Monstrous Books > The Monstrous Library

Burn Horizon Burn (complete novel by David S. Partamyan, aka Devinoir)

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Blue awakened on a misty, freezing winter morning.
Or he tried.
His body simply refused to move. Instead, it would lie there, under those warm and cozy blankets till he was made to get up. Probably forced to.
For the thousandth time he thought of the willpower Black was so proud of.
One of the traits the schizo was especially proud of was going on a morning run at 4 AM, which meant he either slept no more , or simply ran back home two hours later and a nice little 12-hour nap. That would explain a lot.
Grudgingly, Blue buried his face in his pillow.
And it seemed just a few moments had passed as his phone started ringing.
"Blue here"
"Ah, Blue... It's Black."
Of course it's Black, who else would call at... 6 PM?
"By the sound of it, you're still in bed. That's disturbing, Blue, but the reason I've called..."
"I in no way wish to seem persistent or anything, but... we had a deal."
A deal with that farked-up devil of yours? I remember, Blue thought grimly.
"See, Blue, answers do have the ability to consist of more than one tattered motherfarking word."
"It's 6 PM. Get your ass dressed and your farking mouth brushed. I want you there. And get something decent to wear, Blue. Jeans and a tee won't do."
"'Cause my friends run the restaurant, and I don't want them to think that I waste my time with farking junkies. Alright?"
"Yeah. Whatever."
"She...", this was the first time during this conversation that Black's husky delicate voice quivered, noticeably, if even just a tiny bit. “She is coming, right, Blue?"
"She is. Black, remember what I told you?"
"I rarely grant myself the luxury of paying attention, least of all - remembering your words, Blue."
"Well, told you once, I tell you again, and let this be a warning to you: don't fark it up. Whatever happens is on me, and I don't wanna answer for your dumbass actions."
"Oh... A warning", Black chuckled. “Worry not, chum. You won't have to answer for my actions, Blue-bird. Now fly, I don't have the eternity. Even  if I had, I wouldn't be wasting it on the likes of you and that slut."
"Doesn't seem like it", Blue smirked and hung up.
People have a way of dealing with stress. It'd be good to know that Black might feel anything aside from his obsession with Red, though Blue strongly doubted it.
Black always kept it cool, anyways.

It was early morning, and the dawn was still breaking, as Black got dressed and went out for his morning run.
Every breath he took was an icy, merciless blaze, but he was used to it. He even liked the way it stung.
And he ran. He ran like the wind, and with the cold wind beating down on his face.
Life is beautiful. So is the sun, struggling its way out of the murky slumber.
Miles flashed past. An abandoned parking lot which had degraded to a junkyard, the slums, nightclubs closing up for another day, and that wonderful, choking sensation of silence.
Burning trashcans with no one to warm. Empty benches in the park, and those empty dirty streets.
And the wind. It was shrilly gusting in his lungs, in his guts, his heartbeat was all that mattered, all that existed, it was existence itself, and it was God.
Red was far behind, a dusty mirage, and so was Blue, and Violet... and especially - Noire.
Two or three hours later he ran back home.
He took a cold shower, then slowly got dressed.
He looked around. His house was a couple of centuries old, and it looked like a cross between a gothic-style monastery and a museum. There was little furniture in the vast rooms of this two-story building, and most of it looked old and simple, the kind of benches, tables, cupboards and such you could picture a Spartan using.
Black looked at himself in the mirror.
There was an old flame that called him brutally handsome. His features were bold, both good-looking and masculine. Scars covered this face, but instead of ruining, they enhanced the charm.
And then, there were his eyes, those dark, crescent-like eyes. They were the shade of brown people call black. And one thing about them was that they were irresistible.
Crocodile eyes, as he thought of them.
Black suit, black tie, black shirt, black boots.
Black was ready to roll.
He emptied a glass of whiskey and stepped out.

Red met Blue at a square a few blocks away from her apartment. He embraced her gently, and was overwhelmed by glee as he saw the expression on her face.
"fark him." she said.

"What do you mean, she can't?" there was suppressed fury in Black's voice.
Also he could hear traffic in the background as Blue spoke again.
"She's with you, isn't she?" Black interrupted him, and hung up.
There was an almost audible click in his head.
Coo-coo... coo-coo...
He could hear the faint wail of the guitar coming from the nightclub nearby.

