Short Story Excerpt: 6th Street Lofts Part 2

OK, for those of you who are just chomping at the bit to read more of my little story (yeah...right), I offer up a second installment. I hope you like it. This story will be polished and finessed enough one day to submit to a magazine, or as part of a collection of short stories I hope to compile. It still blows my mind that I hadn't touched this story for six months, before finally writing a new chapter the other day. Even though I haven't a clue where this story will go, I'm beginning to get an idea of a few threads I can weave together, and hopefully make for an interesting supernatural story. Wish me luck! For now, enjoy part 2:

3.

Aidan and Dean embraced warmly before settling down at their
reserved table. Jimi’s was crowded tonight, as per usual,
reservations were always a wise idea.

“ Great to see you Dean, thanks for coming. ” Aidan smiled
at his old friend.
“ Ah, wouldn’t miss it for the world Aidan, especially when you
give me a juicy project ”. Dean removed his ever-present fedora
and carefully placed it on the empty chair beside him.
 
‘He’s got that look in his eye’ Aidan thought to himself, picking
up his water glass.

“ I’ve got such interesting news for you too.. ” Dean was ready
to get down to business, he never wasted time with idle chat.
Aidan’s water glass stopped in mid air, “Did you actually find
something? ” he said hopefully, his keen eyes on Dean’s,
suddenly holding his breath.
“ It wasn’t easy, but I did. ” Dean said slowly. He was still
turning the knowledge around in his mind, trying to decide where
it was best to begin his tale.

As the waitress was about to come by to take their order, she
noticed the intense and somewhat close way these men were
speaking to each other and went to a neighboring table instead,
giving them a few more minutes before she thought to disrupt
them.

“ Where did you say you heard these words, Aidan? Dean said as
he dug into his well-loved, soft leather case, pulling out a few
papers and his old favorite fountain pen.  
Aidan took a long drink from his water glass, “Well, I didn’t,
really. ” He said almost guiltily, he’d never hidden anything
from his friend in the many years of their close friendship, and
he wasn’t about to start now. But he just didn’t quite know how
to explain it to him.

He breathed deeply and said, “I was in the coffee shop writing,
really on a roll you know, and after awhile I went back to read
what I had written and these words were just--there. I don’t ever
remember hearing them before, I have no idea what they mean…..and
well…I wanted to see what you could come up with. ” Reaching for
his now-empty water glass, he glanced up to see the waitress
approaching with a friendly smile, fresh water and their usual
drinks.

“ Hey Melody, you sure know how to take care of us. ” Aidan
said and gratefully took the fresh water glass from her hand.
He noticed that Dean slowly but deliberately placed his napkin
over the papers in front of him, while giving Melody a warm smile
and a nod of thanks.

Melody grinned at her two favorite customers and said, ‘and you
boys know how to take care of me.”  setting their drinks down
in front of them. Melody already knew what they would order, but
she loved having a brief chat with Aidan and Dean, ‘Why can’t
all customers be this easy?’ she thought to herself.

“ What’s it gonna be tonight, fellas. The usual? ” Melody said
and didn’t even bother taking the pen out from behind her ear.
“ Or am I finally going to tempt you into trying one of our famous
specials? ” she already knew what their answer would be, judging
from the preoccupied looks on their faces.

Dean spoke first, “Oh you know me, Melody. I’m an old man set
in his ways. ” giving her a quick wink. “Yes, the usual. ” he
said, taking a sip of his wine.

“ The same for me, Mel. Thanks. ” Aidian only briefly looked up
while he spoke but his tone was kind.

Melody’s eyes narrowed at Aidan, “ Alright you two, what’s up? ”
She had been waiting on them long enough to know that there was
something different in the air at their table tonight.

“ Oh, it’s nothing. Just a long week, hon. Really.”  Aidian’s
old smile returned as he sat back in his chair a little.

“ Hmm, ok. But I’m bringing you both a wee dram of whiskey. You
look like you could use it. ” Melody said firmly and was off in
a swish of skirts.

Dean had already removed his napkin from the papers and was
absentmindedly drawing little circles in the corner of the page.
His brow was a bit furrowed and Aidan thought he could detect
the slightest hint of shadows under his eyes.  

“ You know, she’s always right. ” Aidan said. “Are you feeling
OK, Dean? ” Aidan leaned in toward his friend.

Dean brightened slightly. “Oh sure, sure. You know I don’t sleep
as well when Ingrid’s not lying next to me. ” he said with a low
chuckle.  “I just toss and turn all over the place when she’s
not there to keep me in line. ”  

“Of course, that’s it. ” Aidan said in a low voice more to
himself than to Dean.  

Just then Melody silently set the whiskey down in front of each
of them and gave Aidan a brief concerned look before heading to
the next table.

“ To Ingrid ” Aidan raised the tumbler in a toast to his dear
friends’ wife.

Dean raised his glass quickly, “My Ingrid. ” then paused only
a beat before saying  “may she forever be by my side. ”  

With a low clink, Aidan and Dean touched glasses and both men
swallowed their entire contents. Out of the corner of her eye,
Melody watched them and smiled in satisfaction as she saw them
both relax slightly, and the air seemed a little lighter around
them.

Delighting in the warm glow the whiskey had given him, Dean
cleared his throat and felt ready to share what information he
had on the Ungka Dabi.  

‘So, it seems that the Ungka Dabi were an ancient race of people,’
Dean began slowly, not yet looking up from his pages. ‘Very, very
ancient. So old in fact, that my most obscure reference book only
has the smallest bit of information about them.’ Dean’s voice
trailed off slightly as if lost in thought.

