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My apologies for falling down on the posting last week. It's been an interesting couple of weeks, with very little time or brainspace for writing, but I'm attempting to put coping mechanisms in place. While we wait to see if they work, here's your next episode!


Resistance Is Futile

Ira was listening to the television when Suzanne said, suddenly, "Ira, will you please come to church with me tonight?"

He hadn't heard her come into the living room, her steps on the carpeting drowned out by the news coverage of some sort of atrocity in the Midwest, another house firebombing, the third that week. His surprise addled his wits for a moment. "What?"

"I need you to come to church with me," Suzanne said, and there was something strange in her voice, something half-desperation and half-tears.

"Suzanne, sweetie," Ira said gently, "I've told you before that I don't like churches. I'm a nonobservant Jew, and I'm happy that way."

"Please," she said.

He thought about it. What cost to him if he went with her? But she'd changed so radically after starting there, and he was worried about what sort of technological mental broadcasting was happening at those gatherings. He certainly wasn't one of those people who couldn't be affected telepathically -- his encounters with Master Mind in the 60s were proof of that. And what if he started talking about the sedition happening in Madame Destiny's living room? No, the potential costs were too high. And besides, he really didn't like churches. "I'm sorry, sweetie," he said.

After a long moment, she choked on a sob. "Oh, Ira," she said, and hurried from the room.

He puzzled over that as he listened to an interview with an "expert on superherodom" discussing the apparent absence of the Gold Stars. "We're better off without them," the expert said. "They're a danger to every American, both morally and physically, particularly heroes that style themselves as ultimate humans." He put an emphasis on the word "ultimate," of course. "They're just the sorts to put themselves above the laws of man and God."

He heard Suzanne come in this time. Her voice was subdued as she said, "I'm sorry, Ira, but I have to ask you to... to leave." She hiccuped.

Ira went cold from his scalp all down his back. He didn't have to ask her to clarify; he understood perfectly. It was, in fact, the sentence he'd thought he'd hear three years ago, after Josh died. His stomach tying itself into knots of panic, he kept his voice as steady as he could when he said, "When?"

Suzanne gasped around another sob, swallowed, and said, "Before Sunday."

Sunday. Sunday. What had she been saying yesterday about Sunday? That the tent revival was coming back to town. He tried to force his brain to focus on the conversation at hand. "All right," he said, feeling an unnatural calm settle over him, and he knew it for shock and welcomed it. "I see." Well, he didn't, but he wasn't going to go there.

"I'm sorry," she said again, miserably. He could imagine her wringing her hands.

"It's all right, sweetie," he said, and the endearment drew another sob from her. He fumbled for the remote and shut the television off. "I guess I'm making things difficult for you."

"I have to go," she said, voice thick with weeping vibrato. "To church. Tonight."

"You go ahead," he said, nodding slowly. "Just go on."

He heard the front door slam shut a few moments later, and sat in the silent house, waiting for the reverberations to die away.

Slowly, his brain started to turn over the possibilities of why this was happening, but he quashed that. No use speculating now. There were more important things to think about -- specifically, where to go, and when.

Madame's was right out -- the second bedroom was X's, and the guest room had been turned into holding space for Madame's extensive wardrobe. Jane was staying in Lady J's tiny house with her. Maybe Ebb and Flo could put him up for a bit. There might be other folks he wasn't thinking of. And then there was always his old friend, the YPCA.

As to when... staying after tonight was out of the question, he suddenly decided. He couldn't stand the idea of Suzanne drooping and sniffling around him until Saturday -- he couldn't stand it for even one night.

He stood up and fumbled his way to what used to be his bedroom.

Suzanne had thoughtfully organized the room so he could always find things by touch, folding and hanging his clothes in the same places week after week. He opened his closet and reached into the back to find his battered old leather suitcase. He set it on the bed, opened it by old instinct -- he'd once used it a great deal, when he was subbing for different hero teams week after week -- and started to pack. Underwear and undershirts first, then his two best dress shirts and a half dozen lesser shirts, and two pair of his khaki trousers. His one suit. His sneakers, his loafers, and his dress shoes. He packed his precious little box of mementos of Tin Lizzie, his wife-who-never-was, and his lockbox of papers last, padding around them with socks and his shaving kit. He closed the case and snapped the catches into place.

He sat on the bed for so long he lost track of time, thinking about the years of living there, caring for his comatose son, and existing in the same space with Suzanne. He'd long since come to think of Suzanne as his child, and he knew he was going to be devastated in a day or two. Better to get this over with now. Rip off the bandaid, Ira.

Ira stood and picked up his suitcase, carrying it easily to the front door. There he set it down and started to populate his pockets with his wallet and everything else, but stopped when he got to his keys. With fingers that trembled a little too much, he tore the metal that held the housekey to his keyring and dropped the key into the bowl with a dull clink, the only evidence of his reaction. He took up a pen and the pad of paper that was always there, flipped to the second page, and shakily wrote his best sightless version of, "Will send for the rest when I have a place."

He put on his overcoat and hat, took up his suitcase, and extended his white cane with a flip of the wrist. He went out the door and pulled it shut behind him very softly but firmly, and then made his way to the bus stop.

Upon entering the Y, he immediately collided with the new chairs that hadn't been there last time he could see. He stifled a curse and made his way toward where his desk had been.

"Ira!" a familiar voice exclaimed from down the hall.

He turned that way, feeling utterly betrayed by his deity and the universe at large. He heard the hurried footsteps on the tiles and tried to force a smile. "Andrea," he said, and his voice sounded dead in his ears.

"Ira," his first ex-wife in this timeline said angrily -- she said almost everything angrily -- "what the hell are you doing with that suitcase?"

He glanced downward at the suitcase in his hand as if he could see it. "Carrying it," he said.

"That's your old suitcase," Andrea said. Then, more softly, "I thought I'd thrown that damned thing away years ago."

"Yep," he said. He felt something trickle down his cheek and drip off his chin, and nearly died of embarrassment on the spot as he realized he was weeping old man tears.

"Ira," Andrea said almost softly, laying a hand on his arm. She smelled of talcum powder and a faint lilac perfume. "Ira, sweetie, what's wrong?"

"She's... she asked me to leave, Andrea," he said, and bit his lip in mortification as more tears made their awkward way down his lined cheeks. "Something with her church, I think. I didn't ask."

Andrea started to say something several times and stopped each time, until she finally said, "So you were just going to come break your back on these springloaded cots, rather than call any of your friends. Just like you, you proud old beast."

"Just until I could think of someone to call," he said plaintively.

"You're coming with me," Andrea said firmly.

"I..."

"With me," she said. "You can stay in David's room." She added, uncharacteristically apologetic, "I... I haven't gotten around to clearing it out..."

He was about to try to refuse, recalling that her husband had only died six months earlier, but she'd already taken his suitcase from him, tucked his arm in her free elbow, and started towing him down the hall toward the parking lot door. "Thank you, Andrea," he said in a low voice.

Andrea sniffed as they emerged into the open air. "I'm not about to leave an old blind man to stay alone in the goddamn Y, even if he is my ex-husband."











Date: 2013-04-13 11:03 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
IRA //sob

Date: 2014-02-03 05:45 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Poor Suzanne, she's going to be devastated when she finds out what happened to her. She loves Ira, and Simon and she only went to church for some hope.

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