1. Noire

As Black watched her undress under the enthralling sounds of the electric guitar, he wondered who she was.
Who he was.
A stripper would understand him. She was a fitting metaphor for what he had become.
By day.
By night.
If he ever saw her in the crowd of the subway or at the railroad station, wearing a cheap coat and a colorless skirt, would he ever guess who she really was? The diva of lust and passion, a goddess in a smoke-filled room, would he ever see her in that bleak human being?
He took another shot of absinthe.
Then, there was another click.
The unmistakable click of Noire's lighter.
"It's farked up, isn't it, partner?"
The mild whisper of his voice soothed Black.
His presence was that of dark, calm comfort.
"Deep in the pits of self-pity, I imagine?" his tone was both mocking and gentle, and as Noire sat beside Black, he gave him a short, one-armed hug.
"Clearly", Black replied.
"Wow, the babe's got boobs" Noire smirked as he noted the stripper, "Whatcha drinking there, partner?"
"The usual."
"'The Black Bang'? Nah, too spiky for me. I'll have a whisky. On the rocks. And make it double. So? What's the deal, kid?"
Black looked at Noire for a long time, trying to recollect, readjust. He noted that Noire had changed during the year they've spent apart.
Noire was an albino, and his eyes had that bloody tint albinos have. His white-blonde hair was quite long, straight and brushed back. The tan, withered skin of his face stretched over a mask that combined poker face and endless glee.
He was wearing all white as usual, except for a shiny black tie.
"Well, Noire, you know the drill. It's Red and Blue."
"Red don't need you no more, eh? She got someone else for the spot. Better. That's what's getting ya, eh, partner?"
"I guess. Yes."
"Get a life already, Black. You don't just fark it up for nothing, least of all for Red."
He tipped the stripper with a Ben.
A few moments of silence, the kind of annoying silence you get while in conversation with a lady you'd wanted to fark and who wants to socialize instead.
"Stop drinking, Black. For now, start thinking."
Noire was merciless. Noire had no remorse, no regret, no conscience, and Noire was evil.

Noire: A Brief Introduction

People who owed Noire money and had the misfortune of not managing to pay in time ended up in the gutters with their asses raped and their last penny taken.
People who crossed him first had their lives destroyed, then their brains on the floor.
If anyone wanted to pick a fight with Noire, Noire gladly used the opportunity of the hysterical joy of aggression, violence, pain.
Destruction was his happiness.
He would stand against five, ten, a hundred.
His face was broken and mended together for as many times as he could not even remember.
And, of course, there was the spoil of his fire, there were women who begged to be his, there was money, there were minions and infamy that he faintly enjoyed.
There was rock'n'roll all night, there was fear and madness in his embrace as he seduced another victim of his charms.
Noire was born like that. He was born for that, in a way. He never cared about love, or hope, he never needed to have a point or a goal.
There was fire. There was chaos. There was the bitter aftermath of destruction, the trailing smoke he left behind.

2. Back at the Nightclub

White was the answer.
Blue's sweetheart.
Somehow, they still found a way to get a kick into each others' balls.
"I had a dream, partner."
Blue looked up at Noire again.
"You were in it.
"Blue was in it.
"Red was in it
"The thing is, Black, you died. An old friend killed you, but you'd have died anyways, it was a matter of weeks."
"Quit it, Noire. Just tell me how to get to White?"
"Call Purple, our shaggy old friend."


He had the hangman's noose of the black tie around his neck, and he was well-shaved when he looked in the mirror again.
His face was sharp, thin and smooth, with the pointed lines of his cheekbones and his chin and his thin eyebrows, he looked almost handsome - almost, but not quite.
The most probable reason for that 'almost' were his cold, sharp, calculating grey eyes.
He brushed his short black hair again, just in case, retied his tie, put on his coat and hurried to "The Broken Heartz' Club".
It was early afternoon, and the city was waking up from its foggy slumber.
The streets were filled and flowed like a river made of vans, taxis and middle-class cars.
Teal looked up, and through the small maze of heavens that remained between the skyscrapers, he was promised that another storm was on its way.
Well, he'll be working all night anyways, and in this city a storm meant snatch for nightclubs and accidents.
Teal caught a cab.
He named the address and never spoke to the driver again, distractedly watching the traffic flash by as they reached their destination.
"I like this place." the driver said as Teal tipped him and opened the door.
Teal nodded and thought, you would.
The sky grumbled. The door snapped shut behind Teal.
So, "The Broken Heartz' Club"... He'd worked here ever since it had its small drug- and vodka-filled opening. Many winters had passed since then.
There was a withered old sign next to the entrance, forbidding minors the simple pleasure of going through that door.
When the bouncer stood next to it, it meant:

