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Midway Manifestations
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-Patch-
Wyrmling
Wyrmling


Joined: 21 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Summer was right around the corner, its arrival hinted at with the longer days and rising mercury in the few thermometers scattered about the dusty lot that the Crossroads Carnivale had staked out for itself on the outskirts of town. Rides were going up with rapid effectiveness, colorful tents pulled from the backs of big rigs and dusted off before being thrown up like the feathers of some wild peacock advertising to any who might take notice while the sounds of power saws growled through the air to join the scent of freshly cut wood for the gaming booths, the pounding of hammers adding their staccato and making the entire lot feel alive, as if the carnival was some giant, living organism coming to life after a long winter's hibernation.

Big rig trucks loitered in a long line, their engines rumbling in idle while air conditioners blew a little cool air into the cabs in a vain attempt to chill both the temperature and the drivers’ tempers. Time was money and both were being wasted.

“What’s the hold up, Mick? Ya jamming me way up. We wait any longer an Lucille’s gonna go ballistic about Rufus.” A lean figure shouted as he approached the lead truck. Eyes were tucked away beneath a Trilby hat, though even at a glance Mick knew who the figure was.

“Whaddya want from me eh?” The driver shouted back and gestured through the windshield at a gaggle of back yard boys and gazoonies milling around with hands in their pockets. “I got no clue what these jokers are doin…say they ain’t lettin no trucks through till they talk to Benny.”

Patch pulled himself up onto the side of the rig by the side-view mirror and leaned forward to get a better view of the problem. “What you hauling, Mick?” Patch asked with a glance of antique bronze colored eyes back at the flatbed.

He'd had a real name at some point but it'd been traded in like tickets at the frog toss in exchange for the nickname that everyone knew him by. Patch was the carnival's fixer...didn't matter the problem, he had the solution whether it was paying cops to the look the other way, cooling down townies after getting burned on a hot game and all the way down to managing the different personalities within the eclectic group of carnies. Consequently, Patch had a lot of juice amongst the carnival workers and served as a kind of go between with Benny and management on one end and the actual workers on the other.

“Bunch o pig iron for the Dragon.” Mick answered and reached up to adjust his ball cap. “God damn Benny…I bet they’re thinking this is a red light job…that Benny’s gonna stiff em.” Grumbled as he picked up a Styrofoam cup to spit a healthy amount of dip from his mouth and then tugged on the line for the horn which blared its angry blast at the crowd. “Thought you had us staked out already, Patch?” Mick asked with a look over to Patch after a moment more of scowling at the assembly of day laborers and new workers blocking his convoy’s way.

“Easy now.” Patch drawled as the horn blared a second time. “It’s already burning out…ain’t gonna get any cooler with you blowin steam like this. You’re been staked out since before the jump, Mick.” Patch answered with a reassuring nod, an indication that Mick had already been given his spot within the carnival. Patch’s easy going croon combined with those heavy lidded eyes to give the appearance of a man who was never rattled, never knocked off his game. “Your loc’s set up just past Big Eli over there.” Pointing though the windshield to a large area of vacant space marked off with wooden stakes and neon construction ribbon fluttering in the hot breeze. Big Eli, the carnival’s Ferris Wheel, was already up and used as a visual reference for everything else within the grounds of the carnival.

“Tell you what…how bout I have a talk with Jingles…let your cut in on the gennys for a couple nights no charge?” Patch referencing the carnival’s juice man, Jingles, who controlled all the generators and power supply. Each carny cut into the power supply for a fee with the bigger pulls, like the Dragon, requiring bigger fees.

“Oh yeah?” Mick asked with a glance back Patch’s way, a little tick at the corner of his grizzled mouth threatening to bloom into a grin. That it didn’t was because Mick was a hard bitten former bail bondsman from Norfolk who’d traded in chasing skips to travel the roads with the Carnival. The way Mick told it was that getting shot at a second time was more than enough warning to move on and find something new.

“Yeah…you’d be doing me a favor by not running over my work force.” Patch answered with a grin of his own. The Dragon was a big draw for the carnival and Mick already had a short fuse to begin with. Patch didn’t need him or his crew simmering before the first townie even queued up. So if it meant shuffling one favor for another then so be it. That was the name of the game at the end of the day anyway.

