Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Lark McKissic's two thousand dollar business suit and eight hundred dollar high heels were a unnecessary for her work in Florida. In a few hours she would be in club that encouraged beach wear and skin. Lark ignored the hotel manager and hit a few number on her iphone. As the elevator in the lobby of the $225 a night Kasmir Cove High Rise Condominiums waited, she spoke "Melissa, this is Lark McKissic. I'm in from New York for a few days checking on a couple of clients. I need your boutique's touch. Care to send yourself and a few ensembles over. I'll make it worth your whole Wednesday and Thursday." The elevator opens. She hears what she wants to hear, and steps in to go to the 19th floor suite. Lark estimated she had an hour or so before Melissa brought half her shop over and then annoyed her with inane gossip and general chit chat. Lark decided to get some information that she actually needed. She called the Inkwell again. Mallory Powell had just returned from her curious journey and her co-worker Bonnie handed her the phone, "it's some woman, says you want to talk to her about something important." Mallory paused then took the receiver from Bonnie and guessed "You again? Maybe I should give you my cell number." Mallory shooed Bonnie away from the front counter for more privacy. Lark answered, "Why, are we girlfriends, Mallory? Want to go shopping or talk about boys? Let's brass tax this situation. What have Dean and Silas discussed?" Mallory was giving sarcasm, in large doses to her tormenter, "Booby glitter." Lark was wondering if she could emply the same otherworldy tactics the man in the black suit could, then she decided her brain made a better weapon. "You probably checked on mom and she was a okay with the stud muffin in her apartment. Won't be long til good ole mom is back in coke, meth, liquor and mutliple boy Fridays, and Saturdays, and Sundays." Mallory was not only offended but low on insults, "Listen you vile bitch, you...." Lark interrupts, "Mallory, I don't have time to laugh at your dissassociative personality. Plus, you're turning me on slightly, and I don;t like where that's going. Fill me in on what Dean and Silas have done in the past hour or so, then, I'll do the rest." Mallory meekly replied, "Dean gave him a tattoo of a rising phoenix on Silas' ribcage. It's a cool design. It's yellow, gothic, and flamy. Then  they went over to Applebees and talked about music and boobs. It was epic in it's testosterone level." Lark responded, "Thank you Mallory. Nice doing business with you. Expect your mom to have some good luck with her weekly finances this week." Lark hung up the phone, Mallory felt nauseous and wrong.

Mallory sent Dean a text to his phone, telling him about his afternoon appointments. Silas' manager, Colin Cooke, texted him about band rehearsal and band interviews. As Dean and Silas stood outside the Applebees soaking in the mid afternoon sun, Dean shook Silas' hand and said "i'll be there tonight. I'll be bringing a friend, hope that's ok." Silas laughed and said "as long she is a she, bring two of them. See you tonight Dean, this has been an excellent experience, from the tattoo to the conversation. As Silas walked away, Dean again felt the cold sensation over his back. Whatever it was, Dean decided to headback to work and face it head on.

Social Distortion music filled the store speakers and that provided some comfort to Dean as he stepped back into the place. Mallory ignored him, but that was normal, he thought. He asked Bonnie who his next appointment was, she looked at the ledger and read out "Penelope, any minute now." Dean thought about that name for a second and wondered if it could be her. Someone he knew twenty years earlier. He walked in his office, and Kevin yelled at the top of his lungs, DEAN, YOUR APPOINTMENT IS HERE!" Dean considered firing Kevin on principle, but he distracted himself when he saw "Penelope" walk into the room. "Hello Dean, forgive me for not calling, but I'm a busy woman these days." Lark McKissic sat down on the big chair and took off her light tan jacket, revealing a while tank top. "What in the hell do you want,?" Dean asked rudely. Lark smiled, and took in Dean's stress. Instead of dominating the moment, she fed Dean's ego and waited for her moment to pounce. "I want the rose surrounded by briars and vines on the bloodsugarsexmagik album cover. You know that's one of my favorite records. Leave out the faces of the band guys, just the rose and the vines. I'll take it on my left side rib cage. I hear that's a popular area. I enjoy the hottest trends, even if the tattoo is of something over twenty years old." Dean was neither excited about the ink nor enjoying Lark phony good mood. He figured Lark wouldn't be here if it weren't for Silas Bane and the man in the black suit. He decided to see where this situation took both of them. Dean said "I'm assuming you can afford this, so, I'm going to drop a lot of detail in the piece. I won't take less than $500." Lark smiled and replied, "sold. You could sell ice and penicillin to an Eskimo with the clap, Dean. Let's do this." The fake flattery and ridiculous frivolity only enraged Dean. He knew Lark was there to play him, pry him, and screw him over. He would wait for the real punchline.

