Why no, I don’t write on days I go fishing. Seems self-evident to me.
Yeah, that’s bullshit. I dropped a day and didn’t need to if I’d planned better. Though I did fish longer than I’d anticipated. And then there were the Christmas lights to take down. This week of writing has not gone the way I’d hoped but it’s right in line with how I planned. Since I didn’t plan, I can say that with high accuracy.
You got a prime berthing but you still have to walk a bit to the showers since you’re not the first to get stowed. Some weasly functionary in dockworker whites waits for you at the end of the gangway near the doorway to the pilot’s lounge. He’s eyeballed every other pilot coming in and stopped once his eyes met yours. That you could take him in a fight doesn’t enter into your mind, but you do wonder what he wants. You hope he’s not been sent as a recreational sex apology.
“Excuse ma’am…err…miss,” he asks. You pretend not to know he’s addressing you and walk on by. He’s prepared for this and good at being weasly. He smoothly matches your step and grabs your wheelie to help.
“I just want a shower. Can it wait?” you ask.
“Yes and no.” He thrusts a card into view for you to take; you don’t. He continues wrangling with the wheelie trying to gain control; you don’t let him win. After several more steps and no explanation of the card you pull up short and exasperated.
“Sorry. It’s an upgrade for the lounge. It won’t get you away from the xenos but you won’t have to wait for a hot shower. Newer towels and even a massuere.” He abandons his useless grasp on the wheelie to talk with his hands.
“Thanks.” You snatch it from him and head off to the showers. Leaving him in your wake.
“Ma’am!” There must be more than the upgrade.
“Call me Bonnie. And keep walking if you want me to listen.”
His black hair manages to make a dockworker buzz look stylish, but he’s too skinny and his eyes too small. As weasly as he is, he’s still attractive—but too young. He hurries to catch up.
The four day stale snow covered the land like a tattered blanket or corpses on a battle plain. Overnight chill froze the horse-trod slush in the roadway and crusted the still white lumps under the shadowed firs. The sun may have risen or it may still be mired in the horizon. Either way, grey clouds had hammered the earth shut in a dim lit coffin.
Back from the empty serf-road Jora squated to see below the branch-line. A small dark-metalled dagger appeared in her hand. If you hadn’t been just hovering over the narrator’s shoulder you’d be dead now. Jora ranged ahead of her three sisters scouting. Sometimes she waited for them to catch up and sometimes she traveled back to them. She waited.
In this weather Jora’s ears picked out voices in the distance with preternatural ease but the clarity cheated distances and timing. Jessa, Jemma, and Jia arrived later than Jora anticipated. Jia clomped down the road because she just didn’t give a shit. She could kick your ass if needed too.
Jora scowled at Jia. The youngest sister gave Jora the finger but hushed her tromping and jumped the ditch to join the other three gathered in the grass and frost.
Jessa, the oldest, gestured for Jora to share her scouting.
Jora shrugged a silent ‘all clear’.
“Then why are we being so fucking quiet here?” asked Jia. Jemma elbowed her. Jia replied with, “Cut that shit.”
“Maybe the gypsies will share their coffee. Right now you need to hush,” Jessa said, “How far to the camp? I’ve been smelling their cookfires for a while now.”
“Just over the hill. They’ve split the road and put up a shop or two. Jia can get her coffee and some food from what I saw,” Jora said.
“Strange. They know something we don’t?” asked Jessa.
“Or they don’t know something we do,” said Jemma.
Jia snorted. “Let’s just get something to eat. I could have eaten last night’s rabbit myself.”
No one looked to Jessa for leadership, but they waited for her assent. “Fine, but don’t stuff yourselves. Be alert. We should have found Crotter by now. And you,” Jessa tapped the hilt of Jora’s concealed blade, “eat last and keep watch.”
“I’ll second,” said Jia.
If you’re thinking this is a trap then you’re thinking the same as all four women, but they’re hungry and confident. And gypsies are fun.
Musi stood at the gate of her patio greeting the day like a regular.
“Fine morning, I feel,” she said then sipped her milk-tamed Purple tea. Madrigar looked up from his sweeping and smiled. After a considerable pause during which she finished her private thoughts and suspected he was doing the same she heard him agree with a considered hum.
She laughed to herself at his response. They’d been exchanging similar quiet conversation each morning all Spring since she’d been installed here at the west entrance to Run Dark Alley. “You always agree with me Old Man.”
“I would not agree if you were not correct miss.”
“But you always agree. Am I always correct?”
Musi lifted her tea to Madrigar as a question. He nodded so she raised the large porceline cup again as a second question. He shook his head and pointed to the stack of smaller clear glasses on her counter.
“This Drangee Purple may be dark but it is also mild. You could drink two this size and still take your afternoon nap.”
“I like to watch the colors swirl while I drink,” then after scratching his forehead, “I’m doing my tallies; not napping.”
She winked away his lie. “I could pour it into one of the pinters I use for the ices?”
“Still,” he gestured again at the same stack.