In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Fifty Six
BY AL BRUNO III
Monday, November 25th 1996
The baby grand piano in the drawing room was gleamed like it had been freshly lacquered the notes it produced were flawless but no one in Laurel House ever had to polish or tune it; like Laurel House the piano simply was. Bodivar liked to wile away the hours with it but he always locked the drawing room doors first.
His fingers moved along the black and white keys in the familiar patterns of Rachmaninoff's Piano Sonata No. 1; once, long ago, Bodivar had used music as a way to help him work out his theorems and treatises. His wife was always somewhere nearby, contentedly listening to the melodies they both knew by heart.
In those days he had thought great things and dared flaunt conventional ideas. He had become drunk on the glory of it.
Now when he played the piano he brooded, remember what he had and wondering if things could have been different.
When Rachmaninoff finished he moved on to Fur Elise and suddenly his fingers were like lead, the notes came out stuttering and sour. Why did this one song elude him?
The knock on the drawing room door irritated him further. “Occupied,” Bodivar said, usually that was all it took.
The knocking continued; four insistent beats, then Shave and a Haircut.
Sighing Bodivar got up from the baby grand and answered the door. It was Jason Magwier.
“Pudding?” he said. There was a bowl and a spoon in each hand.
Bodivar took the bowl, “Thank you?”
“I was wondering if we could talk,” Magwier swept past him into the drawing room.
“Of course,” Bodivar said. The walls of the drawing room were painted eggshell white, sunlight filtered down through an ornate skylight. There were couches and chairs arranged around the room, Bodivar sat down in one and tried a mouthful of pudding. It was tapioca, never his first choice. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Cabbages and Kings and all that,” Magwier elbowed the drawing room doors shut, “you make such lovely music. It seems a shame to keep it behind locked doors.”
“It helps me relax.”
“Writing poetry does the same thing for me. Would you like to hear one of mine,” he cleared his voice, “‘Frozen wasteland of the heart, winter of dream and memory I bask-’”
Bodivar narrowed his eyes in disbelief, “You came in here to recite poetry?”
“Poetry and pudding. Cabbages and Kings. But, truth be told I really wanted to ask you about Galen. What do you think of him?”
“He seems... all right. Why do you ask?” Bodivar eyed the man and ate slowly. Everyone knew the stories about Jason Magwier, the man that changed his name for every generation but that would always in his soul be The Hanged Man. Wasn't the Hanged Man just another name for Odin the bloodthirstiest of all the tricksters?
Magwier took a mouthful of of chocolate pudding and swirled it thoughtfully around in his mouth like he was tasting wine. He swallowed theatrically, “He could bring the wrath of the Monarchs down on our heads.”
“I would think the Monarchs want you more,”
Another contemplative mouthful of pudding later Magwier said, “You know I was there at the fall of Woldercan, the entire city shattered like glass.”
“I did not know you were there,” Bodivar set his bowl aside.
Clouds crept across the face of the sun, the room gently darkened then brightened again. Magwier asked, “Did you mean what you said?”
“That as far as you were concerned the human race could save itself.”
“It's about time isn't it?”
“But what if the Monarchs win?” Magwier set his empty bowl down on the piano and tried to balance his spoon on his nose, “If you're the last man on Earth you're going to get bored believe me, I would know.”
“What are you talking about? What do you want?”
“But you had your revenge didn't you? You and the Sunlight Brotherhood drove the Vjestitiza back into the Ruins of Creation.”
“The world was a different place then.” Bodivar felt a shiver of annoyance at the term The Sunlight Brotherhood. They had been a brotherhood of grief, nothing more, and when they had avenged their loved ones they never crossed each other’s paths again.
The spoon clattered to the floor, Magwier prodded it with a sneakered foot, “You were a hero once.”
“Unlike you, I learned that a hero's tale is just the prologue of a tragedy. Valor is the currency of fools.”
“They said your wife could have escaped the Vjestitiza but she tried to save others. No, she did save others, dozens of ordinary, desperate folk,” his dark eyes seemed to churn as he spoke, “That was a tragedy yes, but do you really think your Penelope was a fool?”
Bodivar stood, “You would do well to avoid being alone with me in the future, it would be even better if you left entirely.”
There was a bemused expression on Magwier's face as he watch the other man storm out of the drawing room. Then he realized, “Hey! You forgot your pudding!”