‘Hm.’ Aidan mumbled, curious as to where Dean would lead him next
but trying to keep a clear, positive and open mind. ‘That doesn’t
seem so terribly odd…does it?’ Aidan asked, keeping a light tone
to his voice while searching Dean’s face for a clue.

‘Well, that’s just it’, Dean said, finally looking Aidan right
in the eyes. ‘It’s not really about what the text says about
them….it’s what it doesn’t say that has me…sort of….intrigued.’
Picking up his wine glass, Dean took a healthy draught and
swallowed slowly. ‘You see, it says that the Ungka Dabi lived
in a very small, very remote part of Ireland, centuries before
the Celts.’

Aidan noticed a little of Dean’s old familiar twinkle returning
to his friend’s eyes, and relaxed a little. ‘Well, that is
intriguing Dean, but surely, still not that unusual, right?’
Aidan asked, his voice hopeful.

‘No, certainly not. But I almost feel as if the text was ‘not
allowed’ to offer up much more information. Perhaps as though
the transcriber was intentionally leaving vital parts out.’
Dean’s thoughts were coming more quickly now, and he had more
to say but didn’t quite know how much he should say. Thinking
to himself, he found it strange that he would even think to
withhold any information requested by his trusted friend. God
knows they had spent many a night together, poring over old,
dusty tomes trying to eke out tasty bits of history to help Aidan
with his writing research. Aidan’s love of the old and unusual
ran almost as deep as Dean’s did, only Dean had roughly 20 more
years of travel and experience under his belt.   

Aidan’s brow furrowed and he said, ‘What? Why would anyone do
that intentionally? Especially at a historical publishing
house? Aidan almost chuckled until he saw the look on Dean’s
weathered face.

‘Fear.’ Dean said simply, his voice deadly serious.
‘Deep-seated, harrowing fear.’ Dean hadn’t really wanted to
bring it up like this, but felt it was best to get to the point,
there wasn’t going to be any time for hedging. Looking directly
at Aidan, he wanted to convey an unspoken message of urgency,
without alarming his friend…too much.


4.


Aidan walked slowly up the stairs to his loft, lost in thought. ‘How could I possibly have gotten connected to this?’ he said to himself. ‘I have never been exposed to any kind of pre-Celtic history in my life! How the hell am I supposed to believe that I have anything to do with an ancient race of people??! Shaking his head, he rounded the last corner of stairs and yanked open the hall door.

‘OH!’ Said an elderly woman standing just shy of the wide door’s edge, clutching her bag to her chest, eyes wide with fear.

‘I’m so sorry Mrs. Landry, I didn’t mean to startle you.’ Aidan said quickly, pulled out of his reverie. ’Are you all right?’ Aidan put his hand on her shoulder as if to steady the old woman, who had suddenly turned white.

‘Oh, yes, yes Aidan Dear, I’m fine’ she said with a little smile of sudden relief, the color beginning to come back to her cheeks. ’I didn’t think anyone used the stairs in this building anymore.’
Aidan could see she was beginning to relax, ’you know how I love my treats Mrs. Landry, especially your famous cream slices, so I gotta work them off somehow.’ He offered her half of his winning smile and let go of the heavy door slowly, so it wouldn’t close with a bang.

‘Ah! All you young people, always so concerned about your weight. Just enjoy life, it’s really quite simple.’ giving him a wink. Then peering over her glasses into Aidan’s face she said, ‘Aidan Dear, are you all right?’ her wrinkled eyes sharpening their gaze on him.

‘Just a little distracted Mrs. Landry, I’m deep within the clutches of Chapter 5. You know how I get.’ Aidan leaned in, giving her a little hug. He hoped that would satisfy her, as she possessed a keen intuition. There was no fooling Mrs. Landry.

‘Hmm….I’m not so sure. You work too much, Aidan Dear, it isn’t healthy.’ She said in her most strict and motherly tone. ‘Find a lady friend and go dancing all night!’ she emphasized her last words with a flourish of her cane and a smile.

‘I have a lady friend, thank you, but she couldn’t dance all night without her cane.’ He couldn’t resist the taunt, winking back at her.

‘Oh! Cheeky devil!’ she sputtered as Aidan started away from her, nicking his behind with the butt of her cane.

‘Goodnight Mrs. Landry!’ Aidan called to her from down the long hall, feeling more than seeing her amused smile. ‘Sorry if I startled you again.’ Fishing his keys out of his pocket, he suddenly realized he felt a little better, less troubled.

‘It takes a lot more than that to rattle these old bones, you!’ she called back shaking her cane at him. At that, he turned slightly and gave her a final wave, stopping just before his door.

Mrs. Landry clucked her tongue and shook her head slightly, looking down to adjust the door key in her hand. Turning towards her door, she felt a slight tingle going up her right ear and down her shoulder, lightly. She paused with her hand mid-air at the deadbolt, turning her head back towards the hallway. Aidan had just stepped inside and was closing the door. At the same time, the overhead light above Aidan’s door flickered twice and went out. Her eye traced along the upper moulding and saw what only could be described as a ‘ripple’ in her vision where a sharp corner line should be. It seemed to be moving toward Aidan’s door, slowly but steadily. She opened her mouth to call out to Aidan, but paused and shook her head, turning the key and opening the door.

‘Damn fool eyes’ she chastised herself, ‘it’s hell getting old.’ Simultaneously, Mrs. Landry’s door closed softly as the ripple slipped through Aidan’s door, unseen.

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