Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The February thaw was over.  Icy shadows dripped through the silent, winding foot paths of the old necropolis. Laurel Hill.... a crowded 'country home,' though still in the city, for dead people. One hundred and seventy years ago this was Beverly Hills for corpses.  Mausoleums, some Greco-Roman, some Gothic, some Moorish lined narrow, little, private drives just wide enough for a glossy, black, horse drawn hearse (incongruously decorated with jet black ostrich plumes... what the hell were the plumes for?) And they used to save carefully trimmed locks of hair, wound or braided into cords which were coiled into black onyx lockets or knotted into earrings. In an age before anti-biotics death was a leitmotif that never went away. 

Peter liked this place, a veritable cadaver playland to him. He carefully inspected the stone facades, lightly running his fingers over carefully chiseled details and finely fashioned vines...... What is inside? How do they do it? How are they arranged? - he asked..... In his day most dearly departed spent their 'down time' cheek by jowl in damp, moldy, underground catacombs or jammed into painfully narrow coffins and planted in old churchyards, sometimes two and three deep. Like individual cigar humidors for the dead. Imagine being buried alive in one of those. No room to bend an ankle or raise a head. 

Marianne said - They sleep as if in salons. Wide, stone, bench-like platforms line the walls, bearing perhaps two tightly sealed caskets on each side and one across the back. Extra 'guests' simply lie on the floor. Some crypts have little floor room left, like a juvenile, mortal girls' 'sleepover' that never ends. The walls are thick and strong. Few have windows. Some might have a high, thin band of clerestories under the eaves....... She was like a regular tour guide here.

Roland said - I think the one's with windows, small as they are, are the worst. The thought of tiny shafts of daylight tracing dim paths across so many dead boxes, spiders here and there, cobwebs, maybe a mouse-ling. It's horrible. The dust and all. Sometimes the wood cracks and buckles. A skeletal hand pops through. Who wants to see that?....... Peter said - I do...... And he sublimated through the faux stone wall (actually molded, or embossed concrete) into the mock Rhineland slumber chamber of a mid-nineteenth century beer baron. About two hundred and ten heartbeats later he came out giggling.

How could you see in there? - asked Albion (the second elferino).... Peter quickly passed a hand before his face and said - Like this..... Seconds later a muted amber light shone forth from his eyes, as if lit from within...... Can you teach us? - asked Celeste..... But Peter just shrugged. Yes he was an elferino, though he was also other things too.

Little Boopsie, recently delivered via peregrine falcon (and I want you to know a normal peregrine falcon could never support the weight of an ordinary nine or ten month old baby, but she has powers of her own) snuggled in Marianne's arms. Such a wide-eyed little thing she is. Looks at everything. Gurgles. When Peter came out of the crypt she reached out with her arms, opening and closing her little hands saying - Me. Me. Me........ No, baby doll. Not you - said Marianne and she kissed her. But the witchling struggled to break free..... Peter said - Why not her? Let her go. no, don't put her down. Let her go...... He reached toward her. Marianne didn't want to do it, but she knew he really meant it, so she did.

For a moment Boopsie floated there. They thought she'd fall, but she didn't, thrashing about with her arms and feet like a child thrown in the sea. Then she steadied herself, gurgled some more and clapped her fat, little hands.... Peter said - Come, baby. Come here...... And she did, following the light in his eyes. He held her, a strange 'twelve' year old and his 'baby sister' there in the cold, dark land of the dead... She pointed to the mausoleum wall and said - Me. Me. Me. In. In. In..... None of the others felt that he should, but he did and five heartbeats later a barely visible aura enveloped them both, as he tucked her powdery head into his chest and passed back through the icy wall..... The bones of an ivory, white hand reached through a crumbling casket. The baby was entranced. Her gaze never left the macabre scene.  And Peter indulged her, setting her upon the stone platform, so that she might get a better look. He knelt down beside her, radiating just enough light to cut the darkness. A ring sparkled in the gloom, upon the third finger of the partially revealed corpse. The baby said - Ooh, pretty...... Peter whispered - Do you like it?.... Babykins nodded. So he took it for her, a square cut amethyst set in gold. The dead girl got it on her sixteenth birthday, two years before her passing. But her essence, her soul, made a clean break from this world long ago, so she didn't care a bit.

Peter did things the four, original elferinos and elferinas never would. And they noticed. A bit later, when they holed up in an old, but never used mausoleum, way in the back, built into a little hill (the well-fixed owners all went down with the Titanic, even the children. not all the rich folks made it to the boats) Boopsie fussed. She wanted the ring and he gave it to her. That made her happy. She went - Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

But the others didn't like it, especially when she put it in her mouth...

Peter closed his eyes. The bare, stone space went dark and they slept.....


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