Typical Sunday rain, Ben thought.
He was driving down the highway going a bit too fast. A good ride always seemed to clear his head. He zoomed passed cars and weaved between them receiving many fingers as tokens of appreciation. Darry is the worst, he thought as he passed someone screaming at him through glass.
Darry was home to a different type of person, the type of person who would get pissed and yell, but would never do a damn thing about it. They could complain all day up and down left and right, but by the time the sun had set and the stars twinkled in the sky nothing would have changed. And he hated Darry because of this exact fact, but mostly because he fit right in.
Time and time again Ben complained about Darry and about how he was going to leave and never go back. He was going to go back home, to New York, to America. Where people will smash into you when you cut them off. Where people act instead of just sitting on their hands while their mouths move. Although, the more he complained the less he was inclined to do anything about it. I should just get the hell out of here, he thought for the zillionth time. Drive somewhere else. No one would know where I was. I could be free. The thoughts were there but that was all.
One time about four years ago he did run away. Took his bike to a train station got a ticket and made his way to Alister, but then he realized he couldn’t get a hotel anywhere because he was underage. So, he camped out at the train station and within three hours Noah was there with that annoying look on his face: disappointment.
I could deal with it a little more if he’d just get out of my ass. It was a common thought he had too. Noah seemed to make it a personal goal to keep both of his eyes on Ben at all times. Ben was pretty sure he was paying the guys to watch him while he was gone. To make sure he didn’t drink to much or make sure he didn’t sleep around too much, and to make sure he didn’t spend too much money. And did they have a lot of that.
Until they moved to Darry Ben had never known that his mother was well off. In fact, he thought she might have been dead. At least that was what he told himself. Noah was honest with him, but Ben always wanted it to be that she died or was dying and needed to give them up not because she was being selfish or something, but because it was the right thing to do. It made it hurt a little less that way. Though it had never been true.
Rain splattered down from the grey sky much heavier now causing Ben to throw on his wipers. They swished and threw the rain around clearing his vision. As a kid Ben had liked the rain. At one of the better orphanages he had a slim memory of splashing through puddles with his brother and some of the other kids. They had been kicked out of that one cause of little room. Ben remembered crying about that. His love for rain had grown much weaker since then. It would send him into a melancholy of broken dreams and faded memories torn and stained. And that new sadness for rain only turned into hatred when they moved to Darry. It was all it did: rain, rain, rain.
Ben took an exit at the right and ahead into the town square. It was small little thing. Though there were many tented shops and markets. There was a Catholic church with a looming steeple that Zachariah would attend every Sunday. The magician is probably there now, Ben thought as he drove passed it.
He passed a small book store, a little diner, and a coffee shop. It had been that coffee shop where he had met...Susie? No, Mary...or was it Amy?, his brain racked through names but nothing came to him. He finally decided that her name was must have been Susie.
Ben had been drinking his normal coffee when he saw her behind the counter. A shockingly bright blond with deep wide set hazel eyes. A slim waist with just enough hip to grab unto with firm hands. Ben smiled in his cup, it’s warmth watering his eyes. When it came to women his mind would cloud and another hungrier side of him would emerge. He took a last sip and walked to the counter.
“Are you doing anything tonight?” he said with a slight stutter.
The barista looked at him with her big eyes and smiled, “Why? You want to take me somewhere?”
Oh, god this is going to be too easy. “Um, well, it’s one of the last performances for Sinclair’s Circus tonight maybe you would like to go...with me.” Timidness was his charm and his smile was his weapon. He gave it to her and her eyes flickered.
“Well, they’re pretty good. I haven’t been in years,” she told him.
“Why not?” he laughed, acting a little insulted.
“No, time. I work and have a life,” she giggled. “What’s it to you?”
Ben smiled wide, “I own it.” His grey-purple eyes danced in her hazel and later that night she went to the show with him.
It had been a show and fuck he had seen and had a hundred times. Nothing exciting or different. After the show had ended he took her straight back to the mansion, she had gapped and laughed at its size. He led her up the stairs and into his room and there they had spent the night entangled in one another. Ben had left her asleep when he set out on his drive. He asked Nigel to take care of her, it was a common thing he would do. Ben hated being there when they woke up.
The rain poured now and even with wipers it was still difficult to see. Ben decided to turn around and head back, which was when he saw Zachariah leaving the church. Ben rolled down the widow and shouted to him, “Hey, need a ride?” The man nodded and jumped into the car soaking wet.
“Lord, is it coming down,” he breathed, his trimmed grey beard was coated in dripping wetness.
Ben nodded, “You have a car somewhere?”
Zachariah smiled and shook his head, “I walk. It is my way of exercise and my way of transportation. The lord gave us feet I try to use them.”
Ben smiled, “Right. Well, I can let you back out in the rain if you’d like?”
The magician frowned, “If that is what you wish–”
“It was a joke, Zach, a joke,” he laughed alone.
“It is a beautiful day though, is it not?”
