The English were unpleasant in their own very English way. It was as if they lived at the top of the world, and naturally looked down on everyone else; ‘looked down’ in the sense that everyone else was clearly beneath them so what else could they do? No spite or guilt, just…’Why doesn’t everyone else try harder?’ There was a hint of warmth to their contempt that I found especially deplorable. How could such scumbags sit pretending to be gentlemen, acting as if they made the world spin while sipping tea and discussing the state of the world? If this was the English, the Spaniards back on the Canary Islands were far better. They were cocky and violent but never tried to pretend they were in the right. They never explained to you how their tyranny was based on logical superiority, and besides, if they left the trash to themselves they’d never amount to anything, yes? I’d never realized that true arrogance presented itself as elegance. True class, to my mind, was evident without resorting to pretense. In that sense, I found no true gentlemen or ladies in the Joestar family’s ancestral home, Wastewood. Every single one of them treated our apparent differences as a means by which they could once again justify their own superiority. The Joestar family’s recent contributions to Wastewood history had been the slaughter of the head of the family and a great number of policeman by an adopted son, followed by a fire that burned the manor to the ground, and then the surviving heir had married only to die in a shipwreck on his honeymoon. Even once my mother returned, all we got was: Eh? The Joestar girl survived? My, you had a child and lived on your own in the Canary Islands…how sturdy of you. So you’ve come ‘home’? Although you never really lived here, did you? Hmm.
Well, that hospital your father ran was handed over to new management quiet some time ago, so you really have no family here at all. It’s been a burned heap of rubble for twenty years, I never imagined seeing the Joestar manor rebuilt. Oh, you know the president of the Speedwagon company? He’s helping you rebuild, is he? He’s a bachelor, and you have two children…it must be tough.
Oh? Really? The girl isn’t yours? Not even of noble birth? I see.
Well, you’re still Pendleton’s daughter, and a fine woman…although it’s been much too long since your wedding to really reenter society. And your son doesn’t seem to fit in at the club. But enough about practical matters, tell us more about life on the island. You must have had so many adventures! My mother just smiled, and nodded, and said that it had all been quite a bizarre adventure, and since staying at home led to nothing but this sort of neighborly assault, she quickly began commuting to London. In the city was the hospital my mother’s father had founded, now even larger. Graham Pendleton had retired, and the hospital was now run by someone else, but the controlling interest in the stock was owned by mother and my grandfather, and she had stayed in contact with him the entire time we were on the Canary Islands. My mother started her own company not far from the hospital, effectively transferring the headquarters of the Star Mark Tradings Company she’d founded from the Canary Islands to London. The office back on the islands remained, and additional ships from England increased the volume they could trade; England and Spain being presently engaged in a struggle for control of the seas this arrangement allowed her to play both sides, purchasing goods in Spain to sell in England, leading to a steady increase in profits. Both mother and Penelope, who was working with her, seemed full of life and fun, while I had transferred to my father’s old school, Hugh Hudson High, and was being bullied again. Judging by the number of people who called me Jorge, the fact that I was a fallen aristocrat amused my classmates endlessly, but at the same time the economic success my mother had was impossible not to notice locally, and made them all frantically jealous. On top of that it was very easy to make fun of anyone with a single-mother household, and well, quite a number of things were said to me. I never really minded what they said about me; when they couldn’t get a reaction out of me they got mad, and one idiot fumbled his way into insulting my mother, which I could not abide.
On the Canary Islands I’d been too afraid to ever get in a fist fight; suddenly I found myself taking three or four at a time, swinging wildly. I lost, of course. Fights are always won by whoever has more people on their side. This was high school; we were all grown up, and our punches and kicks hurt quite a lot. But I was ecstatic. I could finally take a swing at somebody! At the same time, I felt hollow. However slimy my opponents were, they were just high school boys, normal humans; not evil vampires or zombies. My fights were sleepy scraps in a world of peace. It all seemed so stupid I began refusing to engage with them no matter what they said. Mother told me to ignore them and worried about my injuries, and Penelope was furious and started slurp slurp summoning locked room clowns, so anyone who fought me was in grave danger, but mostly, I just got bored by it all. Fed up. By melancholy, violent, endlessly peaceful days. I remembered the time I’d spent with Tsukumojuku. All that time spend hunting serial killers, solving locked room murders, getting trapped in mansions on deserted islands…! I missed the adrenaline rush, of course, but what I really wanted was my friendship with him. The ability to talk about anything, to say what I liked, real laughs, real anger…I was sixteen now, and the thought was embarrassing, but I wanted a friend. And it didn’t seem likely that I’d ever make one. I’d thought I couldn’t make friends on the Canary Islands because everyone was Spanish; but I couldn’t make friends with the English either. Because of this I started spending more and more time on my own, and since it was the country, the only place in Wastewood where I wouldn’t run into someone I knew was the sea. Since there were steep cliffs along the coast the only person who ever wandered around them was me, and I went almost every day, and that was where I met the Motorize siblings.
At first I thought they were getting in the way of my gloomy cliff stalking. I was staring at the sea and remembering how much I
didn’t want to go back to the Canary Islands, when I saw them carrying something with a pair of huge wings, like a giant bird, up to the cliff’s edge.
Were they going to push it over and make it fly? It seemed a waste to make something like that and then throw it into the sea. Then, to my surprise, the girl wiggled in underneath it, inside of it. Eh? What is she…is she trying to fly that thing? Really? The wind on these cliffs wasn’t strong enough to lift more than a leaf, there was no way it would work ah ha ha ha. I was so shocked I started laughing. Before I could call out to her to stop the boy shoved the big construct towards the edge of the cliff…with the girl still inside. He didn’t even hesitate.
“Eh? Auuuughhh!” I ran towards them, yelling, but too late. The tail of the ‘bird’ the girl was riding had tipped up, and it slipped over the edge of the cliff. She was falling! Shit! These cliffs were at least thirty meters tall; the water was deep, but from that height, she’d be lucky to survive the impact. I had to save her! Hoping to pull her out of the ocean, I ran to the cliff edge nearest to me. I could see the nose of the bird on the surface below. I couldn’t see the girl anywhere in the pounding surf. I ran quickly along the cliff edge until I was right above the sunken bird, shouted, “I’ll be back for you!” at her killer, who seemed startled by my sudden approach, and with that, I flung myself off the cliff…and as I did, the bird shot past me with the girl still inside. Both the girl and I said, “Eh?” at the same time. I turned in the air, staring after the girl and the bird, and thought, shit, I did it again. I was always throwing myself headlong into danger without a second’s thought. Tsukumojuku used to lecture me about it all the time…but judging by the speed the cliffs were moving away from me I was about to hit the water, and should probably brace myself. Thirty meters. Doable? I thought it was. I stretched my arms up, and did my best to hit the water straight on. I took a quick breath…but just before I hit, the boy from the cliff caught up with me, wrapped his arms around my body, and suddenly we were
speeding along in a totally different direction, along the surface of the ocean. My entire body was still braced for impact, and I had trouble adjusting to this turn of events.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he said.
“If you’d looked up for one second you’d have seen the glider! Tell me you aren’t hurt.” I still couldn’t bring myself to speak, so I just shook my head. There were these things on his shoulders dripping with some dark red goo, and they were folding up and stretching out, and were covered in long flat hair, and then they turned and we left the sea and flew up into the air. He had wings…and they were covered in blood. ? Um…? Was he not human? “You OK?” I heard someone shout. Over the bird boy’s shoulders I could see the girl I’d tried to save in her bird shaped machine, flying alongside us.
“Maaan, you nearly gave me a heart attack ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” she said, laughing hysterically. I stared at her in horror.
“We’d better land,” the bird boy said.
“Right, I’ll loop around and come in for a landing. You OK, Steven?”
“Oh, and thank you!” she said, catching my eye. Eh? What for? “You were worried about me, right? Heh heh heh, you went running straight off that cliff! Dash and bound! I saw the whole thing!” ……….
“See you on the cliff!” she said, threw me a kiss, and turned the wings of her machine away from us. I had assumed bird boy was her boyfriend, so this set my heart racing for two reasons. But the real reason my heart was racing was seeing that girl flying around in her bird machine, and how it had no obvious form of propulsion but there it was flying up down left right never falling totally free. Even after the bird boy had deposited me safely on the
top of the cliff I stood riveted, watching her fly, obsessed with this new power.
“I’m jealous…I want one…!”
“Heh, everyone’ll be riding them soon enough.”
“Eh? Really? How? Doesn’t seem like something anyone could do.”
“You can, if you practice a bit. Just like driving a car. Maybe you won’t be able to fly like her, but it won’t be long before they make ones anyone can handle.”
“Like a car…? Then she isn’t using some sort of special power to make that thing fly?”
“? What do you mean?”
“I mean, like…like those wings of yours.”
“Mm? Ha ha ha ha, no, no. That’s just science. No special powers.”
“But that thing looks too heavy to fly.” It was hardly a leaf.
“It is if you don’t handle it right. You’ve never seen an airplane before?” Airplane? Was that thing an airplane? “If air flows under the wings, it pushes them up. Normally they have an engine making a propeller spin and build speed, but we don’t have the money or the engineering skills, so the best we can do is make a one-man glider out of wood and cloth.” I got even more excited. If normal people could make something like that then there was every chance I could fly one. If these things were going to be as common as cars, then I would absolutely be flying one someday! Amazing! I would be able to fly! I had been sure I’d just met two more people with mysterious powers, but I guess that wasn’t true for the girl! I looked over at the bird boy and he’d folded his wings up and was sitting down. The bleeding had stopped, but the flesh on the wings looked really soft, and what I could see of his back through the holes in his shirt made it clear there was lots of bruising around the base of the wings, and some yellow bubbles oozing out. Guess this was why the girl had been concerned. He was
clearly not OK.
“Sorry, this was all my mistake…”
“Mm? Forget about it.”
“Looks painful. Very painful.”
“Yeah…but I’m used to it, and it’ll be fine in a bit. And you…heh heh, you’re more surprised by the plane than my wings.”
“Eh? Mm. It just so happens I’m used to strange things.”
“So how’d you end up like this?”
“Wait,” I said, remembering how Penelope got hers.
“If it hurts to talk about, forget I asked.”
“Heh heh heh…can’t say there wasn’t pain involved, but that makes it sound like a much more interesting story than it is. I’ve never told anyone the story…hardly anyone else has ever seen my wings.” He fell silent, so I didn’t pry further. I looked back at the glider. Just watching it brought me joy, and given what Steven had said about the future, I found myself looking forward to what was to come for the first time in my life. I suddenly felt like all sorts of extraordinary things were going to happen.
“Ha ha ha! I’m definitely flying one of those! Absolutely! Positively!” I heard Steven laughing behind me.
“Heh heh heh, well, given how quick you jumped off that cliff…that kinda guts is just what you need to be a pilot.” Guts? Nobody else had ever accused me of having those before.
Steven’s sister Kenton came sliding in for a gentle landing on top of the cliffs.
We looked the glider over, and except for a few grass stains, it was completely unharmed.
While I was busy being surprised and impressed they swiftly broke the glider down, and loaded into the back of their wagon. They gave me a lift, and I
ended up back at their house. At this point it finally occurred to me to introduce myself, and they were both taken aback.
