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August 30, 2012

I Hraet You (33)

Beat 33: Legitimacy and Tonal Shifts

Trixie stared at Lloyd with wide eyes for a moment, and then pointed a shaky finger at him.  “Did ya…uh, did ya just get ten times more competent and serious?”

Lloyd nodded slowly.  “You would have me act a fool if it meant a person’s life was on the line?”

“Well, no, but…yer kinda scarin’ me, pal.  What’s with that look on yer face all o’ a sudden?  And what about you sayin’ you’ll ‘never fail someone again’?”

Lloyd opened his mouth to speak -- but before he could, Trixie held up a hand.  “N-nah, forget I said anythin’.  It ain’t my place to go pryin’ in all yer affairs, ya know?  I mean, I still barely know ya.  And I ain’t about to make ya say somethin’ ya don’t wanna.”

“But that’s just it, Miss Walters; I WANT to tell you.  Someone, anyone.”  Lloyd offered her a smile, but with none of his typical airiness or composure; both he and Trixie knew that he strained a dozen muscles to move his face even a centimeter.  “How else would one be able to measure my resolve?”

“Nobody’s gonna try and hold a ruler to ya, pal,” Trixie muttered, stroking the back of her neck.

“A shame.  Were they to actually measure my resolve, doubtless they’d have an exemplar for their own practices.”

Trixie nodded, but stopped in mid-motion and began shaking her head rapidly.  “L-look, we got somethin’ more important to do, remember?  Yer little brother’s still out there somewhere with Gaston.  And who knows what he’ll do to him if we don’t save him?”  She paused for a moment before shaking her head again.  “Wait a minute, what the hell am I sayin’?  We need to get the police involved, or some o’ the townsfolk, or somebody.  This ain’t exactly the kinda thing three people can handle alone.”  She sprang up from the kitchen table and strode toward the wall-bound telephone.  “I’ll see if I can --“

“Miss Walters.  Please, don’t call the police.”

Trixie’s hand froze a half-foot away from the phone.  “What’s yer deal?  Can’t ya try and do somethin’ that makes sense for once?” she asked, turning a heated gaze on Lloyd.      

But Lloyd didn’t look back at her.  He just kept staring ahead, out the window and toward the sky, while Trixie had the pleasure of examining the back of his head.  “This is something that I need to do.  I need to handle this situation on my own, to prove myself capable of realizing my aims.  I cannot, in good faith, involve anyone more than absolutely necessary; though I have you by my side -- and believe you me, I appreciate your company -- bringing you into the folds of what may bloom into a tragedy is a regret I’ll likely carry into my death bed.”

“Lloyd --”

“I have a certain duty, Miss Walters.  And of course, I intend to uphold it with every ounce of strength I can muster.”

Trixie’s hand hovered in the air, her fingers twitching for a chance to seize the phone. But after a minute of silence between them, she dropped her hand and walked back toward the seat across from Lloyd.

“I see.  So you’ll cooperate with me after all?”  Lloyd gave her another terse smile.  “Then I believe that our first course of action is --”

Ka-SLAM!

Trixie hammered the table with her palms, and with enough force to blow a gale through the kitchen.  “What the hell are ya talkin’ about?” she demanded, leaning forward to make her glare even fiercer.  “’Certain duty’?  ‘Prove myself capable’?  ‘On my own’?  I knew ya had a screw or two loose in that purple head o’ yours, but I never thought it was this bad!”  She reached across the table and tugged Lloyd by his shirt.  “Yer brother’s been kidnapped.  He’s in danger.  Ya really think ya can save the day all on yer own?  Ya almost keeled over just runnin’ back to yer house!  And ya nearly killed yerself tryin’ to swim!  Don’t go actin’ like a hero when yer such a screw-up!”

“But I --”

“Shut yer hole and think!  What’re ya gonna do if ya catch up to Gaston and he tries smashin’ ya with some walls?  What’re ya gonna do if that crazy grandma points a gun at yer head?  What can ya do?  Hold their hands and make ‘em feel nice?”  She pushed Lloyd back in his chair -- so hard that he toppled over -- and folded her arms.  “It’s good that ya wanna be a hero.  Real nice of ya.  But don’t act like ya can save the day when ya haven’t done a single thing to prove yerself.“  She sighed heavily.  “Don’t go tryin’ to be somethin’ yer not.” 

Lloyd stayed in his seat -- even after being tipped over -- and stared blankly at the ceiling.  “I should have expected no less from the fairer sex,” he said, managing a weary smile.

“What’re ya --”

“You’re right, Miss Walters.  You’re absolutely right.  I haven’t done anything to warrant my reckless heroism.  Anything at all.”  He kept his eyes locked on the ceiling, and his body eerily still.  “I started this day hoping to use my power to bring about a revolution of the heart.  And yet, all I have to show for my efforts are a trio of disappointments, mishaps by the dozen, and the lessened well-being of those I offered to help.  Even at my best, all I could do was bring a dear friend to tears.”

