Entering her apartment, Catherine rushed to open the French doors that led to her balcony. He hadn’t knocked, but somehow she knew he would be there.
He stepped from the shaded corner just as she emerged from her apartment.
She lunged into his open arms and he laughed softly, nuzzling his face into her fragrant hair.
“It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, Catherine, you always smell like springtime.”
She laughed and lifted her head. “Oh, Vincent, I’ve missed you so... all day.”
“I know,” was his short reply.
She nodded, and smiled knowingly. “Of course, you did.”
Mary ended the tumble game, herding her charges towards their beds. Vincent stood and dusted himself off, chuckling.
“Why do you let them treat you like a large stuffed toy?” Catherine asked him.
He was silent a moment.
“Their sheer happiness infects me. As it does with you, my love.”
“Ah. Say no more.”
He kissed her instead.
“Nearly thirty years,” Vincent said, handing his wife a coin.
“Thirty,” she echoed, holding the money.
“The first three were the hardest,” Vincent remembered, adoring her.
“Probably,” Catherine agreed.
He embraced his dearest treasure. “Then we became lovers. Then parents. Those were better years,” he whispered, even though he recalled the strain of two a.m. feedings, with twins.
“Mm-hmm,” she dreamed with him. “Better years. Not so dangerous, or stressful.” she remembered.
The coin went in.
“What was your wish?” he asked.
Her smile was devilish.
“That it was 1987, again.”
The claw-footed bath was enormous. Vincent sat in one end, surrounded by foaming bubble bath, Catherine hovering over him, kneeling between his thighs.
The bath was a luxury Mouse had installed Below, after Vincent and Catherine’s wedding. No-one inquired how he’d managed to wrestle it all the way to the home tunnels. It was better not to ask.
Catherine leaned to gather a double handful of bubbles, before spreading them across her husband’s sodden mane. They dripped down, masking all, but his watchful blue eyes.
Smiling, he reached for her, laughing as he took them beneath the surface once again…
I am one who is acquainted with the night.
High above Catherine’s balcony, as midnight nears,
I look upon her beauty from my eyrie’s height.
Below me there she often waits,
For a lover’s tryst and a warm embrace,
I go down willingly, I no longer can deny my fate.
Alone again, I walk homewards through the dark,
But Catherine is always with me
I know it is she, for I feel the spark,
Of her love reaching out to embrace me.
Saying everything, through a bond without words.
Speaking of our love, how it was always destined to be ...
A Matter of Perspective
“Vincent’s old. Glad it’s not me,” Mouse said, hanging an anniversary banner.
Jamie smiled at the “boy” she loved, who’d never quite grown up.
“It’s been 30 years for everybody, Mouse. Not just him.” She chided.
“Has not,” Mouse denied, finishing. He climbed off the ladder.
“Catherine… old. Vincent… old… Father… very old.” He stood before “his” Jamie.
“Mouse isn’t old?” she brushed at his grey.
“Nope. Jamie either. Still beautiful. Beautiful Jamie.”
She had no doubt when that he looked as her, he saw a 17 year old rebel.
“And that’s why I love you,” she replied, kissing him.
It happened when I first spoke her name.
I swear I hadn’t looked for her.
My world was complete.
All without knowing,
Or understanding the questions posed,
I demanded, what could be?
For she and me?
To be or not to be? The Bard queried…
I know not which.
When she smiled upon me,
All things I believed could be measured,
All I had created,
Suddenly turned to dust in my hands.
I was truly lost,
When her mouth caressed mine.
I no longer care what my world can give me.
It is for her, that I would risk, everything…
All life left me, I felt it go,
The curtain came down,
The end of the show.
But she… she wouldn’t let me leave.
Not while she had breath to breathe,
Life back into me, the one who should not stay,
To cause her more pain, and sorrow.
She bargained for my soul, we made a pact.
I allowed her to draw me back.
For she is the woman I love,
The price I would gladly pay.
She leans against me now,
Mozart’s concerto blending our souls,
“How do you feel?” she asks.
“There are no words…”
Elliot ran the numbers again. They still added up. Dragging down the knot of his tie made no difference. The numbers didn’t lie.
He whistled, then grinned. He’d just made his first, honest-to-God million! Like a rabbit pulled out of a hat, there they were. Irrefutable. He’d parlayed his mother’s thousand bucks of seed money into a small fortune.
The hard-faced memory of his father leaned over his shoulder and sniggered, saying, “I told ya, boy. You’ll never amount to a hill of beans...”
Elliot’s eyes lifted to the cityscape framed in his office window. His gaze rose higher still…
To Be… Vincent
I was born anew, the night she found me.
I swear I did not find her.
Until that night, I had always wondered,
What could be?
And, what if?
To be or not to be?
What answer, when I both am,
And am not, what I always was?
I was transformed, the night her world shattered.
All things I believed to be true and constant,
Suddenly ceased to exist.
I truly came into being,
The night she first touched my hand.
I no longer care what the world thinks of me.
Only for how she goes on, changing my life.
We Leave “Unfinished”
I heard Heaven, sweet and low,
In a subterranean front row.
She’s silk and love, a nighttime trace
Of rain-drenched moonlight on her face.
Lightning rips, and wind unfurls.
A tempest dripping off her pearls.
She laughs, head back, on bended knee
To an “Unfinished Symphony.”
Schubert done, the crowd is scattered.
I swear her joy was all that mattered.
There’s peace in stillness, and for me,
A lyric kind of poetry.
‘She Walks In Beauty,’ wet with rain,
Going out, or coming in, again.
In my deep world where it’s all true,
I think we are “Unfinished,” too.
Standing in the culvert entrance to the tunnels, Vincent lifted his wrist high. Perched there, the juvenile peregrine falcon he’d been nursing back to health, ruffled its feathers in anticipation of release.
With the impending dawn, the sky was slowly turning pink. Vincent made sure no one was in sight, before removing the bird’s leather hood.
Gleaming black eyes stared fixedly into sapphire, as the two assessed each other. The bird spread its wings, and gave a piercing cry.
“Fly!” Vincent swept his arm forward, launching the raptor into flight.
Like an arrow it immediately disappeared into the golden morning…
"Devin, you made it," Vincent said as he hugged his brother.
"I came as soon as your letter reached me. How is he?"
"Peter says it won't be long now."
"He was so strong. It's been 30 years. I thought he was invincible."
"Come, he's waiting for you."
Father opened his eyes and gazed at his two sons.
"Oh, my boys. I am so proud of both of you. What we have here is now yours."
"We won't fail you, Father." they both said.
"Then go, my children. I'll always be with you."
They remained as Father closed his eyes.