“Ehh!? You’re the Joestar boy? Our grandfather was friends with your grandfather! Your grandfather’s name was George too, right?” Kenton asked. I nodded.
“But my name is spelled Jorge.”
“Oh…but spelled that way, wouldn’t you pronounce it Horhe? Don’t people call you that?”
“…they do,” both on the Canary Island, and here in England.
“So?” We’d been getting along rather well…were they going to start mocking me now? “Do you know a girl named Darlington?”
“Eh? You don’t? She’s in your class.”
“I don’t know anybody’s name at school.”
“I guess you did say you transferred…” I hadn’t said that yet? “Something Darlington?”
“What’s her first name?”
“Oh, Darlington is her first name. My kid sister. I know, it sounds like a last name. It is a last name, too. Same goes for my name. Dad named us both after old friends of his. Since he can’t very well give girls boy’s names he gave us their last names. Awful, isn’t it?”
“……..? So…Darlington Motorize?”
“Yes, our little princess. I’m sure you’ve noticed her, she’s the cutest girl in your class. The one with the curly hair.”
“…..I don’t remember a girl like that.”
“Wha…ah ha ha ha ha ha! No wonder she’s so mad about it! Thank you so much! Jorge Joestar! Our little princess is getting a bit too vain, and you’ve been good medicine.” Eh? Eh? So this girl was waiting for us at the Motorize residence? No matter where you went, someone was there, and they
were connected to someone else; it was just like La Palma. I sighed.
“Give her a chance,” Steven said. He was sitting on the right side of the wagon, holding the reins.
“I agree she’s a bit vain, but she’s not a bad kid, and she’s more than just a pretty face.” I remained unenthused. The Motorize estate was still properly aristocratic, with a huge garden, a large mansion, and a butler.
We rode the wagon straight into the shed; while were were unloading the glider the butler and Darlington Motorize came in.
“I’ve brought you both some tea,” she said.
“Oh? Aren’t you in my class?” I took a good look at her, but couldn’t say for sure if I’d ever seen her in class.
“What?” she said, somehow looking both anxious and victorious at the same time.
“Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t remember you. I’m Jorge Joestar,” I said, holding out my hand. Darlington sulked for a second, but then took my hand.
“Darlington Motorize,” she said.
“This is our butler, Faraday. Give Jorge some tea, too. Oh…Steven, your wings…did Kenton have another accident?”
“Uh, no, that’s my fault,” I said. Darlington glared at me.
“What did you do? Every time Steven opens his wings it takes him three weeks to heal, you know. He can’t go to school that whole time, so you owe him!” I had not expected it to take that much time. I had imagined it was a momentary thing, like Penelope’s Wound. I looked at Steven, and he said, “Knock it off, Dar. Jorge tried to save Ken; he could well have hurt himself worse than me trying. I’m used to it by now, it’s fine. Not like we need to call a doctor for it; there’s nothing anybody can do to help.”
“But it takes three weeks? What about school?” I asked. Steven laughed.
“I don’t exactly take school seriously to begin with. I can learn what I need on my own, and it means more
time I can spend on gliders.”
“Besides, Dar,” Kenton said.
“You brought tea out here because you want to know Jorge better. Making Faraday join in your weird little pantomime.”
“But you’ve never once brought us tea before, ever! Ah ha ha ha ha!”
“Then you pretended not to know his name! ‘Aren’t you in my class?’ Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
“Stop it! It’s all nonsense, I swear!” Darlington shrieked, then she left in a huff, angrily stamping her way through the mud. Kenton watched her go, laughing hysterically.
“Ken, knock it off! I’m starting to feel sorry for her,” Steven said.
“You know she’s just going to take it out on Faraday and Dad.”
“But she’s so cute!”
“It’s always like this…” he sighed. I’d have stayed as far from any of this as possible, but they were his sisters, and Steven seemed hopelessly nice. Faraday served us all tea, and we drank it. It was delicious. I wandered around their work shed, tea cup in hand. There were plans all over the walls, shelves filled with models, and a pile of glider parts in the back. It was clear he had tried out a number of different body types, and the sheer variety displayed in the plans, models, and parts lit fire to my imagination.
“Jorge,” Steven said, “Want to help make planes after school? And on holidays. If you’re really interested…” I gaped at him. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that he might offer. And there I was going, “Eh…but…” instead of yes yes yes please please please because nobody had ever asked me to join a group before, and I’d wanted a friend like Tsukumojuku but didn’t ever imagine myself joining a group and…I was scared. This was so beyond my wildest dreams that it left me petrified. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Mouth flapping I eventually managed to
say, “Then once I’ve proven I deserve to be here!” They both laughed.
“No need!” But I needed it. I thought frantically.
“Um, there was a sunken glider at the bottom of the cliff,” I said.
“If you’ve given up on it, can I have it?”
“Sure,” Steven said, “But that’s been underwater a while now.”
“Yeah. I”ll pull it out, dry it off, and look it over. You know why it crashed?”
“No. Kenton said it felt like a bird or something hit it, and then it just fell apart in the air.”
“Then I guess my goal should be figuring out why it crashed, correcting that, and making it fly again.” Kenton broke up laughing.
“That’s a pretty lofty first goal! What, you want to start out by surpassing us? Ah ha ha ha! Sounds good! You don’t think small!”
“Oh? Should I go for something a little easier…?”
“Don’t even think about it! No taking it back now! Man, I dunno if you’re bold or wimpy, but don’t worry! We’ll help.” So we all took the wagon back to the cliff and pulled the shattered glider out of the water.
“Good thing my wings are out!” Steven said. He did almost all the work of getting the glider up; all I could really do was take the pieces from him and load them into the wagon.
