Inclement Whether

Misty

now the memories

Snatches of bright, clear light and holiday colors

lost in the fog

The promises sound evil and hollow, the songs like moans of pain

Open mouthed laughter is replaced by tremulous smiles

Hands, once pressed hard together, and locked with interlaced fingers,

unravel

as the rope uncoils,

and our ships sail out across the

stormy waters

of a last and longing look at fading love,

at the flickering mirage

of you and me,

battered

by the blizzard of

indifference

that arrived so suddenly.

Whether or not we’d weather it was the question.

And in the calming wake of

absence

lies the answer,

in the depths and

unsalvageable wreckage

of our

separate selves.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

Nomad

I was down on the waterfront, looking out at the waves, watching the boats and jet-skis, looking over at the private beaches, where the sun shone more brightly, and the illusion of a better life beckoned like a whore in a neon lit window.

One last time, I wanted that illusion.

One last time, to try to make it real for me.

That’s why I was down here, burning up in the high humidity of a day in July, waiting for the contact to give me the latest information on my final assignment:

Who do I kill next?

I’m called Nomad. My real name was erased years ago; I didn’t like it anyway.

No family to speak of, no wife, and no candidates for that position on the horizon, I was free to travel and murder at will.

It was a dangerous life, and so far, I’d come out on top; that wouldn’t always be the case, I knew, and there were times it got close, but not close enough.

I lived with it; death was the dance partner who every now and then stepped on your toes and kneed you in the balls just to let you know she was not enjoying your company.

The contact waddled up, all sweaty and wheezing, trying to light a cigarette with the lighter in his right hand while he fished around in his pocket for the chip with his left.

“Here.” He held it out in his sweaty palm.

I took a napkin out of my pocket and took it from him; he narrowed his eyes at me, and I smiled, and he looked away.

I put the chip into the port they inserted behind my ear, and heard the locking click.

The file took shape: holograms, maps, pictures, names, dates, locations, and finally the target.

“Who is he?”

“Your counterpart in that country.”

“And we want him, why?”

“You don’t get paid to ask questions; with him removed, you actually make more money.”

“He looks like he’s twelve.”

“It’s not like you wouldn’t do it if he was.”

That was probably truer than I cared to think about at the moment. I let it pass.

“You gonna confirm, Nomad? It’s bitchin hot out here.”

I confirmed.

“You leave in two hours.”

I nodded.

He walked away, gave a lazy wave, and the bullet burst his skull like an overripe melon.

Gonna be late for my flight…

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

Soyala and the Maiden

The traveler was weary from her journey, and the midday sun, while not harsh, was still relentless, brightening the road she traveled, but heating beyond her ability to bear it.

A break in the trees looked welcoming; branches swayed in a natural breezeway, and she almost sobbed to see it. In matters of survival, even small, mean comforts seemed a luxury.

As she looked around for a place to sit, the sound of water flowing over rocks reached her, and as soon as she heard it, she made her way toward it, her thirst taking precedence over her need to sit.

Hoping against hope she was alone, perhaps she’d be able to take a cool dip as well, if the current was not too strong.

*************

The river was wide, but not very deep from where she stood.

Birdcalls trilled randomly, breaking the quiet, but not the peace of the surroundings.

In spite of her needs, she paused to admire the river’s beauty.

Its flow was steady, the surface of it clear in the high sun, the ripples and waves fracturing the reflected sun into shards of bright gold and butterscotch.

Dragonflies droned and hovered over the low grasses that grew on the banks.

A heron stalked the river’s edge on the opposite bank, treading, peering, treading, before it snatched a nice sized fish.

It worked the meal down, and spread its great wings, taking to graceful flight.

In the moment, she’d forgotten her tiredness and thirst.

“Tranquil, and brutal, but it is the way of things, is it not?”

She jumped at the sound of the unexpected voice behind her, and turned to see a woman, stunningly beautiful, in a long green gown the color of new spring leaves, her wheat blond hair in an elegant spill across her shoulders, and her eyes reflecting the clear tranquility of the river, changing colors along with the changing light.

*************

“I’m sorry, traveler. It was not my intent to frighten you.”

“Who are you? I have no money.”

“I am Soyala, and it is well you have no money, for I don’t require any.”

The traveler saw that the woman carried no weapon, at least not visibly, but she was not yet ready to let her guard down.

“What do you want, then?”

“To share the beauty of the moment with you; again, it was not my intent to disturb you, but to have remained silent when you saw me would have bred more suspicion, yes?”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“Then I will speak no further, sister.”

Soyala wandered to the water’s edge, and stopped beside the woman, and looked out at the river.

The silence between them grew comfortable, and the woman cast surreptitious glances over at Soyala.

“Do you live near here?”

Soyala turned to her and smiled.

“I live in here.”

“You live in the woods?”

“We live in each other.”

The woman took a step back. “You’re a witch, then?”

“Some would call it that. Some would say fae, some sprite, but I’m none of those things. I’m flesh and blood, no different from a dray horse in that respect; made of bones, blood, and organs, and all that makes us human.

“I am those things, and more.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It is not for instant comprehension, and of no ultimate consequence. You wanted to swim, and drink, and rest, and I have disturbed you.

“I will go.”

“How did you know that?”

“I too have traveled far, therefore I know a woman’s needs.

“I will go.”

“No. No, please don’t.”

“You fear men? Creatures?”

“Both.”

Soyala laughed. “Yes, one is much like the other, but men are cannier, and sometimes more ferocious. I will stay if you like.”

The woman wondered at Soyala’s words, but decided it was a matter best not pursued.

“Thank you.”

Soyala walked away, sat down on a rock, looked out at the river some more.