While I Live…
“While I live, you live...with me. In me. Always…”
“Always… But then, a true love story never ends, Vincent. We have proved that. Together, we have made three beautiful children, and managed to create a world between Above and Below, that we can share with those we love.
"Thirty years have passed in the blink of an eye. We have endured, despite everything.”
“Yes, Catherine. Despite everything, we remain standing. We will always remain, as long as we have each other.”
“I love where you’re going with this, Vincent. But, it still doesn’t save you from helping with the dishes!”
“Until you came into my life, Vincent, I’d forgotten how it felt to know there was someone thinking of me. Someone who knows who I am. Someone I’m connected to…”
“Every moment since that night, I’m reminded of what a gift life is.”
“And we must use every moment of that gift. It’s our duty.”
“What are you asking of me, Catherine?”
“It’s cold, out here… It is warmer, inside…we could sit by the fire and talk.”
“Would you like that, Catherine? As you said, a year has passed. Perhaps it’s time.”
“If you think it’s possible…”
“Anything is possible...”
They say I’ve never kissed you; I can’t help but disagree.
For I’ve kissed you deep inside our bond, more than one time, more than three.
I’ve kissed you fond good-nights, and in the rain, and soft farewells.
I’ve kissed you sweet “I love you’s,” and “You’re safes,” and “Please be wells.”
I’ve brushed across your forehead and I’ve wisped across your hand.
So what these accusations are I cannot understand.
I’ve kissed you once when you returned, in the park, far from a tree.
And all that I can think to ask is: “Are you sure you’re kissing me?”
Kismet“If I hadn’t quarrelled with Tom, at the party...”
“If I hadn’t been drawn Above that night. Something demanded I visit that lonely corner of the park.”
“Something…indefinable… I felt it too, Vincent. Almost as if I’d been waiting all my life, for that one moment. Though I didn’t know it, then.”
“You were in too much pain. I wished I could have taken that from you.”
“But you did, Vincent. All pain ends eventually. But, if we hadn’t met that night…if I’d stayed at the party. Gone home with Tom…”
“Catherine, it doesn’t bear thinking about…”
A Place in Time“This is the place where you found me, Vincent?”
“Right here, below the roadway. I was walking through a deep mist. I heard a vehicle slowing down. These trees concealed me. I heard a door slide open, and something falling out, before the van sped away. I waited, but heard nothing more.”
“I remember the bitter cold. It felt like it was consuming my soul.”
“You were dying, Catherine. You’d lost so much blood. I feared you would not survive the night…”
“I think I died, Vincent. But your touch brought me to life again.”
“You are my life, Catherine…”
“In my fantasy I see a just world. Where everyone lives in peace and honesty. I dream of a place to live that is always free, like the clouds that floats, full of humanity in the depths of the soul…” Vincent translated the Italian song filtering down from the summer concert in Central Park.
“Sarah Brightman sings so beautifully…”
Catherine shifted closer against her husband’s chest. “It’s almost as if she knows we’re down here, and singing just for us. About our incredible world, and our love.”
“And we have the best seats in the house. For free…,” Vincent smiled.
“You know, bottle this stuff, and you’d make a fortune selling it.” Elliot lifted a container of the clear spring water he’d just collected.
“With you as our salesman?” Vincent queried, settling his load onto their trolley.
“I wouldn’t be averse,” Elliot teased, mock-solemn. “A man’s got a responsibility to make a living for his family.”
Leaning down, he scooped a handful of water, lifting it to his mouth and swallowing.
"Pure nectar.” He shrugged. “Surely, a wasted opportunity.”
“Then, I shall present your proposal to Father.” Vincent secured the load with rope.
“And you would, too!” Elliot laughed heartily.
Vincent leaned forward, considering the chess board. He’d already sorted through all the available moves. Or lack of them.
You’d think the old man could let me win just one game! It is my 13th birthday. Vincent sighed.
“There’s a lesson in every move.” Father peered at his young pupil over the rim of his spectacles. “Impatience will not serve you, here.”
“Yes, but…” Vincent looked up. His scowl deepened.
“Do you forfeit?” Father’s confident expression intensified.
“I…” Vincent’s hand hovered over his hapless king.
Father settled back, satisfied.
Suddenly Vincent spotted his opening. “Checkmate!” He pounced.
“What!?” Father bellowed.
A Noble Steed
“Up, Daddy! I want up! Now!” The little boy’s command was imperious.
He made a determined effort to scale his father’s powerful frame. Seizing handfuls of Vincent’s clothing, Jacob scrambled up into his parent’s arms.
But he wasn’t content. “Up! More!” he urged.
“Very well...” Vincent chuckled, knowing exactly what his son wanted. In one, easy movement, he deposited the child onto his shoulders.
Jacob chortled with delight. His small legs dangled against Vincent’s chest. His tiny hands sorted out two lengths of his father’s heavy mane for reins.
Bobbing up and down on his bottom, he cried, “Giddy-up, Silver!”
30 Years of Dreaming
30 years ago a dream was born.
30 years ago a world was discovered.
The fandom has been divided, reborn, divided. There are "classic" fans. There are "Season 3" fans. We are all "FANS", part of each other.
Some fans dropped out due to conflict, some stayed. New and old fans rediscovered due to the internet and social media.
We are told to "Follow Our Hearts" and "One moves towards love or away from it, there is no other direction".
In the end, it comes down to "Even the greatest darkness is nothing, so long as we share the light".
Love and Hope
“…the clouds that gather round the setting sun, do take a sober colouring from an eye that hath kept watch o'er man's mortality…”
Vincent finished reading, closed the book.
Lying against his shoulder, Catherine slept, her breathing slow and even. He sighed, looking down at her, turning his head to press a kiss against her forehead.
She didn’t move or wake. For a long moment he hesitated, considering the implications. He could wake her and leave, or…
Gathering her into his arms, he stood effortlessly, pausing briefly at the threshold, before carrying Catherine into the darkness of her apartment beyond…
District Attorney Joe Maxwell finished his speech to the graduating class of Harvard Law school.
As his eyes scanned the crowd, his eyes met with another that he thought he would never see again.
Same gorgeous red hair with a hint of grey, warm brown eyes that still had the power to stop his heart, skin whose touch he could still recall 30 years later.
He wondered what she was doing there? Was she married? Was she happy? His throat constricted with the thought of even trying to talk to her. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think.
He whispered quietly. "Erica..."
In The Mirror…
“Whitely it stole up to a maid - to be within the silver mirror, and in her...”
Facing her reflection in her bedroom mirror, Catherine whispered the words.
Slowly, she closed the book of Rilke poetry. Beside her, a single candle cast dancing shadows across the walls. She heard the rustle of shifting bedcovers. She did not turn to look.
