Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Bard: Track 4 (Preview)

Behold, the fourth chapter in the five part preview for The Bard!


Track 4: The Lion and the Panther

A friend in high places: a grave underestimation
Shared admiration
A fight for closure
Blood-born brotherhood:  a shared shoulder

Armored in their own sweat, the two warriors found themselves locked in a stare down— a brief respite from the ongoing exchange of bruises.  The blonde fighter ended the stare down, charging forth fist first at a breakneck speed. The black-haired boxer dodged the blonde’s swipe, landing a quick body shot to his attacker’s left rib. He then feinted left with panther-like reflexes, drawing in his opponent with a false opening. The blonde lion bought the bait. The golden haired cat pouched, only to get his glove blocked and his chest smashed in.


The lion gasped, attempting to reclaim the oxygen that the black cat stole from his lungs. The blonde boxer chomped his mouth guard and swung hard at the panther’s solar plexus. The blow connected, dazing the black-haired contender. The kingly cat continued his assault with a savage combo, pulling off three consecutive jab’s to the panther’s side.

“Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to leave things open?” the blonde taunted, winding another punch. “That lesson would have done wonders for your boxing.”

Without warning, the panther decked the lion across the face. The punch’s power caused a reverberating thud the moment it connected with the blonde’s cheek.  

“Rather not consult women on matters of the fist,” retorted the black-haired boxer. “Judging by those slaps, I’d surmise you cannot say the same.”

The dark cat unleashed a brutal counterattack, bombing his dazed adversary with a fatal flurry of flying knuckles. The lion drew back, lifting his gloves over his face. He could cold feel the cold sweat retreating off his skin.

“Throw the towel in, friend,” the black cat taunted, showing no signs of fatigue. “You’re a bloody mess… literally.”

The blonde fighter dashed forth from the right and threw a lightning fast left hook. The panther rose his gloves to block his face, but the lion stopped his punch in midair and targeted his foe’s body instead. One after another, the blonde’s fists ate away at the panther like a swarm of locusts. The panther calmly meditated and withstood the beating. The panther proceeded to effortlessly pierce through the lion’s assault and sock him square in the lungs. The blonde clutched his chest, falling back onto the ropes. The dark-haired warrior walked up with his fist raised— poised to land the finishing blow.

“It appears I’ve exhausted my last reserve of fighting spirit,” Leon Silverman said with a warm smile, turning his back to his beleaguered opponent. “You win.”  

“LIKE HELL I DID,” Edison Locard roared, springing off the ropes.

Without looking back, Leon threw an elbow behind him and struck Edison’s temple with jarring force. The detective hit the floor. As the blonde man blacked out, he outstretched his glove to reach the billionaire’s black sneakers. The world faded away, marking yet another loss in the lion’s lifelong quest to knock the panther down from his lofty tree.

By the time Edison had came to, Leon had already changed into formal attire and was sitting outside the ring sipping a piping cup of Earl Grey.

“Decided to finally wake, have you?”

Edison wheezed, coughing up blood onto the floor of the boxing ring. The detective’s entire body ached. He felt like a stomped juice-box.

“Guess this means I lost, eh?” Edison said, prying his lead body off the floor.   

“Yet another brilliant deduction from our fair sleuth,” Leon joked as he rose from his chair. He set his teacup gently down upon a modern-artsy glass box beside his sleek steel seat.

“If only I could deduce your weakness,” the detective sighed, shedding his sweaty gloves. “Whenever we spar, it feels like I’m dueling a deity.

 “Accusing me of godliness now, Ed?” Leon asked as he threw his friend a towel. “Perhaps the blame for your loss is owed to your ‘All-American diet.’ The only variety to your pallet is whether or not you decide to 
add bacon to your hamburger.” 

“Says the living stereotype as he sips his tea,” the American retorted, squeegeeing the ocean of sweat from his body. “You do realize we were supposed to be going out for coffee… which for you means tea. What are you pre-gaming for tea-time?”

“My post-spar Earl is vital,” Leon assured. “Rather than coffee, shall we make it a lunch? I could use a bite. Bateman inked the deal with Kimimura much sooner than expected, so my evening is relatively free.”