We took it back to the Joestar manor, and unloaded the pieces in a corner of the garden. There were any number of missing parts; Steve offered to share from his stash, but I refused, hell bent on repairing the glider on my own. I did borrow some documents from him, and began studying them intently, learning as much as I could about airplanes while repairing the glider. The American Wright Brothers were one step ahead of everyone else in aeronautics, and had successfully built a manned propeller plane the year before. Steven and Kenton had been studying wingwarping controls, and the glider I’d seen them fly, Motorizing 7, was the result. The one we’d pulled out of the water was Motorizing
5; Motorizing 6 had been smashed against the cliff face by a sudden gust of wind, destroying it; Steven had been forced to open his wings and grab his sister out of the air.
“Since Steven has his own wings,” Kenton said, “He can’t really truly get serious about making airplanes. I, however, want to be like Steven, so it’s really driving me forward, but I’m always in danger of crashing. So Steven has to stick by me, and seeing him fires me up, and I wind up taking even more risks, ah ha ha ha ha!” Some sister. The other sister never came near the work shed again, but she was in class, and we talked occasionally. Even if Darlington brought up airplanes I wouldn’t talk about them. I had no idea what pranks the other kids might pull, and if their efforts to torment me caused trouble for Steven and Kenton that would be just awful.
We had nothing much to talk about besides airplanes, so we ended up talking about novels. Darlington did not seem like a heavy reader to me, but she had almost all the books I’d acquired on the Canary Islands, and offered to loan me books I hadn’t read yet. I assumed I’d pick them up while visiting Steven, but she went to far as to set a date and time, and the day in question was when our class ended early but Steven and Kenton were still at school, so I was pretty sure I was going to end up waiting in the parlor for them to get home for ages. I’d yet to set foot inside the Motorize manor, but could easily imagine it not being anything like as fun and carefree as their shed, and I was only really reading novels when I was taking breaks from studying airplanes, and would gladly have given them up if it meant I didn’t have to keep talking to Darlington, but she was so insistent is seemed much easier to just go instead of trying to worm my way out of it, so I went.
When I mentioned this the day before, Kenton laughed.
“Ahhh, that explains why she keeps borrowing novels from Dad’s library and scowling at them! She was making excuses to talk to you!” Hunh? Steven winced.
“Ken! Don’t tell him!”
“Nah, it’s cute! I’m sure she’s got a crush on you, Jorge!”
“No way! No way, no way, that can’t be right!” I spluttered.
“Well, she…I mean, I think she’s pretty popular with the boys in class, and because I’m the only one not very interested she…winds up trying to get my attention. I’m like the prize of a hunt, and she’ll keep it up till she’s satisfied, but it’s not really me she wants. I can sense it; there’s like, a stubbornness there, like Darlington’s trying to find the right strategy to get to me.” Both Kenton and Steven looked rather surprised.
“Hunh…aren’t you perceptive,” Kenton said.
“I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, but…consider me impressed. Boys your age generally get pretty carried away the second a girl like Darlington shows the slightest interest.”
“I dunno…I don’t have any other friends, so I’m sort of happy she comes and talks to me at all. And since Darlington talks to me, the others are leaving me alone more. I’m sure they’ll be back once Darlington tires of her toy.”
“Hunh…Jorge, are you already in love with someone else?” Kenton grinned. My thoughts instantly went to Lisa Lisa, to my horror.
Why Lisa Lisa!? Why now!? “No! I’m not!”
“Ah! You’re flustered! That means you are! I know it!”
“I’m not! I’m not!”
“You absolutely are! That’s nice. I don’t know why you think you need to hide it, you don’t.”
“Because I’m not!”
“You so are! Ah ha ha ha ha!” At last Steven saved me.
“Cut it out! You toy with Jorge as much as Dar does.” She did! Point well made! “Ah ha ha, well, Jorge is just that type, you can’t help messing with him! Listen, Jorge, I know you’ve had all kinds of bad stuff happen to you, but that was because you were surrounded by
children! Children are all idiots who don’t know how they should behave. They want to tease you a bit but wind up being really mean. Because they suck at it. Lots of boys end up being really mean to the girl they’ve got a crush on, you know. But you’re in high school now, so you’re about to become really popular. Look forward to it! You’re plenty good looking! If bizarrely gloomy.” This caught me so off-guard I didn’t know how to answer. I could hear a denial echoing through my mind, but no thoughts formed. Then Kenton added, “But I guess you won’t care! You’re already in love!” I love you, Lisa Lisa. AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh! Why did I just think that! I was dying of embarrassment.
“I’m not in love! I’m not! Not at all!” I shrieked.
“I’ve been debating whether to mention this or not,” Steven said.
“But you live with your mother, and another reeeeeally pretty woman, don’t you?” Eh? Penelope? “Eeeeeeeeeeeek! Really!? Eh? Her? Jorge! You’re already living together!? Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow!” Kenton had clearly lost it completely, and Steven wouldn’t stop grinning.
“You’re a lucky boy ♡,” he said. I didn’t know he had it in him. This was such a weird thing to say it calmed me down.
“Nothing like that.” Kenton and Steven both went wide-eyed.
“He’s telling the truth.”
“Hunh…” Kenton said.
“Then it’s someone else he loves! Somewhere else…did you leave her behind on the Canary Islands!?” Elizabeth Straits was in Rome now, right? Me too, Jorge. I love you, too. Ugghhhh, why was she saying that!? Why was I thinking about her again! Enough! “I’m not!”
“Liar! You just went bright red!”
“I’m not! I swear, I’m not!”
“Ah Ha Ha Ha Ha! The way you can’t lie at all is so fun and adorable, Jorge!” And I got teased mercilessly for it.
