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Monday, 21 April 2014

Fade To Black - 21 April 2014

Okay, here we go.  The finale!

Hard to believe we've reached the end of our story.  I'm very glad you decided to come along for the ride.

Shall we begin...?



NOTE:

FADE TO BLACK IS FOR ADULTS. IT CONTAINS ALL MANNER OF DEBAUCHERY, NASTY LANGUAGE, MATURE CONTENT, DEPICTION OF ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES, ETC. IF IT'S NOT TO YOUR TASTES, YOU'LL KNOW PRETTY QUICKLY.

FADE TO BLACK IS NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN. AT ALL. EVER.

IF YOU ARE AN ADULT, AND WISH TO DIVE INTO THIS CRAZY WORLD, PROCEED. IF YOU ARE A CHILD, GO AWAY IMMEDIATELY.

_____________________________________________________________________


Fade to Black

© 2008 CL Seamus



MY LIFE AND MY BRIDE

Okay let’s wrap this up It’s time for the climax No more cinema interruptus Here’s where we are so far Everybody’s pissed off Everyone’s holding their last straw Something’s gotta break So let’s share one last mind-fuck together Places everybody and ACTION

     All that India Bowman learned of life came from her father’s walking nightmare of abuse. And Allan Baird. Allan spent a lot of time showing her old films, teaching her about the depth and substance of fiction as a tangible thing. He featured her in Forties-style films, when life was depicted in a more idealistic light. When you take a seventeen-year-old girl and imprint upon her these images, but do nothing to balance it with real, normal activities away from showbiz, you get a vacuum of knowledge. You get a girl who knows only one thing - that things work the way they do in films.

     India had no girlfriends, no chums with whom she socialised or went to the mall. There were no hen parties. She’d lost Perry when she was a child, and everything since had been cold and removed. When she met Allan, he became a friend, but his was not a balanced world either. With Allan came not only the fantasy of showbiz, but the surreal nonsense of his rich, bored lifestyle. Drugs and drink at her beck and call, sex, limousines. Fans and adoration. Money. Real life had always been Sean MacDonald’s House of Horrors. But now it was also Veil of Murder, and the undefined bottle of poison with which you could fix your problems.

     When she’d gotten back from the hospital after the back alley thing, Anthony had come to her trailer, but this time hadn't knocked. He’d come in of his own accord, in his arms a bouquet of flowers and a get-well card. His scenes were done and he was due to take a flight out the day after. He was bound and determined to get to base with her before then.

     To India, Anthony was a friend of her father, coming to take what she refused to give. As a child, she had not the strength to fight, but now she did, and Anthony bore the full weight of her hatred.

     Not then and there. Later.

     When she woke from her nap to find him seated at the foot of her bed, she remained calm. She took the card and the flowers, thanked him, then asked that he leave. But he didn’t leave. Anthony tried to take her in his arms and charm her with his sex appeal. He kissed her and put his tongue in her mouth, and for his trouble he earned a death sentence.

     When she started crying in his kiss, he gave up and left her trailer, unaware he had fewer than twenty-four hours to live.
__________

     India sat in her trailer and thought. She had no scenes to film, having been given a couple of days to let her face heal. All the time in the world. It would be perfect. Two birds with one stone. One letter actually. Wilder would threaten the leading man. When Anthony had been hired, there’d been some VL chatter over how he always scored with his leading ladies, and Wallace had asked the hypothetical question, “Will India Bowman be next?” Being a fan, John would certainly have read that, and as her “future director,” would want to remove the interfering actor from her life. When Anthony brought his filthy tongue to her trailer, he’d conveniently written himself into the script as John’s victim. To India’s mindset, it was as logical as one, two, three. So she typed up a threat about taking away “her pain” - pain most assuredly realised by all to be the evil Anthony Rotario. The simple brown bottle of poison.

     Allan had been due to speak with Detective Schiffer that morning, so India had ridden into town with Dan to grab breakfast at the hotel. On their way out, she'd excused herself to go to the ladies’ room while he pulled the car around. When the desk clerk’s back was turned, she'd dropped the envelope to the floor behind the counter. When he found it, he simply included it with the rest of the Movie People’s mail.

     When Dan dropped her off, she met Allan as he came from speaking with Schiffer. She felt good enough to give him extra hugs and kisses. Soon Anthony would be dead and John would be in jail.

     Later that night, after Allan had fallen into the special deep sleep of post-blowjob satisfaction, she secured his handcuff and palmed a carving knife, which she took to the dark bush-cover by the creek. Who expected Anthony would be one of the naked people who enjoyed an evening dip? Rather accommodating was he. Now if only she could find a way to get the knife to John’s place afterward. Oh well. A girl can only be expected to do so much. As long as he went to jail, she could live with the lapses in detail. In film, there were always hairs out of place anyway.

     “Hairs out of place” was to put mildly what happened. First of all, India never knew Lucy was now holding up the mail under threat from Dan. She thought that since the accommodating assistant had agreed to bring out letters from the studio, she would do it again, especially since the pain letter had come to the hotel instead of through the post. But the one real letter that had turned up with the fakes - the one that had caused India to faint from an angry flashback - had sent Lucy to Dan’s office to be chastised about not sending anything, lest she lose her job. So the pain letter ended up in the hands of Aaron Schiffer, and India was not able to wave it about as final and concrete evidence of John’s derangement, as well as the obvious reason why Anthony was stabbed to death down at the creek.

     The second hair out of place was that India never counted on Wilder being arrested and thrown in the drunk tank at the exact time she was crouching in the bushes. You see, when the pain letter came, Aaron paid John another visit. Local Boy once again denied any involvement, and further grouched about Allan Baird setting him up. And this time, he even let Aaron take his computer, so it could be proven that none of the letters had been typed on it. He was sick of it all. Fine. I won’t go near her. If I never hear the name India Bowman again, it will be too soon. Of course he didn’t mean it, but this was getting crazy. Either Baird was pulling another idiotic stunt, or some kind of real monster was clawing at India’s heels. Either way, it had pissed him off enough to go and get roaring drunk - and this time, he’d borrowed his neighbour’s car. When he was pulled over for erratic driving, he blew twice the legal limit and spent the night in jail.

Truly a hair out of place

     Anthony’s body was found late Tuesday night, the twentieth day of June, 2006. He’d been due to fly home on the red-eye, but when he didn’t get off the plane, his wife called Dan. They checked his trailer and found he’d only half-packed. Dave Banks discovered the body. Practically tripped over it when he’d gone for a late dip in the creek. The leading man was face down in the water, and Dave figured he must have slipped on a rock. When police and medical personnel arrived, however, that assessment changed to homicide when they discovered two stab wounds in the kidney area of Anthony’s back. The shoot was closed down.
__________

     Allan sat on the floor in his trailer and wished Boomer was there for a hug. But the A.D. had also flown home. He’d been in charge of seeing home safely all the footage they’d accumulated. There were supposed to be two more days of shooting, the footage from which Gail would bring back. The faster they got post-production started, the better their chances to salvage the budget after the numerous Bowman-related snags. So Allan sat alone. Anthony Rotario murdered? Stabbed? Somebody took a knife and chunked it into his body. Twice. Jesus Christ.

