Tales of Lawndale
Daria had noticed Amisha spending more time in his demon form when at home. He flew down the stairs and into the kitchen past her father, landed ext to the coffee and Jake didn't notice. Daria couldn't tell if her father had fallen asleep at the kitcehn table and not heard a flapping four foot bat, if he had decided to ignore this or if Amisha had clouded his mind to make this appear ordinary..
"Must you fly down the stairs?" Quinn sat at the kitchen table and ran a bristle brush through her hair. "I spent an hour getting ready for my date and now my hair is a mess – a complete mess."
"If God hadn't intended me to fly; why did he give me wings?" Amisha walked around the kitchen and poured out a cup of coffee. "You can't go on a date with hair like that – it looks like you strapped a red haired poodle to your head."
"Did the Devil create you just to torment me?" Quinn had noticed the demon Amisha was less meek than his human form or he had taken Daria as a model for social interactions with humans.
"That would give me a purpose in life; but I have no idea." Amisha held up is cup of coffee as Daria entered the kitchen with an empty soda can. "I may have simply been built by the lowest bidder – from what I've seen of humanity – the same principle applies."
Quinn plied the brush though her hair.
"All right – thanks to you I have to redo my hair." Quinn clenched the brush in her fist and headed back to her bedroom. "If my date shows up – don't let Misha answer the door looking like that."
"I have my finest robe and even my finest belt." Amisha brushed down his silver trimmed black robe. "No stains and no loose threads – she has no right to complain – her hair looks awful."
Daria found a certain symmetry in Amisha and his fussiness regarding his appearance – he always dressed perfectly and was a Fashion Club honorary member – and how he cajoled Quinn about hers. Not because Sandi wanted to admit him; but because he did have such good taste in clothes and colour and they could borrow money.
"Do you enjoy tormenting her?" Daria rooted through the fridge.
Amisha poured out a cup of coffee.
"She torments herself with her self centred and narcissistic view of the world; but I get some entertainment out of this." Amisha sipped his coffee and then put the mug next to the coffee maker. "As entertaining as a night at the movies and far more economical."
"Satan might want to study how Jake's makes coffee." Amisha made a sour face as he poured the remaining coffee into the sink. "Jake must have done a chemistry major along with his MBA to get the right mix of mustard gas and muriatic acid in his coffee."
Since when did the coffee maker get more buttons?" Amisha watched a cloud of steam rushing out the top with an evil hiss. "Can't I just make a pot of coffee or do I have to learn the entire C programming language?"
Daria leaned over Amisha's shoulder.
A knock came at the front door.
"Answer that...I'll try and figure out how you botched this." Daria tapped Amisha on the shoulder and motioned to the front door.
"Hello." Amisha opened the door. "Are those roses for me?"
Jamie stared at the familiar face, green eyes and huge bat like wings attached to the hand that had opened the door.
"What are you?" He stammered.
"A concise question," Amisha stood at the door, "did you come here just to ask it?"
"I have a date with Quinn." He stammered in a quieter voice and in his confusion gave the roses to Amisha.
"Come in: it's cold outside." Amisha motioned Jamie into the house and as Jamie entered, Amisha spread his huge wings in a menacing fashion.
"You put four filters in the pot." Daria called from the kitchen in a derisive voice. Part of the problem Amisha had was time sharing other people's vision and he didn't always have the luxury of having them focus on the task he had at hand. "Pay attention to what your doing."
"Did I get them the right way around?"
"Yes." Daria answered from the kitchen.
"Did I just die and end up in Hell?" Jamie took a seat uneasily on the couch.
"As for the dead part – you'd know better than me. Check yourself for a pulse" Amisha told him. "You haven't arrived in Hell – yet; this is just the embassy."
"I got the coffee going." Daria walked past Amisha and Jamie with a look of subdued amusement on her face. "I'll tell Quinn her date is here."
"Your date is here!"
"What!?" Quinn gave a sharp surprised yelp. "You let Amisha answer the door!"
"I had to fix the coffee maker." Daria came down the stairs. "I didn't have time to get to the door."
"Oh no!" Quinn said as she previewed the scene in the living room.
"I told him not to peek in our freezer." Amisha explained in a level tone that sounded slightly evil in his generic European accent. "Quit staring at me – please."
"Come on Jeremy." Quinn said angrily. "I'll explain things to you."
Jamie and Quinn left quickly and Amisha sat on the couch and held up the roses like a trophy.
"Dead plant genitals – thanks." Daria sat down on the couch and reached for the remote. "Why do you like tormenting my sister – is it just because we like the same hobbies?"
Amisha folded his wings as Daria sat down.
"I want her to be prepared for real life irritants like tropical parasites." Amisha said as he waited for the commercial break to close. "You told me to answer the door."
