The Nodachi Line

The Nodachi Line

Chapter One – Home Sweet Home

The warm salty breezes played with the wisps of hair that managed to escape beneath the fedora rim. Selly adjusted her satchel slung over her leather trench-coat which was noticeably too warm for South Florida weather. Her pace would have been brisk if it were not for the amount of people that littered the sidewalks aimlessly meandering. Selly narrowed her almond eyes in frustration exhaling a soothing breath. Once relaxed, Selly turned down a more residential street to avoid South Beach’s tourists. Arriving at her destination, she extracted a crumpled envelope from the inner folds of the trench-coat to check the address. A light grunt of satisfaction followed by the merest of smiles had Selly look upward at the sky rise that she would call home. The smile quickly disappeared as she stared at the glass protrusion that pierced the night sky.

Selly checked the paper again just to be sure. “Give envelope to the doorman.” The words were barely audible as she began her ascent up the slate stairway to the front door.

“Good Evening Sir, M ‘am” The Doorman grinned quickly adjusting as he recognized Sally’s quite female face beneath her ambiguous garb. “How are you this evening?”

Selly simply stared at him, presenting him with the envelope as instructed.

“Oh, right.” The Doorman ushered Selly inside moving towards the nearby front desk. He reached over the counter and retrieved a similar envelope presenting it to her. “The Penthouse suite M ‘am. If you need anything at all, please just let me know.”

A beeping noise sounded from the glass front doors. Selly took note of a tall, slightly overweight, blonde-haired man juggling a coffee cup and donut bag while trying to swipe his access card. She quickly opened the envelope she was holding to find a similar card of her own. She waved her access card at the doorman in thanks. Selly followed after the blonde-haired man. Her Puma sneakers made no noise on the marble floor.

“Oh” The blonde-haired man exclaimed. “I didn’t even see you behind me Love. Let me get that elevator door for you. I’ll warn you though this one is a little slow going up. Are you visiting Love?”

Selly sighed unsure which question needed answering first.

Undaunted, he continued. “Which floor then Love?”

“Penthouse” Selly responded.

“Penthouse, hmmm. No one lives there. Did you buy that place? Are you the new owner?”

Selly felt his eyes upon her; instinctively she lowered her head allowing the fedora to hide her features.

“My name is Robert Francis. Robert is the first name. I know I have two first names but Robert is my given name. I guess we are going to be neighbors. I live one floor down from you. It’s not a penthouse, but its mine. So what’s your name?”

Selly sighed raising her head slowly to watch the floors light up before her as the elevator gradually made its ascent. “Selly”.

“That’s it? No last name or anything? Are you famous? Madonna doesn’t have a last name. Well on second thoughts she does because Madonna is not her real name. I suppose that is a bad example.”

Selly breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator came to a stop.

Robert got off the elevator still juggling his coffee as he tried to stop the doors from closing. “You’ll want to get off here because for some reason the elevator doesn’t go all the way up. I heard the realtor talking the other day about them getting that fixed. The stairwell is at the end of the hall and that will take you up the one last flight.”

Selly noted Robert’s apologetic smile. She followed him off of the elevator. Tipping her hat in thanks, she made her way to the stairwell quite glad for the silence and soft echoes of her foot falls. The penthouse hallway was long with marble flooring. Two red sofas with ornate woodworking were positioned across from the doorway with the ceiling to floor glass windows as a back drop. The lights of the city twinkled like a blanket of stars.

Selly put her key card into the slot and the light blinked red. She turned it around and tried it again with the same result. A light growl escaped Sally’s gritted teeth, her little fists clenched in anger. She turned the card around one last time and dipped it into the slot. The door clicked once allowing entry.

Selly stood in the doorway to her new home. The barest of smiles flitted across her face. The whole penthouse suited was bathed in moonlight. Silvery rays washed over the pale white of the penthouse reflecting off of the glass walls. Selly took one of the ornate urns positioned at the front door and propped the entrance door open. Looking at the red rug beneath her Pumas she smiled. The rug was the only item of color in the whole suite marking the mouth of the suite like a tongue. Selly removed her sneakers and placed them ceremoniously off to the side at the edge of the rug. Now barefoot she walked through the apartment relishing in the clean coolness of the marble floor finally feeling the weariness of travel overcome her.


 

Chapter Two – Good Morning   

The sound of a man’s voice filtered into Sally’s consciousness. Her sleep heavy eyelids squeezed shut at the brilliant greeting of the sun’s rays.

