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somerset1979

Wow!! :D

Thanks for all the nice words guys. So I got the next piece here ready to go.

Skywise and Bearclaw in jail!


Part Two - The inside looking out.

The knock on the door jam was enough to stir him. In the past he would have smelled the human’s approach, but that was so long ago. A time he looked back on with a smile, unlike some in the mansion. As amazing as it sounded he missed sleeping in Father Tree with the stale air on a summer’s night. Now, surrounded by luxury sitting on a leather couch in the study, he just longed for that old tree and all its smells and scents. Leetah was sitting up against him in her night gown still reading one of the many scripts that were delivered on a regular basis to the house. As usual she would read them all, ask some opinions, and then pick the one that no one would have guessed.

It was pure Leetah.

He was dressed in his white slacks and grey sweater trying to enjoy the paper and the quiet from the twins. He loved his daughter and son, but then he also loved the quiet of a morning when the two would sleep in. The morning ritual of breakfast and then attending to the business of the compound with the Elders though was long gone today. The news came the usual way, by message from one of the tribe-

Wait”¦there wasn’t a tribe anymore”¦that was all in the past too.

“Mr.Cutter?”

It was Adar, what some saw as the butler, but was so much more to the elves. Without him and Nonna they might have never made it this far. Cutter stood up from the couch slowly as Leetah leaned away. She was watching him closely”¦he didn’t need his hearing to know that.

“News Adar?”

“It’s Mr. Strongbow on the phone. He’s at the station working on both problems.”

Problems”¦it was hard to think of him as a problem.

“Good, I’ll take it here.” Cutter said walking over to the phone hidden in the wall behind an ornate door that meshed with the wall, just another perk of living with a treeshaper.

Cutter took the phone as Leetah watched and Adar left. He nodded and spoke sparingly then hung up and closed the door. He walked back to the couch and sat down next to her picking up his paper. The TM Gazzette was just a distraction. She could tell he was thinking of him”¦and maybe the other one.

“What’s the good news?” She asked looking over.

“Strongbow is down there getting him out before something worse happens,” was all Cutter offered with a smile.

“Something worse?”

“It’s the TMPD Leetah. If they haven’t all ready beaten him for just being an elf then they’ll find a reason.”

“They’re not that bad beloved and Skywise can take care if himself.” Leetah sighed leaning up against his shoulder.

“I can’t take that chance Leetah. He’s my brother.” Cutter whispered.

“If the elders let him leave then don’t you think you should?”

Maybe Cutter thought”¦maybe it was time to stop this ”˜brother in blood’ pact? Skywise chose to leave the compound and all its ”˜amenities’ for the city. He chose to walk away and live another life.

Maybe it was time to let go?

******************************

The lights overhead had an annoying hum. You know the one where it sounds like a big brown fly going in and out of your head, and that was killing him with his hangover. The room was ice cold and smelled of fresh strong ammonia laced with urine”¦and blood. Whose Skywise wasn’t sure? This room wasn’t made for comfort. The chair was steel with no padding in the seat and the back was like leaning on a girder. A large black two-way window reflected his face back to him. The table he sat at was marred and scarred from the previous occupants with long fingernail scratches that were dug into the hardwood of its top. Someone didn’t go quietly Skywise thought. Someone didn’t want to go at all.

A thick hand with sausage fingers began to drum on the table top amid all those scars and scratches. Skywise looked up to see the human sitting across from him, a look of hate and disgust plastered allover his face, and wondered if he was the one responsible for those long fingernail scratches. Skywise smiled at him, but the human didn’t smile back

Tabak never smiled.

He worked homicide, though solving a murder was the last thing this guy did. Tabak was a monster, pure hate poured into tanned skin, and his only reason for having a job with the TMPD was breaking what or who ever he was told to. Those large fingers drumming to a tune only Tabak could hear were just as scarred as the table top. It came from the knuckle bone hitting another bone so hard it shattered, usually a cheek or a tooth. There was a rumor that the TMPD had a place out on the outskirts of town, an old motel, where the detective plied his special talent. Tabak sighed and spoke with a voice that sounded like a foot being dragged through a pile of gravel.

“You don’t live up in the compound with the other cones?”

Skywise coughed trying to hide his laugh. Cones”¦it was a derogatory remark about the Elders and the way they looked when they first came to the Abode. “No, I live off the strip”¦in a rat’s nest.”

“I don’t think so,” Tabak replied after stopping his fingers, “I think you live in a nice place.”

“What makes you think that?”

“The way you dress, look. I bet you have a nice place with pictures on the wall and a big recliner and a radio.”

