Black Petals Issue #91, Spring, 2020

Angelika's Tough Decision
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Blue Bell Hill Beast-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Plum Island-Poem by Richard Stevenson
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91_bp_angelikas_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2020

ANGELIKA’S TOUGH DECISION

By Roy Dorman

Part III

     Things hadn’t gone well in Nucet, Romania. Through their oral history, the people of the village remembered Adriana’s ancestors and were not about to let her set up shop in her ancient home. Their home. Adriana, Rory, Angelika, and two family servants had barely escaped through The Dark Door with their lives.

 

     Adriana had been furious with Rory for chastising her in front of her staff. She had told Rory they didn’t need the two servants who had escaped with them at the last minute through the Dark Door. She would have left them behind to be killed by the villagers.

     Rory had said he needed to bring them along to safeguard his humanity, implying Adriana might be lacking in that area.

     Adriana planned to punish Rory for his insolence, however the multitude of tasks involved in getting set up again in a new place has prevented her from doing so.

     But she remembers the slight and will take care of it when time permits.

     When your life expectancy is several hundred years, time has a different meaning than it does for mere mortals.

     And to further complicate things, Adriana discovers she is pregnant.

***

     They had settled in Nice, France. Adriana’s extended family connections in that venerable old city had provided their little group of refugees with a fortified villa and a new battery of servants and bodyguards.

     The bodyguards would probably have light duty in Nice. The residents of that city knew nothing of her family’s background and unless someone from Nucet took it upon themselves to follow up on that town’s vendetta against her, things should be fairly quiet.

***

     “Do away with him, I don’t care how you do it; he’s outlived his usefulness,” Adriana said to Angelika one afternoon.

     They were in her study and Rory had gone to the market to mill around with some of the locals. He hadn’t told Adriana, but he had grown increasingly dissatisfied with just spending time with her, the servants, and the bodyguards.

     He needed to be with regular people now and then.

     “I probably should have gone with him to the market,” said Angelika, not commenting on Adriana’s order. “Suppose he gets into trouble?”

     “He’ll only get into trouble if he crosses the wrong person, not because he’s connected to me. People don’t know or fear us here.”

     “He got you pregnant. He gave you a child. Was that all he meant to you?” asked Angelika.

     “Angelika!” Adriana shouted. “Quit changing the subject. Focus. I told you I wanted you to get rid of him. Is there something the matter with your hearing?”

     “You would do it yourself if you didn’t have feelings for him,” said Angelika. “You do have feelings for him, don’t you?”

     “What has gotten into you?” Adriana said, just barely keeping herself under control. “Feelings? Feelings do not enter into the decisions I have to make. Decisions that keep the both of us alive.”

     “You would have left me for dead in Nucet,” said Angelika. “And those two servants, Edward and Joseph, too.”

     “So you think if I was more compassionate, had more feelings, our lives would be better? We’d be safer? You didn’t have these feelings before. Where did they suddenly come from?”

     “I may have picked up them up from him,” said Angelika, meeting her gaze. “I think he may be the Ferryman.”

     “Don’t be ridiculous,” said Adriana. “He’s just a hick from the Midwest in the States. Someplace in Iowa, for Christ’s sake.”

     “Is that what you fear,” said Angelika. “That he may be the Ferryman?”

     “I fear nothing!” raged Adriana. “I fear nothing and nobody and that includes you! Now dispose of him I as I ordered!”

     “As you command, Adriana,” said Angelika, getting up from her chair. “As you command.”

***

     Two weeks passed and Angelika hadn’t carried out Adriana’s orders. Whenever Rory left for the village, as he did more and more lately, Adriana would question her about it.

     “What do you mean you are waiting for the right time?” she asked.

     “He has powers now,” answered Angelika. “I don’t know if I could take him. He’s been practicing what you taught him in Nucet. You didn’t know that, did you?”

     “Maybe I should just do it myself,” sighed Adriana.

     Angelika had been with her for over fifty years. Most of those years Angelika had been behind The Dark Door, going back and forth between Nucet and New York City. Adriana realized now she really didn’t know what Angelika had been doing for many of those fifty years.

     She stared at Angelika and wondered if she might have to dispose of her as well as Rory.

     “I can see it in your eyes,” said Angelika, rising from her chair. “I’m going behind The Dark Door to contemplate some things.”

     “So now you contemplate things?” Adriana called after her. “You have feelings and you contemplate? Damn that Rory!”

***

     “Do you and I have a problem, Angelika?” asked Rory.

     They were walking into town to the market. Angelika had asked Rory if he wanted some company and Rory had agreed, though he had easily detected duplicity in her demeanor.

     “You have a problem and I have a problem,” Angelika responded. “I can help you with your problem, but I’m not sure you can help me with mine. It appears that I, therefore, have two problems.”

     “Waxing philosophical, are we? It wasn’t that long ago when the most I could get out of you was a grunt and maybe a veiled threat against my person.”

     “I’ve changed. You’ve changed me,” said Angelika, looking down at the ground as they walked.

     “So, I’m part of your problems. Are you part of my problem?”

