In the ruins outside the city of Hammersmith, were columns made of marble, where many people placed their prayers, dreams, desires, and wishes. Through those crumbling columns led to darkness that housed a crypt. In that crypt, those dreams, desires, wishes, and prayers, were heard, and sometimes fulfilled, at a price.
Ferguson moved to Hammersmith to attend the University there. He enrolled in all the necessary art classes, but had little interest in learning anything they taught. He was only there to appease his Father and use the family's money to become a successful painter.
Ferguson always painted at night, between two and six in the morning. The rest of his time was spent throwing elaborate parties for people who would never become his friends. Something of a class division, as it was explained by his friend Alex, who was always at the cottage Ferguson rented, though he didn't live there. Alex was anywhere he could get a free meal and enough liquor to satisfy his disease.
Alex always had Vera by his side.. Vera became Ferguson's obsession. She was striking. The first time he saw her from across the room, walking side by side with Alex, her long dark hair fell and moved in rhythm with her hips, her long legs seemed to carry her across the room as if she were floating, Ferguson found the person he not only wanted to love----but own.
Vera was Art incarnate.
It was also at this very same party that Ferguson learned of people from the town had went to the old Constantine mausoleum to ask for what was not intended, or out of their reach.
Alex would laugh. “Pathetic, if you ask me. In my opinion, if you want something,” His eyes drifted to Vera. “You should just take it.”
Exactly what Ferguson wanted to hear.
“So,” He poured himself another drink, slightly slurring his words. “If one appears at the mausoleum after midnight and asks for whatever---in the morning----they shall have it. All that is required of one is to wait for the Constantine matriarch to manifest and you give her a kiss. The odd thing is, many of these people, I've been told, keep a scarf or something wrapped around their face. Some kiss!”
“Have you ever tried it, Alex?” Ferguson steadied his eyes on Alex.
“Of course not! I'm not a commoner like these village idiots living in Hammersmith. I don't believe in spirits either!”
“You don't have a scarf either,” Some one said.
Vera whispered in his ear, he pushed her away.
“I think we should take the party to the mausoleum.”
“Ahh...I don't think so, Ferguson.” Alex was the first to protest. Vera had nothing to say, as usual. As a matter of fact, Ferguson was in belief that Alex didn't allow her to speak.
Ferguson turned to Vera. “What do you think?”
She didn't answer him, but kept her eyes on his, the gray-blue drew Ferguson in and would not let him go for several minutes until Alex spoke, breaking the spell.
“She goes where ever I go,” He said with a bit of forcefulness in his voice.”She goes and does as I please.”
Ferguson was smirking. Alex stood and was now inches from his face. Ferguson put his hands up. “As you say, Alex, my friend.”
“Just don't forget it,” He snarled. Then took Vera by the arm and dragged her to the front door and threw her outside as soon as he opened it. He looked back at Ferguson, who was still smirking. He wagged a finger, but somehow forgot to vocal the warning. He exited, slammed the door so hard the windows in the cottage rattled. After that incident, people began to filter out of the party one by one. Soon it was just Ferguson and a bottle of jack. He stared at the rough drawing on canvas of Vera he began a few days ago. He hurled the bottle at the picture, knocking the canvas to the floor, following the bottle, that burst into a thousand little shards on the wood floor.
“I will get what I want!”
He threw himself upon his bed and covered his head with pillows and screamed.
Ferguson awoke in the morning his painting of Vera was back on the easel and completed. He was astonished. When had this happened? In my sleep?
He touched the painting with his fingers, noticed he'd added some background. The mausoleum.
“I don't understand.....” He said. There was a rapping at his door, sounded like bongos. Without thinking of dressing, Ferguson ran to the front door, fully exposed. He opened the door to find Alex and Vera standing there. Vera turned her head, then hid her face in Alex's jacket. Alex laughed.
“I think you should dress, old boy. You'll give the old women next door a scare,” Alex pushed Ferguson aside and Vera followed, still averting her eyes. Alex sat in a chair, Vera on the sofa. Ferguson left for the bathroom and reentered wearing pajama and an old tee shirt.
“I see you finished it,” Alex pointed at the painting. “You did well capturing those eyes.” He smiled at Vera, she blushed.
Ferguson ran his hand through his hair. “I, uh, don't remember painting it.”
Alex shrugged. “Sure. You were drunk.”
Ferguson nodded. “Yeah. Maybe.”
