My obsession with the subject first came about in a book of Apocrypha I discovered within the walls of the Library of Congress in the United States of America. It was undocumented, strangely nestled in-between two large reference volumes on the histories of sea ports along the Mediterranean Sea. I was working on a now-unimportant nonfiction on seafaring in the middle ages, but the scraggly-looking, leather-bound collection caught my attention and did not let go. I call it a collection, because it was mostly comprised of loose sheets of parchment, written hastily in an older Greek text.
It was a reproduction, ultimately, but it contained strange passages referencing a figure, that we had later termed The Lady, to excerpts from the cannon bible, more specifically those referencing seraphim. The first pages discussed their nature, and in a brief paraphrasing, I translate below:
The difference between an angel and a demon is not in appearance. The difference is in the actions they take and those who they serve. So, which side do you choose? Your heart will guide you without your will, and your path is thus predetermined, regardless of what actions take place. You will forever be an angel, or you will forever be a demon – there is no choice.
~ Excerpt from Of The Lady, And Other Fantasies.
“I don’t particularly like him.”
“He’s your brother, and he needs your help. Al, you can’t just sit there and do nothing.”
Alwin had received a phone call ten minutes prior from his brother Dominic. Dominic was always in some kind of predicament, from starting a fist fight with the CEO of a telemarketing firm that he briefly worked for to cases of money laundering deals that turned sour. He was a criminal — in Alwin’s opinion — and everytime Dom had ‘turned a new leaf,’ he would slip into his old ways and disappear for extended periods of time.
“Listen, I feel sorry for him too, but he’ll never change. Besides, it’s my job to bring people like him to justice — can’t you see how hypocritical it would be to harbor him in our home?”
Elizabeth was unusually stern for once, and Alwin could see he was going to ultimately lose.
“This time it’s serious, his life is in danger and I think it is the right amount of fire under his butt to force him to change his life for good. I’ll take responsibility for his actions if I have to; he’s family and I’m not about to let him suffer because you are too stubborn to forgive him.”
The more Alwin thought of her determination, the stranger the situation became for him. Why does she even care about MY relative, he argued mentally. Elizabeth didn’t break eye contact, and was deathly serious.
“Ok fine, whatever! He’ll stay here until he can get back on his feet, but I’m telling you, he won’t change.”
Dominic stepped off the plane, with his commanding presence intimidating his fellow passengers as he pushed past. He was tall, muscular with tattoos riddled visibly all over his arms and neck; the genetic connection to Alwin was lost in appearance. Alwin was holding up a small paper sign aptly titled ‘DOM’.
It was Dominic who broke the first smile; his brother, despite the lack of enthusiasm in providing for his brother for the indefinite future, was also happy to see him. They hugged, shook hands and took a few seconds to observe one another.
“Well, let’s get back to the house to get you situated.”
They retrieved Dominic’s luggage and proceeded through the airport.
“I almost couldn’t recognize you, little brother. You’re all sharp and fancy now, what with your fed job and detective work.”
“Orange jumpsuits were never really my thing.”
Dominic gave a hearty laugh; he carried a deep voice to match the large block of flesh he inhabited.
“You were always a funny one Ally. Do you remember that time when we were kids, and after Dad got on to you about wasting shaving cream, you replaced his shampoo with mayo? It still gets to me, and it’s things like that that remind me of you. Al, I really appreciate it.”
“It’s no problem, Dom. We’re family and family needs to stick together. You seem to be doing relatively ok; I mean, you’re not missing an eye or anything. How have you been? And I mean you, like how you feel.”
“I’m not going to lie, it has been rough. But I’m done, I’m done with everything. I want to live without worrying if I’m going to make it to work without having a gun shot at my car. The relationship that you have with, is it Elizabeth? I don’t have that, but there should not be a reason that I can’t have it. This is my new start, brother, and I need your help.”
“You have a lot of double negatives to sort out, but I’ll do what I can. I can’t make any promises; I’m involved in a really taxing case right now and I’ll be away most of the time.”
“That will be no problem.”
They arrived at Alwin’s car, piling the luggage in the trunk. It was a thirty minute drive from the airport to Alwin’s home, and the two brothers casually caught up on the small details of their lives. A tattoo of a curved knife on Dominic’s arm glinted in the sunlight; Alwin pondered if there would ever be a reason he would mark his body in such a fashion.
Alwin pulled his car into the driveway and helped bring in his brother’s bags. Elizabeth met them at the door in a t-shirt and yoga pants.
“You didn’t tell me how gorgeous she was, brother!”
Dominic kissed Elizabeth’s hand out of courtesy, to Alwin’s slight internal dismay.
“I figured I would leave the best surprise for last.”
“Thank you Dominic, can I call you Dom like Al does?”
“You can call me whatever you like. Just let me know if intrude on you guys personal lives, or if I’m just being an ass in general.”
“I’m sure that won’t be a problem at all. Just pick up after yourself, and keep things tidy. The washer and dryer is in the back foyer, and you will stay in the guest bedroom, second door on the right when you go into the hall.”
Elizabeth paused for a second, and just stared at Dominic. He returned her gaze with a grin, and Alwin found it a little weird in the back of his mind.
“He swallowed the bait, all hook, line and sinker. I’ll update you,” Dominic spoke assertively to the person on the cell phone. Alwin walked in as he was wrapping up his conversation.
“Hope I didn’t interrupt.”
“Oh, no you’re fine. I was just making a few phone calls towards finding a job here. Made some progress, I think, so you won’t have to worry about me being a leech Ally.”
“That’s great news. I wanted to ask a favor of you.”
“Dom, I didn’t think I would actually ask this, but could you keep an eye out for Lizzy? Just when I’m not around. I’m working on a strange case and Collins and I made contact with a couple of dangerous suspects. We could potentially be dealing with assassins, and you know better than I do what that entails.”
“Little brother, if so much as a hand lays on her, I’ll rip it clean off their arm and shove it so far up their ass they’ll be vomiting sign language.”
“A little more graphic than I imagined but I appreciate it. I didn’t tell her, but I put my life in danger recently and I don’t want her worried for me. It’s a part of my duty, and I am not afraid to face it. There was an older man that I didn’t have a good look at, but the other was a brunette with green eyes, somewhat short but not to be underestimated. I don’t know if there’s others involved, but a mess has been made and we’re trying to clean it up.”
Alwin shook Dominic’s hand in agreement, and felt that he could honestly trust in him. They were brothers, and he felt it was the least Dominic could do for him. He walked away satisfied, while not completely eliminating the stress of the case it helped alleviate some of the worry he had for himself and for her. Dominic felt he had won the lottery; the situation was turning out better than he could have imagined.
When Dominic’s brother left for work, he began his own adventures. Elizabeth walked downstairs in a maid’s outfit, giving him a sinister grin…