Thursday, May 21, 2009

When it rains

Dante arrives with scorch marks in his parka. I don't know why he wears the stupid thing. It's never cold enough to need it. Not even when it snows. It does snow here. Sometimes it's even actual snow.

Obviously this time it wasn't, because Avalon has informed me that no, actual snow does not burn little holes in your clothing. Judging from the pitted and warped metal skeleton in Dante's hand, he didn't escape whatever precipitation attacked him without the sacrifice of a valiant umbrella. We should probably bury it. Or at least say a few nice words.

Bamboozled comes to mind. I think it may be less nice and more just fun to say. Like chartreuse. Or rejection.

"Is it raining?" I ask.

"Not sure." Dante wipes at his steamy goggles. "I can never tell what inspiration storms think they're meant to be doing."

I understand the goggles. He's got odd eyes. People think I have odd eyes, too, but mine just change colors. Dante's stay the same. So they're different all the time.

Pulling off his parka, he does a damage check. It's bad. Unless he's trying to start a charred dot trend. I don't think he is. Dots would clash with his white and black checkered scarf.

"Would your brother fix this for me?" he asks.

Most people would add do you think to the beginning of that question, but Dante knows me. He knows my answer isn't an opinion. It's the most certain possibility. He also know that it's probably "no, he won't." Dante may not have the Fortune streak that I do, but he's still too close to my mother's family for my brother to feel at ease.

Not his fault. Not Dante's either. In our uncertain world, the past is a certainty we cling to. Probably shouldn't. But we do. We're not so different from your people. Sometimes. Other times we're not so similar.

"Repairing things isn't really his specialty," I say. "He's in a bitchy mood already. A pancake attacked me."

Dante stops examining his parka. I can see my face reflected in his goggle lenses.

"Really." I roll up my sleeve. "See? Syrup burn."

"That's disgusting." He scowls. "I'd expect that kind of nonsense from a waffle, but pancakes are cool. A bit excitable, sure, but they aren't prone to violence."

"This one was. It used a multiple exclamation mark bomb."

"How many?"

"Forty-three. I think. It got hard to count after the twenty-eighth one."

"Wow." He drops his parka on a nearby chair. "Who sent it?"

"Don't know."

"How can you not? There must have been some echo of who made it."

"It was quiet."

"Quiet." He repeats it in a meaningful way. Like Avalon does sometimes. It's how I know they're related.

"Like pancake quiet?" he asks. "Or like me quiet?"

Oh. I think about it. It's hard to listen to probabilities that have already passed. It's like humming the song you heard two tracks ago when you're still listening to the album. Whatever's playing currently is always going to be more relevant.

But I can try to tune it out. Push it to the background. Listen. It wasn't a pancake kind of quiet. Not a person kind of quiet, which should be more disturbing but is less disturbing because people have no place here. People here making evil pancakes would be something to be really concerned about.

"It was a you kind of quiet," I say. "Did you send it?"

"No." He crosses his arms. "Why would I send you a kamikaze pancake?"

He's right. It's not his style. He'd rather wait and defeat me the honorable way. In a battle mech. Battling through the remains of Shinjuku Gardens. Buildings rising against the twilight sky and the multicolored stars reflected in the ponds. I know the turtles are anticipating it. The koi could care less. They'd rather we used Ueno Park to stage our epic showdown. We were going to, but we can't find it now.

Things tend to move around here. A lot. Not usually things that got stuck here, but Tokyo adapted quickly. Not because it vanished first, but because the veil between our worlds was thinner. It is in any place where what your people call superstition or general weirdness thrives. You don't always notice, though, because general weirdness is another one of those relative things. Be around it long enough and you start to think it's normal.

"Did your breakfast assassin say anything else?" Dante asks.

"It said it had a message from Stellina. She didn't send it." If she had, I'd know. I don't know, so she didn't make it.

He doesn't say that should have been your first clue. He says, "All right, it's a place to start."

"Could be a trap."

"Probably." He shrugs. "But you know better than I do about how these games are played."

He's right. Again. Stellina's name is a clue. For whatever reason whoever sent the pancake wants us to think she's involved. All we can do is play along.

He watches me connect the dots. Waits. People like him are patient. Calm. It may be why they're silent. And why it's the quiet ones who cause the most trouble.

"You know where she is?" he asks.

"No." My eyes go to that dead umbrella. "I know where she'll most likely be."

"Let's go." He looks at his parka again. Sighs. "You're going to want a coat. Maybe body armor. Possibly both."


Sarah K said...

Ethan tells good stories.

Chandra Rooney said...

Ethan tells good truths sometimes, too. More often he's just frustratingly vague.

This post not so funny, E.

Rachel said...

I love playing in Ethan's head. It's fun to be there. Yeah, I know. It could get me killed. One minute I'll be thinking I'm hanging with him at the park and the next I'll realize I'm in the middle of the Beverly/La Cienega intersection and the lights just turned green. But still, he's fun to be around.