Jack swears I became hysterical. I did not. Thompson declined to take sides; Nyota said I was only upset and Tresmayne pled that ancient werewolves aren’t good at understanding human females (the big chicken!). I was not hysterical. I was pretty danged upset.
Okay, to be fair, I was mostly upset with myself. I mean, of course – a blade can carry a memory as few objects can and certainly most slayers know that. If you’re trying to find out about something or get a connection to someone, there are ways to use blades to do both of those things. I knew it and I hadn’t even warned Arnie!
Anyway, five minutes later Jack left to go get Arnie from his brother Kevin. I was still kicking myself. Thompson was on the other side of the living room now – seriously, am I that scary? Nyota poked me in the ribs again.
"What?" I turned to her.
"What about any other blades?"
I stopped to think. It’s a good question, actually. Swords make the best ‘recorders’ but not the only ones. I once had a three hour conversation with a kitchen knife that was… well, never mind, I’m rambling again. I couldn’t think of any but then a thought occurred to me, "Hey, Tresmayne, what kind of slayer was Mrs. Scarlotti? Blade, traditional means or eclectic?"
Thompson looked at me like I was speaking Greek.
Tresmayne considered a moment before answering, "I believe blade. I seem to recall seeing her with a sword, or at least a sheath. Why?"
"Her sword, if she still has it, would probably be connected. Just because none of us knew she’d been a slayer doesn’t mean no one else did. That, and her blade would be better attuned than Arnie. Even from a distance, it might well have gotten some sense of the vampire – or the other ones that have been hanging around so much. Worth a try, anyway."
Nyota, seeing Thompson’s confusion, addressed him, "She’s referring to the methods that a given slayer uses. Some slayers use blades exclusively. Crystal and I are both of that type. Some use only traditional methods like stakes for vampires. And some, like Jack, can use whatever is handy – those are the eclectic slayers."
"So Mister Jack is eclectic as well as commander?"
The person in question picked that moment to walk back in, "I’m what?" Jack asked.
"An eclectic slayer," Nyota answered, "it just refers to how you slay. You have the ability to slay with whatever weapon is at hand."
Jack returned to his seat and passed Arnie to me, "You mean you can’t?"
Nyota shook her head, "No, I am a blade type. I can kill any creature with a blade or with traditional methods if need be, but not with any other sort of weapon. Only eclectics can do that."
"Oh." Jack shrugged.
"Don’t get comfy – could you run ask you mom for her sword, too?" I asked sweetly.
Jack looked at me, "Her what?"
"Tresmayne thinks she was a blade type. If so, I’d like to talk to her sword." For a smart guy, Jack can be dense sometimes.
But he got it then. Without a word, he got back up and left.
I took Arnie from his sheath. He wanted to know if we had gotten the vampire yet. I told him no but we were still trying. I paused, told him to wait and turned to Nyota, "Hey, eclectics can use blades too, can’t they?"
She nodded, "Yes, Little Flower."
I made a face at her for calling me that with company present and went back to talking to Arnie. It took a while. He rambles and had a lot to say about Kevin and the old days with Mr Jenkins. You just have to be patient when a blade is like that. They don’t have minds, really, so they can’t sort information well. But if you’re patient, they can provide a wealth of information. That was the danger here.
I finally got him back on track. He told me the story of that night again, just as bitterly as the first time. That’s normal with blades. Since they record the human psyche, they never ‘get over’ anything. They can’t. But he did tell me something he hadn’t mentioned before. Mr Jenkins had had Arnie out on the dresser for his monthly cleaning. It was the vampire that resheathed him. I know – anyone would know that was an important point. But Arnie isn’t a person; he’s just a bayonet. Although blades can be quirky, they can’t really, truly ‘think’.
And this happened to be Arnie’s quirk – he didn’t like the fact that the vampire had touched him but he hadn’t cut the vampire. Obviously, he couldn’t – he is a bayonet with no independent mobility at all but it was still an embarrassment to him. My guess is he just didn’t think to tell me the first time because he didn’t want to remember it.
I didn’t tell Arnie that he’d made a huge mistake doing that – he couldn’t help it. I did get him to tell me the story again, top to bottom, and made sure he wasn’t leaving anything out. That took even longer since he now recited it as a play by play. I motioned for a pad and Nyota got one for me. I wrote it down as Arnie recounted it again.
Once he was finished and I was out of questions, I handed the pad to Jack, who had long since returned empty handed. While he looked it over, I admonished Arnie gently not to talk to any other singers until I told him it was okay. He promised, not really understanding or caring why. Jack had a few questions and I got the answers from Arnie but it was basically the same as the original story, with just the one change. Once Jack and everyone else confirmed they had no further questions, I told Arnie to sleep and resheathed him.
I passed him back to Jack, "It’s safe now. I locked him so no other singer can hear his voice. I’ll need to undo that when it’s okay, or before he’s used. He still wants to kill that vampire and you can use him, if you’re willing."
Jack looked at Arnie strangely. "I don’t guess I really understand how you can talk to an inanimate object but yeah, if I get the chance, I’d be proud to use Old Man Jenkin’s bayonet to get that … vampire. I’ll ask Kevin if I can hang on to it, er him, for a while."
I smiled. "You don’t have to use gender pronouns on them just because I do. After all, you can’t hear the voice."
Jack nodded, setting Arnie on the coffee table, "I talked to Momma and she’s getting her sword. She said she’d bring it when the youngest are all in bed. Shouldn’t be long now."
On cue, there was a knock at the door. Jack got up and attended to it. I must admit, I was surprised to see his father coming in.
Mr Scarlotti smiled at us, "Mind if an old man joins you?"
We assured him he was welcome and he took a seat. Jack got him a soda and rejoined us. Mr Scarlotti picked up Arnie from the coffee table. "Daniel always said there was something special about this thing. Saved his life more than once, knowing how to use it. It was also the thing he was most ashamed of – he always said the damnedest thing one man could teach another was how to kill. It’s not something you ever forget. Sometimes, you can’t turn it off."
Mr Scarlotti leaned back, still holding Arnie, "There was a kid. couldn’t have been more than sixteen, seventeen, Daniel said. Somehow, despite his age, they had him in full combat gear shooting at Americans. Of course, the Nicaraguans weren’t as well armed so they soon ran out of bullets. The kid followed two other guys into a machine gun emplacement. He still had his AK. He came at one of Daniel’s men and Daniel put this through him. It was then that he realized it was just a kid. He never got over that, not really."
Mr Scarlotti put Arnie back on the table. "I know you kids aren’t here to listen to an old man ramble. But I thought you should know something about this thing." He scratched his head, "I’ve been married to a slayer for going on twenty-five years and I still don’t understand half of the stuff you kids do. I can’t imagine why this old blade would interest you but I learned long ago that just because I don’t know something doesn’t make that something unimportant." He shrugged, "Don’t know that it helps, either."
"It does." I nodded, "It helps a lot." I told him. I understood now why Arnie was so deeply attached to Mr Jenkins. The bitterness of regret, especially over killing, can’t almost weld a blade to someone’s soul. I wished I’d meet Mr. Jenkins. There was so much I could have told him about Arnie that he never knew. Maybe, well, there was no point thinking about that. Mr Jenkins was gone and I would never ask Arnie for the record of that tragic day. It had lived with Mr Jenkins; it should die with him as well.