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   Eldest Young  was attractive, or at least carried herself as someone who’d been told so often. Her clothes seemed expensive and selected with care, but Malcom Hanish had no more eye for fashion than he did the beauty of young women. Malcom Hanish withdrew a moleskine notebook from his coat pocket and placed it on the counter.

  “Was it a good read?” asked Eldest Young.

  Malcom Hanish was vexed, this pursuit was beneath his talents, but he kept a civil tone.

  “ Key events were poorly observed, messily recorded, and on several occasions occluded by stickers from a punk rock group of questionable musical prominence.”

  “ Were you able to make sense of it?” asked Eldest Young.

Malcom Hanish had strong thoughts on the matter, but kept his opinion brief.

 “ The lead single from their first album was highly promoted and they had a strong campus presence. She may have been from the same area as the band. ” 

 Eldest Young scoured Malcom Hanish’s face for any hint of sarcasm or impunity.  There was none. She clarified her inquiry.

 “ I do not care about the why of the stickers, were you able to remove them and parse the contents of the journal as whole?”

  Malcom Hanish had understood the question, but he’d spent the afternoon reading earnest rhyming poetry and lengthy accounts of the treacherous Jacquelyn’s purchase of a too similar sweater, each having affected Malcom Hanish in their own way. 

 “The nonsense was discernible, if valueless. The few accounts of the boy contained the expected strangeness, but there was no connection made between his presence and the circumstances surrounding him. It was clear she considered him quite ordinary.” said Malcom Hanish.

Eldest Young took the book from the counter, put on her glasses, and read it in full. It took thirty two minutes and some seconds. Malcolm Hanish sat and dug the little bits of sticker and blood from under his nails. Eldest Young finished and slipped the book into her purse.

 “Are you Married Malcom Hanish? Dating, perhaps? Or have you had a romantic relationship of any kind?” asked the Eldest Young.

 Malcom Hanish could see the reasoning behind such a question, but did not welcome personal inquiry. Had Eldest Young been other than who she was he would have made this preference clear in heavy ways. Things were as they were, so he answered.

 “I have been in love twice. The first was a misunderstanding that ended before it could properly begin, the second a great revelation that I honor to this day. Were you hoping to read my diary as well? I’ve never kept a journal but there are thoughts that I could share.”

 Malcom Hanish was near the line, but knew his value and did not fear a long rest. Eldest Young hardly registered the slight. She had prepared her answer before asking and would not be offset.

 “I ask because all but the most literal reading of these pages offers deep insight into our target, his time with the author, and the advance and menace of his gift. You can hear it clearly in the things she does not say, the woman she will not name, and her need to resolve the allure that so exceeds the merit of his masculine contradiction. Had you known this sort of entanglement in the world proper it would be clear to you.” said Eldest Young.

 Malcom Hanish was used to the Children and how they over-spoke. It wasn’t enough to be understood…they had to explain. Even things outside their understanding.     

 “We did not seek this journal to know how his life has transpired, we sought to know who he has become. The needs and wants and insecurities that give form to his limitless ambigulations. It’s all there, Malcom Hanish, if one cares to look. I need to consult, but I suspect I’ll have clear orders for you in the morning. ” said Eldest Young.

 Malcom Hanish did not know Isaac, but he knew what it was to survive, and the surety of Eldest Young’s assessment gave him no ease. Still, his ease and thoughts meant little, so he sat and listened to his music until dawn.

Continued in Part Eight

Continued From Part Six

Part Five

Part 4

Part Three

Part Two

Part One