                                     NO ID?
                Tip me 20 and you're in

This was a dark, smelly place, where condoms floating in toilet water were something just a tiny bit short of a must.
These weren't the finest days of this murky place, if it ever had any.
But Teal was still paid, and it was good. But for one to assume that the pay itself was good would be utterly naive.
The "Club" was almost empty, save for a couple of tables in the lower level, right next to the stage.
Teal took a brief detour to the office where Turquoise, his boss, usually sat behind his huge desk with that round glasses of his hanging askew from the midsection of his nose and his hands folded behind his head, either listening to music or watching a movie on the small black-and-white TV resting on a shelf in the corner of the room. Turquoise nodded to Teal, and the bartender was out to his usual position on the other side of the bar stand, where he sat, mixed himself a bitter coffee, and drank with the sour taste of waiting filling his guts.
Teal was a loner by nature. In many ways he was what one would call antisocial. Personal life consisted of tattered farkbooks and desperate imagination, and was as empty and barren as a drunkard's throat.
Teal led a lonely life that consisted of everlasting déjà vu. There was work, there were seven hours of sleep at the apartment he couldn't really bring himself to call home, there was the routine of getting yourself back into shape every afternoon, and then all over again.
Work itself consisted of getting drunken people even more drunk, of listening to their whining, and to goad them into believing that alcohol was the sole solution.
Teal didn't believe in love, God, friendship, freedom, feelings. His personality was more that of mechanical nature, of melancholic apathy that followed the given routine, never quite getting out of line.
The coffee left his mouth tasting of sour piss. He stood up in time to greet the first patron of the day, a young woman.
She had the broken sad eyes of a renegade pet, and lipstick smeared over her hapless pale lips.
She asked for vodka.
And as Teal's automatic response to that request appeared in front of her a second later, he had a moment of that crystal-clear "seeing" sensation only bartenders of his level of experience have.
She's a whore, of course, she never knew her mother, but her father was  just too kind to her.
And suddenly he saw her childhood, her sodden, pale, almost boyish face, he saw her sobbing over some teenage lover, he saw her getting s**tfaced drunk at parties and letting some faceless jerks grapple her for pennies.
She gulped down the vodka and hoarsely asked for a refill.
You get used to taking orders from the scum of the earth. Especially in this city. Especially in this bar.
And there were the rare exceptions of acquaintances he'd never ever dare to call friends, but regarded them as such nonetheless.
There was Black, and boy, that kid knew how to make his day. There was the gloomy slab of Grey, and the mischievous optimism of Purple.
But he knew that even for those people he was just "The Barkeep", a kind of a smart pet trained to distribute beverages, socialize and commiserate.
Teal smirked.
Then he heard the door click open again, somewhere in the foggy distance of the "Club", and in came the one species of a customer he actually loathed.
The Spoiled Kid of a Rich Daddy Gangster Type.
To be quaint, these were a rarity at "The Broken Heartz' Club". They happened, and when they did, Teal though - s**t happens.
They'd order the most overpriced cocktail, they'd monger over it, sip it down like a kid drinking Cola, and they'd say it tasted like s**t and wouldn't pay. If Teal had a problem with that, they'd address Turquoise, and Turquoise'd tell him his drinks deserved to be called s**t, cause, frankly, he'd say, they were.
These were the times Teal felt like crying and mixed those sons of ladyes a free banana milkshake instead.
Perhaps this was the reason he was not overjoyed to see Gold enter his bar.
Gold was finely dressed, was of middle-close-to-short height and had a cheerful face with fat red slabs of cheeks and little, sparkling eyes.
He had that faint sense of snobbish nobility in him, his shoulders were thin and ill-developed, but he had a pouching belly under his fine silk shirt instead, giving his body the shape of a church bell.
A bureaucrat, a diplomat, a s**thead, for Teal.
But after the initial impression of his wealth and well-being, you could note dismay on his face.
He looked as though he was lost, and in a way he was, Teal thought, if he'd wondered in here.
So he came up to Teal's stand, with that expression on his face, with Teal impatiently and hatefully watching him.
After a minute of silent contemplation, during which the whore got another refill, Teal voiced his irritation in a well-mannered tone:
"Anything you'd like, sir?"
As though awakened from a distant nightmare, Gold dazedly looked at him.
Teal repeated his question.
He asked for a whisky and sat down.
Whisky was an unusual request for this type of people in Teal's book, as he regarded them as ones that didn't have the guts to take it.
But he smirked and obeyed.
Another vodka for the flashback lady.
But Gold was full of surprises tonight. As the bar was gradually filling up with the notorious scum it deems as its patrons, Gold never left his stool, gulping down whisky after whisky.
"So, kid", Teal said as he watched Gold drink, and it was obvious he was not very experienced with alcohol, "What's your story?"
"She... She don't love me - no! She's gonna leave me!" There was an audible sob in that last exclamation, and Teal had to hold back the sudden giggles, probably hysterical, welling up in his chest, "She says she does, but I know she don't. And I can't stop loving her. And she's using me!"
"Yeah, well... that's sad."
"It's not fair!"
"Well, now that's a matter of an opinion, don't you think?"
"Yeah, she's a lady, sure. Look, that chick over there's, like, ready to go, you know? Want me to hook you up with her? She won't cost much."
"No, no, no... I can't... I can't... I have to call Red... have to..."
"Well, go ahead then."
"I can't!.."
"Why's that, I wonder? I bet it's not the lack of a cell phone."
"She'll laugh at me."
And when Teal looked up to see Gold's expression, the expression of a retarded puppy that'd just s**tted itself, that's when he burst out laughing.
He hadn't laughed like that in what seemed like a millennia. He laughed till his stomach hurt, till his face muscles grew numb, till his lungs gurgled for air. He laughed, hitting his hand on the polished surface of the shelves, he laughed harder as he saw Gold's red slabs of cheeks trembling, and it would have taken quite a while for Teal to get a hold of himself when someone slapped him across the face.
Teal was back to normal.
Well, this was unusual, he thought.
He had the same serious expression he always had, the expression dated back to High School, the expression with which he listened to the most moronic stories told... and never betrayed so much as a grin.
Night by night he listened to lost souls claiming they were wolves, therians, lycanthropes, vampires, necromancers, demons and demon hunters, assassins and the Jesus reborn.
And he poured them beer, or vodka, and listened to them and got paid for it - not well, but it was quite enough for the kind of life he led. And this was his job, the sole purpose of his mindless, silent existence.
Things change.
As she entered the bar, Teal realized that.
White looked at him and smiled.


