Author Topic: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter  (Read 4378 times)

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #15 on: (18:29:14/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Al downed the first beer in seconds and waved for another.

He lit a cigarette before answering, and remembered his manners before answering, offering one to her.

"Not much ta tell here. Spent the better part o' the last eight years workin' onna docks. Seattle." That was technically true. "An' you? You were sayin' a lot o' stuff that first night. You got a girlfriend now? Somethin' serious, it sounded like?"

« Last Edit: (19:45:54/01-12-17) by adamu »

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #16 on: (19:47:08/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce takes the offered cigarette and lets him light it with his Zippo and blows a couple of smoke rings before shaking her head.  “That is awfully simplistic, Al.  I rather imagine that there is a lot more to what happened than that, but I will not push.  We are only telling what we want to.  I am not sure how much detail you want from me, so please stop me if I am talking too much.”

She takes another drag and lets the smoke out.  “I spent three days tracing you around Phnom Penh and finally found information that one Al Guthrie had been part of a crew that had left the capital for the north, then another two weeks in Phnom Penh waiting for the weather to clear enough to charter a helicopter to where you had gone with Mitch.  Once I got to the village, I spent another three weeks there.  I took several trips out to the area where they said you had gone, but I found nothing except a crumpled pack of Lucky Strikes and some empty bird cages.  No Al and no Mitch.  Everyone was telling me that you could not have survived out there without supplies and I just told everyone that they did not know my Al Guthrie.  It did become clear to me, though, that you had disappeared for some reason and I returned to Phnom Penh to begin an official search.”

“I must have bribed, threatened, cajoled, and or slept with almost every government official in every country of Southeast Asia.  I pulled in markers and debts from every AAA or AA and every criminal organization I have ever worked for.  No luck.  Well, that is not entirely true.  There were lots of sightings, some of them even accurate as I tracked you, but missing you at every stop, sometimes by just days.  Every time I had a good hit, I was in the air to be there.  I logged enough miles that I could have probably saved money if I had bought my own plane.  The last connection I had was some tramp steamer that just seemed to go nowhere and was presumed lost at sea with all hands.”

“I refused to give up hope because I fragging knew you were not dead.  My heart would have told me and all I got from it was that you were still out there.”

As Alyce finishes, a team of waiters arrives with the dinner.  “Ah, the food is here.  I pulled lots of things out of my memory from what you said about liking to eat.  Steak just the way you like it, potatoes, and other things.  I hope that you enjoy it.”

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #17 on: (20:01:54/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Al had never been so happy to see food placed before him. Didn't hurt that she'd done a good job approximating his last-request meal. Damn.

"Well, sure looks good," he said, and tucked in without another word. Her story had made him feel real rotten, but he'd already apologized once, and had meant it when he did. Yeah, it had been completely inadequate, but repeating it wouldn't help that. The worst was the part about sleeping with men to get info on him - he'd known she was no blushing virgin, hell, her boasts had made it pretty clear she was a regular strumpet, but still and all...well, he wouldn't press her on it. He also noticed she didn't answer his question about the girlfriend.

That had been no surprise, not after her inscrutable behavior with the Chinagirl back in the bush. Hell, it could make this whole business easier.

So they were both holding back. Didn't mean anything. There wasn't much he couldn't imagine telling her, but a lot of it wasn't the stuff for a restaurant.

He concentrated on his food long enough that a change of topic wouldn't seem out of place, and asked, "So ya got this bookstore, yer still subbin' fer some symphony or other, volunteerin' shifts at a hospital. An' still takin'...jobs. I leave anything out? Any other exotic careers I might enjoy hearin' 'bout? An' when do ya sleep, fer pity's sake?"

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #18 on: (07:40:31/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce smiles as she eats from her meal of shrimp scampi and salad. One of the waiters brings a platter with a large piece of meat on it and puts it on the floor near the Hell Hound. As if by magic, someone brings a new beer to the table every time Al finishes one. After a few bites, Alyce says, "The food here is good, isn't it? Anyway, yes, all of that is true, I do have the book shop, the music and the medicine, but I was doing those things before and after I met you. After my search for you sort of dead ended with the steamer, I returned to London and went back to all of those other things. I even took a job or so a year for my other customers. Nothing as exciting or as much fun as that trip to Cambodia, though. I continued to search for you, but you must be very good at hiding if you do not want to be found. My heart knew that you were alive but you had simply vanished into the mist."

"Nineteen months ago I met a women at a party here in London. Her name is Cali and she lives in Below. We hit it off bloody well and quickly became lovers, so that is the girlfriend you were asking about earlier. Then one day she just disappeared, too. This time I was more successful when I followed her and managed to trace her to Below.......to House Valerian. Some truly sadistic bitch had her and was going to kill her in order to conduct some sort of magic ritual. I traded myself for Cali because that is what friends do. That I was willing to do this would provide the bitch with even greater power for her ritual and she agreed. I was placed on a table and had spikes hammered into my hands and feet. And then the real tortures began. I do not wish to get too graphic here, but the torture involved many cuts to my body and hammer blows to my implants. She would take me so near death that I did not know the difference then heal me, only to start again. Part of the deal was that Cali had to stand and watch it all, and so she saw every mistreatment I suffered for her, and I think it drove her mad over the thirteen days I was on that table. I suppose that it drove me a bit mad as well."

"I was very close to death when the bitch finally had enough of me to use for her ritual and she left me to die, still nailed to the table. As she and Cali were leaving the room, my friend pushed the woman through the door and locked it behind her. She turned to me and told me to think of you in order to stay alive but I did not need that reminder. I had been thinking of you every minute and I am sure those thoughts are what kept me going. Cali had no choice but to rip my hands and feet where the spikes were and then she carried me to the wineow and jumped with me in her arms. She got me to a healer and I was basically remade. My implants were so much bloody garbage by then that they all had to come out.....everything had to come out. i was there for two months then went to another doctor who spent about the same amount of time giving me new implants."

"During that time, Cali disappeared again. By the time I had relearned to walk and talk, she had been gone for several months. I followed her to various locations, but she had vaporized as completely as you had. I still have people looking for her. Iris was one of those people. I lived with Iris for a few weeks when I came back because she could take care of me. But something happened and she stopped being quite as friendly. I don't know why, but there it is. Probably something I said or did. Maybe that is why you left, too."

Alyce goes quiet and her hand trembles as she removes a cigarette from the pack on the table and it takes great effort for her to use her Zippo to light it. She lifts her face to Al and takes a deep breath. "Well, that gets a bit easier every time I tell it. I was not the same after that experience. I am afraid of things I have never been afraid of. I see things where nothing is and I hear voices where no one is talking . I am broken, Al, and have not got back to who I was before. I am not sure that I am a good investment." She gives a small smile. "But everything is not bad. You remember that girl we found in the canoe, Gem? She had no family remaining that I could ever find so I adopted her and she has been a jewel in my life. She is nineteen now and in her first year at Cambridge. She says that she wants to be a doctor like her mother but I would be proud of her no matter what she decides to be in the end. I have friends, some old and some new. And you are back in my life. At least for a few dates and then we can see what happens. I find that I am lost around you, Al. You probably have that effect on every girl you meet, but it is a new thing for me. I have so much I want to say to you and am afraid to say it because of what you might think of me."

She stops talking and watches Al.

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #19 on: (08:05:30/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

About halfway through her speech Al had stopped eating, and by the time she'd finished he'd forgotten about his food completely. Unable to help himself, he moved his scarred hand to reach for hers, only to have it collide with his mashed potatoes, which sent his plate skidding into his beer, which overturned and poured itself off the edge of the table onto the head of her startled monster. Saved, he congratulated himself as he sat beck in his chair licking his grease-stained fingers and trying to figure out how to even respond to all of that.

