from a cold sweat left standing in the room with no windows, no windows or doors! i couldn't believe the air, nor the doorman who told me, "there is nothing today." agape, my mouth, a dry film of silt coating my teeth. i walked out into the night air, the chill flush through my veins, and pulled tight my coat. the moon juice reflected dripped off the branches of oak trees stretching menacingly to the black blanket abyss of uncertainty. i called my carriage and when it came around i stepped into pitch, and a burning sensation filled the box. my driver turned, "where to, sir, on this night?" i pondered what these trees meant, these sighs, hoofmarks on the stone. "calvary rd. northwest," i offered. it didn't matter, really. the clop of hoofs on the cobblestones beneath.
* * *
there wasn't anything striking about her face, but she carried her lace-cloaked frame with an air strong enough to knock you into the wind.
"Sir," she said quietly, "please come in."
I took off my hat and transferred from stone to glazed wood and porcelin, oriental rugs, and heat. the butler came to take my coat.
"Please sit," she told me, and I folded my tired frame into a loveseat, and was soon enveloped in velvet.
"When you told me about my father, I had to stop and think, "what a curious thing to say! 'so and so does not exist any longer, is not breathing. has expired.' she was gently stoic, and i took tea to keep my breath from escaping me too rapidly.
"I am sorry. Your father was a good friend of mine and a great man."
"Yes," she said, narrowing her eyes and taking a sip from the delicate porcelin cup she held with two fingers. She sat back, and lit a cigarette. "It is curious, though, his death. how you found him? i was not close with my father. I imagine if I was I would much more horrified indeed."
"It was a terrible accident," I said. I felt a quiver in my voice but swallowed it with another taste of tea.
Madam Bogart leaned in. "Tell me," she said "tell me again how it happened. I figure I should know, if I should be forced to explain how my father..."
A loud slam interrupted her sentence, and looking behind me I could see the front door had swung open by a whipping wind. It made me nervous, the unpredictability of nature.
* * *
If the dead had an army, they would surely conquer us by their sheer numbers. Many would exact revenge for wrongful deaths, murders, executions. Others would fix themselves on reuniting with those they had been torn away from. The older generation in these parts say the wind follows on the heels of those spirits looking for a portal through to this world. I don't believe any of it. I cannot; I would never sleep again.
The butler came and closed the door and bolted the latch (which had been bolted in the first place). Mme. Bogart never moved, but followed the door closing with her eyes.
"When I first met your father, we attended a lecture together given by the late Sir Edmund Hillary after he had made his first ascent of Mt. Everest. Your father was fascinated by the sport. He used to say, "A man who has conquered a mountain is no longer subject to the laws of men." He was a great admirirer of Sir Edmund, and when we had the chance to meet him after the lecture, your father wasted no time in asking Hillary how he might join the ranks of men such as himself. Sir Edmund revealed a queer smile and laughed to himself before answering him. "It's quite simple, really. You have to live!" Unfortunately, Madame, your father was unable to do so against the wretched forces of nature."
Mme. Bogart stared at me with fixed eyes for a time, with uncomfortably rapt attention. "Yes, nature is a bit of a freak thing, don't you think Sir Lawrence?" She stubbed out her cigarette and left the room.