     He’d heard about the letter supposedly sent by Wilder. “I will take away your pain.” That meant the kid had been on the set. The creek was apparently a weak spot. If India could use it to sneak off the site, Wilder could use it to sneak on.

     Allan’s mind went somewhere else. He couldn’t help it. The fact was he was a storyteller, and his imagination knew not the word impossible. India. What if India did this? She hated Anthony. Wasn’t too keen on John Wilder either. She’d been screaming for both heads ever since the Veil project started. A last straw? Was his lady a killer? Maybe Anthony pushed her too far. Maybe he tried something he shouldn't have. So who wrote the dirty letters? Would she have--

     A knock at the door. “Come,” he said softly.

     In stepped Henry. “Can we talk?”

     Allan moved up to sit on the bed. Henry leaned against the wall. “Hear about Wilder?”

     A subtle shake of his head, but no eye contact. He was thinking about India and didn’t want Henry to see worry in his face.

     Out came the notepad. “John Theodore Wilder was arrested at twenty-one-thirty hours last night, and was booked for driving while intoxicated.”

     Allan shrugged. “So what?”

     Henry spoke excitedly. “Anthony Rotario was seen alive at ten by four separate people on the lot. Ten is twenty-two hundred hours. John was in jail when the murder took place.”

     Allan kept his head down. “He didn’t do it.”

     “We have a big problem, Allan.”

     He folded his arms. “Hmm.”

     “Someone else is out to destroy your girl. We need to get her out of here right now.”
__________

     Allan lay on his back in bed. His chest had nearly exploded after Henry left. He’d taken pills but was ready to surrender if it came right then and there. His arms had been numb for hours and he didn’t care if he ever got up again. The wet cloth over his face was cold and almost dry - he wouldn’t even move to re-dampen it. In his mind, he marked the date. It was Wednesday, the twenty-first. Was this to be the day he died?

     He suddenly became aware of someone in the room, though he wouldn’t open his eyes. “Go away,” he said.

     India. “Even me?”

     He almost started crying. I’m glad you came to say goodbye. “No,” he whispered. “Come in, dear.”

     She stepped in from the doorway. He took the cloth from his face. “I’m just trying to calm down. I need to get off the blow. For real this time.”

     He’d never told her about his heart trouble. Why worry her? She had enough shit in her life. After he was gone, she’d move on. Or maybe she wouldn’t.

     “Allan, I quit,” she said.

     He pasted on his bravest wishful-thinking face. “No you don’t. We have to finish the picture. Two days. They’ll just... haul away the corpse, sweep up, and we’ll get back to work.”

     “I said I quit. I’m going home. Tonight.”

     He moved to prop against the wall. “They said we have to stay put. It’s a murder, remember? Did you see all the cops outside? Maybe we should flush the blow down the toilet.”

     She stepped in a bit more. “I tell you, I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.”

     Part of him needed to ask. Part of him didn’t dare. “Come here,” he said instead.

If you can’t ask your wife if she stabbed a man to death, there’s always cuddling in the dark

     She crawled up to lie beside him. They kissed and held each other a long time. “When do we have to talk to the police?” she asked.

     “They said they’d call. I’m just waiting. I told them I wanted to be alone.  I can't sleep, though.”

     “I have to get out of here.” More kissing.

     “I know,” he mumbled in her affection. “How can you smell so good when everything else around me stinks like shit?”

     “About the other night. I didn’t mean to hit you.”

     He managed to find a smile. “Sure you did.”

     “I’m just not used to you being so...”

     “Manly?”

     “Something like that,” she snickered.

     Allan relaxed. He couldn’t believe how wonderful it was just being with her. If she’d done what he suspected, would it matter?

    She eased her leg over his hip and rubbed her foot to the back of his thigh. “Feel like being manly now?”

     Allan laughed. Now that was the way to die.

     Though he fucked like an animal, Allan Baird did not die. Well, well. It brought back a little spirit in him. The more he thought about it, the more he realised he didn’t care if she’d done it. Anthony was not one of his favourite people either. Only years of sustained drug abuse could give a man that perspective.

     They lay quietly together, this time India the one on her back. “Old-married-couple sex,” she mused, swaying her bent knee aside his hip.

     A lazy smile. “It’s all I can manage when one of my actors is murdered.”

     “You never even mentioned my new undies.”

     “Were you actually wearing undies? In my haste, I didn’t notice.”

     “Do you love me, Allan?”

     “I do. Despite my thoughtless lack of recognition for your lingerie.” He tipped his face and kissed her breast. “I love you more than you think I do.”

     “Do the poem.”

     The poem? Oh I can’t. He sucked air. “She was a child and I was a child...” His voice trailed off.

     “Don’t stop,” came her soft encouragement.

     He shook his head.

     “It’s going to be all right,” she whispered. “We’ll retire and never be in the public eye again. You can go back to writing all the time.”

     His mind drifted to the old days, when playful and young were they, indulgent and artistic. “Smoke dope and stay up all night, listening to music, making out for hours.”

     She tangled her fingers in his hair. “It wasn’t hours. It just felt like it, we were so wasted.”

     Finally, he found a brave place. “Should we be feeling badly about Anthony?”

     Cold and disinterested. “I don’t. Do you?”

     “Not really. His scenes were done. We may have to get creative with pickup shots and looping, though. I was just wondering if it’s wrong to be unmoved by his death.”

     “We both thought he was an asshole.”

     Allan nodded. This was the reality of their lives. The universe - though it belonged to God - revolved only around themselves. “I cry at sad poems, but not a tear is shed for this man.”

     She gave a lazy stretch. “Save the tears, remember?” More kissing. The longer they connected in peaceful relaxation, the less they cared about Anthony

     India finally got up and went for a shower. Not waiting for death anymore, Allan chose instead to snort coke. “Fuck it,” he grouched between toots. “I’ll quit tomorrow.”
__________

     Later, India wrapped herself in a robe to answer the door. It was Henry. “Hello,” she offered through numbing lips.

     “I have to talk to you.”

     Her heart banged so hard that she felt sick. She could easily have lost control of her bowels. “...about what?”

     “Can I come in?”

     “I guess.”

     He took a seat on the couch. “Where’s Allan?”

     “Having a shower.”

