveled, dark, forlorn masses brightened only periodically by the rare person with a hopeful smile or the odd child with a magical laugh.
At closer to 7 feet tall than 6, wearing my long, black coat, broad-brimmed, black hat, black clothes and knee-length black, soft-leather boots, I should have stood out. I should have collected stares, but no one paid me any undue attention. I had that quality about me. Even in the brightest of days and under the scrutiny of the brightest of human minds, there are shadows within which I could disappear or at least be unnoticed.
Extracting a small pouch from the pocket opposite my watch, I undid the leather thong and sprinkled the tiniest bit of silvery, metallic shavings into the palm of my hand. Pulling the string tightly closed with my teeth, I tucked the pouch away. Bending over my hand I whispered words in a language not regularly spoken in this world. I could feel the True Silver shavings squirm and align in my palm.
Opening my hand, I saw an arrow formed, pointing to the opposite side of the street, the back drop of where I’d been standing when the shot was fired. At a break in the vehicle and foot traffic, I crossed the road and followed the arrow. As my orientation changed, so did that of the arrow, aiming steadily towards a single point. In a matter of minutes I found the hole in the brick left by the bullet which had been fired at me.
With my thumb I held the base of the arrow in my palm and whispered again over my hand. Instantly I felt a tugging sensation. Sending my thoughts along that feeling, I held my arrow under my thumb and pulled back slightly. Bits of brick and mortar grated and dribbled out of the hole before me, tiny grains of reddish brown sand falling into the garbage at my feet. Then, with a sudden shift and a breaking sensation, the bullet or rather the bullet fragments, broke free of the wall and landed in the palm of my hand.
Black and gnarled, with jagged edges, the bullet was fragmented into five large pieces that gave off a sharp, familiar, repulsive odor. Quickly opening a second leather pouch, this one empty, I tilted my palm and dropped the bullet fragments and the tainted shavings of True Silver within. Inspecting my palm carefully I saw the livid, angry red marks where the metal had touched my skin. The wounds were minor; the cold wrought iron had not burned me too badly.
I was certain of one thing now; someone was definitely serious about killing me.
About Greg Bullard:
Greg currently resides in Austin, TX, trying to do his part to Keep Austin Weird. While his wife, Julia, and daughter, Emily, both work hard to keep him on his toes, it is Julia’s red editing pen that does the most work. When he is not muddling his way through some fiction, he usually writes about What Greg Eats.