Last week, the challenge was to build a character, offer them up as a prompt for this week. I offered up Nove, a Death Companion of sorts. This week, I run with a Specialist and spin some wordery on the order of 2000.
It’s quiet in here. Until I stop. Then I’m the loudest sumbitch I’ve ever heard. City’s not percussive enough today, even with my kettle. Hear myself wilding in my head, like I can’t think the chicanerous buggers out of existence. Too many sentences. Always too many cotdamn sentences whirlygigging in this noggin. Too many repeats about the stiffness in these bones; no, not stiffness. The ache. They ache for action. They ache for a time of less science, that’s what they ache for. Hmph. Greedy gus. Not satisfied with this carving, this nested branch is it? No. Be a bigger problem than adapting to this More Science age. Can complain. Can always complain, but not about that. Never listless are we? No, Old Bones, we’re never listless. Tea’s gone cold. I just made that. Oh, maybe not just. Not sunny enough for cold tea, but I don’t like wasting.
Plyacht…that’s still a taste to acquire. Some day. I’ve got the time, don’t I?
Ideations of immortality are wasted on the mortal. If they knew how monotonous life could be, they would include some fine print in their covets. Chortle seems a bit loud. Must have lost a book. Probably on the roof. I should probably stop throwing them up there. They’re bindings of import, not pigeon shit collectors. Mind, if I threw it out there, I made the case for it being a collector.
Stories about that though. The wishmakers that didn’t exactly think it through- not pigeon shit collectors. Coupled with a wishgiver living for the challenge of a satisfying loophole to exploit. I can’t admonish those tricksters too much. Life’s boring, downright dull without some creativity, some malarkey, smatterings of hijinks and measured ‘mannered’ frivolity.
If it wasn’t outright discourteous, that kettle would always whistle. Blast those damned sentences away. Too many cotdamned sentences. I always liked the crunch and crumb of these tea biscuits. What’s with this “I always liked” hooey? Still like them. Not that forward to start writing a memoir, long way from that. Should be here soon. It’ll quiet down then.
“You know tea’s ready. Probably thinkin I shouldn’t bother with the milk if I keep giving it to you”
Scrappy bit of business this one. Comes for the milk. Never seems to shirk at the newly christened shit catcher when they’re flung up to the roof. Hasn’t given me a name yet. Haven’t asked in a while either I don’t think. Not like I don’t have the time.
There, there’s your afternoon tea. One day I’ll have your biscuits. If you tell me what they are. Don’t need a name for that. Should be here soon.
“Should be here soon. Why I schedule for afternoons. Scamps are locked away in their buildings, working. Not loud enough for my ole noggin. No I’m not wrangling those infernal sky rats down here. They’ll mess up your milk. Whole roof to use to stalk and pounce. Few books to use as jettisons. More Science doesn’t can the stuff. Not a dire need, a dire waste. Call you Sourpuss you keep it up.”
Have appearances to keep. Old man a pint short, arguing with a stray. Scrap’s threatened to play with my beard again. I threaten to shut my window again. No one ever does either. They’ll stretch out, watch the business go down, wait for their share of the sausage. Better check on that. I’ll be busy with boundaries for a while after. Aromatic, the way we like it. Be ready when the business is done. Then Scrap’ll make like they’re on their way. But they follow for a bit. Then they’ll be on their way. Been that way ever since I gave them the milk. Tried that milky tea hokum, tried a lot. That taste refused to be acquired. Hate wasting. Scrap didn’t mind. Visits ever since. Notice that there’s a decrease in pigeon shit when I suddenly need a particular book that’s been sunning upside.
Lung stretch. Tea’s done. Biscuits gone. Guess its time.
“Get yourself comfy m’dear. Rent’s coming due, have to pad the Lord’s pockets.”
Scrappy bit of business stretches out in the sun, face full of stripes and alert eyes faces our ‘high tea’. Same books I always use, at the ready off to the side, less dusty than a majority of the others. Start from this comforting hovel, move outward, shed the warmth and congeniality as I do so. Rudimentary tasking these bounds, monotonous more’s the like. But it needs doing. Helps with the mystifying. Mainly moves the exchange as efficiently as possible. I don’t want any questions. Patrons don’t want any questions. I don’t want ideas of hexes either. I’m rough around the edges, wrinkles included. Best the goings-on are short, to the point. Could be sweet I guess. Heard a lot on non-confectionary things called sweet nowadays, mainly past-adays. Buncha kids finding playtime where they could. Brought me one of my books back. Well, pigeon shit collector. It’s since been promoted back to useful.
Pack of four they are. Progeny of the two tenants in this place I don’t mind. Something in their cadence. Amiable. Noble. Hearty. Third and fourth floors they house, single families I think. Probably. Not a realtor. Dad, two kids. Mom, two kids. Thick as thieves they four. Literally. ‘Borrowing’ on occasion. Temptation’s there, no blame for that. Old man, correction, ‘scary old man,’ and his things, his place- it’s a dare cornucopia. They like the biscuits. And their tea cold. And ‘Hey Mister.’ Good spunky lot. They help out, I pay. Usually keep an eye on the shit catchers on the roof, remind me when some get too much attention. Typically feed the aura, the spooky mysterious bugger on the fourth floor. Probably the reason a few have been scared to Jacob Marley when we make eye contact. Mischievous lot. Good bones.
