Jun 22 2016
CARVED Part 06: The Park of Heroes
The Park of Heroes. Built a few years back to replace an old stadium on the site, it was created to honor those who fought to save the city from a destructive war. It was here that Rodolfo Estoque chose to meet his contact regarding the bookstore incident.
As he sat on a bench facing a statue of the heroes, Rod felt a tap on his shoulder. He craned his neck and saw a woman in her early to mid-thirties towering over him. She wore shades and a baseball cap to obscure her facial features, but Rod could still recognize her by the way she had two chopsticks holding down her hair in a bun and the sleeveless white shirt and red necktie.
“Aunt Elvira?” he asked.
The woman pursed her lips. “And I thought my disguise was perfect,” she replied.
Rod grinned. “It’s not much of a disguise if you still dress the way you normally do.”
Elvira smiled and mussed up Rod’s hair before she sat next to him. “Good to see you too,” she said.
“But where’s Aunt Claire? I thought I specifically asked for her to come.”
“Claire’s busy. Last I heard she had a job investigating monster attacks in some faraway village. Werewolves, from the sound of it.”
Rod’s eyes widened. “W-werewolves?” he stammered. “Is that even possible?”
Elvira lowered her shades and stared at Rod. “With the people I hang out with and the things I’ve seen, nothing surprises me now.”
As he gazed at the statue once again, Rod said, “I wouldn’t be surprised, now that I think about it. But at least they made you and your friends look good.”
Elvira glanced at the statue and sighed. “I still think I look too fat there.” Leaning back on the bench, she asked, “Of all the places to meet, why here?”
“I was thinking that after we figure out what’s going on with that woman from the bookstore,” Rod said, “that we could talk about what happened back then, when you all helped save this city.”
Elvira shrugged. “It always comes back to that, huh? But that’s a story for another time.” Seeing Rod’s disappointed look, she said, “Anyway, let’s talk about your girlfriend.”
Rod could feel his face redden. “She’s not my girlfriend! I just met her at the bookstore the other day!”
“Whatever you say, lover boy.” Pulling out a small sheet of folded paper from her pants pocket, Elvira handed it to Rod.
Rod took the paper and unfolded it. It was a grainy black and white picture of Kris. Unlike the woman he saw in the bookstore, here she was a girl that appeared to be in her early teens. She wore a frilly dress and a large bow on her head. She looked like a tiny doll perched on the large wooden chair she sat on. Behind her was a middle-aged man with a gentle face who put his hand on her shoulder.
Elvira pointed to the picture, saying, “That girl, Kris, is actually Kristina Bowie, daughter of the organized crime boss, Ferdinand “Mack” Bowie. He died not long after this picture was taken. She has been running his criminal enterprise ever since.”
Upon closer inspection of the picture, Rod could not believe that the little girl in it would become a head of an organized crime ring. The Kris he saw in the bookstore acted like a normal young woman. An important woman surrounded by protectors, yes, but not for the reasons he expected.
Elvira noticed Rod’s focus and said, “I know what you’re thinking, Rod. Seeing her after all these years confirmed in me that the criminal world that runs this city is a strange one.”
Rod stared at her. “What do you mean?”
“Both our fathers were friends. I took that picture of hers years ago. She’s been living a secret life ever since, and yet here she is, being dragged into the spotlight.” With a sigh, Elvira added, “Just like me.”
Rod said sheepishly, “Sorry.”
Elvira waved the comment away. “It’s okay,” she said. She leaned forward, picked up some pebbles at the foot of the bench, and laid them on her lap. “I realized long ago that I can’t truly escape the legacy my own father left me when he died. Even though I served in the force like your father, we always ended up clashing wth people from my past. They called me traitor as I put them in jail or in the grave. That can strain even the strongest of souls, and that’s why I left. Started my little investigation group with Claire.”
Rod whistled. “I can’t imagine how difficult it was for both you and my Dad, doing what you did.”
With a sad smile, Elvira said, “It’s amazing what people do in the name of duty. Every time I put a bullet in someone’s head or locked them beind bars, I thought I could bury my past with it. But we can’t deny who we are, Rod,” pointing at the picture, she added, “and I’m sure that Kris feels the same way.”
The wind picked up. Brown and yellow leaves from the nearby trees spun toward the earth, swaying from one direction to another. Elvira grabbed a pebble and threw one at a leaf, puncturing it. Each time she threw a pebble, another leaf landed with a hole in its body until she had none left.
Rod whistled again, amazed.
Elvira smiled. “I feel better with a gun in my hand, actually,” she said.” Turning to Rod, she said, “I may not be as good as Claire when it comes to the supernatural, but working with her and her friends after all these years taught me one thing: if the answers you seek come from a place that people don’t understand, then you better be ready to put your own body on the line trying to weed out every bit that you can.”
Rod looked at his left forearm, still shining with the letters once carved there. Questions raced through his head, but the most dominant one among them was how he could solve the mystery of the carvings on his own.
Elvira put a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, you won’t be entirely alone. I got dragged into this crazy supernatural world a long time ago. I can help in any way I can, but you’ll have to be careful. The world you might be entering is not kind to strangers.”
“Yeah,” Rod said. His heart was thumping harder along with his temples. Was it excitement or frustration? He could not find an answer even as he racked his brains.
Reaching again into her pocket, Elvira pulled out a pen and handed it to Rod. “Why don’t you stop thinking and just write on your arm?” she asked. “That could be one way of testing if it works.”
Rod felt his face redden. He took the pen and wrote “HELLO” on his left forearm.
Nothing happened for several seconds. Rod frowned, but a sudden pang of pain made him grind his teeth. It was that pain again, right when the first messages appeared. Just as he thought, lines and curves snaked across his arm until they formed the words, “WHO ARE YOU?”
TO BE CONTINUED
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