"Well, reckon there's a hell of a lot a body could say ta all o' that, an' don't rightly know where ta start. Guess first thing is, ain't nothin' ya could tell ol' Al that'd make me think any less of ya....'cept maybe ta question yer judgement tyin' yer fortunes ta some crazy moleperson what's entangled with them Valerian hippies. But I'll allow it was a noble thing ya did."

Hearing - again - of her ordeal had been the hardest part of her story for him to bear. He was no stranger to pain, but had had few experiences he'd compare to hers. He wanted to ask her what had become of her torturer, but this wasn't the time or the place. So he decided to just say the next thing he knew he was supposed to say, and congratulated himself on his ability to fake a tolerant attitude. "An' I'm real sorry ta hear ya ain't caught up with yer girlfriend." What he wanted to ask was how many girlfriends, or boyfriends, or whatever friends, there had been in the past eight years. He knew, however, that he had absolutely no right to ask, and in any case the figure might be high, hell, maybe higher than he could count on both hands. Well, that might be a stretch. In any case, he put that thought out of his mind - something he was good at.

There was a silence, and he knew she figured it was his turn. "Well, I'll clear up one misconception. I sure warn't hidin'. Sorry ya couldn't find me. Honestly, never figured you'd be that inclined ta look, leastways not after much time had gone by an' new faces had come 'long. Carried that letter 'round...till real recent, actually...an' like I done said t'other night, never had cause ta get anything goin' with anyone else...but what with...well, with things I...well...knew yer all sincere an' such, but assumed maybe yer eyes were bigger'n yer stomach, so ta speak, when it come ta long-term....shit, I didn't reckon ya'd care fer too long, an' I warn't hidin'...jist don't like the man in my bizness. Hell, ain't no Guthrie paid taxes since Andrew Jackson, an' ain't gon' let 'em git a line on me now...live with a small footprint, 'specially grid-wise..."

His voice trailed off as he realized he'd tried to say way more things at once than he could possibly handle, and made a mess of each one. This wasn't how it was supposed to go.

Mercy Merchant

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #20 on: (09:57:37/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076


A small army of waiters had come rushing over to clean up the mess Al had made and the hound had raised his head enough above the tale to give him a glare then settled back down after Alyce used her napkin to sop up the beer.

Alyce takes a few drags on her cigarette while Al is talking then tries to respond.  "You don't really pick your friends, Al.  Sometimes they just happen.  And the real good one are the kind of people that you would sacrifice anything for, even to risking your life.  She was that sort of friend and now she is gone.  I don't know what caused her to leave."

"I do not want to control you, Al.  I want to walk beside you as a partner in life.  I want to go where you go and live like you live.  I enjoy our times together very much.  I can understand if you do not want to share yourself with me, so you can tell me that and I will get on with my life.  That will not stop me loving you, but it will keep me from bothering you, if that is your decision.  And honestly, after eight years of foreplay, I want you in my bed and I would like you to want that as well.  It really is up to you because my heart has belonged to you almost from the first time we met."
"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #21 on: (14:16:58/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Al sighed. It had been a good dinner. Now there was going to have to be woman-talking.

"From the first time we met? Well, I am flattered. The more so since yer such a damned peach. An' yes, it does happen ta me all the time. But ol' Al ain't built that way. 'Specially not where the, er, higher emotions is concerned. Reckon that takes time, shared experience. More of a meetin' o' the minds than can be had - by yours truly, anyway - in a few thrill-packed weeks. So if you've long since made up yer mind 'bout some things, well, power to ya. But that ain't me."

He picked at his potatoes, but their moment had passed. "Goes ta the other thing ya said. Maybe you don't really pick yer friends, but I do. An' damned carefully at that. Can't say as one way's better'n the other. Hell's bells, the Carpenter loved ever'one He met. So maybe fer all yer wanton ways an' criminal allegiances an' hippie sympathies, yer closer ta Heaven than ol' Al. But I am what I am, an' ain't no one never questioned that. An' some things, I ain't gon' be rushed on."