“Lloyd…”  Trixie walked toward him and offered a hand.  But Lloyd tilted his head away, refusing to move, and decidedly refusing to look at her. 

“I suppose today was more informative than a year’s worth of schooling.  I know my limits more immediately…and how much more likely I am to fail than triumph.”

He heard Trixie step through the kitchen, and forced himself to smile once more.  “Ah, but I would ask that you not abandon me yet, Miss Walters.  I’ve no intention of falling prey to maudlin angst anytime soon; I merely hoped you would understand my penchant for turning good fortunes into disaster.  Come; let us discuss a more reasonable strategy.”  At last, he sat up and adjusted his chair (and his body) into working order.  “I suspect that I’ve made a name for myself throughout Porbeagle; while you seek counsel with the police, I’ll rally the townsfolk and --”

“If yer such a failure, why don’t ya just die?”

Lloyd spun around to face Trixie -- but this time, she was the one averting her gaze.  She stooped a bit, letting her arms dangle beside her like the leaves of a willow tree; the wavy tips of her hair hung in front of her eyes.  “Miss Walters, this is very uncharacteristic of you --”

Trixie smirked.  “Yer callin’ me uncharacteristic?  Come on, Lloyd.  Who gave ya permission to be anythin’ else but a goofy idiot that’s always spoutin’ off about love?  Nobody here gives a damn about yer problems -- least of all me.”  Her smirk stretched into a toothy grin -- one several inches past normal.  “Can’t ya just be happy playin’ the same character till the day ya die?  Maybe then ya might die a happy man.  Bet it’ll keep ya from gettin’ any wrinkles on that pretty face o’ yers.  Know what I mean, pal?”

Lloyd backed into the table, and pressed a hand atop it for support.  “I’ll act and speak as I please,” he countered.  Finding a bit of nerve, he leaned forward.  “But I see no reason to explain myself to a mere imitation.”

“Imitation?  Don’t ya think yer bein’ a little too harsh, pal?  Or maybe…maybe that’s the only way ya can dodge havin’ to answer the big questions.  Gonna keep on runnin’ to the very end?  Or d’ya just want someone’s shoulder to cry on?”  Her grin stretched even farther.  “For one who would think himself a savior, I hardly think that’s fitting.  You’ll disrupt the performance!”

 Lloyd balled his hands into fists.  “Who the devil are you?”

“Me?  Hmmm hmmm hmmm…”  Her shoulders started rocking, and she pressed a hand over her eye as a grating, high-pitched chuckle escaped from her lips.  “Have you not figured it out yet, Lloyd?  Have you not pieced together that your true enemy stands before you?”

“Gaston Leroux.”

Trixie wagged a finger at him.  “Tsk tsk tsk.  Really, I expected better of you -- surely as an actor, you’ve realized the truth?  That the one you’re obliged to revile -- to fear -- is actually the same person you invited into your home?”  She spread her arms wide; with that motion her hair shifted, revealing two blood-red eyes.  “I am the REAL Trixie Walters -- the one that you unlocked.”

“What?  I-impossible!”  The courage that Lloyd had summoned left him in an instant; it took all his strength to keep himself on his feet.  “I…my power could never be used for such corruptive means!”

“Oh, can’t it?  Do you even know the full extent of your abilities, Lloyd?  Do you know the lasting effects, or consequences, or even their very nature? Because if you don’t, what right do you have to argue against me?”  Her fingers started to squirm, like leeches searching for new flesh.  “Do you know what truly lies inside one’s heart?”

Lloyd clenched his teeth.  “I’ll ask you again.  Who the devil ARE you?”

“Trixie Walters, of course.  Oh wait -- you wanted to know who I really am.  Aha, of course, I see.  I understand.  And I’ll tell you, if you’re so eager to know.”  She turned away from him and looked to the kitchen’s drawers -- and then, she looked through them one after another.

“What are you doing?”

“Rather slow on the uptake, I see.  Is it common family practice for you to let strangers sift through your belongings?  Ah, no matter; you said you wanted an answer, and I would be more than happy to give it to you.”  She plunged a hand into one of the drawers -- and with a smile stretching very nearly from ear to ear, she pulled it out.

A carving knife.

“Miss Walters!  You can’t be --!”

“That’s right, Lloyd,” Trixie sang.  “I’m your killer.”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

2 comments:

  1. Hey Voltech! You've won The Liebster Award at http://inviziblekidz.blogspot.pt/2012/08/the-award-interlude-6.html
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the heads-up. I'd better get on it.

    ReplyDelete