Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Raven's Blood - Chapter Two


          We opened our show with an acapella round.  Sissi and Chella were very good singers and sometimes we’d write acapella songs that reminded us of the traditional tunes that were written during the Victorian era as well as the Medieval era.  As our choral round grew more intense, Sissi began drumming out a tribal beat.  Fredrick added a single, low, droning note on his bass guitar.  It was then my cue to begin to sing the lyrics and play my cello.

          The whole restaurant stood or sat quietly and listened.

          “Hello, have you met me?  Hello, have you been waiting for me?  Where did you come from?   Did you know that I can hypnotize you with my eyes?  Did you realize that you’d never be free?   Free from my gaze, my sweet seduction, my power over you.  When did you realize that I was the one?  When did you realize that you’d never leave?” I sang.

          Michael and Fredrick picked the lowest strings on their guitars while I played a haunting melody on my cello and began singing again.  Chella played the xylophone softly.  Our song was like a seductive funeral dirge.

          That’s when I saw him.  He was standing directly in front of me, staring at me with adoration.   I stared right back at him and sang the lyrics to the song, as if I had written them specifically for him.   The corners of his sensual lips curved into a slight smile.  He was dressed like Gary Oldman from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in a gray Victorian suit, complete with white hand gloves, a gray satin top hat, blue circular sunglasses, and, tucked under his arm, an antique cane.  My body seemed to vibrate.   I noticed that I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.  I also noticed that my hips were literally gyrating to the beat of the song.  I’m sure people were thinking I was masturbating (or pretending to be like the singer Tori Amos, who always moves sexually as she plays her Bosendorfer piano) but I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t want to stop, either.  It felt so good.

          The song was over but, I kept singing quietly—almost whispering, until I felt like the spell was broken.  The crowd cheered and clapped so loudly, I thought my ears were going to explode.   Chella quickly started playing the next song, while Marcus cued in the sound effects from the laptop.  I looked away from Darrien to the set list that was taped onto the floor of the stage, as a reminder of what songs we were going to play.  When I looked back up, he was gone.  I could still feel his presence.  I knew that tonight—I  would finally get a chance to talk to him again.  Perhaps, even go out with him after we played.

          We played ten songs and ended the set with a cover of the song, My Funny Valentine.  It was Chella’s idea to perform the song like the group, Miranda Sex Garden, did on their third album.   Slow and jazzy.  That’s when everyone picked up their other orchestral instruments and played.   Fredrick plucked out the bass notes on a string bass instead of his bass guitar.  Michael picked up his violin and played along with me, playing the harmony.  Sissi still played her drums, but used a bass drum mallet to hit the snare drum and brush for the cymbals.  Chella played her viola along with Michael and me; and Marcus, who never played any instrument other than his precious laptop computer, surprised everyone by picking up a tenor saxophone.  It was truly awesome.  The reaction from the crowd was quite overwhelming.

          When we were finished, the DJ took over and began playing the song Superstitious by Stevie Wonder.  Mama ran over to me and gave me a huge hug and kiss.  Papa was right behind her and smiled brightly.

          “Raven, you guys played exceptionally well!  I’m so proud of you.” Mama cried.  Then she looked over at the rest of the band.  “You all played marvelously!”

          “Ah, thanks, Mrs. Mercucio.” Sissi said.

          “You guys should be famous!” Papa beamed.

          “We’re workin’ on it, Papa,” I said smiling at both him and Mama.  Then I turned towards the rest of the band and gave them the thumbs up.  Chella motioned to me to come over by her.  I nodded and gave Mama and Papa a hug and kiss and excused myself.

          “Did you see him?” Chella whispered in my ear.

          “If you mean Darrien, yes I did!  I’m going to go look for him as soon as we pack up.”

          Michael looked at me and frowned.  I knew he didn’t like the idea of me going after a total stranger.  Then I thought to myself, why should he care, anyway?  He doesn’t want me for more than a friend anyway.  I should be allowed to see whomever I want.  I hurriedly packed my cello up in its case and took it back into the employee’s locker room.  I was afraid of Darrien leaving before I had a chance to talk to him.  To my surprise, he was waiting for me by the door that was marked, “Employees Only.”  I nearly tripped over him when I ran out the door.

          “And where are you going in such a hurry, my lady?” Darrien asked me.  I had fallen right into his arms and when I did, I felt this surge of excitement that flowed throughout my body that made me want to kiss him.

