From the Desk of Minus Three:

Today there’s this;
And this;
And this;
And most certainly this;

In the creative process, Michael was heavily inspired by whiskey music.

Also, if you’re so inclined you can Like me here;!/pages/Minus-Three/267964253233282
God damn that’s quite a long link, innit? I can actually customize the URL once 25 people click that Like button though.

Also, if I had tried to insert any kind of sex scene in this chapter I’d have looked like one of those contrived authors with no attention to the proper pace of storytelling. Enjoy all the same.


Pyre (4)

Forgive Me Pretty Baby, I Always Take the Long Way Home…

As much as I loved The Cove it never really seemed like the kind of place you’d take a date. I wasn’t so sure I was actually on a date anyway; I’d never really been on one before. When I asked Magda if she wanted to go get lunch somewhere though, she had insisted I be the one to choose where. She wanted in. She wanted to know what made me tick. She wanted to see the world as I saw it because she could tell that our two points of view on the world weren’t so different anyway.

So we sat at one of the booths in the back corner and sipped pints and ate. The food was good there, plentiful and cheap. It wasn’t some pretentious suit bar, it wasn’t some grimy dive, it was somewhere in the middle. At various times during the day or night you could see a vast cross section of everything the city had to offer. The Cove turned none away and all felt welcome there.

While we ate we talked. Magda was really curious about my life. Not in the way that most were; she didn’t ask about the glitz and the money and the fame. She didn’t ask about the cameras and the interviews with my mother. She asked about me. What was my favorite subject in school; I hadn’t had one. What was the name of the first girl I’d kissed; I couldn’t remember. Did I remember that TV show where that guy did that thing; I had never really been that into TV. I was worried she would think I was shutting her out by stonewalling her attempts at conversation, but I could tell she knew those were just my honest answers. I’d long ago developed a habit of communicating more by what I didn’t say than by what I did. Magda seemed the same; I could by the things she was thinking that she was happy to just sit and hang out without needing to explain herself to me. I didn’t know much about her, but I could fill in a few blanks just by guessing. She didn’t owe me any explanations. Besides; who was I to judge?

The old guy at the table across the pub had been watching us the whole time we’d been there. He reminded me of Iggy Pop; hollow and sunken cheeks, long straight white hair, eyes that had seen things most people wouldn’t even believe set in a face etched with deep lines around his mouth and eyes. I picked up ‘starers’ from time to time; people who recognized me, or at least thought they did, and wouldn’t stop looking until I left, or until I was an asshole to them to destroy their expectations of who Michael Fox was supposed to be. I didn’t want to act like a dick in front of Magda though, so I waited for her to get up and go to the washroom before catching the old dude’s eyes and jutting my chin towards him and making a ‘what the fuck do you want’ face. His expression didn’t change, he didn’t even blink. I held my hands palm up out from my sides and shrugged, mouthing the words “what do you want?” His expression didn’t change in the slightest; it was like trying to stare down a painting. I slid out of the booth and walked over to where he sat.

“You want somethin’, man?” I asked him aggressively.

His head remained stationary but he swiveled his eyes up to meet mine. When he spoke his voice was deeper than I’d expected. “We all want something , child.”

“Yeah, whatever,” I said. “But what do you want from me ? Why are you staring at me so hard?”

“You’re taller than I expected,” he said in his creepy voice.

“Whatever, man. Answer the question; what are you looking in my eyes for? Does it look like I have something for you?”

“You do, actually. You’re Michael Fox,” the creep said.

“Yeah, sometimes. But right now I’m the guy telling you to fuck off. Stop staring at me, man.”

“Very well, Michael. As you wish,” he stood in front of me. He was tall and thin, angular and strange, and looked down at me with his disturbing and penetrating gaze. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what color his eyes were supposed to be. They were a light enough grey that they were almost white like cataracts, but his stare was like knives and I felt a chill run up my spine.

“What?” I asked, sticking my chin out at him again. “Do something, weirdo…”

A small smile split his lips and I felt the chill again. He slipped past me and left without looking back over his shoulder. I looked back to our table to see that Magda had returned and was looking out the window wistfully at the people walking by under the cloudy sky. I looked to the bar to see Charlie looking at me with a curious look on his face. I walked over to lean on the bar and speak to him.