“Yeah, it’s gorgeous,” Ben smirked.
“Has your brother returned yet? I thought I heard the O’Toole’s discussing his arrival, but I have not yet seen him?” The old magician was not very old. In his early sixties at most. He had a trimmed grey beard, deep hallow brown eyes, a frowned mouth, a straight back, and a head full of dark brown hair that had wisps of white within its mess. The magician coughed into a handkerchief, it was green, red, blue, and purple of plaided checkers.
“Yep, he’s back. Already causing trouble,” Ben said.
“I hope not too much trouble.”
Ben rolled his eyes, You can’t do anything with this guy. “He said we head out for our tour tomorrow. That’s all I know. I didn’t ask where or how far. Still not sure if I am going yet.”
Zachariah coughed again, “You should go, Ben. The lord blessed you with success. It is a shame to not enjoy it. Besides, wouldn’t you like to see the world?”
“Yeah, sure. Thing is, who’s to say it’ll look much different than this shithole?” he said, a smirk on his face.
Zachariah winced at his cursing, “Perhaps you are right, in a sense. But more like you are wrong. You’ll never know until you go,” he smiled. He had a full set of white teeth save one black tooth deep at the back of his mouth.
Ben laughed through his nose, “True. I don’t think I want to go anywhere where I’ll have Noah sniffing up my ass.”
“The lad is only looking out for you. You’d be wise to let em’,” the magician said. “This world our lord has created is flawed I’m afraid,” he frowned. “It never hurt no soul to have an angel on his shoulder watching him and making sure he stays away from sin.”
Ben laughed, “I hate to break it to you, Zach, but I’m ninety percent sure I’m going to hell. Regardless whose looking out for me.”
Zachariah smiled. “You think you know so much for such a young person, yet I am sixty-four and I am still looking to the lord for answers and to clean my sins.”
Ben leaned his head over to Zach’s nose, “You smell that? Mixed berries. Clean as ever. All you have to do is take a shower.” Ben laughed and Zachariah chuckled to himself. He acted much older than he was.
Rain cleared when they reached the highway and the sun poked through a tasteless sky. They arrived at the mansion and walked into the house, Nigel had something flavorful in the oven. Zachariah went straight up the stairs, claiming he needed to shower before the show. That only made Ben laugh. The house was near empty save for Nigel and Zach. Everyone else was already at the tent. Either setting up or rehearsing or both. Noah would be running around for sure bossing everyone around. He’ll be in full crazy mode tonight, Ben knew. Noah had been gone for two weeks and had missed a total of ten performances. He thrives on the attention that one. Noah had left Nash in charge of ringing the show. Nashwell Teshman was the circus’ strong man and animal trainer. When Noah couldn’t preform he would take over.
Ben made his way into the kitchen. Glooming sunlight poured through large windows. Nigel was standing over the counter reading a book. He always had his nose in something.
“What’s it this time?” Ben asked, propping himself onto a stool.
The old man’s wrinkled face barely moved, “A story of war and loss,” he said placing it down.
Ben smiled, “It have a name?”
Nigel frowned, “I am afraid not.” He showed the back of the book to Ben. It had a skin of faded brown leather that had rips and tears in it from time. The old man rubbed a thumb along a torn slit in the leather. “I’m calling it War and Loss,” he said.
“Clever,” Ben smiled.
“I thought so,” the old man joked.
“What ya making?” Ben asked.
“Oh, just a small roast. I’ll be alone tonight so I dare not make anything large,” he said.
From what Noah had told Ben, Nigel Crosby had lived in Sinclair Manor his entire life. Reaching his mid-seventies now he had seen many Sinclair’s raised up from child to adult. Nigel’s mother had been maid and servant to the Sinclair family at a young age. She gave birth to two boys in that house. One had died and the other lived to grow to be Nigel. His mother, Harriet her name, was a kind homely woman. Noah claimed that their grandfather Bartimus III offered to pay for Nigel’s education, he had been the son that he never had. He also asked him to join the circus. Though after a horrible car accident that cost Nigel his left foot he chose to not join the circus and to not attend university. Ben never really understood why though.
Ben looked around the kitchen. Dimmed light sunk from the ceiling and Nigel was now pulling the roast from the oven. Nigel had a slight waddle when he walked from the prosthetic foot. “Ni’, you get lonely? Being here alone all the time? I mean, this place is huge.”
Nigel let out a whimpering sigh, “Ah, well, you would think that. Though, I have my books and my writing keeps me company.”
“You write?” Ben asked.
“Oh, yes. Been writing since I was a small boy,” he was cutting the roast now and placing slivers into a glass plate. “I had, and still like to think I have quite the imagination.” He chuckled to himself.
“What’d you write?” Ben probed.
The old man flushed, “Ah, a little this, a little that.” He waved a hand. His crow’s feet dancing with blinks.
“C’mon what are you working on?”
He placed the knife down, “A story of war and loss.” He smiled wide and grabbed a slice of meat and chewed it slowly. And went back to work.