The Blackheart Folio, Part 4 (But also CHRISTMAS!) Dec 29, 2022 16:31:08 GMT -5 Thunder Knuckles likes this
Post by Harmony on Dec 29, 2022 16:31:08 GMT -5
I couldn’t remember ever having a Christmas. But now, as I stood before this brilliant bedecked tree, with the jubilant chatter of children as background noise, I found myself deep in sorrow. I could have had this many times over by now. The joy. The laughter. The love. But instead, it was something alien to me. The warmth of it all evoked an anxious churning in my stomach. The beauty was something I simply didn’t know how to respond to. It was akin to being ashore in a foreign land, surrounded by unusual custom and unfamiliar tongues.
I could feel my right eye begin to water, and I brushed it away with the heel of my palm as soon as the tear appeared. As peculiar as all this was for me, I was determined not to sully other’s joy. So I retreated to the periphery, taking a seat in the far corner of this immense living area in Corey Smith’s estate. And I retreated into what I knew. Heartbreak. Pain. Bitterness. Anger.
It was cold. But it was mine.
ONE YEAR AGO
I awoke somewhere unfamiliar, and panic was my knee jerk reply. I planted my hands at my sides, pushing myself up into a seated position on the bed. Doing so evoked the ghost of pain, a pain I would have felt fully were it not for the narcotic haze keeping me in its stupefying embrace. I gathered my wits, assessing the situation.
Bandages. IV Drip. Hospital.
The Doll. Dead.
The memory returned to me. Those conclusive terrifying moments where my entire world was plunged into chaos. The screaming. The gunfire. Me tethered to the pole, with a blade protruding from my leg and bobbing in rhythm with the pulse of my life’s blood.
I remember The Doll looking back at me. The clarity suddenly alight on her features. She knew something. She knew. And she spoke to me.
You’re already doomed, Harmon.
But before I could ponder what that meant, the door exploded open, a plethora of federal agents shouting and raising weapons aloft and spilling into the room. The Doll raised her own gun and didn’t stand a chance. She was cut down instantly, and her cooling body slumped at my feet, dead eyes boring into mine. Accusatory and vicious.
You’re already doomed, Harmon.
As my consciousness ebbed, I was vaguely aware of the federal agents taking notice of me. One clamped some cloth down around the blade in my leg. Hey buddy…buddy! Someone intoned, tapping my cheek. But I was already gone.
Gone and here. In this hospital. I hadn’t even noticed the nurse when she entered, simply appearing beside me to check my vitals like a benevolent phantasm.
You’re awake. That’s good. You’re lucky to be alive. You lost a lot of blood.
I cast a glance down at my leg, where a switch blade had been lodged in a major artery not even, what? 24 hours before? I couldn’t tell how much time had passed.
There are some government men who want to speak to you. But I told them you weren’t well enough.
I raised my hand to get her attention, and groggily mouthed “It’s ok.” She read my lips well enough, and responded with some surprise. You want to speak with them now?
I did. I needed to. I needed to tear the bandage off. Find out how much they knew. I had murdered two people prior to my encounter with The Doll. And injured many more. Had they been tracking my movements this whole time? Did they know who I was? For all I knew all that awaited me beyond these hospital doors was a prison cell. And yet I wasn’t handcuffed to the bed. I raised both arms to affirm that fact, and rubbed the sore circlet on my wrist where The Doll had cuffed me.
If you’re sure. The nurse intoned. They’re just outside. You want me to get them?
I nodded yes.
Lips pursed, she left me and returned with two plain clothes agents. One, a smallish Hispanic male. The other a steely blond caucasian woman. The nurse gestured at me as they entered. He just woke up. He may not remember much.
But he asked to speak with us? The steely one replied.
Yes. Against my better judgement. Nonetheless, the nurse took her leave, and I remained with the agents. The male spoke next.
My name is Agent Almas, this is Agent Morris. You’re very lucky to be alive.
I pointed to my throat, at the knot of scar tissue there, hoping they got the point.
He doesn’t speak. The woman pronounced, like I wasn’t there.
Agent Almas reached into his breast pocket, withdrawing a small pad of paper and a pen. He placed them next to my hand. Can you write?
Good enough. We do have some questions for you. Mainly about the nature of your relationship with Vicky “The Doll” Mastrangelo. I will also stress that any honesty and candor you display for us…
I nodded quickly, indicating my understanding.
Good. Did you work for her?
I shook my head “no” and started writing, already concocting what I hoped was a suitable lie.
Why would she damn near kill me if I did?
Almas shrugged. Maybe you did her dirty. Any number of reasons. But did you work for her?
No. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I thought the place was abandoned. Wanted to practice some tagging, work on my art.
You risked your life for graffiti? Morris responded sardonically.
I underlined the part about not knowing anyone was there.
You didn't have any ID on you. What's your name?
They didn't know who I was. I beamed inwardly.
Well Luke Pasquale, why is it that some of The Dolls other heavies are saying you were there to kill her?
That's not true.
Well you know we need to look into that.
I want an attorney then.
The agents looked at each other. Then back at me. I assume that means we're done here?
Look kid, if you’re just honest with us…
I pointed again at the word “attorney”.
Have it your way. I guess that's it. But we’ll be seeing you again. With that, the agents turned and departed. But I knew I would not be seeing them for the last time. And that I was on the precipice of being in some deep shit.
Harmon’s Journal: Entry 14
This is it. My biggest test to date.
Or is it?
Hi Scott. I’m Harmon. Not exactly one of your generation, but yet here we are, both Hardwired to Self Destruct.
Sorry, couldn’t help it. I like the name.
You’ve maintained your silence for quite some time, Scott. And while that may seem a tad hypocritical for me to point out, I always find it interesting when people stay mum. In my mind, it means one of a couple things. Number one, you don’t want to give me any kind of edge. Which is smart. Quiet though I may be, I’m a quick judge of character. And if you seem shook, I’ll sink my teeth into it.
Number two? You don’t care. And personally, I’m leaning a bit into this one. Look Scott, we all know what you’ve done. The reams of accolades. The Hall of Fame induction. The contractual obligation for all rookies to sing hosannahs in your name as we, heh, “gear up” for the first time.
We get it. You’ve done it. Which is why I question your motivation here. Now whether you end up finally opening your mouth or not, the fact remains that with all you’ve accomplished, stepping into the ring with little old me for the Craze Championship after 10 plus years of living it up playing Bingo and courting g-milfs in Florida…I gotta ask myself...
Is this a bit of post mid life crisis? Or are you actually thinking of getting back into the game long term? Because if its the latter, Scott, you’ve picked the wrong one. Forget Sahara, Pic, or Bifford. These days, I’m the deep end of the pool. I’m the danger. And for a sagging, slow, gassed up past his primer, this is a very dangerous spot you find yourself in.
But even then, I’m not sure that’s what your motivation was. No. I think when you entered that Rumble, you were shooting craps intending to hit it big. One more run at the world championship or bust. But you came up short. And you ended up fighting for a lower tier (or supposedly lower tier) championship held by an absolute phenom.
In short, you fucked up. You fucked up and ended up with the consolation prize that is, in reality, an even bigger challenge than the prize you were gunning for. And in the end, I don’t think this is what you ever wanted. So you’ll stay mum. Or you’ll cobble together some half assed promo spots at the last minute to save face. And you’ll reluctantly step in the ring with one of the top ranked fighters in the whole promotion.
Sucks to be you.
Because me? I’m hunting former world champions. I’m looking to impress on management that I am the one who will carry this promotion into 2023. From this point forward OCW rides on my back. And if I have to plunge my sword into the old guard to announce that, so be it.
This isn't what you wanted. But it's what you ended up with. And I have a feeling that after this, you'll be thinking that retirement sounds mighty good again.
See you soon old man.
My relapse into the past was interrupted by Corey jostling my shoulder.
You lost in thought again, friendo?
I nodded, trying not to seem too morose.
You look way too sad for someone waiting on Christmas.
I sighed and wrote a response. Never really had a Christmas before. The sight of a couple kids playfully running past as a beleaguered mother chased after them momentarily distracted me. One thing I had had to get used to was that the activity on Corey’s property never stopped. After inheriting his mansion and all its grounds from one of his worst enemies, Corey had subverted the lands evil and bent it towards a more benevolent cause: a commune for those in need.
Corey watched my reaction to the family running past. My offer still stands you know. You can live here.
I diverted my eyes towards the ground. I don’t know how the Bastards would feel about that.
The hell with them. You need some stability man. You need to be around HUMANITY. How long you been living out of skinflint motel rooms and rental cars?
Too long. I hesitated before responding. I’ll think about it.
Then, a teenage girl who looked to be about 14 or so came upon us. Mr. Harmon, something is at the door for you. It’s…she scrunched her features up….weird.
I got up, intent to see what sort of oddity was next to inject itself into my life. Corey and I followed the girl to the front door. Where a chimp in an elf outfit awaited us.
The chimp gyrated and danced a little jig before playing a slide whistle (rather well I might add) and pulling out a cell phone from the back of its comedicaly oversized pants. Bobby Bourbon appeared on the screen in a prerecorded message.
Harmon! Merry Christmas buddy! I hope this Chimpogram finds you well.
Of course Bobby would send a Chimpogram.
And Corey, you better make sure Harmon gets this or else I’ll beat the breaks off ya again. Kidding! Sort of.
Corey shot the screen a sardonic thumbs up.
Anyway, monkey, give Harmon his present.
The monkey reached behind himself again and produced a t-shirt, what looked to be a custom design of all the Brotherhood of Bastards smash cut into the same image. I took the shirt, and for the first time all day I smiled.
Merry Christmas Harmon. And make Scott Syren your bitch! The screen went black, and then the monkey danced a little jig once more, and blew on the slide whistle again, before cartwheeling down the stairs and running out of sight.
I looked over at Corey, and he couldn’t suppress a grin either. Points for originality.
They’re not so bad.
I wouldnt go that far. Corey clapped me on the back. Come on Harmon, lets get you some hot cocoa and a suitably ugly holiday sweater to wear.