Monday, December 15, 2008

Chapter 37: Macaulay Speaks Of Scorpions

Mon, November 16, 2074 3:59 pm: Arbormoor Manor- Arbormoor, Pleasantview


Macaulay had set a goal for himself. He wanted to gather as many leaves as possible without spearing a single one on the business end of his rake. It wasn't a realistic goal but there was something meditative to the whole process. Macaulay pulled gently and an entire population of delicate pawns shifted according to his will. He was a monolithic giant, threatening and steering. But even he didn't have enough control to keep the leaves from impaling themselves. Ripping his unintentional victims from the prongs of his rake, Macaulay listened to the violent crunch and resonating twang of Laurie's rake hitting the frozen ground. Evidently, Laurie had little regard for control.


Macaulay watched Laurie with interest. There was something about his short, choppy technique that signaled Macaulay to the fact that he had never raked leaves before. The entire concept of a lever appeared to be lost on him. Deciding to spare Laurie the unnecessary exertion, Macaulay leaned his rake against the house.

"You know, we don't really have to do this. I think Dad was just trying to get us out of the house," Macaulay said.

"Why would he do that?"

"I dunno. He's been acting really weird lately."

"Weirder than usual?" Macaulay thought back to the night before when he had noticed his father pacing in front of the telephone, reaching for it tentatively and retreating back into his bedroom, muttering a long string of profanities.

"Yeah. Just a bit weirder." Laurie let his rake fall to the ground and touched his cheeks with his palms.


"It's fucking freezing out here," Laurie said under his breath. Macaulay snickered.

"Well it is November."

"That doesn't give it the right." Laurie ruffled his hair. It glowed scarlet in the late autumn sun like a lit match. Macaulay thought back to the night they met- How the morass had clung to Laurie's hair, making it an inky sable. Laurie had a visible spectrum of all his own. "So I've been thinking," Laurie continued. "What do you want to do when you leave school? I mean, I know you've still got like five years left and probably haven't even really thought about it yet but I was just wondering." Macaulay tilted his head to the side. This was an easy question.

"I want to be a civil rights attorney like my aunt Donna. I help her out around the office and stuff sometimes." Laurie brushed a leaf from his pants.


"I guess that doesn't surprise me. You're like my dad with your work ethic."

"So what do you want to do?" Laurie smirked slyly at the question as though he had been waiting for it. He threw his arms wide.

"I want to study bugs," he declared grandly. Macaulay smiled, losing himself in Laurie's enthusiasm.

"What do you mean you want to study bugs?"

"Just that! I want to be an entomologist. I think insects can tell us a lot about the human condition. Did you know, for instance, that ants keep slaves? Or that a queen yellow jacket will spend an entire year building a colony only to leave them all to die while she starts another colony? Oh or this one- Did you know that if you put a drop of alcohol on the back of a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting its self to death?" Macaulay chuckled, shaking his head.

"First of all Laur, a scorpion isn't an insect. It's an arachnid. Secondly, that's a complete myth. A scorpion can't sting its self to death. It's immune to its own poison. But you're right, entomology does sound like a pretty cool field." Laurie didn't seem to have heard anything but the last sentence.

"It would be so wicked awesome," Laurie said wistfully. Macaulay thought that Laurie was perhaps envisioning himself stranded in the deserts of Strangetown, wearing cargo shorts and pouring Hennessy on anything that moved. A strong gust of wind blew and suddenly, being in Strangetown sounded pretty appealing.


"The sun's starting to go down. We should probably head inside," Macaulay offered.

"Suits me," Laurie said, turning on his heels. Macaulay watched as Laurie walked towards the front yard. His slow, gaping stride was somewhat reminiscent of a heron. It was one of his many subtle traits that Macaulay found to be hopelessly endearing. With Laurie's back turned, Macaulay did a little dance, affected by a sudden giddiness that he could not describe or explain.


Laurie reached the corner of the house, turned and stopped dead in his tracks. He rubbed his chin and nodded his head towards the yard in front of him.

"What's that," he asked. Macaulay sped up to meet him.

"What's what?"

"That." Laurie pointed at the stone monument under the scrub pine. Macaulay furrowed his brow.


"Oh. That. That's mom," Macaulay said flatly. Laurie inched closer, his face glazed with an intense curiosity. He had no way of knowing that this dismal sentinel had dominated Macaulay's childhood and yet he approached it with the cautious reverence of someone who did know.

"Is it ok if I..." Laurie didn't need to complete the sentence.

"Sure, knock yourself out."


As Laurie examined the monument, Macaulay knew exactly what he was looking for. His mother's name did not appear on her tombstone. Nor did the dates of her birth and death. When Lavinia had asked about it years ago, Macaulay's father said something to the effect of, "They're already etched onto the back of retna. Do I really need to pay a carver just to see double?" In retrospect, Macaulay thought that this was strange notion mainly because it implied that no one else would ever look at the grave. There were no surviving photographs of his mother for that same reason.


"Can I ask you something?" Macaulay had been so deep in thought that he had forgotten Laurie was there.

"Yeah sure. What do you want to know?"

"How'd she die?" Macaulay bit his lower lip and turned away towards the road as though it would supply him with support. He couldn't remember his mother but he thought that he would have no less trouble discussing her death even if he could.

"She umm- Well, she and Dad were throwing a wedding party for Aunt Donna and Mom got really plastered and wandered off into the woods. And well, the next day they- They found bits of her here and there. The general consensus is that it was some kind of animal. Probably wolves."

"Your mom was attacked by wolves?" Laurie's words were punctuated with doubt. It was as though he were certain that he hadn't heard Macaulay correctly.