     “Did he tell you about John?”

     She hugged herself and hoped he couldn’t hear her shifting intestines. “What about him?”

     “He didn’t do it. He couldn’t have.”

     “How do you know?”

     “He was picked up for drunk driving about an hour before the murder. He spent the night in jail.”

     He jumped to stop her as she started sliding down the wall in a near faint. “Easy does it,” he soothed, supporting her in his arms. “Just relax. We’ll find who did this, I promise. But we need to get you out of here. Whoever did this could still be here.”

     Everything before her eyes was a shower of dancing spots.
__________

     By suppertime, India had decided there was no other way but to take care of it herself. She had to face facts; nobody else saw how John represented everything in her life that was hateful and out of control. He was invasion and entitlement. As Sean felt entitled to do what he’d done, so John felt entitled to be part of her life. One intruded into her body, the other into her head. As far as she was concerned, he was not a fan - he was the living embodiment of her father. And if he would not be jailed, he would be dead.
__________

     At the Wakefield house, research continued on the net. A lot could be learned about both Allan and India from the VL website. Allan’s life was an unabridged, open book in the online version of the rag. Where he’d grown up, where he’d gone to school, and an unnecessarily large amount of detail about his sexual preferences. Much less was available about India’s personal life. Reclusive and closed was she, about many things. Nothing about where she’d gone to school, no amusing anecdotes from childhood. She’d been an aspiring theatre actor before coming to films, was almost a dozen years younger than Allan, liked pizza, painting, metal music, and long drives in the countryside. Her favourite sexual position was on top, and she preferred being the masculine entity in her relationship with Allan. Apparently that was just fine with him. What was the deal with this magazine’s obsessive interest in their sex life? VL had an extensive archive of photos - Allan’s going back to his college days. With India, pictures started when she’d first met him. That they’d been together more than eight years seemed to Henry a most unexpected devotion, all things considered.

     In the course of clearing dishes from the dining table, Beth Wakefield stopped at her husband’s shoulder and asked, “Did you read that she’d been abused?”

     “Where did you read that?”

     She took command of the mouse. “You left a page open. I read some of the things.”

     With a bit of clicking, up popped an India Bowman fan site with some old newspaper archives. It was something Henry had pulled up before, but hadn't yet read.

City police Friday removed a twelve year
old girl from the custody of her father
after a Templeton school teacher discovered
extensive bruising on her thighs. The
child denied abuse, but finally admitted
during psychological examinations that
her father had been bringing friends to
the house and forcing her to submit
to them sexually. She estimated the abuse
had been going on for almost two years.

The father was arrested Tuesday but died
of heart failure during transport to
police headquarters. No other arrests were
made, since the identities of the accomplices
were not known to the child, and were never
given by the father. Several local men were
questioned, but later released due to
insufficient evidence.

     Beth patted his shoulder as they both thought of Bonnie. “Can you imagine?” she whispered. “Those men getting away with abusing her like that? Where’s the justice?”

     He swallowed the lump in his throat. “With a childhood like that, she’s probably a mess emotionally. No wonder she’s so sensitive about guys like Wilder.”

     “You know what happens in these cases? They mistrust everybody. Everybody’s out to get them. Especially in her case, because nobody went to jail.”

     Henry frowned, his wheels turned. Nobody went to jail. His eyes shifted. Faster turning.

Not fast enough

     He started his e-mail program. “I want Aaron to see this.”
__________

     India had stashed her gun at the bottom of a toolbox aboard one of the equipment trucks that had been driven out to the location. When the trucks arrived, she'd retrieved the weapon unnoticed. Slept pretty well with it by her bedside, too. If any boob-grabbing lunatics got onto the set, she’d be prepared.

     Now it would be the silencing of Wilder. You won’t go away, John. Everybody loves you. Everybody hates me.
__________

     No more steak knives. That had been awkward. The plan had been to jump Anthony and stab him in the heart. What if he survived? When they’d done the stabbing scene in The Diabolical Detective, there’d been much discussion that it was so easy in movies, but in real life you probably couldn’t kill someone with a simple chunk to the chest. You’d hit breastbone or something. Maybe a big man could do it, but surely not someone like India.

     In the movie, Loretta’s victim died from his wounds. It would be just her luck Anthony would simply hold his chest and say “ouch” or some damn-fool thing.

     When she saw him strip for a dip in the creek, she wisely decided on a new plan. Out from the bushes, she sat on the bank while he splashed. Pretended to be sorry she’d rebuffed his advances earlier. I was very upset after the attack. Of course Anthony understood. He laid her to her back in the grass and mounted her for the fuck he always knew she wanted. Though he was one of the naked people, India would have to be removed of her shorts. While he fumbled between them to tend to it, she dug the knife into his lower side. Twice. No rib cage, no breastbone. Soft meat. It hurt her fist, but essentially felt like she was punching him. He cried out and jumped to his feet. Afraid he would run for help, she grabbed him by the wrist. He tripped and fell face first in the water, knocked his head to a rock. India immediately ducked back in the bushes and waited in horrified silence. She shook so hard that she was sure the vibrating ground would give her away.

     Anthony lay quietly - too long to have his face submerged without a breath. He’s dead, she said over and over again in her mind. Dead. You killed someone. You murdered a man. He’s dead.

     It had taken a long time alone in the dark of her trailer before she stopped feeling sick. Was it justice? Did she feel redeemed? Did she feel the lightening of weights from her past? Not a bit. But Anthony was gone. The only justice was that at least one of the men who’d forcefully shoved his tongue in her mouth would never do it again. She and Allan would go for a night out. They’d stop by John’s place. After blowing his head off, they’d drive to the country and she’d confess what she’d done to Anthony. Then they’d complete their special pact. It would be nice to see Perry again. There was a lot she needed to tell him
__________

     Allan pulled the Jag into the parking lot of the convenience store.

     “I’ll just be a minute,” said India.

     “You want me to go in for you?”

     “No, dear. I’ll be fine. The place is pretty empty.”

     He bent forward to conceal his tooting from prying eyes.

     India slapped the baggie from his hand. “Put that shit away. Here. Take these. I got them after John Wilder tried to rape me.”

     His eyebrow lifted in amusement over her rather definitive conviction. “What are they?”

     “Tylenol 3. The codeine will act as a sedative. You need to calm down, not ramp up. No coke tonight. Put it away.”

     “How many should I take?”

     “Here.” She shook pills into his palm. He swallowed them obediently and chased them with bottled water.

     “I’ll be right back.” She got out and ran to the payphone.

     The performance of a lifetime. India Bowman - a better actor than anybody would ever know.

     “Hello?” came the soft, male voice. Very controlled.

     “Is this John Wilder?”

     “Yes.”

