They told us things would be
tougher after the war, but I didn’t know they mean quite like this.
Cold metal, slipping in my sweaty
palms. Ears ringing. My face flecked with powder, but it’s still hot, so hot,
it burns like ash.
And then of course the man before
me, face forever frozen like I just called him something rude, hand pressed to
the hole in his lungs as he goes down.
Let me explain.
I was always like this, see, not
the killing part, but the part that led up to it. The part where I found me a
bone and gnawed and gnawed at it like a dog possessed. “Annalisa,” Pa would
say, that tone both scolding and proud, “maybe it’s time to give it a rest,
huh? Worry about something else for a while.” But when I found me a mystery, I
clung to it, until one of us was solved.
Usually it was as simple as finding
where our downstairs neighbor’s good pearls got off to (her husband’s bookie)
or who’d gotten the landlady’s daughter in a family way. In the war, I made a
bit of a name for myself, nothing official, of course, but the cops came to me
all the same. Their best detectives had been poached by the OSS and so on, and
they just needed a hand dealing with the vagrants who’d somehow slipped the
draft—purse thieves and smugglers and all the other shits you find down south
of Houston or lurking around the docks. Pa’d already gone to Europe then, so
there was no one but old Mrs. Dougherty to tell me I couldn’t, and she’d turn
her glass eye to anything as long as her cooking sherry stayed stocked. I solved everything from break-ins to
embezzlers, and didn’t feel a bit bad about a single one of the creeps and
goons I got locked up, even though I didn’t get much credit (or any at all).
Bianca, though … Bianca I felt
bad about. But then I’m jumping ahead.
When the war ended and the men came
home—though some of ‘em, like Pa, made the trip in a wooden box—they warned me
it was going to be hard. The best thing I could do was find myself a man,
young, not too shellshocked, who was so damn happy to be home and alive that he
wouldn’t mind what a boatload of trouble I was. Mrs. Daughtery couldn’t watch
me forever, and I was old enough I didn’t need her by then. I tried dating,
thought admittedly not hard, but I’d have had more fun sitting across the diner
booth from a box of soap. Every guy was a crossword and I’d solved ‘em by the
time the waitress brought our main course.
What I wanted was work. Real work.
Work I could hang a shingle on, and get paid enough to live, not just to buy
myself something at the soda fountain. I needed to rent a room of my own before
I wore out all my excuses with our landlady, before the government checks ran
But the cops suddenly didn’t want
me, at least not at any price I could afford to take. So I pawned my grandpa’s
old pocket watch and took out a newspaper ad.
Mostly it was other women who came
to me. We were all in the same boat; we’d had a purpose for a few years, were
building a career, then just as quickly it was gone. I saw housewives who were
going stir crazy, imagining murderers next door, their husbands’ affairs, even
a neighbor who didn’t smile at them just right. They weren’t always wrong, but
it was quick, easy work, and that never paid the bills. Not that they had much
to give me on their own, scraping together nickels from their grocery money on
the sly, but I took the jobs anyway. We were in this together, after the war.
Then Bianca stormed into my world
and there’s no way I was going to end up unscathed.
It was just another day for me,
sketching and painting on the streets hoping to sell enough art to pay my rent
and keep food on the table. No one ever said becoming an artist would be easy,
after the rent and food I had to buy all my supplies which didn’t come cheap.
Some people were nicer than others and paid me more than some of the paintings
were worth, where as some cheaper people tried to barter but I knew how to kick
that shit to the curb.
My inspiration bank had been
running dry for most of the day. I loved sketching people as creepy as that
sounds. But no one of interest caught my eye that was until someone did. There was
a guy on the other side of the street leaning against a sign scribbling
something in a notebook. His red hair stood out and was kind of messy; he was
slightly hunched over as if trying to hide from the people that passed him. I
snorted thinking the bright red hair wasn’t doing him any favours because he
stood out like a sore thumb.
I didn’t realise that I was
staring for so long until he looked up from his scribbling and locked eyes with
me and smiled. I felt my cheeks blush as I tried to avert my eyes anywhere but
his. I gasp as I look down at my open sketchbook and see that I’ve sketched him
out, I must have done it while I was staring at him. I had somehow got all the
details, including the leaning pose and head bowed transfixed on his notebook.
“Now that’s a gift, you weren’t
even looking at the sketchbook were you?”
I looked up from the guy on the
page, straight into the eyes of the guy who’d become my inspiration. He looked vaguely
familiar as if I’d seen him somewhere before, but I couldn’t put my finger on
“No I wasn’t. Sorry if it’s a
little creepy, I only draw interested people and you caught my eye.”
Rambling was the one thing I was
good at, the guy laughed and ran a hand through his red hair.
“I should be flattered that you
find me interesting. I’ve seen you around here before.”