The woman doffed her dirty dress, and slipped into the water.

Soyala watched her from the shore.

The traveler was a good swimmer, confident, but not foolhardy. She kept her strokes broad and her speed low, enjoying the feel of pure water cleansing her beneath the skin, eroding her weariness not just of traveling, but also of life, healing the bruises of a beaten spirit, piecing together a broken heart.

Her salted tears dripped into the pure water, and changed them forever, but not at all.

******************

When she came out of the river, her dress had changed from white to sky blue, and it was clean, smelling of mountain flowers. There was also a basket of fruit, bread, cheese, and a skin of water.

The traveler looked at Soyala, a question forming, and then smiled, knowing she would get no answer she would understand.

“Help me with the dress?”

“Of course.”

The traveler smoothed the gown into her curves, loving the feel of the strange fabric against her skin.

“Will you be able to finish your journey now?”

The traveler looked back at the road, checked the sun which was past its zenith, the afternoon shadows imperceptibly lengthened.

“Yes, Soyala, I will. Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For your…companionship.”

“Then you are indeed welcome, traveler. Come. I will walk you to the road.”

“That won’t be necessary. You’ve done enough.”

Soyala took the traveler’s hand.

“We can never have enough kindness.”

***************

The path was shading over, and the birds still trilled at random, and the sun still shone bright, but the traveler was reliving the strange encounter in her mind, pondering the meaning of Soyala’s enigmatic presence.

It is not for instant comprehension, and of no ultimate consequence.

“But it’s far more important than you know, Soyala. Far more important than you know.”

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

Love’s New Land

In the dappled sunlight fading

Amber embers in the clouds

Shadows lengthen, colors shading

Pretty eyes in evening shrouds

My heart leaps up at the vision

As your smile beams from your lips

My soul dances in the music

from your tender fingertips

Come with me to walk the path now

Here together, hand in hand

Work with me to do the math now

We are

two,

in Love’s new land

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

2015

The Making of Vy Rill (3)

3)

The taste of her blood was bitter and cool on his tongue, and his jaw clenched.

It was in that moment he knew she was fully aware of what he’d done, and in his eagerness, he played right into her trap.

He made no sound, and she did not stir.

A contest of wills, then.

   The aftertaste was sweet like raw honey, and his spine tingled as the sugar infected his blood.

His stomach roiled, but it was too late.

What did you do to me, Janyris?

 

**************

Her father stood there, mute, dumbfounded that she would walk out on him.

   “Janyris, who will take care of me?”

   “Mother has taken lovers from the Underworld; you have choices, father. Exercise them. I will not stay here tending you in your dotage, I don’t want her crown, and I have my own life to live.”

   Her father’s voice was gruff from grief. “How have you come to be so selfish?”

  “In much the same manner as you came to be impotent: gradually.”

  “Your mother, it seems, was a whore at heart. They are voracious creatures.”

  “Mother enjoys sex; that does not make her a whore. She married you, and had none before you. Whatever perverse delights you introduced to her, she took a liking, and has now chosen to indulge.”

  He hung his head, remembering those long, lust-filled nights when his own voraciousness had exhausted them both.

“Go then, and return not. I will die alone.”

   She gave him a pitying look, reinforcing his.

   “And you will die unloved; that’s what truly sad.”

   She closed the door on him, and jumped as an axe blade split the door, heard him roaring damnation at her, the power of his words seeking to bind around her soul, and she felt them hit, and soak in. Her heart twisted in her chest, and doubling over, she retched,

   Staggering out into the sun filled day, wiping her mouth on the sleeve of her gown, struggling to breathe, she began running, her father’s curse on her life pursuing her, running effortlessly alongside, filling her ears with mocking wrath.

  

**************

“Is that what brought our paths together, dear Janyris: I in you, and you in me, in a way far more intimate than physical love?

“We hold each other’s strings now, and the better puppet master will win this fight.”

He left.

What a tawdry, common life. No wonder she fled.”

   He returned to his own tower, the effects of her blood still at work in him, not quite making him intoxicated, but doing things to him that he remembered distantly feeling as a mortal.

His walk was unsteady, and he was shivering, but he felt flushed with heat.

Rest, I need to rest.

He stumbled, and grabbed a lamppost, sagging, but trying to pull himself up.

In reaching out, he saw his skin was changing, the veins prominent and shades of bruises against his flesh.

The tower was too far away, and the sky was turning pale.

He saw lights begin to come on in windows, for those who had to start early.

If they saw him, if they called the authorities…

With the last of his remaining strength, he saw an alley up ahead, and as his vision blurred, he shuffled past a couple of vagrants already in occupancy.

No one will pay attention to me here, except these vagrants, but I’ve nothing to steal, and they can’t murder me.

  There was cardboard, dirty, wet, and doubtless crawling with things.

The alley, being what it was, and where, reeked of things best not considered.

Covering himself as best he could, the infection took him under, and what it would do, for good or ill, he would not know until he was awake again.

It’s like a virus.

Then it came to him, her new name, partly what she’d done, partly to show ownership of her. It was a term used by the young when something was widespread in their world of technology.

Viral.

   Vy Rill. That will be my name for her, and I will make her embrace it, and me, until fate claims us both.

The illness pulled his eyelids down; darkness took him under to let the infection have its way, and he had one final thought before he surrendered.

I will be a new creation.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.    2015

Centerpiece

Brilliant colored fantasies

Dreams of ash and rust

Special, tender touches

Calculating lust

Sunny, happy memories

And abandoned plans

Butterflies on gilded wings

Useless broken fans

Such things life is made of;

What else can we do?

In the fabric of my fate

The

centerpiece

is you.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.