     “John, this is India Bowman.”

     A long silence. “Is this a joke?”

     She didn’t skip a beat. “I want to apologise. My suspicions that you wrote the letters. Attacked me. It was dark. I was afraid. I thought I saw your face. The guy looked like your photo. I owe you a big apology.”

     “I would never hurt you,” he soothed in compassion. “All I wanted was to show you my work.”

     Something felt wrong. John’s voice wasn’t sick, or twisted, or dangerous. It was the voice of affection. I would never hurt you. A slight hesitation. “...I need your help. I’m very worried about Allan.”

     “Allan Baird? What did he do?”

     “Something terrible has happened. One of our actors has been killed. Anthony Rotario, the leading man.”

     “Okay, you need to get out of there right now.”

     “When it happened, I thought it was you, but they told me you spent the night in jail. Now I’m afraid it might have been Allan.”

     “I knew he was the one writing all those letters. This is a very sick joke, India.”

     “Now I’m afraid he might come after you.”

     “Have you told the police?”

     “I’m about to call them right now. I’m at a payphone, and Allan’s in the car. I gave him sedatives so he’ll relax. I don’t want him to know I suspect him.”

     “You have my address. Call the police and come here. You’ll be safe until they come.”

     “I can’t tell you how much this means to me. After the shitty way I’ve been treating you.”

     “Just come here. I’ll protect you.”

     India hung up and rested her head to the phone booth wall. “Perry?” she whispered. “Is it you?” A faint voice. Pretty girl. Unable to believe that John would ever remind her of her brother, she closed her eyes and cried. Just drive away. Take Allan and drive away. Don’t do it. John’s voice was so understanding and sweet. Sincere and real. Perry. Okay, you’re at a payphone. Don’t do this. She collected herself with a big breath and went into the store.

     Allan’s lidded eyes tried to focus when she returned and came along his side of the car. “Who did you call?” he mumbled.

     “I just checked my messages.”

     “Where’s your cell?”

     “Dead battery. Move over. You’re in no condition to drive.”

     He crawled over the console and plopped into the passenger seat. India dusted cocaine powder from where he’d been. On the floor was the baggie. “Look at this mess.”

     He fumbled with her paper bag. “What did you buy?”

     She took it away. “Would you stop being so nosy? Look, you’re getting powder all over everything.”

     “Sorry, dear.” He leaned back to the headrest.

     The pills were working. He was slipping. It’s for the best, baby. You don’t need to see this. Just go to sleep. When you wake up, we’ll be far away from here and we can do what we promised to do so long ago.
__________

     Henry eased his car to the police barricade at the shoot. It was almost midnight, yet the place was illuminated in a vigilant police presence. No more goon squads. The set was now under the watch of armed officers. “Where’s Ms. Bowman?” he asked the guys on duty.

     “She left with Baird. Said they were going to spend the night at the hotel.”

     Henry motioned. “Let me in.”

     He wandered the quiet gravel road between the trailers. Most of the staff had been sent home or to the hotel. Nobody wanted to stay here. He stopped at India’s trailer and looked around. The place was dark. Just to be sure, he tapped. “India? I have to talk to you, sweetie.” No answer. He went in.

     The abuse report from the internet bothered him. If she had some sort of misplaced anger over what had happened to her as a child, she might have turned that confusion against John. Or Anthony. Face it, man. Your turning wheels have brought you to the big question. Could India have killed Anthony Rotario?

     He’d come across an article on the VL website that spoke of Anthony’s self-proclaimed prowess with the ladies. The author suggested it might be fun to watch this Romeo take a shot at scaling the Castle Bowman. Everything about India pointed toward a real sense of devotion to Allan Baird. And why not? In a world of lechery and male danger, only a man like Allan would be so absolutely non-threatening to someone of such fragile emotional disposition. If Anthony had indeed made a play for the plate, was it so outrageous to imagine she’d fight back?

     What about the letters? Who wrote the letters? Who attacked her in the alley? Come on Wakefield. Work it out. Might as well look around.

     All the Wilder material had been confiscated, but there remained other fan mail. He flipped through the manila folder. Had anybody gone through her things yet? He doubted it, since she probably didn’t strike too many as a suspect just yet. Nothing remarkable in her bedside drawer - a pocketbook of poetry, several store receipts and prescription bottles. A 4-pack of batteries. What didn’t fall into place? He peeked out the window. Two patrolmen went on their rounds. Evidently some crew members were still onsite, because the cops stopped to check out a workman wheeling a utility cart. On the cart was a metal box, the contents of which they rifled. It appeared to be computer supplies.

     Henry turned back. Would she have a computer, too? Nothing on the table. Nothing by the bed. Bathroom? Nope. Kitchenette? Nope. Maybe she didn’t have one. He dialed the hotel and confirmed Bowman and Baird had not arrived. Then he tried Allan’s number. Message service. “Allan, it’s Henry Wakefield. I need to speak with you. Call as soon as you get this.”

     As he hung up, he spotted the strap of a black case tucked between the bed and a steamer trunk at its foot. Not a desktop. A laptop. Of course. He drew it out and prayed it didn’t have any password mazes through which he’d have to suffer for a look. The programs started and the screen gave him access without so much as a hiccup. He tapped through several places to see what the machine had to offer. The little maneuvering pad was awkward for his thick fingers, but he muddled through. Maybe a diary? Or even just a journal file? Somewhere she would keep her thoughts? What would something like that be named?
__________

     While Henry snooped, John tore down all his wall tributes. She was on her way over and the time for hero worship was done. This was now a vulnerable lady asking for help, and be damned if he’d let her see how soupy soft he was for her, both as idol and imagined lover. He’d stripped naked and was bathed in sweat as the posters, glossies, clippings, and articles were stacked or rolled before being taken to his bedroom. Some of the images had been ripped or destroyed in the hectic removal. He’d cry about it later. He would never let her see his obsessions - obsessions that now seemed childish and embarrassing in the face of the real person who was on her way to seek safety in his home.
__________

     Henry paused from his perusal when his cell rang. “Wakefield,” he said abruptly, assuming it to be Allan.

     “I got your e-mail,” said Aaron, referring to the attachment Henry had sent about India’s abusive childhood.

     “She said they were going to the hotel, but I just called and they aren’t there. We have to talk to her, Aaron. I want to find out if her past has anything to do with this. If she had--”

     “Tonight?” Aaron’s voice was reluctant. “It’s midnight.”

     “What if I bought you your favourite scrambled eggs breakfast?”

     A long pause. If Henry knew Aaron, the lovable old grouchpot was probably thinking about the opportunity to spend the night away from his hot-flashing wife. “Are you at the hotel?” Aaron finally asked.

