The Saturation of Souls

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. Shades as brilliant and bold as violet and plum mingled with precious pastels of lilac and lavender, spread thin across the heavens like gossamer silk. Veins of eggplant swirled in the shadows, while contrasting splashes of orchid beamed in the luminescent eye of the silvery moon.

Beneath the violet ballet, the willow’s weeping branches swayed above the manicured carpet of crimson grass, her pink hues mirroring the maiden sky. Twinkling lights blinked in and out between her feathery strands, illuminating her twisted trunk as will-o-the-wisps cavorted within her sheltered embrace.

Arthur studied them in silence. From the vantage of his park bench, he marveled at the cool palettes of their hazy forms in contrast to the warmer tones of the surrounding foliage. Jade and emerald mingling with glowing cobalt and cerulean, tinges of pale silver illuminating the tint of each ghostly form. Below them, hints of ruby and rose flickered in the waving sea of grass, blinking blush and coral in the moonlight. Such a vast array of contrasting colors would have left him breathless on any occasion, aching to paint such a vibrant scene.

But not tonight.

This night, Arthur’s thoughts lingered on the crumbled piece of paper clutched tightly in his left hand. His gaze flicked down to the wrinkled parchment as though summoned by remembrance of the delicate script adorning its vellum skin.

Alistair Park. Midnight. I require your unique expertise for a private discourse in a matter most delicate.

At first, Arthur gave the note little credit. A private discourse at midnight? Requiring his expertise? The audacity of the conspicuous prank stoked an old ire deep down in the recesses of a past better left forgotten. Like a child on the playground with his pants round his ankles, accusatory fingers maliciously thrust in his direction amidst the cackling of schoolyard bullies.

As if in response to his memory, the wisps flittering beneath the willow’s locks began to giggle, a gentle tinkling like the patter of summer rain. Arthur forced a smile and neatly folded his hands upon his lap. He checked his pocket watch for the second time in less than three minutes, an anxious habit for a man who valued time more than money. Five after midnight. Surely, they wouldn’t keep him waiting too much longer?

Once more, he glanced down to the crumbled note in his grasp, then carefully smoothed it open upon his thigh. He read it again, then a second time and a third, recalling the importance of threes when discerning truth. Once is cursory, twice is partial, but thrice is clarity.

However, Arthur gleaned no further understanding of his anonymous summoner’s intent. It only served to fuel his paranoia and suspicion. What delicate matter would require the assistance of an expert in chromatics? The discernment between amethyst and orchid hardly called for discretion, let alone a midnight discourse in the park. Arthur snorted at the thought, disturbing the wisps’ dance as they winked out into the safety of shadow. He cringed, offering a silent apology, then checked his watch once more.

Time ticked onward, the violet haze giving way to deeper saturations of grape and mauve as the moon’s glow waned behind the thickening veil. Arthur blew out his cheeks and pulled his pea coat tighter around his chest, sinking further into the wooden bench as though doing so might squeeze an ounce of comfort from the splintering planks. A creeping numbness spread across his backside, down his thighs. He shifted again, checked the time, and heaved a sigh.

How much longer must I endure this? An odd thought. He was not bound to the bench; he could leave whenever he pleased. Yet Arthur found himself glued to his seat by intrigue alone. He’d come this far, waited this long, though in reality his mysterious host was only thirty minutes late. I’ll give him 10 more minutes. Then I’m leaving.

As if in response, the tell-tale clack in hooves on stone penetrated the calm, growing louder in approach. Arthur straightened his back and smoothed his trousers, simultaneously wiping the chilled sweat from his palms. He turned to the fawn as he passed, donning as pleasant a smile as an impatient man can muster, and waited politely. The fawn smiled back, then tipped his hat and continued walking down the path, his cane synchronizing with the clack of his hooves.

Arthur frowned at fawn’s back, both relieved and perturbed by the misjudgment of his host. With a sigh, he dug out his pocket watch and clicked open the latch. His gaze darted fleetingly towards the note once more, kindling a foul sense of indignation and shame.

“An utter waste of time.” Arthur shoved the watch and the crumbled note back in his pocket.

With a sigh, he began to heave his aching backside from the bench’s embrace when the touch of cold metal pressed hard against the nape of his neck froze him in place. Arthur’s heart seized at the tell-tale click of the revolver’s hammer, his body turning rigid against the hardness of the bench’s back. He fought the urge to raise his hands, keeping them spread out upon his thighs instead, and locked his gaze forward where the wisps resumed their dance beneath the violet sky.

“Mr. Brath,” a low, gravelly voice resounded from behind him, pressing the muzzle firm against Arthur’s flesh, “we have much to discuss, you and I.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *