Fantasy Fiction posted September 20, 2018


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
An unlikely grim romance...

You May Call Me Gee

by Y. M. Roger


“If you sleep, you’ll miss your stop.”

Gee’s deep baritone voice startled her, if only in the slightest. Only peering through one eye with the help of a raised eyebrow, Libby peeked at the large black-clad figure seated next to her as the street car lurched forward again. She couldn’t help but smile.

“Wasn’t sleeping, Gee,” she pulled herself out of the slouch to avoid straining her neck to look so far up at him. He raised one eyebrow in question, still facing the front of the street car. Their heights differed such that, even with her sitting straight up, his eye-level was still a good ten or so inches over hers. “Just trying to relax, I guess.”

Gee slowly nodded his head, turning fully toward her to reveal those striking violet eyes of his. Eyes that were set on a face so old she did not want to guess the age.

“The plane crash, huh?” he folded his hands in his lap, right hand occupied with constant adjustment of his heart and scythe pinky ring. It was his favorite sitting position as, to Libby, Gee never really seemed completely still. His eyes showed nothing but sympathy and understanding in that long, time-worn and deep ebony face. “Sorry about that. You must have been busy.”

One of the small, commuter jets had crashed on final out at Louis Armstrong early in the afternoon, and the morgue had been slammed with 18 bodies at once just after she’d arrived around 3 for her usual four-to-midnight shift. Matching and identification had been a nightmare.

“Busy’s a word, I guess.” Gee grunted in agreement. “We got all the names placed for the families, and that was the most important thing.” That was always the important thing for Libby – yes, she took care of the dead, but the fruits of her labors were for the living. The dead had moved on – the living needed her answers on both a physical and an emotional level. Libby glanced at her watch; it showed just after two. “Pleasant surprise to see a friendly face, though,” She smiled with the comforting warmth that she truly felt. Gee’s presence had that effect on her. “I guess the escort service thrives at night, huh?”

If she didn’t know any better, she’d swear she saw the corner of his mouth twitch upwards just a bit and his eyes certainly seemed to reflect something akin to mirth, but that stone-face that he wore with such ease remained unmoved as he nodded in acknowledgement.

Gee – yes, that was the name he had used when they’d made introductions all those months ago – had been a companion street car rider since Libitina moved to New Orleans less than a year prior. Unlike the few usual passengers that occupied the seats at night, there seemed to be no ‘regular’ stop on which he would depart. Sometimes, he was already on when she got off work and would exit the car long before she did. That scenario tended to happen more often than not when some drunken party-goers stumbled off the street car, disappearing loudly into the night. At other times, like tonight, he got on at a different stop after she was already seated. Many of those times, she didn’t even remember the car stopping before he would seat himself next to her, and he was always practically silent in his movements.

It made sense, she supposed, as he had explained that he was the head of some international escort company, the base of operations of which was local. Although Libby had laughed inwardly at the thought of anyone at Gee’s age being an escort, it was obvious from his still-beautiful masculine form and obviously tailor-made black suits and shirts that he had been a real Adonis in his heyday.

“It is definitely a twenty-four hour business, my Libby,” he replied in his extremely proper fashion. He adjusted his silver cufflinks as he spoke, pushing up the sleeve just enough to check his awesome custom-made Christophe Claret with the hour glass motif. His eyes immediately sought to reconnect with hers.

She had remarked in the past that it was an extremely unique watch, and she’d meant every word about that hourglass design – it had to be the most extraordinary watch she’d known to exist.  “These are simply the hours that allow me the most freedom of movement,” he again broke their visual connection and swallowed, the action seemingly more pronounced than usual. He momentarily focused on his busy hands – keeping his eyes uncharacteristically averted. “Besides, I would feel better at this hour to know that you arrive safely.”

At some point over the last month or so, Gee had started walking her from the street car stop to the gate in front of her small row house. He had made a point of stopping short of the gate itself, but he always waited until she was safely inside, waving good-night to him through the front window. It made her feel oddly safe even though she wondered what kind of protection he could actually provide given his advanced age. But, then again, the more logical side of her realized that simply his seven-foot-plus height provided a very convincing visual deterrence.

Libby smiled as their eyes met again; she grasped his forearm, squeezed tightly, and let go just as quickly as the action had begun. “Oh, Gee, you know, if I were older, I would make sure I was the only one you ever escorted anywhere.”