Red was fixedly looking at Gold, trying to figure what was the change about him she noticed this morning.
His face was tanned as usual, mostly unlined, it was still pretty bulky,, and he seemed cheerful enough, but still... there was an undertone, something alien, something gloomy and grudging. A kind of a Black-ish quality.
"What's wrong, love?", she questioned in that honey poison tone of hers.
They sat in "The Green Room", drinking coffee. Faint sounds of a piano could be heard from downstairs.
A few seconds passed before Gold finally replied:
"Nothing is wrong. I was just thinking of something."
She didn't like his tone, and she liked the way his hand shook as he sat his empty cup on the table even less.
"What were you thinking about?"
"Just some... stuff."
Red sighed. If not for the money, Gold was just a little bit too dull for her taste.
"Dad's got another job for me. I'll have to go now. Uh... bye. I... I love you. You sure you're not coming... tonight?"
"Yeah... well, if I'm not home, I'll be at that tango place."
"Right. Okay. Well, off I go."

"That tango place" was an exclusive tango studio, one of the most elegant and expensive in the city. It also had a bar that served the most exquisite wine, and a handsome instructor with strong dark arms and long thin legs.
This is where Red was planning to find a substitute for Gold.
"Now take a short step forward with your left foot..."

Violet's body moved gracefully, it emphasized the passion of the dance, her cheeks were blushed, her dark eyes blazed.

"Now repeat."

Outside the huge windows of ornamental glass loomed a dark, cold, yet clear winter night. Moonlight embraced the roaring city outside.
But from here, the city was beautiful.
Subtle bodies in tuxedos and marvelous dresses rhythmically obeyed the music, and all that existed was passion, beat and the undeniable lust of inspiration.
Later that evening, Red sat alone in the bar, in a neat black-leather armchair next to the enormous window. City lights played on her beautiful, brooding face.
She had a glass of red wine in her hand. Every once in a while she took a short gulp, and her hazel eyes lit up for a moment.
She was aware of the bartender staring greedily at her. She did not care.
Every once in a while, Red felt sad. And lonely. She felt alien in this world of swirling colors and love that is brief and useless.
"You know, everyone else has already gone."
She looked up, and saw a young woman in a dark green dress. Venice, Black would say. If it wasn't Violet.
It was.
"Have we met somewhere? Your face looks familiar", she said.
"Does it? I can't recall if we have."
"Ah, well... it must've been some sort of a snob event anyways."
Red gave a short nod.
"You come here often?"
"Often enough. It's pretty late, isn't it?" there was a sad indifference in Red's voice.
"Close to midnight."
"I don't want to go home.", in contrast to the sentence, her tone was emotionless, bleak.
"Neither do I."
Violet sat in the armchair in front of Red, and looking out the window, with the city lights dancing on her olive skin, she said:
"It's the night. It's the city. That what makes us feel this way. Small. Unimportant. Dispensable."
Red nodded again, not looking at Violet. Her glass was empty, but she failed to notice it.
"It's the Chancellor's charity event tonight, isn't it?" Red asked.
Chancellor... she never thought of the short gray man in the long gray coat with the round bleak face, the only notable part of which was the huge pale mouth with its sour, snobbish grimace, as the Chancellor. It was Gold's Dad. His farking Daddy. The one that saw her as his naughty son's little slut, and regarded her as such.
He'll pay one day, she thought.
"Yeah... They say it's gonna be big."
"I've heard the same."
Red raised the glass to take a gulp of wine only to find it gone. What have I become, she thought.
"So, your name was?.."
"I'm Violet. I really hope I'm not being a pest, at times it just gets so lonely I just have to talk to somebody."
"I don't mind. Sorry if I'm not that talkative right now..."
"It's fine. Even better."
"Yeah, I knew a guy that hated my... silent times. He'd be desperate to make me talk. He'd say all matter of things. Most of it'd be lies, but it didn't matter at the time. Night's the time when dreams and nightmares are worth far more than drunken deeds." Red uttered a silent laugh, a bitter sound, "Gods, now I sound like that bastard."
"Noire. But I don't really want to talk about him just now, Violet. He is deep in the past, both for me and for himself. And when people choose to bury themselves in their memories and echoes of their falls and achievements, they better be forgotten. It's kind of contagious, that life... in the past, in the memories, where all that matters is long gone and utterly worthless."
Violet smirked. She'd never met Noire, but she could imagine him alright.
"Words, words, words... how I hate them, Violet. And people whose lives are made of words. So wrong. So deceitful."
"People lie." Violet said simply, "At the entrance of the second person, hypocrisy begins."
"He's not like that. He doesn't need that other person. He's like some rabid dog. If alone, he'll bite himself. He just needs something to destroy, to poison, to foul."
Like my dear Black, Violet thought bitterly.
"But enough of him, really. What's your story, Violet? A beauty like you doesn't want to go home... there has to be a reason."
"No reason. Just a man. Just another heartbreak story."
"The whole world's built on heartbreaks and fark-ups. We break hearts, and someone breaks ours. We mend the thing, now worthless, and at what cost? A numb, throbbing existence."
"Love hurts. I chose not to love. But from your face and from your words I can see that this choice may be hard for you."
"It is. I know it's not impossible, but my heart keeps clinging to this shadow. He's destroying me, he's destroying himself, only for some sophisticated whore..."
History likes repetition, Red thought.
Violet sighed and said:
"It's a cruel world, don't you think?"
It was only now that Red noticed a jazz band playing in the depth of the smoke-filled bar, empty now, save for her and Violet.
"For some it is", Red said, "for some it's not. It always depends. It could've been better, it could've been worse. It's not the chances we took that we remember, but the opportunities we've lost. The other road."
"If only..."
"Don't. A sentence that starts with an 'if" usually lapses into endless helplessness, a sense of loss. You don't need that."
"Wishes make us both strong and weak."
"They do. Well, Violet, I guess I'll be going now. It was nice to meet you, and I hope to see you again."
"So do I."
Red actually meant it.

