BY AL BRUNO III
Saturday November 16th 1996
Angie was asleep from almost the moment her head hit the pillow, she didn’t even get undressed she just gave Sig a goodnight kiss and lay down atop the bed. Her snore was a gentle thing, almost a whistle. Sig could listen to it all night and frequently did.
For him sleep was an elusive thing and his insomnia had grown worse has he’d grown older; there were too many aches, too many memories. Sometimes he would lie down next to her for the intimacy of it but would find himself staring at the ceiling for hours. The long nights meant that Sig knew every corner of the room, the scuffs in the carpet, the pattern of the wallpaper, the crack in the corner of the bureau mirror and the little statuettes Angie kept on the night table next to her glass of water and pills.
Her pills. Sig realized, She was supposed to take her pills before bed.
But he didn’t want to wake her. With any luck the old nightmares would stay away and she would rest through the night.
What a couple we make, in love but dying inside.
Moving with care Sig approached the foot of the bed and pulled off the soft shoes Angie wore and put them beside the easy chair in the opposite corner of the room. He turned back to watch her again for a while. They were smoking cigars in the dining room, he could just catch a whiff of it. He thought of lighting a candle but preferred the dark.
After watching her a little longer Sig gave in to his anxiety and went to the bureau. He pulled the old duffel bag from the bottom drawer and checked the contents.
Everything was still there of course but it still felt better to check. He still felt uneasy, he wanted to slip out of the house loose the metastasis and prowl the grounds until sunrise. What was wrong with him? Why did he feel like trouble was coming?
Magwier of course. Magwier and his pet soldier.
Stripping off his clothes as he went, Sig walked into the bathroom and started the shower. It was a pitiful thing for such a lavish bathroom but considering that Laurel House had no electricity, running water was a happy luxury. Sig wasn’t sure how it was done, he knew there was a furnace down below; Jack and Hao seemed to have to tend it every few hours or so. Sig was sure must be wells or something for the water supply but the exact mechanics of it were of no interest to him.
Assuming of course it was mechanics at work here and not something far older. Sig had his suspicions; after all there were only certain kinds of places that could be so completely hidden away.
And it wasn’t love that protected them here, oh no.
Sig had read once that during the middle ages people had built homes in the shadow of the Coliseum. They assumed God had built it and living nearby offered them a kind of protection.
After all Laurel House wasn’t like other places was it? It was hidden away from the world.
John climbed in the tub, closed the curtain and sat down, he let the hot water wash down over him. He thought to himself that it wasn’t just Magwier that had him spooked. It was Galen; it was Galen more than anything else.
Galen DelaWorg, brother of Jared, son of Coyle.
Sig cupped the water into his hands and splashed it over his face, what he wouldn’t give to be young again- or at least middle aged. What he wouldn’t give to be the man Angie needed. If he were young and rich, and human, he could take her to a hospital, pay for specialists, find a way to keep her disease at bay.
And now Galen is here. A High Born. Perhaps one of the last.
Victor Kovach had warned Sig against men like Galen, men that carried a kind of personal doom, a dark fate. What had Victor called it?
A nemesis. That was it. Sig smiled to himself, he could almost hear Victor saying the word in his head.
Men like Galen carried a nemesis and it could destroy anyone and anything that fell into its shadow. Laurel House was supposed to be a safe place, a hidden place but would that be enough now?
The steam in the bathroom was getting thick, the warmth made Sig drowsy; he still couldn’t sleep but it made a nonsense of his worries and memories and that was enough. He pulled his knees up around him and closed his eyes.