That night, in the simple tent I’d set up in the garden in place of a proper work set, I finished putting together the parts of the glider we’d saved (about 70% of it) and it finally looked like an airplane. Looking it over, I noticed two sets of four parallel grooves on top of the right top wing. I couldn’t see them as anything but the claw marks left by some four fingered thing that had grabbed the wing, and the location of the marks was clearly where the glider had started to fall apart in the air; one of the wires that warped the wings was severed in just that spot. It spooked me. Kenton had said she hit a sea bird, but she’d been the pilot and couldn’t see the back of the wings. Had something been hiding back there, trying to crash the plane? I didn’t want to deal with this alone, so I made up my mind to bring it up when I was visiting the Motorize manor the next day.
A bright morning gave way to heavy clouds and cold rain and I was dreading the whole thing but school ended and I entered the Motorize manor, was led to the parlor, and sipped the tea Faraday brought until Darlington came in with Heart of Darkness in her hand and asked, “Jorge, are you in love with anyone?” I made a strange, shrill sound and nearly spit my tea but stopped myself, swallowed, and gasped, “No.”
“Nothing? You…aren’t going to ask who?”
“Eh? I’m not asking.”
“Don’t know him.”
“…he’s two grades above us. He and Steven know each other. He’s quite the athlete, and he’s smart, and he’ll be a doctor someday, but really, he wants to write novels.”
“So he says your opinion of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is odd. The way you support Heathcliff’s revenge; the book itself describes that as a curse, or the work of spirits. He says if you really read that book cackling with glee like you said, then he says you must be very odd yourself.” I had, indeed, totally laughed my ass off reading Wuthering Heights.
“Go get ’em, Heathcliff! Good work!” But sadly, he wasn’t that effective, didn’t accomplish all that much, and at the end the author tried to force a happy ending which I’d found highly disappointing. I kinda remembered mentioning this while chatting with Darlington, but…
“Whatever the author intended, it’s up to the reader how they respond to it. And…not that I’ve ever tried to write one, but characters in a novel don’t always do what the author intends. I’ve got no problems debating my take on the book with this William Cardinal. But I do question you bringing up his criticism of my take with me, here. I don’t mind if you criticize me, but using someone else’s words to do it isn’t right, Darlington. If you want to criticize me, or talk shit about me, or be mean to me, at least use your own words. I’m sure William Cardinal didn’t expect those words to reach me like this, so you’re being rude to him, too. Anyway…I’m not going to borrow that book from you. I don’t want to deal with you being weird about my take on it again, and if I can’t be honest about my opinion, why should I borrow a book from you?” I pushed the book back across the table to her.
“Why are you mad?” Darlington said.
“I’m not mad. Just surprised. I thought we were getting
along, but then you suddenly attack me. If you secretly didn’t like me, or weren’t happy with what I think, then don’t pretend that we’re friends. I don’t have that many friends, so the last thing I want is to be disappointed by the ones I think I have.”
Well, sorry. You can go now.”
“Mm. I will.” I stood up, and left the parlor. I ran into Faraday, thanked him for the tea, and was about to leave when he said, “Oh, Master Joestar, a friend of yours was just here, searching for you.”
“Eh….? A friend of mine?” I’d just lost one of the few I could call friend, and the other two were Steven and Kenton.
“Here? Can you describe them?”
“He looked like a young boy, primary or middle school…he spoke Spanish at first. I led him over here, to the other parlor.” Rain pounding down outside, he led me down a gloomy hallway, across the central hall, and into a room in the other wing. He knocked on the door, and it echoed dully.
“I’ll take my leave here,” Faraday said, and left. Leaving me alone with my anxiety. I peered into the room, and saw nobody inside…? A friend? A Spanish one? Had someone from the Canary Islands come, pretending to be my friend? Steeling my nerves, I stepped through the door.
When I saw who was standing in the back, my vision blurred, my legs shook, and my head spun so fast I could barely stand.
“Wha…?” I whispered, feeling myself about to topple.
“You’ve grown awfully tall since I last saw you!” he laughed a laugh I had not heard since he vanished last summer in the Atlantic Ocean, since the day I thought he’d died – Tsukumojuku. Asian faces did look young to Western eyes, but…ha ha ha, this wasn’t really…
“How are you…?” How could he have known I’d be here? Tears welled up in my eyes.
“I exist now in eternity, in the final frontier,” Tsukumojuku said.
“But I expect I won’t be there forever. There must be some
meaning for me to have come here. Like I always said. Everything has meaning. You wanted me here, or something needed me for your benefit.
We have no time, my friend. By the way, where is this? There were no buildings this splendid on the Canary Islands.” The familiar sound of Tsukumojuku’s voice calmed me from my simple-minded emotional reaction, and I felt my mind waking up the way it had during out adventures together. Look carefully, and think. Tsukumojuku had said these words to me countless times. Look carefully…so I did. Tsukumojuku was floating about five centimeters above the surface of the floor. I looked up and met his eye.
“Yes,” he said.
“It seems I can’t really say that I am actually here. I’m not sure if I should tell you…but I’m currently in Japan, in the year 2012. I’m there with a different you – a Japanese boy completely unlike you, but also named Jorge Joestar. I’ve been transported to a place called the Arrow Cross House, and I’ve gotten caught up in another case.”
2012? That was 107 years from now. Another me? A Japanese Jorge Joestar? Arrow Cross House? I had no idea what he was talking about but, “You’re caught up in a case? Need help?”
“Nah, the other Jorge Joestar’s here, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Probably. And like I said, I’m not here to get your help. I’m here to help you. Are you in some sort of danger right now?” ? Danger? “No…I mean, I don’t have many friends but…” But I had made friends since moving to England.