And as Red came to the tango place, night after night, she would always find Violet there.
And just because for Red Violet existed only in the four walls of the studio and the silky mist of the bar, it was easy to be honest with her, to confide in her. Violet was a beautiful creature of some other world, a world where true love, passion and charming demons with eyes like the Abyss still existed.
Red faintly remembered a world like that. Black's world. Her world, as it once was. When she belonged to him. Funny that she admitted that to herself only when it was no longer so.
Every night she came home late to find Gold waiting in the hall, silent, with all the lights off.
Every night his face grew more sullen, his cheekbones more prominent.
At times, looking at the tango instructor's sleek, slender body, his handsome tanned face, she wondered if he was the substitute she was looking for. And if it was time to say goodbye to Gold.


Black woke up and wondered who was breathing next to him.
Never actually managing to recall her name, he got dressed.
Giving her a brief kiss, he left her.
Her apartment was a few blocks away from Red's. He could see the irony,
Noire had an off-night that night. The lady was kinda rotten, the core was one of daily use and so had the look of a bloody lettuce. Not that he wasn't used to it, but the artist in him despised the disgusting revelations of human nature.
Not that he wasn't one himself.
"Shine away into the dust and desolation, they say", said Teal, pouring Black another whisky.
There were days when he loved absynthe and despised whisky, and there were days when the roles switched yet again, Teal noticed.
And there were days when he talked and acted like a whole other man.
"So you say you know her?" asked Black, looking at Purple intently.
"Of course he knows her, dammit," Noire muttered.
"Of course I don't, dammit," Purple said," The thing is, Black, if there's a man in this city that should know each and every woman here, that'd be you, not me."
Black struck the wall with his fist and growled.
Purple was looking at the best friend he'd ever had, and wondered what it was that united such opposable characters in a friendship that has lasted more than a decade.
Purple himself was a pleasant young man, quite tall, tan and blonde. He had an honest face with honest brown eyes, no worries ever truly bothered them.
He had the lite step of an athlete, and a balmy, calm character with the sudden outbursts of beer- banging, vulgarity and aggression.
"Why'd you ever need to find White?" he asked.
"He has no idea", said Noire.
"I have no idea", said Black, “It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Paying the bastard back with the same coin?" Purple smirked, "You have to let go, bro. This thing between Red and Blue and you is going nowhere and you know it."
"What makes you think he does?" asked Noire, with irony spiking his mellow voice.
"Yeah, what makes you think I do?"
"Did I ever tell you about Gold?"
"No, Purple, you haven't. Another..."
"Gold's in fark-up mode because of a lady just like yours, Black. He was a great kid, a real party fellow, the one that'd, like, fire up the whole thing. The kid looks like a farking zombie now, Black. No kidding. Should've seen him yesterday."
"You went to the charity thing? Didn't you have work that night?"
"Everyone left. No reason for me to stay" Purple said, " You coming tonight?"
"I have some work to do for Silver."
"Well, say hello to your brother then."

In a week Violet'll be lying in a puddle of blood on the cracked concrete of the merciless city.
For now, she handed Red her exquisite coat.
Every day the strange new feeling towards Red seemed to be getting only stronger.
Something darker than love, simpler than passion, stronger than friendship.
Each was the other's safe haven, for not even Blue'd ever be what Violet was for Red, and nor would ever Black console Violet the way Red did.

The fact that Black had a brother was somehow obscured through the years of his ascension in the world of crimes and intrigues.
The truth is, very few knew anything about Black, except for the occasional rumors and gossip, and he was incognito.
He traveled a lot. The sense of constant move made it easier for him to run away from himself.
But the city kept calling him back, and he kept coming back.
It wasn't ambition that got him that far in the underworld. It was his faintly suicidal indifference regarding his life.
With each and every passing second he could die - a bullet was all that it took, and, frankly speaking, there was a lot of people who this bullet might belong to.
The detonation, the pressure, the burst, the spiral and the bang and a heap of meat right where a man stood a blink ago...
Black took comfort in that.

