I still smell a bit like the witches, their blood and smoke and sharp perfume, like the sweat of the actor who held me more confidently than many of my serious past relationships, like murder and love and despair and the body swinging from the noose.
At one point I jumped an entire flight of stairs to keep up with The Detective, (Malcolm? Lord Duncan’s son?), only realizing in mid-air, knees automatically tucked, that perhaps what I was doing was foolish, what with the dislocated bones in my ankle, the sprained ligament in my spine. No matter that he just did it, he’s trained, looks like ballet. What am I doing? Too late, too bad, I landed perfectly, slammed into the wall and rebounded, leaping half the next flight, again, impeccably done, the better to run, the better to keep track of the plot, the story, the dark and haunting dream meticulously building inside the McKittrick Hotel. Sometimes you just have to sprint. And when, after I tore up the stairs after him after he was poisoned in the ballroom, as we sat panting on the floor of his office together, when he met my eyes, I almost smiled invisibly behind my mask, but instead I winked.
I was rewarded with a one of the rare and coveted one-on-one sessions, pulled firmly from the audience in the back of his auguromancy office, where the walls are covered in birds, into one of the locked areas, a long darkened room just off of the main street. Once the door was shut behind us, he pulled me to him as as a lover might, pushing my body with his in the darkness, close and incredibly, impossibly intimate. I had thought my time before with the green witch, who put her fingers in my mouth in the closet then tore me through the false back through a Narnia hallway full of fur coats, was familiar, but in comparison to how he held me, it was nothing.
He placed me like a ball jointed doll, manipulating my body with his body, pulling my arms back, trapping me against him so that every possible inch of us touched, and then swept aside a black velvet curtain that we’d been invisibly facing in the pitch dark. It might as well been a magic trick. In front of us was a very tiny room, just barely big enough for both of us, with a dim light shining on a small metal box sat on a very tiny table. We leaned down, still glued together, his unexpectedly powerful dancer’s body keeping me in place, and he opened the box to reveal five pale eggs nestled in straw. Shifting me to his side, as if I were conspiring with him, he then added an egg from his office to the box and ran his fingers over them, murmuring secrets and small pieces of not-quite-shakespeare. After the crowded office, the manic ballroom, it felt like we were the only people alive.
A beat, then another, until we were breathing together, before he chose one of the eggs and carefully placed it in my hand, closing my fingers around it as if it was precious, so gently I was actually shocked, then smashed it, cracking it completely into dust with the strength of his fingers around mine. My hand was suddenly full of ashes, thick and chalky. He forced them into my palm, roughly rubbing them in all the way up my wrist, reading the lines, the black streaks of carbon writing a map of my life. Suddenly a tiger, he brought me to my feet again, picking me bodily off the floor, and pushed me into the wall with his hips, ripping my mask upwards and off my face. “Who are you?”, he demanded, shoving, pulling at my hair, running a hand over my face, holding a massive magnifying glass only inches away from my eyes. I stayed silent, uncertain if I should speak, but then the moment shifted and again it was if we were lovers, and he pressed himself into me, lifting me off my feet, shifting me to another wall, and we held each other so closely, so tightly that it seemed real. I felt necessary, as if I wasn’t there, he would break. The intimacy was almost unbearable.
Then, another shock, the light flicked off, dropping us again into complete darkness. He fell a little, away from me, coughing, barely choking out his lines, clutching at me as his body wracked in agony. It was my turn to hold us up, until finally he spat up a tiny wet feather which he pressed into my hand. When the light came up again, but even softer, more dimly, he said, “The hawk was seen flying at dawn.” He fiercely pressed us into the wall again. I felt exposed by his need. We might as well have been naked. “Do you understand?” I nodded. “And blood demands blood.” His lines were the words that he’d typed on his locked down typewriter only two scenes ago. “Blood will have blood.”