Words, words, words, art.

The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

Snippet for Belltown

September21

Something I’m working on for my Belltown story. It’ll come into play later in the narrative than I’ve gotten to at this point. This is a lullaby someone will sing to someone else.

As I was going down by Sabindar’s hospital
A woman there caught my eye
She was cool and still as the morning
And I knew she’d be the next to die.

Oh take this back, take me back, white eyes
Take this gift, dark lady, this sin.
I never asked you for nothing before now,
I’ll never ask nothing again.

I went up inside of Sabindar that morning
And my lover, she was lying there
Stretched out on that cold stone table
Daisies wove in her tangled up hair.

White eyes, white eyes were upon me, oh God
White eyes stared at me silent and still.
I turned around and I kept on walking;
They followed me up Boneyard Hill.

I feel the hands, feel the hands upon me now
Hands soft and hard and white and red;
They push and they pull and they turn me, oh god,
The ghost cold hands of the dead.

White eyes and white hands upon me, oh lady,
I left my girl on a table alone
Take her in your arms, your cold white arms,
Show her to follow you home.

Oh my sweet girl, her short life is over.
Oh my love, she’ll never smile at me again.
My love she is through with her waking,
Let her sleep free of dreams I beg.

You are the sacred silence between spaces
You are the crooked road between roads
I will lead my love into your arms
Down the road to your palace of bones.

I will go I will go I’ll go with her.
I’ll lead her down that road so black.
Thirteen men will walk that road together.
Twelve of them will go on back.

posted under belltown, fiction | Comments Off on Snippet for Belltown

100 words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Five

September13

Abe came back an hour later, scrubbed pink and fragrant. His dark hair stuck up in damp tangles around his square head. He was draped in a clean sheet. Ghullah regarded him frankly, and a hot flush started at his face and spread down to his chest.

“Lovely toga,” she drawled.

“None of the clothing you left fit me. It was this or nothing.”

She raised on eyebrow and he turned away, oddly defenseless with nothing covering him save a sheet. Ghullah indicated the mattress on the floor, which was spread with quilts and pillows.

“I have a feeling your head or your feet will hang over the edge of the mattress. Possibly both.”

He nodded.

“If it’s too uncomfortable, have someone show you to your bed. It should be more than large enough for a fine gentleman like yourself, Ben. I can’t imagine you’re used to sleeping on the floor.”

“It looks fine, Ghullah. Thank you for being so accommodating.”

He did not correct her misconception. She nodded, once, and left him. Abe walked over to the mattress on the floor. It was less a mattress and more as tack of several old quits that had been stuck in a large flannel wrapper. It smelled of cedar oil and dust. He wrapped himself up in a blanket and burrowed into the softness, curling up. He’d slept on much worse.

Abe woke up hungry. More than hungry, he was famished, his stomach clamoring in protest of its foul treatment and neglect. He sat up, the layers of quilt and blanket slipping down, falling away from his massive bare shoulders. The woman attending Fen looked over at him.

“It’s about time you woke up.”

She had yellow hair, like dirty butter, in spiral curls and was wearing a violet dress that exposed her pale shoulders. Abe knew her but couldn’t place her name. He bought time by yawning largely, stretching, clumsily covering his mouth with one shovel-sized hand. She followed suit, her eyes squeezing shut and her pink tongue lapping out like a cat’s. She covered her mouth with one delicate hand.

“Gloriana.”

“I’m surprised you remembered,” she said, but he knew she expected no less.

She stood up, letting her long skirts fall like water around her legs, trying to move with the grace and elegance of a lady.

“Your clothing is hanging on the wall opposite. I’ll leave you t’change.”

“Bring breakfast when you return, will you?”

She made a face at him and left. He dressed quickly in her absence. His clothing was clean, and the elbow of his jacket had been darned and the matching hole in his shirt stitched carefully up. He wasn’t certain if that was the result of Ghullah’s almost obsessive attention to detail and doing things properly or if it was something else, and it bothered him that he wondered. He and Fen had been in the business too long. He was starting to jump at shadows. He sat in the chair Rin had vacated and reached over, touched Fen’s forehead. His skin was sallow and dry, almost papery, the whites of his eyes tinged yellow. His lips were chapped and peeling. There was a reason the pair were jumping at shadows, after all. He reached down and picked one of Fen’s hands up, squeezed it. Fen didn’t respond.

“Aw, come on. Fen, come on. Don’t make me do this alone.”

He bowed his head, closing his eyes, his throat thick.

“C’mon, wake up, you asshole. You don’t get to cut loose that easily.”

The door whispered open and Abe sat up straight again, looking over. He could smell food, and his stomach gave a twist and a lurch and a wet gurgle. A tray came through the door first, held by a boy’s small hands.

“Hey, thanks for bringing that up.”

