Crispen's Rose: Chapter Sixteen

Crispen's Rose: Chapter Sixteen

A Chapter by Rhayne





Tabora City, North Carolina

Tabora Museum


Rochelle pours Rose another cup of hot tea while still trying to calm her worrying.  Across the large basement room, Laura and David catalog the last pieces of the artifact. David seems more interested in keeping an eye on Alexander and Barcelli.  It seems they are more interested in Crispin’s paintings than anything else.  Each of them pointing to this one and then that one as they talk very quietly.  Mr. Merlion had been in the hallway cleaning up Derrick’s blood and stopped all talk and commotion with his bumbling through the door with the mop and pail.  All eyes were on him when he looked up.

“The hallway and elevator are all cleaned up now” he says, putting the mop and pail in the closet.  “How is the cataloging going?”

“We’re on the last piece now, Mr. Merlion.  I think we’re ready to move it all upstairs and set it up for the exhibit” says Laura. 

“Splendid!” he replies. 

Barcelli steps forward, carrying the portrait of Rose, “You’re not planning to display this one to the public, are you?”

Laura immediately looks over to Rose, “Well, yes.  That is if it’s okay with you, Rose?  It would be a shame not too. It’s such a wonderful painting.”

Tears stream down her cheeks, as she sees only the image of Crispin in the painting.  His eyes seemed to be looking directly at her, wanting, calling, begging her.  Was he asking her to never forget him?  Was he asking her to help him?  Was he needing her help?  Anybody’s help?  Was he even still alive?  Drying her tears, she glances to her watch.  Just how long had it been since he left her?  She taps the face of her watch and then her eyes finally focus on the second hand.  It is moving.  It is nearly four o’clock in the afternoon.  He had only been gone for a short while.  How can that be, she wonders?  It seems like hours.

“Laura, can’t you see that she can’t think of anything but Crispin right now?  And I don’t think she intended to show that one in the exhibit.  I agree with you that it’s wonderful and all but, Laura, she’s naked.  If it were you, would you want to display it?  I think Crispin meant it for her eyes only, anyway.”

“I think Rochelle is right” says Alexander, “it wasn’t meant for the world to see, just yet.  It should be kept private for now.”

“I agree with that too”, Barcelli adds.

“Then it’s settled.  We’ll crate it back up and put it away and then maybe in a hundred years or so it’ll be found and unpacked again and be even more valuable” says David, prompting sobs from Rose.

“Oh, Rose, he didn’t mean it like that” explains Laura.

“I know exactly what you meant, David.  Right now, it’s worthless because all of us know the artist is still alive.  How can all of you act like nothing is happening right now?  Crispin could already be dead for all we know!” she cries.  “Alex, I saw that look on your face earlier.  You feel it too, don’t you?  You know he’s not coming back!”

He rushes to her, realizing that he isn’t moving as fast as he would like, as he expects.  It seems almost slow motion in fact. But he gets to her, nevertheless, just as she is fainting.  He swoops her up and lays her gently onto the leather sofa.  With a finger, he sweeps away strands of hair from her closed eyes.  Laura grabs her coat from the armchair and covers her as Rochelle removes her shoes.  Alex pushes up from his knee, finding that he is in an unexplained weakened state himself.   He feels David’s eyes on him as he squeezes between the girls as they fuss over Rose to make her comfortable.  Looking past David to Barcelli, his eyes speak to him, sending Barcelli into motion toward him.

“What is it?”, Barcelli whispers, taking his upper arm.

“I don’t know.  I feel rather strange. Weak” he replies, slipping into Mr. Merlion’s executive chair.  “You don’t suppose something has happened to Crispin?”

“No, no. I would know if something were wrong”, says Barcelli.  “You just sit still for a bit and rest.  I’m going to step outside for a moment, away from the crowd in here.  I’ll be back in just a few minutes.”

Alex knows Barcelli is worried now too or he wouldn’t be excusing himself to go somewhere in private to do whatever he does to gain information he needs.  A funny feeling comes over him as he watches Barcelli disappear behind the heavy door.  He scans over to David who is already looking back at him, his interest seems intense.  David rises from the pillow on the floor where he had been helping Laura before everything had happened.  He meanders over toward Alex, picking up an artifact and examining it, putting it down and moving on to the next one until he is standing in front of the desk now.

“Where is your Father going?” he asks trying to be nonchalant. 

“Outside for some air, I guess.  Is that a problem?”

“Problem?  Course not.  Didn’t mean to imply it was.  Why are you so defensive, Alex?”

“Why have you been watching me all day, David?”

“I didn’t realize that I was.  I apologize.  It just seemed that something was wrong for a moment when you passed by me.  Like you were in some kind of discomfort or something.  Just wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help.”

