You have been taken by the Mists

Author Topic: THE MATCHBOX CONCERTO  (Read 97 times)

of clover and thistle

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THE MATCHBOX CONCERTO
« on: May 21, 2020, 10:20:09 PM »
Few things are consistent in the City of Lights, of Dementileu; the Blooming Rose is always lonely, tobacco is always in vogue, and the humidity is nearly enough to drown a man on land. Moisture choked summer breezes with a disgusting humidity, that carried the rank of unwashed bodies and expensive perfumes into one horrible marriage to be thrust onto the senses. The winter wasn't better, instead providing an inescapable wet cold that cut through second-hand coats and fine fur mantles alike. As autumn came around the bend the rain fall persisted for days at a time. For the less fortunate of the Ourvrier, this would mean wet socks both outside and in, with water flooding curbs and leaking into living rooms through cracks in the walls.

The 'Employment Offices', was really more of a tongue-in-cheek saying in the Ouvrier, it was just one of the old Government Provisions Offices that'd been condemned and cleared out. Mildew assaulted the nose upon entry, followed up by droplets of water from the roof, and closed by the greasy film of dust that wrapped itself over everything. One floor, one room, a leaky window, and sparse furniture, which was more than what was needed. Labor organization is all about who you know, and how you hustle; a game of managing the un-managed into the employ of those with deep-pockets. Half of it was schmoozing around expensive bars to find aristocrats with too much money and bad accountant. The other was on the streets of the Ouvrier, checking in on him and her with the old, "how's the wife, how's the kids, how's the job?" chorus.

Some things called for an office, like written and private correspondence. It also made for a quiet place to sit and smoke that was slightly drier than the curb. Autumn's rain pelted against the dingy glass of the window, sending a cool sigh of air into the hot musk of the room. Marceline Reyer liked the rain;she liked the way it sounded against her office window, the way it felt against her face when she walked in the morning, and the way it tasted, if you drank it from your hands. She liked it enough that she didn't mind when her office routinely flooded in the fall, and kept spare socks in her desk for her visitor's trouble.

"Uh.. madamoiselle Reyer...?"

A young man occupied one of the empty chairs, he looked like if an ox had shed it's horns and shed its hooves. Fresh, second hand clothes sat in awkward stiffness on his barrel chest. If he learned how to scowl, he might make an intimidating door-man. Marceline reached across the desk to collect the ale stained sheet of paper to review the man's credentials. Employed six months on the docks, moving shipments. Deliveries via cart from Edrigan to Marchand for eight. Only four weeks with the shipwright union, and less than that working carpentry jobs. The organizer slowly looked up over the file.

"Says at the bottom here, you're looking for something with city maintenance? ...Gardening?" She poised her question casually, trying not to stare at his oafish fingers and determine how he might tend to flowers with them. "Oui, madamoiselle Reyer. I like the earth, getting soil on my hands. Its a good kind've filthy to be."

The earnest color of his voice reminded her of juniper bushes in their flowering season. "You're a strong man. What about those cart deliveries? It's paying enough to make your ends, don't know if you'll get the same working in the gardens." The young man licked his lips underneath his unruly beard, his face betraying little. "Well I, I could be very good at it. And those wagons've been feeling a little off, lately. The rain and all, heh, making the ah," he swallowed uncomfortably. "Making the, wheels, kind've funny." "All the wheels are funny. This is Port-a-Lucine."

Reyer leaned back in her old creaky seat, trying to put distance between her and the stubborn ox at the other side of the desk. This was a good, strong man, he worked with mild to no complaints, and came from a similar cut of cloth. There were no shortage of his type in Port-a-Lucine, and fortunately there was no shortage of labor either. Gardening though, that was child's work, or something for frailer, meeker people. There could be an opportunity at the Opera house in Savant, but he would spend the next winter paying off the suit they'd make him wear. She picked at patches of dry skin on her chin. "What happened with the shipwrights? That's close to home, and the conditions aren't so rough."

"It's my hands, they get stiff and ache like heated rods. Can't use my fingers proper and... Listen, I swear to you, I'm not shamming it. Halans say it's some kind've, tendon injury. Just can't manage them little nails like I used to."

As he rambled his excuses, the color of his voice expanded in the office like ivy consumes the wall of a house. It was a comfortable color, familiar in its own way, though not because she had any personal familiarity to it. Not like that shade of green the Ezrites keep up in their ruined cathedral, this was something recognizable, and earthy.

"There's... Edrigan. I got somebody in Edrigan, could be they need a hand with their harvest this year." "Edrigan? All the way up that way? Farming's... Well.. How's the pay? I got to feed the missus, she's eating for two now." "It's decent," Reyer replied as she pulled out a sheet of paper and began to write. "Not as much as you're making now with deliveries, though." The document is slid against the greasy dust-film of the desk.

The young man took the sheet into his meaty claws carefully, squinting at the chicken scratch scrawled across the paper. His face fell with pensive consideration. "Not very much, is it..." As he agonized over his career, the existence of time and its passing occurred to the woman, and she checked a pocket watch. "Think about it. If you want my advice, stick out the deliveries, you'll make more taking those crops into the city than you will sowing them in the field." Water sloshed under her chair as she stood up in the small pond that had begun to grow under her desk. "I'll, talk it over with the missus." When the young man rose, Reyer found herself craning her neck back to keep eye contact. She forgot he was younger than her. The pitter patter of rain against the window brought her back to focus, and from there, she remembered the time again. "Yeah, whatever. Just get going, I got another few meets to catch."

The ox of a man bowed his head, muttered his thanks mixed with his farewells, and excused himself into the Autumn rain. From there, the juniper color of his voice began to ebb from the bleak musk of the room, blended out by the grey of the rain. Dread started to settle somewhere deep within the young woman's belly, its source inexplicable and its stay indeterminate.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 02:54:28 AM by of clover and thistle »
"Be kind."

Clover#5958