“Hello?”

Hearing the voice again, Selly jumped up sending her long black silky hair showering around her; she grabbed her sword reflexively which she knew to be standing at her bedside. As her senses woke up, she recognized the voice to be that of Robert Francis. Selly wrapped her black silk robe around her tightly, furrowing her brows she set off towards the entrance of the penthouse still armed with her sword.

As she neared the doorway she could see that Robert Francis had almost stepped off of the red rug.

“STOP!” Sally’s palm was face up in the universal language signaling for Robert Francis to stop moving. Her voice was barely above a whisper and yet packed with authority. She watched as he backed up quickly, noticing the fear in his eyes at the sight of the sword. Quickly she placed the sword behind her back. “What do you want Robert Francis? Is there an emergency?” Selly took note of the bowl in Robert Francis’ hands and cocked her head in question.

“Your front door was open…” Robert turned to look at the door apologetically. “I, I, I’m out of sugar and needed to make my morning coffee. I was hoping that you had some?” Robert stammered offering the empty bowl as proof of his need.

Selly wizened her almond eyes quizzically and stated simply “I do not eat sugar”.

“Oh, I am sorry to bother you.” Robert stepped back through the entrance way fumbling with the bowl and faltering with his steps. “You really might want to close that front door.” Robert smiled. “I mean this is a dangerous world. This time it was only me, but it could be anyone.”

Selly smiled wondering if Robert Francis had really thought of himself as dangerous. “Good Day.”

Selly watched Robert Francis turn to move down the hallway, she started back to her bedroom but thought on his words. The Nodachi sword make a clinking noise as Selly stood it on the marble tile. She moved the urn and watched as the door closed itself. Satisfied with the click, beep, and change of the little green LED to red; Selly picked up her nodachi turning it to stick it in the silky belt of her robe, she made a beeline back to the bedroom.


Chapter Three – Good Evening

Robert hummed as he moved around his apartment suite. The kettle whistled in the kitchen. An orange tabby cat made its way up a staircase of staggered books that overflowed the bookshelf.

“You hungry Rusty?” Robert didn’t wait for the cat to acknowledge him. He made an immediate path to the kitchen around his antiques. He was a collector and while his suite was not small, it was littered with belongings.

The cat mewed pathetically until Robert put the cat food onto a plate on the counter. The cat jumped up and began to devour its meal. The microwave dinged and Robert extracted his dinner carefully with oven mitts. “Yumm, Rusty, doesn’t that smell good?” Robert wafted the steam towards his nose. “Let’s go sit on the couch and watch a little late night television for a treat shall we?” Robert nodded to the cat who was just about finished with its meal.

Robert balanced the hot plastic tray in his oven mitted hand while moving papers and magazines off of the couch to make room for him and the cat. Once satisfied in turned on the television to find Jay Leno in the midst of being introduced, “look at that Rusty we are just in time”.

Robert fell asleep in the midst of his TV dinner. Rusty had no qualms about finishing the rest up for him. Robert’s mouth sagged open and thunderous snores echoed around the suite. The snores were contended only by a muffled thumping sound. After a while the thumping sound appeared to pierce Robert’s sleep as he began to flinch at the onset of each thump.

Robert jumped up spilling the cat and remaining contents of the dinner onto the floor. The cat wailed as the dinner tray landed on it.

Robert stood there examining the mess and listening for the noise. The thumping resumed again this time quite rhythmically. Robert’s brows furrowed in anger as he realized the noise came from the penthouse suite. “Young people these days, just making all kinds of noise at all hours of the day and night. They have no respect of others.” Robert began brushing himself off, and headed for his front door still mumbling under his breath. He had worked up quite a sweat by the time he reached the entrance doors for the penthouse suite. He noticed that they were closed but the green light on the lock was lit.

Undaunted Robert banged on the doors loudly. The thumping noise which had grown louder stopped. Robert tugged on his shirt nervously and nodded his head assuring himself of his right to be angry having just been woken out of his sleep.

The door opened and Selly beckoned him in. “Robert Francis, what a surprise.”

Robert’s mouth gaped; Selly was wearing a black cropped Gee bottom and a mid-riffed tank top. Her black silky hair captured in a pony tail flowed down her back. He stared at her well muscled alabaster abdomen. Selly really stood out in the sterility of her white-washed suite.

“You have come this time to work out Robert Francis?” Selly asked as her voice lingered on his two first names.

