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Union Candy (part 8)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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It was the longest car trip Finny had ever been on, and it was turning out that way, too, for the two gang members in the cramped back seat of Joe’s Interceptor. Not so much for Joe, because he’d had the pleasure of Tuki’s company on one particular nightmare journey a while back. Don and Kru, however, had never had the experience of being in a car with an, at first, excitable and then, very bored child. Everybody was relieved when Joe’s pride and joy finally turned into the twin white towers at the entrance to Diesel Town.

By mutual consent, the first stop was the wafflehouse where those with the larger bladders, who hadn’t had to stop three times already to pee, were able to relieve themselves while Finny got busy with a bowl of ice-cream the size of her head. While she happily ploughed her way through the desert, the adults discussed business.

Finny listened to them, in-between painful cold-induced headaches. She already knew they were here to deliver ‘certain goods’ and would be taking back ‘certain other goods’. But now, across the table, a mild disagreement as to who should do what was becoming more and more heated, albeit very politely because Joe wasn’t someone you usually argued with. In the end, it was decided that Don would accompany Joe to the rendezvous at a little camp just outside of town, while Kru would chaperone Finny around town until they got back.

In the silence that followed, everyone watched, mesmerised, as Finny’s tongue tried to chase the pink and white ice cream fallout around her face. Kru broke the silence.

“It’s just because I’m a woman, isn’t it?”

Joe and Don did a pretty good job of not smirking as they got up to leave. Joe adjusted his shotty.

“Absolutely not. You’re just the best man for the job.”

Kru snorted.

“Yeah, right.”

Joe followed Don out of the wafflehouse.

“That’s the spirit, Kru.”

Kru sighed and watched Finny finish up the ice cream. The two had never met before but she knew that the little kid sitting opposite with the happy and contented grin on her face, was some kind of prodigy of the boss. She could see the reason why. A teeny-tiny cat burglar could get into places an adult wouldn’t be able to. Before this trip, Ned Flowers had taken Kru to one side and told her to be careful around Finny. Likely in all innocence, Finny would report back to Joe pretty much anything she saw or heard. Ned had also said that if anything happened to the little girl on your watch then there would be a chair in a blood-spattered room waiting for you.

So Kru waited for Finny to finish belching with the best smile she could manage. When Finny finally finished and started looking around her, Kru took it as her cue.

“So what d’ya wanna do kid? Maybe sit here and have another ice-cream? My treat.”

“Nah. Can we explore?”

“Sure.” Kru got up and waited for Finny to slide out of her seat. “Just make sure you stay close; this place has a serious pest problem.”

Finny followed, but only until they had left the building, then Finny was like a puppy on its first walk outside. Running ahead, moving from one thing to another, avoiding the new people. Then she stopped in the middle of the street, between the pumps of the most enormously big gas station she had ever seen, and just turned around and around, taking in the whole vista of the little town.

Kru walked up to her.

“This is the biggest gas station in the province…” She started. But Finny wasn’t listening, at least not to her.

“Listen to all the birds!”

Kru cocked her head. Yeah, birds, so what? But the open-mouthed awe on Finny’s face made her smile.

“You never heard birds before?”

“’Course I have. But there’s like a gazillion!”

Of course, the kid had never been out of NF. The only birds in that shit hole were pigeons, the vermin of the sky. On the drive up here Finny had been overwhelmed by the sight of so many trees and had sat for many gloriously quiet minutes with her nose pressed against the window watching the never-ending green curtain of the forest as it slid by.

They continued their exploration, Kru keeping her charge well away from the known areas of rodent infestation. Eventually, they found themselves around the back of the only other building of note in Diesel Town, a large factory right in the centre. It was here Finny spotted a long row of small blue plastic sheds, each with a door.

“Finny, don’t…”

But the warning came too late. Finny opened one of the doors and then stopped dead in her tracks before slamming it shut again and then slowly turning around, her mouth open and gagging on the smell that had hit her like a fist. Kru laughed.

“Yeah. The locals are used to it but it makes your eyes water the first hundred times or so.”

Finny was still making exaggerated gaging noises as she walked back to where Kru stood at the big delivery door at the back of the factory. Which is when she saw the enormous logo painted high up on the factory wall… a smiling cow’s head between the letters U and C.

“Oh my god!”

Finny’s exclamation had Kru spinning on her heel and reaching for her gun. She moved quickly backwards, scanning the few windows on this side of the building while trying to put herself between Finny and whatever danger had presented itself.

“What?! Where?! What is it?!”

Finny pointed at the logo.

“Look! Union Candy!”

Finny had already darted past Kru and was making a beeline for the office door in the loading bay. Still with no idea what was going on, but pretty sure now that the kid’s life wasn’t in danger, Kru jogged after her.

Finny burst through the door and straight up to the battered counter where the delivery drivers signed in and out. She had to stand on tiptoe, her hands and nose just visible above the counter top. The startled middle-aged woman behind the counter stared at Finny in surprise, and then her eyes widened in shock and she backed away quickly as the pistol toting leather clad young woman rushed in through the still swinging door.

