The Makers Marcail

“Bugger off! Of course she’s got a name.” The fist I thought would punch me square in the chest swings down to the gunwale and opens to a caress. “Come over here, lass.”

The captain or pilot—I don’t know which—beckons largely, so my eyes follow the hands up to the face. Until now I’d been careful to stay clear of the eyes, but not this time. My body stayed put, but my soul drew closer. This happens occasionally; this time I knew it would.

“Bloody Hell.” I broke the moment by turning my head forward. Below us lay the carcasses of broke ships and rusting sargasso. I was now bound to another human.

“Come over here, lass.” The hand patted a golden-gate red post like nothing had passed. I steadied myself for the off-balanced sway of the small ship but none came. No slosh, no swing, no sag, no dip. “She’s static at anchor.”

Strong hands gripped my shoulders and turned me around. I couldn’t see everything but I could see enough. A patchwork of metal welded together from flotsam like a boy-made tree house stuttered before me.

The pieces were well picked for shape and size and utility, but, in every other aspect, they were incongruous. A flash white bulkhead pocked with bullet holes stood next to a mustard yellow door. Marine blue paint dried where it dripped from something above. A fiberglass roof made from half an amusement park whale and clashing blue tarpaulins ended abruptly at the red again wheelhouse. Atop that two jet engines mounted with vent pipes, a ladder, and bumper stickers—round and rectangular—exhaled black smoke like a whisper.

The deck I stood on warped down at all the fringes. Rain water would drain well from that concave hump of boards. It had to have been vertical in its original orientation on whatever building or bridge or dam it had been salvaged from. The rails, which might have protected a quarter of the edges, were made of household plumbing. The J-bend mounted just outside a weathered green door proved it.

“This,” arms spread expansively, “this, is The Maker’s Marcail.”

361 words on day 552

A Small Circle

God climbed the hill to our village. Then he stayed.

My grandfather taught me this.

Xander Farmer sketched out a circle in pencil on a sheet of paper—it was near perfect. “Johanna, look. Any…three…points,” he dotted pips along the circumference of that circle with each syllable, “can be used to define a circle. But that could be random. Easily. Now that we’ve discovered—uncovered really—a fourth mechanical it’s no longer random.” Farmer drew in the fourth pip and repeatedly circled the circle. “Can’t be.”

Xander suddenly called to mind the undergraduates he taught math to during his Masters. These were high school students who entered university under probation until they passed Xander’s class. Except Johanna Sherman-Meyer wasn’t dumb or one of his students. She was his ex—mostly ex.

Johanna stacked folders on top of folders and papers on top of those; she pulled open her desk’s top drawer then, not finding what she hunted, shut it again. “Listen, Xander. I can’t do this anymore. I agree with you. They are facinating historical objects and, as such, V-CIM is happy to continue to fund the research and preservation of the three we know about…”

Xander inhaled to speak. She shifted to her credenza and squated to open the cabinet door. She spoke into the furniture, “…four we know about, but we aren’t going to fund your little adventure mission to circumnavigate the globe looking for more.”

“Technically it’s a Small Circle, not circum…”

She stood again. “Spare me the Geometry lesson, huh? You’ve got your money for the three mechanicals. Spend it on the fourth if you like. You’re not getting more than you’ve got. V-CIM’s making no money off this and the goodwill accounting just isn’t there anymore.”

298 words on day 550

Madrigar’s Chappi Stall

Day 455

This is closer to what I was hoping to get yesterday but still not what I’d meant to accomplish at the start…

Madrigar laces a canopy to the frame at the front of his stall then tightens the iridescent purple fabric by snugging up the bar that wedges it out from the back wall. His chappi stall languishes like a cat in a window. Comfortably seen and easily attended by all.

The stall’s registered designation in the Vendor Bureau at the Merchant Ministry is SB. South side; second stall. But here in Run Dark Ally, the grand dam of all Tropulan’s ally fairs, it’s known eponomously as Madrigar’s. A cook’s assitant looking for fresh caught trout would find them on ice from Dromie’s at NE. A guitarist looking for newly attenuated strings would pick them out from Spring House at SH. In Run Dark stallmen, veteran patrons, and signage all cry out names with designations. But never Madrigar at SB. Only, solely, Madrigar’s.

In other alley fairs the best spot—sometimes the SB designation—is known as the madrigar. At newly installed fairs vendors cluck like wansi hens bidding for the stall designation they think will become that ally’s madrigar. Vendors plead and beg and offer to pay Madrigar to assess a new fair, but he refuses. In a confused tone he insists he doesn’t sell information only chappi. So, he recommends a crisply carved luck medallion he obtained from an artisan in the Narrow Door district or a jagged locator stone gouged from a quarry wall only a fortnight ago. Maybe these will aid you he says.

Madrigar borrows the broom from inside the backdoor of the draper’s shop his stall cozies up to and sweeps the grime and rainwater into a nearby drain. He nods at Musi, his neigbor at SA, when they meet eyes, but neither speaks yet. Musi boils water for tea and steamed milk. Soon the stallmen and women from the west end of Run Dark—some as deep as NL or SJ—will arrive for their breakfast meeting.