The Sequence of Kai
Is it so crazy to think god could exist in silence? Why would we presume to know what a god would think? We tell ourselves that if god existed, he would talk with us because it is in our nature to speak. But our nature is not god’s nature, he needn’t conform to our logic, because he would have created it. There is no relating to the divine.
This is not to say that I believe in god, just that I can understand a little bit where Elm is coming from. If god does not speak, why do we assume he is dead and not simply angry. So angry that he would see rid of us.
“No, no, I think any truly introspective priest understands the value of metaphor.”
Our conversation has been winding like this for a while now, almost all the other patrons have left the bar. I’ve taken up my position as the sceptic, asking questions designed to find some hole in his logic. For his part, Elm seems to be revelling in being able to speak so plainly about his beliefs.
Not that what he’s saying contradicts his public persona, it’s just a bit more direct. I’m not trying to find any inconsistencies though; I’m prodding in the hope that he’ll let slip some useful information.
“Excuse me for a moment, I need to use the bathroom.”
He gets up and wobbles his way to the toilets. I’ve tried to be careful to pace our drinking, make sure he gets drunk enough to be loose-lipped but not so drunk that he becomes incoherent.
A loud throat clear, just to my right. The lead-in wasn’t perfect but there was really good form on the execution. It’s gotta be Trish.
“Yeah sorry, we’ll take two more beers.”
“I took last orders an hour ago.”
“Yeah, but you’re gonna take another.”
She plops herself down beside me with an exhausted sigh, forcing me to move further into the booth. She can see the other side is completely free right?
“So, you two seem to be hitting it off.”
“Are you eavesdropping on the same conversation I’m partaking in?”
“I wasn’t eavesdropping!”
“Yeah, you were.”
“What were you two talking about anyway?”
“A bit of everything really.”
She’s good at that.
“And what is a bit of everything?”
“Guys, god and girls?”
“But what is it really?”
“Discussing why you’re such a nosy bitch.”
She flicks me in between the eyes, light enough as to not cause pain. Not that she doesn’t want to, of course, she’s never been one to keep her emotions in check.
“Well, whatever it is you’re talking about, make sure it’s not too engaging, I expect you to walk home with me.”
“You don’t even have to walk home.”
She walks to work, sure, but only because there’s still daylight left to burn when her shift starts.
“Yeah well, you came here to talk, and you’ve left me out of the conversation entirely, so we have to find time somewhere.”
“You could find anyone to talk to, why does it have to be me?”
“Why can’t you just say you’re not going to fuck Elm?”
“Trish! I’m not going to fuck the weird preacher guy!”
What the hell? Why would she still think I’d be interested in men like him?
Now that was perfect, great lead-in and stellar execution, the bass in his voice really helps.
Trish has truly fucked this for me. I turn to Elm and try to lessen the blow.
“Another preacher just passed through, really wasn’t my type.”
“It’s OK, you don’t have to lie about it, it doesn’t bother me.”
It so clearly bothers him.
“I’m uh…… I’m gonna…. shoo the stragglers out the door. Make sure you finish up soon.”
Just like that Trish dashes away from the situation as Elm sits back down. She really is good at that.
“I don’t know how you managed to get on to such an… interesting topic in the couple of minutes I was gone.”
“Trish is just looking out for me; she gets all worked up over nothing sometimes.”
“But why would she be worried about that? I like to think I haven’t given off that sort of impression, I certainly try not to.”
“Are you kidding me? You don’t become a regular here without knowing what kind of place you’re drinking at; it’d be the perfect place for you, if you were into that sort of thing.”
“And what kind of place would that be?”
“Oh, come on, you don’t need me to say it, you know full well”
“Say what’s on your mind.”
Shit. That’s a direct command, if I don’t answer him, he’ll know I’ve avoided the message on his shirt and then he’ll get scared. Why did I push it? Of course, any guy who gets his drinks served here is some kind of pervert. He just wants to hear me say it doesn’t he?
I mentally pry open my gritted teeth and give him what he wants.
“This is the kind of place where men like yourself can buy drinks for girls much too young for you, slip them some cash while everyone pretends not to look, then bring them home and fuck them however you like.”
I see Trish jump a little out of the corner of my eye. I know she wasn’t eavesdropping earlier, but she definitely is now.
“And I bought you a drink, didn’t I?”
He slips a 50£ note across the table to me. I’d be offended even if that wasn’t under market value.
“What do you expect me to do with this?”
“I have no expectations. You will take that money, then you’ll come back to my place and sleep with me.”
If I can keep my composure this might be a good opportunity. Not that I have any intention of sleeping with a guy like him, I just want to get him somewhere no one else can see what I do. Whether that’s his bedroom or somewhere more exotic doesn’t matter to me. There is the small matter of Trish watching us very closely to see if I’m going to leave without her but that’s something I can deal with tomorrow.
Elm stands up and indicates that I’m to follow. I can’t afford to drop the act now, so I wait until Elm is outside and then do as I’m instructed. I duck my head, hoping that Trish will for some reason decide to ignore me. I avoid her gaze all the way to the door, but she grabs my wrist to stop me going any further. This is why I never try for the unreasonable.
“What are you doing?”
I can’t answer her, so I let my arm hang limply in her hand. Elm comes back through the door looking for me.
“Trish, nothing’s happening here, go back to what you were doing.”
“Kai, speak to me.”
She ignores him completely and yanks on my arm to pull me a bit closer. This seems to annoy Elm, who clicks his fingers twice to get her attention.
