Gunpowder Eyes

“He’s gone.”

I woke up on the floor on my office building. It was closer to the airport that the house.  I couldn’t get an early flight but Breann found one out of Newark, New Jersey at 6:15am. Breann called me from the Bozeman, Montana hospital.

“He died? Bruce wouldn’t get the surgery?”

Breann hadn’t slept much. She was snide. Her sighs were like a tiger’s growl.

“No, dude. He’s gone. There’s no one here. No one will talk to me. It’s like they vanished. Lucas’ wife must have told him that you knew about Bruce’s heart attack.”

I felt lost. I struggled for a response.

“They had to take them to Los Angeles. That’s where Cluber’s set up. Ava told me she was going there soon to train for my surgery.”

Breann didn’t answer. Her phone was muffled by her hand or someone else’s. There was a struggle between her and a male voice. I thought I heard “let me have the phone”. Then I heard a smack. The connection dropped.

I climbed the stairs to the roof to get better reception.  The Atlanta November morning wind caused shivers. Breann called back.  Her speech was overwhelmed with pants.

“I’m running to the parking lot. This security guy hassled me and I punched him in the face and got my phone back. Oh my God, I hope I didn’t just smack a real cop! I’ll call when I get on the road.”

I ran back down to my office  and got my stuff together. By the time I got my car, she called back.

“Hey, ok, here’s the deal. Don’t come to Bozeman, like, at all. I heard a nurse say I was trespassing. I think I’m persona non grata here. I’m driving to the Bozeman airport. This is where you tell me what the hell we’re supposed to do next.”

Breann was asking me questions to a test for which I didn’t study. I saw the entrance ramps for the interstate. If I took a right, I went to the airport. It I took a left I went back towards an alternative idea that wasn’t going to make anyone happy.

“I’m headed to Ava’s, Breann.”

Breann started cursing to herself and saying the words “no, no, no” away from the phone. Then she collected herself.

“I don’t think they went to Los Angeles. I don’t know why I think that, but just stuff I’ve seen here. The nurse said that the doctors told her I was trespassing. Maybe Bulas has joined the party or one of Ava’s friends is involved. So, just be careful. Wear a condom.”

I didn’t bother calling Ava. Her texts the night before told me she was home. She was staying at the house she lived in before her marriage too. The driveway was empty but she told me her car was being serviced. I walked around the front yard to knock on the patio doors. Inside, I saw her in goggles, with what looked like an artificial torso. She had something that resembled a laser pointer. I tried to take a picture of it and send it to Breann, but phone blurried the image. I turned my back to the patio to figure it out when Ava opened the door.

“Caleb, what are you doing?”

I put my phone inside my jeans pocket and turned around sheepishly.

“I’m being really bad at checking up on you.”

Ava crossed her arms and shook her head. She opened the door further and motioned for me to enter.

“Leave the stalking and the terrible private detective work to Breann and your internet buddies. It’s cold out there. Come in and tell me why your daughter doesn’t like me anymore.”

She showed me what she was working on. It was a preview of what the side of my chest would look like. I told Ava as much as I thought she should know and might already. I didn’t reveal me leaving home. Ava took it all it, made me hot chocolate and finally said something.

“Dr. Cluber is in London at a robotics conference. Oliver is in Kentucky seeing his mom. I dont know what Gavin is up to, but I think he’s got a new girlfriend who’s a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, or he’s photoshopping his cyberbook pictures. Lucas wouldn’t take Bruce to L.A. without Dr. Cluber. Maybe Bruce is dead and his family doesn’t want you and Breann in their personal business?”

There were some times when Ava’s smarm was actually wise. I was starting to agree. Instead of conspiracy, maybe Bruce Nolans and Lucas Bonner were just private people who wanted to be left alone. Then Ava said something startling.

“If you approach Lucas alone, he’ll talk to you because you’re the best candidate for the surgery. Your heart is most similar to the first two. Everything else is identical to Breann.”

They put the same types inside the boys and different ones in the girls.  This meant Connor Bulas was involved.

“Where’s Connor Bulas, Ava? He’s close to Bozeman, Montana isn’t it.”

Ava scooped up the cups and walked toward the kitchen sink and tried to change the subject. 

“I got three movies from webshow. One of them has stuff that blows up and a girl with big boobs.”

I grabbed Ava’s arm and turned her toward me. She pulled her blonde hair behind her ears and but her lip.

“Bulas is in Langdon, North Dakota. He and Cluber did Lucas’ surgery a few years ago. That’s ll I know. If you take me with you and leave Breann out they’ll talk to you and maybe go ahead and prep you for January. You take Breann or Lena or Clare and they will be ghosts to us.”

The light was off in her kitchen. The long shadows off of her silouette collided with the morning sunlight. Breann was right. Ava had those eyes. Blue, grey,deep, wicked, explosive; like gunpowder. I shook my head yes. Ava left the room to pack. I texted Breann.

- “Go back home.” -

*blogger’s note * – This is a new story episode of the book I’m writing. You can find the rest of it here:

Today’s song serves as inspiration for this episode. Neko Case’s voice is amazing but her lyrics are special. The line of “long shadows and gunpowder eyes” fits Ava. Here’s Neko and hauntingly beautiful Prison Girls.