          “I was afraid you’d leave before…” I suddenly couldn’t help myself.  I pulled his head to mine and kissed him full on the lips.  It felt like I was on ecstasy.  He felt so good.  He pulled my body closer to his and I felt his arousal.  I didn’t care.  I wanted the kiss to go on forever.  Instead, it ended, leaving me feel hungry for more.

          “Is that the way you always greet total strangers?” He asked quietly.

          “No,” I said and began blushing.  What just came over me?  Why did I feel the need to kiss him?

          “You shouldn’t be embarrassed, Raven.  I wanted to kiss you just as badly as you wanted to kiss me.” He then leaned over and whispered into my ear.  “Would you like to go for a ride?  I have my carriage waiting for us.”

          “Your carriage?” I asked.

          “I wanted to really fit the part of a true Victorian gentleman and went ahead and rented two horses and a carriage for tonight.  I thought it would be more romantic to ride around the city in a carriage drawn by two horses than to ride the busy streets with a silly limousine.”

          “Are you asking me out for a date?” I asked him with a sly grin on my face.

          “Of course, my lady!  A true Victorian gentleman needs a Victorian woman to romance and woo.” His voice was music to my ears.  “We have all night to get to know one another better.”

          I nodded.  Yes, we have all night to get to know one another.  I suddenly blushed.  I was very inexperienced in the dating game and I was still a virgin.

          “You have me at your expense all night, Raven.” He held out his arm and I curled my arm around his and smiled.  “I’ve been anticipating this date for a long time now.”

          “So have I.”  I was so surprised at how honest I was with him.  Maybe it was time to move on and look for someone who wanted to love me and not wait around for Michael to make up his mind. He never seemed to care about me anyway, other than friendship, and I was certainly not going to wait my entire life for him to make his move.

          “Lead the way, my dear,” I said and pointed towards the entrance to the restaurant.

          “Raven!”  I heard Michael call out.  I ignored him and let Darrien guide me out to his carriage and horses.  “Raven, wait up!  I have to talk to you!”

          “Too late, Michael, she’s with me.  You had your chance.” Darrien said when Michael stopped us by standing in front of the door.  I no longer cared about Michael.  Darrien was right.  Michael had his chance and blew it.

          “Please, Raven, I really need to talk to you.”

          “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Michael.  Can’t you see that I’ve been invited out on a date?”   Michael cringed when I said “date.”  Yes, you had your chance, Michael, but I’m not waiting for you forever.  Michael stepped away so we could exit the restaurant.  The look he gave me made my heart ache.  He walked away slowly with his head down and went back to help the band pack up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

          The night air was crisp and clean.  The smell of the fallen leaves was intoxicating and the night sky was clear of clouds and sparkled with its blanket full of stars.  Darrien led me out to his rented carriage and horses.  I immediately went to the solid black horses and gently patted each ones’ nose.   Darrien handed me some sugar cubes and I allowed the horses to lick my hand and take the cubes.

          “I think they’re in love with you,” Darrien said with a smile. “They certainly trust you—and  that’s a good thing.”

          I nodded and took Darrien’s hand.  He helped me up into the carriage.  It never dawned on me that there wasn’t anyone to help guide the horses.  Then, as if he had been waiting for us in the shadows, a tall, handsome man clambered on board and took the reins in his hands.  The interior of the carriage was decorated with red satin.  I noticed a sterling silver bucket of ice sitting on the floor holding two bottles of what I thought was champagne.  Tiny lead crystal vases hung delicately from each corner of the carriage and each one of them held a single blood red rose.  Romantic indeed!  I sat down and straightened out my skirt.  I let out a little chuckle when Darrien took his place next to me.

          “What do you find so comical?” he questioned me.

          “Oh, it’s silly really.” I replied.

          “Now, come on, no secrets. What made you chuckle just now?”

          I couldn’t resist and began to chuckle again.  “Oh, you said something about a Victorian gentleman needs a Victorian woman,” I said, looking down at my attire and then at my reflection in the window. “I’m far from being Victorian.  At least, not the kind of Victorian woman you had in mind.”

          Darrien leaned forward and spoke into what looked like some kind of microphone.

          “Ren, lead the way, please.”

          “Yes, sir.” Ren replied; and the carriage began to stroll down the city street.