“Yo Chuck, you know that dude?” I asked him while paying our bill.

“Dude? What dude?” he asked me with a quizzical look on his face.

“That old white haired dude that was sitting back there,” I said, pointing at the table where’d he’d been sitting since we got there.

“I didn’t see any old guys, Michael,” Charlie explained, punching some buttons on the computer screen in front of him. “If anyone was sitting there, he didn’t order anything. Hey, Stacey! Did you serve an old white haired guy sitting at 11?”

The waitress replied that she hadn’t. I shrugged and shook my head and went back to me and Magda’s table. Her shy smile and haunted eyes had become less shy and less haunted since I’d first met her but she still tensed when I put my hand on her shoulder before she looked up and met my eyes and relaxed. The flinch instinct; the practiced coiling to strike. I knew it well. It was like looking in a mirror and I suddenly let out a laugh.

“What?” she asked, smiling.

“Nothing,” I said, smiling back and shaking my head. “This is just great, Magda. I don’t really feel comfortable around most people, you know?”

“Yeah,” she answered as she got up and took my hand. We walked for the door and out into the cloudy day together. She squeezed my hand harder. “Yeah, I know.”

We walked with no particular destination, ignoring the people around us who walked past in their stifled and closeted lives. I’d always felt separate from it all, but in that solitude was a loneliness that I didn’t miss now that it was gone. We’d walked for hours; poking our heads into shops, stopping and petting someone’s dog, laughing at the folly of the masses as we saw it. Even in the midst of a crowd we were alone together; like we were the only people in the city, moving through it like ghosts that had the whole place to ourselves. We’d just left a coffee shop, hot drinks in hand, when a man’s voice called out to her.

“Hey yo, Magda! What’s the fucking deal?” he said.

With a look of fear on her face, squeezing my hand tighter, she turned over her shoulder to see some degenerate in a dirty jacket walking fast to catch up to us. Her hand was shaking in mine and her head shook back and forth quickly. “Let’s keep walking,” she whispered to me.

“I’m talking to you, bitch!” the guy with the lank hair snapped as he approached. “You fucking ditched me last month and those guys still want their money!”

“I…I…I…I’m sorry, Greg,” she said fearfully, her eyes wide and the corner of her mouth twitching.

“What are you looking at, fuck-o?” he asked me, scratching at his left arm with his right hand, his eyes shifting back and forth from Magda to me.

“I’m trying to figure that out,” I said, letting go of Magda’s hand. “You wanna maybe go be a dick somewhere else?”

He put his right hand in his jacket pocket, fumbling at something within and trying to look menacing as he stared at me. I took my glasses off and clenched my jaw, returning his gaze without blinking, my face going blank.

“This is none of your business, guy. Just walk away,” he snapped.

“Greg, I’m sorry,” Magda said in a rush. “I can’t get any money. When I didn’t come back I thought you’d just tell them you didn’t need it. I got clean, man. I don’t want any trouble.”

“Fuck that!” he snapped, looking back at her. “You owe me a hundred bucks and I’m gonna get it one way or another.”

This thin guy with the dirty hair and the bad skin reached out and grabbed Magda by the wrist and tried to turn and pull her away from me. My hand shot out and took a handful of his hair in my fist while my other made a fist and jabbed twice into his kidney as he turned. With a choked gasp he fell to one knee and Magda shrieked and pulled away from him.

“Stop!” she yelled. “He carries a…”

I already knew what she was going to say because I saw him pulling it from his pocket as he spun on me. Cold, hard steel; small but deadly. As he swiveled at the waist and the gun in his right fist came around to point at me I lashed out with my left hand and took him by the back of his wrist, twisting it up and around at an awkward angle. There was a snapping sound like a green stick as his forearm buckled and split while he opened his mouth to scream in pain. No sound came out though, before he could finish inhaling to yell my fist had already slammed into his throat three times, flecks of his blood coming out his mouth onto the back of my hand. As his momentum took him to his back on the sidewalk I went with it, my right knee connecting with the bottom of his chin and landing heavily in the middle of his chest. I finished the rotation of my left hand on his wrist and the gun clattered to the sidewalk and slid. The back of my right fist snapped across his right cheek and came back in a hook to slam my knuckles into the left side of his neck.