He looked around for more beer, and was gratified that the spilled one had been replaced. He drank half. "Now goodness knows I'm partial to ya. Mighty partial, save my eternal soul for it. Elsewise I'd not be here. All them criteria fer the, um, higher emotions I mentioned earlier, well, how ya reckon I'm supposed ta tick them boxes I don't spend some time with ya? Time not spent dodgin' demons nor bullets. An' preferably time not spent on a bunch o' damned uterus talk." 

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #22 on: (16:27:42/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce smiles.  “I think the big difference is that I have been thinking a lot about you for the past eight years, but I do get your point and I do not want to rush you and risk pushing you away.  How do you want to work this?  I am pretty much available except for tomorrow afternoon for a few hours as I have been scheduled to assist in some open heart surgery then.  I have nothing else on my calendar that cannot be moved around.”

Her hands are steady now as she flicks out another cigarette from her pack and lights it.  “I am open to any ideas that you might have.  Maybe dinner somewhere of your choice tomorrow night?”

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #23 on: (16:47:09/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Al wasn't done looking at her. Or smelling her. Or hearing her voice. But he could sense she was drawing the evening to a close. And he couldn't blame her.

"Sure, I'll choose somewhere if ya want. Take ya to a show too, like I done promised. Tomorrow's no good, though. Got a lot on my plate. Magic ta practice. Trid. I'll call ya once I git caught up. Been real, toots."

He stood, stepped around the creature, and dropped a wad of cash on the table.

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #24 on: (17:48:48/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce stands up with him.  “Al, it is still early.  How about a spin in that flash auto of yours?  Or maybe a walk in the park across the street?”

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #25 on: (17:55:40/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce couldn't see it, but Al's face lit up. "Drivin's good." He offered his arm, which she took as if sighted.

He escorted her to the sidewalk, followed by the other life form.

"2075 Porsche Aguilar, though, um, not exactly outta the box. Got Ferrari Diabolus at home, ya wanna really eat up some asphalt, but she ain't much ta look at, bein' fer work. But this baby'll let ya know yer movin'."

He thumbed his comm and the passenger door rose up with a hiss. "Ain't but two seats, I'm afraid, so reckon you'll hafta decide if'n ya feel safe alone with me."

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #26 on: (18:59:20/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce might be blind, but her other senses tell her that she has said the right thing for once as every indicator from pulse to breathing rate to tone of voice let her know he is pleased.  She takes Al’s proffered arm and walks with him to the curb, listening to him describe the car.  Her voice is low as she replies to his statement.  “I feel safe with you, Al.  Let me put Al2 inside.”  She walks to the door and deactivates the security system, letting the Hell Hound inside.  The massive beast looks at her for a moment, as if saying something.  “Alright, alright.  I will try to not stay out too late.”  The hound nods as if he understands and walks off into the shop as Alyce resets the security codes.
 
She turns back to Al, saying, “Bloody minders.  Do you ever get the feeling that they can really understand us and we are not the masters?”
 
She lets Al help her into the passenger seat and straps in.  “Alright, Al, show me what this thing can do.”

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #27 on: (19:36:23/01-13-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Al got in and started the car. He didn't bother with a seatbelt when he wasn't working. Pulled out smoothly into traffic and wove his way smoothly among the GridGuide-bound sheep around them. He kept things calm for a while - he knew his own driving, but didn't want to spook some old lady. Besides, just being off the double-G was earning Hezekiah Malachi a raft of penalty notices every sensor cycle. It was a small price to pay to be able to actually drive. Hell, nobody that could afford a car like this minded the fines. But any serious moving violations started, that's when they started taking points off, and that would mean a new ID and all sorts of other hassles.

