Dr. Josephs and Mr. A. X. Enbrus, seek assurances before walking into the viper's nest
Related to Walkinbird pieces "Il Pubblico Secreto" and "Captured Images"
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Dorotea Canto kept her measured demeanor while browsing the written report in her hand. She stepped quickly across the plaza. Ms. Canto's approach was no-nonsense in every way. The deep color of her brunette hair was freshly applied and cut with no expense spared. Her commanding height misdirected assumptions of frailty, likewise the tailored red suit and impressively fit legs concealed other, less important truths. Brother Vace, scrambled along, somewhat winded keeping at her heels. Vace moved sidelong, looked sidelong, definitely was not forward-thinking as Canto had always been in her position as Head Consul. All the way from meeting her car curbside he intrusively chatted on despite her silence. Both the conclusions in the brief and these vocal condemnations coming from him now were ones she'd heard many times. Her response: "The Consulate du Judgment often rumbles with displeasure, especially in matters related to Doctor Josephs." She stopped herself from adding, as it always is within small, idiotic factions of the lesser members.
"You think speaking these things, even as opinion, out loud, makes them important to me? You could cause me more trouble by angering him while he is visiting with us, than the pain you are suggesting we'd save ourselves in distancing from him. Do you not realize that? Stop your alarmist banter!" She held up a clear signal like one to halt traffic. She said directly to Brother Vace, "Do not say things that he can use against any of us individually in the courts."
The Head Consul herself recently predicted that replacing any more assistants for Robert Josephs would be difficult. Many simply would not accept his authoritative personality. In their estimation he seemed more a man obsessed with dying than a man requiring assistance. Few were willing to escape death narrowly and see it as Josephs insisted, mentor-like, as some greater life lesson. Luckily, for the Head Consul, this was all touted as rumor and smoke to the general membership. She believed she knew Robert better than most. No outside person knew Robert Josephs and all the tragedy that had befallen him, in truth.
Brother Vace stated emphatically, "There is nothing I believe this man alone or assisted can be counted upon to complete before we all are fallen," He said this while stepping into an echoing archway just as Robert Josephs stepped forward into the sun-brightened courtyard.
Vace, shadowed by the hallway vault stared up stonily at Josephs' face blanched by direct sunlight.
Robert turned without speaking to Brother Vace, smiled and gave all his attention to the Head Consul.
He looked at Dorotea nearly eye-to eye and signed, Thank you for see me, no appointment. I know sour face.... Josephs inclined his head in slight apology and began speaking as well, "Vace, dear brother, fights to keep new recruit to run the library. I understand his argument against my asking the appointment of Brother Enbrus. I must have him. He was helpful eyes and ears to me in New York."
Robert looks over his shoulder at Brother Vace and nudges an elbow toward him. "Oh, come on now, Vace, that was good joke, helpful ears? Smile a little every day, Doctor Bob's order."
Dorotea smiled just a little, and Vace still did not.
"Robert," Dorotea signed. "You have knowledge none possess, I am continuously told," Dorotea stated. "May that knowledge keep this assistant healthy and whole."
Dr. Josephs directed his next comment to Vace, "I have the same capabilities God has given to Ms. Canto, young Mr. Enbrus, my last assistant -- Marquez, and even you."
"What is that?" Brother Vace impatiently replied.
Robert continued, "We all have much in common, but I was speaking of Faith."
Vace rolled his eyes. "I shouldn't wonder you think it is that simple. What plan enables you to go into Hell armed only with Faith?'
Robert Josephs looked a bit like a stunned child, having his hands slapped. But he recovered easily. "Faith enables the plan, but that plan is not mine to make..." Robert stops and closes his eyes, a thoughtful, searching quietness overcoming his features. “Faith enables us to realize our true positions as sojourners on this planet," Josephs stated softly as if to himself, as he opened his eyes again. Then he vocalized more loudly and distinctly, so Brother Vace was sure to understand him, "HEBREWS 11:1." Robert stated, "Oh, yes," as an afterthought came to him, as he began to look distractedly away.... "Let's not forget: 'Love one another'.”