This little fuck, this skinny prick who’d grabbed Magda, was still struggling underneath me. I snapped out “Lie still!” and pushed myself up into the air so my knee dropped back down into his sternum and as it cracked more blood came from his mouth. There were two more guys who’d been sitting watching from the steps of a dilapidated building, and it had all happened so fast that they didn’t have a chance to get up and hump in yet. They were just then running towards me, one pulling out a knife and the other taking a gun from the back of his pants.

“You crazy!?” the one with the gun yelled. “You wanna die!?”

“Sometimes,” I said, standing up from the hacking and wheezing and broken guy underneath me. “You?”

The one with the knife circled around to my left and I flicked my eyes at him to check where exactly he stood. The other leveled his revolver at me and put the barrel to my forehead. It was an empty side street and no one else was around but us. I put my hands up, open with my palms facing out, close together on either side of my face.

“You don’t want to do this man!” he said, sounding panicky and shaken, glancing quickly down now and then at Greg writhing on the ground in agony. “I’ll put a fucking hole in your head, man!”

The next time he glanced down I turned my head quickly to the left and snapped his wrist between my forearms, the gun dropped to the street and went off as he let out a yell. My left hand shot out and grabbed his face, my fingers gouging into his eyes, my right fist swung across his throat like a hammer and as he stumbled backwards I took one long stride forward to stay near him and swung my right foot up into his groin and shoved forward with my hand, driving him to his back on the ground. The guy with the knife had already crossed half the space between us, lunging with the point of the blade for my stomach. I let him get in almost all the way, turning at the last second so his arm went past in front of me. I grabbed his wrist in my right hand, his elbow in my left, and broke his arm over my knee.

He let out a cry of pain as my left elbow shot into his neck twice while I retained his wrist in my right fist. He tried to pull away, screaming in pain again as I wrenched on his broken arm to keep him near me. A knee to the groin, another elbow to the throat, and he fell to his knees in front of me. I pressed harder, leaning over him to force him to the ground while yanking on his wrist violently and driving my knee into his face. He hit the sidewalk hard and I stepped far back, pulling him out straight and flat on his stomach by his broken arm and then raised my foot high over him and stomping it down on the back of his head.

Magda was still shrieking. It had lasted only about ten seconds. Samael and Christopher would have been proud. The first of the two I’d pushed to the street was trying to pull himself to his feet, crawling across the sidewalk away from me. I’d been in fights before, but I’d never felt anything like what was surging inside of me at that point. I wanted to destroy, to spread them across the street as thin as possible. With on long stride I covered the distance between us and he huddled up into a ball as my knee dropped into his abdomen just above his pelvic bone. I clenched my hands into tight fists in front of my chest and started rocking back and forth at the waist as I leaned over him; right elbow, back of right fist, left knuckles, left elbow, left elbow, back of left fist, right knuckles, right elbow…back and forth and back and forth until he stopped moving. There were hands on my shoulders pulling on me and I lunged backwards and up, the back of my head colliding with someone. I felt teeth slam into my skull as did it and I landed with my feet wide, looking over my shoulder to line up a brutal thrust back with my right foot. Magda had her hands over her mouth and was still screaming; I recognized Samael at the last second as he fell onto his back on the street, blood trailing through the air from his mouth.

I spun back on the first guy; Greg. The one who’d grabbed Magda. He was still writhing on the ground trying to draw in a decent breath. I stalked over to him and he looked up at me with his blood on his face, trying to say something and failing. I stooped and picked up his gun, standing over him with it pointed down at his face.

“Don’t do it, Michael!” Sam said as he struggled to stand, wiping his own blood from the side of his mouth. “Don’t!”

Whatever I felt inside of me, it was more than anger or rage, spoke in a far louder voice than any person I’d ever heard. I cocked the hammer on the revolver back and my face twisted into a sneer.

“Motherfucker,” I spat through my teeth and pulled the trigger.

“Shit!” Samael yelled as Magda shrieked again.

I looked up from the smoking hole in Greg’s broken face to see the one who’d had the knife pushing himself along the sidewalk feebly. I put a bullet in the back of his head. The other one still wasn’t moving and his blood was splattered onto the concrete to either side of his face from my fists and elbows.

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