     “I’m at the location. Meet me here.” He hung up, a sly grin on his face. When Aaron told stories of Irene’s hot flashes, he described not needing blankets on chilly nights because she cooked the sheets like a furnace. Sleeping next to menopausal Irene was like having hot water bottles strapped to his face all night.

     The laptop gave no answers. Henry closed all open document windows and studied the attractive desktop wallpaper. A hand painted beach-scape. Beautiful. The initials near a corner boulder read I.B. She must have painted it herself. He could hear the foaming spray off the surf, feel the sun on his face. He smelled trees and gulls and sand. When this was done, he and Beth would take a beach holiday. Thank you, India.

     He hit the START button, pause, then glanced up at RECENT DOCUMENTS. What she’d recently used would be there. He slid his finger clumsily up the touch pad and clicked.

     Out came the list. Most were the things he’d been viewing, but there were also items not his. The first one was called “DEAR (1).doc,” the second, “DEAR (2).doc.” He opened (1).

     Dear India...

     What was this? He read the short paragraph. He opened (2).

     Dear India...

     Only a whisper. “There it is.”
__________

     On his way off the lot, Henry called Aaron and told him of the letters, how he thought India was probably trying to exact some kind of home-brewed justice for crimes committed against her as a child. John’s fan mail must have hit her in exactly the wrong spot and caused a panic. Since she couldn’t get people to believe he was dangerous, she’d apparently decided to make him dangerous.

     Aaron wasn’t sure. Who attacked her? And how did Rotario fit in?

     As to the attack, Henry had personally witnessed her boxing prowess when she’d popped her lover in the lip for amusement. Who was to say she wouldn’t pop herself as part of a staged scenario? And of Anthony, Henry supposed his was the biggest intrusion of all. It was all coming crystal clear - Anthony must have been hitting on her. After what he’d read, Henry figured India for a ticking time bomb, and it seemed the mechanism was winding down. Whether or not Baird was in on it was up for grabs, but the bottom line was that - even though the couple had told the duty cops they would be at the hotel - Henry’s gut told him to get men over to John’s place, lest he be the next one found face down in the water.
__________

     John watched the street from his second storey window. A Jag purred to a stop. It’s her. He ran to throw on some clothes.

     Down in the car, India took up her purse before checking Allan. He seemed asleep. As she got out, however, he lifted his head. His lips drooped. He could barely speak. “Where are you going?”

     “I’ll be right back, baby.”

     “...too many pills.”

     “Just relax.” She paused and stroked his cool, clammy cheek. A kiss to his forehead. “My boy.”

     The affection made him smile. Almost the old shit-eater, but not enough strength. He reached for more kisses. They tangled fingers and rubbed noses before she turned to the building.

     John opened his door in time to see India Bowman coming up the steps. It’s really her.

     Into the room she whisked. “Close the door. Allan’s in the car.”

     India Bowman. For real. He stared. Should he apologise for all the fuss? “Are the police coming?” was what he chose.

     “They’re on their way. We’ll just wait here.”

     “I can’t believe you’re standing in my home.”
__________

     From Allan’s lip stretched a string of spittle. He blinked several times at the pretty blue and red lights. Death, it seemed, was full of colour and shine. Two black & whites slid up with a screech. It’s not death, Allan mused thoughtfully. It’s the police. Oh no. My toot. I’m not dying. I’m going to jail.

     Henry filled all of Allan’s muddy vision. The small man reached. “It’s my prescription,” he whispered.

     Henry pushed away his hands. “Where’s India? Why are you here?”

     “She’s in the store.”

     “The what? How long have you been here?”

     “I don’t know.” He pulled hard for air.

     “Did she go into John’s apartment?”

     “...to go to the store.”

     “What are you on?”

     Tears ran down his face. “...gave me something. Went inside.”
__________

     John doused the lights and ducked from the window. “The cops are here.” Another glance. “They’re surrounding his car. He has his hands up.”

     With all he was observing, what he didn’t notice was the heavy pistol rising behind his head. Two more cop cars arrived. People on the street began to gather for the spectacle.

     “John,” said the cool, collected voice behind him.

     It was probably safe. No way Baird could harm anyone now. “They’re looking up,” said John. “Should we go down?”

     Again came the calm voice. “We’re not going anywhere.”

     He caught the reflection of the weapon in the glass and spun about fast. “What the fuck?”

     Relaxed and dry. “Still want to see my softer side?”
__________

     Henry held Allan easily under his arm and helped him from the car. “There’s an ambulance coming. It would be really helpful if we knew what you took.”

     Allan had no knees. “I had some blow, but don’t be mad at me. I don’t feel good.”

     “Cocaine?”

     “...and Indie gave me pain killers... she got from the doctor.”

     As one of the uniforms took over with the limp-bodied director, Henry went to meet with Aaron, who crammed his car in among the growing collection of vehicles. “She’s upstairs. I don’t think we want a whole gang of guys rushing in and scaring her. I want to try and talk her out of anything she might be planning.”

     Aaron looked to the people hanging out of various windows. “Unless she’s already done it.”

     “Well, let’s stay optimistic, shall we? Let the EMTs check him out. We may need him.”
__________

     India instructed John to his belly on the floor as she worked over what to do. Who’d called the cops? John? He’d probably panicked when she’d said she thought Allan was dangerous. Jeez, if only everybody moved that quickly when I asked for help. Not among her thoughts was the notion that Henry might have found her letters.

     She sat cross-legged, the muzzle of her gun gently stroking John’s temple. If you shoot him, you won’t get out of the building. That’s fine. I’ll blow his head off, then my own. When Allan figures out what’s happened, he’ll overdose on drugs. By the time he gets to the other side, I’ll be waiting with Avalon.

     She spoke easily. “Do you know how scary it is when people think they own you? Did you know that men think they are fully within their rights to squeeze your boobs in public? Like it’s some kind of greeting. Hello, Ms. Bowman. Honk, honk.” A stupid giggle. “Ever masturbate while thinking about me, John? What about the poster I sent? Sweeeeeet Loretta Marsh? I’m just a human being, you know. I’m not some idol or sex fantasy. I don’t know why people do these things to me.”

     His body shook uncontrollably. “I just wanted to write for you.”

     An understanding sigh. “Oh I know, I know. Write for me. Grab me in a crowd. Take me to lunch.” Her voice cranked up a notch. “I’ll show you my work!” And louder. “Be nice to my friends, Annalee!” Then a scream. “Smile, Annalee!”

     John jumped in panic and began crying when the muzzle thumped his head.

     She noticed his tears. “Shh. Don’t cry.” The push of the gun eased. “You’ll never believe who you remind me of.”

