Mark and Nathan Connor are estranged twins. There is little to connect them, save their current residence at 314 Crescent Manor, an old building situated in the centre of the city. The tenants of the Manor are never housed at random. With its large, brooding stained glass tree bearing down on them from the fifth floor to the first, it watches, and waits for one world to topple into the next.
Nathan Connor is a mess of a human being.
He thought about this as he accidentally splattered ink on the corner of his kitchen table. He tried to obscure it by smearing it with his thumb into the worn pine, only to permanently stain it a dark grey. He cursed and grabbed a paper towel, and tried to rub the grey shade out, then loudly cursed again as a thick red paste was added to the mix. The supposedly clean paper towel had come into contact with the open bottle of red ink at his elbow. He gave up the effort and tossed the paper towel onto the floor, where the oak planks at his feet were littered with crumpled papers and ink blotches and the crumby remains of breakfast toast. He rested his elbows on the surface of the table and pressed the heels of his hands at his temples, which were already bearing the warrior marks of his efforts, thick smudges of grey, black and red ink leaking into his scalp.
He studied the pencilled in illustration framed beneath him, a depiction of a large, burly Sasquatch with massive clawed hands and shark teeth drooling over a meek, t-shirted young man sitting in a chair in front of his TV. The large question mark over the young man’s opened skull was of profound significance. Nathan had been very careful in his detailing of the brain of the youth. He hoped his idea of subversive resistance, expressed through the imposing violence of the Sasquatch upon the suggestion of a questioning thought would go over better with the chief editor of The Weekly Weird than his last illustration had.
“We’re not a horror magazine,” Dottie Kane had advised him yesterday morning, tossing his work back at him. “I don’t care if you think a detailed image of a vivisected cow made to look like a serial killer’s masterwork is a metaphor of overconsumption. It’s gross. It’ll have PETA on my ass. Worst of all, it’ll lose us readers. Honestly, what were you thinking? This doodle of yours has nothing to do with the editorial it’s supposed to illustrate.”
His cheeks burned in prideful fury. “Yes it does!”
“No, Nathan. The editorial is about Lady Diana’s shoe collection and how the sales of it are going into private coffers instead of to charity, which we all know she would have preferred.”
“She had over four thousand shoes,” Nathan reminded her. “Imelda Marcos would have been jealous. I’d call that overconsumption.”
“I’d call it every woman’s dream,” Dottie shot back. “Go home, and try again. I’m warning you, Nathan. I don’t want to see any blood and guts this time. Don’t look at me like that, I’m not some dragon cramping your style. You’re new here, and maybe the stress of coming to a new city and your trouble with finding an apartment and getting settled is affecting your work. I’m willing to believe that.” She tapped a plain, shining pink nail on the surface of her desk, her thin pale lips a taut line of disapproval. Dottie had the eerie knack of making you feel like you were at the principal’s office, waiting to be handed a suspension. “I want it on my desk by tomorrow afternoon. No later. You came highly recommended from your teaching stint at the College Of Graphic Media in New York. I’ve got high expectations, so make sure it’s good.”