Atlantic Bridge – 14 –
Cassel Residence, Canterbury.
The languid vocals of Donald Fagen filled the room, as Marius poured them both a Californian Zinfandel Rose. The track was Home at Last from Steely Dan’s masterpiece, Aja.
“Is that how you feel, when you walk into this house, Marius?” asked Annie, nodding appreciatively to the music.
“Home at last?” said Marius. His eyes took on a faraway look. To Annie, it looked like he was deciding something. Eventually he turned to her, eyeing his wine, holding it up to the light. “ I could be arrested you know, a Frenchman drinking a Californian wine” he sighed. “Yes and no. I feel at home here. But I never feel as if I’ve come home. There’s a subtle, yet important difference.”
“It’s the soul” offered Annie, mysteriously.
“Are you sure it isn’t the wine?” he said, smiling softly.
“It’s a lot easier to rest your mind and body” continued Annie, “but where the soul rests, now that has to be a special place.”
He looked at her. How did he get into this conversation? He didn’t really want to go down that particular road. Not yet. Music felt like safer ground.
He went over to his shelves of vinyl, his finger tracing the spines until he found what he was looking for.
“Are you familiar with Alphonse Mouzon?” he asked, brandishing the Mind Transplant sleeve in front of her face.
Annie, sensing she’d probed a little too deep, went with the flow.
“I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be. Is he French?”
“No, he’s an African American Drummer, popular in the mid-seventies, early eighties of the twentieth century. I want to play you Golden Rainbows, it features the legendary Tommy Bolin on guitar. Enjoy, and I’ll do some pasta. ” He tossed her the sleeve, the virtuoso guitar music filling the room, and headed for the kitchen.
“Sounds French to me” she muttered, leaning back and closing her eyes, losing herself in the music.
Twenty minutes later, they were enjoying Tagliatelle Carbonara, discussing the project animatedly between mouthfuls. Annie was stunned to learn of the Biomolecular properties of Polyflex, which Marius had disclosed to her following her questions regarding speed of manufacture versus deadlines.
He in turn was captivated by her tales of a life researching the Oceans of the world.
Inevitably, talk turned to family.
Around 1 a.m., Marius was persuading Annie to finish the third bottle of wine.
She gently placed her hand over her empty glass.
“Nope” she said, firmly, but kindly. “A girl’s got to know her limit. I need to get to bed, if you’ll show me my room, kind sir.”
Marius put the bottle down.
“I wasn’t trying to get you drunk…”
“Itsh too late for that” she slurred, rolling her eyes comically. She looked him in the eye. “Seriously though Marius, I like you, but I can’t get into anything right now, I just cant. You would be doing me a great honour if, at least for the moment, you could be my friend. I need a good friend. More than you know.” She looked away, biting her lip.
“Whatever else I may or may not become, I’ll always be that” he said softly, kissing the top of her head. “Come on, your bedroom awaits.”
He led her upstairs, showing her the door to the spare room. He headed off to close up the house. As she turned to go in she called after him.
“Marius?” He looked up. “Thank you” she said, meaning it. The bedroom door closed, and Marius secured the doors and windows and set the alarms. As the clock struck 2 a.m, the house was in darkness, its occupants alone with their thoughts.
The Monastery, Ambialet
Henri cast his expert eye down the barrel of his high-velocity snipers rifle.
He’d spent the last two hours disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling it with loving care. He checked the extraordinarily powerful telescope night sight mounted on the top. He was supremely comfortable with this piece of hardware; it was like an extension of him. It had also saved countless lives. Fifteen years previously, he’d received a citation (secretly of course) from U.S. High Command for taking out a suicide bomber with a head shot before he could detonate himself in a busy shopping mall in Toulouse, which was filled with American Exchange Students.
He slung the rifle over his shoulder and climbed the stairs to the roof, emerging into the starlit night. Dark clouds drifted solemnly in the blackness, obscuring the moon for minutes at a time. He crouched down in front of the low stone parapet that encircled the roof. “Allez, Come then” he growled, and began to systematically scan the approaches to Ambialet down the barrel of the gun.
© Kev Moore 2008 All Rights Reserved
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