     Henry snuck upstairs. Uniforms in the hallway kept back the neighbours. He leaned an ear to the door. Not a sound. With a deep breath for strength, he tapped. “India? It’s Henry Wakefield.” Then back to his men. “Clear out these suites. Everybody out of the building.” But no reply from within. “India? Honey? I want to talk with you. Can I come in?”

     Then her uncertain voice. “Go away, Henry.”

     Okay, she’s alive. Talking. “Can I come in? We could talk better without the door between us.” He had to keep his ear pressed close to hear.

     “...all turning to shit,” she cried sadly.

     “Do you have any weapons?”

     “I have to protect myself.”

     “You didn’t hurt John, did you?”

     After a minute, “That’s a hell of a question after everything he’s done to me.”

     “I’m coming in. I’m alone here. I know you’re angry. I want to help. Is John all right?”

     A gentle laugh. “John’s a sick parasite. But it’s so nice that you’re concerned for his well-being.”

     “Is he alive?”

     “For now.”

     He whispered to his men. “Vests.”
__________

     Downstairs, Aaron waited while EMTs tended to Allan. The biggest immediate problem seemed to be his depressed breathing. They moved him to a stretcher and loaded him into the ambulance. Blood pressure cuff, oxygen cup over his mouth, questions about the things he’d taken.

     Though half asleep, Allan tried to help. He thought he remembered her saying Tylenol 3. How many? Maybe six. Eight?  Codeine? Mixed with coke? Plus his heart medicine? An antagonist was prepared.

     Aaron took aside one of the medics. “What happens now?”

     “We take him in.”

     “Can you give him something to get him on his feet? There’s trouble upstairs, and we need him here.”

     “You’re kidding, right?”

     Aaron climbed into the ambulance and took the seat next to Allan. “How do you feel?”

     There returned a weak trace of his coy persona. “Oh hi, darling. Nice of you to visit. What’s happening?”

     “Well, it seems your lady friend is a little upset.”

     “Where is she?”

     “Do you even know where you are?”

     The vacant expression told him no.

     “We’re outside Wilder’s apartment building.”
__________

     Henry opened the door and peeked in. A quick assessment. John on his belly. India at his side. Gun. Muzzle to the temple. Hammer cocked back. He wondered if she’d even be strong enough to squeeze the trigger of the heavy .45. Maybe not normally but adrenaline makes you strong.

     India looked up and wiped her swollen eyes. “I don’t get it, Henry. Allan stubs his toe and fifty people crawl out of the woodwork to comfort him. I tell people I’m scared, and we have a barbecue. It’s like I’m invisible. No reason on Earth to hear me cry.”

     Henry had no training in this. Just common sense and a feel for a young lady’s trouble. She doesn’t have a gun to John’s head. She’s just like Bonnie when her boyfriend broke up with her last year. Just a girl with sadness. Be like an understanding father. Always works with Bonnie. He crouched nearby. “See, the problem is that I don’t think you gave us enough information. It was like you were saying ‘My finger hurts,’ but wouldn’t let anybody see the cut. It’s hard to understand if you don’t talk.” He wiped a tear from his eye. “If I had known how things had been for you, I’d have done a better job. Were you afraid to talk about it?”

     Her eyes were a mess of confusion. Why was he crying?

     Henry picked at the floorboards. “Right now, I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve failed you, and I’ve failed John. Look at him there. He’s just a kid, sweetheart.”

     “So am I!” she shouted desperately. “...so am I...”

     He stood fast. “That’s what I mean. Two kids here. In trouble. And one big guy who hasn't done a goddamned thing to help either one of them. I’m a father, too. When my own daughter’s sad, I always seem to know what to do. With you, I don’t know.”

     India shook as tears rolled down her cheeks. John lay motionless.

     “What happened to Anthony?” asked Henry.

     “Justice,” was her hollow reply.

      He nodded. “What about Allan? You love him, right?”

     “He didn’t believe me either. And just so you know, he did know why I was scared. He still took John’s side.”

     “Looks like we all blew it. But he still loves you.”

     “What’s to love?”

     “You seem like a good girl to me.”

     Her hysterical voice rang off the walls. “I am not a good girl! I’m a fucking poster and a fistful of hand cream!”

     John jumped. Soaked in sweat, he cried, “She’s going to kill me!”
__________

     Allan was back out on the bumper of the ambulance. His face was ghost-white, but at least he was awake. The EMT gave him another shot and dumped the spent syringe into a disposal box. “Feel any better?”

     He just mumbled. “Hmm.” How well was he expected to feel? India was apparently upstairs with a gun to the kid’s head. Where did she get a gun? Allan knew nothing of a gun.

I feel super, thanks for asking

     So it appeared this was to be the night after all. Two a.m. Thursday, the twenty-second.

I always wondered if I’d know when I would die, or whether it would come as a surprise

     Each of us asks, would I prefer to know, or have it happen suddenly and without warning?

     To the night sky. Can’t see much with the streetlights. It was a dark and stormy night, he said inside his head.

     Aaron hung up from his call. “I think we should go upstairs.”

     The EMTs helped Allan to shaky feet. Gone was his affected smile. Gone, all the play and folly of his world. His body moved but he’d already died inside. It was time to go meet India and finish it.

     Aaron moved to wrap a Kevlar vest around him but Allan pushed it away. “Don’t touch me.”

I never imagined it would be a gun Knowing me, I’d have figured on a drug overdose I could have choked on my own vomit or died with someone’s dick in my mouth or something dramatic and exciting Oh well, as Mother always said, you get what you get

     Aaron yapped instructions but Allan heard none of it. He wanted to be with India. All he saw was her beautiful smile. If she had a gun, it meant she’d probably have to kill them both. She was the only one strong enough to do it. What should be my last deeds? Pray? Call Mum and Dad? Call Rennie? Rennie’s going to freak out. Mumma? Dad? I love you both. Don’t cry. Don’t be sad. What if they didn’t die? What if Henry got the gun away from her? It hardly mattered. She’d be arrested and would just kill herself in jail. Indie would not allow herself to go under the psychiatric knife. She’d kill herself, and then he’d have to die anyway, so there was no denying it was over.

Allan Baird - 0

     Inside, Henry continued to talk. He seemed to have softened her when he said Allan was coming. He hung up from Aaron’s call. “He’s on his way.”

     She lowered the muzzle slightly from John’s head, but still, nobody moved.

     “I found an article,” said Henry. “On the net. It was about the shitty things that happened when you were a kid.”

     She seemed bored. “Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?”

     “Did anybody help you when it was over?”

     “Nobody helps me.”

     “That’s why I’m here I think. I dunno. Maybe a hug or something? Remember my big shoulder? You know it hurts me to see you like this. I know I can’t fix what’s gone wrong in your life, but a hug never hurt.”

     Her voice was barely audible. “Save the hug.”

