In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
May 14, 1993
Alone in his house John paced from room to room, his cane thumping hollowly on the floorboards. Just a few hours till his meeting with Jason Magwier; a meeting he was going to show up empty-handed to. Damn that Phil! Why couldn't he have just given in this one time? Cursing under his breath he stalked up the stairs and back down again. Sometimes he felt that he was worse off than his former master was; after all, Victor had the luxury of oblivion.
There was a knock at the door. John stiffened, testing the air; hoping that somehow, impossible as it might seem, Phil had decided to be reasonable. Halfway to the foyer his senses told him otherwise. He raised his eyebrows- she never came here alone.
He opened the door, “Hello Zara.”
“John.” she stepped inside, “I was afraid you might be gone already.”
“Where would I go?”
“That diner of yours.” she waited for him to close the door and then followed him into the barren parlor.
“I haven't been since...” John's voice trailed off.
Zara pulled a tattered book from her purse. “I believe you boys were arguing about this.”
“He gave you that?”
“He doesn't know I have it.” she smiled and pressed the book into his hand, “He doesn't even know that I know they still exist.”
“How long have you known?”
“And you're not angry that he kept them?”
“I try to have as little anger as possible in my life.”
John inhaled deeply, whiffs of mildew and dust made his nostril hairs prickle, along with the odors of Phil's cigarettes and most recently Zara's skin lotion; he caught the ghost of Victor's scent somewhere in the blend. “If you're worried about anger then you need to re-think your choice of lovers.”
“How long do you need the book for?”
“May I ask why?”
“Magwier- I mean August paid me a visit last night.”
Her face became a tangle of emotions. For a moment John was afraid she was going to demand the book back but instead she asked, “Does he look any older?”
“Oh John...” Zara shook her head, “You know he's trouble.”
“He wants the journal?”
“What did he promise you in return?”
John looked away from her. Phil's screech of You can live without it! echoing in his mind. Was it true? Was he just being selfish? “The Metastasis.”
“Is this something he can deliver?”
“I-” he shook his head, “I don't know. He told me he's not sure.”
Zara chuckled bleakly at his last comment, “Here we go again eh?”
“Remember that first time I worked with him?”
“Victor sent me off with him... I remember I was driving and he was sitting in the passenger seat, whistling this song I'd never heard before.” she wrung her hands as she spoke, “I asked him what it was and he just smiled in that infuriating way of his and told me that it was nothing I'd heard yet.”
“I did hear the song, almost twenty years later. It was by a rock singer called David Bowie.”
John had never heard of this David Bowie but he understood what she found so disconcerting, “When I asked him how he knew so much he told me it was deja-vu. Maybe he knows the future.”
“If he does then that makes him all the more dangerous.” Zara turned to leave, “Listen to me John, he's no better than Victor, He doesn’t see people as being real, she sees them as tools he can use and then discard..”
“I'll be careful.”
She paused in the doorway, “Just please get that book back to me as soon as possible, I don't need Phil realizing that I'm on to him.”
“All right.” he replied and then added as an afterthought, “Zara?”
“Yes?” she paused in the foyer.
“Why do you put up with that old goat anyway?”
“Do you know what a wife is?” she said, “A wife is a woman that knows her husband's darkest secrets and loves him anyway.”
She let herself out, John stared at the journal in his hands.