...a way of seeing beyond inner and outer.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dragon Seals VI

      (This is little ongoing project I am enjoying. I hope you will too. Here is the table of contents page.)
       “It truly be.”
      “Where in the hell have you been?”
      Patter Vance only laughed at her outrage.
      “That’s my girl. First rattle out of the bag and she’s wound up like an eight-day clock. ”
      Aubrey met the last in a long line of much older men she’d used to act out better versions of childhood when Patter came to New York to speak at the International Symposium on the Arts. Unlike the earlier iterations he didn’t need or want sex with a young body to touch up his self-image.  All Patter offered was friendship and some sound advice she didn’t ask for but had the intelligence to recognize as such eventually.
          Her early memories of Patter were of a man who either had a cigar on the way into his mouth or the sound of West-by-God Virginia on the way out, too close to the sound of her own rural origins for her to feel anything but contempt for him. She was alone in that assessment. 
      The people involved in the business of buying and selling art called him the Molden Retriever. It was a commentary on his preference for pilled pullover sweaters, bucket hats and topsiders as much as it was on his uncanny ability to recover stolen art. He was good, maybe even the best there’d ever been but Aubrey hadn’t been impressed.
      Her interest in art was related to how regularly she was paid to model for people studying it, so he was no more than part of a dull evening to be endured as the price of dating one of his clients.  Her opinion of Patter fell even further the first time their host left the room for another bottle of wine.  Patter took his cigar from his mouth to asked her,
      “Why in the hell are you sleeping with that horny old toad? He’s too old for your mother, for chrissake.”
      She’s wanted to call Patter an asshole and tell him to mind his own damn business, but acting like a child would only have highlight the age gap between herself and the man who’d bought the diamond bracelett she was wearing so she’d tried dignified silence instead. 
      “If you’re going to sleep around find a man whose body is harder than his head. I can’t imagine him making way for you to form an opinion very often. And while we’re on the subject of heads, find a man that can get his up without a note from his doctor.  ”
       Even then she knew very clearly how over-matched she was but dignified silence wasn’t doing it for her.
      “No one asked for your opinion. You know jack shit about me and I’d be offended, but you’re clearly an idiot. “
          “This is coming from the genius who get’s paid to take off her clothes.  I know more about you than you think and you may not have asked for an opinion but it’s your lucky day because you’re getting a second one for free.  You don’t get paid enough to take off your clothes. You never will.”
          Aubrey had felt it was fair to return his evaluation with one of her own, which began with ‘fuck you’ and concluded with previously edited ‘asshole’.  In response, Patter laughed and made a phone call that altered the careening course of her life for the immeasurably better.  He called in a favor from Nick Bardi.
        Nick had been saved a great deal of very bad legal juju by Patter who’d recovered three Maxwell Parish murals that were stolen through an unsecured vent on the roof of di.  Nick couldn’t say no to Patter so Aubrey was paid three times the money she made as an artist’s model to pour wine and mingle with the gallery patrons because she had no other skills unless you counted the length of her legs.
      It was Patter who bullied her back to school, and insisted she demand something other than a line of credit from the men she allowed into her life.  He was the man who walked her down the isle when she married Conner.  When Conner was killed, it was Patter who stood with his arms around her as she poured dry lifeless ashes into the North Pacific Drift.  Even now, he still pushed her around when he thought she needed it, but years ago she’d begun to push back.
      “Patter, where in the hell have you been?  I was getting worried about you.”
      “Then pick up the phone when I call.”
      “Leave a damn message once in a while. God you’re irritating.” As much as she love him, he infuriated her constantly.
      “That’s how it happens. We all start talking to machines and the next thing you know they’ve taken over the planet.”
      “Yeah yeah.  Planet of the machines. Add inconsiderate to irritating. I’m serious.”
      “You always are.  So tell me, Miss Aubrey, late nights at the office or are you finally out whorin’ around?”
      “I’m whoring around of course.”
      “Liar. How’s my favorite fishwife?” 
      “You’re dodging.  Why the Houdini act?”
      “Couldn't be helped, but I’m headed your way.”
      “You’re headed here now?”
      “Yes, why?  You got company?”
      “The dogs don’t count.”
        “You are a hateful troll.  I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for weeks and I really was starting to worry.”
        “I’d feel worse about that if I didn’t know you worried about how pigs were treated before they were turned into bacon.”
       She let it go.  There was no point in trying to intimidate him into contrition or anything else.
      “Where are you?”
       “Honolulu International Airport so don’t bother putting on coffee for me just yet.”
      “I’m going to picture you in a coconut bra and flaming grass skirt. What’s are you doing in Hawaii?”
      “Connecting flight from Taiwan.  I’ve got something I want to talk to you about and you’re gonna have to shut up and listen.”
      “I’m really am abandoning all hope that you’re one of those people who will mellow with age.”
      After years of friendship with him, Aubrey was resigned to his sandpaper diplomacy but that didn’t mean she enjoyed it.
      “I’m just getting warming up.” He said, and meant it.
      “I feared as much.  This is me listening. What’s up?” She asked
      “Not going to happen, Miss Aubrey. I want you in front of me when I start arguing with you. Did you get my package?”
      “No, or I haven’t seen it yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not here. What is it this time? A lovely pinot noir with a snake floating around the bottom?  Petrified dinosaur dung? A baggie of dirt?”
      “You have no sense of humor and no appreciation for minutia. That sand was from the banks of the Yamuna .  I’m sending you noodle shop tickets.  They’ll keep you humble..  ” 
      “I apologize.  How ungracious.  Oh my goodness, noodle shop tickets?! I can hardly wait!  Better?”
      “I live to serve. Since you already know we’re going to argue, we may as well get a head start.”
     “Can’t. I’ve got to conversate with the four-heads-full-of-simple government employees who’re riffling through my luggage like a herd of turtles. I’ll give you a call tomorrow when I get settled.” 
      Aubrey felt for the customs agent but had her own battles to fight with Patter. 
     “If this is a filibuster in the making, it will have to be late. My day is booked and I’ve got a dinner meeting.
          “Uh huh”
          “Deal. I can’t just drop everything because you decide to surface.”
          “Then those noodle tickets are just in time, Madame President.  I think they’ll help you clear your schedule for a while.  Gotta run.”
      And he was gone. She growled at the phone and looked at the clock.  

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