“Fine by me,” Edison said as he climbed out of the ring. “Might be nice to sit down and talk for once, though I’m sure you’ll probably end up running off to take a call. With that Bluetooth glued to your ear you have the attention span of teenage girl. ”

“You mean your boxing coach,” Leon jibed, polishing off the last of his tea.

“If you’re going to insult my manliness you might want to retract your pinky…”

Leon shook his pinky in the air then clicked around on his smartphone. A crinkly old butler ambled over to the CEO’s side— summoned by a specially made application on the young exec’s mobile device.

“Done beating the poor out of the pauper already?” the old butler asked.

Ed smirked at the butler as he wrung the sweat out of his undershirt, allowing it to drip onto the immaculate marble floor. The pool of perspiration was yet another ploy the detective’s ongoing attempt to annoy Winston Fowl, Leon’s eldest and crankiest attendant, to death.

“Would you be so kind as fetch me a suit?“ Leon distantly asked the old butler as he opened up another custom app on his phone. “Our caffeinated conversation has been upgraded to a full-on lunch.”

“Ah yes, I’ll prepare your new Fioravanti,” said Fowl with a smile.

Fioravanti?” Silverman echoed, pointing his smartphone at the large boxing ring situated in the center of his penthouse. “Over-dressing the occasion a smidge, wouldn’t you say? A simple Armani shall suffice, Winston.”

“If you’re basing the wardrobe off the company, a t-shirt will suffice,” Fowl hissed, snatching up Ed’s sweat soaked towel.

“Um, I’m still using that…” Edison muttered.

“A delightful curmudgeon that one, but a curmudgeon nonetheless,” the CEO said as he tapped a virtual button on the screen of his phone.

Like clockwork, the mechanical whir of grinding gears sounded off. The boxing ring’s elastic ropes snapped into each of the four corner posts, each of which lowered slowly into the floor.

“I take it you don’t pay based on personality,” Ed said loudly, trying to be heard over the clacks.
“If I issued wages based on disposition, I’d be the highest paid man in the world,” Leon replied, smiling ever jubilantly.   

Once the posts were fully submerged into the floor, the hidden machinery let out a long hum then a click. The white rubber stage dipped slightly down then parted into, each side retracting to reveal more black marble underneath. The noise disappeared and so too did the arena— leaving no trace of its existence.  

“Whenever I see that ring disappear, I get how you coax so many girls up here,” Ed joked.

“Edison, I need not the disappearance of a ring to court women,” Leon laughed. “I’ll only resort to that once I get married.”

“You’ll make someone a very rich divorcee one day, Leon.”

Contrary to his joking, Edison knew that even in poverty the English Adonis could hook a supermodel at the snap of his fingers.  Six foot tall and built like an Olympian athlete, Leon Silverman had physique ripped out of every woman’s fantasies. His perfectly symmetrical face had rugged refinement. Michelangelo himself couldn’t have chiseled a better chin. With intense amber eyes and a sterling onyx coiffure, Leon exuded the class and virility of a panther— and looks were only the tip of the iceberg.

“Don’t be so jaded, friend,” Leon said, peering out the penthouse’s huge glass wall and looking down upon the lovely animation of noontime NYC. “There’s more on their minds than money. Women will surprise you if let them. Have you let any surprise you lately, Ed?”

“I’m not having this conversation,” Edison grumbled, sinking into a nearby velour couch.

“Oh come now,” Leon nudged, turning away from his lofty view. “Tell me you found yourself a lady, Ed.”

“Yeah… Christina A. Fallen,” Ed replied.

“It’s been over two years,” Leon said somberly, his perennial smile fading. “The time is ripe for romance. I’m not suggesting you replace your wife. Quite the contrary. Consider what she would desire for you. Christie would not be content knowing her death turned you into a sullen hermit.”

“The dead don’t have opinions, Leon,” said Edison, staring glumly up at the ceiling high up above his head. “I don’t see you out shopping for a new Dad.”