"I'm not taking a lift." Amisha watched the glass windowed lift car descend and the loop of wires that fed the car with power fell into the glass walled well that formed the shaft. He had never approved of lifts because he had never approved of signing on to enter a steel box with a bunch of strangers. "The mall has a perfectly serviceable set of stairs and only five floors – seven if you count the car park – but your dad dropped us off at the front."
"I didn't wear the right shoes. If I have to walk up and down all those stairs to find gifts for mom and dad and that girl who claims to be my sister; I'll get blisters." Quinn complained but hid the real reason for using the lift – she didn't relish the idea of being seen with Amisha the Demon because even in human form, while lovely, was not quite human. He tended to chatter as well.
"Let me explain why I hate lifts." Amisha began tediously as he entered the car which had no other occupants.
"Shut up." Quinn commanded as the doors closed. "Why are we headed down?"
"A pregnant lady with five crying brats called for the lift from the lowest level of the car park." Amisha explained as the car descended. "I caught a glimpse of the future when she prodded the 'Up' button with her fat greasy finger."
"Whatever." Quinn said unpleasantly. "Lets do our gift shopping and go."
"You can't do that!" Quinn said sharply as Amisha took a paper clip to the lock on the lift control panel. "You'll get in trouble – I'll be banned from the mall."
The lift made a slow hum as it reversed and headed back up.
"I've heard the Otis folks have as much power as the FBI but I'll risk it." Amisha tucked the clip back into his pants pocket. "I'll end up in prison next to the cable pirate and the guy who downloaded too many songs off the Internet but I won't have grease stains marring my jeans. Cute isn't a look, it's a calling."
"What did you do to it?" Quinn protested as the car slip up past the first floor.
"I put it in park mode." Amisha held his pants in his pocket, watched people through the glass and waited. Lifts had this mode to keep people out of them after closing hours and to allow service technicians to fetch the keys and wallets that had fall through the crack between the car and building to fetch the items from the bottom of the track without risk of getting crushed by the descending car. "The mechanism will winch the car to the fifth floor and wait there just like it does when the mall closes. I'll set it right though – and no one will know I tampered with it."
"How do you know so much about elevators?" Quinn watched in renewed horror as Amisha took out his bent paper clip and began fiddling with the key hole as soon as the lift stopped at the fifth floor.
"Daria..." Amisha answered as the bell sounded, the doors opened and he pocketed his wire. "I had no choice." He let Quinn exit. "I wanted to watch hockey, but she was watching an episode of Sick Sad World where a hospital lift screwed up and cut a nurse in two. They explained how lifts work and that one should never on any account enter one with an 'Out of Service' sign on it. They went into a lot of trivia about lifts. Daria kept watching this because she wanted to know how the surgeons put the nurse back together again. I could have cared less."
"Ew! Is that true?"
"I doubt it. If the lift moves fast enough to cut an adult in half; why does it take so bloody long for the car to arrive when you call it? Why do we spend so much unnerving time in lifts with strangers while they crawl up or down floors?" He walked beside Quinn. "Although I didn't request this new knowledge; I'm loathe to let such new knowledge go unused."
"Whatever." Quinn held up her hand.
"And Daria gave me the paper clip to see if this actually worked." Amisha said happily. "What do you want to get her?"
"What do we want to get her?" Quinn sternly corrected Amisha. "I'm only here because my parents said I had to get her something nice and you are here because you know her and Jane doesn't like me."
"We? I assume this means me and my credit cards." Amisha looked at a glass display case with watches. "Do you mind if I check your credit score?"
"Ow!" Amisha cussed under his breath when he bumped into a concrete pillar and fell onto his hind end. Daria and Jane looked out for him but Quinn looked out for herself and let him continue on course for the pillar when she saw a cute guys. "Hummingbirds have a longer attention span!"
"Are you alright – sir." A young man in a neat blue sweater vest came out of sporting goods to check on him.
"I'm fine – thank you." Amisha stood up regained his bearings and brushed himself off.
"Hello..." Amisha introduced himself to the guy Quinn had met in the jewellery department. "My name's Misha. A word – Quinn?"
Amisha had a six foot tall aluminium pole.
"I wanted your opinion on these earrings." Quinn said dismissively.
"Daria doesn't have pieced ears." Amisha answered as he held out a six foot long aluminium pole. "I spent the last half hour trying to find you and I bought a traditional aluminium Festivus pole. I must ask the employee if he's noticed how the layout makes no sense to the human mind. I think Cashman's must have used the traditional Swahili noun class system to map out the place. In any event – we came to buy presents for Daria and the pole."
"What have you bought her? An aluminum pole!?" Quinn hissed angrily.
"I bought that as a gift for me." Amisha thumped the pole on the floor. "In my room in a box I have a full sized model of the human brain that comes apart like a jigsaw puzzle." Amisha explained gleefully. "That is one costly piece of plastic."
"Hi Quinn and Misha." Stacy said and waved at Amisha. "I can't figure out what to get my mom."
"Why do you have a six foot aluminium pole?" Stacy asked with a brief blush.
