adventure / sci-fi / drama / romance

Flatiron Angel: Part Twelve


L eonard lived in a two story brownstone that had crumbled over time, its rough exterior mirroring the cracked concrete leading up to its faded black door. The deadbolt clicked open with the turn of a key and Leonard stepped inside, flicking on the light to reveal what would have been a nice enough place if not for the army of wallpaper that had seemingly ambushed the main living area. Each wall had a different pattern: yellow with blue roses, forest green with emerald stripes, blue with silver diamonds and across from a dull gray coach, white interlocking circles over black. 

“Please ignore the walls. I’m going through a bit of a mid-life crisis and,” Leonard took them in as if for the first time, “well as you can see, it’s not going very well.” 

Rose walked to the middle of the room and turned.

“It’s not so bad.” She stuck out her thumb and squinted an eye. “As long as you only look at one at a time.”

“You’re not helping you know.” 

Leonard brushed past her on his way to the kitchen and grabbed something from a cupboard.

“Tea?” he called from behind a row of cabinets.

“Sure. Thank you.”

He came back after a moment with two steaming cups and handed one to her before turning and staring at the circular wallpaper her eyes were fixated on.

“Is that one your favorite?”

“I think so.”

“Fuck off. Of course it is. The whole thing looks like a gaggle of tits. World’s mad about breasts, beautiful things they are.” He took a sip before continuing, “even I love them,” he said then hit Rose with a cheeky smile. The silence lingered between them for a moment and Rose could feel his eyes fighting the urge to look down.

“Speaking of which, let’s get you some real clothes,” he headed upstairs and Rose found a seat on what she assumed would be her bed for the night. The couch was softer than it looked and she settled into it, putting her feet up on the edge of the table and huddling over the tea in her hand. Steam wafted up and collected on her lips like dew. Rose couldn’t help but think about the tea she had tried to drink the night Logan came to her door and wondered if it was the same night as here, now, whenever the fuck now was. Nov 7th, 1980 was a meaningless measure to her. The construct of calendars and time was a distinctly human creation, along with all their other oppressive thoughts and ideas that a surprising amount had a hard time shaking in the void. 

Since the Council had stepped in in lieu of Abel, Rose had often thought how Earthly their ideas seemed at times. This stubborn regression that fought to bring order to the endlessness of the afterlife. Sure they said it all came down from Abel but nobody had seen him in years, except for the council. His protector, Michael, had been relegated to a token of a time gone by, a stand-in for Abel that had withered away until his legs gave out and he simply laid there and bore witness.

Rose startled when a pair of slim black jeans landed on the couch beside her followed by a t-shirt and some socks. She picked up the shirt and strung it out in front of her.

“The Beatles…?” Rose cocked an eyebrow at Leonard who was standing at the bottom of the stairs smiling. 

“You don’t know The Beatles! You’re joking.”

Rose shrugged off Leonard’s coat and pulled the shirt over herself. It felt soft against her skin and fit better than she would have thought given Leonard’s taller frame. Leonard swooped over and sat on the couch beside her before taking a sip from his own mug.

“They’re a real good band.” He pointed his finger at each of the faces printed on the front. “That one there is John, and that’s Paul…” 

Rose followed along staring at their upside down faces. 

“…and he’s George, and well, well that’s Ringo.”

Leonard’s face scrunched up a bit when he said Ringo.

“We don’t really like Ringo,” he continued to which Rose raised an eyebrow. “He’s shit.”

Rose inspected herself.

“Well it fits nice.”

Leonard nodded, “Yah…it’s not mine, if you’re wondering. Previous guest left it behind.” 

Rose couldn’t help but notice a sadness that flashed across his eyes when he said it but chose to ignore it for now. They’d only just met and she was just grateful he’d seemingly taken to her so fast.

“So, you live here alone then?”

He was mid-sip when she asked him and he let the glass hang on his lips for a moment. 

“I do, yah.”

His eyes stared off into the distance. Rose felt her cheeks tinge with the embarrassment of asking what seemed to be too personal a question.

“Only recently though. I had a roommate before, but he’s gone now.”

“Was it the wallpaper?”

Leonard smiled at Rose’s attempt to cover her gaffe. 

“No, he wasn’t here when this little experiment started. I suspect he would have agreed with you though.”

“Well which one do you prefer?”

Leonard set his tea down and slouched back against the couch. He bit his lip while scanning the walls one at a time.

“I don’t know. I always liked what Gary liked. I think I’m still trying to learn what I like.”

“Were you roommates for a while?”

“Ten years. Roommates. Best friends…lovers.”

He smiled to himself when he said lovers, but it quickly faded behind whatever other memories the thought brought up. Leonard forced another smile and his cheeks pushed up into his eyes.

“I wasn’t the only one it turns out. He had me fooled pretty good. Ten years together is like a hundred in gay years as you know. We’da been married if it was allowed he always told me.”

Rose set a hand on his.

“How’d you find out about the others?”

Leonard kicked his feet up on the coffee table.

“You learn a lot about who a man really is at their funeral. None of us hated each other. We were all just sad at the man we’d lost.”

“What about him? Do you hate him?”

Leonard picked up the tea and held it between both hands. His eyes got misty in the silence.

“He was a beautiful man,” then he smiled a bitter-sweet sort of smile before sitting forward and softly patting Rose’s knee. “That’s enough about me honey and to be honest you seem far more interesting tonight. What’s your story?”






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Joe Shields