An hour later he was dressed in his best graphic artist presentation outfit: second hand suit coat in a blue plaid pattern with polka dots on the inside, a purple shirt with a white representation of a sacred geometry metacube on it, skinny jeans, Brogues with blue highlights, and a brown belt. His feathers were smoothed and glossy, his beak polished, his wattles cleaned and professional looking.
He had his eyeInThePlaceOfAnEyeBook in a satchel over his shoulder, along with some previous work he’d done illustrating Philip’s gospels and various album covers for the bands from the Other Aeon. He had a latte in a steel cup, and his day was looking up. He hoped the bus would be on time.
“Well, if it isn’t Abraxas! How do, Abby?”
He turned, and saw two of the rulers. Sheep-face and Hyena-face, the two female members of the Ruler’s motorcycle gang. He sighed.
“Sheep. Hyena. Not hanging out with Demi today?”
“He has a thing,” said Sheep-face. “I think it’s called a hangover. How come you never come around our clubhouse anymore?”
“Been busy,” he said.
“Well, we miss you. You were a lot of fun, until you took up with that damned hippie. I’m glad he’s gone,” said Sheep-face. Hyena-face just stared at him, like she’d rather be gnawing on his bones than talking to him.
“I’ll thank you not to speak about Him,” said Abraxas.
“’I’ll thank you to Kiss. My. Ass.’ I’ll talk about whomever I want, and that damned cult leading hippie got what he deserved. And you’ll get it too, if you keep ogling Sophia like you have been. Demi’s not happy with you, Abby. Not happy at all.”
“And if he gets unhappy enough,” rasped Hyena-face, “he may let us do things to you.” She licked her lips in a way that seemed more threatening than sensual. “Awful, terrible things.”
Abraxas puffed his neck feathers, and stepped close, looking down at Hyena-face. Her snout came up, and their eyes locked. “Do not toy with me, Archon. You may think you can punish me, but I am the creator and destroyer of my own world, and I know something even you’ve forgotten.”
“Oh, yeah? What’s that?”
“Your name.” He leaned close, and whispered in her ear. She stumbled backwards, coughing and retching, and dropped to her knees. Her abdomen clutched and released, and that morning’s breakfast ended up on the sidewalk of the bus stop.
He turned to Sheep-face, and noted her clenched fists and flashing eyes. The wool around her collar almost seemed to be steaming. “Not another word, Archon. Take your companion and leave me be. Whatever transpired between Him and you Rulers, it’s none of my concern. I don’t wear either set of colors now. All I want is to be left alone.”
She reached down, helped Hyena face to her feet. “This isn’t over, Abraxas. When we tell Demi…”
“He’ll get pissed, then he’ll go pick on someone helpless. He’s a bully and a cheat, and to think I once though he was a promising architect. Go. Tell him. Let him come and see me. It won’t matter. Your names are known to me, and they’re not written in the Book of Life. Our day of reckoning will come, ladies.”
The bus chose that moment to pull up, and Abraxas got on, leaving a shaky pair of Rulers behind him. The bus driver looked at him, at the two cycle gang members at the stop, and said “Trouble?”
“Nothing I can’t handle,” said Abraxas. Yet he was shaking, and his comb was bright red. He flashed his pass, and sat down. He tried to calm down, but the gall of those two simply had him upset.
Hippie. As if. Abraxas thought, ‘He’d never have qualified as a hippie. We’ll, maybe the ‘Love everybody’ aspect, but nothing else. Not His bearing, not His manners, not His hygiene, surely not His music.’
He sat, lost in his own thoughts. More and more people got onto the bus, and it soon became crowded. Abraxas gave up his seat when a mother and her toddler got on the bus. The mother was blonde with purple highlights, tattoed, a piercing in her left eyebrow. She looked about 25, harried, overtired. The child was fascinated with his head. “Momma, is that a freak?”
“No, darling. That’s a man with an unfortunate condition,” she said, looking away from Abraxas and trying to shush her child.
Abraxas leaned down. His wattles shook back and forth as the bus braked and accelerated. “Hi little one. How old are you?”
“Three,” she said.
“I see. Three. Do you know not to accept gifts from strangers, unless Mommy says it’s OK?”
“Yes,” she said, searchingly.
“Well, why don’t you ask your Mommy if you can have a feather.”
“Momma! Can I have a feather?”
Abraxas met the woman’s eye. He opened her soul, and saw the fear, the distrust, the hurt, the brokenness that attended all in the world. He created a balm, a smile, a peace within and without. The noise of the bus receded. It seemed, for a time, there were only the three of them. The woman’s bent posture straightened.
“Yes, honey. You can have a feather.”
Abraxas reached up, and plucked one of the feathers off his plume. He presented it to the child with a flourish.
“What’s your name, little one?”
“I’m Abraxas. A-B-R-A-X-A-S. Here’s my feather.”
The mother smiled, some of the tiredness and worry passing from her face. The noises on the bus came rushing back.
“This is my stop,” Said Abraxas. “Nice to meet you, Kimy.”
“Nice to meet you, Absocks.”
He waved, and got off the bus. He was downtown, and looked up at the great high rises all around. The morning sun glinted off the glass and steel, but the statue of mighty Portlandia stayed hidden in the shade. Her great copper bulk watched over 5th avenue, her mighty hand reaching down to welcome people to the building, her giant trident glinting with reflected sunlight.
He walked into the Graves building, and found the floor for InThePlaceOf Industries. “11th floor, Thomas. Still pissed that you missed His encore appearance? Not part of the Decad?” Abraxas sighed. Thomas was an angry man still.
As he rode the elevator up to the 11th floor, he considered all that had gone on with Thomas, with Didi, with all that they’d done. Their eyeInThePlaceOfAnEye pod portable video player/recorder/sharing device had been an amazing surprise to just about everyone. No one had expected it to compete with other technologies on the market, but Didi and Thomas had given it the correct User interface, bells, whistles, and price point. At this point, he (and his twin, of course) was the most successful of the former Apostles, making money and having recognition far above what the others had done, even though they’d had better starts. Poor James lived in the ghetto, Peter ran a strip club, Andrew had simply disappeared.
He was glad Thomas kept giving him the option of working together, but for some reason was oddly nervous about this meeting. Something about the tone, the sly jabs and digs, had put Abraxas on edge. He hoped this wouldn’t go the way of the last meeting, but he’d simply have to see what came of it.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Jonathan Stewart, Lainie, Rufus Opus, Tony Silvia, Constance Crain, Agustin M. Reyes, and Erica Irk Bercegeay,