Elijah was sitting in his reserved booth at Jardin.
Elijah hadn’t expected the evening off. When Lucia had first sent him to Jardin, Elijah had a job. He wasn’t overly excited by the prospect of spending his whole evening tracking down some street dealer that couldn’t keep his hands out of the wrong fairy’s cookie jar, but Lucia had given Elijah worse jobs over the years.
Elijah had a booth that Arsene kept for him near the easternmost stairwell to Jardin‘s spiderweb of balconies. It provided Elijah with a comprehensive view of Jardin‘s dance floor. Elijah was wearing his sunglasses, and although he wasn’t blind as so many folks assumed, the sunglasses were for more than just show. White folks tended to react poorly to a black man with no eyes… just smoking, smoldering craters where his eyes used to be.
Vol. 1: Overture
By Dawn Saas and Nic Frankenberry
Powered by the Apocalypse and the work of D. Vincent Baker
as well as
Urban Shadows by Andrew Medeiros and Mark Diaz Truman
Microscope by Ben Robbins
Elijah watched the dwindling reverie on the dance floor. Jardin hadn’t returned to the manic peak before the ghost had broken the drug dealer’s hand. Folks were still dancing, but there was a nervous, anxious energy filling the whole club. There were no more orgies for that evening.
Jardin was less of the psychedelic mindfuck for Elijah that it was for most of the club’s patrons.
Elijah could see, but one’s vision tends to alter dramatically when you cease to have eyes. When he had first tried to explain his vision to Opal, he’d said it wasn’t like he was “seeing” at all. He had a sense of the world around him. It was gray scale. He was aware of a hazy outline of shapes and bodies. He understood depth, but his world was dark and obscure.
Elijah couldn’t believe he’d ran into the spirit again.
It had been almost a decade since Elijah had seen Virgil. He’d caught her poking around Serafini’s, the restaurant where Elijah moonlit as a bouncer. The ghost was in Lucia’s office. She ran and Elijah chased her, but it’s hard to keep up with someone that can turn invisible and walk through walls. He hadn’t seen her since, and Elijah had figured she’d found some other place to haunt.
Elijah was sipping a whiskey straight when a figure started to emerge from the dark cloud of the club’s dance floor. Elijah thought he knew who it was almost immediately, but he let Opal come closer before he waved at her. Ghosts and old flames, it was a night of reunions.
Opal — a tall black woman wearing a sparkling, strapless dress that showed off her well-defined back and shoulder muscles — sat down beside Elijah. Her hair was cut short, but her head wasn’t shaved. She rested her head on Elijah’s shoulders.
“How long has it been, stranger?”
“Too long, Opal.”
Elijah didn’t reciprocate Opal’s physical affection, and she gently lifted her head off of his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek.
“Damn straight it’s been too long. You can’t text? I miss you, Elijah.”
“I miss you too, Opal, but… Lucia keeps me real busy.”
There was a slight southern drawl starting to creep into Elijah’s speech.
“And what? You think I’m just on a permanent vacation with Randy?”
Elijah didn’t have a response.
Opal sighed dramatically and stood up and waved at another murky figure emerging from the haze of the club.
“I want you to meet somebody. Promise to play nice?”
Elijah nodded his head slowly and took a large gulp of his whiskey.
The figure emerged more clearly into Elijah’s line of sight. It was a short woman sporting a hairdo that Elijah had called the butch mullet in the 90s. She was Dominican and wearing a white tank top and jorts. She slipped her hand into Opal’s and looked at Elijah expectantly.
“Elijah, this is my girlfriend. Rosa Martinez. Rosa, this is one of my oldest, dearest friends, Elijah Frick.”
Elijah reached out his hand and shook Rosa’s although he didn’t get up from his seat.
“Opal’s told me a lot about you, Elijah.”
Rosa was studying Elijah intently and Elijah suppressed a wild urge to take off his sunglasses and stare back.
“Opal’s stories are very generous.” Elijah’s Logan County accent was out in full force.
Rosa tilted her head and then turned and whispered in Opal’s ear. Opal kissed her partner on the mouth and smacked her on her ass as she wandered back to the dance floor.
“I promised I’d dance with her a little longer before we went home. You want to join us?”
“I’m going to have to pass but thanks Opal. She seems nice.”
“She is. I love her. We just moved in together.”
Elijah was silent again.
“I still love you too, Elijah. Not in that way, but I do love you. I care about you. We don’t have to be strangers.”
“I know, Opal. I know. I’ll do better.”
It was Opal’s turn to nod slowly, and then she disappeared into the crowd to find her lover. Elijah finished his drink. Like they knew it was going to happen, one of Jardin‘s servers appeared beside Elijah with another glass of whiskey. He slipped her a five as a tip.
Elijah’s accent was already gone.
Elijah was still technically on loan to Arsene for the week until this whole business was resolved.
Elijah hadn’t figured out what Lucia’s angle on this was. She wasn’t in the drugs game. What did she care about some Orchid dealer? That was Randy’s market.
When Jardin shut down for the evening, Arsene offered Elijah their office as temporary sleeping quarters. The brunette that the fairy had slumped onto their couch had been quieted out of the club not long after Virgil had went tracking down her prey, and Arsene had left a comfortable micro-fleece throw and some pillows on the couch for Elijah.
Elijah couldn’t see the light show in Arsene’s office either. All Elijah could perceive was the bare drywall, Arsene’s desk, and the bank of camera monitors. Elijah watched the footage of the empty club for a couple minutes. He’d occasionally see a janitor mopping a floor or a security guard roaming. Otherwise, the city’s memorial to sex was silent.
Elijah took off his dress slacks and his jacket and his white shirt and laid under the blankets in his red boxer briefs. Elijah pulled his pants off the office floor and pulled out his phone and saw a bevy of notifications.
Elijah’s hands were lightning as they pulled up Lucia’s phone number and clicked the call button.
“I don’t appreciate tardiness, Elijah.”
“I wanted to see how much you missed me, boss.”
“I’m not especially fond of smart asses either, Elijah.”
I need you to meet Lex at Rhodes Tower. He’ll text you the details shortly. I’ve already spoken with Arsene. I understand he no longer needs your services.”
Lucia disconnected the call, and Elijah was up and fully dressed less than a minute later.