     Henry was as close to the image of a perfect father as she could imagine. In the pictures she drew, the father was either Henry or Mondo. Shit. Who was she kidding? The father could have been any big strong man who didn’t rape her. Henry was in the room, and that was all. And John? John was Perry in her mind’s picture and she knew she could never kill him. She wanted to tell him so he’d stop worrying. He sure was sweating. How he could sweat in such a cold room was beyond her.

     Aaron made it up the stairs, dead-faced Allan tucked behind him. “You stay here,” ordered the detective.

     Henry answered the cell. “Yes.” He just listened and hung up. “Sweetie? Allan’s outside the door. Can he come in? We can all go downstairs together. Get some fresh air into our lungs? Clear our heads?”

     She held the gun closely by John’s head and wiped her eyes. “He hates it when I cry.”

     Henry offered a hanky. “Dry your eyes.”

     He froze when she turned the gun in his direction. “Allan?” she asked toward the door.

     “I’m here, baby,” came his gentle voice.

     Tears blurred her vision. My boy. I thought I’d never hear your soft voice again. “Come into the room.”

     Allan stepped but Aaron took his arm. “Wait a minute--”

     A rough shake from India’s angry lover. “Get your fucking hands off me!”

     Hesitating then no longer, he passed Henry into the room, stepped over John, and curled on the floor, his face going directly to his favourite nest - India’s lap. “I’m sorry,” he apologised softly to her. “For everything I did wrong.”

     She tangled fingers in his hair, took his clammy hand, and kissed his palm. “Finish my poem?” Then very quietly, so only he could hear. “One last time.”

     He wiped his eyes with a noticeably shaky hand. “For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee. And the stars never rise, but I see the bright eyes of the beautiful Annabel Lee. And so, all the night tide, I lie down by the side of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride, in her sepulchre there by the sea. In her tomb by the side of the sea.”

     No one moved. What now? Henry waited for Allan to say something. Go ahead. Reason with her.

     India pushed John’s temple with the muzzle. “Get out of here,” she said. Again came Perry’s voice as a faint whisper. Pretty girl. “Perry?” she called. Had that been out loud?

     Allan closed his eyes. Here it comes. If she hears Perry, the time was upon them.

     Unsure, John stayed frozen. India pushed at him again. “Go, John. I won’t hurt you.”

     Henry tried to stay a step ahead. She was letting him go. So, the story was to end with a suicide. He reached. “John, come away slowly. Go into the hallway.” Henry feared for John, because John didn’t want to die. But letting him go meant India did. And Allan had only agreed to talk to her as a way of getting to her side for the coda.

     As John scrabbled into the hall, India raised the gun to her head.

     For the first time in his twenty-year career as a police officer, Henry unholstered his weapon with the intent of using it. He pointed it at her hand. “India? Take the gun away from your head. It’s all right.”

     A simple smile. She poked her pinky between Allan’s lips. “It’s never been all right,” she whispered. “If it was all right, would we be here?”

     Henry held aim. What could he do? Shoot the gun out of her hand? If he missed, he’d take off half her head. If he preemptively shot her arm, she might squeeze the trigger in reflex. Think. Think.

     India watched him. “You should go now, Henry. We have to talk about some things. John’s free, and you should go.”

     “I want to stay. I want to help you.”

     “We don’t want your help. This has nothing to do with you anymore.”

     Allan let go of her finger and whispered, “Don’t make me lie down by your tomb.”

     Her eyes on Henry, she bent a little and kissed her lover’s cheek. “Don’t cry.”

     He whispered, “Shoot me first.”

     India swung the gun down fast and squeezed. In the small room, the noise hit every wall with a deafening explosion. Allan jerked back from her and slammed against the desk.

It was a splash of white spots and blood red fireworks

     Quickly, the gun to her temple. Henry was quicker. He squeezed off the shot that hit her shoulder. Her .45 discharged as it swung away from her head - plaster sprayed from the wall by the window. The gun slid across the floor.

     Henry shouted, his voice rasped and hysterical. “Get the EMTs up here now!” He reeled back to face India.

     Crying sadly, she tried to pull herself toward Allan’s still form. No. Toward the gun.

     Henry hurried past and grabbed it in his shaking hand. It’s about time someone stepped up to do right by this girl. At least you can still save her from herself. He crouched close, cupped her hot cheek, covered her bleeding shoulder with his palm, and kissed the top of her head. “The medics will be right up. Just sit still.”

     Her vacant eyes found Allan's unmoving form. His voice in her head.

It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, that a maiden there lived, whom you may know, by the name of Annabel Lee And this maiden she lived with no other thought... than to love... and be loved... by me


CONCLUSION

FROM THE OTHER SIDE

I lay quietly on the floor while the medics came upstairs
I couldn’t move, but I could hear
Indie was alive and they were taking her out on a stretcher
Someone came for me too but they couldn’t fix what was wrong
I got a ride downstairs with a sheet over my face, but by that time I was already using my other eyes - my new eyes

I saw Indie being handcuffed to the stretcher rail - quite a bit of irony, that
They took her away
They took me too but in a separate car
Why we couldn’t have gone together was a terrible thing
My girl went to a hospital and I think they’re trying to work out a few of her heavier demons
I stay with her a lot but it’s been busy
Perry’s had a million questions

But she’s doing well
She even smiles in her sleep when we talk about the old days
She says she’ll be over as soon as she can and then 'round we’ll go once more
We can read poetry and maybe even dance a waltz

Ava’s excited to see her Mumma

Well I’m off It’s been a grand story, hey?

Tra-la-la
__________



MEMORIES...

...from those who remember

     “Allan was a small boy with a huge personality. Always gregarious and trusting. Always jumping in with both feet. The first story he ever wrote was called ‘The Best Friends’, when he was six. ‘My friend walks with me on the beach. We splash water and kick sand on each other but never break up because friends can do that and know you are not mad. When we grow up we will still be friends because we have known each other a long time’.

     “There’s a lot to be learned in that story. It speaks of love. Of Allan. I named my child after Poe because in his works I see a basic truth. Every one of us must deal with fate. ‘You get what you get’, I taught him. Poems may be yours to write, stories yours to tell. Demons in your life may be real or simply as you perceive them. When you open doors, you may get Lenore or you may get a raven. But you absolutely must open the door. I gave him the name so he’d never be afraid to open his doors. I love you, Baby.”

     - Elisabeth Cavanagh-Baird, Allan Baird’s mother
__________


     “I don’t know if things were bad all along, or if getting mixed up in this whole film-making thing set her off. She was whiny, but aren’t all teenagers? You couldn’t get close to her so you could never tell what was in her head. We did see some things. We learned the details of her past, but not until late in the game. You had to be careful if you tried to, I guess ‘butt in’, because she’d lock the door and eat the key. If she’d opened up and trusted some of us, maybe we could have done something. Who knows? I’m not very good at that sort of thing.