“Sounds good.” Mick spoke and spit another load of dip into his cup…his way of saying thank you without actually using the words.

Patch gave a nod and hopped down from the side of the rig and Mick watched the fixer stroll forward towards the gaggle of workers. He didn’t hear the words but saw Patch give a few sharp gestures and the gaggle exploded with movement, workers scurrying in all directions to scatter like sheep from the wolf. Mick reached up to give a tug on the horn, the double blare a sign to his crew as well as another show of thanks. Mick’s lead truck groaned as he downshifted and tapped the accelerator, a cloud of sooty smoke billowing up from the stacks as he pulled forward and wheeled around Big Eli to his assigned location.

"You certainly be puttin da ghosts in dem boys, Patch.” Andre’s booming timbre shot through with that unique Caribbean patois sounding from in front of his own ride, the large man watching Patch at work and puling the fixer’s attention his way. “You be tinkin we have a good season, Patch-mon?" Andre asked while dabbing at his brow with his handkerchief. It promised to be a hot one and already sweat was forming on the islander's brow. He tucked the cloth away into a back pocket of his jeans before wiping a hand across his white tank top, ebony skinned muscles rippling within the large frame as he lifted a bottle of Red Stripe beer to his lips.

"We're on the lot...not quite in the air yet. First stop always sets the tone for the season." Patch answered as he joined Andre on the railing . He reached up to tip the brim of his Trilby back up his brow with a thumb, heavy lidded bedroom eyes rolling up the growing skeleton of Andre's ride, the yardies crawling all over it like angry ants to drive pins into place and leverage heavy pieces of steel into their proper arrangement. "So here's hopin so." Patch lifted a hand rolled cigarette and ran the paper back and forth along his tongue before sealing it tightly and placing it between his lips.

“Bitch’ll be done by dusk.” Boz’ almost feral growl announcing his arrival and that his ride, the Tilt-A-Whirl, would be assembled while making the duo of Patch and Andre a triumvirate. The giant gave a glance towards Andre’s ride and smirked. “Slow goin eh, Dre?” The two ride jocks had a healthy competition going in almost everything.

“Dats cause you been poachin da best yardies.” Andre answered with a teeth gleaming grin. “Been meanin ta tell dat to da Patch.”

“You boys settle your own disputes for once, eh?” Patch joked with the carnival veterans, that cigarette dangling from between his lips as he fished a book of matches from his shirt pocket.

“Don be meanin nothing, Boz mon…da gates open at da same tick tock…den we be seein who havin da long lines.” Andre lifting his bottle to his lips for a healthy pull as Boz reached into the cooler and grabbed two for himself.

“Lots of fresh faces this year.” Boz observed while turning that scarred visage over the flurry of activity out on the Midway while twisting the top off one of his bottles.

Carnival life could be transient with new faces appearing at dawn only to disappear by twilight, the decision made that the work was too hard, the pay wasn’t enough. Others might last a season and never show up in the new year having decided that life on the road just wasn’t as romantic or adventurous as the movies made it seem. Consequently, those like Patch who were with it and for it, those that had made this life their own saw tremendous turnover over the years.

“Mmmhm.” Patch sounded through pursed lips as he pulled the matchbook free and struck a match only to see it get snuffed out in a gust of wind. He peeled another free and struck it against the book, touching the burgeoning flame to the end of the cigarette and sucked down an initial drag. “We lost a couple geeks, Birdie that ran one of the flat joints…she got knocked up…Thump…apparently doing a couple of years hard time…” Patch gave a shrug as he listed a few more names Boz and Andre might know. His loyalty didn’t extend beyond the lot and the fixer had little time for those no longer with the life. “So Benny’s got a weed up about staffing…you know the drill…money this, overhead that…” Patch’s drawl was a bored as the look in his sleepy eyes.

“Someone actually knocked up Birdie?” Boz asked, an incredulous look bordering on disgusted on his face which he promptly tried to wash down with a quaff of Red Stripe.

“Thought it mighta been you after Benny had us burn down the lot once those do-gooders came out to protest.” Patch chuckled around another drag from his smoke, his reference to a rather infamous incident within the carnival that saw Benny giving the green light on all sorts of rigged games and other shenanigans in response to heavy heat from the locals. Andre joined in, the deep rhythm of mirth making it impossible for Boz to scowl too long.

