The Silence & The Howl: Book Two, Chapter Four

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CHAPTER FOUR

After the bout with Lynder, Ariadne showed Harmon to the guest quarters which lay to the immediate right of the study and fencing chamber. The room was spacious, consisting of a bedroom, a bathroom and a walk-in closet, all dimly lit by faintly flickering green wall lights. An antique gramophone stood upon a ornate wooden-and-bronze table beside the bed, beneath which lay a trove of recordings in a thick leather case. He bent to a knee and rifled through the collection, finding a ’35 recording of Anything Goes, which he slotted into the machine. As the dulcet tunes washed over him, he undressed, showered, and found, upon exiting, a fresh set of cloths and a cream-colored letter laying upon the bed. He unfurled the paper and read the note:

The clothes are for you. When you’ve freshed up, meet me in the study.

– Lynder

He refolded the note and placed it beside the clothes, dressed and stared at himself in the mirror which stood before the bed. It was the first time he’d assessed his visage since he gazed upon the old mirror in his former abode. He tried to recall the amount of time which had elapsed since then. Months like weeks. He could not remember how many. He turned off the gramophone and opened the door to find Ariadne waiting outside.

“Ah, finally finished. The clothes fit well?

“Yeah. Fit fine.”

“Good. Follow me.”

He nodded and together they tread the brass-crowned halls in heavy silence, broken only by their rhythmic footfalls reverberating off marble and the gramophonic whirring of waltz music coming from the omnipresent speaker system.

After several paces, Harmon broke the hush.

“So, how do I look?”

“Like a crab that desperately needs to molt.”

“I’m not used to suits.”

She was silent a moment and then cast him an amused look.

“That was quite a performance.”

“A somewhat botched one. Still, I’m glad I could provide you some amusement.”

“Why’d you accept?”

“I like to try new things.”

“I suspect that wasn’t the only reason.”

For a moment he said nothing, watching the delicate lines of the woman’s gelid face, red-lit by the wall-bound lanterns.

“I’m not without hubris.”

“Hubris is the midwife of folly.”

“You come up with that yourself?”

“Its something Mr. Partridge once said.”

“So whats your story?”

“Long and largely boring.”

“Alright. Don’t mean to pry.”

“Course you meant to pry, that’s why you asked. I don’t mind. I’m not being dismissive. I just find autobiographies dreadfully boring. Even my own.”

“Bore me.”

“If you insist. As you likely already surmised, I’m a photographer. Started taking pictures in my teens. In my youthful arrogance, I fancied myself a new Bourke-White. So I decided a glorious career lay before me and went to art school, which was largely a waste of time, and, like almost everyone else, graduated without fanfare and found menial work in the city, shooting weddings, birthdays and political meetings; all whilst living in a glorified shoebox I could barely afford.”

“How’d you end up here?”

“When I got my first exhibit, Lynder was there, showing off his latest pieces, a series of monochrome illustrations. We ended up quarreling over whose work was better. I told him he was overrated. In retort, he called me a ‘documentarian.'”

“Doesn’t sound like a very happy first encounter.”

“Oh, no, not at all. Back then I hated him.”

“Why?”

“He never lied to me.”

*

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