Teal's mind was blank.
She devastated him.
Destroyed him.
Left him bleeding, gaping like a wound.
He poured another vodka.
He wondered why there were so many prostitutes in "The Club".
Outside, it was still raining.
He wondered if White's gonna come tonight.
He shut off that thought.
His trained fingers whispered through the cash. Smeared lipstick on Jefferson's face.
Life or death.
Teal sighed.
Yesterday Turquoise officially forbid him to drink at work.
Talk about Tantalus.
Last night he never actually managed to fall asleep.
A kind of a white insomnia, and the sudden emptiness that has taken residence where all his average thoughts once lived.
Has it really been two weeks?
Teal felt older.
For the first time in his life he felt old.
"Do I really love him?"
"Oh, Teal, don't be so cruel, talk to me."
"I am... talking to you."
Who'm I talking to? he wondered.
A whore. Just another whore.

"So you're White?"
Black no longer believed in coincidences, life's a script, and the sooner you learn it, the better it goes.
"And you're the infamous Black?"
"I knew we'd meet. Sooner or later."
"Did you?"
Black smirked.
"People lost in the dark eventually stumble upon each other, White."
"What makes you think I'm lost?"
Black smirked again.
It was the bar of "Western Sunrise". Black'd come here to drink himself dead after he failed on the job.
Ironically, he'd found White here instead.
"It's Blue, right? That explains your sarcasm."
"He said you were friends."
"I never said it wasn't so."
"You make it sound like that."
"Indeed I do. Do you, by any chance, know Red also?"
"Red? Blue's friend?"
Blue's friend. Black realized he actually missed her. A simple feeling like longing surprised him.
"Yeah. Her."
"So what of her? What's she to you?"
"No one. Just a brief acquaintance.
Now he felt a distant echo of anguish.
"Again, it doesn't sound like it."
There was something feline in White's features, her lite complexion, her mellow dark eyes, her soft black hair. And the way she moved, the way she spoke, the way she seemed to see right through him... It felt so familiar, and oh how it reminded him of Red.
"Well, I can see why he loves you."
"Flirting, are you?"
"I don't flirt, White."
"Yeah, right."
"I don't. If I want a woman to like me, she does. That is not exactly my purpose now."
"You seem very confident in yourself... to say the least."
"I take comfort in that."
"He won't be very happy to see me with you."
"I should think not."
"But you are different from what Blue'd told me about you. He said you were a vile, desolate man... a species of a monster." White smiled and shrugged, "You don't seem an angel to me either, Black. I can see what he meant, but I can also see what Red liked about you. You're a cool guy, Black. There aren't many left like you."
"I'd say very few."
"So how long have you known Blue?"
"Most of my life. We grew up together."
"And I... I don't know a thing about him, Black. I mean, I am his woman, and I love him, but I have no idea who he is..."
"Blue?" Black laughed. "Oh, Blue, my dear little friend... A chameleon, White, if I've ever known one. He's so afraid of who he really is that he'll wear any mark just to conceal it."
"I in no way wish to dissuade you, my dear White, from liking this fellow, but... you might be disappointed."
"You know, Black, I'll take my chances."
"So wise of you."
"I must go now."
"So soon?"
"Yeah... Well, I can see you, Black, clearly dislike me, and there are people waiting for me out there. They wish to see me, and I..."
"No need. Well, it was a pleasure to meet you, White. I am looking forward to seeing you again."
White smiled and left.

Well, this was the night to get drunk.
To get as drunk as a thing like Black can get.
To the point of puking sensation.
To the black hole of revelation.
The "Western Sunrise" was just the place to sit and cry the blues, the hollow dusty den for the lost souls dwelling in the night.
And then he came in.
Blue came in.
Out of his booze-dazed mind Black watched him approach the sad old barkeep. He noticed a slight smugness about him.
"How much did he drink?"
"A lot, sir."
Blue smirked.
"Pay up, Black. There's someone waiting for you outside."
Black stomped a few papers on the table and slowly got to his feet.
He felt shabby.
"Up you go, Blackie. I'll  be there with you in a sec."
It was like moving through a thick nightmare.
A stairway.
Up, up...
A stairway to heaven.
A highway to hell.
-on the way to the promised land-
Who's it wailing behind me, Black wondered. Is it Willie Dixon or The Bad  Seeds or the devil himself weeping the blues?
Red was a ghostly silhouette by the lantern.
Black knew it was her even before he saw her.
He was waiting for one of that heart-pits, an earthquake, an avalanche, thunder rolling down his soul...
There was only silence.
No words came as the city hummed, blurred by.
They just looked at each other, caught each other's gaze, black eyes met in the black, black night.
Words are gone.
Past is a crimson silhouette by the lantern, yesterday's got a heart-shaped face and full red lips, forever's curly hair smells of lust and pain and whispers fill the night with prostitutes and poets and the truth.
What have I become, he thought through the drunken haze of his beshadowed mind.
What have I become, and where is the storm? It’s gone.
"You're so still", she said.
A statue. Speechless. Numb.
"I'm not going to, like, paint your portrait, Noire."
"I know", the statue muttered.
The door banged behind them.
Blue took her hand and asked her if she was ready to go.
She said she was.
She said there was nothing to be done here.
Click. Or it felt like a click.
The lantern blinking.
A blink, and Blue's on the ground with Black over him.
A blink, and Black is beating his face into the cracked, rainstreaken concrete.
A blink, and Blue's skull cracks under his fists, and his jaw cuts trough Black's knuckle.
A blink, and it never happened.
A blink, and there is darkness.
Darkness once more.