“We were all ripped that night.” Boz tried vainly to defend himself.

“Aint being enough Red Stripe in all da world for dat, Boz mon.” Andre adding through his laughter.

“So Benny’s got you looking for new faces eh?” Boz, now red faced, attempted to steer the conversation back away from his past antics.

“Got us a new fortune teller up from New Orleans…goes by La Roque.” Patch confirmed, a nod towards the black tent already up in Big Eli’s shadow. The other two glanced that way as well, all three of the life-long carnys sharing similar looks of varying uncertainty. They’d only caught glimpses of the soothsayer as he went about his business alone and apart from the other carnys.

"Speakin of dem fresh faces, I been hearin dem rumors...dey flyin round a Midway like jay birds..." Andre nodding towards Patch, the topic purposefully shifting away from La Roque and to a carny’s favorite: gossip.

"Yeah?" The antique shine of Patch's eyes shifted to Andre as he blew an exhale out away from the group. "What are the birds sayin now?" Patch always had a moment to listen to rumors and hearsays, especially if it was coming from those he trusted.

"Dat we be takin on a special someone new dis year. A lil filly be joinin her brotha."

“I heard that one too, Dre.” Boz commented, his first bottle already half empty as he turned to judge Patch’s reaction.

Patch remained quiet for a moment, a seemingly annoyed flicker glinting across the almost lazy look of his eyes. He'd already heard this rumor from the boss' mouth directly. Isaac's sister was joining the carnival and Benny had nominated Patch to be her caretaker; Benny’s simple instruction: Find a place for her. "Heard that one..." Blowing an exhale of smoke and reaching down into the Styrofoam cooler for a beer himself.

Andre watched as the almost always affable Patch seemed annoyed and shared a look with Boz.

"Benny wants me to take her under my wing...show her the grounds." Patch’s answer was true enough. There was no need to go throwing dirt in Benny’s eye by letting it slip that the boss was pushing things on Patch that the fixer didn’t necessarily agree with.

"Benny no be wantin da knife mon for dat?" Andre asked, curious and thirsty for gossip as the next carny. Patch threw Andre a look as he asked about Isaac. He was one of the Showmen and their attractions were enough to get the carnival off the nut in no time...consequently they had a tendency to run their own show within the show.

"You wanna tell Isaac to take time from his show?” Patch asked while sipping his beer, the bronzed gaze returning to the rising skeleton of Andre's ride. “Aint no way Benny’s gonna mess with the tip Isaac gets outside his stage.” Patch confirming that Isaac’s routine was a big draw, grossed a heavy percentage of the carnival’s total take a night. Patch and Isaac had a quiet understanding…Isaac didn’t make waves and Patch wouldn’t have to swing by his tent. The unspoken arrangement worked well for both men. “Don’t matter…I got her booked for two weeks fore she bails the counter and quits.”

“I’ll take that bet.” Boz gave a low whistle of approval before elbowing Patch and then nodded over towards where Dixie had set up her floss stand. "Got nice stems. I'd take a whirl if Isaac wouldn't cut my throat."

The carnival’s resident gossip queen had established her court along what would become the main drag of the Midway, best way to make a few ducats as well as keep an eye on any juicy developments. Dixie was famous for two things: cotton candy…known as floss amongst the carnys and knowing everything about everyone no matter the subject or secrecy. No doubt she was already keeping tabs on the trio across the way. Dixie’s floss cart was already hot and spinning sugary strands for any of the carnival workers who might fancy a bit of spun sugar. Her blue gray hair was tied down under a colorful babushka, her eyes enigmatically hidden behind a pair of large, dark sunglasses. But what drew Patch’s attention was the diminutive brunette in a yellow sundress casually pulling a bit of sugary sweetness to her lips.

“Cho,” Andre exclaimed and looked to Boz. “Dah breddah be crushin…don be ah goin dere else you gonna end up skewered on knife mon’s shiny blades.” Andre chuckling and shaking his head, that handkerchief dabbing at his brow again as he took a pull from his bottle. Boz seemed to bristle at being called out for staring and puffed his size up a notch or two in response to Andre’s jabs. “Whatcha be tinkin, Patch…”

Patch continued to watch the girl, eyes squinted with little white creases forming at the corners of his eyes from a life spent in the sun as he studied her, reading her from head to toe from the way she moved and interacted, noting all the little flairs and ticks that made each soul unique.