For variety, I’ve treated applying the bounds like painting. Won’t ever rid all these books. Ever. Paint is a mirage anyway. Partial to a blue, a bright one, could see it peek out from the few bare spots on the stacks. Saving that for next time. Will always be a next time when I feel my noggin go soggy from repetition and enduring.
Always get tickled reading Nostradamus. Old blowhorn. Must be amused as hell that his dribble is touted as predictions. Enlightened ages my leathered hide. He writes a mean detection invocation though. And I mean mean. Takes a bit to strip out that muck. Don’t need it at the now. Handy for opportunistic mortals though. Vultures. But I can’t think about that. I need the muck out of these detections. Give me some notice that the people coming through are the people I agreed to. Appointments only in these hours.
I like this invocation’s shimmer. That kind of shimmer I see above the hot roads and sidewalks. The kind that dances right above vehicles eagerly in wait. I like good work. I like it when my work is good work. I can feel the solidity of the bonds, the thrum of power ebbing through the mesh I’ve woven. Next wall. Then the top and bottom of this box I call mine.
The flowery teapot cozy is primarily for my amusement. Learn a lot from a person bewildered by a fluffy bit in stark contrast to everything else. Deceitful bugger. It works well. Tea stays hot until I’m tired of the blasted leaves. Miss the biscuits but they’ll ruin the inevitable meal. So I mind and wait. Firsts are due any moment. In a few. Cotdamn lifespan. Clocks were too strident. Ticking on point most of the time. Regrettably. Irritably. Pocket watch is still on the outs. Laramy checks every other day. They want their earnings. No blame in it. Work deserves its wages.
Scrappy bit of business is napping. Have the right idea for this, sun’s in a good place in the sky for it. Ah, there you are. Feels like you’re early. Can’t hide my frown-the desperation is seeping under the door. I see alighted whiskey eyes meet mine, widened a little when I open the door, stand before them.
I motion them to enter, look for my useful tomes. Nasty malign in this one. Riddled with sympathies and ‘I’m sorry’s’ too; they didn’t ask for seasoning, they asked for help. That’s the one, has the right words. I turn back to them, sprig of hope in there now. Like those sprigs, they compliment the daunting ahead of us. This part is mostly the same, the drawing of wills, infusing the sinews of arts with it, conducting them with the words uttered, a maestro with a specific work and orchestra of sounds materializing into a specific, very intentional, very particular invocation. When I see my home glazed over in obsidian, our transaction it at its apex. I gesture with care, ease the shock to my patrons. That swirl of commands and will is always a thing of beauty, encased in stasis, waiting, wanting to be. I oblige, sending it to ensconce them. They may not realize they shiver, may not feel their locs sway in spite of the stillness. I see it absorb, melting into them, seeking its quarry, the brightness of its death. If they knew how I could see them, the blue that peeks out from under the ravages of their parasite. Not for them. Not right now. But it is done. No more sorry’s and faux generalities. Just a promise.
“There. No more HIV. One hundred fifty dollars.”
Sprig of hope is a bit bigger. It’ll swell in time. I point to the table, the cash deposits there, nod, watch them leave. I take the cozy off, pour a fresh cup, long for my biscuits, waiting. I space them apart to allow for recovery. Mostly for the ache. These bones ache for more. I’m capable of more. But that’s not the business of it right now. I take four. Enough to keep me quiet, enough to not feel the deluge of my longevity.
It’s nearly time for the day’s last. Fellow before them had a tall order. Cancers. Stubborn malignants. Devon helped him up here. Good bones, that Devon. Remember the request when I spot him at the door – Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, on the uptick. Needs a particular suite of words. Poor bones, that one, but strong enough for our business. Had to do it in waves; they liken the feeling to being in a warm ocean. Told them eight hundred when I took their time. Told them five when the work was done. They’ll find the tip they tried giving me once home. Only need what I need.
Warmth washes over me; last of day’s here. On time. Like the punctuality. Death rarely is. Must annoy them – the coming of a soul, only to be dashed by forethought. I open the door, the eyes that stare at my chest only glanced to meet mine briefly. Even for me. No matter, they’re here. Wages to attend and all that. I almost miss the card firmly in her hands, the fear was different. That’s what tipped it. They arranged, they said, while they were certain they’d remember. Mind’s going away. Awful way to live. I need to begin quickly; card isn’t providing comfort.
The work is particular and specific, my home soon becomes glazed in obsidian. I look for the taking, the blue that shines out underneath. I see the brightness as my art does its good work, slowly restoring, then righting. I send it in short puffs. The work is delicate. Mind’s are always delicate work. Will there, even if they’re not as me, always a chance that minds says no. Can’t alert it.
“Remarkable genes on you. What’re the odds you fall to diabetes, leukemia, and Alzheimer’s?”
I see her hand linger on the money after she placed it, the slow rise of her eyes to mine. The work is particular and specific. And familiar.