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T H E M O R P H I S T
by Silva Noir
Chapter 39: N.E.A.


To get David out of the house, Palmer had suggested an innocent trip to the New England Aquarium. Felix had come along ... there was little you could do to stop a large dog that could turn itself into an even larger metal dog from going where he pleased. Riding the Red Line had been fun for the last half hour. They'd acted juvenile, forgetting the strife that had brought them together as friends once again. They'd play fought, teased eachother, and made faces at the other passengers. That stopped as they'd been squeezed into the far end of the car as the train went further into the city. David asked the Spanish read over the doors, to which Palmer answered it was the same as then English above that. Then Palmer read the graffiti and huddled into a ball on the single seat. David stood next to him, leaning on the pole, standing in the empty seatless wheelchair spot, confused. Likewise, Felix cocked his furry head to the side.

"Stupid white guys... I hate them," Palmer mumbled under a grey sweatshirt hood. If it wasn't one kind of prejudice against him, it was another. David was highly sympathetic (although both white and sometimes stupid, he was not cruel) so Palmer had to explain what the racial slurs badly written in black marker and whiteout meant. He really didn't want to for fear if they ever fought, David would have new offensive words to sling at him.

Felix whined, ignored. He, like all dogs, could sense when his masters were upset and did not like it. He rested his chin on Palmer's knee. Palmer scratched behind Felix's big ear absentmindedly.

"Scientifically, there is no such thing as race. Biologically, there is more genetic diversity between tribes of Africa than of people of any other countries," he repeated figures from a newspaper he'd been reading when they were waiting on the platform at Braintree.

They got off at Downtown Crossing to switch to the Orange Line. Palmer felt defensive, "My family are good people, you know? My grandparents came up here from Mexico after the droughts killed their crops year after year ... they went to farm to farm all across the country, hard work for a LONG time. My father got scholarships to business school and used what his father taught him about plants to run the start and run the most successful landscaping business in town. When he had enough money he bought our house with rooms for them as thanks. My Mom would have become a full time dentist but cut it back to assistant because she wanted to stay home when I was little 'cause I was sick so much. And they have these expectations of me to be great, you know, third generation ... and can't even reach them..."

"Woah, I know. Don't act like I'm the one who wrote those things," David tugged on his hood. "I don't think like that; I don't judge people on that. I like you no matter what color or shape you are. I like the you that is YOU, the person, the invisible you. Who cares about bodies?" David knew he was the last one who could nit-pick about the corporeal, taking into account his own physique. He kept a hold of Palmer's hood, disoriented by the tunnels, stairs, and color coded subway cars they maneuvered crowds or strangers in. "Speaking of judging the human race ... they say train stations represent Purgatory ... passage between worlds ... the doldrums of life. We go the wrong way and we'll all end up in Hell ... the punishment would be a great humbling agent and equalizer."

Palmer was not in the mood, "Stop being weird, David."

They exited at State. The wind hit them like a ton of bricks. Leaning in they walked arduously slow across the empty expanse that was City Hall's courtyard. Felix slinked behind them. David;s trademark trenchcoat flared out behind him like the super hero cape he'd always thought of it being. Palmer kept one hand in his pocket and the other pulled the hood down over his face. He only looked as his feet while he walked. Neither saw the umbrella ripped from the fashionable female newscaster's mittens, turned inside out, and spun up with the fall leaves of sickly bent over trees in the distance. The large concrete buildings and desolate paved surfaces had created the most notorious wind trap in the city, making mini invisible tornadoes nearly daily.

"Very inviting," David looked up briefly at the over enforced unmoveable structure that was City Hall. He looked down at his companion in layers and layers of clothes, hiding a tiny form. Instantaneously, David visualized the flesh being ripped from the frail bones, detail by gory detail. Instinctively, he pulled Palmer's hand from his pocket, twining long pale fingers tightly around darker smaller ones. He needed to feel the living warmth of skin holding all in how it is meant to.

He's holding my hand! Palmer thought, In public! But no ... he doesn't mean it that way. He doesn't know what I ... was. I'm not in love with him anymore. I'm not in love with anyone, I never will be again ... I don't want people like that anymore. Is he shaking because of the cold ... or is he scared of something? Is that why he's holding on to me? "You have me to talk to..." Palmer reminded, squeezing his hand back and keeping it like that. David still hadn't told him anything about what had happened on his time away from town over the summer.

"Of course I have you. I won't let you fall," David had half-listened. Some things never changed.






(to be continued!)
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