Vincent loomed out of the moon-lit darkness behind her. He came to stand at her back, his hand clasping her naked shoulder. Together they gazed silently at their reflections in the silver mirror.
The unique being, and his beloved lady…
Jacob stared at the slender young woman lying asleep in his son’s bed. He’d spent the night carefully stitching her destroyed face together. Mary had tended to her battered body, washing away the blood before dressing her in one of her own night-gowns.
Now Vincent’s father examined his patient, checking her erratic pulse while his mind wrestled with the worry over the trouble she could bring to them. He frowned at his tall son standing silently at his side. “Keep a close watch. If her fever rises, let me know at once.”
Vincent nodded, his eyes on her. “I will…”
Mouse held up the rattle he’d made for baby Jacob. He shook it, liking the sound. His mind wandered. Vincent and Catherine. Catherine and Vincent. The names always matched. Like Mouse and electricity. Okay! He loved the stuff. Did things. Made things go bang! A lot! Made them bright too.
He sobered. Mouse and Jamie. Jamie and Mouse. However he thought about the names, they went together. Like when he pictured his Jamie. Caused a big pain in his chest. That always ache in his head.
He sighed, shaking the rattle disconcertingly. Mouse needed to make something neat for Jamie…
Samantha was just coming on call for her shift when she got the call. Shots. Fired in Tucson. Us Representative was shot in the head. 18 others injured.
"Okay, what would Father do?" Samantha wondered as she prepared for the incoming trauma.
"Just do your best," she heard him whisper in her ear. "I know you can do it, Samantha."
"What if I can't? What if she dies?" Samantha heard herself say. "What if I'm not good enough?"
"Believe in yourself, like we do," Vincent's voice whispered then faded into the distance.
"Are you ready, Dr. Leeds?"
"Yes, lets go."
Vincent...” Catherine edged closer. “Your secret is safe with me. I would never betray your trust...”
Vincent’s breath rushed from him.
“I know… I knew that from the beginning, when you trusted me.”
Catherine reached out, pressing her hand to his chest, her head finding its place on his shoulder.
“What can I say to you?”
Vincent swallowed tautly. Everything within him demanded he run. But the newness of her embrace, the warmth of her body with its soul-wrenching joy, seeped undeniably into his.
He could do nothing more than slide one hand around her back, drawing her closer still…
Devin and Vincent
“Baby quiet now…” Devin’s small hand hovered above the child’s blond hair as he slept in the crib.
“Careful…” Jacob warned, raising his head from his crossed arms. He’d fallen asleep at his desk.
“He’s finally stopped crying after three days. Don’t wake him now, please."
Devin’s hand retreated. “What’s his name?”
Jacob stared at him. “His name…?”
“Needs a name.” Devin shrugged. “Baby’s not a name.”
Jacob frowned. A name was the least of his worries. Saving the child’s life had been his sole priority.
“What would you suggest?”
“Vincent…” Devin shrugged. “St Vincent’s. Found him there. Good name…”
There’s That Tea You Like, II
The same tea, again?” Wong asked. Kipper nodded.
Wong prepared Catherine’s special, medicinal blend.
“Her ribs are better?” Wong inquired.
Kipper shrugged. “Don’t know. Vincent tends her.”
“Vincent? Not Father?” Wong questioned.
“Nope. Just Vincent. Reads to her, every day. Stays close. They talk. Grownup stuff. Boring.”
A canny eyebrow raised. Indeed? If only I made love potions...
“Father says it’s okay. She’ll forget about us, when she goes back.”
Ah. Wong impulsively did something he’d never done, before. He added pinches of rosemary to each bag, then closed them.
“Perhaps,” he deflected, handing it over.
Rosemary is for remembrance.
He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not…
The rose was deeply red, and velvety.
And… fading, for all that.
Catherine rode the elevator down, clutching both Vincent’s note and his token.
They’d meet in the park.
She wasn’t alone, in the car. A mother and daughter rode with her.
“Oh! Pretty!” the child said, eying the beautiful flower.
Catherine smiled. “Thank you.”
The mother smiled, too.
One downy petal drifted down.
“He loves me, he loves me not,” the child sing-songed, watching another petal fall.
Catherine tipped her flower up, and regarded its intricate abundance.
I wonder if this is a way to find out? she mused.
Vincent and Mouse
It was the scuttling noise that first caught Vincent’s attention. It sounded like a large rat, but the movements were too big.
His sense was more of a child.
But the tunnel’s children never came here. Not into the deepest, darkest places, where the light was almost non-existent.
But someone hovered close, their breathing pulled taut with wariness. Watching, waiting for Vincent to leave.
He smiled, settling cross-legged on the ground. Pulling a volume of poetry from his cloak, he opened it and began to read, without indicating he knew his wary companion was there.
The unseen entity edged closer…
I’ll Be Your Sentinel
Vincent lay warmly next to his sleeping wife. Her pregnant belly was a gentle swell, between them.
She often slept lightly, or not very well. At first, nightmares had plagued her. But since her rescue, it was usually a lower back twinge, or some such.
They were both concerned. And overjoyed.
Sensing Catherine’s restlessness, he sent her deep, comforting waves, through their bond.
Safe. You’re safe, here.
Her hand slid across the sheet, searching. He put his in the way, so she could make contact.
Once she did, he felt her settle.
“Sleep,” he whispered. “I will watch over you.”
Family for Funeral
Catherine looked over the small crowd gathered for her father's funeral as she prepared to read The Velveteen Rabbit passage she selected.
Marilyn, Peter, Joe, Jenny, Nancy were all in the front two rows, supporting her. As she looked over the rest of the faces, most she recognized, few she did not.
As her gaze reached the back of the church, a small gasp escaped her. Her eyes met those of Father, Mary, Devin, Pascal, William, Jamie, Mouse and many others. Her tunnel family came to support her as well.
Her eyes glistened, she smiled as she began to read,
“There’s That Tea You Like…"
Kipper spun a wobbly wheel of his equally wobbly skateboard. It had a long way to go, today.
“Everything okay?” Zach asked.
Kipper nodded. “Just loose. It’s okay. I’ll make it.”
“Running errands for Father?” Zach asked, as Kipper set the board down on the ground.
Kipper shook his head. “For Vincent. Going Above.”
“Vincent?” Zach’s dark eyebrow rose, curious. Vincent didn’t usually ask children to fetch him Topsider things.
“A book?” Zach guessed, figuring that must be it.
“Nope. Tea,” Kipper answered, mounting the board.
“We’ve got tea!” Zach replied.
“Not from Chinatown,” Kipper answered, as he skated away.
Father and Vincent
“You’re sure about this?” Falcon hovered at Father’s shoulder. “I mean, the kid’s near dead anyway. Best leave things alone. Can’t be long now.”
