CHAPTER 1

“Cala!” I groan inwardly as I hear Elliot stomp-running up behind me. “Cala, wait!” Before I turn I fix a believable yet inauthentic smile on my face.

“Yeah, Elliot?” I ask politely, pulling the collar of my trench coat up around my throat to keep the light rain from snaking down my neck. The slight shifting of my arms makes the ultramarine sequins of my sheath dress flash through gaps in the tan fabric of the coat, somehow amplified by the wan, orangey light of the feeble streetlamps. “Did you have some notes for next week?”

“No, it’s just,” he runs his fingers through his slick, black hair before looking back up at me sheepishly and saying, “it’s just…you probably shouldn’t be walking home alone in this weather…”

“Elliot,” I chide and he thrusts his hands in his pants pockets, his head sinking down into his shoulders, “I always walk back to my place. What difference does the rain make?”

“I just,” he takes a deep, steadying breath and says, “I just have a bad feeling, is all.”

“Sweetie, the last time you had a bad feeling you got food poisoning,” my smile is genuine this time and it eases some of the sting out of my words. “Don’t worry about it. Don’t you know that, statistically, violent crimes are far less likely to be committed in foul weather?”

“That’s not exactly reassuring Cala,” Elliot snaps at me and I just shake my head. “Let me walk you home,”

“Elliot, I’ll be fine…” my entreating tone could be pleading with him or the fates, in order to make him answer no, because even though we’re great friends and we work together, I don’t want him to think that we’re anything more than that. I don’t want him to try to BE anything more than that, especially since that disastrous hook-up one time back in college. “I mean, it’s just six blocks, and I know your car is only three blocks from here in the opposite direction, but…”

“Nah, forget it,” he says, exhaling sharply before smiling up at me. “Never mind. It’s probably just food poisoning.”

“Or exhaustion, I know this isn’t your only gig,”

“Or maybe I’ve been watching too much ‘Real Action News!’” Elliot laughs a short, barking sound that he cuts off almost as soon as it leaves his mouth. I reach out and squeeze his bicep, shaking his arm gently before saying,

“G’night Elliot, see you next week,” he smiles back at me before turning on his heel and walking away down the alley. I turn to go my own way and stride off, the click-tap of my blue velvet heels ringing across the concrete and brick.

It’s not that I’m cheap or that I particularly enjoy walking in the rain, but walking gives me time to think and I always pause to consider a session after the fact. What went well, what went poorly. How the smoke to air ratio affected the acoustics and my vocal cords; all these things swirl through my head in the lull after the music.

Oh, I haven’t told you I’m a singer yet. Well, an aspiring singer is perhaps more accurate because right now I only sing in the shower, at the park, or in the club once a week with Elliot backing me up on the piano. My voice has been described as, “a throaty contralto of extraordinary range with an indefinable something that simply cannot be recreated on a recording; a 'once-in-a-lifetime' live experience,” by one particularly kind reviewer. During the day I work at a movie theater. It’s not the most glamorous job (some people are really foul, dirty beasts, and they seem to think that just because they’re not at home means that they can leave trash everywhere) but I get movies for free and the pay is steady with a side of variable if I take some extra shifts.

“Hey pretty lady, awful late isn’t it?” I don’t know the voice, the answer to the question is completely obvious and no one decent accosts strangers on a dark, wet street at 2:15 in the morning. Oh shit, I’m in so much trouble. I speed up my walk, and the soft slither of shoes that aren’t mine speeds up as well. “Hey, I’m talking to you,” he shouts, angry now and I stop, reaching into my pocket for the knife I always carry, palming it discretely.

“Yes, you are. But you’re not saying anything,” I say angrily, spinning to face him. He’s not a particularly tall man—nondescript is the most apt description—but there’s a desperation in his eyes that’s all too easy to read. Shit, shit, SHIT! “How about starting with what you want?”

“Your money,” he says, pulling a knife from his own pocket. I reach into my other pocket, remove the tiny, silky bag inside, and throw my coin purse at his feet. “All of it bitch!”

“That is all of it,” I lie, wondering just when my scream is going to be most effective. “I’m not playing with you, bitch, give me all your money!” There it is, whispers through me and I smile slightly before I let all holy hell erupt.

“YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!” I scream, and as I scream, I charge, kicking him in the stomach with my heel and following the blow forward as he topples backward. Before he can recover, I follow him to the ground and cross my shin over his throat, locking down on both sides of his neck. Then I take my time twisting the knife out of his hand, waiting until his thrashing becomes tolerably feeble before I lean down over his face and whisper,

“Go home fuckface, before I have to stab your stupid ass,” I make sure he’s good and purple before standing up, scooping up both knives and my coin purse, and striding down the street at a quick trot. “You’re gonna have to be your own prince charming,” I hum under my breath as I bound up the three flights of stairs. But where’s the happy ending? I wonder, given that there wasn’t anyone to save me from Mr. Ineffectual MuggerMan. Then again, at no point did I truly require saving.

 

Continue to Chapter 2

DISCLAIMER!!! These works of fiction contain graphic descriptions of violent and/or sexual content that may be considered inappropriate for some readers.

OTHER LEGAL STUFF: The contents of A Fierce Joy, A Roaring Joy and other characters featured through this site, their locations and situations are products of the author's imagination and any similarity to persons either living or dead is unintentional. Copyright 2009 by Juliana Skye. Any unauthorized reproduction of the works contained on this website without written consent of the author are illegal (and morally objectional, as I can't continue to keep doing this just for my health and psychological well-being!) and violators will be subject to prosecution under US copyright law. Thank you for supporting me by not stealing my intellectual property.