Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dying to Attend

     On Friday morning, I sat watching the meteorologist jump all over the screen, moving her arms around and commenting on the swiftly dropping temperatures in Winthrop. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and held a hot mug against my cheek. The coffee was too thin; I hadn't put enough grinds in the maker. Placing it on the table, I pulled a blanket around my shoulders and looked for something else on TV. Nathaniel hadn't told me any more about his memory, saying it was for the best. He didn't know details, anyway. He ducked out before the environmental seminar began, and I sat through an hour of discussion on global warming and wave patterns. The analytical side of the ocean.
      When I finally settled on some old sitcom, I heard my mail slot open and close. That's strange, I thought. I didn't get much mail. All of the bills were electronic these days. Wrapping the blanket around my waist, I shuffled to the entrance hall. A simple white envelope lay on the floor. The handwriting was long and thin, written in dark red ink.
     "Hello, Beck," it read. "We are excited you are coming to dinner with us. Hopefully, you will make it through the night. This is a black tie affair, please dress accordingly. Take care to prepare your character role as the Lawyer. Your life may depend on it."

      Later that night, I ran my hand through my hair once again. I had cleaned myself up, bought a new tux, and tried to tame the mess of curls that I had for a head. My wealth showed tonight, and I grimaced. I hated it. It wasn't real wealth, it was stolen. Inherited, yes, but stolen originally. Annie would have hated it, too. I tugged one more time on the lapels of the suit and headed to the seventh floor.
     Catching Nathaniel at the door, he seemed cool and collected. He had a tux on, also, and cleaned up well. Upon entering the warehouse, I set my worn briefcase against the wall beside the door. There was nothing in it; I had dug it up from the back of my closet earlier, and only carried it in to add to my "lawyer" persona. If there was one thing I was good at, it was theft, and tonight, I was the thief of someone's identity, and I played the part flawlessly. While mingling before the party as a good-natured, trustworthy family lawyer, I made more friends than I ever had during my entire existence at Winthrop. It was ironic, almost, but I wasn't upset. I didn't get out of the aquarium much, anyways.
     Just when things were going extraordinarily well (I was talking to a girl who had an uncanny resemblance to Annie), the lights flickered and went out. There was a scream, and when the lights came back on, one of the men from the circus had slumped over the table, his face smacked into the middle of his soup bowl. Blood spilled over onto the table cloth. Women screamed, men jumped away in fear. I looked around frantically, searching for some sign of guilt in the faces of the guests.
Another benefit of growing up with Greyson was that I can lie and detect lies like nobody else. The fear in Annie-look-alike's eyes is too real... the familiarity in the young reporter's face is not malice... and Nathaniel's eyes are filled with dread; he's had too much happen to him in the past week. But when I turn to look at the ring master, he is already staring at me. And on his face is the biggest smile I've seen in a while.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Past and the Present

During the week following the strange encounter at the circus, I had been debating whether or not to call Nathaniel (we had exchanged phone numbers) and explain my erratic behavior behind the tent. I had probably freaked him out. I mean, running so quickly away from a little girl had to have put some strange questions in his mind. It wouldn't be out of the way to meet him at the bar for a little while. Besides, that environmental forum was today. It seemed interesting enough, and I could hang around for it after I talked to Nathaniel. I decided to call him.
"Hi, Nathaniel. It's me. Beck."
"Oh, hi Beck, what's up?"
"I wanted to talk to you about what happened at the tent the other night. Meet me at the bar in an hour?"
I was nervous on the walk to meet Nathaniel. I had never talked to anyone about my father before. It had never come up in conversation, and why would it. Such a unique topic was rarely at the forefront of anyone's mind these days. When I entered the bar from the cold outside, I spotted Nathaniel immediately, slumping in a back corner booth. It looked like he had just tried to clean himself up, but he hadn't done a good job. His eyes were bloodshot and his hair was messily combed over.
"Good lord, what happened to you?"
Nathaniel shook his head, gesturing for me to sit down.
"Don't worry about it. What did you come to tell me about?"
Nathaniel seemed easier to talk to than I had imagined. I felt some odd connection with him, like I'd known him before. As I spoke, his facial expressions and way of speaking seemed familiar, too. Almost eerily so. After giving some background, like what year I had moved to Winthrop, I let my shoulders drop.
"My father was a pirate."
"A pirate?!" Nathaniel sounded shocked.
"A pirate. His name was Greyson Wingarsheek. He was the Captain of his own crew, world famous for his cleverness. I was born on board. My mother was a captive, a princess of some island up north. Grey used to tell me it was made of ice. Anyway, so after I was born, she died, but my father claims to have loved her. So he decided to raise me as his son. All this means is that I was treated better than the crew. I grew up learning how to steal, how to kidnap, and how to trick people. My father liked to think he'd passed his 'cleverness' down to me.
A couple times when we were docked in a city called Damas, I would meet this girl. Her name was Annie, she was a friend of mine, and my father didn't know about her, but she was the one who taught me that everything my dad taught me had been wrong. Morally, at least. At first, I got mad at her about it, and cut all communication with her. But then I slowly began to realize that she was right. I decided that as soon as we hit land in a civilized town, I would tell him I was leaving him. I was about fifteen at the time, and my father and I were on a voyage to discover a new island. There had been this running myth about an island of fire and ice. We found it. That girl we saw at the circus... my father took her captive. She lived there with her brother. But now she lives at the circus thanks to my father. I remember her so clearly. Her name is Logi. Her brother is Kafaldi. And yes, they actually are magic."
Nathaniel stared at me. His head hung, eyes angled up to meet my face. He didn't seem all that surprised at my past; maybe he was too distracted by whatever had caused his disheveled look. Or maybe he thought I was full of it.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Shit happened today," he slurred. "I feel like I know you from somewhere, and based on that story you just told... and what happened to me today... I don't think it's a good memory."