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“My people!”

“My people!” cries the King, as he mounts the stage there in the middle, by Jo. “All of you that call this city home.” Spreading his arms as applause begins to spatter below, redouble, grow. “Here we are!” he cries, into the mounting approbation. “Your Court, of Roses!” Stepping to one side, throwing out a hand toward the short man in tweed, the meshback cap on his head, “The Soames!” cries the King. “For the North!” and the Soames lifts his hands clasped over his head to the cheers and whoops. Stepping to the other, leaning, a gesture toward the woman down there in her silvery gown, “The Helm,” cries the King, “for the Northeast Marches!” and she inclines her head. “The Handle!” cries the King, as the man in the pale blue suit steps forward, and the applause swells even more, deepening, thundering. “For Southwest!” And then, taking Jo’s hand in his, “For Southeast!” His voice booming. “Our Huntsman!” Down there, at the end of the stage, the Queen in her white coat’s climbed the steps, she’s making her way to the center, past the Soames, in her long white coat, her shorn head crowned with a white slouch hat, her hand outstretched to reach for the King’s other, outstretched hand. “And,” he cries, “I give you,” taking her hand in his own, “my sister,” and the applause, the cheers are deafening now, “your Queen!”

And when he can make himself heard again, “All of you,” he says, “all of you who washed up on this shore so long ago, in the light of a dawn that had never before been seen.” Jo looks down at her hand in his, at his hand about hers, firm, familiar, and the red mark there, on the heel of it, an old cut long since healed. “Who gave voice to a word that had never before been said, and sent it ringing out into the day. Tonight!” And the light that’s filling that little round is growing, warmer, brighter, shining up from them all, banishing the sky above, “Here!” cries the King, “And now!” And Jo looks over, past him, to the Queen, to Ysabel, holding his other hand. “My people!” cries the King. “Lift up your hands, your voices, with mine!” And he hoists his in the air, and theirs up with him, as down the ragged aisle left in the crowd before them too bright almost to look upon a cooler held up in the Anvil’s broad arms, the lid of it removed, and the Mason beside him, and the Devil, the Chariot, Biscuit in his long brown coat, each of them reaching into the cooler and pulling out handfuls of light, tossing them, pellets and globules, spangles and sparks, lighting up the glowing shining hands that catch them, and the upturned faces, smiling, laughing, weeping, cheering, whooping, sobbing, roaring, as the King cries out, his words lost in the noise, as the Queen, as Ysabel, closes her eyes, leans back her head, takes it all in, as the mask jerks and twists in Jo’s hand, the mane of it leaping and lashing about, and down in the city Philip Keightlinger sits up on a bare mattress, mahogany beard in disarray, and reaches for a pair of sunglasses, and Jessie Vitaly wrapped in a ski jacket and a fleece blanket looks over at the man asleep in the driver’s seat beside her, Lach, or Luke, or Lake, and Guthrie turns on the light in an empty kitchen, stands there, blinking, rings a-glitter, and Petra B winds herself more tightly in striped sheets as tears spring to her eyes, and Vincent Erne his full length stretched along a spavined couch snores lightly, his face relaxed, his hook still, and in a room full of bunk beds all of them occupied, Suzette, Gloria Monday, glares at the bedsprings above her, glaring at the rustle from across the aisle, and Tim Carroll runs packing tape over the top of another box, but takes a sharp breath, looks up, blinking, at the faintest echo of that sound, and in the train station, a woman’s sitting on a bench, head wrapped in a fringed scarf, and at her feet a cage with walls of gauzy nylon, and the shadows of butterflies sleeping within, and she checks her pocket watch, and frowns.

Some time later Pyrocles looks up, stands up, there by the ravaged cooler, heads across the glittering lawn, past knots of people here and there, some speaking quietly one to another and all of them looking down at the dimming light in their hands. On the ramp there, leading down from the parking lot, a man in a heavy raincoat, trilby in his hands, and what’s left of his hair lofts a little in a gelid gust, and striding, not quite running, Pyrocles makes his way up to him to kiss him, and kiss him again.

“What is this,” says Becker, as Pyrocles hands to him a plastic baggie filled with dust.

“I told you,” says Pyrocles. “Magic.” And then he says, “But it is late, and cold, and I should take you home – ”

“No,” says Becker, “not yet,” and he sighs. Leans against Pyrocles, and kisses him, their arms about each other.

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Ava,” written by David Byrne, copyright holder unknown.

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