"The pole throws my height into sharp relief." He said. "Actually this is the official Festivus Pole – excellent strength to weight ratio – and will serve as the focal point of our non denominational holiday celebration."
"You could buy me a pair of earrings for Christmas." Quinn hinted.
"I'd have to take the pink taser back." Amisha said. "I can't believe I can buy a stun gun."
"My mom might like a new pair of earrings." Stacy looked over the display counter. "She can only wear the ones that are made of surgical steel."
"The green dream catchers would look so cool on you Misha." Stacy tapped the counter. "Do you have any piercings."
"I have my right ear pierced." Amisha pointed out the green jewelled gold stud in his right ear.
"In men doesn't that mean you like other men?" Quinn examined his ear because she had never noticed the piercing before. "A topic for another day – so you bought Daria a plastic brain?"
"You can't decorate an aluminum pole." Helen told Amisha. "We have a nice four foot Christmas tree that goes right next to the fire place."
"This goes to six feet in your funky American system of feet and iambic pentameter." Amisha leaned the pole against the stairs. "The neighbours will think we've embraced a new kind of holiday minimalism or we're Lutheran."
"Put it up in your room." Helen turned a knob on the oven. "In this house, we celebrate Christmas."
Helen turned to Quinn. "I wonder if I should let him play with Daria."
"We have our own Festivus pole!" Daria entered the kitchen. "Can Misha and I set it up in the front lawn?"
"No!" Helen objected.
"Do you want to get your ears pierced?" Quinn asked her sister. "Misha has the gay one pierced."
"He has a a gold stud in his right ear." Daria poured out a cup of cold coffee. "You needed to see that to conclude he was gay?"
"Now don't make..." Helen began her scolding. "Daria...shouldn't you help him?"
Helen looked up as she heard a loud crash and the sound of a lightweight metal pole striking the ground.
"Possibly would have kept him from taking out his bedroom window." Daria poured out the cup of cold coffee and worked on making a new pot.
"I regret to inform you that I owe you one double hung window." Amisha wore a pathetic and embarrassed look on his face. "Who wants to help me find my Festivus pole?"
"You hide your blindness so well." Daria patted her friend on the back. "Dad will have a few questions for you when he comes home – which raises the question – why are you home mom?"
"Use my holiday time or lose it." Helen replied. "Now take your friend out to find that pole then find one of the tarps in the garage and cover the hole so the weather doesn't ruin your things."
"Or my Solzhenitsyn novels." Daria answered.
"You lent me Nausea too." Amisha followed Daria to the garage. "You said it counted as one of the most important works of French literature and told me to return it to the library when I had finished reading it. Must count as stolen by now."
"Must count as stolen by now..." Daria held up the book which had found a home propping up one leg of his antique desk chair. "We taped the broken window and mom will have the contractor over tomorrow to replace it. Dad gave you the five hundred dollar lecture and now I'll give you the 'pay my overdue fines' when we walk to the library to return this book."
"I hope you taped that window up nice and tight." Jake called through the door. "I don't want the heat to get out."
"We're finished." Amisha announced. "You can inspect the work."
We're off to return a library book." Daria reminded Amisha. "I had to have it back by June the tenth."
"The damage was pretty much done by the time you lent it to me." Amisha looked up at the blue tarp. "Does not match the decor of the room in any way. My dad remembers the time all the windows in town broke because the Russians tested a very big nuclear weapons in winter."
"Well...son, accidents happen." Jake patted Amisha on his shoulder. "It only has to hold until tomorrow."
"We need to return this book before the library closes." Daria and Amisha left the room.
"He sure has a cool stereo." Jake followed them out of his room. He liked Amisha – genial, smart, but had not seen his room. The stereo suited the fussy music loving short guy but a picture of Linus Torvalds hung over his bed – as one of the technology pioneers from Finland. He had his middle finger up in a gesture of defiance and while Jake couldn't read the Finnish words beside his signature at the bottom; it read: 'To cousin Misha – give 'em Hell in America and give Jobs and Gates the finger!'
"I need your advice." Daria placed the book in her grey backpack. "I have to get something for Jane – any good ideas. Care to go halfsies on a nice gift for her?"
"Maybe a nice print." Amisha reverted to his demon form as he left the house. "She has a computer – maybe a nice drawing tablet."
"Last year I gave her a gift card for our favourite pizza place." Daria explained to her winged friend. "Maybe we could look for a digital camera for her."
Amisha sniffed the air. Daria never saw him do this in human form but he had instincts as a demon and he took an acute interest in local wildlife as a blind demon – he wanted to avoid flying into troubles.
Quite unlike Daria; Amisha had a rash and impulsive side and he took off into the late afternoon sky without warning.
Daria heard an eagle or a hawk soaring overhead. Amisha liked flying with the raptors because they had fine vision and a good sense of direction but disliked large flying demons in their airspace and had gone on the attack when he flew too close.