     “Adriana would like me to be. She wants me to do away with you.”

     “And?”

     “And because she knows I won’t do so, she may do it herself.”

     “Have you ever disobeyed one of her orders?”

     “Never.”

     “Why now?” asked Rory. “I sensed the tension between you two recently, but couldn’t get past the barriers you construct to hide your thoughts.

     “If I lowered my barriers so you could see why I won’t kill you, you would…, you would laugh.”

     “Laugh at you, Angelika? I’m not that crazy,” said Rory. “You think I want you to rip off one of my arms and beat me to death with it?”

     “Look.” said Angelika. She stopped on the path and turned to face Rory, lowering her mental barriers to him.

     Rory stared into Angelika’s eyes. She was wide open to him. “You think I’m the Ferryman?”

     “You are the Ferryman,” said Angelika. “I won’t hurt you if you laugh at me, but it would sadden me.”

     “You are changed, aren’t you?” said Rory, resting a hand on Angelika’s shoulder. This simple act of camaraderie caused Angelika to shudder.

     “You are the Ferryman and I will not allow Adriana to kill you—”

     “Hey, ugly, you’re hurting my eyes,” shouted a young tough who was walking their way with a group of ne’er-do-wells from the city.

     “The stress involved with all of this changing has given me an appetite for violence,” said Angelika. “Pardon me while I indulge.”

     Angelika waited until the men were upon them. Without a word she grabbed two of them and hurled them at the other three. She kicked and stomped their arms and legs as they writhed on the ground screaming and crying.

     Then, thoroughly sated, she motioned Rory to continue their walk into the city.

     “Much better,” she said. “I needed that. They did too.”

     And then she laughed.

     Rory stared at her. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh.”

     “Your influence again, I’m sure,” said Angelika. “I told a joke to one of the bodyguards the other day and he laughed uproariously. It wasn’t all that funny, but I’m sure he thought it best to play the part of the enthusiastic audience.”

     “So if you’re not going to kill me, and you’re not going to let Adriana kill me, what’s the plan?” asked Rory.

     “I’ve been thinking about that,” said Angelika. “In eight months, you’ll be a father. If not for that, we could just run away right now and never look back.

     “Knowing you as I do, I’m sure you wouldn’t do that and leave your child to be raised by Adriana. But Adriana won’t let you live for another eight months, or probably even another eight days.

     “We can’t kill Adriana and we can’t let her live,” said Rory. “We can’t leave and we can’t stay.” 

     “We need to act soon,” continued Angelika. “Though we can’t kill Adriana because of the baby, maybe we can go away until after the baby’s born and then return for it.”

***

     “I found him in the riding stables,” said Edward. “His throat was cut.  Someone must have come upon him from behind or there would have been more signs of a struggle.”

     “Why do you say that?” asked Angelika.

     “Joseph and I have been more watchful since you and the Ferryman told us of your plans. No one could have taken Joseph unless it was by surprise.”

     “No one?” said Angelika.

     Edward hung his head and stared at his feet. “Only you. And maybe her,” he said, looking up, looking at Angelika defiantly as he said her.

     “I’ll tell the Ferryman we must leave immediately,” said Angelika. “Are you prepared?”

     “Joseph and I had everything ready in case …, in case we had to leave in a hurry. Have your things and the Ferryman’s things in the parking garage as soon as you can. The Rolls Royce has had proper maintenance and is ready to go.”

***

     Rory got behind the wheel of the old Rolls and turned the key. Nothing.

     Edward jumped out and opened the hood.

     “The distributor cap and the spark plug wires have been ripped out,” he said. “Quickly, throw everything into that pick-up over there.”

     “Is it reliable?” asked Angelika.

     “It’s also had recent maintenance,” said Edward. “Plan B.”

     “You and Joseph are to be complemented on so expertly developing a plan,” said Rory.

     “Joseph and I are …, we were, pretty good at coming up with a plan when one was needed,” said Edward. “But it’s Angelika who is the genius at executing a plan. Executing of things being right up her alley.”

     Angelika and Edward both broke out laughing, slapping high fives.

     Rory rolled his eyes, sighed, and slid in behind the wheel of the pick-up.

     This was going to be strange indeed.

MORE TO COME


Roy Dorman, roydorman@yahoo.com, of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #90’s “The Return of the Ferryman” (+ BP #89’s “Orphans at the Dark Door”; BP #88’s “Blood on the Riviera”; BP #87’s “The Sepia Photograph”;  BP #86’s “New Orleans Take-Out” & “Not This Time”; BP #85’s “Door County Getaway” & “The Gift”; BP #84’s “Goodbye to Nowhere Land” & “Nobody Should Be at 1610 Maple St.”; BP #83’s “Door #2”; BP #82’s “A Nowhere Friend” & “Foundling”; BP #81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land” & “The Box with Pearl Inlay”; BP #80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter”; BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be”; BP #77’s “Essence of Andrew”; BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley”; BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy…”; BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others”; BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a Flower”; BP #72’s “The Beach House”; BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites”; BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love”; and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows, Cheapjack Pulp, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights, Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story Shack, & Yellow Mama.