           “You were saying, Raven?” Darrien asked me.
          “I just meant that I look like a vampire with tattoos and body piercings—and  not Victorian at all.”

          His face lit up when he smiled and he chuckled softly.  “I see your point.  Women did not dare decorate their bodies in that fashion during that time period;  you, however, have an essence that says you are Victorian.  You may not be wearing pastels, pearls, lace, and cameos.  And your corset is exposed, which was definitely not done back in those days.  On the other hand, this isn’t that time period; and what you’re wearing –is alluring, to say the least.”

          “You’re not from around here, are you?” I asked.

          “No, I am not. I don’t like to stay in one place too long.  I get bored so easily as time goes by. Why do you ask?”

          “You just speak and act like you’re not from the city.  You also have a hint of a foreign accent.”

          “How right you are,” he replied“I’m originally from London, but certain circumstances brought me here to the States when I was but a wee lad.”

          I looked into his eyes and noticed he was wearing contacts.  He saw that I was looking at his eyes and removed the sunglasses.   “I just love the outfit Gary Oldman wore when he met Winona Rider for the first time in the movie…”

          “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” I finished.  “It’s one of my favorite movies too—although , it isn’t true to the book.”

          “Then again, do most movies based on books stay faithful to the stories?”

          I smiled, “No, they aren’t. Sometimes they are, but for the most part, Hollywood likes to add things to make the movie more appealing.  Disney movies have a habit of making every fairytale a happy ending.  Don’t get me wrong, I love happy endings, but when it screws up the story, it pisses me off.” I was suddenly embarrassed by my language.  I didn’t want to sound like some kind of mouthy kid.

          “You didn’t offend me, Raven.  You could never offend me.  I’ve heard all kinds of insults and foul language.  And I’m just as guilty because I swear at times too.”

          “Thank the Goddess!” I sighed.

          “Now there’s a phrase I don’t hear too often. I take it you practice Witchcraft?”

          I nodded.

          “You remind me of a sexy witch,” Darrien said, and reached out to touch my face.  His hands were still gloved; and I gently took off the suede glove that touched my face, so I could feel his skin.   He let out a sigh when his hand touched my cheek without the glove.  I closed my eyes as I allowed him to caress my cheek.  It felt heavenly. When he stopped, I opened my eyes and looked into his.   I wanted him to kiss me again.   As if he could read my thoughts, he leaned in and pressed his lips to mine.   The kiss made me tingle from head to toe—and  I wondered to myself what it would be like to make love to a man like Darrien.  As quickly as the thought came to me, I shrugged away the images and broke the kiss.


          He raised a finger to my lips and stopped me from saying sorry.  Then he reached down, making sure his hand brushed up against my leg, and took a bottle of champagne from the bucket of ice.

          “Would you care for a drink?”

          “Yes, that would be lovely.”

          With ease, he popped the cork and poured the sparkling liquid into one of the lead crystal glasses that sat on a tiny bar above the bucket.  He handed me the glass, then poured champagne in a glass for himself.

          “What shall we toast to?” he asked.

          “To new friends and relationships, perhaps?”

          “Yes, that’s perfect,” he raised his glass and toasted.  “To new friends and relationships.”

          I repeated the toast after him, raised the glass to my lips and took a sip.  The champagne filled my mouth; and I sipped at it slowly, savoring its flavor.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

          Michael finished cleaning up the apartment and went over to the kitchenette.  He opened the refrigerator, took out a bottle of beer, twisted off the cap, tossed it into the garbage can and took a big gulp.  He was angry with Raven.  He was also scared for her.  He knew, for weeks, that Darrien had been coming to the restaurant to see her.  Maybe it was jealousy; but, he didn’t like the guy.  There was something about him that made Michael shiver to the bone.

          “I’m such a fucking coward!” he said and chugged the rest of the beer.  He placed the bottle on the countertop and went to get another beer.  Normally, he hated to drink, especially beer, but, at that moment, he didn’t care.

          Chella entered the apartment, went straight to the bar and poured herself a glass of red wine. Tonight had been such a blast; but, she was tired and wanted to relax now.

          “Hi,” Michael said to her, from the kitchenette.

          Chella almost dropped her glass of wine. “Jesus, Michael, don’t do that to me!  You scared the absolute shit out of me just now!”

