Chapter 1.3 Stars

It was as if the molecules were bridging; atoms webbed. A shooting star elevated the net. The whole street rose to the Gods, with faces from stage shows: Das Rheingold; Eugene Onegin; Don Giovanni; Lohengrin; every star speaking.

Treasure to gather and treasure to bury! It is called the grail. But proceed, oh tell me, of this dark adventure. Life’s sweetness is known to me, I am beset by visions. A gleaming temple whose like for splendour is unknown on earth. My prophetic vision to enlighten you!

The forms were familiar yet not. Ministers; a revolutionary; a spy; official papers; dollar bills and books, another fob watch. Ignacz saw his mark.

Ignacz straightened his walk that the stranger would draw near. Justice in sharing fits us brothers… Stars be thanked, the coast is clear!

Mid-forties, spectacles, a chain draped over his scarlet waistcoat, groomed in velveteen and suspicion. The celestial field seemed to gather around them both. How quickly drew the dragon to the dwarf so dread. Only you and he has plans on the gold!

Ignacz nodded: put the nobleman, feebler than his years, at ease. (What a secret the hero must conceal. Leporello, servant of that dishonourable villan!)

He struck the glasses from the old man’s head, tugged on the chain dislodging watch and wallet from his pocket. The victim swung. Barely a fist made Ignacz’s ear, already he rolled to the cash on the pavement. Hold not the gold back! Grabbing coat buttons the teenager railed back into his opponent’s chest, shoved him from the fight, down, buckled into hedgerow. He who is chosen to serve the Grail it arms with supernatural might! Ignacz reached for the purse, flipped it, and the fob watch away, and ran. He who guards the ring…one ring to rule them all! That’s how the wanderer wears it when against the wind he must go.

Luminous spheres curled at his cape. And ahead, parallel lights like the Metro’s tunnel going to Mexikoi Street, Northern Terminus. In his pocket, his fob watch ticket jumped and heart beat faster. That dizzying constellation took on a new collusion of such familiars as illusion. A shrill whistle blasted the night quiet with calls for tolvaj (thief) to halt.

Ignacz burned into a sprint. The lights were going out behind two police officers. An adjoining street, and they pursued him there too. He was too big for this, to be caught in a police cage, to give them name, rank and lineage.

I would now with speed be gone. What a terrible light in his eyes! Who are you then to say that I can’t go on? Run Forrest, Run!

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries and bonus art.

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Chapter 1.2 The Streets

The lights in the Metro blinked through tunnels. His mercurial cluster acclimatised to this new city; expanding Budapest. He got off at Andrassy Avenue, climbed to the surface, where with every walk he’d seen a new construction. The cultural capital of Austria-Hungary building to race the immigrants filling it: Germans; Jews; the Magyar whose finances had made it possible.

The columns, porticos and verandas, fences and trees this night shot into his eyes. The city made him high, once. Lajos and Sandor were named after the heroes of the Hungarian Revolution. The soldier and the poet on the steps of the National Museum, but Ignacz could not wait for this damnable city to wake up.

‘My father’s home, accursed!’ he thought.

He threw his head up into space. A beautiful arrangement of stars he let lead him off course for they spread and spiralled in every direction. Clear as destiny, sure and true. He reeled into a side avenue, awed by their surround.  At the end of Tannhauser the pilgrims, knowledgeable of who had been in Venusberg, had a line which Ignacz uttered aloud. “In this holy hour of night, the Lord hath manifested himself through a miracle.”

Though sparking the stars climbed down to the stodgy black fences, greasy cobblestones, raising it all. They joined, with his silvery entourage of eye-floaters, combusting, and he saw them connect; in his head he heard Mahler’s production of Siegfried,

“The air is aflame! Shining my pathway opens before me!”

 

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries and bonus art.

The Watch Thief: Chapter 1.1

December 1897, Budapest

Ignacz’s curls were black like his sparkling eyes and rounded a handsome face. He conducted his breath, arms arching to jacketed diaphragm, and travelled that breath up under a black tie.
“Aaaaaa-aaaaaah!”
That didn’t sound as it should.
His parents were arguing in the next room; again. Jozsef was in the middle of them. Ignacz’s eyes drifted back through the mirror, around the room he shared with Lajos: clothes and sheets, school books, anti-bourgeois pamphlets…
“Aaaaaaa-aaaaah!”
Wrong pitch. No. Wrong time? Das Rheingold then, in German.
“Justice in sharing fits us brothers…”
“Lajos teaches! Vilmos works at the bank!”
He could hear his mother’s voice too. “We simply cannot afford luxury these days.”
He fixed into steely resolve, assumed the form of Don Giovanni, crouched; looking into the mirror, his head filled with the libretto.
“What do you do?” came his father’s shout. “You contribute nothing!”
“You should be more like your brothers,” he heard his mother say.
“You are talking to me,” yelled Ignacz, shaking a finger. “You are talking to me.”
“Ignacz, be quiet there!” his father called. “Hell will have the pair of you.”
His mouth sank, teeth fierce under lips. He summoned up Landgrave.
“You heard it! His sinful lips have confessed his fearful crime. He has shared the joys of Hell, he has dwelt within the Venusberg! Abominable! Monstrous! Damnable! Steep your swords in his blood! Let him be condemned and banished and sent back to the bottomless pit of Hell!”
As he spoke, the air was charged with floating balls of silver like mercury. Stretching fingers rigidly, it was as if atoms were popping out around him. Strangely familiar yet alien faces: of a vicar, a monk, shapes of hats and a zeppelin. The spheres were gold too, engraved with dates and unreadable words. The door to the room was flung open.
“What is the name of this nonsense?” said Nathan.
“Tannhauser,” Ignacz replied, “to the highest standards of the Budapest School of Performing –“
“You’re wasting your time. And causing a noise.”
“Oh I will cause a noise on the world stage: in Paris, New York and –“
His father laughed.
“You think this is a waste? I’ll make more money than you earn.”
Ignacz’s eyes drifted over to the last of the mercury floaters, and then saw an atmospheric change as his father took off his belt. Ignacz charged, threw the old man against the door, and roughed him to the ground.
“Nathan! Nathan!” his mother screamed, but he cut between her and the younger boys, got the door open.
“Ignatius, I forbid you to—“
The door slammed, he raced down the steps and out, caught by night air, the chill shaping his stark exit and the balls of silver mercury returning to his eye-line.

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries and bonus art.