“Surly you jest!” Leon said with false outrage. “A boy of my age will never get adopted.”

Edison grinned, shook his head and said, “Once you’ve had the best, there’s no in point seeking out the rest.”

Leon Silverman frowned, splashed in the face by the full extent of his friend’s loss.

“If I had the best chef in the entire world and I lost his employ, should I never eat again? To never love is to never eat. To starve your soul is to admit defeat. To rob a—”

“Cool it, you’re starting to get poetic again,” Edison interrupted. “Why the devotion for turning my life into the next season of the Bachelor?”

“At the very least, attend some of my soirees,” Leon implored. “With no wingman in tow, my ability to garner women has vastly diminished.”

“Crap, I didn’t realize my isolation hurt your game,” the cop gasped. “Better grab a girlfriend before we both become sullen hermits.”

Leon glanced at his Rolex, choosing to ignore the detective’s sarcasm.

“Precisely twelve,” Leon informed. “Shall we head out?”

“What’s the rush? Thought you said your evening was clear.”

“As clear as my evenings can be,” the CEO clarified as he took his leave through an enormous door, roughly the height of two floors.

Winston Fowl entered holding a mop.

“Your rags have been prepared for you in the nearest bathroom,” he grunted.

The crinkly butler’s lower lip curled, his weary white eyebrows arched in resentment. The detective did not require Holmesian abilities to know that the butler despised him. Fowl never verbalized the source of his contempt, but Locard had a feeling that it had something to do with his inability to avenge the man’s late master and keep his current employer out of harm’s way.

“Take note of the shower,” Fowl sharply advocated, mopping up the sweat wrung from Ed’s towel. “Forgoing personal hygiene might be well enough for you, but Master Silverman has a reputation to uphold. Associating with the homeless would tarnish that reputation.”

“Swell suggestion, Alfred,” Edison thanked sarcastically. “You’re going to have to show me how all those fancy knobs work though.”

Winston Fowl flipped the mop over his shoulder and grumpily meandered off into the recesses of the colossal high-rise hacienda. Edison Locard looked around at the opulent apartment filled with Greco-Roman sculptures and bewilderingly modern furnishings. The lavishness did not end with the décor, technology ripped straight from futurist fantasy was interwoven throughout the penthouse. Untold mechanized marvels like Leon’s self-assembling boxing slept within the walls— all controlled by the touch of Leon’s phone.

“I guess hitting up McDonalds is out of the question.”

"We must land that account, so I’m personally tasking it to you.”
“There’s no pressure at all, Sully. While I’d naturally prefer success, failure certainly is a tolerable possibility.”
“Of course. If you and your team manage to pull this off— Yes, I’m aware.”

“Mr. Silverman, we’ve reached Café Gitane,” Leon’s chauffeur called out, breaking Edison Locard out of another reverie. The detective had dipped into daydreams to tune out the executive’s incessant business talk.

“Precisely, Sullivan. Use your judgment, I have the legal stuff for the Texas Turkey account on the other line.”

The chauffer patiently held the door open for Leon Silverman as he continued to ramble into his Bluetooth. Leon stuck a fold of money into his driver’s coat pocket, flashing him  a grin and a thumbs up. The man tipped his driver’s cap and nodded.

“Didn’t I tell you Apollo would make big turkey with your money?” Leon said jovially. “Heard that pun before, have you? Not surprised, I didn’t take you for a turkey.”

Edison waited a minute before letting himself out of the car, mistakenly thinking that the driver’s kindness extended beyond the writer of his checks.    

“Thanks for the thanks, I can gobble up my lunch with a smile now.”

Leon pulled his headset out and faced Edison.

“Shall we?” he asked cheerily.

“As long you are the one paying for this… stuff,” Ed muttered, less than enthused about Leon’s choice in restaurants.

Edison Locard was a man of simple tastes, and French cuisine did not fall under that category. He felt the pretentiousness was owed to its preparation— a food focusing on looks over taste. While small portions would normally be a complaint, Edison found the lack of food to be a redeeming feature— the less gruel the better. Despite his disdain, the detective stomached it time after time for Leon’s sake. It was the least he could do after all the CEO had done for the NYPD.