“Trish, listen to me, nothing’s happening here, get back to work.”
She stands there for a moment before turning around to get back to work. She doesn’t let go of my arm. When she can go no further without dragging me with her, she freezes, seemingly unsure of what to do. Elm lets out a frustrated sigh.
“I suppose it is getting late anyway. I’ll leave you girls to it.”
He takes his wallet out of his jacket, producing a business card from within.
“Let’s continue our conversation tomorrow Kai, it would be a shame to let things end here. Make sure to call me so we can set something up, make it about 4.”
He tucks the card into the front pocket of my jeans.
“You girls should go home now. Don’t forget to lock up”
Trish wordlessly nods and quickly moves over to the till to finish everything else she needs to close up shop. She still won’t let go of my wrist so she drags me with her, doing all the work one-handed.
In the couple of moments it takes Trish to drag me to the till, he’s disappeared. I consider chasing after him, ending things right here… but I can’t leave Trish like this, she’s not in her right mind. She keeps fumbling over the change in the till and having to restart her count. I grab her other hand and lead her to the door.
“Don’t worry about closing up properly, I’ll apologize to Darren for you.”
Her voice is weak, not at all like her. I grab the keys from her bag and lock up myself.
Trish’s mind is in such a state that she can do nothing but walk back to her place. I practically have to carry her there, open the door with half a free hand and then help her into bed.
She’s fallen asleep before she’s even hit the covers. I take off her shoes and her jacket, but I can’t bring myself to do more than that. I throw a blanket over her and leave the room.
The anger hit a while before we got back to the house. It’s the kind of full-blown rage I haven’t felt in a while. I might just kill someone tonight if I’m not careful.
I realized on the walk back that Elm probably used his power to have sex with Trish. I’m never going to ask her about it, I won’t get him to tell me, my mind is better off not knowing for sure. But I know it happened, I’ve known far too many creeps like him to be naïve to that reality.
The anger in that realization hit me like an axe splitting open the back of my head, it felt like my skull was going to tear itself in two. I only managed to hold it together because I had to get Trish home. I’ve managed to calm down a bit since then but it’s all relative, being ready to kill someone is a step down in truth.
It’s already two in the morning, I’ve only got 14 hours to gather info and make a proper plan. Good thing I don’t need to sleep.
First order of business is to wring Paul’s neck until his throat squeaks out better info.
I find the door to his study locked. He usually does that whenever he feels he’s about to pass out for a few hours. I kick the door right above the handle and rip the lock through the wood that holds it in place.
It doesn’t even wake him up, he’s out cold on his desk. I push his body upright in his chair and slap his face to wake him up.
“Huh? Wha... Who?”
He blinks himself awake and after seeing that it’s me, immediately picks up his quill to start writing.
“How did you get in here; did I forget to lock the door again?”
“Don’t even try to ignore me, Paul.”
Paul is no idiot, so when he hears the tone in my voice, he reluctantly puts the quill down.
“You sure you told me everything there was to tell me about Elm?”
“I told you everything you needed to know.”
“No, you didn’t.”
I put both of my hands on the desk and loom over him. He’s always been scared of me, even if he’d never admit it.
“I told you to leave him alone Kai, if we just go around killing everyone who becomes a minor inconvenience, we’ll have Kohsan’s men on us in no time, none of us want that.”
I grab him by the collar with that right hand and pull him close.
“You don’t get to decide who I kill old man. If this guy deserves to die, and he does, then he’ll die.”
I push him back into his chair.
He must’ve finally copped on to the fact that I’m not just ticked off but genuinely furious.
“That guy is using his powers to coerce people into doing things for him.”
“Since when have you cared about strangers?”
“One of those people is Trish.”
This hurts him a little, it shows on his face. I don’t think he always used to be like this, I think he really does care for Trish and Aaron, somewhere beneath those layers of ink. Not enough to take action though, not anymore.
“Whatever he does to people they won’t remember it, that’s the nature of his power.”
“I don’t care if she doesn’t remember it, I care that it happened at all!”
“Memory makes who we are Kai, things we forget never happened to us.”
“I don’t want to hear that from a man who spends his life recording his memories on a page.”
He gives me an exasperated sigh.
“I can see that you’re angry Kai but there’s nothing more of value I can tell you about him. He’s a hack, a charlatan. If he’s gotten better at using his power it’s because he’s become more skilled as a con artist, better now at hiding the fraud he is in reality. His power is weak, even in the best of circumstances it can be negated by those with strong enough will or a connection to the wrong sequence, he can only control the weak, the unaware or the apathetic.”
“That’s not everything you can tell me. How do you know him? What’s your history?”
“We don’t have one.”
“That’s a lie.”
“One you’re going to have to accept.”
I was foolish to think I’d be able to get anything worthwhile out of him. This is the type of man to part with any of the worthwhile information he’s willing to upfront and he’s not someone I can beat more out of either.
Whatever it was that happened with Elm in the past is staying there. But as much as he might not want to admit it, whatever it is is real, he clearly remembers it.
I turn around to leave because I’m wasting the time I have left by standing here talking to a wall.
Surprisingly, the wall calls out to me.
Unsurprisingly when I turn around, he’s multitasking, writing as he speaks.
“It’s not my place to make things real again but, for Trish’s sake, you don’t want Kohsan sniffing around here. She should never have to remember that….”
His quill pauses and his fist clenches.
“I’ll try to keep that in mind.”