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Nine (part 1)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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It was a week after The Secret Adventurers had been rescued from the Devil’s Own and the aftermath of Finny’s return had slowly faded into eight stripes of yellowish, blackish, still-sore-if-prodded bruises. ((See: http://fallenearth.rp-haven.com/blog-entry/secret-adventurers-club-second-adventure-part-1

Their story had immediately become the talk of the orphanage, then the factory, and eventually was even being talked about in the various bars of New Flagstaff.

For Finny, the publicity was a very two-edged sword. Amongst her more rebellious peers she was applauded for the sheer audacity of leaving the city and her ballsiness in, not only stealing an actual gun, but killing a bear with it. As for getting punished for the theft, well, that only added to the kudos she got from them.

However, what she gained on the swings of delinquency she certainly lost on the roundabouts of responsibility and good sense. Finny’s more sensible peers now seemed to distance themselves from her. Nor did the littler kids come to her so often for advice or help, and both these reactions bothered Finny. What got to her even more than these though, was that, especially from the younger kids, some of them now actually seemed afraid of her.

Consequently, Finny started to remove herself from the company of other kids at the orphanage. Instead of playing in the dump, or hanging with Casper, Onetooth and Worms, Finny found herself more and more visiting the bookshop where, in return for some dusting and sweeping, Mr. Trent allowed her to sit quietly at one end of the counter and read until she had just enough time to get back to the orphanage before lock up.

This had not gone unnoticed.

In the days since the debacle that was the second adventure of the Adventurer’s Club, the Reading Group in Joe’s office had turned into a depressing affair. Finny had become quiet and withdrawn. So much so that the three boys were increasingly sullen, confused and more than a little lost without their leader’s involvement and, well, leadership.

Joe had tried to snap her out of it but her failure, as Finny saw it, was weighing heavily on the eight-year-old’s shoulders. By the end of the fourth day Joe couldn’t get much enthusiasm out of any of them and the office clock now ticked loudly in the depressing silence. Finny was in a funk and it was affecting everyone.

That night, at home, Joe and Kirsten were together in the lounge. Kirsten was finishing off her own business correspondence using a dark brown leather writing case with high quality paper while Joe, who tended to do most of his correspondence on the back of beer mats in bars, was nursing a thickening pile of reports on the whereabouts of Scott Moreland, AKA ‘Gunman’, AKA the likely candidate as Finny’s father. He made notes of useful information, not that there was much of it because Gunman seemed to me making efforts not to be found. However, there was one piece of information that had got Joe thinking.

Even after he and Kirsten had finished their after-work work and were just enjoying being together it was obvious to Kirsten that something was nagging at Joe. Eventually, his distraction became too much.

“Joe! I am going to buy you a rubber bone.”

Dragged from his thoughts, Joe looked up.

“Huh? Why?”

“Because you are too old to be grinding your teeth like that.”

Confused about Kirsten’s seemingly random chatter about teeth and bones, Joe frowned and tried to catch his train of thought before it left the station.

Kirsten rolled her eyes.

“Joe.”

“What?”

“That means we talk about whatever is causing you to sit there like an over wound clock. Right?”

Joe opened his mouth to speak. Then closed it again. Then opened it again, this time raising a finger. Then he seemed to deflate before trying again. The pained look on his face was so pitiful that Kirsten knew she had to put him out of his misery before he sought solace in grumpy silence.

“Joe! What is it?”

Joe’s face contorted into such an expression of pained confusion that for just a moment Kirsten thought he was about to tell her that he was dying, or worse… flat broke. Joe’s shoulders slumped, it was a dilemma beyond his understanding.

“What do you buy a nine-year-old for its birthday?”

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

(( 'er indoors....  heh.. What would he be without her hmm?  :D

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

Lance Striker's picture

(( You buy them a fake beard, of course, it amplifies the brooding.

Lonely are the brave...



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