“What, do you think I’m made of money?” Leon protested. 

“That’s exactly what I think,” Edison said with a smirk.

The duo approached street-side patio of the quaint French eatery. To Edison’s displeasure, the two had become favorites of the wait staff. The cop speculated the favoritism was somehow correlated with his affluent friend’s generous tipping habit. Café Gitane perfectly captured the romantic old world charm of a Parisian bistro. Classy royal blue paint coated exterior of Café Gitane, serving as a chic backdrop for the quartet of tiny tables and faded pink-striped umbrellas.    

“Always with this snooty place,” Edison grumbled. “Why do we have to go here every time? You do realize Manhattan has more than just one restaurant, right?” 

“The owner is a dear friend and valued client, Renault P. Conseiller,” Leon explained, pocketing one cellphone and pulling out another. “Some of his investments have been going a bit south lately, so I’d like to show my support. The fellow runs an orphanage, you know, so you of all people—”   

“Fine, where are we sitting?” Edison asked impatiently.

“The usual spot of course,” said Leon, texting casually on his phone.

“There’s people already seated there, we can’t—”

Before Edison could even finish his sentence, the restaurant staff relocated both the patrons and their meal to the adjacent table at the speed of a NASCAR pit crew. An attractive young waitress excitedly escorted Ed and Leon to the table.  

“Totally unnecessary,” Locard sighed as he took his seat. He leaned forward and raised the menu close to his face, attempting to avoid being seen getting such outlandish preferential treatment. Leon beamed at the sweet brunette holding a notepad, not bothering to so much as glance at the menu.

“What a super surprise, seeing you guys here today,” giggled the bubbly server. “It’s been like so many weeks since ya dined with us. I started to think you two swore off French cuisine.”

If only,” Ed muttered under his breath.

“Oh, how silly of me,” the waitress lamented in her cutesy, child-like voice.  “I’m just babbling on and I didn’t even bother to say my name or the soup du jour.”   

Edison cringed. The babyish waitress’s saccharine disposition practically gave him diabetes.

“Why not waive formalities, Dania?” Leon said suavely. “A beautiful face requires but one introduction.” 

“Aww, that was so sweet,” Dania cooed. “Well in that case, how can I help you?”  

“The sight of you is already doing wonders,” Leon said as he gazed deeply into the waitress’s eyes.

“The sight of me?” Dania repeated bashfully. “You can’t mean that… I’m nothing too special.”

“Speaking of specials…” Edison spoke up, more in the mood for food than flirting.  

“Quite the contrary, to not learn of your inner beauty would be to never sniff a rose,” Leon shamelessly flirted.

“Here it comes…” Ed sighed.

“I agree that you aren’t special… you’re more. You are indeed a rose, growing out of the concrete cracks of this urban abyss. The epitome of nature’s most majestic of wonders. Truly, to ask of me why I’d not pine to learn of that rare flowering? Why Dania? Why condemn me to life without knowing your sweet aromas?”

Dania’s mortal cheeks reddened to the hue of complete seduction, entranced by the melodic whisperings of Zeus himself. 

“Wow, Mr. Silverman… so beautiful,” waitress gushed, twirling her hair with her finger.

“Now you know how I feel when I see you. Please, call me Leon.

Edison sunk further into the depths of his menu. His diabetes turned into lactose intolerance— unable to digest Leon’s cheesy come-ons.

“Okay, Leon, what do you want to know?” said the server as she brushed up to Leon.

“For starters I’d like—“ Leon began.

To order,” Edison interrupted, slapping his menu down onto the table.

Leon grinned. Though the billionaire called Edison his wingman, the detective worked more towards foiling Leon’s romantic escapades as Leon Silverman could seal any deal flying solo. He didn’t need help. What Leon really needed… was a challenge. Detective Locard provided that challenge.

“R-right, can I start you two off with some drinks?” Dania stuttered nervously. While the waitress she said ‘you two,’ her eyes were fixed solely on Leon.