“I am a doctor, where there’s life, there’s hope.” Father grimaced, gathering a long breath. “I hope…”
Slowly he unwrapped the infant’s swaddling of filthy rags. The child made no protest until completely uncovered, and even then any movement was minimal.
“Well, I’ll be…” Falcon stared aghast. “What’s that? It surely isn’t any baby…”
“I have no idea…” Father studied the baby’s thin, leonine features, and filthy blond hair. “But I feel he wants to live…”
“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now.
Is hung with bloom along the bough*”, Vincent whispered to himself as he stood beneath a cherry tree in the Park.
The breeze sent showers of petals to flutter around him like butterflies. The faint scent tickled his nose. The trees seemed luminous, other worldly, in the night.
“Fifty springs are little room”*, he whispered, delighting in the knowledge that he was very happy, with no regrets. None.
Inside the culvert entrance, Catherine waited, and he shook petals over her.
“It's always Spring with you,” she said, smiling up at him.
*A E Housman
Catherine looked over the resignation letter she typed up. She tried to explain the reasons she felt she had to leave, to make a change in her life.
Would he understand? she wondered. Would he approve? Would he feel she disappointed him? So many questions.
"Time to face the music," she said as she rose from her desk and walked to her father's office.
"Dad, I have something for you," she said as she walked in and handed him the envelope.
"Is this what I think this is?"
"I'm afraid so."
"I've been expecting this."
"I understand. Good luck."
Winterfest (2017)Once again they danced together with the secret music of the Great Hall as if no-one was watching them.
Tonight, of all nights, their abiding love allowed no room for either to remember they’d ever been hurt by an adolescent passion or obsessive desire.
And as she turned slowly within Vincent’s loving embrace, Catherine whispered a lilting song her Irish grandmother had once taught her, as Vincent’s lips quested slowly across the soft skin of her throat.
And both knew with certainty they would always love and live their lives within this incredible haven they’d created both Above and Below…
His Father“One day I’m going to beat you, Vincent.” Father scowled at the chess board.
“Perhaps it would be easier on your blood pressure if you soothed your chagrin with the knowledge you are an excellent teacher.” Vincent removed his opponent’s queen smoothly.
“Don’t try to butter me up!” Father reared back. “I’ll not be mollified with platitudes. This is my game. I should be winning!”
“Yes, Father.” Vincent smiled.
“Smirk all you like,” Father snapped. “Wait until your own son shows you up like a novice.”
“I am looking forward to that.” Vincent’s gaze became unfocussed and his smile widened.
“If you could change one past decision you made, Jacob. What would it be?”
“I would have stood aside. Allowed Vincent to love you, Catherine. Without fear or reservation. There was so much wasted time.”
“You did what you thought was best for us. As any parent would.”
“I should have trusted my son’s instincts over my own. He knew from the beginning you meant us no harm. I am so sorry, my dear. Please forgive an old man his folly.”
“There is nothing to forgive. Well, maybe, since that’s now six games I’ve won. I believe that’s check-mate.”
Vincent and Catherine
Vincent stalked the shadows cautiously. With the evening mist rising, the park became his. At fifteen he knew the dangers of being seen.
Suddenly he heard voices. A man’s urgent request and a girl’s reply. Within the tree-line’s shadows he edged closer.
A sandy-haired man stood beneath a distant tree, arms raised now in urgent appeal. Far above him a blond girl sat smiling on the highest possible branch.
“See… I won’t fall.” She laughed down at him.
“It’ll be dark soon…Catherine, please...”
“Oh, all right…” The girl moved reluctantly earthwards.
“Catherine…” Vincent breathed, the name echoing throughout his soul….
Vincent stood at the culvert entrance gazing at the city through a dense curtain of rain. It seemed to be dissolving.
The rain pounded on the concrete channel, swelling the little runoff stream.
Then traffic noise disappeared and it was if a great weight had been lifted. The world was reduced to an immense downpour, a waterfall, a pounding that, in its fury, released smells of disturbed earth and stone.
He roared into the night, knowing he could, that no one could hear. The sound disappeared into the deluge, absorbed, embraced almost.
Bemused, Vincent walked back through the silent tunnels.
Catherine’s right hand lay on the rumpled sheets, palm uppermost. She slept, nakedly content, in his bed. Now it seemed the most natural thing in the world, for her to be here--with him.
Vincent’s breath hitched. He stared at her fingers and the smooth creaminess of her skin. That hand had moulded and caressed his body in places which made him blush to remember them now.
Gently she’d led him-- a wondering penitent-- into realms he’d previously imagined only within the security of his deepest soul-- and he smiled wistfully, hoping they would soon return to that agical place...
Catherine dashed across the park toward the culvert. Vincent appeared from the tunnel at full run--- skidding to a halt when he saw her. Catherine flew into his open arms. He crushed her against him.
“Oh, forgive me… forgive me for doubting!” she gasped. “What we have is all that matters. It’s worth everything!”
“Everything!” Vincent agreed vehemently, staring down at her.
Their gazes tangled, holding for several thudding heartbeats. In this moment nothing mattered but each other. Without hesitation Catherine reached to kiss him and he didn’t deny her. It felt so right, how could it ever be wrong?
Of things that are beautiful, of things that are lovely and never happen…”
Catherine pushed past Kristopher, stomping angrily away. He followed her, still reciting. “…Of things that are not and should be! It’s Oscar Wilde! Where are we going?”
Catherine scowled. “Home!”
Kristopher brightened. “Okay…! Does that mean you want to pose for me?” He followed her.
Not in this lifetime or the next… Catherine wanted to shout at him, but she was grateful he was following her. She couldn’t afford to have Vincent exposed to this quixotic man… whatever he was. She frowned… there was the true mystery...
"Cathy, can I speak to you a minute?" Joe asked as Catherine and Laura started to leave the conference room. Catherine tapped Laura on her shoulder. "Wait here," she said as she pointed to the wall.
"Joe, talk," she clamped her fingers up and down. Laura nodded her understanding.
"I heard about what happened. I wanted to say I'm sorry for the way I acted." Joe apologized, as they stepped away.
"You believe me now?" Catherine asked sarcastically.
"Yeah. I was a jerk. Ya know? I let my feelings get in the way."
"Yeah, I know. Friends?"
"Always, Radcliffe. Always."
“I owe you everything-- everything...” Catherine tried to make her simple words convey all she was feeling.
Until this very moment she hadn’t realized she now dreamed in colour, and everything around her seemed filled with unearthly music… and it was all because of him… the incredibly beautiful man standing before her. He figured prominently in those same technicolour dreams…
Vincent sighed before replying gently, “You owe me nothing-- I’m part of you, Catherine. Just as you’re part of me. Wherever you go, wherever I am... I’m with you...
