Saturday, November 29, 2014

Where the Night Finds You, Part 3

Beginning of story
Previous part

"So, what did you do for fun in the suburbs, Toby?"

"You know, the usual stuff -- played video games, watched TV, played ball when it was nice out."

"Was your yard nice and big for playing ball in?"

"I suppose, but Dad would have killed us if we played there."

"Really?  Why?"

"Too many windows to break, and we couldn't mess up Mom's flower beds."

"So where did you play ball?"

"There was a nice park just down the block.  All the kids would hang out there on nice days."

"That's cool, Toby."

They had been walking a little while, and Satchel noticed Toby sweating a little in the late summer sun.  Up ahead a little bit was a double-wide, 3-foot tall brick wall along the sidewalk, with a row of trees providing some deep shade.  When they reached it, Satchel asked, "You want to sit down for a minute?"


Satchel reached into his bag.  Toby expected he might pull out another small loaf, but instead he brought out two small bottles.  Toby cocked his head with a puzzled look.  The bottles were made out of glass, with metal lids - a bit uncommon, but not too unusual - but surrounding them was a cocoon of knitted yarn, obviously knitted by hand.  That was something Toby had never seen before.

"You thirsty, Toby?" Satchel asked as he held out one of the bottles.  Toby twisted off the lid and was a bit startled when it popped.  He remembered drinks doing that when he lived in the suburbs, but it seemed like that was ages ago.  Satchel noted with pleasure that unlike the bread earlier Toby didn't hesitate and wait to follow Satchel's lead but instead started drinking immediately.  Toby's eyes grew wide when the drink hit his tongue.  The first thing he noticed was how cool it was, which was very surprising in the middle of the afternoon.  When he thought about it a bit later, he figured that must have been what the knitted things were for, to keep them cool.  But after the coolness, he was reveling in the freshness of the water.  Since coming to the city, thirst had driven Toby to drink just about anything that was less than putrid.  He had learned to live with all kinds of off-tastes.  Toby then realized this water too had a subtle flavor... but it was pleasant.  It was a little sour, a little sweet, even a little salty.  He decided as he finished off the bottle that it was kind of lemony.  That definitely was a new experience, when he was living in the suburbs, the flavors of drinks would be very strong.

A bird with bright blue wings and a white belly flew up to where the pair was sitting and for a second it looked like it was going to land in Toby's lap.  Suddenly after some mad squaking and confused pounding of wings the bird circled round and landed five feet away on the other side of Satchel.  "Hello, Pennington.  How is my favorite blue jay today?"

"Jay Jay!" it cried.

"I know what you want."  Satchel reached into his bag and pulled out what looked like an over-sized wallet.  When he unfolded it, though, inside were a number of pockets of all different sizes, some open, some closed with a flap, some buttoned up, and some tied or cinched with string.  He uncinched one of the larger pocket and pulled out an acorn.  Satchel placed the acorn in the palm of his hand and placed his hand flat on the brick wall.  The jay looked around suspiciously at Toby for a few seconds, then hopped over to Satchel's hand, snatched the acorn in its beak and flew off.

Satchel cinched the pocket back up, folded up the wallet, and put it in his bag.  "You ready to go, Toby?"


Satchel reached out his hand and said "I'll take your bottle."  Toby handed his over and Satchel put both empty containers back in his bag.

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