"Confidence. This will end in disaster and you'll only have yourself to blame." Daria said to herself as she walked down the street.
"The American Bald Eagle – so small, so cute, so freaking nasty!" Amisha cut his landing short to avoid hitting a lamp post. "Jane Lane has that old Polaroid – a digital camera gives better results in the same time. She won't have to cough up ten bucks for ten prints."
"I'm over here!" Daria called out to Amisha from the library side of the street.
Amisha hated jaywalking so he took off in front of a startled mother walking back from the elementary school with two little boys. Amisha could see through the eyes of others but had the same attitude to sight as the owners of high end sport utility vehicles had to four wheel drive – it was a feature but not one they paid much attention to.
"You don't think seeing is believing do you?" Daria blithely commented on Amisha's tendency to rely on good guesswork rather than actually paying attention to things she saw.
"Nausea turned out to be a very expensive book." Amisha and Daria walked slowly down the aisle of digital cameras and other video gear. "A two hundred and fifty page long book I could buy for the price of a cheap burger and fries ends up costing me fifty bucks. We should have just kept the damn thing."
"Yet they pinned it to my library card." Daria picked up a bright shiny red camera. "Do you know anything about digital cameras?"
"No..." Amisha said. "I've got this problem finding interesting things to photograph."
"We'll have to find someone to help us." Daria looked around. "You back in your human form – good."
"We could go back to the library and look through Consumer Reports." Amisha reminded Daria. "I've got a score to settle with them."
"You have a score to settle with Consumer Reports?"
"I mean the library." Amisha corrected.
Daria put the red camera back on the display rack.
"The clerk said: we had to replace the book so we'll have to fine you fifty bucks." Daria pushed her glasses up her nose. "You told them – do you accept my VISA? Not like you to repress your feelings on such things."
"You paraphrased that." Amsiha shrugged. "In any event, this is America and I never can tell who's packing heat."
"Can I help you?" A young woman in the Best Buy uniform approached Amisha and Daria. "I saw you looking at cameras – do you have any questions?"
"My friend's an artist." Daria explained.
"He does look creative." The sales clerk said.
"Don't say it." Daria placed her voice into a slow grinding threat.
"Actually, we're thinking of getting a nice camera for a mutual friend of ours. She needs an easy to use camera for quick photographic work but we know nothing about cameras."
"Paint sucker on our foreheads and show us the deluxe five grand model that can see into your soul." Amisha whispered to himself in Finnish but didn't get away with it – Daria softly kicked his shin.
"Don't dismiss the little snapshot camera – it has a good pixel count and actually works well for picture taking." The clerk held out the display model. "The lenses are of good quality and it works well in low light and would do a good job for taking quick photos and uploading them or printing them."
"Let me talk it over with my friend." Daria said as she held the camera in her hands then placed it back on the display. She took a notepad out of her backpack and took the time to jot the information down. "My dad has a camcorder from the same company."
"Consumer Reports does give a similar model of camera – their best buy." Daria held a sheaf of photocopies and flipped through them at her desk. "I suppose we could give it to Jane and she can always return it if she doesn't like it."
"I suppose that is about as fair as any tradition of gift giving can ever be." Amisha sat blindly listening to the television set in Daria's room. "We can go in after school tomorrow and pick it up."
"Who put up that ugly tarp!" Quinn bellowed as she came down the hall. "It doesn't even match the house."
"What color is the house?" Amisha asked Daria.
"Brick red with dark red and tan stucco." Daria told Amisha.
"I spend so much time on the inside." Amisha stood up as Quinn pushed the door open.
"I know you like to fly through windows but you could have opened it first." Quinn complained. "The Fashion Club will be over and now they'll see the ugly blue tarp over your window and they'll make fun of it."
"You should have seen him fly through it – they could have made fun of that too." Daria circled a pertinent part of the article on cameras with her pen. "That window faces the back yard – how will they see it?"
"That reminds me." Amisha walked out of the room. "You'll need the appropriate music."
"Why not watch TV!" Quinn followed Amisha. "Dad has the Cavaliers on."
"A little bit of cold music for a cold room." Amisha gave his kind of wry take on Quinn's obsession. "Benjamin Britten's The War Requiem – the version where his husband sings."
"Hey Misha...care to give me a listen to this cool stereo!" Jake asked on his way upstairs.
"Oh!" Quinn balled her fists.
"I thought I might get Misha a nice put it together yourself settle." Jane held up a slice of pizza as she sat with Daria in Pizza King. "He could put it outside his room and Quinn would have a place to sit while she complained about his music."
"I told you he fell out the window yesterday." Daria glared at Jane. "I don't have the nerves to watch over him as he puts together furniture. I'd probably have to be nearby as he used a hammer because his pet blue jay has the common sense to leave."
"People would think it was antique." Jane said and then bit into her slice of pizza. "He could make it look all distressed like they do it on those do it yourself shows."
