Chapter 8:

Letters of Release

Mylo and the Summoned Hero

Ezre Lafferty sat at a desk by the window, writing a letter. No business correspondence or get well soon, this letter was never to be sent. By design, Ezre’s pen moved not to reach out, but to encircle a feeling. If possible, to expunge.Bookmark here

The door of her flat echoed a polite knock.Bookmark here

"Really? Who visits at noon in midsummer?" Ezre stretched and placed the pen over the paper to pin the words down. "Coming, coming."Bookmark here

She opened the door. On the other side, looking the portrait of embarrassment, stood Mylo.Bookmark here

Why is he here?Bookmark here

"Hey, boss. Sorry to disturb you at home. I, uh, need to ask a favor." Bookmark here

Mylo gave a nervous laugh and brought a hand up to ruffle the back of his blonde hair, which was just oh so fluffy. This was the first time she’d seen his bashful tick up close. It was cute.Bookmark here

No. Clamp down. Contain it.Bookmark here

In a terse voice, Ezre said, "We’re not at work, call me Ezre."Bookmark here

"Ah, right, sorry, Ezre."Bookmark here

Ezre set her face to granitic and unimpressed.Bookmark here

"Well, you’re here. I guess I should invite you…in." Alarm bells rang in her head as soon as she said it.Bookmark here

"Actually, wait, just a minute." She shut the door in Mylo’s face and ran to the desk. There, in plain sight under the pen, words she meant never to share. Ezre hid the unfinished letter away in a drawer, and went back to the door.Bookmark here

Ezre apologized for the delay and invited Mylo in. He looked around—enough to get the feel of the place, not to pry—and told her it was a nice spot.Bookmark here

"Oh, It’s nothing special."Bookmark here

She felt ready for anything. Today’s letter had been going especially well, processing and dissecting feelings on the page, where they lost some of their power. Locked in competent, if unpoetic prose, Ezre could laugh at how silly it all was. It would be fine, she could have him this close and betray nothing.Bookmark here

It’s fine. I don’t have to reveal a thing. Even if I did, nothing can happen, not with the way things are. The letter-writing was Ezre’s chief strategy, but she could always fall back on the employee handbook. She was Mylo’s direct supervisor, and that fact prohibited some very important, very alluring possibilities.Bookmark here

Ezre offered him a chair and asked, "So, Mylo, can I get you water? A tisane?" She almost kicked herself for saying it. Water was quick, therefore safe; tisane needed to brew and thus would extend his stay, if only a few minutes.Bookmark here

"Uh, just water, thanks." Mylo sat in her favorite chair, forward and alert, a ray of hope in his eyes.Bookmark here

Stop it. Cuteness has no power over me.Bookmark here

Ezre cleared her throat. "You said something about a favor?"Bookmark here

"Right. Bit of an arrow in the dark here, but you wouldn’t happen to have, like, a big stack of letters, would you?"Bookmark here

Ezre stopped breathing.Bookmark here

How the hell did you know?Bookmark here

Mylo went on to explain that he needed letters, preferably a decently chunky stack, as a prop. Likely wouldn’t even get opened. Apparently this was to get a friend of his out of jail? She didn’t follow his logic there, but he seemed confident as anything.Bookmark here

"Don’t you have a friend, or a parent who gets letters?" she asked.Bookmark here

"No. Brendan gets some from his aunt, but he throws them away after he’s done reading them. And Paul Etier…his correspondence is too sensitive."Bookmark here

Ezre half stood and shouted at him, "And you think mine isn’t?"Bookmark here

Mylo flinched. Ezre placed a hand over her mouth—she hadn’t meant to say that aloud, much less so loud.Bookmark here

"Sorry. I should have been clear: Paul’s are legally sensitive. They concern his old clients and court cases, some of which are still pending. He could get sued, or jailed."Bookmark here

"Oh." Ezre sat back down, but still tense. This wasn’t how she had imagined Mylo’s first visit to her flat at all.Bookmark here

The notion of letting him carry those letters, even sealed, sent a shiver racing up and down her spine. But the horror carried a strange appeal. If Mylo read one of them, just one, he’d know exactly how she felt.Bookmark here