The boy didn’t respond, focused entirely as he was on the tray and the food on it. His mouth was a grim line, his lips sucked in intense concentration, his brow furrowed. He had reddish brown curls pulled back more or less tidily with a black ribbon at the nape of his neck, and Ghullah’s wide mouth. He didn’t have her fair complection, though, and when he set the tray down he wiped a bit of something off his hands on the seat of his pants, in a gesture Boke had spent three weeks breaking Abe of. His mouth was suddenly dry.

“What’s your name, kiddo?”

“Holobin, but everyone calls me Hob.”

 

751 Words

 

 

100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Four

August23

Abe sat up with Fen until the sun was streaming hot yellow through the open windows and Ghullah brought up a tin plate with a toasted cranberry muffin and another mug of hot kafe, lightened with generous lashings of cream, honey dolloped in liberally. Abe smiled at her, thinly, and rested the plate and mug on the chipped yellow table next to the bed. He looked rough, tired and greasy, his hair hanging limply into his stubbled face. His dark eyes were bruised and shadowed from lack of sleep, and he looked more sallow than swarthy. Ghullah shook her head slowly. Obviously, worrying about the health of the skinny little man curled up in the bed had taken a lot out of him.

“Bennate, go to bed. I’ll have someone keep watch over him.”

“Is it someone you’d trust your life with? Because I don’t want him to die because whoever was watching him got more involved with her embroidery or napping or gossiping with someone else.”

“Oh, Bennate. You’re so very charming. Embroidery and gossip and indulgent mid-morning naps. Do you really think anyone in my employ would slack off on a task I assigned them to indulge in nappery or gossip or…” she chuckled, “embroidery? I think not. Go to bed. If you pass out and fall on the floor, I will leave you there. You’re far too heavy to move.”

He grumbled and shuffled to his feet, picking up the toast and kafe.

“The room next to this one is available. If you leave your clothes and boots in a heap in the hallway, someone will pick them up and clean them. There’s a bath ready for you… I recommend you use it.”

He looked down at himself, wrinkled and mussed, splattered with sick, his shirt stiff with his own dried sweat and also Fen’s, his right cuff and shirtsleeve crusted with brown, dried blood. He looked up at Ghullah suddenly. She hadn’t asked about the blood. It was obviously blood, too, not easily dismissed as spilt chocolate or fruit juice, and she hadn’t asked about it. In fact, she hadn’t asked many questions at all.

“If it’s all the same to you, I could sleep on a pallet in this room.”

Ghullah cocked an eyebrow at him.

“We’d spend the whole time tripping over you, and it would be very inconvenient, and the noise would wake you up every time you drifted off to sleep, but yes… you could sleep on the floor here like a watch dog, if that’s what you truly desire.”

Her upper lip was slightly curled, the way it curled when anyone dared voice an opinion contrary to hers, to go against her orders. Her hair was plaited and knotted in complex patterns, dark red, held in place with jeweled pins. Her fingers were heavy with gold and gemstones, her clothing beautifully tailored. Her stockings were red and white, striped, and she wore no boots, her skirts hiked up and knotted in her belt to suit the stairs she’d climbed to get up to the room. Abe felt shabby and small next to her, but he wouldn’t be cowed.

“I’ll take you up on that bath. Perhaps while I’m cleaning up something could be arranged in here?”

Ghullah shrugged dismissively.

“As you wish, Bennate.”

 

552 Words

 

 

posted under 100 words, belltown, fiction | Comments Off on 100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Four

100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Three

August20

The room was small, spare, and clean. The floorboards were pale oak, small gaps between them, rushes scattered across the top. The bedstead was iron, painted white, with a battered pale yellow table next to it. There was a wardrobe against the wall, its doors mismatched. Abe looked around carefully, warily, as Ghulla turned down the quilt on the bed. The sheets were coarse and thick, a seam down the middle of them, but they looked and smelled clean. Abe lowered Fen into the bed, stripped him of cloak and boots. One of the House servants slipped into the room holding a covered cup. Ghulla took it from her and the servant slipped out as quietly as she came.

“Here. Get this into your friend. It’ll still him, keep his stomach from turning on itself, and let it sleep. Keep a close eye on him, though. Should he still too much he may forget to breathe.”

The slim servant crept back in, carrying a chair and a cushion. Ghulla nodded where she wanted it and the straw-haired girl set it carefully in place.

“It might kill him, you mean.”

“If you don’t watch him? Yes. Yes, it might. The alternative, of course, is him puking himself to near death and whatever poison he ingested finishing him off. Really. Poison. What are you two playing at?”

Abe shook his head, not answering her, and sat in the recently summoned chair. Ghulla handed him the covered cup. It was made of clay, glazed thickly, and was warm in his hands.

“I’ll send someone up with food and kafe in a bit. You take yours white and sweet, don’t you?”

He smiled at her, not meaning to. It just slipped out. He couldn’t help it.

“I can’t believe you remember that.”

She leaned in and brushed her lips across his cheek.

“I remember quite a bit, Bennate.”

She reached up and tousled his hair.

“I remember enough, for instance, that I know I should kick you out of here sooner than have anything to do with you. I also remember that I like have you around. Don’t push too hard, Benny, or I’ll give in to my kicking-you-out urge.”