“Basically I’m fine?”
Well, that’s good. So there must be some other reason. Oh, look,” he jerked his chin at his left hand; from the wrist out it
was fading, see-through.
“I see. I am Tsukumojuku. I may be in one other place as well,” he said, cryptically. Tsukumojuku smiled at me.
“I see, I’ll need to cross the bridge. Somebody somewhere else has taken hold of my left hand. The palm is small, the fingers thin, so it must be a girl. And she needs you. Take my other hand,” he said, holding out his right hand. I reached out to take it, then stopped.
“Why is it you’re doing this?” Tsukumojuku laughed.
“Your Beyond is making it happen. I’m sure this isn’t a task just anyone could accomplish. For a Miracle like this to occur, you need the Name of God. ‘God’ is words.
Words are names.” This was even more cryptic, but if he was rabbiting on about Beyond again then this was definitely Tsukumojuku, so I relaxed. I’d missed that, too.
“Is your weird ass name the name of God?”
“Yes. Tsukumojuku is 9, 10, 9, 10, 9. If you flip the kanji for 9, 九, you get the astrological symbol for Jupiter, , Jupiter being ♃ the Roman name for the Greek god Zeus. The God of Gods. The kanji for ten, 十, is a cross; so my name has three all-powerful gods linked together by two crosses. If God is the Trinity, then God can be split into three. I am in the Arrow Cross House, I am here, and I am trying to connect to a third me. You have go to where he is. Take my hand.” I laughed at the note of authority he placed on that command, felt a wave of exhilaration wash over me the like I’d not felt since our adventures together, and took his hand.
“The nature of my name suggests that we’ll meet again, one more time,” Tsukumojuku said, and everything faded to black.
In the darkness, the hand I was holding no longer belonged to Tsukumojuku. A small palm, and thin fingers. A girl’s hand. She seemed to be as surprised as me, and in darkness so thik I couldn’t see my own nose I heard her ask, “Eh? Who?” and shock and fear
struck us both upside the head, like our brains had been replaced with gas.
“It’s me, Lisa Lisa,” I said. That was all she needed.
“Jorge!? Why are you here!?” I couldn’t begin to explain the why or how of it, but the Lisa Lisa holding my hand in the darkness was definitely real. More so than Tsukumojuku had been.
“Calm down, Lisa Lisa.
Where are we?”
“Rome. In an underground temple nobody has set foot in for over a thousand years. How can you possibly be here? I can’t believe it…”
“I couldn’t begin to explain. More importantly, what’s going on? An underground temple?” The air was damp and cold, and smelt of mold and dust. It felt like the ground under my feet was paved with stones, and despite the total lack of light, it decidedly felt like a place that actually existed.
“And why is it so dark here?”
“My light was stolen. I had a lamp a moment ago…”
“Stolen? Is there someone else here?”
“I came with my dad and everyone…but we got separated ages ago. There’s a…I can’t call it an enemy, but there’s something protecting something.”
“Something protecting what?”
“The Aja Red Stone.”
“I dunno. Nobody alive has ever seen it. It’s a jewel of some kind; a Roman Emperor hid it, supposedly.”
“Eh? Are you actually here to plunder it, Lisa Lisa!? Are you treasure hunting!?”
“No, dummy. The Hamon Warriors are…until I joined Straits properly, I assumed we were hunting vampires and zombies, but that’s not true at all.
We’re actually protecting mankind, and the secrets of mankind.”
“Oh? Thanks!” Lisa Lisa did a spit take, and started giggling. I couldn’t see
her face in the darkness, but that just made me extra sensitive to her voice, and I had to admit she had a really cute voice.
“Heh heh heh, World’s fastest gratitude, Jorge. Don’t be so quick to swallow a line about mankind’s secrets.”
“I’ve seen enough to know what you’re fighting is real.”
“…right. You enjoying high school? I heard you’ve moved to England, and you’re going to school there.” Mm? Was it fun? Not school…Steven and Kenton were good people, but I’d just had that fight with Darlington…no, no.
“This is hardly the time to talk about that, is it, Lisa Lisa?”
“But Jorge…I keep imaging how much fun you’re having in school, and that’s what keeps me going. You get to have friends, and live a normal life, and I picture you laughing with everyone, and that gives me strength.” Gulp. If she put it that way I had to say I was having fun, I thought.
“You aren’t being bullied again, are you?” Lisa Lisa said, a hint of the fierceness she’d had when we were kids in her voice.
“No, I have friends,” I said, panicking.
We’re studying how to make airplanes. You know about airplanes, Lisa Lisa? They let humans fly! The ones we’re making are all wood and cloth, but there are people out there making them out of metal with heavy engines on board. They can make metal fly! Can you imagine it? Heh heh heh. And I’ve figured out how it works! The speed provides vertical lift!” Mm? Was that simplification completely true? I stopped to think, and Lisa Lisa said, “Oh…airplanes. You’ve finally discovered airplanes, Jorge…”
Why? You jealous? Heh heh. The English are always on the cutting edge.”
“…………..” Talking about how much fun I was having made Lisa Lisa get weirdly quiet, and I didn’t know what to do. I thought she’d just said she wanted me to be happy? As my mind raced, I heard a
sound behind me, like something moving, scraping against the ground. It was…maybe three, five meters? But…it was still pitch black so I couldn’t tell you how I knew, but somehow I was sure this thing was humongous.
“Pffffffffffffff…………” I could hear it breathing. It let out a long, wet sigh, like a fat man who’d just reached the top of the stairs.
“My…” Lisa Lisa whispered, hoarsely.
“My lamp…I think this is the thing that took it.” Her voice was shaking. She was scared.
“Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffft……….ffffbbbbbbbbtttt” It sighed again, and this time I could hear it vibrating past the thing’s lips. I could sense imposing muscle mass. Like twenty gorillas fused into one and glaring at us. Had she been facing this thing alone? She needs you. Lisa Lisa had called me, and Tsukumojuku had let me come. Hate to treat you like a handy tool, but I am grateful, Tsukumojuku. I let out a slow, long sigh. This giant monster was hiding in the darkness, sighing to let us know it was there, to put pressure on us, but not me. I was letting it know I was calm. I felt there was no point in resisting it. It had come after Lisa Lisa, but it hadn’t hurt her; just stolen her lamp.
Why would a monster steal a lamp? To scare Lisa Lisa. The same as this phony sigh. It was just trying to scare both of us. …at the least, it hadn’t yet touched either of us. It wasn’t the right timing yet.
We weren’t completely scared.
We could still be more afraid. The monster was toying with us, but had not made a move to get rid of us completely. The monster hadn’t shown itself at all while Lisa Lisa and I were talking normally. Yeah. If we acted normal, it wouldn’t show up. So why had it come out now? What had brought it out? Oh, because Lisa Lisa went quiet.
Why? Because I’d mentioned airplanes. I didn’t know why me talking about airplanes made Lisa Lisa depressed, but that had
clearly been the mood changer. …hmm. So…was I right in thinking the monster had been hiding somewhere, noticed the change in mood, and was like, ‘oh yeah, my turn!’ and popped out? No monster that ridiculous could actually exist. Monsters generally showed up to ruin peace and good times. They didn’t usually give a shit what the mood was. In other words…the monster with us here certainly existed, but Lisa Lisa had actually summoned it. Lisa Lisa’s feelings brought it here. Right, when the monster showed up, Lisa Lisa had gone quiet, but I was still normal and happy, super excited about the potential future of aeronautics. My emotions didn’t matter. This monster came from Lisa Lisa’s feelings. This conclusion still let me wondering what it all meant (I had no idea) but whatever. I wasn’t wrong. As long as I wasn’t wrong, that was all I needed.
“It’s all right, Lisa Lisa,” I said. I didn’t tell her the monster wasn’t attacking for fear that would just make her focus on the monster even more.
What now? “…what’s all right?”
“You and me. Even if we’re apart, we’ll be OK.”
“Eh? ………..what do you mean? You mean you’re OK without me?” Lisa Lisa said. I could feel the monster coming closer; it felt like a lot of gorillas combined to form a giant spider.
Woah, woah, woah. This definitely came from Lisa Lisa’s emotions.
“No,” I said.
“Even when we’re far apart, mysterious powers can bring us together again. Like today.” Lisa Lisa seemed relieved, and the gorilla thing moved away.
“Oh…but how did you get here? You were in England, right? Even if you came to Rome there’s no way you could ever get inside the secret temple. Are you really Jorge? The real Jorge? I’m not just imagining you?” I was pretty sure it was the gorilla spider in the darkness that she was imagining.
“I’m real. Hard to prove in the dark, but…” As I spoke, she moved her face closer to mine, and even though it was dark, Lisa
Lisa kissed me right on the lips. Bzzzzzt! The kiss was electrified. Not like, because it surprised me – no, something hot and cold and numbing ran from my lips to the back of my brain and down my spine until my toes were zzzzzzzzzzt! Our first kiss, at least my first kiss and probably Lisa Lisa’s first kiss, so she didn’t realize she’d accidentally let Hamon ripple though me. I recognized it. It felt just like the time she’d hit me with her Indigo Blue Overdrive in the hall of our school when I was eleven. In the darkness my eyes rolling back in my head, her soft lips on mine, I forced myself to withstand the electric shock. After a moment Lisa Lisa noticed, and squeaked, “Eh? Ah! Sorry, Jorge!” I was glad she’d noticed. It was best if she forgot that the gorilla spider had gone away.
My legs were still not quite under my control, but I said, “Let’s walk a bit,” and Lisa Lisa helped me take a few steps farther. There was no point in just standing there, and if Lisa Lisa’s emotions shifted again and something else came out I was scared I’d wind up electrocuted again.
“Hee hee hee. Sorry, Jorge! It’s just…hilarious. Hee hee hee hee hee. ……pft ha ha ha I can’t stop laughing about it.”
“Please can I have another.”
“Whaa…? Hee hee hee hee hee no, Jorge you’re too funny!”
“But laughing has calmed me down. I’m breathing properly again. Good. I can feel out the terrain with my Hamon as we walk.”
“Eh? You’re running Hamon through the ground?”
“Yes, but it’s not attack Hamon, I’m just sensing where the walls and stuff are.”
“OK, just warn me when you do it.”
“Eh? OK, then, here we go. …now.” I jumped as high as my quivering legs would let me.
“Pbbbt………! ♡♡♡ Oh god, stop! Don’t make me laugh any
“Eh? But, it’s scary!”
“It is not, I promise!” Lisa Lisa’s face came closer to mine again, and kissed me again (I went stiff) but there was no shock this time. Just Lisa Lisa’s gentle, soft kiss.
“See?” Oh, yes. Right. I didn’t say that aloud so I said it again, “Ah, w-w-wight.”
“Heh heh heh. I know where to go,” she took my arm, and pulled me farther in. Like she could see everything around us. I staggered along after her. Every time she used Hamon to feel the road, I jumped in the air, and she broke up laughing, but I wasn’t joking! “I never imagined searching this temple for the Aja Red Stone would be so filled with wacky hijinks!” Lisa Lisa said, doubled over with laugher.
“Oh, I found a torch.” She picked something up out of the darkness, struck it against the stones, and the sparks lit the fire.