"You know we'd be buying furniture for Misha – he's well – fussy." Daria reminded Jane. "He likes the kind of furniture we can't afford. He likes the kind of furniture my parents can't afford."
"Maybe you're making this too difficult." Jane suggested but pondered the fact Amisha had a complicated character and wasn't much for talking about himself. He fussed over his appearance, clothes and could provoke Jane to embarrassed shame given that vain, shallow side of his character. "We could borrow your sister and buy him something he'd enjoy wearing."
Quinn is a teenage girl." Daria put her coke down. "Misha is 'refined' and this means he has all the self obsession of a teenage girl combined with all the hallmarks of good taste in everything. Trying to guess what he'd like in furniture or even worse, clothes makes me cringe. I'd have to go shopping with Quinn and then have to give him a sweater I picked out. I'd long for the release death might bring."
"Maybe we have the wrong approach." Jane caught a string of melted cheese on her finger before it hit the table. "Misha also has a number of interests like music, and vices - harassing mean birds, being oblivious to windows. My uncle has a drinking problem so we always know what to get him."
"Huh...am I in this conversation?" Daria reached for a slice of pizza.
"Doesn't Misha like his coffee?" Jane reached for her coke. "What about something that caters to his caffeine addiction like - I don't know – swanky coffee?"
"He does like his coffee and hates the stuff we brew." Daria took on a thoughtful look as she tried to countthe number of times she had heard him complain about coffee. "Of course he has yet to master the coffee maker either because he can't see that well or has no interest in learning or both."
"He's European – they have different ways." Jane said half dismissively.
"This will involve research on coffee makers - won't it?"
"We have to quit leaving him alone at home." Daria heard the ostinato from the front walk.
The Violin Concerto Amisha had worked on during the fall had all the hallmarks of a piece of music not written by Mystic Spiral. Jane found this ironic because Amisha had cribbed the material for his Violin Concerto from their songs. Jane had heard many badly played Spiral songs and wondered how Amisha had extracted such complexity, lyrical beauty and in the second movement – a brutal violence.
Daria and Jane entered the front door at the interlude between the first and second movements. The vivace moto perpetuo smashed through Daria's brain like a wild nihilistic dance.
Amisha stood in the living room with the orchestral part playing on the family stereo. Amisha left out the solo part in mixing the orchestral forces on his computer and carefully played along as if giving a performance.
Jane felt the strike of a bass drum after a strange timpani march and she smiled as it dawned on her that Amisha had engaged in an act of creative stealing. The oddly sarcastic, yet at times warm opening movement came out of a cast off Mystic Spiral theme Jane had come to know as the 'la la lala la' theme at it moved through everything like a ghost touching off musical incident as it went. It lit the fire of the second movement and came back in the long third movement to build up the cold expanse of the solo violin part. Jane could hear Amisha satirizing as well – his choice of percussion and rhythm resembled a talented attempt at grunge band drumming.
Daria had heard this piece in fragments. She had no idea where Amisha obtained the musical ideas and she put up with the shallow details of his cheery personality because his music and his active little mind held much depth. She liked the peril and poison of the work as if Amisha had tried to give voice to something troubling him.
Like all demons, Amisha played the violin with absolute skill and so Jane and Daria had heard this work in the definitive form – violence and misty fear embodied within it.
When Amisha had found his way to the end. He bowed to Jane, Jake and Daria.
Daria withheld a startled gasp when she heard her father clapping out of respect for Amisha.
"Have you ever considered music as a career?" Daria stepped forward and spoke in her usual bland and sarcastic style.
"I really want to become an accountant." Amisha masterfully delivered his reply. "All those souls need accounting for and don't forget the benefits."
"Amisha can't be another Ted?" Daria asked Jane as they walked down the street to school.
Amisha had found another eagle to bother and had flown out of hearing range.
"Not a chance." Jane stopped to look up and watch Amisha fly. "Ted couldn't fly and Misha isn't a human type person. Nothing naive or sheltered about Misha either – his outfits are getting more decorous and Japanese Manga inspired and he likes jewellery. Five bucks says the eagle targets the hair pin or jewelled hoop earring he wore to celebrate the last day of class before the hollidays."
"When you suggested I may have inspired the main theme of his violin concerto; I thought another guy giving me gifts." Daria walked ahead and then let out a sigh. "I shouldn't read too much into his actions."
"Not when his repertoire includes falling out of windows and...wow!" Jane cringed as Amisha barely managed to avoid having his face clawed by a large angry eagle. "Confidence or this will end in disaster and he'll have only himself to blame."
"Why does he keep bugging the eagles of Lawndale when they always kick his ass." Daria heard an eagle scream and cry.
"They see very well and he can't." Jane decided eagles with sight definitely outclassed the likes of Amisha who lacked sight. Amisha could fly a little faster but not turn nearly as well and he lacked any instinct for the dogfight and the eagles outclassed him despite his larger size. "He covets their view of the world and they think he'll eat their chicks."