“Nope, farthest thing from the truth officer, I swear.”

“Uh-huh,” Tabak nodded before asking another question, “That compound the other cones live in”¦it’s next to Lake Thornwood right?”

“Yeah,”

“Yeah, I’ve been on that lake a few times.”

I bet you have Skywise thought. It was large and deep and the perfect place to rid you of a problem. There were a few bodies wearing size 30 pound cement shoes at its bottom courtesy of Detective Tabak the PI was sure. As a matter of fact, that old motel the TMPD made visits to was just a hop skip away from the lake. What evil things went on there only a few knew.

Convenient Skywise thought looking over his shoulder. Behind him, just a few inches higher than his head, was a large brown spot. It looked a lot like dried blood.

“Hey, you ever run into Joey Styles?”

Now that was a blast from the past, a real lighting shot. Joey was a small time gangster who ran various scams and ”˜businesses’ from some bars out in the hills. He liked loan sharking and the protection racket. He liked them so much he tried to move the business out of the hills and down into town, just a small step, nothing much. He started to make some money, a name, and a lot of noise. Joey forgot the rules though; don’t go taking food from someone else’s plate unless you got the muscle to do it. One night poor Joey went walking out of the Formosa and was never seen again”¦sort of.

“Yeah, I saw him down at Mike’s a couple of times. He had a loud mouth and a pile of money that was burning a hole in his pockets.” Skywise answered turning back

“You know, he sat in that very seat the afternoon before he went missing.”

“Really?” Skywise responded nervously shifting in his chair. The threat was understood, at anytime he could simply disappear like old Joey.

“Yeah.” Tabak grinned with half his mouth. The detective knew as well as everyone else that Joey was dead, probably floating in the middle of Lake Thornwood with his feet incased in a tub of cement while his arms slowly moved with the current reaching for the surface he’d never see again.

“I heard one of his guys got a picture in the mail. Joey’s face looked like one of those grilled burgers you get from Korilla’s” Skywise offered.

“Really?” Tabak replied losing the grin, trading it for a confused expression that was all a job.

That was it! All of this, it was more than Skywise could stand. It all reeked of a setup and now here he was being teased with. Oh no, it was time to turn this all round. “You didn’t hear? The word on the street is Joey called some TMPD detective’s wife he ran into down on the boulevard a real hag. They said Joey called her a ”˜horse’ face and everyone around got a good laugh.”

The corners of Tabak’s mouth turned down with obvious displeasure.

“Hey, how’s the wife these days detective?” Skywise asked with a grin of his own.

Tabak didn’t answer and his frown only smoldered along with his grey eyes. Skywise felt the table move a second before the screech of its wood legs signaled movement. He saw the look in the detective’s eyes and thought maybe it wasn’t a good idea to poke the bear with a stick. Maybe he just bought a one way trip to the bottom of Lake Thornwood with cement shoes? Tabak stood up and began to reach inside his brown tweed coat, probably for a sap. Guys like the detective preferred the hands on approach to using the 38 the TMPD issued.

“I wouldn’t do anything to our friend there.”

Skywise had never been so happy to hear Kureel’s voice. He sighed as Tabak turned and stared at his fellow detectives who stood there. “What’s so special about this cone?”

“We need to ask him a few questions about a female elf in his bathtub. The Captain and the DA want to close this one fast, keep Mayor Voll quiet.” Kureel answered while chewing a piece of gum.

Voll, Mayor of Two-Moons. It still sounded weird, an elf taking the office of Mayor from a human. But with Winnowill at his side there seemed to be nothing the old bird couldn’t accomplish”¦to the frustration of the Elders.

“The Mayor? I didn’t vote for the cone.” Tabak hissed walking to the door.

“I’ll make sure to pass it along through the grapevine.” Kureel spat stepping to the side to let Tabak pass.

“Yeah, we’ll pass it along!” Reevol grinned with a wink and the matchstick still in his mouth.

“You know,” Tabak spat stopping right in front of Reevol and leaning down going now to nose with the elf, “one day you cones are gonna learn who has the juice in this town and who doesn’t”¦one day real soon too.”

Reevol didn’t answer Tabak as the human walked off. From the look on his face he didn’t have the insides to do it Skywise judged, and the PI didn’t blame him. He leaned forward on the table as Kureel closed the door then walked over and sat down in the chair Tabak had been in. Reevol sat on the edge of the table with one leg on and one off.

“Whoo, you must like living dangerous Skywise if you jerking on Tabak’s chain.” Reevol whistled.

