|Ji (schiarire) wrote in nextian,|
But today a man he'd never seen before sat in the pews. The man was young and visibly monied, wearing a finely tailored black coat that made him seem taller, thinner, and paler than he was, following the current fashion. When Ignacio looked at him he felt austere, invisible. He found his attention moving from Father Nolan's voice, so that he realised a moment later he could not recollect his Father's words. Shock chilled him. Never, never before had he lost the sense of a sermon. He imagined Hell's fire, so savage and so bright it had no color, waiting to warm him, and turned his eyes with a long shiver back to the pulpit.
After Mass the parishioners shook hands with each other and Father Nolan and left, but the new man did not leave. "You're just the man I've come to see," he told the august priest, and drew him by the arm into an alcove for deep conversation. Ignacio wished to speak to Father Nolan, too; and he wished to know what these two men could be discussing, but he saw their need for privacy and left the church.
He was standing beneath snow-bearing trees in the yard outside, contemplating the lives of those buried together here in the earth, when a rich Pipe voice said at his shoulder, "So you're the protégé, are you?"
Ignacio started. "I beg your pardon?"
"The name's Wolf," said the man who had been so familiar with Father Nolan. "Oliver Wolf." When he grinned, Ignacio saw that his incisors were very slightly longer than those of other men, so that his appearance carried a faint hint of the feral. "Here-- my card."
Placing his left hand politely over his own chest, Ignacio took the card in his right and read: OLIVER WOLF, ESQ., DEFENCE COUNSEL, BARTLEBY & SCRIVENER.
"But you're very young to be an attorney," said Ignacio, looking up. "Aren't you, Oliver?" The name felt foreign on his tongue, as if he had never spoken it before, had never so much as heard it, never seen it written in any book.
"And you're young to be renouncing the material world," Wolf said. "You'll be wondering why I'm here but don't worry, it's nothing serious, just a small lawsuit."
His voice climbing higher than it had done in years, Ignacio asked, "A small lawsuit? Against whom?"
"Oh, no one, no one, just the priest there." Wolf waved his dismissal. "Don't worry, I said."
"Against Father Nolan?"
Ignacio whipped his head back to look at the church, small and snow-covered and at once vulnerable, a thing not of stone but of fancy, a dream you could set up or collapse, take away, and felt himself beginning to tremble. "I'm sorry," he said, "I must--"
"Must nothing," said Wolf. He took Ignacio by the shoulders, looking for his startled gaze. "Jes' trust me to put everything right, Nacio. I'll fix it. I'll fix it all. Then you'll have not a thing to fret you but the state of your soul."
Once more he gave that sharp, vicious grin. "Only come for a drink first. It's colder than an eyai's heart in this graveyard."
"That's terrible," said Ignacio, but somehow the panic that had seized him now released his heart; was carried away with the ebb of his blood. He took a deep breath. "And I don't drink."
"'Course you don't," said Wolf. "But you'll come."
To his own surprise, Ignacio smiled. He felt filled with a light as clear as that of the water covered in the font by ice this winter; clear as the high and cloudless sky. He said, "Yes. Yes, I will, Oliver, I'll come."