Friday, September 20, 2002

DARK - second prelude

Read the first prelude at tony pierce's busblog, then read this.
Then read parts 1, 2, 3, & 4

Rion Dark walked down Rodeo in Beverly Hills, fresh from his weekly manicure, and he wanted to get home and take a nap before tonight's repeat date with Edgar Bryant. The bald little accountant had definitely been proving a tough nut to crack. Tony would be working on him all day and early evening though, and hopefully he'd be ready to spill around the time Dark came around. Yesterday's acid trip had generated a few new mutilation ideas he really wanted to try out in the field.

Climbing into his jet black, illegally parked El Camino, Rion turned the ignition and listened to the powerful roar of the engine. One of these days my past will catch up with me, he thought, and I'll start this thing up for the last time as it goes up in an orange ball of flame.

But not today. Today he would continue to live on borrowed time. Time borrowed from others, like Edgar Bryant.


Dark glanced at his watch as the elevator made its slow journey to the third floor. 2:30. He still had a few hours to sleep and catch a shower. Then he'd have to begin preparing for tonight's little party with Edgar Bryant. Blades needed sharpening, among other things. Not all the blades, however. He'd discovered through trial and error that a messy cut could be much more painful than a clean one.

Finally the elevator car, which today was carrying the faint scent of urine, arrived at its destination, and Dark stepped out onto the third floor landing which led to his apartment. It was an outside walkway, with an almost dangerously short cast-iron rail protecting tenants from a three-story fall to the patio, which resembled a Melrose Place type of pool area.

Dark had specifically requested a flat with an outside entrance, because he loved to stand at his doorstep smoking cigarettes, and breathe in the fresh air along with the carbon monoxide. He'd always thought it funny that, in a way, smokers get more fresh air these days than anyone. All the righteous non-smokers had shuttled the smokers outside, away from their sterile, temperature controlled environments. Fine by Rion Dark. He liked being outside, especially when he was smoking cigarettes.

Luckily for Dark, and the rest of humanity, the anti-smoking craze had only gained full swing in the last five or so years. God watch over the bartender or busboy that requested Rion Dark take a cigarette outside ten years ago. He probably would have torn someone's arm off. Yes, he had definitely mellowed out in the last decade, learned to keep the lower profile so necessary for success in his line of work. In a strange, masochistic and chauvinistic light, those were quite the glory days, the uninhibited feeling of just going off on someone, really laying into some sorry ass for possibly no reason at all. He loved the violence, actually liked the physical pain of getting socked in the face, the sensation of popping blood vessels and tearing cartilage. It was a messy way to live, though, scrapping all the time, so he had learned to control his temper. Plus, Don Scalari definitely did not like attention, and Dark was sure that the old man had come close to sending a cleaner to his apartment once or twice, after one of Rion's more high profile scuffles.

So he'd learned to keep it on the down low. Age had a way of mellowing a man out, and although Dark could still explode at a moment's notice, he had acquired the ability to pick and choose those moments, which had proven both profitable and healthy.

As he neared the front door of his apartment, he noted that the potted petunia outside his front window was beginning to wilt. He'd have to remember to give it a little water. He turned the key to the apartment door, waiting for the explosion. Dark had lasted this long, and it had been in no small part due to constantly waiting for the hit, the ambush. He was always watching his back, and in truth, that was the way he liked it. He truly wouldn't have it any other way.

The interior of his apartment was characteristic for its lack of character. It was terribly average in almost every way. Dark green couch, slightly worn at the edges, 20" Panasonic TV, a small kitchenette. There was a modest bedroom in the back. Practically nothing in the way of personalization. Dark had better things to do with his time than interior decoration. Even the potted plant outside was there strictly to confuse prospective hitmen. Anyone looking for Rion Dark would think twice, and hopefully assume they had the wrong address, after seeing a petunia at the front door. It was probably a superstitious habit, the petunia, but it had worked so far. He was still alive.

There was one item of distinction in the apartment, however. A crystal ball nestled in a solid silver base, perched in the center of the cheap, dingy coffee table between the couch and the television. The ball itself was clear, but inside was some kind of cumulous cloud, some fog through which nothing could truly be seen. Dark had no idea, and in the further recesses of his mind, didn't really want to know, what exactly that white cloud was. Some nights, especially those after after a really good acid trip, Rion would sit and stare incessantly into that mysterious sphere. He would see kingdoms collapse, rapists deflower helpless young maidens, box-cutters slashing the throats of veteran whores on a rainy thunderous night, and any number of other, usually violent, occurrences. Dark didn’t know the source of the images, whether they came from his own subconscious or the ball itself, and truthfully, he really didn't care.

He had come across the object on a visit to Italy about seven years ago. Scalari had sent him back to the homeland (even though Dark had no Italian blood in him, he often referred to Italy as the homeland) to get a little old school mafia culture. The two months had left a great impression on the young torture apprentice. Dark had learned methods of inflicting pain that he'd never thought existed, and learned things about himself that he had always subconsciously known, yet never faced.

In any event, he had found the ball in Florence, at a knick-knack stand on the pont du vecchio, supposedly the oldest standing bridge in the world. It had been sitting on a hand woven rug, along with other various pieces of junk, watched over by an old crone that looked as if she hadn't seen a shower, let alone taken one, in the last decade. The ball had instantly caught his attention and held it.

"You see its energy, yes, young one?" the old hag had crackled, breaking Dark out of his trance. Looking up into the woman's eyes, he had found himself almost as entranced as when gazing at the crystal ball. Her eyes held endless depths, visions upon visions of life, death, rebirth, and damnation, not necessarily in that order.

His only reply had been a nod, and a shift in gaze, partly to break away from the eyes of the old woman, but mostly to stare at the crystal ball once again. He had already begun to see images in its hazy interior. Images of violence. An erection had begun to grow in his pants.

"I can see that the two of you were meant for each other," the old bag spoke in Italian, which Dark had learned with adequate proficiency before his excursion to the Old World. She told him that the special price for him, as she was feeling generous, would be the equivalent of $150.00 American. Dark balked, but the woman would not lower her price, and Dark ended up paying. Looking back, it was the best c-note and a half he ever blew.

Before he could leave with his treasure, however, Dark had had to listen to a certain amount of ranting and raving about the ball. "Respect, young one. Respect is the key to fully appreciating the value of this item. Respect for the object, as well as yourself and others. Although you are young and impudent now, I sense the capability for the necessary respect in your future. Realize that capability, young one."

Whatever, you old bat, he'd thought to himself. At that time in his life, Rion Dark had held respect for nothing and no one. Not that he respected anyone now, but he had at least learned to put up a good front.

Dark shook his head suddenly, and after looking at the analog clock hanging over the TV, realized he had been staring at the damned ball for forty five minutes. Now all he had time for was a quick half-hour nap and a hot shower before checking in on his old buddy Edgar Bryant. If he recalled correctly, it was Tony's shift to entertain Mr. Bryant this afternoon. Tony had been growing increasingly psychotic over the last month, even for a professional torture artist, and if recent patterns held, Bryant was most likely in a serious world of hurt at the moment.

Not that Rion was a much better option, but he liked to think of himself as a polite torturer, if such a thing existed. He smiled and laughed a little at the thought, then headed for the shower and it's hot, cleansing, waters.