Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Ballad of Maude Clare: Part Three

MY NOTE: Beware tonight, May 5, because it's the Hare Moon, when Azrael Umare's people enter the world in the forms of rabbits and you don't want them to notice you. Most of the nomadic kind can either be dark or light.

IT WAS boredom that drove Maude to apply for a job at the Lantern Coffeehouse, where paintings of weird figures were hung on green walls and several people her age worked the relatively mild evening hours. She didn't want to sit in her room reading or playing records, and television seemed to be nothing but scenes of dying boys from Vietnam. With no school, she could, maybe, find out about the thing in the field behind the cemetery. Now that she was distanced from it, she'd become skeptical.
     On her first night, Jack, wearing a black suit and tie, walked into the Lantern. When he passed her without a glance, the curls falling against his sun-browned nape slid away from the tattoo of a red dragon. As he sprawled in a corner booth, Maude scowled and began clearing a table on the opposite side. If he wanted to ignore her, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of noticing.
     A few minutes later, a girl in high-heeled shoes like cloven hooves and a black dress with fringed tassels sauntered in. Accompanied by two boys and a girl -- all with dark red hair and white skin -- she sauntered to Jack's table. As she spoke to him, she twirled a strand of pearls around her neck.
     "The Tiamats." Emily, the other waitress, nudged Maude.
     "Who are they?"
     "Weird and rich. Don't look at them. Maybe they'll go away."
     A small argument had erupted between Jack and the elegant tribe. Jack rose. He stalked out. The Tiamats drifted after. The scarlet-haired girl's Cleopatra eyes glinted silver beneath her bangs.
     Before the door shut, a wind swept through the coffeehouse, tearing at the advertisements for businesses and concerts on the bulletin board. Maude glimpsed the face of a girl among them and moved toward it. Silently, she read: Sarah Morgan, 16 years old, dark hair, blue eyes...missing since 1960.
     It was the face of the ballerina in the crumpled photograph scrawled with a poem to a fairy-tale god.

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