LW: We were all sitting in Raymond Caulder’s kitchen. I had the head of the table, Sol sat as far from me as he could get, and Caulder appeared as at ease in his wheelchair as most people would on their easy chair. Graciously, Caulder had provided all of us with a cup of coffee. I don’t usually drink coffee, but did out of courtesy. Sol didn’t touch his cup.- “Would you both mind introducing yourselves and letting the readers know a little bit about your background?”
CAULDER: “I’m Lt. Raymond Caulder, retired chaplain, United States Navy.”
Silence. With his mouth pressed in a line so tight that he could crack walnuts with his lips, Sol glared at me.
“Sol, you’re not my first difficult character to interview. We can do this the easy way in which you give a little. Or the hard way, I tell all.”
“Disgusting the privileges that writers of the story claim these days. Fine, my name is Sol Marguessa.”
“And?” I prodded.
Sol’s snarl drew his brows up as his eyes narrowed. “And I’m an immortal, one of the Irin, a watcher for the judgment of mankind.”
LW: Okay, so how did you meet Kane?
Ray opened his mouth to say something to Sol, but with a quick shake of his head he turned back to me. “I was stationed in the Philippines. I had traveled to an outlying village to carry a message for one of my congregation.”
He paused and gestured for him to proceed.
“Do you believe in God, LW?”
“I…what does that have to do with meeting Kane?”
“Well, if you have faith, believe in the need to strive for goodness, then you have to believe in evil. The two don’t exist without each other. If not, then what I’m going to say will just sound like a fairy tale or a nightmare.”
“Umm, I wrote the story.”
“Still… alright.” He glanced at Sol and shook his head again as if freeing himself from distractions. “I was preparing to leave the village. It was night and late, but a full moon illuminated everything. I heard the scream and ran toward the cry. The doors to the church were wide open.”
He fell silent.
He sighed. “Sorry. Sometimes, I can’t decide if the creatures were as bad as I remember them or if my imagination and what they did to me clouds my recollection. Either way, the woman who had screamed was on the floor of the tiny vestibule, beyond my help. Her attackers turned on me with claws and fangs so sharp I barely felt them tear into me until the heat of my blood covered my skin.”
I waved a hand toward his chair. “They did that?”
“They would have done much more if Kane hadn’t shown up.”
Sol snorted and crossed his arms over his chest. “The man isn’t a hero. He isn’t even human.”
I held out a hand toward Caulder as he gripped the arms of his chair prepared to retaliate.
“Just tell us your story, Sol. We’ll leave Kane’s interactions with others for them to interpret.”
“He was stalking Jezrielle. We searched for him, prepared to destroy him because he knew what she was.”
“Jez was with you? An Irin as well?”
“She’s too young. She has several more years until she evolves and becomes safe. She was under my protection.”
“But Kane knew what she was.”
“Demons always know.” Sol pursed his lips again.
If it weren’t for the faint vein ticking on his shaved and shining head, I might have had trouble discerning that he was trying to lead us away from this discussion. “Kane wasn’t a demon, Sol. You know that. He was part human and despite your anger, you trusted him. Why?”
We sat in silence again. “He kept company with demons. That female—” He exhaled again. “She wasn’t all that bad either, though I wouldn’t trust her if I had a choice. But, Kane, well he surprised me.”
He folded his hand on top of the table, suddenly deflating. “I’ve seen a too many things that people do to other people in the name of right and wrong. I dropped forgiveness and compassion from my life a long time ago.”
He reached quietly for the coffee Caulder had prepared for him. “I’d heard rumors about him, the half-breed demon scout. I discounted them. No demon is good. None have a conscience. But when it was all said and done, Kane was all I had to keep her safe. He promised me and I believed him.”
LW: Any final thoughts on Kane’s future?
“I’ve seen my share of human goodness and human cruelty. And while I don’t want to believe in the fantasy and horror creatures that go bump in the night, I have no choice. They’ve found me. They’ve found the others that Kane has tried to protect. I like to think there’s a reason for what happens to us. But I strongly believe Thaddeus is here for more than just my rescue, the salvation of teenagers, and the lost homeless. I’ve lived a good life. If it ends tomorrow, I’m comfortable with my decisions. So I’m willing to tie my rope to whatever Kane needs. Good or bad, I have faith it is what I’m meant to do.”
He glanced at Sol, who had released his cup and stared back with his mouth open and eyes wide.
“You believe that?”
Caulder nodded. “With everything in my heart. I believe that.”
Sol opened his hands, palms up to me. “I don’t have that faith. Many of my brethren in the Irin don’t have that faith or would risk themselves for the fate of another. Perhaps that is why we have come to the troubles we have.”
He licked his lips. “I’ve already said I believe Kane will help Jez. I don’t know his fate or his path, but he forced his way into my life when I’d given up all hope. So…” he glanced back at Caulder. “Perhaps there is something to your blind faith.”
Caulder laughed. “Not blind. I see what I choose to see and it delivers me enough focus that you can’t dissuade me.”
“I envy you,” said Sol.
In a way, I envied them both.
Copyright © 2011-12 by L.W. Herndon. All rights reserved.
The copyright for this document is owned by L.W. Herndon.