"Can I have your stereo and computer?" Daria called out.
"He'd want me to have the computer – I'm sure of it." Jane looked to Daria and started walking. "Doubt if the eagle can really do much damage to a demon given that the same one falls out of second story windows and blunders into stuff all the time."
"How does he explain the deep scratches and concussion to the school nurse?" Daria counters as another eagle cry pierced the air.
"Hey! He can afford to lose an eye." Jane shrugged and pulled on her backpack strap. "Misha has to be one of the smartest people I know next to you but he needs to learn from experience. I think demons live long and often lonely lives so they endure hardship to change up their lives and for Misha; that means eagle baiting. We could tell him – leave the eagles alone; they can kick your ass. We've told him which washroom to use. You've explained to him how to make coffee. In the end, he has to have his ass handed to him by an angry eagle, he has to have girls scream at him when he confuses the tampon dispenser with a hand drier and he still can't make coffee without a boiler explosion."
Amisha flapped to the ground and landed out of breath.
"Wow! That is some pissed off bird – I wonder why they feel such rage!" He announced as his breath formed fog in front of his face.
"Have we learned our lesson for today?" Daria asked as she wore a weak smile. "Eagles can kick your ass."
"Not a full on ass kicking; I still have my face." Amisha reverted to human form and checked his fingernails. "Now the raven can kick your ass. The eagle hunts alone or as a couple but don't hold grudges. Ravens hold grudges and form packs – kill one with your car and your grandchildren's children will be cleaning their cars daily."
"Why don't you explain the philosophy behind Communism...Misha!" Mr. DeMartino's right eye bulged as he spoke.
"May I offer up a health suggestion..." Amisha sat next to Daria who looked over to Kevin then to Amisha. "You're just shortening your lifespan by asking Kevin anything beyond his narrow field of endeavour surrounding the catching of things."
Daria looked into her text book to hide her smile as Amisha took a shot at Kevin and DeMartino.
"Communism and Democracy differ in one regard: in Democracy, the voter decides upon the leader who will then go on to institute policies to mess up the economy." Amisha switched to using Brittney's vision but then gave up because she continued to gaze up at the greenish fluorescent lights. "In Communism, they have committees to decide the on the best policies to muck up the economy."
"As someone not from America; do you have any opinions on the matter?" Mr. DeMartino did enjoy Amisha's glib but insightful answers and so he pressed on. "Europeans have long considered themselves above these kinds of debates!"
"Misha's not European; he's French!" Brittney corrected Mr. DeMartino.
"While I don't condone the horrors; I have begun to understand why Stalin had people shot." Daria whispered to Amisha.
"Neither has any real solution to the true problem of governing the herd." Amisha had a streak of Social Darwinism in his world view. Daria had grown to accept that humans, especially fat, slow or handicapped ones, were the vast herd. "Democracy believes the majority will make the right decision if given the proper information – eventually. Communism believes the majority must be ideologically conditioned to make the socially 'correct' decision; torture can achieve this education. Both make the assumption some correct answer exists and that policy ought to be tailored for the average Joe voter or worker. This approach never worked in any other important endeavour. No one would want a member ofthe proletariat doing heart surgery or building a new house."
"An elitist? Hmm?" DeMartino growled.
"The French didn't achieve long lives and world leadership in everything by being a nation of fifty million common people." Amisha slyly answered and swore he heard Daria snicker.
"Merry Festivus..." Daria said to herself. Amisha had decided to give his history teacher a gift – a debate with a worthy, if flaky intellect – something DeMartino never had experienced in his frustrating day to day life.
"Oh dear!" Mr O'Neill pointed to Stacy to pose a question just as he heard DeMartino rant at one of his students about 'Trotsky'. "Anthony's having a meltdown."
"Get out of here – you little freak!" Sandy escorted Amisha out of the washroom taking care not to wrinkle his fine new light green tunic bordered by fancy gold and charcoal black shiny triangles bordered by silver – which looked all very swanky.
"Sorry...sorry." Amisha bowed and backed into Josie as he left.
Josie might have murdered Upchuck for such transgressions and Sandy had a more viscous streak. None of the girls believed the little anime character cast reject had perverted motives. Daria explained it as a cultural thing – Scandinavians had unisex washrooms in public places.
Amisha simply made bad guesses and lacked patience – a true virtue when needing to go was concerned. He could see through the eyes of any sophisticated creature but not read minds so he saw his world without a good deal of context. When he needed to use the bathroom; he sought the first useful eyes to guide him. If he could hold on, he could check for urinals and make the socially acceptable choice. If he couldn't, he went for the first useful toilet because he had a bladder the size of a thimble.
"We've had this talk before." Jane patted Amisha's shoulder as she walked past him. "The French and their assumption the whole world follows their lead."
"Uh yeah..." Amisha followed Jane: Jane and Amisha shared the same English class.