The question brought Robert back to his senses. “I was trying to sleep. The thumping noise woke me up. I have to be at work early in the morning.” Robert tried to be stern and flexed the muscle in his jaw for good measure to reassure himself if anything else.

“I see.” The smile left Sally’s face.

Robert Francis drew himself to his full height. “So you will stop making that noise so I may sleep?”

“I will think on it Robert Francis.”

Robert stared at Selly sure the conversation was over. There was a smoldering anger or annoyance that flickered over her face. He was sure he had made his point though. “Very well, Good Evening then”.

***

Selly watched the door close behind Robert Francis. She turned slowly to stare at the heavy bag wondering why she had the misfortune of suffering through these incessant visits from this man whose questions fell over each other.

Selly grabbed her nodachi and began to work through her anger. She sliced through the air, twirling with grace, making large powerful strokes for such a seemingly slight frame. Her mind wandered back to a time where a similar workout took place within the solitude of a forest glade. Then even the animals had kept their distance. The blade sang with the power of each stroke. The invisible opponents fell one by one as anger subsided slowly. Selly remembered walking to her counting tree and placing a notch for each day that she had to remain in isolation. After a many months climbing that tree to place the notch became part of her routine work out. It was routine that had kept her alive, routine and routine alone.

Selly blinked clearing her head of the memories. She found herself touching a white pillar, breath still ragged from her intense workout. The notched tree was now a memory. A slight chuckle escaped her lips. “For all that this man is or is not, his words though many are much better to hear than none at all.” Selly turned to the heavy bag. “I will move you outside”.


Chapter Four – The Visit

“So I hear that Mount Olympus has some issues with its newest deity?”

Robert scowled from the kitchen at the comment. He leaned over the cluttered granite counter top trying to stare at his sandy haired friend who was perched on top of a credenza.

“Tristan, please find a seat somewhere. I have asked you not to sit on that!” Robert rushed from the kitchen to smooth the surface of the antique desk. “I have had a few issues with the neighbor upstairs.” Robert glared at his other friend Paul who simply shrugged his shoulders.

“I hear she’s gorgeous,” Tristan went on.

“She is quite beautiful.” Robert reflected momentarily on any occasion that he had encountered Selly and nodded. He checked his watch, “actually you can see for yourself, she’ll be heading to the elevator right about now.”

Robert smiled as his friends rushed to the doorway he could hear their muffled whispers of appreciation. He remembered his first meeting with Selly, seeing her in her Fedora, slouched cotton piqued pants and oversized leather trench coat. Now he was sure that the trench coat concealed that sword of hers that she was barely ever without.

“Let’s go and check the penthouse out?” Tristan looked like he was trying to rally Paul.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Robert began. “I mean it’s not right just barging in on someone’s place.”

“Didn’t you say she leaves the door open?” Paul was heading to the door with Tristan following closely behind.

Robert instantly wished he hadn’t confided in his friends at all, but begrudgingly followed them up the staircase. No one noticed Rusty who padded along for the tour. “I did.” For once Robert didn’t have much to say.

“Who leaves their penthouse open to the world?” Paul asked rhetorically.

“Right.” Tristan piped in. “I mean that’s crazy... you just open yourself to a world of issues. Besides its more like an invitation.”

Robert sighed and hustled after his wayward friends. The trip up the staircase was lengthy. Each step seemed foreboding and he found himself wishing that Selly was home to greet them with her sword. To Robert’s dismay Selly was not home to greet them as Tristan thrust open the door. The urn wobbled precariously as the door hit it. Robert rushed to steady it throwing Tristan a fierce glare.

Tristan simply shrugged his shoulders.

Robert’s adam apple bobbed like a float stuck in a pipe as he realized that both Tristan and Paul had stepped off of the red rug. It dawned on him that he had never been into Selly’s penthouse any further than the red rug and definitely not with shoes on. In fact the memories rushed to him of Selly’s little Pumas sitting neatly on the red rug. He turned looking for them feeling suddenly quite nauseous – they were gone.

“Tristan, Paul?” Robert tried to recall his friends, but his voice wasn’t working and they were roaming all over the suite.

***

The scents were not quite right as Selly approached the entrance doors to her suite. She dropped the parcel she was carrying and withdrew the nodachi from its hidden sheath deep within the folds of her leather trench. Blade first Selly entered her apartment prepared for the worst. Unfamiliar scents rushed to her nose. She touched the urn inhaling the scent of Robert Francis and two others. As she made her way into the bedroom a slight movement caused her to turn, arcing the blade high as she drew down quickly turning the blade as her sword met with Rusty. He squealed as the dull side of the blade pressed against his intact throat. Selly exhaled purposefully. Images of bloodshed permeated her being. The last time her home had been violated, her family had been under attack. Many had died.