     "As far as Allan goes, I grew to respect him as a director. He had a singular focus to his vision, and no matter how blurred everything else got, that vision stayed clear.”

     - Armistead (Ted) Coleman, Producer
__________


     “It was a chapter in my life I’ll never forget. My heart just breaks when I think about what happened. How the screams were coming right at my face and I refused to see them in the name of keeping peace. I’m as much to blame as anyone else. If someone comes and asks you to help them, for God’s sake don’t downplay their troubles. You never know what they might really be trying to tell you when they don’t know how to put it into words.

     "What can I say? They were the most perfectly matched couple in the world. And they never, ever should have gotten together.”

     - Daniel Kopanski, Producer
__________


     “I didn’t really know them. I worked with them for two weeks. India had the sweetest face I’d ever seen. Her eyes could go right through you. But she seemed so lost. Like she was always waiting for someone to step up and just fix everything. It’s how it seemed to me.

     "Allan was okay. A little light in the shoes for my tastes, but a fair guy. Based on the things I read, I think he actually went both ways, so maybe just light in one shoe. But they seemed really devoted to each other. A shame how it all turned out. I did the best I could. I really tried. Know that.”

     - Henry Wakefield, Detective
__________

     
     “He seemed like one of those guys who always did things for shock value. Always trying to shake people up. I suppose that as a director, it’s the kind of thing you have to do, but it just didn’t sit well with me. I don’t really like games. I never saw any of their movies.”

     - Aaron Schiffer, Detective
__________


     “Boy, was I wrong about her! Just goes to show you how odd humans can be. Allan? He was a slut. Just kidding. He’d have made a fine vampire. He had a lot of style.”

     - Timothy Wallace, Vampire Life Magazine
__________


     “I didn’t know much about India’s past, except for what was on the net. And anyway, I never farted around much with girls and their psychology. Way too complicated for me. All I knew was that she could be pretty manipulative and bitchy, but in a woman that’s not unusual. And Allan? He was this flaming AC-DC with the strangest fashion sense I’d ever seen. Rock on, Mary.”

     - Howard Spence, Vampire Life Magazine
__________


     “Allan had this weird kind of creativity. Nothing was too outrageous for him. He took his ugliest imaginations and mixed them with a renaissance flair. It was like watching Swan Lake danced in a pool of blood. India? Pure hell on wheels. Never got too close to her, but she was very hot.”

     - Stuart Gold, Vampire Life Magazine
__________


     “Sometimes when we’d have coffee, I’d see her go kind of spooky in the eyes, when I’d mention certain things. She never told me anything but I figured things out by watching her eyes. And one thing I can tell you is that when Allan was around, her eyes were at their most intense. If I had to judge, I’d say he was not good for her. Too crazy. He was crazy. She was just a kid who got sucked into his nonsense.”

     - Lucille Kraft, India Bowman’s Personal Assistant
__________


     “I didn’t really know her. I saw her as off in her own little world. Highly aggressive. Played a lot of games to get her own way. But all things considered, we can’t really judge her by the same yardstick as others. She had a tremendous relationship with Allan though. Considering some of the behaviours I saw in him, it was a miracle they were together at all. Okay, maybe that’s not true. Maybe it was the only way it could have happened. Do you ever get the feeling that nothing happens without a reason?”

     - Marcia Elliott, Allan Baird’s Personal Assistant
__________


     “I remember her as a very sweet girl. Distant, but really gentle. She’d be alone at a table, watching us have lunch. The look on her face was like a kid watching someone eat ice cream, when she knew she couldn’t have any herself. We’d invite her over. She’d come, but never really participate. As if someone told her she couldn’t have any or she’d get a spanking. Because of that, I think emotions meant so much more when she let them shine through. I’ll tell you right now, if you were lucky enough to get a smile or a hug, it would make your day. It made my day. I just hope it made hers, too.”

     - Paul Mallory, Actor
__________


     “I met Allan at a party. I was in love. He was a bottom, y’know? Preferred to catch rather than pitch, if you know what I mean. He greeted me like he was the queen of fucking England. Held out his hand and expected me to kiss it or something. Said, ‘Welcome to the party, Mr. Raymond’. A real diva, for sure. All pissy and special. How did I respond? I kissed his hand, bowed, and said something like, ‘Good evening, m’lady’. Motherfucker winked at me and said I could take him home if I wanted.

     “He hated porn films, but I’d force him to watch. I’d tie him to my bed. He said if he was going to be forced to watch, he would narrate, just to demonstrate how stupid it was. He’d say, ‘The male of the species sometimes gets confused in his haste to find a mate. Notice this particular male attempting anal penetration of another male. Ach! Should the other male not be receptive, this could get unpleasant’. It turned into a comedy routine. He’d do his Scottish accent. Shit, it was funny. You have to imagine a skinny, naked kid strapped to a bed, narrating fuck films with a Scottish brogue. He had a comedic streak. And so sarcastic all the time. It’s a wonder he wasn’t beaten up more. No need to go down that road. You know what happened.

     “Do I have a comment about India? No. Allan loved her, and because I loved him, I’ll show some respect. Suffice to say they were in love. Probably always were. Probably always will be.”

     - Renfrew Raymond, Director
__________


     “When you first hold your baby in your arms, and the gear between the legs tells you it’s a boy, you think boy. You think ‘snips and snails and puppy dog tails’. But I was in for a real shock with my kid. If there was a point to be made in being chosen to raise such a child, it had to be so that I would learn the lessons I was lacking. Allan taught me patience and tolerance, taught me how to listen to feelings and ideas outside the box of things I was used to.

     “Now don’t get the wrong idea. It was no bed of roses for me. I never understood his choices. I’d blow up at him, hurt his feelings, and sometimes even wish he was someone else. But he charmed me into loving him. Just like my wife snuck into my dad’s heart when they first met. And sometimes love is enough. Sometimes, you don’t have to get it; you just have to care. Allan was one of those people who was born grown-up. He always knew himself and knew what he wanted to be. Like he’d been here before. Definitely reincarnated. My child was a gift, truly. A real gift. And I was privileged to have been one of those entrusted with his soul. Be good, Kiddo.”

     - Arthur Baird - Allan Baird’s father
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THE END

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 So there it is.  Did you enjoy the book?  Please feel free to post comments to express your thoughts.  Just to add a nice little touch to the end of it all, please see the attachments below.  This is the entirety of the poem, Annabel Lee, in Poe's own handwriting.  Nice.

I don't own them - I just found them on the interweb.  Credit to whoever owns them.