“I’d love cup of coffee, thanks,” Edison ordered.

Dania nodded, staring intently at the CEO.

“Aren’t you going to ask how I take it?” the detective muttered.

“Yeah, sure,” said Dania disinterestedly.

Black,” the blond growled. 

“Tea for me, orange pekoe,” said Leon.

“Sorry honey, but we don’t order that brand of tea,” said Dania, expressing utmost regret. “We have Lipton though…”

“For my sweet rose, I shall consume even the vilest of teas.”

“Erm, ‘kay,” the waitress replied, unsure how to take Silverman’s statement. “Are you ready to order or do you need some time?”

“I’ll have the Organic chicken satay,” Leon answered. “But please… no peanut sauce, I’m highly allergic.”

“I guess I’ll get the… kimonos Greek salad?” Edison ordered. “Am I saying it right?”

Kimolos,” Dania corrected as she snatched up the menus. “I’ll personally ensure a peanut doesn’t come within five feet of your food, Leon.”

As Dania walked off, Leon helped himself to the view. The waitress shook her hips to the beat of Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie playing on the radio. The song struck Edison as odd as in the past the radio had always been set to play swing accordion music to add to the illusion.

“So how goes the exploits of Manhattan’s own super sleuth?” Leon asked, choosing to ignore the angry vibrations of his cellphone.

“Currently, his talents are being exaggerated,” Locard dismissed

“I’m sure the NYPD doesn’t’ assign just anyone an intern,” Leon pointed out.

“Yeah and they stuck me with a real weirdo,” Edison sighed, despondently watching a young couple two tables over.

“How so?” the Brit asked, looking over his shoulder to see what caught his friend’s eye.

He’s not human,” Edison grumbled. “He’s so organized and efficient… I honestly wouldn’t be shocked to find a charging port on the back of his neck.” 

“Brilliant,” Leon chuckled. “Perfect fit for a slothful sleuth.”

“It creeps me out, Leon,” said Locard, drumming his fingers on the tiny table. “Reading people is my bread and butter, but this guy’s practically an inanimate object.

“Speaking of creeping, why the interest in that couple?” the CEO asked.

“He’s about to dump his girlfriend and I want to catch the fallout,” Ed replied.

Leon stared at Edison blankly.

“Don’t judge me, this is how I gather my psychological data,” Edison explained. “You can’t teach emotional observation in a book.”

“Oh I get it, but I can’t help but disagree,” Leon said as he gave in and checked the caller ID on his phone. 

“The boyfriend’s being awfully nice.”

“Ever heard of softening the blow?” Ed asked.

Leon grinned slyly, opening his mouth to make a perverted remark. The buzz of a third mobile phone damned his throat. Leon looked at the caller ID, frowned and looked up at Ed. The detective nodded, giving the busy billionaire his blessing to blow off the lunch.

After Leon Silverman jetted off to take the call, a newly single girl followed his exit— raining her sorrows down upon the patio of Café Gitane as she fled. Her ex-boyfriend stood up.

“Caroline… please don’t make a scene,” he muttered.

“This next song is the beat that’s causin’ quite the fuss,” the radio DJ announced. “Oooo baby, a mystery. Nobody knows who the artist is, or what the heck his song means, but hey, you guys have been requesting it all day long. On The Now what you want is what you get, so once again… this is Love Bullet by The Bard!”

 “Kellie, shut up! It’s that weird singer guy I was talking about,” a teenage girl alerted her friend.
Edison scratched his chin, listening carefully to the radio.

“There once was a girl named Clara
The only sister I knew
The day you took my love from me
There was only one thing to do...

A tale of two sisters
A trail that almost went cold
A head case makes a cold case   
Or so the world was told

You knew more than I
That is why
You stole it all
All that was mine to love
That is why
I stole life from you

You knew that I cared
I know you knew it so well
That's why when you said- it's a baby
I knew I'd drag you to hell

O Clara, for what you have I wept
What you stole from me...
To the Big Apple I crept

I placed bullets in your heart
And then I locked the gun away
It's up in my attic of memories
Along with the rest of the decay.”

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