Get up.
Get up. You can't stay here.
Why? What's the point?
So you're givin up, partner?
Why not? Why wouldn't I?
Just get up.
Black did.
How he'd gotten here he did not know, nor was he sure who he'd been talking to.
An empty street, much like any other empty street, ghostly translucent with the greenish light of the lanterns.
It was cold. The wind bit into his chest, ate through his lungs, made his eyes tear up.
"NOIRE!", he screamed.
Echo, and silence, and the wind whistling a tune that made no sense.
The bruises on his body ached, the self-inflicted wound were still bleeding, and there was the lukewarm feeling of worms beneath the skin.
"Noire, I'm lost."
Red. Red. Red.
"I'm so lost, Noire."
He emerged from the shadows, in his white suit, a cigar in his hand and a hapless grin on his grotesque, monstrous face.
"You are, partner."
A shadow played on Noire's face as he let a maze of smoke run through his lips.
"But before you start going chickens**t, partner, do me a favor and let one single thought run through that small-time genius brain o'yours. Thinks if it's worth farking up now."
"What do you suggest?"
"I have nothing to suggest. But let's just take a break here and recall what actually happened.", said Noire, offering Black his cigar.
"I don't know, Noire. It's empty. I'm empty. I'm done."
"So here's where our little s**t gets a trifle sentimental, eh?" Noire started laughing, but to Black his laughter felt like the cold wind, the claws of silence, its empty terror sucking into his ears, his guts.
"She's all I ever had. All I ever wanted. And she's so far away now. The only thing I ever wanted, to be with her, I shall never have", Black smirked cynically, “What a shame."
He was amazed at the sound of his own voice. Was that dead, toneless whisper coming out of his mouth?
"So what was the thing you wanted, partner? You wanted to fark her, eh? Ain't that the only thing you wanted, huh? Her cunt? Her lovely little pussy?"
"You lie, Black. As always, you lie. The thing is, partner, I'm the only living thing on the planet that won't buy your s**t."
"I'll kill him. Blue's gonna die." As Black felt anger rising inside, his voice kept getting stronger as his thoughts were gaining the deadly certainty of hatred.
"I'll kill him, Noire, that farking lady is gonna die, Noire, you'll see..."
"What a little baby-babe you are, Blackie."
"He'll die, Noire, and I..."
"You're just some farking baby cryin for a toy your momma can't get."
"He has to die. I shouldn't've felt like that..."
"fark the feelings, kiddo."
"I've never been humiliated like that... She shouldn't have seen... what I've become, what I've become without her. And I... wanted to keep that memory of her, I wanted to THINK I meant more than nothing to her, Noire..."
"Why dontcha just shut the fark up, partner? You don't mean s**t to her. Deal with it. Deal with the ladyes that come and go, deal with your fall... or don't. I'm leaving."
And Noire walked away, his coat whipping against wind.
Black watched him merge with the shadows of the city.
What now?
What now?
It wasn't about finding the way back home - there was no home now, and there was no way.
Burn, horizon, burn... but you're dead, you're as black as the wind, as cold as the night, you bear no hope.
Burn, you motherfarker.
There shall be no dawn, no sun shall vanquish the shadow that has fallen once again.