Maybe he wouldn’t say no.Bookmark here

Ezre’s emerald eyes searched Mylo’s burgundy irises for a hint, some sign how he leaned. Right now, concern for his friend occluded any emotional undercurrents.Bookmark here

"Okay." Ezre went to the desk’s lower drawer and took out a great stack of letters, and she tied them into a stack with green peacord. "Here…"Bookmark here

"Oh, thank you, I’ll bring them back right away."Bookmark here

"Make sure you read them."Bookmark here

Mylo blinked. "…do read them?"Bookmark here

"Don’t! I meant don’t read them." She didn’t know which gave more alarm, the mistaken instruction or the correction.Bookmark here

Mylo smiled and Ezre almost melted. "Don’t worry," he said, confident now. "I can respect a person’s privacy. I’ll bring them back unread."Bookmark here

With a weak nod, Ezre saw Mylo out of her flat. Then with a resolute nod, she returned to her desk and the letter she had been writing before he knocked.Bookmark here

It’s fine. He won’t open them, and its not like I write his full name on the front of the envelope any more.Bookmark here

She sat bolt upright and dropped the pen. "How old were the ones I gave him?" Ezre didn’t know, so she curled up in bed and hugged her knees—whether Mylo learned or didn’t, she still needed sleep.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Even though he walked into the jailhouse of his own doing this time, a shudder still ran through Mylo’s shoulder’s when he heard the metal doors clatter. After a quick chat with the guard at the front desk, he was led to an interrogation room where Edule’s finest were having a little chat with Kasumi.Bookmark here

Oh, they redecorated. Out with the wrought iron shackles, in with vapid inspirational posters?Bookmark here

The desk jockey introduced him, sort of. "This fellow says he can vouch for the suspect."Bookmark here

One of the guards, a small man with beady eyes and a mustache that would impress a walrus looked Mylo over. A glimmer of recognition passed between them. Imperceptible nods were exchanged.Bookmark here

Kasumi looked up, blinked away disbelief, and grinned. She gave Mylo a little wave and now sat bobbing from side to side in time to some unheard tune.Bookmark here

The other guard registered no memory—rail-thin and a jaw clenched with ambition. He looked suspicious. "You mean to say you know this man?"Bookmark here

"I’m not a…nevermind." Kasumi frowned and sat still. She sent Mylo a just-get-me-out look.Bookmark here

"Yes, sir, I know him. His name is Pelgram, and he arrived yesterday morning." Mylo began with facts, but soon ran out. Time to lie a little. "Pelgram and I have been in correspondence for some time, but this is his first time in Edule. He came to stay with me for a time."Bookmark here

The young, suspicious guard sneered. "Oh? And what’s your relationship?" He suggested, "Business partners?" with a loaded ‘B’.Bookmark here

"Penpals," Mylo said, and plunked the stack of Ezre’s letters on the table. For effect, he undid the knot and let gravity pull the stack down. Easier for the baffled guard to count them.Bookmark here

Most of the envelopes bore the simple angular lettering, "M. B." But in the spray, Mylo spotted a pair with the initials fully expanded.Bookmark here

Wait. Are these all…for me?Bookmark here

The guard snatched an envelope and flipped it over under the light, he moved a greasy fingernail toward the seal. Mylo opened his mouth to stop him, but the mustachioed guard intervened first.Bookmark here

"Really, Gary. We have found nothing so far, let’s not intrude on these two gentlemens’ private correspondence."Bookmark here

"But these letters could be a code, secret messages for the smugglers!"Bookmark here

"Gary, listen to yourself. This young fellow, Mr. Bract, is Mr. Etier’s personal friend. You mean to tell me a famed detective would let his would-be protege consort with criminals? I’ve never in my tenure heard such rot."Bookmark here

Terry, the old guard, sighed and undid Kasumi’s cuffs. "You’re free to go—after you pay the fine at the front desk, of course."Bookmark here

Mylo gathered the letters back up, glancing at Kasumi to see if she had noticed what he had noticed. Too busy stretching and blowing raspberries at Gary the guard, apparently. That was some relief.Bookmark here

On their way out, Kasumi had to pay 180 denara in fines for damaging city property.Bookmark here

Marshall Eastman
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