          “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I thought you went home.”

          “Nah, I didn’t feel like going home.  It’s Halloween!  We should be celebrating.   Plus, I’m too awake to try and sleep.”

          “Yeah, I know what ya mean,” Michael said, with a depressed tone in his voice.

          Chella saw he was drinking beer—and  instantly knew he was upset over something.   Not to mention, he didn’t sound too happy when he greeted her.

          “Care to tell me what’s on your mind, Michael?”

          He shook his head and went over to the stereo to pick out a CD. He found what he was looking for and put the shiny disk into the stereo. My Bloody Valentine’s album Loveless began playing.

          “You’re upset because of Raven, aren’t you?” Chella dared to ask.

          “Is it that obvious?” he asked her.  He went over to the couch and sat down.  An open pack of Camel cigarettes sat on the coffee table near an ashtray.  He reached for the pack, took out a cigarette and lit it.  Chella sat down beside him, took out a pack of cloves and lit a cigarette.  They sat quietly for a moment and listened to the CD.  The voices of Bilinda Butcher and Kevin Shields filled the apartment’s living room.

          “I wanted to talk to her, but she ran off with that weird guy,” Michael started.

          “Darrien? Oh, he’s harmless.” Chella said. “He’s been coming to the restaurant now for a whole month… almost every day.”

          “Doesn’t that seem weird to you?” He asked her.

          “Not really. He’s seems pretty cool.  I’ve waited on him several times.  He sometimes just orders wine.”

          “Really now?  Why doesn’t he just go to some bar or lounge to do that?”

          Chella smiled. “Sounds like the green-eyed monster is lurking within you.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you have a thing for Raven.”

          Michael sighed. He was in no mood to fight with her.   Then again, what harm would it do if I told her the truth, he thought to himself.

          “Are you going to talk to me or are you just going to sit there sulking?” Chella asked him.

          Michael butted his cigarette then reached into the front pocket of his jeans.  He pulled out a small sandwich baggie filled with pot and a pack of Zig Zag rolling papers.  Silently, he began rolling a joint to share with Chella.  The beer just wasn’t enough.  It made him sick to his stomach.

          “Would you do me a favor, Chell, and throw this fucking beer away and get me a glass of wine?” he asked her.

          “Sure, babe,” she said and grabbed the bottle of beer from the coffee table and went back into the kitchenette to dump it down the sink.  She dimmed the lights and walked around the room, lit some candles and incense then plugged in the Christmas lights that were arranged in an unorganized fashion on the ceiling; then went over to the coffee table and picked up her half empty glass of wine and walked back over to the little bar to add some more wine to her glass and pour a glass for Michael.

          “Do you think Raven loves me?” Michael asked Chella when she sat back down on the black velveteen couch that showed every piece of lint and hair possible.

          She patted his leg and smiled. “Of course she loves you Michael! How could you doubt that?”

          He lit the joint and deeply inhaled its spicy smoke.  Chella took the joint from him, took a hit and passed it back.   She picked up the remote control, turned the TV on and muted the sound.  The station, that was playing, was showing the classic silent film, Nosferatu.

          “I love this movie!” Chella said, as she exhaled the marijuana smoke from her lungs.

          “Me too,” Michael replied. He took another hit off the joint and passed it back over to Chella.

          They sat there together, passing the joint back and forth, listening to My Bloody Valentine while watching the classic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Neither said a word.  There was nothing to be said.  Chella didn’t want to betray Raven by telling Michael how much Raven loved him.  Better yet, how much she was in love with him.  It was none of her business to get involved with the situation. Besides, if Michael was in love with Raven, he should act on it, instead of holding back all his fears of rejection, Chella thought to herself.

          The CD ended and Chella got up and went to change it.  She picked out Switchblade Symphony’s CD, Bread and Jam for Frances and began playing it.

          She glanced up at the wall clock and saw that it was almost three in the morning.  Raven had left the restaurant with Darrien around 11:00.  I hope she’s having a good time, Chella thought.  She deserves to have fun.  Chella made a mental note to tell Raven about the way Michael was acting and what he had said to her.  Yes, it would be considered as betraying Michael, but it would be for his own good.  Maybe she could convince him to make the first move, since she knew that’s what Raven was waiting for.

Copyright © 2012 Karen Elizabeth Waters
Edited by Zyris Wa

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