"We have one more English class and then the holiday break." Jane reminded Amisha. "For you, each day is a holiday though."
"Umm...yeah." Amisha mumbled. "I have to go to the washroom. Sandy didn't let me do my business."
"Okay..." Jane looked down the hall as a means of guiding Amisha to the right washroom. "Once you go beyond the door, you're on your own."
"We need washroom attendants." Daria walked up to Jane who leaned on the wall next to the boys washroom. "Or he needs something like bat sonar."
"Or he needs a urologist to take a good look at him." Jane countered as she heard him scuffle around.
"What the Hell!?" Amisha yelled after Jane heard a loud rush of water. "Ew!"
"Was the toilet flushed when you washed your hands in it?" Daria leaned over as O'Neill droned on about Christmas in literature though the ages.
"Four handfuls of the chemical soap that smells like roses dipped in benzine." Amisha stared at his hands. "I may have to strip my hands with paint remover."
Jane felt sorry for her green haired friend but he always recovered from petty humiliations. Since the female population regarded Amisha as asexual or gay; this didn't count on his social screw up table. Jane had a theory about how the scoring worked. If the student body and the popular kids sensed you cared about your social score; they kept track of it but Jane, Daria and Amisha didn't care and so the social clique system spared themselves the effort. Jane didn't care because she didn't want to play the game of popularity. Daria didn't play because she thought the game beneath her dignity. Amisha didn't play because he had no idea a game existed at all.
Amisha kept looking at his hands. He had more concerns that the water in the toilet had tainted him in some invisible way than that Sandi had scolded him.
"Who was it that caught you in the wrong washroom?" Daria whispered over to Amisha and Jane to test this theory.
"I've got no idea – you all look the same to me." Amisha glanced at both hands.
"As a visitor to our country; what do you think of modern Christmas in America?" Mr. O'Neil tried to ask Misha who always paid attention but appeared oddly distracted most of the time. He repeated the question and added: "Misha?"
"Christ was actually born in June of the year 4 BC." Amisha answered slowly as if he were a musician working up to a crescendo. "The early church placed it around the winter solstice to induce the pagans to convert to Christianity. Nothing much has changed – Christmas once was a mechanism to market a religion to the masses; now it operates to market crap to the masses."
"I thought I needed salvation but decided I need a new computer." Jane murmured to Daria.
"But that sounds elitist, doesn't it?" Mr. O'Neill asked the stunned students. "What about the reassurance people find in having a reason to celebrate the ideals of charity and hope?"
"I stated the historical facts." Amisha looked at Kevin and pondered licking his blue mechanical pencil and stuffing it in his ear to see if he'd reboot. "The ideals of Christmas are just some of those tales told by an idiot. I don' t think anyone who sincerely wishes to do good needs to have a special excuse. If they do good thinks to bribe some invisible being into giving them a 'by' on life are deluding themselves."
"He'll eat your head." Daria whispered to warn Amisha as she watched him lick the eraser of his mechanical pencil. Even while explaining his complicated theological view; he had set about to give Kevin a wet willy.
Amisha put down his pencil.
"I must admit I offer my opinions so agree or not – it's your choice." Amisha smirked at Daria.
"Freezing rain – oh fun..." Jane placed her tray on the table. "What will you be doing on the holidays?"
"Another family funfest." Daria picked a fry and dipped it in ketchup. "Misha will experience the traditional unfolding of the fake tree followed by the traditional arguing of the parents over who has had too much to drink."
"Froliche Festivus?" Amisha sat down with a cafeteria egg salad sandwich and a can of pop. "Since O'Neill explained this English thing called alliteration; I want to use it everywhere."
"What will you be doing this Christmas?" Daria asked Jane as she sat down.
"Mom and dad left yesterday for the Dominican Republic for the next three wees so it'll be Trent and me." Jane picked up a piece of lettuce with the fork. "Trent and the Spiral will play on Christmas Eve – you can come if you want to help the transportation safety adviser. You can come too."
"Do you want to come over for a fun family Christmas dinner?" Daria asked. "We'll have dinner and then we can leave to drive the Spiral over to their venue."
"Oh well...I thought I'd ask both of you over for TV dinners." Jane joked. "The microwave always blinks twelve."
"I take that as a yes." Daria raised her eyes. "Misha has a new trick we can show you."
"How does that go?" Jane looked to Amisha – the demon could play music like a demon who went down to Georgia which counted as a very good trick.
"He has to be in his demon form." Daria had decided to help Amisha cope with his blindness which struck her as a tragic disability for a creature made to soar. "I throw a frisbee and he catches it. We started work in the back yard but he can pull this trick off with a foam ball in the living room. My mother has almost forgiven him for breaking a Noritake bowl."
"How does that work?" Jane found this a bit hard to understand from the perspective of an artist who understood perspective and anatomy. Amisha only looked like he bumbled because his brain had to do very complicated and unnatural things like not vomit when viewing a world of things through Daria's jittery vision. "You have disappointed many phys ed students by not catching things."
