written and illustrated by staringatsuns (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/325809.html) He should have been dead. Tracking down a ship with a wealthy nobleman aboard and luring the poor fool overboard – any merperson was capable of it and Theo was certainly no exception. Land-dwellers would mourn, but no one questioned it if a young man was lured overboard […]
In Portland, after the rain, the air would become so transparent that Amy would stop being able to perceive distance. She would bike down Belmont from Mt. Tabor with the cold burning in her lungs, the wind tearing through her hair and whipping the ends to slap her cheeks, and she would look out over the city, green and water-sparkling, with her eyes scrunched halfway shut against the brightness. Her fingers would be numb when she tried to do up her bike lock, and when she finally tumbled through into the cafe the bells on the door would knock against her thigh. The air inside would feel like a sauna, the feeling returning to her fingers one stinging nerve ending at a time.
The bells on the door jingle, and Amy shifts and looks back down at her MacBook, mostly. Revised spec for Smith Cooper Enterprises, the subject line says. The email body is still empty. The redheaded barista is just coming in through door, her face flushed pink over her perpetual pair of scarves. Amy stirs her tea the other direction and watches the barista unwrap her overabundance of winter clothing, hanging each piece on the coat rack by the kitchen door. Nate, the owner—a grumpy middle-aged exile from yuppiedom who always looks resentful whenever Amy asks for the honey for her tea—is obviously lecturing her; Amy glances at the clock on her MacBook, which says that it is 1:03 P.M. The redheaded barista has rounded, soft-looking shoulders and impossibly elegant curves of arm; when she’s behind the bar, she ties her thick masses of hair back from her face with one of an apparently endless number of floral printed kerchiefs; and she works from 1 P.M. to the cafe’s 10 P.M close, every Tuesday through Friday, and sometimes picks up half-shifts on Saturday night when the huge barista with the brown-blond dreads gets a gig.
“Smith-Cooper Enterprises” is supposed to be hyphenated. Amy fixes it.
“Velly solly, honorable sirs,” he said, all the while thinking, fuck your mothers.
When Jim said he wanted to go to Berlin and he thought Alfred ought to come with him, Alfred had imagined a city somewhat like his mother’s stories of Paris before the war: the Arc de Triomphe became the Brandenburger Tor, and Alfred imagined himself and Jim sitting in cafes and drinking coffee while Jim gave Alfred each page of his book as it was typed, and Alfred contributed comments that were invariably well-received by the inspired author.
Of course, he’d heard of Berlin—the cabarets, the prostitutes, the Berliner Luft that made the city’s inhabitants act like madmen—from his mother, repeatedly. She had interspersed these admonishments with wistful remembrances of Alfred’s elder brother Tom, who’d been slaughtered by Germans—probably Berliners—in 1916.
Alfred barely remembered Tom, and barely remembered the war. Jim had said he wanted to work on his book, and he thought the change of scenery would do Alfred good. Alfred had acknowledged that was true and packed his suitcase, discounting his mother’s apocalyptic musings on the sad inevitability of her son’s fall from grace into sin and vice. Now that he was here Alfred felt hopelessly naive for thinking Jim would have been drawn to Berlin by anything other than sin and vice.