“He was just trying to scare me, right? I mean that’s not really Joey’s is it?” The PI asked with a nod of his head to the

Reevol only grinned and shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe?”

Kureel had opened a long manila folder on the top, the kind you keep police reports in, read a few lines in silence, and then hit Skywise with a question. “Why’d you kill her?”

“I didn’t.” Skywise snapped.

“How would you know? You suddenly remember?” Reevol joined in.

“No”¦I don’t remember anything still.”

“Then how do you know you didn’t kill her?” Kureel followed fast, not letting a second of silence slip by.

Damn, they were coming at him fast now, trying to trip him up. Skywise bore down, focused his throbbing head to keep up. If he slowed with an answer then they’d take it as a sign of guilt and he was all ready in deep enough.

“I know I didn’t kill her.”

“Let’s step back”¦how did you two meet?” Kureel said looking down to the file.

“I don’t remember.”

“Now that’s convenient.” Reevol popped off.

Skywise shot him a hard look as Kureel kept up with the questions. “Yeah, you said you were at the Formosa and then Tommy’s.”

“Yeah.”

“So how do you remember being at those two bars, but then forget about the pretty little girl that tagged along?”

“I don’t know, maybe she slipped me a mickey or something in my drink.”

Kureel looked over to Reevol then back to Skywise. “A girl usually has to slip you a mickey to get you into bed?”

“No,” Skywise remarked while throwing his thumb in Reevol’s direction, “but I ran into a girl who took a mickey after sleeping with Reevol.”

That grin the detective wore went straight, just like his hand as it dipped into his jacket for the sap again. And there he was again, poking the bear with a stick”¦jerking on the chain of the dog with the biggest bite. Kureel held up his hand stopping his partner before speaking with a smile.

“So you don’t remember a thing still.”

“No,”

“Not how you two hooked up, where you hooked up, or how you met?”

“No,”

“No conversations concerning, oh say, her past?”

Her past? What kind of a question was that?

“I don’t remember her name or her past or any words she said Detective.”

“Well that’s real bad stargazer, cause that might have saved you a lot of trouble and pain.” Reevol stated standing up from the table with that smug grin.

“I don’t think so.” Skywise fired back.

“Really?” Kureel asked raising an eyebrow at the statement.

“I think if you had anything on me the DA would be in here personally questioning me with five different lawyers. Aramak doesn’t miss a chance to rub a little dirt in the Elders face when he gets the chance so I don’t think the DA or your Captain knows I’m in here.”

“But you said you don’t stay in the compound anymore? Why would the DA care for someone who’s been kicked to the side unless he wanted to keep Voll quiet?” Kureel cut in.

“Yeah, and everyone knows if you don’t stay in the compound you don’t get their help.” Reevol added just like the puppet he was.

They were right, you leave the house and all the help disappears with you. The Elders don’t help with their knowledge, their money, or their influence. You simply get cut off and that’s that. Skywise didn’t think about that though, he had the two on the run and he wanted to keep it that way. A gambler in the back rooms of Tommy’s once told him that you could tell you had the poker game won and the pot in hand when the other players started to look nervous. They’d twitch or lick their lips or any other ”˜tell’, but the one he always kept an eye out for was the bluff. Some green wick would always try and scare you off he said, but if you felt like the cards were yours then you call em and watch em fall.

“That folder looks a little light detective and you’ve got no notes from the crime scene or a booking sheet. My guess, you don’t plan on holding me or have any record of me being here and as soon as I walk out the door that folder and what’s in it goes in the trash.”

Then suddenly Reevol slammed both his hands on the table and growled trying to intimidate. “Who says you’re leaving? If we didn’t tell anyone you were here how’s anyone gonna know you left?”

Skywise just grinned at the show, it was nothing more than just that, and if you don’t have the juice to back it up its worthless. You call the bluff. He looked at Reevol for a second then turned back to Kureel still grinning.

“If you’re going to arrest me for having a dead body in my tub then do it, but stop trying to scare me. You two aren’t good enough to sweat me.”

That was it, all the cards were showing. And from the look on Kureel’s face, his eyes, there wasn’t much to say. Then the door to the room opened and the captain of the TMPD Homicide unit, one Zey. Yep, the bad luck just kept pilling up. The elf may have looked peaceable in his brown coat and black slacks with wingtips, but he was as bad as they come Skywise knew. There was a reason he got to be Captain of Homicide and it wasn’t due to the Elders or Voll and his silver tongue. There was a trail of blood behind Zey a mile long and a mile wide. Skywise suddenly wondered if Tabak called Zey a cone.