With a foom, the torch lit the room. At some point – I guess Lisa Lisa had been able to see it, but it was a surprise to me – we had entered a giant treasure chamber, filled with massive vases and chests and jewels and precious metals and statues made of metal and armor and weapons scattered everywhere in great heaps. The room was so big the light of the torch did not reach the ceiling or the far walls, and every inch of it was packed with the secrets of ancient Rome. Thick pillars stretched up from the floor, forming a circle around where we were; the room itself was circular, and we found ourselves surrounded not just by pillars but by three meter tall stone guardians placed here and there in the piles of treasure. The guardians were all hideous, glaring at us with terrifying scowls.
Where we stood was the center of the sea of treasure.
“There,” Lisa Lisa said, picking up a large red jewel the size of her palm. I could instantly see the gem was pure, without any flaws at all. It seemed as if the stone itself glowed, reflecting more light than the torch provided.
“I found it…! Hey, Jorge, will you put this on me?” Lisa Lisa handed me the red stone. It was far lighter than I’d expected, so much so I almost didn’t believe it existed it. There was so little weight to it it was almost like I was seeing things, so I poked it with the tip of my finger. It was hard. Yet, there was something soft about it, like the skin on the tip of my finger was being absorbed into it.
“Come on,” Lisa Lisa said. I turned towards her. She had her back to me, and had gathered up her long brunette hair, revealing the white at the nape of her neck. The jewel was fitted to a pendant, so I passed that around the other side of her thin neck, and closed the clasp on the chain behind her head. Standing behind her like this I could see her neck and shoulders and the swell of her chest and had to fight off a sudden urge to throw my arms around her.
What was I thinking? This was Lisa Lisa – part of me was still thinking like that, but we’d already kissed.
Wait, why had we kissed? I hadn’t. She’d kissed me. Eh? Did Lisa Lisa like me? It seemed so…why? Did I have feelings for Lisa Lisa? But once I started asking myself questions like that I knew only too well I’d just start going in circles, so I decided to put it off for later.
“Jorge,” Lisa Lisa said, “About this red stone…” Her voice had none of the giddiness threatening to overrun my mind.
“Promise you won’t tell anyone I have it.”
“? Okay, but why?”
“Not because I want to keep it all to myself, understand? I have to protect this stone with my life. If you let anybody else know that I have it, I’ll have to hide it somewhere and then die.”
“And if that happens I’ll kill you too, Jorge, so that we can be together in the next world.”
“………….” She was smiling, but I knew she wasn’t joking.
“So I’m going to tell everybody that this is a present from you, Jorge. As proof of our vows.”
“Pfft! ♡♡♡♡ Ha ha ha! But I really will say that!”
“Eh? Eh? Ehhhh!”
“Heh heh heh. How does it look? As necklaces go…isn’t it a bit too gaudy?”
“…………..!?” Smiling in the light of the torch Lisa Lisa had long eye lashes, strong features, big eyes, high cheeks, a turned up nose, a strong chin and beautiful hair. She was every bit a match for the size of the stone…but I could not put that into words.
Lisa Lisa hid the pendant inside her clothes, and we left the treasure room. A few minutes walk by torchlight and we were at the entrance, and Straits was waiting for her. Everyone was super surprised to see me.
“…Jorge Joestar? Why are you…?”
“Sorry to drop in,” I said, and Lisa Lisa cracked up again, and all the Hamon warriors looked astonished to see her smile. Lisa Lisa described the vault, and said there had been such a vast quantity of jewels there that she’d been unable to find the Red Stone. She bowed her head, and Straits said, “It’s amazing you were even able to reach the treasure room. Nobody has ever been able to get there before.
“Yes,” Lisa Lisa said.
“If Jorge hadn’t been with me, I don’t think I’d ever have made it through.” Straits and the others all nodded gravely, but I could hear them mumbling about how I’d come to be there.
“Lisa Lisa summoned me,” I said.
“Hey!” she said, slapping my arms, but…wasn’t that what had happened?
After that we left the secret temple, moved stealthily to the Hamon Warriors’ secret base, where I borrowed a phone and called home. Penelope answered, sounding beside herself, and when she heard I was in Italy she was shocked and even more flustered so my mother took the phone from her.
“Hello, Jorge? You’re in Rome?”
“Yeah, sorry. I can’t really explain how I came to be here.”
“That’s fine, that’s fine, as long as you’re safe. Do you have a chair?”
“Then sit down and listen.”
“? OK,” I moved to the chair and sat down.
“Listen closely. Did you go to the Motorize manor today?”
“Yes. I promised Darlington I would.”
“OK. Did you see either of the older children?”
“? No? Why?”
“They found the older girl, Kenton Motorize, on the cape.”
“Eh? What does that mean?”
“She’s dead, Jorge.”
“Ehhhhhhhhh!?” I shot up out of my seat, and all the Hamon warriors turned to look at me. Including Lisa Lisa.
“What…but how? Was she alone? They’re always worried about accidents, so Steven is always with her…”
“Kenton Motorize told her brother you’d invited her there, and went out alone. Your airplane was at the scene. The one you’d been working on in the garden.” I could tell Mum was fighting back tears, but I was just confused.
“Eh? So…Kenton took my plane out, got on it, and crashed?” That made no sense. Kenton knew full well I wasn’t done repairing it.
Why would she do that? Mum interrupted my thoughts.
“It wasn’t an accident, Jorge. The airplane didn’t crash. Kenton Motorize was stabbed over and over on top of the cliff. Stabbed with a knife that bore our…the Joestar crest. And your airplane was there with her. Oh, Jorge. Can you explain what happened to the police and Steven Motorize?”
I could not.
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