A collaboration between Phoenix Fiery & Keeper
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Enigma Find Love
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that anticipation was tremendous. Upon entering through the heavy wooden door my eyes gazed over ornately intricately carved ornate furnishing, at all angles. The doorman gently placed his hand on my elbow and ushered me in to another room to my right. The dress I selected for this particular occasion was a silken red, floor length formal, tucked and gathered in all the right places, slit up my left leg just shy of stopping at the hip. It was admittedly daring and certainly tantalizing as it slid over ever inch of skin. Red stiletto heels made traversing the freshly waxed wooden floor a treacherous game. My usher, I’ll refer to him as Ramone, led me down into the sunken room.
This room hosted a bar carved out of rich mahogany, trimmed in scarlet leather, and opening up into a large ballroom. The lighting was sullied and set the tone as one of sensual ambiance. The music that played was a distinguishable upbeat waltz and, for all intent and purpose, designed to keep the guests in a heightened state of light, airy fun. I recall looking around that room and soaking in the company of whose presence I shared. Among the current attendees there were men in tuxes and several woman in scanty, yet formal gowns, and each had their assigned masks. There were menial conversations taking place, of which I couldn’t care less.
As I absorbed my surroundings and soaked in its finer detail, Ramone once again placed his hand on my elbow and escorted me to the bar, where a man in a tux and full venetian mask with delicate white-gloved fingers, nodded and, in a single gesturing motion, handed me an envelope. Accepting his signal, Ramone continued to escort me straight through to the other side of the ballroom and, upon opening a door, gestured me into another room. I stood in awe at the magnificent library sprawled out before me. Ramone again took my arm and led me into an elevator. My curiosity at this point had taken over every ounce of me and if asked at that particular moment what was transpiring, I would have been found wanting.
The elevator, deliciously decorated in gold and red velvet, was excitedly rich and emboldened. When it stopped the door slid open in front of me to reveal a very dimly lit hallway, still in the same decor. Ramone slid behind me and once again took my arm, leading me left down the hallway. We stopped in front of a room with its heavy door closed then, without a sound, Ramone turned and ventured back the way we had entered. I was left standing in the darkened hallway alone with only an envelope and my clutch bag as company. My initial assumption was that this was going to be a masquerade ball and not much more. When I found myself standing there I was overcome with curiosity, fear, and allurement. I could never have imagined, recalling that night now, that things would have unfolded in the manner in which they did.
Would you think me a devil’s fool to know that I was excitedly aroused by the fear that night? Would I be able to conquer my fear and inhibitions, moreover, could they turn on me in such a way to be party to murder? I would think you mad to even consider such before the night of Friday the 13th February, 2015. I unfastened that envelope and unlocked the door to what was to be my room for the evening. Before me was a huge canopy bed laced in violet crepe velvet, adorned with various pieces of rich furniture. I set my clutch on the table and opened the crisp envelope. Inside there was a hand written note.
Being a bartender, you get used to witnessing some pretty rare sights. Ordinarily these consist of inebriated patrons attempting to over-compensate for their miserable existences by acting out under the influence. However, I had never before been made privy to something so clandestine. I say made privy where, in truth, I hadn’t the faintest inkling as to what was about to play out and was beginning to feel a twist in my gut which suggested I would have been more savvy just to stay at home this night. But something ensured my investment, perhaps it was the deep throbbing in my loins, as I was ushered through the congregation towards a plush chamber to a more secluded set of coordinates.
There, before me, was an envelope. As quickly as I had entered the room, I was left to my own devices. Patience had never been my strongest suit thus my first instinct led me to believe that the answers I craved would be found inside said envelope. I did so excitedly like an infant on receipt of their first Christmas gift, but there were no facilities available for steaming it open, thus I tore it apart crudely and plundered its contents with my shaky hands. My eyes bulged the moment I unfolded the note and I knew instantly that my life would never again be the same after this night. Instead I would be required to burden the weight of an act I was, in no way, at comfort with. The terms were clear and concise, it was expected of me that I snuff out another in exchange for my safe passage or else meet with dire consequence. Talk about Sophie’s Choice.
My next impulse was to flat refuse these unsavory terms and threaten to blow the lid on this whole shady debacle. I was not the murdering type, such tools eluded me, and I struggled to swat a common fly without feeling the pangs of guilt so how on God’s earth would I muster the will to end another’s life so unceremoniously? Then I considered the company I was keeping this night. Major Wilson Bettis was well-connected and not the kind of gentleman one wishes to cross. Moreover, he had introduced me to his world, albeit from beneath a secluded shroud, and chances are I would not be afforded freedom willingly, should I rebuff this request. If I needed any further encouragement to fast-track myself to becoming a cold-blooded killer then further investigation provided that ominous extra nudge.
A solitary photo was curled up inside the letter and this provided additional terms which I was at distinct discomfort with. My only child, Nathan, would invariably become compromised by my insistence that this wasn’t for me. I had met his mother, Betsy, whilst still fresh behind the ears and her pregnancy had come as the kind of surprise an eighteen year-old buck fresh out of school is not adept at handling. Betsy and I split weeks later, while my progeny was still in a state of gestation, and it seemed like the only plausible conclusion seeing as her parents despised me for deflowering their princess. I was not present for the birth and conspicuously absent from any subsequent birthdays until he turned five. While it was still suggested, somewhat forcibly I might add, that my identity remain ambiguous, Betsy desired for him not to miss out on a male role model, thus I began to play an active part in his development as the favorite uncle. I knew the truth but he would never be permitted to learn of any genetic implication.
If I failed to adhere to the terms drawn out conclusively within this letter then Nathan would become at risk. In addition, I would not be permitted to engage in a single verbal negotiation as I completed said task or else the results would be just as unfavorable. If I felt despondent over such enlightenment, then that was only set to escalate upon perusal of a second more dubious image. It was Nathan again, only this time, the picture appeared to have been freshly snapped. It depicted a veiled intruder, clad in the kind of get up that I was currently adorning, stooped over his bedstead with a serrated blade pushed up against his throat as he slept. It may well have been an elaborate hoax but I wasn’t in a position to call any bluffs right now. The fact that my hosts were very much aware of my background suggested that they had done their homework and I evidently wasn’t being afforded the freedom to operate with just mind.
Just then I heard a gasp, followed shortly by what appeared to be snivelling, emanating from the adjacent chamber. The fortifications were burly and soundproofed securely, thus any audible sound bite was clearly one of significant distress. Somebody was in the very next room and clearly their receipt of assertive intelligence was every bit as disparaging as mine. Before I could so much as ponder my next action; a sound rang out from the adjoining wall to my left and it began to gradually rise as though somebody unseen was manning a crank of sorts. As it began to lift, my opposite number was steadily revealed and within seconds I was more than aware of her opposing biology. Slender legs, hugged tight by crimson linen, pinpointed by red stiletto heels which were faced squarely in my direction. On the dresser beside me was a blade not unlike the one which currently compromised my son’s safe passage. My terms, should I choose to accept them, were now very much clear and, as the ascending screen reached my new playmate’s voluptuous tightly compacted bosoms, I knew only too well that the insisted masquerade was about to commence.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill