The Hollow Crown
He places down the scroll in front of him, reading down the Kanji, the concluding words giving him some thought on his next actions “There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment”.
The decision in front of him is no easier, or worse, than others he has faced. He pauses this time, looking across the study his eyes fall across maps of Boston, photographs and notes. The music playing on the CD player behind him moves to “The Spirit of Man” from War of the Worlds. His mind goes back to woman who had first brought this music
Brockton, New England -June 1978
‘Agonies are one of my changes of garments.’ He gasps, trying to hold in one side of his body which seems determined to escape. A bloodied sword lies on the ground near him.
“Stop pissing me around. Why did you do that” With furious eyes she strips him.
“He’s quoting Whitman, he must be really hurt this time.” The other woman walks over to him, holds her hand against his head. “My knight-errant. But what did he do?” She queries the other woman.
“Threw himself in the way of the attack, I could have matched it myself”
“True” the man splutters, “but then I wouldn’t have got the killing strike, you wouldn’t be in my debt, and I wouldn’t have a raincheck on dinner?” he doesn’t so much question this last part, as state it with certainty. Shaking her head, the second woman walks from the room.
“Would you care if I was ugly?”
“Of course, but your eyes never are.” he rolls over, and blacks out. Shaking her head, she sits by his bedside looking over to the few books he keeps there, Melville, Cervantes and some American poets. She looks at him, hoping the wound will not fester, fearing what he says is true.
Boston – September 2000
The sword is included in a case on the wall, beside other assorted armaments, it’s an affectation he knows to keep using the same weapon, but dammit, he’s got used to it over the years. He looks back to his text, “In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths”
Boston – September 1990
“We have found the traitor”. He seals a note, his anger pushing through the seal. “Take this to Piers, it will give him the evidence he needs.” He pushes himself wearily from the table, and gathers up his sword. The younger man looks at him, “I will deal with it myself. I would not let them have her.”
He walks into the Apse of the derelict church, she looks at him. “Please, not you.” She struggles against her bonds.
“I have finally seen your true self, it is ugly.”
A woman’s voice, judgemental and cold, carried from the half collapsing pulpit “You have betrayed the Morrigan to our enemies. You are sentenced to death”.
He raises his sword to strike, three breathes, he holds for a second, then brings it down quickly, two breathes. The woman’s head falls from her body and as a group they leave the scene. He looks back only once as he leaves.
Boston – September 2000
“Is there?” the woman stands across from him. She rests herself against the wall, he notes she favours her right side, the wound she took in clearing out the Sabbat nest in Gloucester has not yet healed up. “Is there what?” he raises an eyebrow in query.
“Is there something worth living for?” she gestures to the CD. He smiles, and switches it off. “Personally, I don’t know, but copulation is no more foul to me than death is, and I do enjoy both…” She shoots him a look of quiet exasperation, “What can I say, I am satisfied … I see, dance, laugh, sing” joking he moves over to her.
She pushes him away, “I’ve known you too long, you hide behind other people’s words whenever you need to hide your feelings. You can’t be like this for eternity”
With a theatrical bow, and flourish of an imaginary hat, he looks straight at her “What matter wounds to the body of a knight errand, for each time he falls, he shall rise up again, and woe to the wicked”
She can’t help but smile at him even as she reproaches him, “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”, he smiles back “Is that from proverbs, you know I don’t approve of them.”
He leaves, she looks out across the harbour, wondering how many more of these wounds he can take.