Several minutes went by, when Bonnie came into the room. Dean, normally pleasant to his employees, barked, "busy Bon, come back in an hour, maybe more!" Offended by his impoliteness but wary of the imposing brunette in his chair, Bonnie shyly said, "Evelyn is here. What should I tell her?" Dean acted like he didn't hear her, and Lark broke the tension, "Have her come back her, Bon.  I'd like to meet her." Dean shut off the ink gun, ripped off his gloves, and grabbed Bonnie by the arm, leaned into her, and said "do whatever you can to get Evelyn to leave. I have my reason. Use Mallory. Evelyn loves her. She will listen to Mal. I can't talk to anyone right now." Bonnie could feel his grip tightening, it hurt. She had never seen the boss so out of sorts. Bonnie left the room. Dean turned to Lark and commanded "you don't talk to my people, here. Now, tell me what is going on, now. Then we'll figure out a way for you to leave this shop, this state, and if I can make the right phone calls, this country!" Lark saw the escalation and knew it was time to reel Dean into her plan. "Sit down Dean. Finish the tattoo. I really want it. Right now I have dead vines on the side of my stomach." Dean replied, "everything on, in and around you is dead, you vampire." Lark tried again, I'm here for the same reason you are, Dean. He came to see my too. While I may be more interested in the business part of this situation, I need a healthy, clear minded, focused, artitistic Silas Bane just as much as you do. He probably makes you feel enthused, intrigued, even youthful. Silas Bane could be the benchmark of my career. So, finish the tattoo and let's talk. Just talk, I promise." Dean didn't believe a word she said and answered, "You're a liar. The word promise is lie in your mouth right now. Fine, but I get the first question. "Are you working for him or just trying to figure out a way to not end up dead by him?" Lark realized she had common ground with Dean, at least when it came to the man in the black suit. "The ladder, definitely the ladder", she confessed. Dean put more gloves and started the gun back up. The buzz combined with the pain and Lark began breathing in a rhythm she could talk without distraction. She made her move, "He thinks I get him professionally and you can get him personally. As long as we make him believe that ,we can manipulate the deal until we can figure out something that benefits us." Dean said nothing and continued drawing the outline of the tattoo. He knew she was lying. "Dean, you may be tortured and pissed off and even miserable but I have everything I want. I don't even need Silas Bane or Agent Tangelo, much less him." This enraged Dean further but tattoing centered  him during stress and he just kept going. How dare she care so little about a band, their music, and the dreams artists had. He was reliving something from twenty years ago and the personally trained abdomen of Lark McKissic became his outlet to vent. "I know you were with Silas. He's the only kid in that group of Orlando boozehounds that knows what they want out of the music business. I want to see him succeed but I'd rather not be involved. I even told Gotham to have the underground label manage them but no one is listening to me right now. If I run this game, Agent Tangelo will lose a lot of their indy goodwill and end up like your band. You don't want that do you?" Dean stopped drawing and turned it off a moment. "What is that supposed to mean?", he asked. Lark knew she had his attention. Dean was so emotional about music, about the art of it all, she could convince him to help her "save" Agent Tangelo artistic soul, while their mutual ominous friend went after Silas Bane's other soul. Lark said, "Silas doesn't have a significant other like you did. No muse for his poetry. That's how he got you, wasn't Dean? That sweet, little brown eyed girl that kept you sober and on time?" Dean fumed, but started with the color in the rose. Blood, began to run with the ink, and in between dabs of paper towel, Lark saw the tattoo come together and Dean come around to her way of thinking. "There's no need to bring her up, ok. She's been gone for a long time.", Dean reasoned. Lark knew the tattoo was almost done so she got to the point. "Help me manage Agent Tangelo throughout the signing process. Name your fee. You want me to buy the lease on this property for 5 years? Done. Want me pay off your loan for your beachhouse? Done. Want a decent Jeep as opposed to that relic with a leaky radiator in the parking lot. Done. Just help get this group in the game and I'll make your life a hell of a lot easier." Dean was finished with the tattoo. It looked better than he'd hope. It would have made him happy to see such a put together woman walking around with crappy ink work but he had channeled all that hate into something well done. Blood began to spill around the edges of the piece. He ignored it, and looked into Lark's steel blue laser like pupils and said, "You are even worse that I imagined. You know you can't take any of this material garbage with you, right? Or did you get to live forever for being his bitch? By the crow's feet around your eyes and the saggy waitlines I'm guessing not." Lark was impressed with Dean's diatribe. It meant nothing to her. She just stared harder. Dean continued, "You have everything I despise. Silas is an artist. He may be too distracted by boobs and booze but if he could avoid you and the other freaks at Gotham he might actually become something beautiful. The reality is he can't avoid any of you. His band is begging to be rock stars. Silas wants more than drunk Florida chicks listening to his music. I'll help you. Yes to every one of your offers. I don't even have conditions. Well, one, answer this question for me. "How much blood do you have on your hands?" Lark looked down at her left side and noticed the blood huddled around her ribs. She took her left thumb and rubbed some of the redness away and into her mouth. Licking the blood proudly, she sighed and said to Dean, "not as much as you do. All of my victims are alive." Dean removed his gloves, slammed the door, and walked to the front of the store. he yelled at Mallory "Five hundred bucks, I'll be back later!" He walked out the door of the shop. Bad Religion's Infected played over the shop's speakers.

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