Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Madness begins and wins...

I've added henna body painting and a new way for Adam to keep busy during Casey's movie that fits neatly with the Mad Hatter's tea party and still nearly gets him killed.

Here's the last of Chapter one, BTW --

The path they took back to the lift was along a side hall that was really quite narrow, with ceiling pipes so low, one had to walk almost like a duck to avoid them.

Vincent did not look at Adam as he asked, "Is your passport in order?"

"I suppose," Adam said.

"When did you last use it?"

Adam had to think, for a moment. "Three years ago." When Vincent made him travel to New York's Public Library to review a collection they had received as a gift and the two local dealers they had engaged to evaluate it were undecided over its merit. Adam had found a copy of Mark Twain's The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County mixed in with the other books, the advertisements still intact and the boards and spine in excellent condition, making the book worth the entire collection. The library had been very pleased. Adam continued with, "I had to get an emergency renewal because I'd let mine lapse and -- "

Vincent cut him off. "Then it's valid and you've been to the states. Care to go, again?"

Adam huffed. "I'd rather not. New York is madness. I was almost struck by two cabs, a lorry and four bike messengers ... just as I was crossing Fifth Avenue. With the light."

"You'd be going to Los Angeles, this time."

Adam was aware enough to know Los Angeles was big and wide and open, but still had to ask, "Is it saner than Manhattan?"

"Doubtful. But we've acquired a book and -- "

Adam jolted up and slammed his head against a pipe and yelped. Stars flashed around in his eyes, for a moment.

"Careful, there," said Vincent, more perturbed than concerned.

Adam nodded. Before he could even think to silence himself, he blurted out, "Sir, is -- is it The Alice Sixty-five?"

Near color exploded across Vincent's face, he grew so angry. He stormed back to Adam. "Who told you about that!?"

Adam had to take a step back, regain his breath, and rub his head a bit. Of course, he had heard the rumors, but he'd dared not believe them. Now he knew it was true.

"I ... I just heard ... you know, heard," he said. "Around ... " From Jeremy whispering the possibility to Elizabeth, a fortnight back. Just after he'd taken a photo of Adam working on Blake's Albion. He'd taken one of Bill, as well, holding a cup of soup ... which was not surprising; Bill loved his soups.

Vincent carefully calmed himself and said, "I wanted it kept quiet till the book was here. There's a bloody Australian after it, too, and he's been more than adamant."

"Christian Meillon," Adam murmured.

Vincent gave him a tight glare, saying, "Gossip has been pervasive."

Adam blinked and gave him a slight shrug. "Not really. I read a few years ago that he was seeking one for collection. Not because it's a book but because it's rare. I thought, at the time, it would be a travesty if he got one."

"On that, we agree. Did you know he contacted Sir Robert and offered to pay us not to accept it?"

"No sir, but I'm not surprised."

"Fortunately, Sir Robert is completely on our side, so the paperwork's been signed and it's ours, now. Done and dusted."

"Oh." It took Adam a moment to continue. "Sir, are we certain about this?"

"Adam ... " And Vincent's voice carried a warning.

"It's just that I'm always leery when some person discovers a book worth a million pounds in their attic -- "

"Casey Blanchard is not some person," Vincent shot back. Adam's confusion about her was obvious in his expression, prompting Vincent to ask, "Haven't you seen Ilithium Four?"

Adam bolted upright and banged his head, again. Tears filled his eyes.

Vincent rolled his eyes and said, "Adam, please, we're still trying to get funding to have the pipes replaced."

Which had not been replaced since 1910, if not earlier. As for the film, Adam knew of it and had studiously avoided the foul thing. The four-volume book was a lovely reworking of von Grimmelshausen's Simplicius Simplicissimus into a world of the future, keeping surprisingly close to the Lower Baroque style of German, so he bore no interest in witnessing the desecration of a classic work of Science-Fiction.

His dislike of the film colored his expression, so Vincent smiled in his very arch manner and said, "Purist, are we? Of course. I'll lend you my DVD to watch on the plane."

"Must I?"

"Some of us would consider it good manners," Vincent said, "and as you're en route to meet a young lady who was heavily involved with it, I think it only polite to be able to discuss a creative work with one who helped in its creation." He turned to continue walking. "Will your laptop play it?"

"Yes, sir," Adam muttered. His head still smarted, and he could already feel the beginnings of a knot at the very top, but he'd been done far worse to in one of his Saturday football games so just followed.

"Very well. Miss Blanchard's the lead, and the book you are to collect was bequeathed to her by her grandfather, not found in an attic. I've seen the photos of it, inside and out, so I am certain it's a true 1865 edition. Is that acceptable?"

No, but after the back and forth about the Schedel, Adam knew it did no good to argue with Vincent when he is as prickly as this. Instead, he said, "Sir, wouldn't it be better to send Elizabeth to collect the book? It's her area, and I'm sure she's already seen the film."

Vincent stopped just before they reached the lift but did not look back at Adam. "She's not really a book person, so I don't believe she would treat this with the gravity it deserves."

"Hakim, then."

That made Vincent look at Adam with incredulity. "Are you mad? It would take him a month to plot out his journey, and that's with the itinerary already settled. And do NOT suggest Jeremy; he would trumpet his journey from the rooftops and we prefer this be done with as little fuss as possible, and at once."

"But, sir ... you know what happened with my father ... "

Vincent's shoulders tightened and he nodded, his tone finally becoming gentle. "Yes. And I'm sorry to force it on you. But you ... Adam, you are the only person who can do this and ... I ... I trust you to handle it appropriately. Just ... go. Get the book. Bring her straight back. Your itinerary's on your desk."

"Vincent, please ... "

"It's already set. Ticket's in your name and we can't change it. That would be ... the cost would be prohibitive." He put on a smile he did not feel. "But once you've turned her over, you're free till Monday."

He opened the lift's doors and they stepped inside. Adam closed the door and the gate, then Vincent shifted the lever to the second floor, saying in a voice that was too cheerful, "Supposed to be a lovely weekend. I hear you're involved with that girl in I-T -- Cora, isn't it?"

Adam had to smile. Vincent was behind the times -- by two years and a month. And three days. "Not anymore sir."

The man's face did not change except to allow himself to blink in surprise. "Oh. Well. Why not invite her to Sheerness? Go bathing on the beach. See if you can rekindle things."

"Oh, not ... not a good idea, sir," Adam replied, head still smarting and mind still caught in the idea of his upcoming journey. "She's married and with child, and I ... um, besides, I can't swim."

That finally removed Vincent's too-cheerful smile. "Oh. Well. Lowers your chances of being drowned, doesn't it?"

"One would think so," was all Adam could say, in response.

Vincent cast him a glance, showing his comment made no sense to him. Of course, he wouldn't know that Adam's brother, Connor, a year older than he and of the decided belief that he was far superior to his entire family, had determined the best way for Adam to get over his panic when in deep water was to push him into a lake. Force him to swim. Adam had nearly drowned before his father got him out. Now his fears were strapped to his DNA. But when you have a sociopathic narcissist for a brother, moments like this are to be expected.

Adam's only comforting thought, at that moment, was that having dealt with Connor and his peculiarities, all his life, he would be prepared for what he might encounter in Los Angeles.

At least ... one would think so.

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