Yeah, she was flirting just a bit, but there was a big part of her that had grown attached to his company. Their conversations were the highlight of her days or nights, however one were to look at the time the sun or the moon occupied the sky versus an actual sleep schedule. Libby had begun to look forward to seeing him. And, of course, every time she thought about him outside of their street car rides, she had to stop her mind from going where it should not go. There was no way she would be that homely, second-shift coroner chick that goes all creepy lovey-dovey over a grandfather-figure who was just being friendly and, in his generation’s way, chivalrous.

Nope. She just wouldn’t.

Looking away, she began to gather her things as she mentally chastised herself for touching him in the first place. She really needed to get out more. Perhaps she should accept Aaron’s invitation to go out after work on Friday. There was no actual reason not to do so since she was off this Saturday and could slee –

“Do you mean that, Libby?”

Libby froze. Well, no reason to lie; it certainly couldn’t make the situation any creepier than she already had.

“Of course I do, Gee,” she let herself relax and answer him, just like her touch had never happened. They were friends, after all. “I mean, look at you! What older woman wouldn’t?” She felt her insides un-knot as she watched that violet intensity focused on her face increase, his fiddling with his ring slow to near stillness with her words. “You are physically fit and always dressed to kill in your black; you’re well-spoken and, my goodness! I know how big your heart is after our endless conversations! Heck, if you were my age, I’d snatch you up without even a second thought.”

He turned to the front of the street car and then back toward her. Their mutual stare only lasting a split second longer before he exhaled long and slow, that aged stone-face actually relaxing just a bit.

“I believe you, Libitina.” His words were breathed more than spoken as he began to stand, offering his hand to her in assistance as he did so.  “This is us.”

Just before reaching for his hand, Libby narrowed her eyes at him, trying to discern any difference in his tone or disposition. And why she had thought there to be some, she was not quite sure. But then she shrugged it off and accepted his assitance.

“Do you have plans today?” He spoke from behind her as they made their way down the street car steps and out onto the sidewalk. She paused as the doors snapped shut, waiting until the street car’s groaning did not have to be shouted over.

Just as she was about to speak, Gee stepped up on her right and uncharacteristically offered her his left arm. She glanced at the arm and back up at him, the look of a question obvious on her face.

“I would escort only you tonight, my Libitina.” He subtly jostled his offered arm a few times as he spoke, the smile once again evident in his eyes if not ghosted on his countenance.
 
Libby nodded and smiled, while, inwardly, she shook her head to wash away the creepy attraction-notions. She took his offered arm and continued.

“Nah, no plans, really,” They walked side-by-side from streetlight pool to streetlight pool, all awkwardness apparently forgotten, ”but I told Doc Jay that I’d conduct the interviews he’d already lined up before the crash. Can’t send those qualified folks back home after they spent their money to fly in, ya know?”

Gee gently nodded in acknowledgement and walked silently beside her as he always did. It made Libby wonder on more than one occasion just how much money he had to pay for shoes that didn’t make a sound, even in contact with a concrete sidewalk.

“But, look on the bright side, right?”

Gee grunted in agreement.

“I mean, it’s a winner-winner chicken dinner for me since the interviews are for my assistant on second shift!” Libby brightly chuckled to herself. “At least this way, I can be assured any other weird person who wants to work the late shift at a morgue isn’t so weird that we wouldn’t work well together!”

Libby laughed for the both of them as was usually the case, but Gee hung on her every word, that much was obvious. It always was. Before long, they reached her gate, and Gee dropped his arm.

Opening the gate but not entering, Gee motioned gallantly for her to enter. Libby grinned from ear to ear.

“Thanks, Gee. I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Gee simply nodded as he pulled the gate closed and stood, statuesque and waiting.

Locking the door and peeking out the window, Libby was still smiling as she waved like a little child through the front window. Gee bowed gracefully as he always did before turning to disappear into the night. She lost track of him, just as she always did, as he seemed to melt into the patch of darkness between the pools of light.

But tonight she actually felt a slight twinge of loss at their parting. Why? She had no idea. She glanced at her watch and shook her head to chase away the creepy thoughts again, “He’s not just old, Lucci,” she jokingly chastised herself using her last name, “he’s ancient!”

