“Don’t men usually open the door for the ladies?” He asked.
Anne laughed. “I’m far too old for something as new as chivalry.”
Joaquin’s eyes narrowed. “How old are you?”
“Chivalrous about doors, but not about asking a woman her age?”
Joaquin didn’t reply.
She smiled. “How old do you think I am?
More squinting from Joaquin, followed by, “Early thirties?”
“You’re sweet.” Anna patted him on the cheek and closed the door behind them.
“So, ya gonna tell me or what?”
Anne smiled and motioned towards an open door. “Wait in there.”
Joaquin walked through the door and paused at what he saw. There was a little blonde girl with a pink bow in her hair, a pink fur stole and a pink dress sitting perfectly still. Beside her sat an older woman wearing a blouse with pink, red and orange circles and an orange skirt. To Joaquin, it looked like a grass skirt he had seen on hula dancers. Next was a man dressed in a suit out of the seventies in hideous oranges and pinks to match. They all sat perfectly still – Joaquin couldn’t tell if they were breathing.
Joaquin leaned to examine the little girl and her blue eyes focused on him. The movement of her eyes startled him and he fell on his ass. The girl tilted her head to regard Joaquin and asked, “Are you here to play with me?”
Joaquin looked to the lady and noticed a tear glistening in the harsh light of the room. The light was so strong the dark shadow of the woman and girl contrasted against the pale green wall paint.
“What the hell you doin’ in here?”
Joaquin looked over his shoulder and saw Justin.
“Don’t look at me, dude. Keep your eye on the crazy little girl who can freeze you.”
Joaquin’s head snapped back to the little girl and his eyes focused on her outstretched arm. He scrambled back on all fours and skittered out of the room. He reached up to thank Justin, but when he got close to Justin’s bare forearm, Justin jumped back.
“Whoa, dude!” He grabbed Joaquin’s arm with his gloved hand and helped him to his feet. “That girl can freeze you and make you her plaything, but I’ll age the shit outta you.”
Joaquin mumbled his thanks and cleared his throat before falling into step behind Justin. “Ya know how old Anne is?”
Justin’s wide grin showed his perfect teeth. “Older than you think.”
“She said she knew Sunny Sue.”
Justin paused, mid stride. “Huh?”
“The art of war guy.”
Justin chuckled. “Sun Tzu. Yeah, I believe she did know him. I think he was impervious, like you.”
“But…” Joaquin stammered. “But that means she’s really old!”
“Yeah her lineage is one of the oldest. If she dies, she takes the life force of someone close to her and is revived. Both the legends of the vampire and the phoenix are derived from her people.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m thirty-seven. You?”
Joaquin squared his shoulders and thrust his chest out. “Seventeen.”
“Good for you!” Justin exclaimed. “I can die just like any other man. My lineage can be verifiably traced back to King Midas and further.” Justin paused again. “Hers is a much coveted lineage. You’d be wise to not ask too many questions.” Justin stopped and placed his gloved hand on Joaquin’s chest. “If anyone tells you to ask her about her time as Domenico Ghirlandaio’s assistant, don’t. It’s a trap.”
Joaquin stared blankly.
“The Cappella Magna?”
No response from Joaquin.
“Where the Pope lives?”
Joaquin’s eyes showed a sliver of realization. “The sixteen chapel?”
Justin rolled his eyes. “Yes, the Sistine Chapel.”
“Bitch! I don’ need you bustin’ my balls.” Joaquin slapped Justin’s forearm away with his hand. As soon as his fingers touched Justin’s bare arm, Joaquin let out a shriek and fell to the ground.
Justin stood over the writhing Joaquin. When it appeared Joaquin’s pain subsided, Justin leaned down and whispered. “You’re not in the projects any more.”
After Joaquin rose to his feet, Justin continued in a regular voice. “There are dangers in this world that try a man’s soul. You’re used to dealing with guns and purse snatchers.”
“Heed my words: People like Anne are who really control this world. The ‘one percent’ people go on and on about? Mere puppets. She fought against Genghis Khan in the gene wars. She helped rewrite the history books when our people went into hiding. Every cover up, every urban legend and every one here cedes their authority when she’s here.” Justin straightened Joaquin’s shirt with his gloved hands. “You just lost four years of your life by touching me. You better learn real quick your proper place or you’ll end up dead.”
Joaquin’s face turned red. “You threatening me?”
Justin scoffed. “Threaten? You obviously didn’t learn anything from only minutes ago.” Justin pulled his glove off and stepped closer to Joaquin.
The two spun and saw Anne standing with her hands on her hips. Her furrowed brow and clenched teeth indicated what she thought of their little tussle. She walked up and kissed Justin on the cheek. “Run along, now.” She whispered.
“Damn it! I hate it when you do that!” Justin sputtered indignantly before turning and walking away.
Anne smiled. “Now that you two have measured your dicks, we can get on with business.”
“What business you talkin’ ‘bout?”
“Why the family business, of course.” Anne opened a door and motioned inside. “Have a seat in my office.”
She sat in a comfortable chair and Joaquin stood by a chair on his side of the ornate desk.
“Please sit.” Anne said softly.
Joaquin regarded the chair but didn’t move.
“Sit down, now!” Anne said through clenched teeth. Her face softened as Joaquin complied. “We need to have a little chat about history.”
[1000 words]Chuck’s prompt this week was to write a story to go with the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover revealed on Wednesday. I figured we’d all see how Joaquin was getting along with his new friends.