Somewhere It's Raining
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Cold front coming through – she could taste the change in the wind, and feel the pressure in her bones. The temperature had already dropped twenty degrees since sunset, and the wind on the rooftop whipped her hair into her eyes. Absently she tucked it behind her ear, oblivious to the fact that it blew right out again. It was nearing midnight, and all her senses, natural and otherwise, were trained on the rooftop across the narrow alleyway from the one on which she crouched.
“C’mon, Laz old buddy… Where the hell are you?”
She frowned. Almost a week, and not a sign of her strange erstwhile companion. She wasn’t sure whether to be worried or relieved… Or both. She sighed and checked her watch. 12:15. Apparently he still didn’t want to be found.
She rose and stretched out the kinks in her back, then retrieved her gig bag from where she had stashed it away from prying eyes. She still had to decide what she was going to play at the Salon, though she supposed it didn’t really matter much. They’d applaud politely, make the appropriate noises of admiration. She doubted they’d even hear the words, though, let alone the sentiment behind them. Settling down with her back against the wall of the roof access, she pulled out the battered Yamaha and tuned it, wondering absently what Lazarus would think if he heard her playing. “Boy, that would shatter his paradigm, wouldn’t it… The evil creature of the night making music.” She chuckled to herself and began to play.
Somewhere past the canyons… It’s raining.
There’s a promise of water and wind
that disturbs the place where rock and sky meet
in a momentary glory of storm…
She closed her eyes, trusting her fingers to know their places on the frets and strings. If she tried, if she let her mind go, she could almost feel the dry heat on her skin, radiating upward from the slickrock. It smelled of sagebrush and sand, and held the tang of water that evaporated before it reached the ground.
The distance between here and the rain
is no further than the space between us now.
The emptiness that spans both time and miles
is the distance between me and the clouds…
Between the clouds and the sky, she soared, her voice carrying her over the moon-silvered back of the storm. Lit from within by flashes like inspiration, the clouds were a roiling, breathing beast, and she fed off its quick anger and soared ever higher. This was her place, here where there were so many stars that they seemed to overlap. Her fingers flew across the strings, her voice climbed in the night air.
Somewhere past the canyons, it’s raining.
A river’s born and dies in the sand,
already too old to survive,
a story half-told, left undone…
Canyons and mesas scrolled out beneath her, the wind between the storms dry as parchment through her feathers.
And I can see the sun beneath the lightning and the storm.
I can see the end of the road.
Tonight it doesn’t seem so far, it’s just the miles that bleed…
And somewhere past the canyons, you watch the stars like me.
The song reached a crescendo, and she was lost within it, within a time and place far removed from Southeast DC on a cold December night. Chords seemed to flow from her fingers like water, running in crashing rivers of sound across the desert sky. But slowly, reluctantly, the song came to an end, and the reverberations died away in softly fading echoes. She sat, silent and still, eyes closed, and listened to them disappear. Reality was calling her back, whether she wanted it to or not.
Suddenly the sharp sound of boots on brick seized her and pulled her out of her reverie, and she snapped to attention, every instinct awake and scanning the rooftop around her. There. Against the far wall, in front of the fire escape. Female, no more than sixteen years old, frozen like a rabbit caught in the gaze of a hawk. She sniffed, and concentrated briefly on the girl’s aura. Human. Abigale relaxed slightly.
“Hey. What the hell you doin’ up here at this hour?” she asked, trying to project calm at the terrified creature.
The girl drew herself up, lifting her chin defiantly. “Heard the music. Decided to check it out. What the hell you doin’ playing guitar on a roof at this hour?”
Abigale chuckled. “Good point. What’s your name?”
“Ina Sanchez. Who’re you?”
“Name’s Abigale. You from around here?” She started to pack the guitar back into the gig bag, stashing away her picks and capo as she talked.
The girl jerked her chin towards the south corner of the building. “Got a place a couple blocks that way. Me and my sister.”
Abigale nodded. “You take care of your sister, do you?”
“Yep. Make sure she gets three squares and goes to school. Work two jobs to do it, but she’s a good kid.” The pride was obvious in her voice.
Abigale regarded her levelly for a moment, then gently extended her consciousness into the girl’s mind, careful to mask her presence from Ina’s awareness. The girl’s thoughts confirmed what she said – she and her younger sister lived a few blocks away, and she worked a day job in a law office near the Navy Yard during the day and waited tables at a Peruvian restaurant in the evenings. She seemed clean, too, no drugs in her system.
“You have a cell phone, Ina?”
She looked confused, but nodded. “Yeah. Why?”
Abigale smiled. “I was wondering if you’d be interested in making a little extra cash. Nothing illegal,” she said hurriedly, before the girl could protest. “I’m looking for some folks, who you might have occasion to run into around here. Big guy, calls himself Jose, and his buddy Bart. They run with some of the gangs in this area of town, sometimes.” She saw Ina stiffen and start to protest, and held up a hand. “I don’t want you to do anything to them, or even talk to them. But if you happen to hear anything about them, or see them around, if you give me a call and let me know, I’d be most grateful.”
“Grateful?” Ina raised a shrewd eyebrow, and Abigale chuckled.
“Yes. To the tune of, say, fifty bucks a pop for good info?”
“A hundred. I don’t wanna be fuckin’ with them gangs.”
“Seventy five for good info, a hundred if it turns into something I can use. Sound good?”
Ina squinted at her, looking the other girl up and down. Abigale tried to imagine how she must look to the casual observer: unkempt red hair beneath a black wool hat resembling a Scottish tam, old jeans over square-toed Harley boots, black leather jacket, strange golden eyes. And, she reminded herself, she didn’t look much older than eighteen or nineteen herself. She smiled encouragingly, and the girl nodded.
“Okay, I’m in. Can’t guarantee anything, I don’t see many people outside the office and the restaurant. But if I hear anything, I’ll let you know.”
“Excellent.” Abigale stood and shouldered her guitar, starting towards the fire escape. Halfway there, she stopped and turned. “Oh. One other person I’d like you to keep a lookout for. Tall, skinny, longish blond hair, light blue eyes. Kinda cute, in a strange sorta way. Calls himself Lazarus.”
Ina shrugged. “Okay, sure. Will do.”
“Thanks.” Abigale reached into her coat pocket and pulled a couple of twenties from the clip tucked inside. She folded them around a simple white business card with the name “Abigale W.” and the secure phone number and email address she kept for non-Kindred contacts, which she tossed over to Ina. The girl caught it easily, despite the efforts of the wind to whisk it away, and grinned. “Down payment.” Abigale smiled and swung herself over onto the fire escape, climbing down as a normal human would, hand over hand.
Keeping an ear trained on the streets behind her to make sure Ina didn’t take it into her head to follow her, Abigale walked slowly towards her haven, humming.
Somewhere past the canyons, you watch the stars like me…
“And I’ll find you,” she said to herself, smiling slightly. “I will find you again.”