Banned From the Tomb
Note: This story takes place in the middle of Under the Rose, specifically, after the events on page 84.
It had been three hours and I still hadn’t calmed down. I’d tried the library, but I was far too agitated to deal with ConLaw, and the guy in the next study carrel had a serious headphone-leak issue. What I didn’t understand was how he could concentrate on his reading while blasting Weird Al Yankovic.
Back in my apartment, I paced, then took a shower, then made some ramen noodles, then threw them away uneaten.
Bitch was too good a word for her, I think. I contented myself with a litany of others, mostly four letters. How dare she kick me out of my own fucking tomb? She wouldn’t even be there if it weren’t for me. None of them would. And everything I’d sacrificed for them, too. Ungrateful bastards.
Like I even cared who Amy Haskel slept with. Like I didn’t know, already, what with all the research that I had done when Malcolm had put her name forth as a possible tap. What right did she have to be so fastidious all of a sudden? I mean, what did she think I’d do with the information, anyway? I was under the same oaths that the rest of the club were when it came to C.B.s. I certainly wouldn’t use the information against her, which was more than I could stay for George Prescott.
George Prescott, who’d spent the whole fucking night taking her clothes off with his eyes. This is what comes of putting girls in the club. I knew this was going to happen. I knew it. And Malcolm had been all, “how is it any different than having gay men in the club?”
But Malcolm hadn’t gotten together with any of the other knights, as far as I knew. And I knew quite a lot about what went on in that tomb. More than most people in the society, at the very least. It never ceased to amaze me how disinterested half the knights were in our own history, in taking advantage of the extraordinary gifts we’d been handed the night we were tapped into Rose & Grave. To them, it was just another privilege they’d been born into, like admission to Eli or their Long Island mansions. Did they have any idea how much more it was to…other people?
I got Voldemort out of his cage and let him slither around on the floor while I sat on the couch and returned to the books. Of course, given the weather, he preferred not to stay on the hardwood and soon found the warmest spot in the room – under my sweater. He coiled around my body and down my sleeve.
I picked up the phone.
Somewhere in Alaska, Malcolm answered. “Hey, dude! Pretty late back east, huh? You just get out of the meeting?”
“Something like that,” I replied, and told him the story.
“You’re kidding! Why?”
“You tapped the bitch,” I said. Voldie stuck his head out of my sleeve, flickered his tongue into the air, then ducked back inside.
“Please don’t call her that,” Malcolm said. “I know you don’t get along and—”
“So you approve of her actions?” I growled.
“Of course not,” said Malcolm. “But she’s my friend and my fellow knight—”
“She’s my fellow knight too, but she can bite me. Every time I see her, I have to put up with more of her bullshit. Where do you think they are going to end up, if they keep treating the patriarchs like this?”
Malcolm sighed. “Are you aware that this is the third conversation in a row we’ve had about Amy?”
“Well, she’s a problem.” Voldie unraveled himself from my body, sufficiently warmed, and coiled up in my lap. I traced my hand down his spine.
“She certainly seems to be a problem for you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked a second too late. Or maybe a second too early. Or maybe at all. Shit.
He hesitated. “Nothing, man. What are you doing right now?”
I looked down. “Petting my snake.”
Malcolm laughed. “With anyone else, that would be a metaphor. Good thing I can always count on you.”
“What, to not jerk off with you on the phone?”
“I’ve been told I have an extremely sexy voice.”
“I’m going to take your word for it on that one.” Time for Voldie to go back into his tank. I carried the snake back across the room and he curled up instantly on his heat pad. “But back to the issue at hand. I don’t see how they can possibly think it’s appropriate to disrespect their elders that way. Is it because their first act as a club was to go up against the board? Now they just want to salt the earth and be done with it?”
“I don’t think you should look at it that way. They didn’t deny you dinner. They were being hospitable. And it wasn’t like they had a guest speaker. It was a C.B. She doesn’t know you. She doesn’t feel comfortable. The whole tap process makes for a very weird, one-sided relationship. Because of the research you did, you know all of them way better than they know you.”
“She wouldn’t have kicked you out,” I grumbled.
Malcolm, to his credit, chose to act as if I’d not spoken. “And besides, they do want to have their own club. Their own events. You had your own time, they should have theirs.”
I frowned. Rose & Grave had been such a huge part of my life for so long. I didn’t think I could just turn it off.
“Do you know what you need?” Malcolm was saying now.
To get laid, I thought.
“To get laid,” Malcolm said.
“Any cute girls in your section?”
“How about fresh meat among the undergrads?”
I shuddered. “I am not going to pick up a teenager. That’s gross.”
“They’re eighteen,” Malcolm argued. “Fair game.”
“Maybe for you. Perv.”
“Fine, what about upperclasswomen of note?”
This time, I had the presence of mind to keep my mouth shut. I fit Voldemort’s screen back on top of his tank, then weighed it down with rocks. “What about you?” I asked.
“About time you asked!” Malcolm chuckled. “Pretty good, actually. There’s this one guy—”
My call waiting began to beep. Hmmm, the tomb line. Curious.
“—two summers working for an Iditarod team—”
What if it was Amy, calling to apologize? Wouldn’t that be something?
“—do you have any idea how strong you have to be to drive a dog sled?”
“Hmmm…” Not that I was going to forgive her. But I’d enjoy watching her squirm. Or writhe. Or just wiggle a bit.
Call waiting beeped again, cutting off Malcolm’s description of his conquest’s puppies and pecs.
“Hey, Mal,” I said. “I gotta run. My line’s beeping and it’s the tomb.”
“Okay, talk to you later!”
I clicked over and adopted my haughtiest tone. “Yes.”
“I have a proposition for you,” said Nikolos Kandes.
Well, hello to you too, Graverobber. “I’m listening.”
Not Amy. I tried to swallow my…was that disappointment?
Nikolos began, “I’m not happy with the status quo around here either, and I think you’re just the man who can help me. Plus, it would get you back in the tomb in a more...official capacity.”
“Still listening,” I said, intrigued.
“What do you know,” Nikolos said, then lowered his voice to a whisper, “about Elysion?”