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December 05, 2022

Night Time 11

By Lydia Manx

Cinda and I no sooner got settled inside the apartment when Margie burst in saying, "Oh this has been an amazingly hectic day. I swear I saw every lady from town in my shop today or one reason or another." Margie was nearly giddy with all the attention and activity in her day. She went on with, "They either showed up to make appointments, ask for advice or some such tale."

Like I hadn't known that already? Cinda's green eye still had that otherly cast to it. Her eye mocked my attempts at small talk with some kind of unshared knowledge. I was more than a bit pissed by that smugness but couldn't think of what I could do to make Cinda confide in me. Or the not Cinda. The confusion about who I had been spoken to alone was driving me a bit crazy. I really had enough of all the dramas.

"Thank you again, Margie, for taking me in. I don't know what I would have done," I thanked her quietly.

Cinda followed me with her eyes. I tried to resist overly reacting to the unsettling feelings of mockery and intellect dancing just beyond my world. Cinda was seemingly unaware of my thoughts and tried to ask her mom for more information about what she had heard and not shared during their hair marathon. I tuned them both out as they chattered about meaningless little traumas in the lives of people I barely knew or much cared about. I was blown away and yet still unsurprised in some fundamental spot in my soul. I must have always figured there was more to life than what I had seen and read about and it appeared I was right.

I caught the tail end of something Margie said.

"Excuse me, can you repeat that?" I asked softly.

"Of course, dear, I just remarked that it seems that Kelly Ann is going to become our mayor." She wasn't at all put out at my ignoring their heated gossip session but rather happy I seemed to be even half heartedly listening. It was nice that she treated me so well and let me be so detached. I really needed the time to figure everything out. I replied, "But shouldn't there be some sort of election held?"

Margie quickly responded, "Oh, yes that was exactly what everyone there wanted to know, how could we just be gifted some mayor without an election. Apparently the old boys club found some loophole written into the original town charter allowing for a member of the family to take over in the event of a sudden death. Most likely they had intended sons or uncles to be the ones who took up the mantle but since Kelly Ann was Lyle's daughter -- and he doesn't have any sons that we know of -- and Ginny doesn't want anything to do with anyone right now they pretty much are limited to either Kelly Ann or Kenny. Since his grandson, Kenny, is not particularly well known in these parts and had some sort of indiscretion with his grandfather's mistress they felt Kelly Ann would be ideal. The rumor also is that she is so easily pushed around by that jerk Hank that they know she would not upset the old boys network with new rules or actually trying to be a real mayor."

She took a breath while I absorbed all that. It made sense given what I had witnessed. I didn't have to bother passing on that I saw the family discussing it and I felt somewhat relieved by that. I wasn't overly fond of talking about folks and the raw emotions of the deceased man's family were definitely something I was uncomfortable relating to the Carmichael ladies.

Cinda and she got into a heated discussion about which of the mayor's family really should be mayor, Kelly Ann's name was not amongst those discussed. I again tuned them out while trying to figure out what it was I was expected to do. Listen and watch for falling walls. That was less than helpful. I always listened, okay maybe not to Cinda and Margie prattling about things but I did listen mostly. As for the walls, that sounded somewhat metaphorical rather than actual structures tumbling down. So that was another less than helpful sort of statement. I bit back a sigh and waited for them to wind down from their usual bantering and arguing.

"Fine, Mom, you win. Barbie would be a better mayor than Ken but still it seems like the old boys want Kelly Ann. So it doesn't really matter what we think now does it?" Cinda had a hurtful snippy tone to her voice. They must have drawn blood with their little arguments. Not uncommon. Cinda may not get pinches but her mom still knew the buttons to push when she needed to make a point.

"That's all I am saying, honey, is that Barbara would be a better mayor than her mom. She is not as stupid as she plays and would be able to get the men to do pretty much whatever she wanted. We both know it but it doesn't seem like we have much of a say in all this now doesn't it?" Having been given victory Margie could afford to be gracious now and was making an attempt to sooth her daughter's ruffled feathers. Cinda looked at me and said, "Lynn and I are going out so she can grab a smoke. Is dinner going to be ready in an hour or so?" It was not so much a question as a statement. Hunger wasn't something concerning me but I definitely could use a cigarette. Margie let us escape without further comments.

The earlier chill in the air inspired both of us to bundle up as we went down the stairs. I was unsure of what I should be doing. I had the cigarette lit before we got to the bottom step. I took deep breaths and inhaled most of the cigarette. My nerves were dancing with unnamed emotions and I was less than thrilled with all the various twists and turns my life was taking. I was still half heartedly contemplating what I should do when Cinda came out with, "So what did Harry really want with you?"

I stuck with my earlier type of replies, "Just to make sure I hadn't remembered anything new and let me know that he was still looking for evidence to point him in the right direction." I finished off my cigarette and ground it out on a nearby waste can.

"Sure, that seems logical," Cinda's voice was somewhere between her normal pitch and that strange new Cinda voice. It was a typical Cinda reply but the intonation made it seem mocking and I didn't rise to the bait. I waited and let Cinda take the lead. We went past the end of the building and towards the opposite end of town that Harry and I had been walking earlier in the evening. The wind was biting and I felt snow in the air. Cinda turned to see if I was still walking after I slowed to relight another cigarette. Her eye was even more intense in color. I shuddered slightly at the unsettling sensation running over my skin.