Kru quickly put her weapon away and stood behind Finny, putting her hands firmly on her scrawny shoulders. Kru would have preferred to have them around the kid’s neck at this point, but a vivid image of the lonely chair in an empty room forced her to smile an apology at the counter clerk instead.

“I’m sorry. She gets very excitable.”

The woman behind the counter recovered commendably quickly.

“That’s all right. We sometimes get drivers coming in all het up and bothered over some…” She shook her head. “Anyway, how can I help?”

The answer came from the counter-level head of ginger hair.

“Union Candy!”

The clerk looked bewildered and glanced at Kru for an explanation. Kru just shrugged. Getting no help there, the clerk put on her best smile, the one she used when trying to calm down the previously mentioned angry drivers, and leaned across the counter.

“I’m sorry little girl. We don’t sell candy.”

The clerk couldn’t see anything bellow Finny’s nose poking just over the counter top, so what she got was expressive green eyes accompanied by a soundtrack.

“Yes, you do. Candy bars. The ones in the white wrappers with the cow on them.”

The penny dropped for the clerk.

“Ah. Right.”

She shared another glance with Kru, who was now grinning but still showed no signs of offering help. The clerk took a breath.

“Well, you see, little girl…”

“Finny. My name’s Finny”

“Well, Finny, you see. The thing is, we don’t make candy. We make what are called ‘animal feed supplements’ for animals that are suckling their young.”

“What’s ‘suckling’?”

Behind her, Kru snorted.

The clerk ignored her.

“Well, suckling is when the momma animal lets the baby animal feed on her… teat.”

Kru snorted again. Finny turned her head and gave her a hard stare. Kru stopped grinning, remembering what Ned had said about everything getting back to Joe.

The clerk waited for Finny to turn her attention back away from her companion? Guard? Minder? The clerk didn’t really care but the two of them were making her uncomfortable.

“The bars in yellow wrappers are for goats, brown for cows, green for sheep and… The bars in white wrappers are for, well, pigs.”

Finny’s eyes widened in horror. She stared at the clerk, waiting for the joke to end, but the look on the woman’s face was telling her that she wasn’t kidding. She thought fast. Then made a decision. The kids in the orphanage must never find out about this.

“Can I buy some anyway?”

The condescending smile returned to the clerk’s face.

“I’m sorry, Finny. We don’t sell the supplements to just people, only businesses, like farms.”

Finny didn’t want to let it go. If she could buy a whole load of Union Candy, or whatever it was, then she could keep her business going until next year’s medicals. She had a lightbulb moment.

“But we are a business.” She turned to Kru. “Aren’t we Kru?”

Kru caught on immediately.

“We represent Spivey’s Independent Traders.”

Finny wasn’t sure if the clerk had suddenly gone paler, but she had definately licked her lips and swallowed.

“I see. Well, yes, in that case I suppose… I mean we’d be happy to supply you with… How many boxes?”

Finny was thinking in bars, not boxes.

“How many bars are in a box?”

“One hundred.”

Finny’s heart missed a beat. That was a lot.

“How much is a box?”

“A single box would be 200 chips. If you buy a pallet, that’s twenty-four boxes, then there is a twelve percent discount.

Finny was still doing percentages, but from what she had learned then twelve percent was like a tenth and then a little bit more, which seemed quite a lot. She could probably afford it, but where would she hide twenty-four boxes of candy?

“Um, no. just a box please.”

The clerk nodded nervously and reached for a sale’s form.

Kru coughed.

“Ahem, aren’t you forgetting something, lady? Mister Spivey’s discount?”

Already nervous, now that she knew who these people were, the clerk became flustered.

“Oh yes! Of course, I’m so sorry. Fifty percent discount, silly of me.”

Finny stared at the clerk while her brain tried to do the sums. Fifty percent, that was half. So, half would be 100 chips for a hundred bars. That’s a chip each, and she was already selling bars for 3 chips. That was, a lot more profit. When she got home, she would get a pencil and paper and work it out. Suddenly, she had an awful realisation. Turning, she pulled Kru down to her level and whispered in her ear.

“I haven’t got any chips with me.”

Kru stood back up.

“Just add it to the company account.”

The poor clerk was already nodding.

“Oh, absolutely.”

Then, with the completed paperwork, she disappeared through a rear door into the factory. A couple of minutes later, a cigarette smoking man appeared carrying a large cardboard box.

“Delivery for Spivey’s?”

Realising that four feet and not very much of scrawny nine-year-old wasn’t going to be able to carry the box, Kru sighed and took the it from the man.

“Let’s go and put this in the trunk, shall we? Joe and Don should be back soon.”

A very happy Finny, and a very laden Kru, headed back to where they had parked the car.

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

Will all the orphanage kids get curled tails?

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

Joe Spivey's picture

Maybe, but it's a cheap and sneaky way to fill them full of vitamins and minerals and wotnot.

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

Hyle Troy's picture

"Cheap and sneaky"   synonymous with a certain chap we all know?

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

Joe Spivey's picture

...and love. Synonymous with a certain chap we all know, and love.

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



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