Once he'd worked his way up the A41 through Islington and Hendon, however, he was on the M1 and they were off. He retracted the heart-shaped sunroof and opened her up. They were in the UK but it was a German car, so the speedometer was in kph. But he knew how to top that out so all he knew was that they were over 320 somewhere - blink-and-you'll-crash speed, but with cybereyes who needed to blink? Well out of London he took the exit for Whipsnade and slowed her down on the upscale country lanes around the wildlife park, letting the summer aromas waft in through the roof.

They came across a brightly lit pub with a gravel lot full of Landys and SKs - posh crowd, but still plenty noisy inside - Al could hear the Quiz Night advertised on the blackboard outside in full swing. He figured Alyce could probably make out the questions from out here. He backed in so that they overlooked a view of a valley - farmhouses and sheep pastures - there was still a little of the old England left, if you had enough cash. Tied his comm into the pub's network and cajoled them into bringing drinks out.

"Didn't sleep fer three days." He wasn't particularly inclined to explain why. "Not till I heard yer voice."

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #28 on: (06:17:53/01-14-17) »
Thursday, July 16th, 2076

Alyce senses that Al has complete control of the machine and loves the way the car glides through traffic.  She has two Fly Spy drones in her hair and another one flying in front and behind the car, giving her a bird’s eye view of the car and its route.  She pulls the airborne drones in as they make the change to the M1, knowing that they are not going to be able to keep up with the car on the open road.  The heart shape of the sun roof is a bit different, but she likes the feel of the air on her face and the way it pulls at her loose hair.  By the time they hit close to the top speed of the car, Alyce is having the time of her life, although she resists the urge to hold onto Al’s hand as he shifts through the gears, not wanting him to split his concentration.
 
Alyce sends two of the drones airborne again when they exit the M1 and go through Whipsnade.  For most people, the aromas of the wild animal park there can be an issue, but for her, it is a bit like being out in one wilderness or another and smelling the animals again.  She turns to face Al and points off to the park.  “Have you ever been in there, Al?  They have a train called the Jumbo Express that guides visitors on a safari tour of the animals.  Lots of endangered species and even some paracritters there.”  She reaches out and lightly places a hand on his leg as he drives, now that they are off the main road.
 
When they stop at the pub, Al looks like he intends to remain in the auto and orders drinks, but Alyce has other needs.  “Al, I got to use the loo.  Be back in a tic.  By the way, I have not been to a Quiz Night in years.  It sounds like this one is getting over…….maybe we could do this again and make it to the opening question.”  She scarpers out of the auto and walks into the pub, asking one of the patrons where the loo is and walking through the smoky main room, where someone is calling out the answers to the quiz.  Her sensors allow her to navigate the room and it is likely that no one even knows that she is blind.  Back in the car park with Al, she smiles as she slips back into the auto.  “They seem like really nice people here, Al.  And the view must be great from this outlook during the evening sunset.”  She takes one of her hands and raises it up to her cheek.  “Have you ever thought about a life like this?  Where you could just enjoy being alive and looking out at the miracles that God has wrought for us?”

adamu

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Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #29 on: (06:28:10/01-14-17) »
Thursday, July 16th, 2076

"Hah. Woman, I enjoy the quiet life jist fine. Reckon ya must have ol' Al mixed up with some other person that's got an ongoin' allegiance to a murderous crime syndicate that ruins untold lives, an' keeps on takin' gun-fer-hire jobs out inna bush even though they don't need the money at all an' it takes 'em away from peaceful, life-givin' pursuits. Hell, all I done since leavin' the Mountain's been puttin' in an honest day's work fer an honest day's pay so I can put my feet up come evenin' with a beer an' some trid. Don't got but the two ambitions, an' they'll come in time, count on it. Got sucked inta this urban mercenary thing no more'n a year ago, but I reckon that's Her doin', an' despite Her best efforts, unlikely I'll still be in it a year on."