Somewhere across the Plaza, Robert knew that A. X. Enbrus was nearby. He was either being granted permission to travel on to the strike point as his assistant, or he was being asked to wait in Rome for a longer period, making that potential improbable. In the strong sunlight, it was hard to make out whether that was him, but the timing seemed right. Dr. Josephs made a polite nod to the Head Consul. He wondered what deliberate face he could make to annoy Brother Vace, but willed himself to step away rather than linger. It was difficult not to mirror the contempt this one projected at their every meeting. Robert preferred to surround himself with people of more favorable energy. At least a new assistant had the breaking-in period where admiration could be counted on for some period.
Robert found himself standing alone in another empty, silent corridor. A delay of at least one day was the reported result of Enbrus' meeting. But it would allow the positive outcome they had requested. Robert waited in a long corridor, not as a sign of friendship, but because he was anxious to complete this hunt.
The vampire corporate conglomerate was waiting – their ultimate hostile takeover still incomplete. Robert could feel his own soul lingering as a counter to their posturing. But, clearly, Aubrus Enbrus being assigned to assist him showed that the Head Consul, perhaps the whole Consulate, also felt the time was close. Josephs spoke out loud here, as if to the gaseous phantoms which he encountered often as his mind fought against sleep. "Each have lessons to learn...," this was something that came up again and again.
He favored the idea that one day he might not hear even within his own mind, but knew it would never be so.
When Aubrus emerged from a door several feet away, he appeared neatly dressed and groomed, but relaxed rather than in a business mode. Josephs approached and swiftly briefed him on the next few stops along their path. The conversation was silent, and in gesture alone, yet Mr. Enbrus already had begun to show concern upon his face.
The cobbled street of a somewhat tourist-neglected neighborhood in Rome was soon the place where Enbrus waited for the return of Josephs. Robert gave no explanation why a fortune teller's nook was his required first stop. He entered under a carved doorway sign inscribed with the single name, Sophia, and gave Enbrus notification that this time was private.
Sophia completed the spread, hesitating only once at the placement of the sixth or seventh card. Robert noticed a look of concern struggle for dominance on her face. But, the emotion seemed wiped clean from her face once Sophia allowed eye-contact with Robert just before speaking.
Aubrus barely strolled just outside the reading room, just a door down along the sidewalk, while Robert had this reading. After rocking on his heels in the same spot for fifteen minutes, he silently acknowledged the passive stare of a young woman selling outside the next storefront from a single chair and fold-out table. He moved closer, and considered her product – beautifully polished stone beads. He noted from her business card, below a prominent graphic proclamation of Romani heritage, the young artist was named Susan Heredia.
She spoke plainly, yet locked eyes with young Enbrus as she urgently placed a strand into his hands.
“These are more than decorative beads. They're imbued with more than natural mineral properties, or the crystal auras. I have called something of myself to be in them. This is how I sense they no longer belong in my hands. They call out for you, and they should be used in helping defend others. Of course, in the hands of a believer of the Holy Spirit, already they shield a strong warrior.”
Aubrus admired the look and feel of the deeply black, uniform beads in his hands. Where he expected the cold of smooth, polished stone, Aubrus believed he felt a warmth in the strand. It was easy to explain it away as the ambient warmth from the young woman's hand previously clutching it, but he knew it to be more. He also greatly admired the warmth in the continuing stare of the artist's dark brown eyes. Her features were not remarkably like his mother's, yet he felt a sudden remembrance of her in his life. He fingered the small, folded over adhesive tag and was glad the price was within his means.
He placed two folded bills into her open palm, "I accept the prayerful assistance, and the beauty of it," he said.
Aubrus made his nearly silent transaction and turned immediately back to the Tarot room. As he entered the darkness of the waiting room, Robert strode out forcefully from behind the curtained doorway of the seer's chamber. He ignored the flash of Mr. Enbrus' signed query, and moved past with a heavy step, betraying guarded emotion. Aubrus drew the swaying curtain aside to inquire what had transpired. Before he caught sight of Sophia's concerned face, he noted not just one, but several telling cards face up on the table.
With a sweeping motion, Aubrus indicated the spread and gently sat in one motion. "Do you have any advice, so I can best help him through this?"
Sophia looked across the small table at the young man awaiting her recommendation for his companion. "The cards tell me that Death reappears in his life day-to-day. Perhaps his sleep is haunted by some past he cannot express to you. That is an unusual place to be in, dear."