Selly withdrew her sword allowing the frightened cat to run. He ran straight for the doorway. Opening the door for him, Selly followed him down the stairwell; he stopped at Robert Francis’ doorway which was left slight ajar. She slipped inside, the lights were off and heavy drapes covered the windows limiting the available light. Looking about her she wondered how he and the cat managed to move about or find anything in such a clutter. Snores could be heard coming from the bedroom. Selly made her way towards the bedroom. Finding a sleeping Robert Francis, she pressed the cold of her blade against his throat curling her lip.


Chapter Six – Nodachi’s line

Selly sat on the railing of the suite’s outside terrace over-looking the bay. She cleaned her sword pensively. The wind caught the silky black threads of Selly’s hair flying them like banner. She looked like a gargoyle unmoving except for the occasional movement of the oiled rag against the blade. The sun was setting casting the last of its strength and power forth painting the sky in a litany of colors. Selly’s usually alabaster face, softened by the orange glow, basked in the warmth of the sunset. A noise from within the suite caught her attention; she blithely hopped over the railing landing squarely in the terrace. Head cocked she walked towards the entrance of the apartment.

Upon opening the doors, Selly had to laugh. “Robert Francis, what a surprise.” Selly leaned against the doorway this time not extending herself to allow him in. She had spent all morning cleaning and wasn’t sure if she were ready to offer him that allowance. She noted that he held something in a red pot in his hands and presumed that he had been pacing outside the door.

“Selly, I’m so sorry, it wasn’t my fault.” Robert Francis began.

Selly cocked an eyebrow.

“Well, of course it was my fault. I shouldn’t have let them, I mean I don’t know how I would have stopped them, but somehow I shouldn’t have let them.” Robert’s head was bobbing frantically as he spoke, as his hands were tied with the pot he was holding.

Selly drew a deep breath. “Please come in.”

Robert exhaled deeply. He stood on the red rug expectantly.

“Take off your shoes please.” Selly prompted.

“Right. Right, of course.” Robert fumbled taking his shoes off with the toes of the other foot and then followed Selly to the plush which leather couch.

Selly positioned her nodachi sword to stand on the tip of its blade. She saw Robert’s eyes follow her sword. “The sword make you nervous, yes?”

Robert nodded gulping air, “I had a dream last night. I dreamt that you came into my apartment.”

“Really” Selly opened her eyes innocently. “What was I doing there?”

Robert gulped again. “I dreamt that you cut open my neck and drank my blood.”

“That sounds quite messy.” Selly said smiling revealing her little pointed eye teeth. Satisfied she noted Robert’s reaction. “But surely it must have been a dream as you appear to be intact.”

Robert sighed. “Yes, that’s what I’m thinking too.”

“Robert Francis, where I come from we live and die by the sword. My nodachi demands respect, as do I.”

“Perhaps we can begin again like this never happened?” Robert asked.

“Perhaps we start again but learn from our mistakes.” Selly nodded.

“Here, I got this for you. Like a truce. A little gift.” Robert pushed the wrapped pot at Selly.

Selly took the brightly colored gift-wrapped pot from him. Carefully removing the wrapping Selly uncovered a fern planted in a red planter. “That is a very thoughtful gift Robert Francis.”

She saw the huge grin her comment had put on his face. She placed the plant on the glass topped white coffee table and folded the gaudy wrapping paper. “I too have a gift for you.”

“Really?”

Selly got up slowly, her black leather pants sticking slightly to the white leather couch. She sauntered into the kitchen very aware of Robert Francis’ eyes on her. She retrieved the package she had been carrying last night and offered it to Robert Francis when she returned.

He removed the plastic bag and gasped, “Sugar.” He grinned again. “Thank you.”

Selly beamed satisfied that her gift had been well received.


Comments:
 
StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 12/1/2009 3:29:55 AM
It's always good to come back and read something your dazzling imagination has conceived. And this is no exception. Though it seemed that this was the first part of something larger. I like how you always describe your characters and really plot out your story. It's the little details thatcount, that makes it more real. I hope I am reading the first part of another amazing story!

Bitten2ice
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Synopsis
The Nodachi Line is about conflict and respect.
A Word from the Writer
A short piece written for a writing class.
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