WRAPPED IN BLACK
Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
THE RISING SON
by James Glass
Crowley was a prick. Virgil Calahan, Jr. came to the conclusion as he watched the man move through the crowd, how everyone smiled and laughed at the poorly told jokes only because no one wanted to seem stupid to a foreigner. Moreover, he seethed at the way Cherry clung to the man’s arm in spite of the insipid, resinous cloud of scented oils permeating the air around him.
He knew he had no claim to the gorgeous redhead, they adhered to the tenets of polyamory, but to see her showering another man with affection – Crowley of all the people! It was too much. He slammed his drink glass on the bar top harder than was necessary and pretended it was Crowley’s face.
The bartender’s smile was tight as he silently refilled the empty glass and disappeared into the shadows once more. Calahan clutched the drink to his chest, his eyes narrowed to slits as he continued to watch the man he now thought of as his own personal arch-nemesis.
“Chin up, old boy, she will be back.”
Calahan turned to see his father, one Virgil Calahan Senior, lounging against the bar. The old man also watched Cherry, the lustful expression not one his son had seen on his father’s usually bland but cheerful visage.
“But once a man has spent a night with the likes of her, one cannot return to any semblance of normal.” At his son’s sharp intake of breath he added, “Oh come now, old man, you can’t mean to tell me you had no idea we’ve all had a taste of Cherry?”
“The night after your birthday. She was very… accommodating.”
Calahan the son glared into his whiskey and said nothing, but he could feel his cheeks becoming red with fury. If it had been anyone but his father who spoke those words, the man would be nursing a black eye and possibly a broken jaw at that very moment. He cleared his throat and downed the rest of the amber liquid, then slammed the glass again on the bar top, this time hard enough to send a shard of glass flying into the space between himself and the gathering of revelers.
His father placed a hand over his. “Son, it was nothing personal, merely a good time.”
At Calahan’s continued silence, the older man studied his son’s face. Sudden realization dawned in his piercing blue eyes.
“Good heavens, boy, you can’t have fallen in love with her!”
Calahan pulled away from his father’s touch. “Well what if I had? What good does it do me now, knowing she’s been with everyone I know?”
“Cal,” his father’s voice was gentle, “She is a whore.”
Calahan rolled his eyes, his voice choked by sarcasm. “No kidding?”
“What I mean to say is she is a prostitute. We bought her for you for your birthday.” His father’s expression was filled with pity, and he patted Calahan’s arm, frowning. “I’m sorry, son. We thought you knew.”
With that, the old man wandered off into the crowd and Calahan stared after his father, disgust mingling with hate and whiskey in his churning gut. As Crowley’s accent carried over the crowd he gritted his teeth and stormed out onto the balcony of the lushly appointed hotel. He caught Cherry’s eye as he passed by her, and a small frown curled the corners of her perfectly drawn red lips.
The combination of being away from the party-goers and the chill of the night air cleared his anger only slightly, and he glared over the railing of the balcony into the glittering few electric lights mingling with gaslight below. He heard the latch of the French doors click behind him and he sighed, expecting Cherry to approach him with excuses. Instead his brother touched his shoulder.
The angry words meant for Cherry died on Calahan’s lips at the sight of his sibling. The younger man seemed upset by something, and the signs of laudanum addiction colored his pale features. This was a new addition to a chaotic repertoire of drug use.
“Billy?” Calahan said in way of greeting.
“Cal.” His brother stared over the railing with fever eyes and pulled at his clothes as if they didn’t fit quite right.
“Are you feeling,” Calahan paused, unable to say the word he had intended ‘anything’, instead substituting, “unwell?”
“You can say that, I suppose.” He spun to face Calahan and his elder brother stepped back as if physically assaulted by the mania creeping into his voice.
“I think you’ve had too much to drink,” Calahan said, voice quiet so as not to upset the delicate balance of his brother’s mood. On a typical day the young man’s behavior was erratic, partly due to his mental state and partly as a result of his self-medication.
Billy laughed and shook his head. “The problem is, Cal, I have not yet had enough to drink!” He stared at the lights below for a moment, his voice dreamy when he at last asked, “Have you spoken with Crowley yet?”
Read the entire story in
WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014
James Glass enjoys his privacy, but frequently finds that he plays an unwilling host to Xircon. When not visiting red light districts of red light cities, he can frequently be found contemplating life in the seediest of libraries.