In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
February 25, 1993
“Phil’s not ready yet John. He overslept.” the starkly middle-eastern features of the woman at the door had been softened by age. She wore her long iron-colored hair in a bun, a pair of bifocals rested at the end of her nose. Zara Kovatch stepped aside, “Have a seat. Would you like a soda? Some juice?”
“A soda please.” John stepped inside the three-story Victorian brownstone Phil and his common-law wife had called home for almost thirty-five years. The walls were painted an eggshell white, the floor was covered with a plush blue carpet, there were no pictures on the wall. The smell of incense filled the air. John could just hear the sound of the shower running. A small color television occupied one side of the wall, a large salt water fish tank occupied the other. These were all Zara’s little touches, if Phil had had his way the place would have been furnished like a barroom.
“I don’t know why he stays up so late sometimes.” she closed and locked the front door.
John sat on the couch, facing away from the fishtank, he always found it a little too distracting, “It must be something in the air.”
“You too, hm?” she crossed the parlor and stepped into the kitchen and beginning rummaging through the refrigerator. Neither she or Phil drank soda but she always kept some on hand for John.
“I finally dropped off around five am.”
She brought him a can of soda and then sat on the couch beside him, “Well you don’t get as exhausted from it as Phil does. He gets grouchy when he doesn’t get at least eight hours of rest.”
“He gets grouchy when the sun comes up.” the coffee table was piled high with newspapers and magazines. Her scissors, glue and scrapbooks were off to one side.
“I wish he’d come with me to Tai-Chi. He needs to get some exercise.”
“Never happen. It would be too much like work.”
She laughed at that. “I think sometimes the only way I can get him to do something is to ask him not to do something.”
“You got him to quit smoking. That’s something.”
“A minior miracle.”
John found his attention drawn to the front page of the newspaper before him. The black and white photograph showed a man in prison fatigues being led from a courthouse in chains. Government agents surrounded him, there was something familiar about the man standing to the prisoner’s left. John tapped the picture, “Is that-”
“Lionel’s son? I think so.” Zara’s expression became solemn, “The man they’ve got there was a cult leader. He would meet young girls at the shopping malls and tell them he was an alien ambassador masquerading as a human being. He told these girls, the youngest was twelve, the oldest was seventeen, that he was interested in recruiting them.”
“Well, he got most of them in bed, except for the one that went to the police of course.”
The gullibility of the human race never ceases to amaze me. John thought as he sipped his soda, enjoying the sweetness and the bubbles. “Why would the Project have taken an interest in him?”
Zara shrugged, “I don’t know. I do know this though, our randy alien visitor hung himself in his cell the very night he was arrested.”
“You think Lionel’s boy was responsible?”
“I don’t know what to think.” Zara had collected dozens of scrapbooks over the years and in them she had articles ranging from detailed examinations of the Kennedy assassination to one-paragraph obituaries. “Things are moving more quickly now, the Monarchs are very close.”
John bristled at the very mention of them, “It doesn’t matter. As long as Victor is alive they don’t have a way in.”
“Do you know how old Victor is?” Phil stood at the foot of the winding staircase, his hair was still wet. “Christ! She was married to him and even she doesn’t know.”
“He’s older than me.” John said.
Phil walked over to Zara and kissed the top of her head, “That narrows it down doesn’t it?”
“When was the last time someone checked on him?”
“The nursing home would tell us if anything had changed.” Zara reached up to stroke her lover’s cheek.
“We’ll be long gone before he dies or comes to.” Phil’s smile was venomous, “We’ll be in Heaven before the Devil knows we’re dead.”