The continuing account of reading A Night in the Lonesome October with an nine-year-old, out loud and during the day.
First time out yesterday I got him farther through the muck, but he was still in it when I left him. I was tired. Jack was sequestered with his objects. The police were about, searching the area. The vicar was out, too, offering exhortations to the searchers. Night came on, and later I made my way back to the muck, chasing off a few vermin and beginning the long haul once again.
I'd worked on and off for over an hour, allowing myself several panting breaks, when I realized I was no longer alone. He was bigger than me even, and he moved with a silence I envied, some piece of the night cut loose and drifting against lesser blacknesses.
I’ve always loved that line, but Lily was pretty indifferent to it.
He seemed to know the moment I became aware of him, and he moved toward me with a long, effortless stride, one of the largest dogs I'd ever seen outside of Ireland.
Correction. As he came on I realized he wasn't really a dog. It was a great gray wolf that was bearing down on me. I quickly reviewed my knowledge of the submissive postures these guys are into as I backed away from the corpse.
I had to get into the whole wolf pack offering the throat submission, because she wasn’t familiar with it.
Only a few people, one woman, the rest of them men, were present, occupying the front pews. The vicar stood before the altar, which I noted to be draped in black, and was reading to his congregation. He squinted through his square spectacles, as the flickering light was not very good, all of it coming from only a few black candles. Larry pointed out that the cross was upside-down, but I'd already noticed this myself."Do you know what that means?" he asked softly.
"Religious distress signal?" I said.
"Listen to what he's saying."
So I did.
"'. . . Nyarlathotep,'" he read, "'cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. He is like a many-legged goat, and he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice, horned in glory. Nyarlathotep spake, and he said, "Rise up, my dark one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is nigh and the cold rains fall. The flowers have died upon the earth, and the singing of birds is done. The turtle lies slain. The fig tree withers, as do the grapes. Arise, my dark one, and come away. . . ."'"
The woman had risen to her feet, swaying slightly, and had begun to disrobe.
Lily wasn’t familiar with the concept of a Black Mass (I know, I’ve neglected her education), but she comprehended the general situation well enough. This scene wasn’t necessary for her, because she already had the vicar pegged as a villain and a player."You've proved your point," I said to Larry, memorizing the faces of the parishioners, whom I suspected to be the crossbow crew as well.
If neither Talbot nor the vicar were technically involved, I'd a good candidate for the center. And if only Larry were involved, it still held. Though I was leery of the Count, it would have to be checked out. But the vicar was also a wild card. If he were to be counted, but not Larry, an equally good candidate for center came into existence, one I had even visited recently. If he _and_ Larry were both to be counted as players, though, a third possible site of manifestation was created, to the southeast, I hadn't quite figured where yet. I moved in a big circle about the hilltop, pissing on stone after stone as I calculated, partly to keep track of the lines, partly in frustration.You’d better believe a nine-year-old liked that part.