"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

24 December 2011

A Question of Safety

“I have a cousin who lives out on the plains and a brother down in Texas,” Connelly mused. “Both of them are ranchers. Cowboys. With cowboys, the last thing you ever want to do is mess with their horses.” He then leaned forward to lock eyes with the Darcy, swaying side to side in her handcuffs across from him. “Up here, well, anywhere you got people who enjoy the outdoors, the last thing you want to do is fuck with their dogs.”

“You shouldn’t have killed the dog,” Lankin echoed coldly, his gray eyes narrowed.

Sydney sighed heavily at those statements and leaned her head on Lankin’s shoulder. Darcy, seated between two Levant County sheriff’s deputies, would glare daggers, but, for the first time in five years, it didn’t matter. This was the beginning of the end, although it wasn’t the end Darcy had envisioned. The thought got Sydney to smile. It was as though a weight was lifted. She closed her eyes and relaxed, subconsciously rubbing Lankin’s rope-burned hands.

Word travels fast in rural counties with small communities. It was joked in Levant County that rule was doubly so. Upon entering Magpie Jack’s that night Lankin and Sydney were greeted by a tide of cheers and pats on the backs and shoulders. Someone, as a joke, put on Queen’s We are the Champions. Grizz showed them to dimly lit table just past the pool table. There was a bottle of beer and bottle of wine already waiting for them.

“On me,” Grizz said. “So’s your dinners, in case you were wondering. And, Lazarus, if you don’t start another bottle tonight, I’ll be insulted.”

“Then I’ll endeavor to get half-drunk, Grizz,” he replied with a respectful inclination of his head.

Sydney found that Lankin was not exaggerating when he said Grizz made the best elk steaks. They ate well and shot a few games of pool. Every so often, she would allow herself to get closer to Lankin. Although he maintained his usual feline aloofness, it also seemed he was receptive to her advances.

“You certainly more relaxed, Just Sydney,” he said at one point. “I told you going up on the tundra would work wonders.”

“Cute. Although I’m a little leery now of your definition of ‘cathartic’” she snickered. “It’s strange, though, knowing that Darcy’s being taken care of after so long. I don’t know if I can explain it, but in a way I think I’m safe now.” She took his hands and pulled closer. The look in her dark eyes bordered between fear, relief, and simple desperation. “I am safe, aren’t I?”

Lankin reached up, cupping her face in one hand. She squeezed it and nuzzled his palm, planting a few light kisses along the red marks he’d acquired from the rope earlier. The look on his face was pensive.

“Not completely,” he said, a single finger tapping her temple. “She’s still in there, and she probably will be for a very long time. It’s something I can neither protect nor save you from. You’ll have to face that down and make peace with it on your own.” He then leaned forward and gently placed his lips on her brow. As he pulled back there was a compassionate smile on his face. “I am, however, optimistic.”

Sydney found there was nothing she could say. Instead, she merely nodded, and with a smile, she squeezed his hand once more and planted another kiss along his palm.


  1. This chapter reads like the end; if so, you finished the story arc just as you said: before the end of the year. Great writing, I totally enjoyed every episode.

    I'm guessing Lazarus and Sydney aren't destined for togetherness, or am I reading that wrong?? In my mind, she's just not the woman for him--and he's definitely too much for her--but it's what you have percolating in your mind that counts.

  2. Thank you. It's kind of a toss up, but I'm thinking there will be epilogue beyond this. Probably something short. Just given the way he is, I'm not sure there is a woman for Lankin, but, then again, I'm not a romantic.

  3. I really love these characters. A great post for Christmas Eve and I love the honest truth:
    "You shouldn’t have killed the dog"

  4. Thank you. Yeh, the dog-killing's a hanging offence, at best, around these parts.

  5. This does read like the end, but I just thought of an excellent epilogue. Of course, I'll never tell you what it is. I'd rather read your version, if there is one. I like the way you always surprise me.

  6. Great...leave me wondering. See how you are?

  7. Silly. You're a complete romantic..!! Perhaps not the humdrum flowers and candy version, but certainly your writing fits the emotional, visionary, passionate definition of the word.

    How else do you think your thoughts combine into such great stories..??