He chuckled, low and rich and very, very grateful.

“You know I’d never do anything that would separate us for any length of time, oh most beauteous and merciful queen.”

“Ah. I see. That’s why your eyes are brown. It’s because you’re so full of crap.”

He laughed. Fen stirred on the bed, making a noise at the back of his throat.

“See to your friend, Bennate. I’ll check on both of you in the morning.”

“Thanks, Ghu. Thank you.”

She nodded at him and swept out, the long trains of her skirts disrupting the rushes behind her, her bare feet padding silently across the floorboards.

472 Words

 

 

posted under 100 words, belltown, fiction | Comments Off on 100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Three

100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Two

August17

Fen drifted in and out of consciousness despite his best efforts to stay alert and focused. One second he was stumbling up a worn stone staircase, then he was in a large entrance hall, a leather-clad man-giant menacing the pair of them, then there was a dimly lit hall all of dark wood and yellowed paintings. He had no memories linking any of them, no recollection of entering the building, of walking from the entrance to the hall, of talking to the man-giant. The next time he opened his eyes he was pleased to find himself seated in a comfortable leather chair, in front of a blackwood desk the size of a bed. A woman sat behind the desk, a tin plate in front of her. She was eating a plumb the size of a child’s fist, the skin white and lightly freckled with tan, the flesh the dark red of an infected wound. She chomped her way through half of it, slurping at the juice, and then stuck the other half in her mouth. She worked her teeth and jaw and elegantly withdrew the plumb pit, dropping it onto her plate. Fen thought woozily that he expected a woman of her… gravity… to have larger tits.

The woman behind the desk weighed 20 stone if she weighed an ounce, her curly red hair escaping, at this late hour, from the neat bun it had been pinned into that morning. Her visible flesh was as freckled as the plumb she had just eaten, and was pitted also by the fingerprints of pox. A charitable poet might have described her eyes as being like gold coins or amber; a satirist would compare them to the color of piss and perhaps used the term “baleful” in relation to them. She turned those eyes to Abe, setting her tin plate aside with powerful, be-ringed fingers.

“Bennate.”

He nodded to her, answering to the name she hung on him.

“Why have you brought a dying man into my parlor? This isn’t a charity house.”

“I know that, Ghulla. I like him. I’d like him to survive. That’s why I brought him here instead of to a charity house.”

She crossed her arms under her breasts, settling back in her chair. Her skirts rustled as she moved.

“This not being a charity house, I trust you have the money to pay his treatment? I don’t normally rent out rooms, but from the look…” she wrinkled her nose “and the smell of him, this time it’ll be a necessary thing.”

He reached a large hand inside his shirt, fished around, and brought out several small coin purses. He let them drop to the desk, musical clank of coin muffled by the soft kid bags.

“I have florins, tchepen, livres, boule, and qattar. All my money is now in your hands. Should treatment cost less than this small fortune, I trust your grace in returning the remainder.”

“And should treatment run more?”

“I can get more money, Ghulla. There’s always more money to get.”

507 Words

posted under 100 words, belltown, fiction | Comments Off on 100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part Two

100 Words: The Ugliest Whore in Belltown, Part One

August15

Abe hauled Fennik up onto his shoulder, supporting him. He had to stoop to ensure that Fen’s feet still touched the ground. Fen groaned and belched wetly and Abe gently pointed Fen’s face away from him, just in case more vomit was forth coming.

“Ugh. It’s ok. I don’t think there’s anything left in me but the memory of meals past.”

“Well, just in case, I’d rather avoid further befoulings tonight.”

Fen belched again and then doubled over, gagging and retching. Abe helped hold him up. Several minutes of tortured noise produced nothing but a small quantity of pale green slime that Fen spat onto the loose cobblestones of the alley. Abe quietly handed him a once-clean handkerchief and Fen wiped his sticky mouth and chin, blew his nose.

“It’s not getting any better, is it?”

Fen shook his head. The patch of sick he’d spat on the cobbles smelled foul, like infection, like rot. Abe signed and slipped an arm around his thinner, shorter, companion’s back.

“There’s no help for it. I’m going to take you to The Ugliest Whore in Belltown.”

“Abe, as much as I enjoy a good tumble, I don’t think this is something a whore could help with. I don’t think I could focus long enough to make it fiscally worth while.”

“She’s an apothecary.”

“Oh.”

He digested that a bit, the only thing he’d actually digested in two days. His brains were still working, more or less, even if his stomach wasn’t.

“Then why’s she…”

“Why’s she called that? Because she’s also a madam, and the nickname stuck when she got the pox.”

“If every whore who got netherpox was called ugly, we’d soon run out of sobriquets.”

“Not netherpox. Pox pox. What all other poxes fail to truly emulate.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah. Anyway, before that, she was the The Meanest Whore in Belltown.”

“Lovely.”

“Oh, indeed!”

312 words

I have more of this in me, but it’s been Way Too Long since I’ve done a 100 Words piece, so wanted to just start doing it again.