Outside, the sun was just rising over the roofs of the houses. The cobbled streets lay in shadow, their stones barely distinguishable from the grey walls. Deep-set windows and doors broke up the bare facades of the houses, but added no colour. Even the sky looked grey. It was the most delightful scene Jenn had seen in a long time.
He breathed in the chill morning air. The street reeked off horse dung and stale water. He took another breath, deeper this time. Lovely.
Downhill, Rees had said to go. The cobbled street felt strange under Jenn's feet -- firm so it provided good footing, yet irregular so he had to watch where he stepped. He shoved a hand into his coat pocket and felt the coins Rees had given him to buy lunch and shoes. Soft shoes, Rees had insisted, not boots, because boots would rub Jenn's feet raw. But he could put up with that to have boots again, and it would only be until the skin hardened.
The irregular gray cobblestone got the best of Jenn; as he fumbled with the coins, his face slammed hard onto the road. He felt the impact reverberate through his skull as the taste of blood filled his mouth and he spit out chipped teeth. The taste was ambrosia.
He didn’t rise right away and as much as it hurt he was happy the putrid, maggot-filled horse dung had saved his forehead from the stones below. He watched the maggots squirm a beautifully orchestrated dance number in the rancid dung of which he was enraptured by the bouquet.
The coins, he thought. He had heard them jingle out onto the road when he fell. He had to get them back if he wanted his boots. He saw them just a few feet away and as he reached for them the wheel of a stagecoach rolled over his fingers; they snapped and twisted like gorgeous delicious taffy in a taffy pulling machine. He screamed in pain, a scream as melodic as a trained soprano.
He used his good hand to gather the coins and tucked his broken hand into his shirt. Blood, dung, and maggots gloriously covered his face; he never felt more alive. Perhaps I should skip the boots, he thought, and go down to the Courthouse and use the coins to pay for a name change to something more manly. I’ve always been fond of the name Stacy.
Opening: Xenith.....Continuation: Bill