foster is traitorously tired. he imagines this is a byproduct of wandering the woods till three, limping closely to the line of trees behind skunk's house until the breath in his lungs stumbled out of his body and hi(more)s fingers bled freely with the cold.
castor is dark eyed and just as exhausted as foster. there are fingerprints bruised into his forearm and a dim, yellowing curve of a palm indented into the hollow of his throat, shirt collar lazily hiding it in the goldenrod spray of morning light.
"your sister's dead."
foster is still. he thinks of the sharp angles of her body, pale and luminescent beneath the silver shine of the moon, sprayed red with blood as the cut in her jugular nearly severs the head from the torso. leafmold and stray branches curl around her: a muddy graveyard built just for digging.
"yes?" castor's hair is a coppery red, feathery like stray threads spread across a pale quilt. "then you know that you can't find who killed her."
"you can't, foster, because you'll fuck it up-- we know this already. last time you went searching for something you shouldn't you came home with a dislocated shoulder and a broken nose," he is breathless, pushing words out where they refuse to go, "you fucking die next time. next time, i'm the one finding you in the bottom of a ditch because you ran up the wrong tree."
foster sees it. he sees the lead weight bearing down on castor's conscience through the translucent, marble green of his eyes-- how awful heavy it sits on the back of his shoulders like he's got something to do with all of this.
I turn the page and my niece asks me a question. "You'll see." I assure her. We were early into the story of an adventurer who finds himself in an underground kingdom populated with talking frogs. One of the frogs has befriended the hero and is giving him (more)a tour of the city's main thoroughfare, a street lit with globes suspended by tree roots and glowing with captive lightning bugs. In the picture, the frog wears a buttoned up vest, striped pants, and spats without shoes. He looks silly. The two are on the way to meet the mayor of Noffington, which is the name of the particular town within this soggy, dark empire. The frog seems friendly, but there's something about his bulbous cleft tongue that protrudes freely when he speaks that seems untrustworthy. "The way's not far, friend," his fat tongue flips and flops, "Just a few more bends in the road and we'll be on the doorstep."
"Is he a bad frog?" My niece asks, suspicious of what the character's words might be trying to hide. I don't know the answer, not yet, and I flip the page. The next panel is an illustration that covers the whole side panel. The frog has produced a rolled up paper from his pocket that he unfurls in the face of the stranger. It is a wanted poster with the face of the adventurer on it. It reads: "Wanted for Murder, If you see this human, name unknown, report to authorities, collect reward, $$$$$". With his other hand, the frog points a black dagger at the man's throat. "Oh, no!" My niece exclaims, smiling with surprise. "You know you have the wrong person, my froggy acquaintance." says the man. "Au contraire, I know everything," bellows the frog, "And you know nothing." (less)