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Union Candy (part 7)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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After the funeral was over, Joe had Finny ride with him back to New Flagstaff. The funeral had upset Finny. Not so much because the broker man had died and his widow and kids were very sad, Finny was ok with that because she lived a life where pretty much everyone she knew had a sad story. Finny was upset about the funeral because she felt that she might have had a part in his death. Maybe the man had died because she had burgled his house and taken all his money, something like that anyway. So, Finny was unusually quiet on the drive back.

Once safely back inside the concrete jungle that was home, Joe pulled the car over and they talked. It took half an hour for Joe to convince Finny that the man had been killed the previous evening and Finny was only retrieving Joe’s chips which were sitting in the broker’s safe prior to the completion of a deal.

Finny turned her own ‘gang leader’ gaze on Joe. The same hard stare that usually worked on Casper, Onetooth… and sometimes even on Worms.

“Did you kill the man?”

Joe suddenly felt he was looking at a little version of Kirsten, or even his mum.

“No. And I don’t know who did, but I’m working on it.”

“Why did I hafta come to the funeral then.”

This was a tricky one and Joe chose his words carefully.

“Well, certain people knew that you were doing ‘jobs’ for me.” He smiled. “Word gets around in this business. So, because everyone was going to be at this guy’s funeral, I thought I’d let them see that you, er, work for me.”

The freckles huddled together around Finny’s nose.

“Why?”

Joe stared at her for a long pair of seconds. Did he tell her that it was so they wouldn’t try and poach her off him? After all, good cat burglars are hard to come by. Or did he tell her the truth? No, not yet.

“Because only our, most trusted associates got to come to this funeral. So, you being there lets everyone know that I’d be very upset if they tried to get you to work for them.”

It was Finny’s turn to hold Joe’s stare for a meaningful pause. She felt the warm glow of Pride tingle through her. But, behind that, Caution was jumping up and down with its hand in the air trying to get her attention. She let Pride have its moment, but she’d have a quite word with Caution at bedtime. In the meanwhile…

“Can I keep the outfit?”

Joe totted up the cost. The plan had been to return Finny’s clothes to Aunty Wainwright for a small rental charge. Well, Aunty had called it small, but it had made Joe’s eyes roll. He looked down into the enormous green eyes of a professional child and sighed.

“Fine, look after it. Funerals are… Well, an occupational hazard.”

They drove back to the junk emporium to pick up Finny’s clothes and then Joe give her the rest of the morning off… all forty-five minutes of it.

It was several weeks later when Joe told Finny that they were going on a little business trip. In the intervening time the orphanage had held it’s annual medical check-ups.

Union Candy is basically a very hard form of fudge. Like seriously hard. You could suck on one of the little 2cm x 1cm x 1cm bricks for half an hour easily, that’s if you’d managed to break it off from the block of twenty that formed the whole candy bar. Union Candy was made up from left-overs from several other food processes. Its malty flavour came from the brewing industry, the hard crystals that helped to give it its near indestructability and gritty texture were burnt sugar residue left over from making more prestigious sweet things. The fat that bound the crystals together, came from various dairy processes combined with emulsifiers and god alone knows what else that had been thrown in there during mixing. Union Candy could never be described as delicious, or even particularly nice. ‘Interesting’ about best summed it up.

The entire orphanage had trooped into the Union medical centre to be weighed and measured, prodded and poked, have teeth and eyes checked and finally injected so many times that an uncomfortable night was guaranteed no matter which position you tried to sleep in. The reward for each of these various stages of indignity was a paper-wrapped bar of Union Candy, each white paper-wrapped bar printed with the logo of a smiling cow’s head set between the UC initials. By the end of the day, each orphan had collected around ten bars of Union candy each, depending on age and gender. Finny had her ten bars, along with sore shoulders and butt from the half dozen needles that had been jabbed into her with what Finny though was unnecessary force.

Although Union Candy wasn’t particularly nice, it wasn’t particularly awful either. So, until an orphan could get their grubby hands on anything better, it would do if you needed something to tide you over to the next meal. However, Union candy’s main role in orphan society, since long before Finny had arrived there, was as a form of unofficial currency. Things, or even services like doing someone else’s chores, became worth so many ‘bars’, ‘half-bars’ or ‘bits’.

But now, with Finny’s newly gained knowledge of the pawn brokering industry, a potential profit-making opportunity presented itself with this year’s supply of rewards from the medical centre. And it didn’t take long for Finny to persuade her three friends to invest their candy in her scheme.

It was doing very nicely, too. Soon, Finny’s little enterprise had brought in enough spare candy so that a lot of it could be turned into actual chips - which worked just as well as candy but could also be spent outside the orphanage. Everyone, then, was a winner. That is until the supply of candy would eventually run out, which Finny had calculated would be in about a month.

This date was fast approaching when Finny got the message from Joe about the trip to Diesel Town.

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

2x1x1   ?  So they are based on Lego, are they so deadly when left on floor also?

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

LOL, probably, but with these kids no food is ever going to reach the floor if dropped.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.



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