Amisha flew around the house in the dusk. In human form, he found standing and walking quite taxing but as a demon built for flight; he could relax and let his wings hold his weight. Amisha had few worries in the air when he flew high because he didn't have to worry about hitting much as long as he flew high enough to stay above the trees, wires and buildings.
Daria convinced her mom and dad to allow her to hang a set of wind chimes from the aluminum pole and set it in the back yard. She made up the excuse that Amisha had purchased the finely made tubular bells as a gift for the house – he had in fact purchased them to give him a kind of acoustical beacon. Each finely crafted chime gave out a precise note when the wind blew the hammers against the tubular bells – he had tuned them to play an exact scale. When he flew, he could use the notes and his sense of perfect pitch to navigate.
He had a knack for this and had a finely detailed mental map of Lawndale based upon the Doppler shifts in the air and could track his height and the location of the big tree in the back yard. This allowed him to avoid windows.
Daria had taken the idea from a navigation system using radio used by the RAF in the Second World War which allowed night bombers to find their way back to base by tuning in very precise radio frequencies. Amisha had the hearing of a bat and that great fund of musical talent and with the instillation of the chimes – he made dignified landings every time.
Daria had purchased the chimes as a Christmas gift for Amisha. The chimes actually provided her with fascinating insight into how Amisha actually saw the world and thought about it. He drew maps of Lawndale in colours – red for the lowest and purple for the highest tones and could render houses – some interiors, trees and fuzzy blotches and shadows where he heard no sound. He depicted the location of the chimes as bright while as distances grew, objects became dimmer and less focused, the low notes ir red faded as cooler shades dominated.
She had not thought of Amisha as a 'visual' creature.
Jane used the sonograms of Lawndale to inspire her. The hand drawn sound images were full of fascinating detail Amisha had sorted out into a kind of order. Amisha tracked the sound intensity – this told him the distance and altitude above the back yard. He tracked precision with such precision, he could depict the shift in pitch at walking speed and this gave him direction and made for an explosion of colour in Jane's paintings. Weird to a human, Amsiha captured wavelength as ripples of colour in the more intensely colourful areas. Jane put up a set of chimes on the eve of the gazebo so Amisha could see more interesting detail. Another gift for him.
"I see the invitation for dinner was just a tease." Jane looked into the kitchen. She could hear Jake swear and go on bitterly about his childhood as he attempted to clean the oven with some acrid smelling chemicals.
"Sorry Janey..." Daria shrugged. "Mom had to attend the office Christmas party and my dad and Amisha screwed up on the turkey."
"Where is Misha?" jane looked around. "Recovering from burns, traumatized, on a flight back to Finland by order of Immigration Services?"
"A thousand feet over the house flying in circles trying to get the smell out." Daria sat on the couch. "When the kitchen filled with smoke; I think he thought his boss might have come on a snap inspection."
"Not turning enough souls to evil?" Jane sat down. "Failed to meet his quota?"
"Fire freaks him out." Daria sounded unconcerned. "I promised some kind of Christmas dinner for you so perhaps when Misha regains his composure; we can all go out for a bite to eat."
"I hope you're not disappointed." Jake wiped his brow with his shirt arm. "I wanted to have a real Christmas dinner for the family but so far I made Misha squeal in terror and ruined a twenty dollar turkey."
"Can I come in?" Misha stood in the back door. "I didn't see the house erupt in flames so I take it as safe to come in – yes?"
"We narrowly avoided a meltdown." Daria told Amisha. "Come on in; you're letting in the cold. Oh God, I'm starting to sound like my mom."
He walked up to Jake with his bat wings held high over his head.
"As a former military school student, your father should know that aim does count." He shook his wings. "Do you have any idea how cold carbon dioxide actually gets? I could be angry but I realized; no one died."
"Get your electric violin - Misha." Jane told Amisha. "Bring your latest arrangement of the violin concerto too."
"Huh?" Misha looked confused but headed for the stairs.
Amisha held his violin in his arm and gave a long curtsey.
He was the first set for Mystic Spiral. Jane had wanted this as her Christmas present from Trent and the band because she loved the piece and Amisha performed it with a flourish.
Daria had heard this piece composed from fragments. Misha held musical ideas with his own rich musical logic and fanciful orchestration, a sense of humour and wit and in this work, terror and violence. He didn't show any affiliation with the avaunt guard in post modern music but his brittle melodies and sense of doom had Shostakovitch embedded into it. She liked it because whatever it meant; Amisha had meant it.
Trent caught onto the musical allusions to Mystic Spiral because he had a keen musical mind. Amisha added confident direction and potent musical reasoning to the mix and the piece moved from tribute to tragedy to satire to reckless violent frustration and to virtuous formal technique in the narrow thirty minutes. Amisha had presence as a performer. He presented a violin concerto to a grunge club and no one in the audience left or even dared to cough and they watched him play.