Ninjallerina's Note: Greetings! Here is a little something I offer in the spirit of October and as an offering of redemption for my lack of activity here for more than a year. *hangs head in shame*
This story takes place after the events of the Phantom of the Opera film, before the resolution of Sweeney Todd, and disregards the events and timeline of Love Never Dies (as I have not yet seen it).
Obviously, I do not own Phantom of the Opera or Sweeney Todd. I am a fan and I write fiction, therefore I post these here.
The bell over the door sounds, a tinkling promise of a paying patron. Money or flesh, the currency does not matter. The door remains open longer than usual. The proprietor of the shop fixes the customer with poorly disguised displeasure.
"Do come in. You're letting in the cold," states the proprietor in his grave, matter-of-fact voice.
The figure in the door remains motionless, as if deciding whether or not it truly wishes to enter. The reluctant silhouette stands another moment before taking the final step into the shop. The door slams shut with a decidedly final thud. Sweeney only half suppresses a dark chuckle at his visitor's dramatic flair.
The customer approaches deliberately, cautiously. Each foot is placed with utmost care, but Sweeney receives the distinct impression the man is not concerned with the integrity of the floorboards. There is something in his carriage that reminds Sweeney of stories he heard in Peru, stories of panthers deep in the jungles. The customer is almost the same height as the proprietor, built a bit more on the sturdy side, yet as lean as the times. Sweeney satisfactorily notes the number of pies that he will fill.
The newcomer's clothes are tattered and besmired, but show residue of class in material. As if feeling the appraising gaze of the proprietor, the customer straightens the overcoat. He is close enough to be illuminated and Sweeney can now clearly see his face. His barber's eye estimates at least two weeks of unkept growth affixed to the newcomer's face and neck. It is obvious that life as of late has not been kind to him.
'How the mighty fall,' thinks Sweeney. He allows his detached gaze to linger upon the obscene, pelt-like growth until he reaches the man's eyes.
It is the eyes that decide him. He recognizes them as the same ones he sees every morning when he looks in the mirror to banish the daily growth. They move slowly, as if their owner's thoughts are somewhere else. There is a flat glaze at the forefront, and if one is not careful, one focuses on this rather than the fire smoldering in their rear. They are the eyes of one who has had love taken from him and refuses to let the loss go unavenged.
The customer returns the look, gives a faint nod, and removes his mudslicked overcoat and misshapen hat. Sweeney nods in return and receives them. They have come to an agreement –an agreement that neither one of them fully understands the depth or grave implications of—but an agreement nevertheless. The customer settles himself in the chair at the center of the room.
"I have scars. Mind them." There is a tincture of another language in his unapologetic speech but it is barely discernable. What he leaves unsaid is the last barber he visited was not adequately attentive and left fresh marks. That barber will commit no such blunder again.
"I shall, sir." Sweeney does not ask what brings this stranger to London, what has made him abandon his old station. He needs not ask; the haunted eyes have told him all.
There is no small talk. The stranger understands.
On this evening, Sweeney works in silence. More's the pity, for had he started his cyanide-sweet lament, the scarred man would have undoubtedly joined him. Together, they would have made beautiful, bitter music. Perhaps they might have even found solace in solidarity. But Sweeney does not sing and the opportunity is forever lost.
The razor sweeps over the man's cheeks and throat, begging to be allowed to bite. Sweeney quiets it with the silent promise that it may have the next customer, but not this one. This one is a fellow in heartache to whom professional courtesy applies. His arm understands. As it skims the flesh, it reveals a mass of scars. Although it takes him longer than is his custom, his hand remains unerring and he draws no blood.
Face unburdened, the man pays Sweeney. Sweeney supplies his coat and hat. The man pulls the hat low over the scarred half of his face and disappears out into the streets of London, soon to be just another anonymous face in a crowd. Sweeney does not watch him go, but sweeps the shavings off the floor. The bond that has stayed their hands toward each other is over. After all, they were only kindred spirits passing in the night.
To me, this story is more about what we don't read, rather than what is written. Namely, what reason does the Phantom have for being in London?
I've always had great trouble seeing the Phantom as someone able to just walk away from Christine. That level of obsession does not just fade over night. Even if he stops trying to win her, he's at least always going to be that unseen stalker/unrequited romantic, depending on your outlook. I also have always felt like Christine and Raoul would get the heck outta Paris immediately following the events of the tunnels. This story, then, can be read as the Phantom following the pair. It only seemed natural he would run into another singing murderer with love life issues.
Thoughts? Love it? Hate it? See grammatical mistakes? Please review.