She made her way back to the bedroom and fell into bed without a second thought. She was too tired to argue with herself tonight.

******************

Any which way Libby looked at it, this was going to be a nightmare.

The first two candidates had no sense of humor. None. Not even a little bit of a hint of a funny bone. In her eyes, as a coroner or, in this case, coroner’s assistant, they had to be able to laugh; being surrounded by death all the time, a person had to be able to pull life from the darkness so that the living could breathe.  

Then there was that the third candidate who would never work because the woman found everything way too funny. Seriously, how could anyone joke about simply grouping random body parts that 'added up to' a whole and telling the family that was their beloved? She had wanted to scream at the egotistical wench.

And that last one could never do. Libby simply could not see herself working with a Goth who considered herself this generation’s version of Abby Sciuto from the television show NCIS. Abby she adored. Carlita? Not so much.

She sighed, actively considering the thought of self-cloning. She reached for the intercom.

“Aaron? Go ahead and send in the next candidate.”

There was slight delay then a knock on her door. She frowned, releasing the intercom button, and looked up just in time to see Aaron enter. He looked a bit flustered, and he was carrying some papers. He paused in front of her desk as if waiting to be acknowledged, something the flamboyant and out-spoken Aaron never did.

“We-e-e-ell-ll…” she prompted, just a bit of tiredness slipping into her voice.

Aaron popped that wrist of his forward to display the resume in his hand.

“Do. Not. Shoot. The messenger.” He stated in his flippant tone, and Libby could hear his foot tapping even though she could not see it from her side of the desk. “Ms. Jamison did not show up for her interview but this Mr. Creeper,” Aaron jiggled the paper to emphasize his made-up name, “is here and is demanding an interview.”

Libby grinned at his sensationalism – always the drama queen, Aaron – as she took the resume to examine it.

“His name’s Repier, Aaron,” she corrected off-handedly with an accent as was proper for the surname, her eyes and mind on the resume, “it’s French.”

Aaron dramatically rolled his eyes and jokingly sneered.

“Looks like Reeper to me, and he is definitely creepy so, Creeper it is.”

Qualification-wise, Libby was impressed. For anyone of his age to have this kind of experience in dealing with so many different aspects of death and analysis of the dead, she’d at least like to see how he interviewed.

“Do you want me to just tel—”

“Go ahead and send him in, please.”

Aaron looked horrified.

“But he doesn’t have an appoi—”

Libby looked up at the administrative assistant over the edge of the resume and simply raised her eyebrow, glaring.

“Fine!” Aaron huffed and left, closing the door behind him.

Libby just grinned as she placed the resume in the middle of her desk and stood to dig a bottle of water and, perhaps, a granola bar out of her filing cabinet. Hearing the door open and click shut as she dug frantically for the bar, she realized that Aaron did not even give her his usual two or three minute delay, the little scamp. Not wanting to look totally disorganized, she schooled her features, stuck the bottle in her armpit, and turned to greet the candidate – her hand beginning to extend outward as she did so.

“Please just have a sea—”

Libby lost her words, and she dropped both the bar and the water bottle as her eyes flew open wider than she would have imagined possible. She had to mentally remind herself to breathe when the light-headedness hit her.

There he was: a gorgeous seven-foot-tall, beautifully built, clothed-all-in-black-Armani male … with ebony-skin and deep violet eyes on a young, handsome face that she would estimate to be about her own age.

Reaching forward to retrieve her offered hand that had frozen about halfway through its offering, his palm completely enveloped her own as he squeezed it tightly but not painfully, his prominent pinky ring definitely making its presence known. With his reach, his suit coat and shirt rode slightly up on his arm, revealing that unique Christophe Claret with the hour glass design.

“I am Grimaldi Repier, Ms. Lucci,” Libby felt her entire being come to attention at the sound of that deep, familiar voice, “My friends call me Grim,” a heart-stopping smile pulling slowly across his picturesque face, “but you and only you,” he slowly released her hand as he finished speaking, “may certainly call me Gee.”


 



A Strange Summer Night contest entry


Libitina is actually the name of the ancient Roman goddess of funerals and of burials. Lucci is an Italian surname meaning 'light'. So, Libby's name actually means 'light of funerals and burials'...maybe explains why our modernized Grim Reaper found himself so attracted to her...who knows, right?

Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoyed Libby and Gee!
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