“You two, cut him loose, and then come see me.”

The hum from the lights overhead was the only sound now, the only noise anyone could hear in the room. No response from Kureel or Reevol. Zey looked at them all for a minute, or what felt like an hour, before closing the door. Skywise breathed a sigh of relief, or just a small puff. He wasn’t clear of this yet, not by any stretch. The two detectives got up, Kureel took the useless folder while Reevol spat.

“Stand up so I can get the cuffs off.”

He didn’t say a word as the metal bracelets popped off, just kept his mouth shut as Reevol took them and put em in his coat pocket. Now, the stargazer thought walking out of the room, he had to figure out just who was behind this or he could be in real trouble up to his neck.

******************************

His heart raced. His fingers jerked in the cuffs that were held tightly to his side by the chain wrapped around his waist. His legs were shackled at the ankle hobbling him, confining him to the metal bench he sat on. The anger in his chest began to rise into his throat with an acidic taste. Someone cried out down the down the hall of cells about hurting, about bleeding.

If he doesn’t shut it Bearclaw thought fighting to keep himself under control, then I’m going to break him into two pieces. The scuffling sound of expensive wingtips and the swish of fine cloth caught Bearclaw’s attention. He looked over to the bars to see the one elf he had hoped to pass on for the rest of his life. Strongbow only looked back with his smug look and ponytail dressed in an expensive hand tailored suit.

“I see Moonshade still dresses you.”

The lawyer looked back and sent, the way he always chose to hold a conversation. And I see you still like making a fool of yourself.

“Aww, now I expected more from someone so well educated and ”˜refined’ as yourself.” Bearclaw laughed choosing to emphasize the part about the lawyer’s looks.

Well, how about this then? Strongbow smiled reaching into his leather satchel and then producing a bundle. He placed it in between the bars of the jail cell still smiling.

Bearclaw recognized the letters immediately. It didn’t take much to assume they were the ones he had sent to his son”¦his wife. And it didn’t take much to see most if not all were still closed. He looked at those and felt a sudden wave of pain as Strongbow sent.

You were cast out and I know you know what that means. No more communication from anyone inside the compound. All your letters stop at the door. All your phone calls stop at Adar as ordered.

Yeah”¦he knew what that meant.

No more calls. No more letters. You are gone and forgotten.

Gone”¦forgotten”¦nothing but memories floating in the mist he thought looking down to the dirty floor of the cell.

The Elders, Haken, wants to ensure you understand this. Do you?

“Is Cutter still leading them?” Bearclaw whispered.

It may have been the look of it all, the fact a once proud fighter was reduced to sitting barefoot in a cell chained up like an animal that made Strongbow ease up. He sighed and nodded as he sent.

Yes, he still leads us. It was a unanimous vote at the last twenty year meeting.

A unanimous vote”¦that was his boy”¦so much better than he ever could be. “And Joyleaf, how’s she doing?”

She misses you”¦but she won’t show it.

He leaned his head back till it touched the wall and smiled. At least they were good. At least they were strong. “Go ahead lawyer and get gone. You delivered the message so your job’s done.”

And it was done. Strongbow knew enough about Bearclaw to know that he wouldn’t talk again. The conversing was done. Like he said, the message had been delivered. The Lawyer stood for a second looking at Bearclaw remembering a time when the elf was someone to be respected and loved.

Maybe those days were gone? He wasn’t sure, all he knew was the Elders had cast him out and Bearclaw wasn’t allowed back. No one would help him get out of this mess, no money and no influence and no favors. Gone and Forgotten. Strongbow picked up his satchel and left out the door going to make sure Skywise was being released. His job here was done. After a minute, after he was sure the lawyer was gone, Bearclaw pulled his head down and looked over to the bundle. He rose from the bench slow and shuffled over to the ribbon held bundle fighting back the anger and the pain.

Gone and forgotten”¦

When his fingers touched them, when his rough skin rubbed the paper envelopes, he felt his heart break. He pulled the bundle to his side not knowing why or what he was going to do with it. The letters were to them, words he could never say in person”¦to her”¦to him. Bearclaw turned away from cell bars and started for the bench feeling hollow and empty, like someone had carved a valley out of his soul.

He heard the cell door open.

He turned to see them coming for him, a rather large evil looking Tabak in the lead.

A few months back he put two TMPD beat walkers in the hospital for trying to break open his skull. It was time for payback. As the fist hit and the saps fell like rain on him Bearclaw kept the bundle tucked away safe from it all. Somewhere in the midst of the beating he fell unconscious protecting the letters.