Her Fugitive Heart
If you’re reading this, I might be dead.
Well, hopefully not. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but you never know. This is the third book I’m about to fill. That much has happened in the last three years. This one is about how everything finally went to shit.
Julia is checking this. Sometimes she writes some of it, fills in the gaps I left out.
So. Where to start?
I could still see gods. They weren’t going away. They were a part of me and they always showed up to watch whatever I’d gotten myself into and comment on it.
I was still working at Golden Sentinels Private Investigations and Security Agency. My colleagues were a bunch of brilliant, dangerous fuckups with nowhere else to go. My annus horribilis could be attributed almost entirely to them. Or rather, what our boss Roger Golden had us getting up to.
Yes, “annus horribilis.” The poncy Latin term for “shit year,” and there’s no other description for what I just had. You can thank the Queen for introducing it into common use. Julia and everyone at the firm have said it put me in a dark mood for months, but I don’t know how else to react to nearly getting murdered for no good reason by a bunch of idiots. If you can think of a better way to react and go about one’s life after that kind of unnecessary trauma, I will make you my life coach.
This made both Julia and me decide it was more necessary than ever to have a record of everything we’d been doing in our job as investigators at the firm. We consulted with a lawyer and everything. Actually, we consulted with my friend David Okri, my old mate from university who got me this job at the firm in the first place, and he wouldn’t stop nodding and saying “Absolutely! Record everything Roger made you do!” before recommending another lawyer to keep on retainer to avoid conflict of interest since he was Golden Sentinel’s legal counsel. Then he told us he was getting a lawyer himself for
when the shit hits the fan, not “if” but “when.” It says something when your lawyer decides he needs a lawyer. Thanks, Roger.
Don’t get me wrong. My colleagues and I were a fairly tight team. There were Ken and Clive, the ex-coppers and old-school bruisers, though their tendency to drop bodies and then try to hide them really bit me in the arse this past year. Mark Oldham, the melancholy genius investigator who was self-medicating his existential despair with all manner of psychoactive substances, both natural and man-made, added to my troubles. Benjamin Lee and his obsession with mischief and surveillance both nearly got me killed and saved my skin. Olivia Wong, our resident hacker and cybersecurity expert, was the only one who didn’t land me in any shit, though she had plenty of her own shit to deal with. She’s a banking heiress whose tycoon dad blacklisted her from the banking industry for hacking into the family business’s security system years ago to prove it was insecure. Then of course there was our resident American, Marcie Holder, bringing in contract work from the CIA that always put us within a hairsbreadth of total fucking doom.
And did Roger, our boss, care? Did he hell. We came to realize that everything he did, everything he had us doing was to further his agenda of getting more money and power. Even Cheryl Hughes, who founded Golden Sentinels with him, was starting to get fed up with him and his various plots. This was already a tense year going in. David was certainly bearing all the stress from that.
The goddess Kali is sitting on the sofa and laughing at me right now. My patron goddess, not my choice, and I’m stuck with her. The other gods tend to follow when something happening to me interests them and they show up to be a Greek chorus to my predicaments. Shiva is always not far behind. He’s the head of them all, so of course he comes along.
Oh, and I married Julia. That was a drama and a half. We’d come a long way since we first met. She was part of a case I was investigating, and became my girlfriend, then she became the case because of her sex addiction. Next thing I knew, Roger had hired her as an investigator because her English Rose looks gave her cover for getting into places and asking people questions, and for being the perfect honey trap. That made me worry because having a
sex addict pose as a femme fatale was like locking an alcoholic in a brewery, but she actually avoided sleeping with any of her marks because she had substituted the dangerous thrill-seeking stuff for sex. She saved emotional intimacy and actual sex for me. What a pair we made, a sex addict with a literature degree and a former religious scholar who hallucinated gods. When we decided to tie the knot, we told our parents, and Julia’s parents immediately took the reins to plan the wedding. My parents were actually relieved that it fell to her parents to deal with the wedding ceremony, so no need for us to have a big fuck-off Indian wedding, since none of us wanted to spend over twenty grand and invite more than a hundred relatives over from India. We made my mother promise she was not going to borrow money for the wedding gifts since that was what had put me in the service of Mrs. Dhewan. Mrs. Dhewan was the neighborhood Asian housewife/mafia boss who had me doing the odd job for her and her mostly benign gang. Even so, planning the wedding was its own drama with Julia’s mother doing it. At least getting married was the one good thing out of this fucked up year.
Julia is telling me I’m rambling on and we should really get back to writing down what went down in the past year, so that’s what I will now do.
No, the gods didn’t put me up to this. The gods don’t force me to do anything, yet I seem to end up doing whatever they want anyway, or whatever they find most amusing. It’s all win-win for them, one big funny reality TV show they’re bingeing on in real time. If I get killed, I don’t think they’ll even be sorry. They’ll probably just go find some other poor bastard to follow. I’m just another puppet playing out a cosmic joke that’s my life.
Julia is telling me I’m getting morbid again. Mental illness is no fun. Julia doesn’t believe I’m mentally ill. She agrees with Mark, who thinks the gods are really here, that they’re really some kind of consciousness from someplace else trying to communicate with us and I’m the conduit. My father says I might be a shaman. What good are shamans in the modern day with all that noise from the media and the Internet and no one will really believe you, eh? Honestly.
All right, all right. Sorry, Julia. Let’s get on with it.
So, onwards and upwards.
I really hope I’m still alive as you read this . . .