"Our town is going through some changes," it was the non-Cinda voice. I shuddered again.

"Okay, so what does that mean?" I cautiously asked.

"Gwendolyn, don't play stupid with me." Okay non-Cinda definitely had a bit of a bite. She reached over casually and grabbed my lit smoke and calmly inhaled well over half the length. For a nonsmoker I was sure burning through my pack awfully fast on Cinda.

"Damn, this girl is not the easiest to push out. You would think with all that fluff in her head I would be able to just pop in whenever I want. Surprisingly stubborn child," the tone was conversational but the words had goose bumps dancing all over my skin. It wasn't the chill either. The other was definitely feeling chatty.

"Let's cut to the chase, Gwendolyn. The time I have is limited. And she won't relax for a few more hours and by then it could be far too late for everyone." The chills now had their own chills. My skin was literally crawling with energy and I had to admit some fear. I pulled out another cigarette for myself. The street was empty as far as I could see. Yet I felt like I was being watched by someone besides the non-Cinda. Out of the corner of my mind I thought I saw Harry. A quick glance around and I didn't see the man but I knew he was somewhere close.

"What should I call you?" I finally asked. I couldn't see myself calling her Cinda since she wasn't.

"I haven't heard my real name in such a long time. Just call me Misty. That will work." I thought it seemed appropriate given she drifted in and out. I did wonder at her real name but figured it wasn't important. Yet.

"Okay, Misty, so what exactly is it you're here for?" That seemed a natural question.

She laughed. It was a Misty laugh for sure. Deep and sultry, and very knowing -- nothing like Cinda. It was a grown up laugh. We were not that old yet and this person peeking through Cinda was so much older. I felt a wave of Harry looking again. Trying to catch him in the reflection of the windows proved fruitless but nevertheless I knew he was not too far away. It was like he knew what Cinda/Misty was and he was offering his protection in some odd way.

"Hell, Gwendolyn, your mom sent me. Like you hadn't already figured that out?" Her tone was mocking yet still I knew she meant it. That my mom was trying to help me from the beyond was more than a bit disturbing. I didn't think Cinda was crazy and pretending so I shrugged and went with the obvious if strange.

"And that means what?" I was not going to agree or disagree at this point but still it never hurt to ask.

"It means that you are in danger and not everything is what it appears." Damn mystic shit again, I thought as I watched Misty finish the cigarette she snagged from me with a deep inhale. I was growing edgy with all the new changes and ideas flickering in my head. Misty flicked the pinched off smoke into the gutter as she shook with her entire body and then fell into herself. A shake and a shimmer and Cinda was in front of me saying, "Lynn, stop smoking so close to me," she waved her hand with an abrupt cough and she glared with only Cinda behind her eyes, "You smoke too much!"

Yeah, right. I smoke too much and yet Cinda was the one coughing out her excesses. I finished up the newest cigarette in my hand and dumped the filter end into the next trash can on the street. Cinda smiled and said, "Thanks, I don't mean to nag you but I really care." She beamed her ignorance at me while we continued towards the town center.

The late fall twilight was eerie to me with all the strange things happening. Cinda seemed completely unaware of anything out of the ordinary in her slice of the world. I looked for stars in the sky above us but could only see the deep blue-purple stained night with a hint of the moon staring down on us as the lights lining the street blocked out most of the stars in town. Then Harry wandered into view proving me right about his shadowing us.

"Evening ladies, how are you both doing?" He didn't tip a hat because he wasn't wearing one but I felt the formality of his greeting. Cinda was simply smiling at seeing the deliciously cute man again. Harry smiled at me and offered a hand to Cinda, "Hello again, Miss Carmichael, I see you are doing well." She blushed with the attention and put her palm in his. His face froze for a minute and I saw awareness pass over him. He felt Misty. I knew this soul deep.

"Oh, call me Cinda!" She was glowing with his attention. On the other hand I was still stunned.

Harry walked between us as we continued further away from the town center.

"So what are you up to this fine night?" Harry had all but linked his arms with ours. He was keeping pace with us and there was a warm glow of contentedness coming off him in waves. Cinda had successfully pushed Misty deep and her green eye was the usual muddy green shade. There was no spark of activity behind her glance. It was like I had imagined the whole thing. Harry seemed to take a deep breath without exhaling. Something about this man was off and I had yet to figure out what it was I was noticing. I shook my head at the nonsense flying in my brain and lit another cigarette. Harry pulled out his pack and joined me. Cinda waved her hand in front of her face and said, "Yuck. That is soooo disgusting." Then she flipped. Misty said, "Disgusting my ass. Hand me one kids." Harry took the change pretty well. Not losing a step he lit up a smoke for the visitor saying, "I don't think I have had the pleasure."

"Misty. That is what I am called." Somehow I doubted it but kept my mouth shut. I don't think she had been called anything in a long time. And if she had been lurking in Cinda for a few decades I sincerely doubted that Cinda even knew she existed much less that she could call her.

"Harry Adkison."

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-10-24
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