The drain grate rattled as he put his weight on it.
“Oh Harold, Harold, Harold. What have we done?”, Harold knelt and dabbed at the bars with a handkerchief.
“Just so, just so,” the cloth came back with dabs of dark red, “just so.”
He heaved himself up and brushed his hands on his jacket, leaving dark stains.
“A new suit when I find you son, least you owe…” it was dark, but the street lights caught the glitter of something piled in a shop doorway. It had the appearance of a sleeping tramp covered in the morning dew. The cane probed gently and with no resistance, instead sinking into the foamy mass of hair and skin. “It seems you already have.”


“Jacob, your repetitive perambulations ache the eyes and offend my roguish spirit.”
Jacob ignored him and knocked on boxes, kicking at barrels and unravelling ropes, throwing off tarpaulins and lids. The wharf had any number of hiding places.
“Nothing is ever found that is looked for in such a desperate manner. One looks, one encounters, and then…” he waved his finger around in the air vaguely, it had been a long night and his performance was somewhat forced. The word never game to him as his thoughts were interrupted by a deep flomp of something heavy hitting the water.
“There’s our man, off like a rock no less. Here we have our encounter, Jacob. Be a good lad and fetch him, the carp won’t leave much for us if you aren’t sharp-sharp about it. Indeed, I can hear the slap on fins all a bother. Don’t you hear me, boysir?”
He extended an arm for Jacob’s jacket, who prepared to rope the floundering escapee.
“Don’t take offence if we leave a toe or hand behind. They take what they can fit in their mouth and no more. They can control their appetites unlike some little street muffins.”
He nodded to Jacob as the the rope went taught, and he started to pull.

Tiny music

The tiny cymbal twings and everyone gasped quietly in between slow sips from their bowls.
“What…” before Anca could get his finger to his mouth a squeal burst from the closest table and spread through the room, each one more distressed than the last, bouncing off the wall like a wave it went back and forth until the clientele were holding their heads and moaning. Anca had closed his eyes. The band had picked up its instruments and were backing away from the writhing crowd who where slowly calming down as the waiters threw blankets over them in silence. One of them stood over me with a raised eyebrow and a look that said he didn’t a street boy’s custom.
“We leave. Take you coat boy before waiter politely ask to maybe consider leaving.”
Crow Milk didn’t effect Anca like the others, the only noticeable change being the raise of a hand and close of eyes when I went to help him up from the floor.
“You don’t touch or talk, you listen to their tiny music.”


“The pigs are loose?”
“And greased.”
“I see,” he released the blue smoke, letting it flow out of him with all his frustrations, as the good leech had told him.
“You’re hitting it hard today.”
He made a point of never answering indirect questions, especially not from a rising puke such as the man across from him was. Instead he dragged at the pipe and chewed the smoke to help him think. He couldn’t see the walls anymore for the thick blue miasma he had created for himself, he could barely see his conversation partner.
“Tell them…” he would work on that, until he was just a bust sticking out of the rolling blue sea, “tell them that the handle has come off and the screw are sheared. We’ll need a cotton wad.”
“Can’t we just kill him?”
The cant had changed in his time, nothing came easy like it used to.

Come by!

“And lo, did Dmitar ascend to the cloud cover and watch, as a shepherd watches his flock, with a benign yet inattentive eye. Pray ye that his divine guides come by, come by.”
As one the auditorium put their fingers in their mouthes and issued a tremendous whistle, followed by a moment of silence while the high ringing settled between their ears. Firenz had been attending the temple of Dmitar since he first acquired his interests in the Bleak, every month on his scheduled trip he would line up at the fence with the herd, as they liked to be called, and wait patiently for the gates to open. He did this with no real sincerity, but the rituals reminded him of his mother. She wouldn’t have approved of his getting tangled with provincial gods.
His ears were still ringing as he raised his arms up and echoed the priest, “Come by.”
“I hear you’re back in the family business.”
The woman had grabbed his arm and held it aloft, bringing them close together. This wasn’t so uncommon in the fevered begging at the end of a sermon, for some to get so caught up.
“I sell cutlery,” he shouted, struggling to be heard.
“Once, always. I know who you are and, more importantly, who you were.”
Mother had a way of spiting her children, even from beyond the grave. She had always said as much but they had hoped that it would die with her, if such a thing was possible.
He was running out of cities.