Vincent could smell the scent of warming earth as he patrolled the upper tunnels, and beathed deeply.
“”The season finds its term,'” he thought, remembering Conrad Aiken's poem.
This Spring, the last stanza of the poem spoke to him as never before.
'but love like music, keeps no season ever;
'like music too, once known is known forever.”
Yes, Catherine had definitely thawed his heart. No matter what season reigned above, Spring would never fail in his. And Aiken implied there were more wonders ahead.
“Green, green and green again, and greener still”.
Something he would look forward to.
Jacob and John
“John Pater…” The tall man thrust out his hand. “Grace said you could be useful to our world.”
“She told me something of what you’ve built down here.” Jacob Wells shook hands warily. He still wasn’t sure this would work. “Don’t know if I can help.”
John’s eyes narrowed shrewdly. “But you’ve got nowhere else to go, right?”
“Maybe…” Jacob grimaced. Put so baldly, he couldn’t deny the truth. “You’re right. I’m penniless and homeless.”
“Then, welcome, Jacob.” John put aside the book he was reading and beckoned. “Let me show you around…”
“Thanks.” Jacob turned and followed his lead.
May I Present ...
Joseph Shelford walked over to the elderly patriarch and gently placed his son in his grandfather's arms. Joseph's wife Mary Margaret hugged her father Devin.
"He's beautiful, baby girl."
"My great grandchild. Will wonders never cease." Father whispered.
"Just wait, Father. Jacob's wife Caroline is due any day now," Vincent mentioned.
"I remember when Mary Margaret and Jacob were born. I was so proud of both of you."
"30 years of dreams and wishes finally coming true." Catherine said as they waited for Elizabeth to paint the family portrait.
They knew it would be wonderful – a mirror of their lives.
The Family Way
Devin leaned over the antique bassinet, admiring the sleeping infant.
Eyes which looked like his brother’s were closed now, as Jacob dozed. Fed by his mother and hummed to by his father, his nephew was dreaming the dreams of the innocent.
Uncle Devin wondered what those were, and how far they’d take him.
“So. Will you climb Everest, or fly airplanes?”
He slid a careful finger into the baby’s closed fist. Warmth, and an urge to protect flooded him. His brother had everything, and deserved it.
Then, a thought unbidden, and unexpected:
“Is there one like you, waiting for me?”
The full moon drew Vincent above, to his favourite spot just outside the culvert.
He stared at it, glorying in its silver light, so beautiful that even New York's lights couldn't dim it.
How many sorrows, joy, triumphs and defeats had that serene orb shone down upon?
How many people had cursed its bright light, or thanked it for its illumination, or even hoped to find some peace in that pockmarked aspect?
'The moon's a harsh mistress'. The words came to him from long ago, oft repeated in songs.
Yet, the moon was eternal. Like their love. His and Catherine's.
Then and Now
“Remember a TV show called 'Beauty and the Beast’? Jenny asked.
“The female character had the same name as me.” Catherine nodded.
“Yeah, that one.”
“What about it?”
“The internet says there's a 30th anniversary celebration. There's an online convention.”
“Do you know the website’s ID?”
“Treasurechambers.com. There’s a lot going on.”
“After thirty years, they must love the show.”
“You and Vincent should come over. Devin can cook.”
“Fine. As Father said at Winterfest, 'Even the greatest darkness is nothing, so long as we share the light…'”
“Thirty years, and those words still stand true.”\
What Can I Say?
What can I say to you?
Do you remember the first time I said those words?
You returned me to my world, took me back to my threshold, back to my life. When the truth was… I never had a life until the night we met. I had drifted aimlessly, never knowing what I was looking for, yet fearing I would never find it… would never find you. I can’t even remember when I first realized, nothing in my world had any meaning without you.
There are still no adequate words, except… I love you… truly… deeply… eternally…completely.
My Guiding Star
For that’s what you are, my love. You’re the air in my lungs, the blood in my veins, the sun on my face when I walk in darkness. It’s been so since the night I found you bleeding in the mist.
I bless the terror that brought you to me. Who could imagine such evil would bring your light into my world of shadows, to penetrate the black abyss in my soul? You once said, there was no darkness when I was with you. You were right, for you’ve been my guiding star from the moment we met.
Midnight Visitor, 1977
Devin stood at the bars of the metal gate, his hands as full of memory as of iron.
Swinging on it. Running in and out. Chasing after Vincent. Being chased, by Mitch. Pushing boundaries. Pushing them farther.
The years fell away.
“You still in there, Little Brother? Still… locked inside the stones?” Devin asked no one.
He picked up his bag, preparing to leave. This had been a bad idea.
Devin was learning that he was no more able to claim love than Vincent was. Though he was “loose,” he was not actually “free.”
Time was teaching him the difference.
“Now this...” Mouse offered a package. “For you.”
“What is it?” Father accepted it gingerly.
“You’ll see...” Mouse nodded encouragingly.
“Very well…” Father’s beseeching eyes slid sideways to a watching Vincent, but he offered no comment. “Will I like it?”
“Mouse-made,” the tinker replied. “It’s okay, good.”
“That’s what you said last time…” Father opined darkly, releasing the parcel’s string while trying not to flinch.
Matching wooden bookends were revealed, one carved with Father and Vincent, the other Mouse and Father. The craftsmanship was beautifully detailed.
Father smiled. “I’m sorry, Mouse, for doubting you.”
Mouse bounced gleefully. “Happy Father’s Day…”
Take My Breath Away
Catherine stepped onto the sand. Her bare toes curled, sinking among the golden grains. Slowly, she walked the aisle between their closest friends and family.
Thirty years ago she’d walked this coast, alone. A distant shore, then. It had taken thirty years to fulfil their shared dream. All they’d needed was Elliot’s private plane, and his secluded house with its securely fenced beach.
Now someone waited for her beside the ocean’s edge. Sapphire eyes, filled with loving expectation, watched her approach.
Reaching his side, she entwined her fingers through her husband’s. “Ready to marry me…again?”
“I cannot wait, Mrs Wells.”
In his bathing pool, Vincent washed himself all over,meticulously, scrubbed under his fingernails, and then his toenails.
He soaped his hair, ducked, then rose, running his fingers carefully through his wet mane, to prevent tangles.
Satisfied at last, he left the pool and rubbed himself dry, then brushed his pelt and hair until it shone.
Back in his chamber, he dressed in his distinctive clothing.
There was nothing that could change his visible outward appearance. However, his scrupulous daily ritual ensured that he presented the very best aspect of ... whatever he was ...possible.
He took great satisfaction in that.
