"Composed and quieted, he returned to the show, determined to ice over.
From here on, fear is of no consequence; there is no turning back, he told himself as he snagged another champagne in stride, nodded and smiled his way to the darkened patio and a cool breeze laced with fall. He sat among an older group many of them probably not locals. He looked at his watch again staring at the hours between him and the deed. After drinking the rest of his champagne, he stood to return to the party and possibly smooth over his behavior with Jane but there at the end of the rail stood Malorie, the dewy-eyed girl who drank white tea in the afternoons. She was searing the very dust in the air around her, immolating any hint of iniquity within her range of influence like some magical cream-red stick of incense, the subject of palpable jealousy in the middle-aged faces around her.
Excuse me, he said, physically compelled to step right up to her. My name is--.
I know who you are, Marcus Hatchet, she told him. Her posture made it clear that she had been expecting him to eventually make this move. Her backbone didn't faze him nor did the realization that she had been drinking. You do? well, then possibly we can make this a long-story-short. That would be a neat trick, she said, furthering the implication that she could handle herself. He felt a wide sincere grin stretch across his face as the temperature certainly rose in hers. I'm headed to Alaska, to the wilderness, he told her, I'm leaving around midnight, 12am, Monday morning and one thing I don't have for the trip is a companion. Malorie's eyes shivered with surprise. And, he continued, I am truly bent on that companion being a beautiful face and hopefully a sharp mind; would you like to run away to Alaska, Malorie? like in one of those stupid chick-flicks? The surprise overtook her and she let out a laugh. Wow, she said turning her cornflower eyes, petals and all toward the stars, I don't know if... He eased his lips to her ear and whispered, Be original; you only get to say it once. She could smell him. She backed away slightly and turned to him and he could imagine a quickening in the farthest dimensions of her brain as she attempted to make sense of his offer.
Yet, regardless of what sequence of outcomes she juggled or what variant of mixture she meddled, she could only scheme one answer to his question. Even though the alternative lay just a shadow away, if only she had made the correct adjustment, it wouldn't have escaped her but she made no such correction and she turned to Hatchet and told him, I'm sorry but I just can't do that. His expression didn't falter, I understand. Her poise unsettled immediately and she held her hand over her mouth, looked down at his chest inches away from her. Excuse me, she said. He let her pass and she left the patio to meld with the room.
Hatchet's confidence hadn't abandoned him as he had assumed in his failure to ply Delilah to join his escape but instead the universal inversion looming on his horizon had rocked it. His strength held for the entirety of the evening, soothing Jane and Poole by blaming his nervousness on his Alaskan getaway he had been hiding from them. I need some nature, some down time before I have to start looking for a job, he lied to them. Two of Hatchet's older prints sold early in the show, which improved Oscars' mood for the duration. Hatchet played an expert game, especially pleased with himself when a thoroughly drunk Malorie found him later and asked with inebriated seriousness, Why did you ask me? of all the people you probably could've asked, why me?
He touched her neck. I asked you, Malorie, because I knew you would say, no.
By 9am Monday morning, phones and text messages and social network statuses all heralded the news of the robbery that cleaned Calvary Fellowship Church of over $500,000. Poole sat naked at the edge of his bed watching the local news broadcast with Jane's voice screaming at him from his phone.
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Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.