Monday, December 20, 2010


(To catch up on previous installments of this serial: THALO BLUE)

II. The Default Color for Pain
A crow used to visit Sebastion by his bedroom window, used to perch on a bare tree branch where the boy could see it as he lay in bed, under his blue bedspread.  Black and shiny, it would cock its head this way and that, and it would stay there for a while, as Sebastion looked on.  When he was younger, he would speak to it, “CawCAWCawCAW—C—A—W—Caw.”  But as he grew older, he just lay in silence and watched it.  Inevitably, as he became tired and as his eyes sagged with the day’s fatigue, the crow would flutter away, suddenly and without warning, leaving a dark branch to bob slightly against a backdrop of night.  He named that bird, called it Oliver.

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The year that Sebastion came into the world was a terrible, hideous and difficult one for his parents when tragedy after tragedy seemed to occur.  They had been married for only a year: Sadie Nadine, his mom, and Oliver Warren, his dad.  Amid a flapping storm of controversy which he called unsubstantiated, Oliver was let go from a major financial firm and with the papers for the house already signed, income became the holiest of grails in the Redfield home.  With money on his mind, his first reaction to Sadie’s impending motherhood was one of apprehension, disgust even.  He had not planned for this.
That same year, Samuel McArthur, Sadie’s dad, finally lost his battle with the bottle.  His wife, Beatrice, had found Pop Sammy in the barn of their pig farm north of Edan, in a bale of hay.  He had collapsed, had fallen from the loft and smashed a bottle of scotch across his forehead.  But it wasn’t the fall that killed him, though it had surely helped.  No, he had been drinking since the early part of the sixties and his liver was a black dead spot next to his stomach.  The poison had stretched to his furthest extremities.  And though he had gone to see the doctor on numerous occasions and had been diagnosed properly, he refused hospitalization.  His stubbornness left him a pale, yellowed corpse with chaff pasted to his drawn face by the same sticky alcohol that would have been on his last breath.
Beatrice had stumbled across her husband while their breakfast of ham and eggs sizzled in a fry pan on the stove top.  Bereft, grief-stricken and lost, she downed a handful of iron pills later that morning from a bottle over the bathroom sink and chased that with thirty or so pills of Doxepan—a more powerful ancestor of Prozac.  She was dead in an hour.  A boy who delivered groceries to the McArthur farm discovered them, her in an open bathrobe laying half-nude near the toilet in a puddle of vomit, and he out in a pile of hay in the barn as the pigs snuffled and scuttled about.  The news found its way to the tan telephone with gray buttons on the kitchen wall of the Redfield house in Vaughan.  This was the very same day that Sadie had come home from the doctor to tell Oliver she was expecting.
Earlier in the year, Sicily, Sadie’s younger sister, had run away from the farm.  When he drank, Pop Sammy used to hit them both, Beatrice too.  Hearing that her sister had left, Sadie guessed that he was still in the habit of taking out his fists if the spirit moved him.  Sadie had gone off to school a few years before, had left Pop Sammy and her mother comfortably hidden in her personal rearview mirror.  She had gotten work and had found the promise of security and a future with Oliver Redfield, was even on her way to completing the last year of her Education degree.  Sicily, though, she couldn’t make a go of it on her own.  Not in the city, not without a diploma or some cash to start with. Unlike Sadie who had found her stand-up man with his career on the rise, Sicily died young—at the age of nineteen—in a hotel room on Darcel Avenue.  She had been beaten to death by a strung out john who didn’t like how she gave a blowjob.
The day that Sebastion was born, a Sunday, the sky was a sheet of electric blue and there wasn’t a single cloud to mar it, no sign that heaven even existed.  Oliver received word on that day that his brother, Martin, a tax attorney, and his wife Bette, twelve years younger than Martin, had died in a house fire the previous night.  The neighbors told police they had found Bette’s and Martin’s seventeen-year old daughter, Carol-Anne, in her bare feet and nightgown.  She was holding a carving knife, stalking the front lawn, and screaming at the house while flames engulfed it from the front study.  Written and verbal statements from witnesses all confirmed that the words she was yelling were similar to, if not exactly, “Burn, daddy.  You like it hot too, don’t you?”  The neighbors also claimed, separately, yet collectively, that they were helpless to stop when Carol-Anne drove the carving knife she was holding into her own throat.  Police and medical attention arrived but too late to save her; she bled to death both on the lawn and on the floor of the ambulance as it tore toward North York Hospital’s emergency room.  The parents’ bodies were found in the doused home next morning, mom upstairs in bed, dad at his desk in the study, both with dented skulls, apparently caused by one of the girl’s merit plaques.  It was a heavy brute, that plaque, gold engraving plate fastened to a marble slab a little larger than the size of two fists together, awarded for highest grade-point in her district.  She would have gone to McGill with that hunk of marble, full scholarship, no doubt.
Also that delicate year, Oliver’s and Martin’s own parents, Rita, seventeen years younger than her husband, and Theodore had been involved in yet another tragic event.  Local police had accused Teddy, a public rentalsman judge of some notoriety, of enjoying the company and services of young Thai girls shipped and sold to local whorehouses.  Apparently reeling from the press coverage and impending court date, he took his wife, a bottle of ‘72 Cabernet from northern Italy, and their new BMW 635 out for a spin on rain slicked roads.  Hours later, it was found split nearly in two, the remains wrapped tightly around a light standard by exit ramp thirty-three of Heritage Highway South.  Teddy and Rita both lay dead.
Theodore Redfield, Big Teddy to his friends and his colleagues at Justice, had always told his sons three things about how to achieve a decent level of success:  Always drive a Beemer.  A fine tie makes the suit, makes the man.  And get yourself a trophy wife.
Sadie and Oliver Redfield, now both orphans, became two only children left to raise another only child.

THALO BLUE will go on a break over the holidays and return, January 3rd,2010. Happy Holidays to everyone and be sure to come back in the new year!  Want more serial action? Check out previous installments of  THALO BLUE.
And visit R.L. Jean's sequel to The Noble PiratesLiberi.


  1. “Sadie had gone off to school a few years before, had left Pop Sammy and her mother comfortably hidden in her personal rearview mirror.” -- What a great spin on the whole notion of moving ahead with life and not looking back!

    This episode read like an obituary on steroids! But is it safe to say that it skillfully introduces a black and blue canvas on which young Sebastion’s story will no doubt continue to be painted?

    Another intriguing installment!

  2. "Obit on steroids" -- I love the descriptor. It is definitely clear that Sebastion was born under a bad sign, that's for sure. Hopefully, as he grows up it won't taint how he looks at the world. We'll see...

  3. I love this and you are right, it has that darkness that you associate with characters from Stephen King books. It was a smooth read.

  4. Hey, Kirie (persistentwriter), thanks for checking in and giving these first few installments a look. Glad you find it "smooth" so far -- thanks for your comment!

  5. A great bit of background which kind of pulls things together; all these tragic events before Sebastion was born could portend great misfortune in his future...
    Another great installment, Jason.

  6. I've always enjoyed that word, 'portend'. And it couldn't be more apt. (I also like 'apt' :)

    Thanks, Maria!


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