Never After ~ A Winterfest Tidbit ~
Wind flickered through torchlight, as Vincent and Catherine descended the windy stair.
Thirty years. Thirty. Three decades, full of … everything.
And Everything was Everything.
They were both older, and Winterfest was coming.
Vincent had decided to inspect the massive chandelier, and his Beloved chose to accompany him.
Though his form was still mighty, Catherine worried, as he grasped the huge beam. They were far from young.
Isn't that heavy?" Catherine fretted, wondering if this would be the year it wouldn’t budge.
Vincent lifted it, cleanly.
"Only before I found you. Never after," Vincent replied, settling it against the wall.
I remember that night so clearly.” Catherine smiled. “As if it were only yesterday.”
She smoothed the cover of the old book with reverent care. “We read the last chapter of Great Expectations. Out here … in the dark.”
“And yet it’s been five years…” Vincent leaned his hips against the balcony wall beside her. “So, now?”
“We go Below, you and I.” She took his hand in hers. “That’s who I am now, and where I’ll live. Always…”
Vincent tilted his head, looking down at their entwined fingers. “I saw no shadow of another parting from her...” he quoted softly.
I Reach Out To You
Catherine stood behind St. Vincent’s Hospital, in the January cold. Vincent’s birthday had been wonderful.
She had one gift left to give, but not to him.
She laid something on the frosty ground near the dumpsters.
“Just in case you come back here, sometimes.” She adjusted her token. “I don’t know who you are, or why you did what you did. But I want you to know he’s alive. And loved. He’ll always be loved. I hope you get this message. I hope you understand it.”
Head bowed, Catherine left.
Behind her remained two wrapped roses: one red, one white.
“Oh, listen to this, Vincent. It’s so beautiful. ‘If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.’ Truly, I couldn’t live without you. I love you too much to ever let you go without me.”
“Catherine, it will always be so for us now. As I once said to you thirty years ago, far beneath this city. I’m part of you. Just as you’re part of me... Wherever you go, wherever I am...I’m with you. Until my last breath, and beyond. Always…”
I Do, I Do, I Do…
I do, I do, I do, I do…”
Entering the Mouse-hole, Vincent smiled at the endlessly-repeating litany. Mouse practicing his wedding lines. But in song.
“Abba?” Vincent queried, watching the harassed-looking tinker.
“Have to…” Mouse continued walking a tight line, back and forth before his work bench. “Jamie said, Mouse, practice. Remember. Got to be right on the night.” He grimaced. “Right?”
“My friend…” Vincent gripped the tinker’s shoulder, halting his progress. “I say you need sleep. You look worn out. You have this.”
“I do…?” Mouse’s haggard face brightened. “Okay, good. Okay, fine. I do, I do, I do…”
You Tell Him
“You tell him,” 37 year-old Geoffrey begged beautiful 25 year-old Victoria. “He’s your father.”
“No. Stop worrying. He likes you.”
“Not that much. I’m a little old for you. You’re his baby.”
“Pish. You waited until I finished college. Sweetheart.” They kissed.
“It’s Winterfest. And Mama approves.”
“Your mother is a monument to love and understanding.”
Victoria chuckled her agreement.
“Geoffrey, it’s time. Tell him.”
“Tell me what, children?” Vincent entered the room.
Victoria’s smile was radiant. Geoffrey straightened, and faced Vincent.
“I need your blessing. Victoria’s consented to marry me.”
“Took you long enough,” Vincent replied.
Over the Rainbow Time
“Remember when we were going to go everywhere South of Oz and North of Shangri-La?” Devin asked, as Vincent’s children played, nearby.
Intimately. Baum, Hilton, Kipling… they were all our friends.”
Devin watched as Vincent’s son and twin daughters colored, together.
“I never apologized for leaving you,” Devin admitted, aware that Vincent’s adventures were now of a different kind, entirely.
“There was no need.”
“If you’re concerned, I know how you can make amends.” Vincent extended a familiar volume to Devin. “My children need a trip to Oz. And only one special uncle can truly take them there.”
Vincent lifted the tiny hand of his sleeping son and laid it carefully within his, palm to palm. Catherine had given him this incredible gift, beyond price or imagining, conceived from her unquenchable love-- and the wonder of it still snatched his breath away.
Warmth seeped into his flesh from the miniature fingers which barely covered the heel of Vincent’s broad hand. Though the child remained sleeping his little fingers curled instinctively, folding tightly around his parent’s thumb, as if Jacob would never let him go.
Vincent stared at the tenuous connection that could never be broken, come what may…
Catherine reached for him, laying her hand against Vincent’s chest before dropping her head onto his shoulder.
“What can I say to you?”
Vincent tensed, everything within him demanding he escape, put distance between them. But the beguiling tenderness of her embrace anchored him in place. He was entirely unprepared for the emotions coursing through him, taking his breath with them. It truly felt as if his heart were breaking... into tiny pieces, never to be repaired or whole again.
And yet he laid the palm of his hand in the small of her back and drew her closer still…
Vincent gazed at the light which shone down the metal ladder in the threshold, casting a bright oval on the floor. It was so different to the light he was used to; the soft, mellow, golden glow of candles and torches in the chambers and tunnels.
This would be different to the light of Catherine's office too, which was mixed with the brighter tones of daylight through the windows.
This was harsher, more blue, colder.
Yet because of it represented something between their worlds, a meeting place, it was precious.
It belonged to neither of them, yet embraced them both.
A Gift of Love
He had been "wrapped like a parcel" and left here, where the line of dumpsters led to St Vincent's Hospital, looming even through this blizzard.
He wondered who could do such a thing. Then he knew.
This had been his only chance for life. He had been found and given the gift of love. He reciprocated that gift every day of his life, gladly.
There was nothing more to know.
“What is it?” Father peered at the tiny package pushed into his unwilling hands.
“A baby… I think.” Falcon shrugged. “Don’t know. Found it in the snow up behind St Vincent’s. Chucked away like trash. Almost stepped on it before it cried. Couldn’t figure what else to do. Real cold up there.”
“A baby…” Father muttered incredulously, instinctively drawing the bundle against his chest. “How could anyone throw a baby away?”
“Topsiders…” Falcon dismissed the city-folk above them.
the ragged bundle in one hand, Father drew aside the dirty swaddling
covering the baby’s face, and stared in open-mouthed disbelief…
"Mary can babysit. It's not like we’ve never been," Vincent insisted.
"Not since Jacob came. It’s too far away from him," Catherine resisted, overprotectively.
Jacob crawled through his toys, oblivious.
Sigh. "Fine. Take him with you. I'll meet--"
"And say what if we’re seen? No.”
Months into parenthood, Vincent longed for the sky above Catherine’s balcony.