“We all were, old boy.”
“So what are you here for. I seem to remember you left here mad.”
“Yes. I was. I'm sorry about that. Jealousy and alcohol doesn't mix well.”
“You, Alex, shouldn't have either. Drink too much, think too much.”
“ Your not going to loose Vera, unless you wise up.”
Ferguson looked at Vera. There was silence. “Don't you have anything to say?”
She just batted her eyes. “Don't say much do you?” Still, she said nothing, just batted her eyes at him. “What do you two want?”
Alex smiled slightly. “I'm going out of town.”
“So.” Ferguson went to the bar, fixed him a glass of vodka, then poured Alex some rum. He motioned for Alex to take it. “Let me guess, Vera doesn't drink or eat.”
“Oh, your wrong. She does both.” Alex drank down the rum in one gulp. He sat the glass down on the bar gently. “Look, I'll be gone for a few days. I'd like for you to take care of her.”
“I don't know. I'm kind of busy.”
“For the sake of our friendship.....”
“No,” Ferguson sighed.
“I know, old boy, you're ass-hurt about last night. I'm really sorry.” Alex patted Ferguson's arm. “Please do this for me.”
“She can't take care of herself?”
Ferguson burst into laughter. “All right. I'll do it.”
“Great! Take her to Bridges. She love's that restaurant.”
“A steak place? Not an expensive cafe or....”
“Just take good care of her.” Alex went to the front door, opened it.
“Your leaving now?” There was panic in Ferguson's voice.
“You'll be all right.” He was gone.
The two of them stared at each other for a few moments. Ferguson sat on the sofa beside her. She stood and moved over to the chair. Ferguson nodded.
“That was fun. Now what do we do?”
Ferguson came to. He'd been lying on the floor of the restaurant, blood all over his shirt, his hands stinging with horrible. He sat up, touched his pounding head. Vera was kneeling beside him as was the manager of the place. He saw tables turned over, chairs tossed aside, several people staring at him with fear. A man was laying in a pool of blood, his face battered. He wasn't dead, but barely conscious.
“What happened?” Ferguson tried to stand, feeling dizzy he held onto Vera.
“You don't remember? You had words with that guy.....passed out.......then jumped up and wailed on him......passed out again.....you got anger problems----I don't want you in here again....”
Ferguson moved quickly. He took Vera by the hand and they trotted out of the restaurant. The manager called out to him, told him to stay, the cops were on their way. Ferguson was already in his Fiat powering through side streets. He drove out on the Interstate, then back on a dirt road. He didn't know why, but something told him to do it. He ended up at the Mausoleum.
The air was thin out there. The moonlight became as bright as if it were day.
He and Vera walked through several graves hidden behind a mist. She led the way. With each step she seemed to blend with the mist. As they stopped at the mausoleum, Vera disappeared. Shocked, Ferguson reached out for her, felt the air. He clasped his hand over his mouth. He felt a presence. In an instance a woman in a white shroud appeared. It covered most of her face and extended into a frock of some sort draped over her body.
“Speak it,” He heard a voice inside his head. “What you wish, what you desire.....”
Ferguson opened his mouth, but no words were spoken. She heard them inside her head. The woman bowled her head. Without even walking, his body was pulled forward. He was face to face with apparition.
She reached out, touched his trembling face. The woman leaned in, her lips parted. Then expanded. Her tongue slithered outward like a snake and a separate set of large teeth protruded and caught Ferguson by the lips and bit. He tried scream, it only came out as loud whine.
He awoke. He was in his bed. Naked. Beside him was Vera, she too naked. The morning sunlight murdered his vision, but was kind enough to give it back. His face hurt immensely. He stood, heard someone in the living room. He stumbled there, knocking the painting of Vera off the easel. He saw Alex sitting on the sofa, having a drink.
Alex turned, chuckled. “You look a wreck, old boy.” He drank down the last of whatever liquid and sat the glass in the coffee table. “Oh, well. I'm here to gather my sister.”
Confusion contorted Ferguson's face.
“Oh, you didn't know? Silly of me not have said. Thought you knew we were Constantine's.”
Vera appeared, fully dressed. She took Alex's hand and out the door they went. Ferguson tried to speak, nothing came. His jaw was in considerable pain. He placed a hand over his mouth. He ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror.
His face was misshaped, his mouth and right side of his jaw had been eaten away.