“Well, I appreciate your concern, David.  I really do, but everything is fine I assure you.”

“Good.  I’m glad I misconceived the look on your face” he says starting to meander away.

“What look was that, David?”, Alexander continues.

He hesitated for a moment and then turned, “well, you had the look of surprise at first and then you looked a little, well, sick, if you’ll forgive the lack of a better word.”

There is something about David’s expression, his eyes, his tone that unnerves Alexander.  He wanted to stand but felt his legs might fail him and that seemed to be what David wanted him to do. He suddenly realizes that he knows nothing about David and this intrigues him.

“Please, David, have a seat and talk with me for a while.  The ladies seem to be occupied for the moment.  Let’s get to know each other a little better if you don’t mind.”

“I think that’s a splendid idea, Alex.  I’ve been wanting to ask you some questions but Laura has kept me from it.  She said there would be plenty of time later, but for some reason I get the feeling that she’s keeping something from me.”

“And what kind of questions did you have for me?” asks Alexander.

Reaching for the decanter on the silver tray on the corner of the desk, David helps himself to a glass of wine and then pours another and hands it graciously to Alexander, who accepts with a nod.

“Well, I wanted to ask you, I’ve been hearing stories from Laura and the girls and I was just wondering if you have powers like your brother.”

“I do”, Alexander replies.

Their eyes have a straight-line connection that both refuse to break first.

“You have the same powers your brother has” he states.

Alexander nods a confirmation, takes a sip of the wine and still refuses to break the eye contact.

“You can time travel?  Read minds?”, David continues.

“How do you think I came to be here, David?  I assure you that you will not find a birth record for me in this or the last century.  When I left Marseille, it was the year 1799 and I was twenty-two years old.  Time has a way of aging even the ageless, David.  But I think, knowledge and experience have a lot to do with how a person looks.  Don’t you agree?  How old are you, David?  Forty?  Forty-five?  You’re very distinguished looking, I must say.  I would contribute that to your education and experience.  Am I right?”

David swallows down the last gulp of his wine with somewhat of a smirk, “you would be right, Alex.  I’m actually forty-three but look older.  I’m sure it’s from all the hard work I’ve put in the last few years......trying to invest as much as I can so hopefully, I can retire early and enjoy the rest of my life. So, tell me, Alex, what’s it like living as long as you have, seeing what you have seen?”

“I try to take it just one day at a time, David.  Slow and easy, staying out of trouble and learning all I can.  Now that I’ve found my brother again and met Rochelle, I hope to take things even slower.”

“Yes, well, I wanted to ask you about that too.  How is that going to work with you and Rochelle?  Won’t she get old and you, won’t you stay the same?”

“I haven’t really given it that much thought, David.  We have only just met, you know.  Are these really the questions you had for me?  Aren’t you really wanting to ask me about my brother and what he’s doing right now?”

“Well, I was getting to that”, David replies pouring another glass of wine, but is interrupted by Barcelli barging in.

“Alexander, can I see you outside for a moment please?” he asks seemingly out of breath.

David and Alexander stand simultaneously.  David still watching Alexander.  With long strides, Alexander walked steadily toward Barcelli until he rounded the door and out of David’s sight.  Then, he grabs for Barcelli’s arm, winching in pain, “something is wrong, Barcelli.  I feel weak and achy all over.  I don’t seem to have any strength.  And earlier, I couldn’t move very fast.  What’s happening to me?”

As Alexander began to lose consciousness, Barcelli lifts him up as if he were a feather and carries him to the elevator.  Just as the doors are closing, David steps from the doorway of the basement room in time to see the predicament.  The elevator climbs to the first floor and stops.  Barcelli carries Alexander across the massive exhibition room towards the front door where another man waits, holding the door.

“I see it has already started” says the young man.

“Yes.  He told me that he lost his power of speed and felt weak.  Then he passed out.  Hurry, Raphael, we have to get him out of here.”

“Yes, Father”, Raphael replies, putting his hand on Barcelli’s shoulder and his other hand on Alexander’s head.  A sphere of light that seems to emanate from him surrounds them, lifting them, carrying them into the clouds.  They are just out of sight when David comes running through the front doors searching for them.  He hadn’t noticed that Laura had followed him.  She saw a look in his eyes that worried her.  He seemed to be angry about something as he looked to his left, to his right and then swiftly upward.  He slaps the door hard with his open palm.  Curious as to what is going on, Laura slips behind one of the large columns near the center of the room.  She can hear David’s voice, but who is he talking to when there seems to be no one else around.  She knew Mr. Merlion and the girls were still down stairs.  Barcelli and Alexander are nowhere in sight.

“What is going on now”, she whispers to herself.

She watches David in secret as he pulls the glass doors together and locks them.  As he walks briskly past her and towards the elevator, he speaks harshly to someone, to no one.