He scooped up his cooing child. "Very well. Meet us there."
"You’re not going to leap across rooftops with him!" Catherine sputtered.
Vincent touched noses with his giggling son. Leaving, he gently informed his wife, "It won’t be the first time."
“Dammit! I was sure this was the way!” Elliot fumed at the hewn-stone walls that all looked exactly the same.
His back hurt and his feet ached. He wasn’t in the mood to be hampered by things beyond his control. He had a message to deliver to Vincent. If only he could remember the route.
Suddenly a familiar voice spoke from the darkness behind him. “Elliot, lost again?”
Elliot turned. “Mouse! Am I glad to see you!” He lunged for the boy, dragging him close into a powerful bear hug.
“Can’t breathe…” Mouse complained.
“Mouse, I love you!” Elliot grinned.
The sharp curved needle pulled the string through the ripped upholstery with practiced skill, closing the tear. Twenty Winterfest chairs later, Vincent's concentration failed and the needle dug into his right hand. He yelped.
The ancient chair covers would soon would be mostly string, he thought wryly, repairing another.
Another distracted thought later, the needle stabbed his thumb. He grunted in pain and sucked it. It was bleeding and now he'd had enough.
With a sigh, he rose stiffly from his padded knees. Wearily, he headed back to his chamber.
Catherine, waited for him there with her own special solace.
My Son, Jacob
Vincent held out one finger in wonder towards his tiny son. By design or accident the baby grabbed it strongly and held on. Matched pairs of blue eyes considered each other honestly.
“He knows you,” Catherine said quietly, sitting cross-legged, watching the encounter playing out on the end of Vincent’s bed.
“As I know him.” Vincent nodded. “We see each other.”
“I know…” Catherine understood her husband was not referring to the visual connection. She unfolded her legs slowly, crossing to his side, to reach her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek. “I see you too, Vincent.” She smiled.
Vincent stood at the Park culvert entrance, gazing into a snowstorm that reduced visibility to just a few yards.
Once upon a time he would have ventured out, no matter what the weather. Once he would have done so even if it meant leaving footprints he would have to obliterate.
Now he could marvel at the beautiful snowflakes he could see silhouetted against a nearby lamp standard. Were there truly no two the same?
Restlessness had been replaced with deep serenity. Catherine had cured his aloneness and given him love. And she waited.
Enough was enough. He turned for home.
Vincent stood beside Catherine’s gravesite. It was all he could do for his love. Keep watch while remembering what had been. His nightly ritual never varied. He’d found solace there.
He often stood until dawn, unmoving, uncaring who might be watching. Then, as before over the many weeks, his chin sank to his chest, his eyes filling with tears of tormented regret.
“Catherine, I love you…” he whispered brokenly. He sighed over what he’d lost… his love, his very soul…
His head jerked erect-- she was there, before him-- her questing hand smoothing his hair– caressing his tear-stained cheek…
"Now, you know what to do?” Catherine pushed the last Winterfest candle into her grandson’s backpack.
Six-year-old Peter’s impatient sigh was eloquent. “Stay with the group and keep up. Grandpa has already told me a dozen times.”
"Well, this makes a baker’s dozen.” Catherine smiled. “Our thirtieth Winterfest together is important, and so are the candles. Remember, this is your first time out.”
I know, Grandma.” The boy kissed her cheek. “Don’t worry, Grandad Elliot said he will tan my hide if I mess up.” His grin flashed. “But he has to catch me first!”
Laughing, he took off, running.
Vincent made a circle of pine boughs, added some sprigs of holly for colour, then tied them with raffia. He wound in a strand of small bulbs, and tested them. Finally, he added the flasher bulb and attached Mouse's timer.
Near midnight, the scent of pine already making him smile, he plugged the wreath into the pirated power source in the dining chamber.
At breakfast, the adults waited indulgently in the muted light. Suddenly, the wreath lit up and the laughter of children greeted it.
Hidden nearby, a music box suddenly played "Jingle Bells" and everyone cheered.
Mouse looked smug.
“Hi, Pops, how’re you doing?” Ron Perlman sat in the chair beside Roy Dotrice’s.
“All the better for seeing my favourite son.” Roy beamed. “It has been too long.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” Ron shook his head. “Time just seems to fly. I’ve missed you.”
“Me too. I miss the tunnel folk. Too many have left us already. Do you see Linda?”
“Occasionally, she is well.” Ron took the old man’s thin hand between his own. “What we had was truly everything, wasn’t it?”
“It was the best of times.” The old man brightened. “Say, do you still play chess?”
Kiss. Such a little word, Vincent thought. It could not encompass his joy.
“'Make me immortal with a kiss'," he whispered.
Catherine looked into his eyes. Truly, his kisses were amazing!
"'Now a soft kiss - Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss'', he thought, after another.
“'Close your eyes and I'll kiss you, Tomorrow I'll miss you'”, she quoted back.
He bent to kiss her again, felt the welcome, the love in her heart for him.
Later, he quoted softly, "'A kiss is a rosy dot over the ‘i’ of loving'"
To which she answered as before.
Catherine regarded Vincent as he sat completely at ease in their brownstone's den, reading a book of poetry.
Contentment seemed to radiate from him along their bond. She basked in it, felt it warm her through, but she knew the reason was deeper than their surroundings.
He looked up at her and smiled, sensing her mild puzzlement.
"What's your secret?" she asked. "You seem so very relaxed now. No more doubts?"
"No," he agreed. "Cohen said it best."
"You worry that I will leave you.
I will not leave you.
Only strangers travel.
I have nowhere to go." *
* 'Owning Everything' by Leonard Cohen
“Did you know they once made a television series about us, Catherine?”
“Oh, Vincent, surely not. How did they know of our existence?”
“I have no idea. Maybe somebody guessed, or saw us together and understood our love. A true romantic, perhaps.”
“Surely that worries you? Someone knowing more than they should?”
“No one has come after us. We are safe here beneath the city.”
“The wishing well in the park. That night we threw coins and asked for our future together to be blessed.”
“Perhaps. We’ll never know. What we have now is all that matters. It’s worth everything.”
The Mouse Dance
“One thing I always wanted to see, was Catherine teaching Mouse to dance at Winterfest,” David Greenlee answered the fan’s question.
Sounds of appreciation and regret rippled through the audience. That was also something they’d have liked to see happen. Then all eyes turned towards Linda Hamilton as she rose from her seat further along the Q and A panel.
“Well, surely there’s no time like the present.” She left her place to draw David to his feet. In no time they were performing an elegant waltz around the stage. “Happy now?”
“Okay good. Okay fine…” David beamed. “Mouse…great dancer.”
Vincent stood at the culvert entrance, gazing into the night. So much had happened in this area.
