Warden Way, Mando.
Monday, June 26, 2002
Sitting on the rocking chair out in the porch, Perseus had a feeling he knew the persons behind it all. It had looked too clean to be an accident; too remote to have been unplanned. There were very few people in Calodia who he considered enemies, and even fewer still those who were intrigued enough to cause any harm to him. Perseus hadn’t seen the unmarked patrol car when he turned into the road. Things might have turned out differently if he had. There had been no visible route out, not with the pursuers at his heel.
Truth be told, they hadn’t expected an accident of any kind that day. The call had come in early that morning with an invite to a book launch. The sequel to Legend Mile’s upheaval had long been anticipated and the thrill of the possibility of an autographed copy surpassed the need to check for the authenticity of the surprising invite. Somehow, it hadn’t seemed important at that time.
Perseus had needed that type of breakthrough in his career; meeting a Nobel prize winner was a stepping stone to a wider horizon. The college where he lectured sure offered him the fame amongst the students’ lips but Perseus had wanted way more than that.
Fania had been so excited that it brought tears to his eyes just thinking about it. He should have put up a front when she showed up at his doorstep an hour later, all dressed up in the yellow summer dress his mother had gotten for her. But he hadn’t had a reason to. Since the beginning of the two ethereal years they had been together, they had never appeared at a formal event without each other. Now, it had become a devastating policy.
The street lamps cast a soft glow to the surrounding buildings, evading Perseus and his porch. He felt that way too; like the whole world had suddenly evaded him.
It was only 1:00 am yet he thought the morning to be painfully quiet. Even the night watchman and his German Shepherd, which bounded up and down the streets at intervals, hadn’t done so in the past hour. To Perseus, it all felt too fragile.
The moment the scene had opted to replay itself in his head, he had known there was little he could do to make himself go to sleep. He had wandered out to the porch, listening to the hushed sounds of the traffic afar off and the obnoxious thumping of heels on the sidewalk, till they all gradually quietened as the night deepened.
That day, shortly after they had moved out of the driveway and into the main road, two shiny black cars pulled out after them. Perseus had had all reasons to be suspicious as he watched through the rearview mirror. He had seen nothing through the heavily tainted glasses of the cars and he’d felt something terrible coming.
For the shortest of moments, he had considered pulling at the side of the road but then one of the cars had sped off ahead into the distance and out of sight. Fania barely had time to understand the suspicions of her boyfriend when they were whacked the first time by the unmarked patrol car that had seemed to appear from thin air. Perseus had tried to reverse his car immediately but the second black car was back and he had unavoidably slammed hard into its brake lights. He had thought the patrol car had lost control over its brakes as it rode straight into him within the blink of an eye. But now, Perseus had reasons to believe nothing had gone wrong with those brakes.
He could still hear himself screaming as he tried to shield Fania from the impact of the force. But he had been a tad too late. The blood had been too much and he had found it hard to believe none of it had been his. It had gotten lodged as one of those road accidents unavoidable by road users and the file swept under the growing pile of graceful delinquencies.
The scratch on his forehead had healed already but Fania still hadn’t woken up. It had been one hell of a month, not being able to make any move knowing that his tracks could easily be sniffed up. At least, he was safe here.
That the whole thing seemed especially at the forefront this morning was unjustifiable, giving the promise he had made to himself to remain in Mando until she regained consciousness. For the now, staying low looked like the perfect idea.
Perseus looked on at the empty street for a while longer before heading inside in search of a can of soda. It was two-thirty already but exhaustion remained far from him. He went over to the corner of the room to pick a glass, filled it to the brim with scotch and soda, then settled onto the stool.
He reveled in the peaceful quiet until the shrill sound of the phone made him jerk, spilling a small amount of the drink in the process. He cursed out loud as he ran into the dark bedroom, intent on reaching it before the caller hung up.
“Did anyone show up?”
The silence lasted for more than a second before the deep voice responded.
Another silence. It was pregnant enough to give Perseus more than he had been prepared to hear.
The pulse at the base of his throat trembled with rage as he struggled to restrain himself from taking the next flight to Dember.
“Tony, do you think this was all schemed out?” Whether or not he confirmed it, Perseus was undoubtedly sure. ” That someone somewhere has been going at me with the plan of ending my existence?”
Perseus could hear the sounds of his footsteps as he pounded down the stairs.
“Yeah. I think so. There is something manipulative about all of it.”
Perseus hadn’t realized he had been holding his breath until he exhaled.
“Do you have any idea who it might be?”
He seemed to think it through before answering.
“Book me the first flight heading for Dember today.”
“And her body?”
“I will be back.”