“I thought you were going to take care of Barcelli!  He got away with Alexander before I could finish.  I almost had him.  He’s weakened.  I was so close, damn it!  I have to stay here....keep the women in sight.  Oh, don’t worry about him.  Merlion is no threat to us.  Just let me know when you want the women.  But be sure Barcelli is under wraps by then.  No more screw ups, all right!”

The elevator doors open and close, taking him back to the basement floor.  Laura is taken aback with what she has just heard.  Suddenly, she doesn’t know who David is at all...or what he is.  All that is clear is that they, Rose, Rochelle and herself are in a lot of trouble.  Knowing that David would be looking for her, she hurries to Mr. Merlion’s first floor office to look for something to bring back as an excuse for leaving the basement room.  She searches his desk drawers for aspirin or anything that would be feasible.  First drawer, nothing.  Second drawer, nothing.  Third drawer, bingo!  A bottle of aspirin and a letter opener.  Quickly, she drops the gold-plated letter opener in the pocket of her blazer and carries the bottle of aspirin as she hurries toward the elevator.  The door opens just as she arrives but no one is inside.  Nervously, she steps onboard and presses the basement floor button.  The doors close slowly until it seemed it was air tight.  A sudden jolt and the elevator begins to descend. The single panel light above her flickers.  She grabs hold of the handrail across the back wall, staring up at the light.  The light dims and then goes off.  The elevator stops.  She’s in pitch black darkness, the aspirin bottle shaking in her hand.  She reaches inside her pocket, grasping hold of the letter opener. She didn’t feel alone anymore.  Then a soft voice speaks to her from the right of her, whispering, “don’t be afraid, I’m here to help you.  You will feel my hand touch yours and then you will find yourself in a safe place.  Ignore all other sounds.”

Just then, the elevator jolts causing her to scream.  Another voice came from the left of her, harshly saying, “you will not go with him, b***h, if you do you will never see your friends again!”

The voice was the same voice she had heard come from David, but it wasn’t his voice then either.  A hand touches hers and frightened by it, she tries to pull away but it clasps gently and firmly. Suddenly, she is in an unfamiliar but warm, bright place. The bottle of aspirin falls from her hand but never makes a sound as though it never came in contact with a solid floor.  She looks down.  Her feet are lost in the mist that swirls around her ankles.  She takes a step just to see if she is on something solid.  It is impossible for her to tell if the floor is hard or soft or even there.  Getting very nervous now, she calls out for help.  Her voice carries through the whiteness around her.

“You are safe, Laura.  Please relax.  I will have your friends with you soon.”

It is the same voice from the elevator, young, male, tender and sweet, but still unfamiliar.  

“You must hurry.  David is going to do something horrible to them.  I heard him talking but he wasn’t himself” she speaks out, but no reply comes back.


The elevator doors open to the basement floor and David steps off angrily.  Voices from the basement room stop him from opening the door.  He listens intently before making his entrance.

“How do we know we can trust you?  We don’t know who you are” says Rochelle.

“Did Alexander and Crispin not tell you of their eldest brother, Raphael?”

“Yes” exclaims Rose, “Crispin did mention that he had just learned that he had an older brother.  Are you Raphael?”

“I am, Mademoiselle.”

A surge of madness runs through David, “so that’s who helped Barcelli get away so quickly”, he says lowly.

“Then please, take us to Laura and Alexander”, Rochelle begs.

“Yes, Raphael, and to Crispin” adds Rose.

“It will be my pleasure, Ladies.  You have only to take my hands.”

Just as the sphere of light began to form, David charges toward them, penetrating the light at just the right moment.  Mr. Merlion watched in horror as the light became so bright he had to shield his eyes.  There was a quick flash and then darkness. Mr. Merlion slowly peaks through his fingers and sees the room is back to normal except there were no others in the room with him. Taking a breath of relief, he slithers around the furniture toward the door, never taking his sight from the area of the room where there was once four people standing.  As he rushes through the door, slamming it behind him and makes a beeline to the elevator, a strange noise stops him in his tracks.  The sound of something hitting the floor behind him.  Slowly, he turns, his eyes dropping to the floor where a bottle of aspirin rolls toward him.  The elevator doors opening behind him startle him again.  He runs inside and continuously presses the button for the first floor.  His nerves had endured all they were going to for one day.  No one would believe anything he had seen or heard.  He wasn’t even sure of it himself.  One thing he did know, he wouldn’t be coming back down to the basement alone ever again.

© 2019 Rhayne

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Whoa, I never expected that. David's a bad guy??

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Added on September 14, 2019
Last Updated on September 14, 2019



Nashville, NC

I love to write. It clears my head of all the noise and sometimes, somehow it turns into something that makes sense. more..


A Poem by Rhayne