And how could Macaulay blame him? It was a fantastical death. Whenever Macaulay thought about it, he questioned it. From what he knew about wolves, it seemed highly unlikely. He would have been less surprised to see a scorpion stinging its self. But this explanation of his mother's death was the only one that he had ever been offered. So he took it.

Macaulay didn't realize it but he had been slowly backing away from the grave. Laurie watched, his eyes round and quizzical. They darted between Macaulay and something that lay to the side of him. Macaulay stopped walking and turned his head. There was an enormous raven perched majestically on a pile of lumber no more than a few inches away from Macaulay's wrist. He jumped.


"Shit, why didn't you say something," Macaulay asked, gasping for air.

"I don't know. I thought you knew it was there!" Macaulay locked eyes with the bird who made a few cursory twists of his neck but seemed otherwise indifferent to Macaulay's proximity.

"I swear, the animals in this part of the woods are so freaky. The birds and rodents especially," Macaulay said, still a little shook up. He then proceeded to make whooping sounds at the bird, flailing his arms and even poking the thing once for good measure. It didn't so much as bat an eyelid. "That's not normal, is it," Macaulay asked.

"Maybe it's sick."

"The hell it is. They're all like this the closer you get to the marsh." Macaulay cocked his head to the side, half expecting the bird to reveal its mysteries when looked upon from a new angle.


"Cully? Please come away from the crow. It probably has parasites," Laurie said mildly. Macaulay blushed, realizing that the entire exchange must have been very bizarre to witness. He made a few brusque steps towards Laurie.


"Whoa there, mi compadre," Laurie laughed. "I don't want you getting any closer to me after touching that disgusting thing!" Macaulay smiled, his apprehensions melting away.

"Gee, I don't know, Laur. I kinda have this incredible urge to give you a hug right now."

"Absolutely not!"

"Aw, come on. Just one hug."



The boys tussled until finally, Macaulay managed to get his hand through Laurie's hair, where he supposed parasites would be most likely to settle. Laurie stopped struggling. His hair was as soft and light as goose down. Macaulay ran his fingers through it absently, watching it change color as it moved. Laurie closed his eyes. He had the far away look of someone who was dreaming. Macaulay allowed his hand to drop from Laurie's hair, sliding down the side of his neck and landing onto his shoulder. Laurie's eyes fluttered open. He breathed in short, deep gasps. Macaulay realized then that Laurie must have been holding his breath. The two of them stood and stared at one another for a time, both at a loss for words.


  1. I was SQUEE!ing through this whole thing. :P As I imagine others were as well.

  2. And ya know, Laurie missed a golden opportunity here. I think that if he had tried to kiss Macaulay, he would have gotten away with it.

  3. Awwww, why didn't he kiss him? Feeling shy, are you, Laurie? Oh well, they'll kiss eventually. What a cute post! :D These two understand each other so well. But yeah, there's definitely something suspicious about Cully's mother's death.

  4. Well? Where's the SMOOCHING ACTION?!?!?! Ah, it's okay, though. Given their very different backgrounds, it's probably better for them to take things slowly.

    I think I remember you saying once that high caste people are expected to get married and make babies. So does that mean homosexual relationships are taboo? Or do they sort of happen outside of marriage?

  5. Laurie is scared of screwing things up at this point. Which is not what I thought that he would do. I thought if Cully gave him an inch, he'd take a mile. Maybe he has better control than Cully and I think! :p

    *points to Kelly LeCroix's death date on family tree*

    *then points to Chapter 36*

  6. Bev! You and I posted at the same time!

    They usually happen outside of marriage for someone in Laurie's position (first born and heir). Now if he were in Thackery's position (5th born) then he could marry a man and let people think what they want.

    I worry about rushing things because of Macaulay's age. *wrings hands* He turned 13 in October. Considering how young these people tend to marry (at 25 you might as well forget it-- you're an old maid), 13-year-olds having little teenaged relationships is probably pretty common. Not that I imagine that this would turn out to be anything too deep at their ages. But 13...

  7. *Follows links*

    GASPLY! THE DRAMA! Suspicious! Poor Kelly. What a way to go...

  8. hehehehe "Gasply"

    You can sort of start to understand why Jorge is the way he is at least...

  9. Oh no you didn't post this while I was at work!! :O That's jus WRONG!! LOL!! I got excited when I saw you had updated and I rushed to read it then had to reread it because it was so freaking cute! Laurie and Cully are so cute together! I hope they find some happiness...and answers!!

    OHHH!! OHHH!! I just followed the linkage!! OMG!! This is going to be so exciting! I can't wait to see how you reveal everything!:D

  10. hehehe My updates are always here for you when you get home from work, Phoenix! :D
    A lot of the stories I read updated today too so I had join the bandwagon.

    I'm so glad I added the Hotness. He's now taking the blame for something that I originally planned to pin on Kvornan.

  11. *Trying to figure out if there is some ambiguous imagery in picture 2*

    Don't worry about the age thing, Pen. IT'S THE TIMES!

    They are so adorable together. *sighs* I loved all his observations about Laurie's hair. He's getting smitten!

  12. LMAO! I didn't even think about that not-so-ambiguous imagery in picture 2. You really know how to warm my heart, Lothere.

  13. LMAO at the amibuous imagery! I burst out laughing when I went back to see what picture 2 was.

    And OMG, those two! Awww. They're definitely to cute for words.

    So Kelly was "that girl in the woods", and the one that appeared in Ermengarde's vision?

  14. Yeah, I know. Only Lothere, right?

    When I think about it, it's been a long time since we've seen Laurie and Cully. I need to fix that.

    No, Kelly was not in Ermengarde's vision. The girl in the woods that we see is a child and many, many years before Kelly's death.