I nod and go to close the
sketchbook but the guy motions with his hands and I find myself handing over my
baby. I never normally let people go through my sketchbook but something told
me that I could trust this guy.
“These are really good err…”
“Aspen, my names Aspen.”
He hums approval before going
back to flipping through my sketches.
“My names Gerard by the way.”
How could I have been so stupid, I
knew I recognised him from somewhere. Stood in front of me complimenting my
work was the one and only Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance, a band I loved
growing up. I had all his comics and took inspiration from him in my own work.
Holy shit I was meeting my idol and was able to keep calm.
“I’d like to get to know you
better Aspen, I’m always looking for talent to collaborate with.”
He pulls out a pen and scribbles
something on the same page as his sketch before handing me the book back. My eyes
widen as I see he’s put his name Gerard Way and his mobile number. Stuff like
this didn’t happen to normal people, though I wasn’t going to complain.
“Wow thanks Gerard. Do you mind
me asking what you were writing over there?”
He chuckles and shakes his head.
“That’s for me to know and for
you to find out Aspen. You found your inspiration and I found mine. Now I’ll be
expecting your call, it was nice meeting you.”
That made you curious but you put
it to the back of your mind as he reached out his hand to shake yours.
“It was nice meeting you too
He tips an imaginary hat before
pulling his coat collar closer around him before I watch him walk away into the
crowd. All I can do is stare down at the number scribbled on the page and let
out the breath I’d been holding.
“Damn Aspen and you weren’t even going to come
A/N: This is my first attempt at our little muffin Samandriel (or Alfie as most of you know him). So hopefully this is great and kicks ass!! I hope you all love it! Feedback is welcomed and appreciated!! I love you all so much!! <3 <3
When you lost your job, you weren’t sure what you were going to do. Damn the company for laying you off and not someone else. You actually did your job unlike half of the people who were allowed to keep their jobs. You pulled up to the park nearest to your home. It was your favorite place to go. You often came to the park to walk along the trails when you were upset.
As you climbed out of your car, you headed to your favorite trail. It had the best scenery. Along the path there was a beautiful river. The trickling of the river was calming to you. When you made it to the river you sat on the bench near the water. You kept thinking about what you were going to do. Not only did you get dumped by your boyfriend this week, but you also lost your job to many of your incompetent co-workers. You couldn’t keep pretending you were fine. You sighed as tears rolled down your cheeks.
“Hey! What are you doing there!” You quickly walked over to the store you owned. You didn’t expect anyone to pick the lock and open the door, and still, that was exactly what you saw. The person doing this had quickly closed the door behind him, but you ran after him, opening the door again. He was standing at the cash register, and you started to get mad, not thinking about the consequences, not thinking about how he might have a weapon on him. “Stop that! Right now!” He looked up, and you were surprised to see quite a handsome young man staring at you. His eyes quickly darted from you to the door, clearly trying to see how his chances on escaping were. “Bloody hell… what are you doing ‘ere?” Your mouth fell open in surprise. “Me? You’re seriously asking me what I’m doing here?” He shrugged. “You’re not deaf, aren’t you? Because that was exactly what I was asking you.” You did a step towards him, even angrier than you were when you just entered your shop. What was this guy thinking? “I own this place, and that’s my money that you’re having in your hands right now. And I’m not letting you walk away with it.” Again those looks from you to the door. How experienced was this guy? And then he started smiling. “I still think I can use it better than you, love… can’t we just talk about it?” You shook your head. “Nope, we can’t. You are going to stay right where you are, while I’m calling the sheriff.” You took out your phone, and started to dial Emma’s number. He clearly started to feel uncomfortable, and that was a look you liked better. He didn’t. “Come on love… really… is that going to be necessary? They don’t like me as it is now already…” You shrugged. “And why should I care?” His eyes started begging before he himself did that. “Don’t you have one ounce of pity for a poor little thief like me?” You almost started laughing. “I work my ass of every day to be able to pay my rent, and then I should have pity with someone who wants to take that money from me without doing one hour of honest work for it? I don’t think so…” You were so busy trying to find Emma’s number in your phone that you hadn’t paid attention on what he was doing, but when you looked up again, his hands were empty. “Ok, ok… fine. I put it back, I’ll back off, ok? Don’t call the sheriff, it’s all fine right now? Bloody hell…” He did a few steps to the door, showing his hands again. Empty. You were still standing in his way, but somehow you liked him, even when you didn’t want him to run off with your money. But he put it back… it would be fine, wouldn’t it? You stepped aside, which earned you a smile from him. “Thank you very much love…”, he greeted you, before getting himself out of the store. You walked over to the cash register again, wanting to close it, when you saw it was completely empty. The thief must have put it in his clothes somewhere. Angry at him, angry at himself you started to call Emma again after looking outside, where he was nowhere to be seen. Of course.. “I think I’ve been a bit too trusting, Emma…”