"The Red Cabaret" was filled with smoke, and purple light, and topless waitresses, fat swinelike men and roulettes that span through the night.
Black walked in with a cigar held in his teeth, a loaded gun under his trench coat and a very bad feeling.
"So good you could come, Black."
Purple walked up to him in his dealer's suit, a certain worry slightly creasing his round face.
"Follow me", Purple said.
Black could feel Purple was disturbed by the way he looked, but both of them knew he'd shoot the kid if he asked a thing.
"Just tell him he's wrong, Black. He'll listen to you", Purple almost begged.
"I don't even know him, Purple."
"Well... People listen to you."
Black smirked.
They walked first through the crowd of the main hall, then through the smoky maroon corridors with doors on both sides that seemed endless, and beneath the smooth jazz coming from the main hall you could hear the screams and moans and thuds from behind them.
The corridor found its abrupt end by an elevator entrance with a door beside it that led to the stairs.
As if there was a choice.
"All the way to the top", Purple muttered, pushing the button marked "31".
This was one of the three places where Purple worked - aside from the tango place, there were a couple of casinos, and then there was this place, "The Red Cabaret", a place so exquisitely illegal that the Chancellor himself gambled here.
The elevator flew up through the mist of "The Red Cabaret", the ghosts of their reflections lurking in the mirror-like metal walls.
"Explain", Black simply said.
"Crimson's gone mad."
"How so?"
"You'll see... Can't this thing go faster?! Dammit..."
The doors ringed open and Purple almost flew out.
Then, he took the door to the stairs.
"We're going to the roof?" Black asked.
"Yeah... C'mon."
As Black stepped out into the clear winter night and looked around, it all suddenly became ghastly clear.
"I'll handle it", he said and gently pushed Purple aside.
As he walked through the small crowd gathered by the figure standing on the edge between life and death, he could hear the fain sounds of blues playing downstairs. Or he thought he did.
Who the hell is Albert Collins? Black wondered as the sudden thought rushed into his head.
"Let me through", he simply said.
A young man of average height and average built stood on the edge of the roof with a gun in his hand and tears in his dark eyes.
The crowd consisted mostly of "The Red Cabaret" staff - waitresses, dealers, accountants, demons.
"Step back or I'll shoot", the young man said, his voice clearly showing hysteria, «I swear by my mother's grave, I'll shoot!"
"And this is Crimson, I take it?" Black muttered.
Ignoring his threats, Black took a few steps forward, and now, standing between Crimson and the small crowd, he could actually feel the weight of the revolver pushing down his coat.
"Step back, man, I'll shoot, step the fark back, I swear I'll..."
"Are you indeed going to jump, Crimson?" Black calmly inquired.
"I swear I'll jump, man... And I'll shoot whoever tries to stop me! You hear me motherfarkers?"
"They heard you alright, Crimson" Black answered for the crowd, looking into the blank dark eyes of this lost man, “No one's here to stop you, kid. We're here for the show. Why don't you take that step and entertain us with your gruesome death?"
Crimson cocked the trigger of his gun.
"Shut the fark up, man... I'll farking kill you."
"I sincerely doubt it, but go ahead and try, kid... if you dare. I also doubt if a death of a wretched, miserable little s**t like me or you will change a damn thing... do you?"
"I swear I'll jump... don't you dare to come closer, man!"
Black grabbed the revolver out of his coat and cocked it right into Crimson's face.
"Jump", Black softly said.
"What the fark is he doing?!” gasped one of the waitresses.
"I think he knows what he's doing", Purple said, “Or I hope he does."
It was easy to tell that Crimson was at a loss of words.
"Jump you motherfarker!" Black shouted "Either you jump or I blow your farking brains out!"
Now Crimson was holding his gun against Black's chest, and Black could clearly see his hand tremble, his forehead crease and let go a few beads of sweat, his lips turn into a thin pale line.
"Jump", Black said.
For a few moments that felt like a few eternities they just stood like that, each the other one's doom, each on the thin line between life and death.
Crimson dropped his gun and stepped away from the edge.
Black put his revolver back on safety and reholstered it.
Without a word, he made his way through the crowd and ran down the stairs.
He called for the elevator, the button glowed Red.
Red. Red. Red...
"Black, wait."
Purple, slightly out of breath, appeared beside him.
"You... You knew what you were doing, right? You weren't actually going to shoot Crimson, were you?"
"What makes you think I wasn't? The kid went chickens**t at the last second. He wasn't ready for that jump anyways."
"It sounds like you actually wanted him to jump."
"I did."
"I'm bored. I'm full of hate, misery and pain. That solved your puzzle?"
The doors slid open, and before Purple could say a thing, Black stepped in.
And down, down, down...
What's the point of running away, Black? a mellow voice in his head, much like Noire's, asked.
There is no point, he thought. Someday, it's gonna be me up there instead of Crimson.
Something's gonna be different though.
There's gonna be no one up there to stop him.
There's gonna be some rocking at the show that night.
He dropped his cigar.
The doors binged open and he came out, feeling dazed and confused.
Women flashed by, breasts and lipstick and skirts of black suede and black leather boots. Blondes, mostly.
Then, the men playing cards and placing bets and sweaty armpits, their stench from underneath their expensive suits.
Passing by a roulette Black thought - number 8.
"And the winning number is... 6!"
Bingo. Chips and laughter and a kind of a scream.
When life seems hard you wanna die... At the brink of destruction you fear death once more and want to live, to exist.
Deep in the reddish mist Black spotted the burlesque dancer, Green. She had a burning whip in her hand, and she was naked.
Whatever makes them come these days, he thought.
Black approached the bar and took a seat.
"Absynthe", he muttered.
It seemed just a gulp later that someone grabbed his shoulder.
Reaching to his gun he looked back and found it was Gray, one of the administrators of "The Red Cabaret", with some people gathered up behind him, Purple among them.
"I don't know what to say, Black", Gray said in his husky, low voice, "Thank you, I guess. A case like that could've messed up the whole business here... But..."
"No morale, Gray", Black said, “Just get to the point.
A young man came out of the crowd.
"What does he want?" Black asked Gray, gulping down another shot.
"To stick with you."
"fark off."
"The guy's lost, Black. He's got nowhere to go, he's got no one... show some mercy..."
"You know what? He can join the club. You drink, kid?" Black asked Crimson.
"Yeah", Crimson uttered.
"You know, Gray, you oughta go buy yourself a toolbox, cause I believe your kid here has some screws loose..."
"Morris Holt?"
"fark that. So what do you suggest that I do with him?"
"Stick around with him, Black. He's like a son to me, dammit, but I ain't got no time for getting him straight."
"Oh how you owe me, you fat little maggot" Black said.
Gray was old, big, with a well-shaved huge pale face with bushy gray brows and deep-set gray eyes. He smacked his lips as he spoke and he smoked a small wooden pipe.
"Well, why the hell not?" Black said and added, “Now get the hell out of my face, all of you… Crimson, stay, for fark's sake."
Black's glass was half-empty. He slid it to Crimson.
"What is this?” he asked.
"Absynthe. Welcome to my life."


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