To the right was the carousel, where two memories made him smile. Nearby, he had seen murder.
Ahead, he had found Catherine, and years later saved her again.
To the left, they had gazed at a full moon.
A few feet away, he had been shot with tranquilizers. Months later, Catherine had run into his arms, confirming their love. Nearby, a ghost had recited Tennyson.
Behind him, an old love had returned.
Now his true love awaited him inside. He turned for home.
Elizabeth was very old now. She could no longer stand long, but she had wanted to paint this last picture.
She pulled the cord to let down the awning, then put away her brushes and paints. She tapped a pipe message then sat in her wheelchair to wait. She was now content.
Not many days later, a sombre line filed past a painting of everyone in the community, hands joined and raised in celebration. At one end, a tiny woman in a smock was painting herself.
Beneath the family portrait she had written, "I remembered so you will not forget."
“You can look now.” Rick Baker straightened from his handiwork.
“You sure, man?” Ron Perlman didn’t open his eyes. “I know you can craft a great face, but applying it to this ugly mug…” He waved a dismissive hand at himself.
“Open your eyes, man, and see,” Rick encouraged. “What ya got to lose?”
“My dignity,” Ron countered bleakly. “This all hangs on me pulling off a believable beast. What if it’s all been for nothing?”
“Sit there wondering, then.” Rick shrugged. “Like we’ve got all day.”
“Okay…” Ron grouched. His eyes opened slowly, quickly rounding to disbelieving. “Hello, Vincent…”
"Can you believe all the stories fans have written about us over the years?" Catherine asked Vincent.
"They've gotten us into some pretty good predicaments, haven't they?" he replied.
"They'd also given us some incredible happy endings too."
"Angie, Judith, Janet, Cindy, Allison, Rusty, Nef, Barbara. I wonder what they have in mind for us?"
I guess we'll have to wait until next year to find out. Whatever they write, we'll likely be together," Catherine remarked.
"Together forever, never apart. I would move heaven and earth to be forever with you," Vincent said.
"So be it," she said.
One Day Forever
Catherine awakened and looked over at the man who was her life.
The morning sun from the skylight turned him into a golden god and she drank in the sight.
She knew he was awake, but he allowed her this indulgence. He remained still and quiet, his breathing soft, his eyes closed.
Inevitably, she reflected how her life would have been so different, so very normal, if not for a mistaken identity that had literally thrown her into his path.
The Fates, she thought, were working overtime that day.
The only way to thank them was to enjoy every moment.
Place and Time
Could they capture the magic of 30 years ago, Vincent wondered aloud.
Catherine regarded the man she loved. What more could she need?
They knew each other so well. He rose and took her hand. Together they re-traced their steps. They were older, slower, but memories were undimmed.
At the threshold he took her into his arms.
"What can I say to you?" she whispered into his chest, as she had then.
Vincent said nothing. No words were needed, then or now.
With soft sighs, they turned for home, hand-in-hand, their hearts full of gratitude, beating as one.
"30 years, you say! I can still recall sitting on Moreno's desk trying to talk him out of hiring you. Boy, was I ever wrong. You turned out to be the best investigator we ever had."
"I was so nervous."
"You coulda fooled me. It didn't show."
A bell-like sound rang through the room. Catherine and Joe turned to look expectantly at the Mayor.
"I am pleased to introduce our DA Joe Maxwell, who will administer the oath to our newest judge, Catherine Chandler Wells."
Below, Vincent smiled.
Too Far Now
“Has it truly been thirty years since that night?” Catherine braided the still-tawny length of her husband’s mane. One of her early morning pleasures.
“We have come a long way, you and I.” Vincent’s hands stilled hers. His gaze saw beauty in the small lines of her sweet face below soft ash-grey hair.
“Too far now to go back and change anything,” Catherine teased. “Not that I would.”
Her husband rolled over, his powerful body covering hers. “I would.” He smiled at her confusion. “I would have said ‘I love you’ that first night.”
“Oh, Vincent. I adore you utterly…”
Father cast his mind back 30 years - back to that night when Vincent had brought Catherine below, unconscious and injured.
He looked around his chamber, regarded the familiar faces, tried to remember what they had looked like then, and failed. This family of friends had grown up and had children of their own.
Every year at this time, they spent the evening telling the story of Vincent and Catherine. No one tired of it.
It was Vincent's story to begin. Soon Father would tell his part, as would many others, sometimes by proxy.
For this was everyone's story, always.
Linda studied her reflection with a practiced, critical eye.
“Thirty years. What if they only want the young me?” she asked her companion, nervously.
“Tell them to go look back to ’87. None of us are that age, anymore. Neither are they,” Ron replied, referring to their waiting fans.
“Men get better looking, as they age. Women don’t,” she groused, applying dusting powder.
Ron laughed, shaking his head in the negative.
Then: “You’ll always be my Catherine, you know,” he said softly.
Her smile was serene. And full of the years, the friendship, between them.
“You’ll always be my Vincent.”
“Hi, Linda. It’s been too long.” Edward hugged her tightly. “How’ve you been?”
“Better now, than I was back then.” Linda’s face expressed regret. “Therapy helped me understand myself.” She looked around the convention room, filling with eager fans. “There was a time when something like this would have made me want to run.”
“They’ve all come to meet Elliot’s girl,” Edward teased with a winsome smile.
Linda tilted her head. “Don’t you mean, Vincent’s girl?”
“Never heard of him.” Edward’s smile turned conspiratorial.
“Well, he’s right here.” A powerful hand fell heavily onto Edward’s shoulder. “Hands off my Catherine.”
A New Day
Vincent woke before sunrise, as usual. He loved to watch the sky lighten through their window, the dawn of another new day.
He gazed at his love beside him, still asleep, still beautiful. As was his habit, he thanked the Fates for his life, their life.
It was almost 30 years since that fateful night in Central Park. The ensuing years had brought challenge, heartbreak, joy. Yet always their community reinforced its core strengths - love, inclusion and understanding.
Their story should be retold with emphasis this year. How to begin?
He smiled. What better way than "Once Upon a Time?"
The Conversation Goes On…
“I can’t believe we’re now sixty-six, can you?” Ron Perlman raised his eyebrows at his quiet friend.
“No…” Vincent allowed slowly. “We have come a long way, you and I.”
“It was only yesterday, it seems.” Ron waved his left hand. “I used to smoke cigars back then. I miss them.” He laughed.
“I don’t,” Vincent replied honestly. “Catherine always commented my clothes smelled of them. I told her it was the candle-smoke Below.”
“Great catch!” Ron grinned, before sobering. “I miss those times, more than I can say.”
“I am always here with you…” Vincent heaved a sigh. “Always…”