“I think she looks like the first of May.” Patch drawled after a moment, heavy lidded bedroom eyes roaming back to Andre and Boz as he pushed an exhale through both nose and mouth; the moniker denoting someone who was brand new to the carnival but could, on occasion, carry a few other meanings as well. Patch put the cigarette up to his lips for another drag, seeming to dismiss the two women for the moment. "I give her two weeks."

“True…True…she be greener den Eden, but dat only cause she dun have Patch showin' her da ropes jus yet. Who bedda den you ta be showin her how we be doin tings here on da Midway?" Andre teased, knowing Patch was about as slick as they came and didn’t like to be slowed down in any way.

Patch’s smirk formed in response to Andre’s words, a lopsided affair that hung for a moment before evaporating into something harder. “Break’s just about over, no?” Patch’s croon carrying a bit of implied warning there. Nothing too serious, just a reset of boundaries and expectations that came as easily as the lazy back and forth of before. “Lemme know if you boys need something...I’m gonna make some rounds…Gunner’s no doubt got himself tied up in knots over at the Glass House…they break another mirror and he might just keel over.” Clinking bottles with Andre and Boz before pushing off the railing to drift down the Midway.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Hedonist’s gait was that of a slow stroll as he prowled along the empty streets of the West End. Its run down thoroughfares dotted here and there with stubborn signs of life, the depressed and downtrodden nature of its neighborhoods standing silent sentinel to the slow strangulation of hope and opportunity. Ah…but what a rich vein such a place was. Where others saw only dwindling and drain he saw profit and gain, chaos and enjoyment.

A covetous smile tugged at the corners of his generous mouth as he gave himself over to such thoughts. The settings changed but the story remained the same…so many were so willing to indulge when finally faced with the prospect of ruin. Distraction was the drug of choice in such a place and the Hedonist peddled the purest forms of such addictions. It was on that razor’s edge between hope and finality that he played his carnal games, indulged in and crafted fantasies so wanton that the grand board upon which all the pieces moved was often obscured behind a libertine mask of constant and manufactured bliss.

He promenaded through the fog as the old bell tower sounded the arrival of the witching hour with its successive clanging reaching out across the night to announce the passage of time to an empty audience. The onyx cane capped with a leering lupine bust sounded its own faineant message as the Hedonist paused at a wide intersection. The West End had a peculiar way of blurring his Sight. The myopic return sparking a certain inquisitiveness within him that had caused him to tarry and learn the lay of the land on foot.

There was no true path before him with one direction as good as another. The illusionist La Roque having made contact, an abstruse message requesting a meeting in the West End. A rueful glance skyward as he chose left as opposed to right and resumed the gentlemanly stroll until he heard a rattling sound drifting towards him, its sound within the fog like that of a song whose name stayed just out of the mind’s reach…ever present but never truly possessed. His curiosity piqued, the Hedonist continued to drift towards the sounds while taking note of the tremors which seemed to silently vibrate through the rare pane of glass. He was aware of the rules though they chafed against him like a too heavy yolk. He was just satisfying his own temptations…could one such as he truly be blamed for such a thing?

“A rather curious location for a meeting.” Prurient prose tinged with amusement announcing his arrival as the Hedonist stood at the opening of an alley, the wan light devoured with a sense of gluttony just a few feet within the alley’s depths as if the darkness itself possessed an unsatisfied and gnawing hunger. One could sympathize as his own hunger continued unabated, one temptation satisfied split into a desire for two and so forth to form an exponential chain of desires. Chartreuse colored eyes prowled beyond the terminator of light and darkness, peered into the abyss to make out a hooded figure standing alone at the back of the alley.

“The carnival has too many prying eyes.” The figure spoke and cast his right hand out over the metal, the vibrating sound filling the negative space between the two figures, rattled like the tail of a warning serpent. “Both natural and otherwise.” The voice gravelly and disembodied as it sounded from behind a macabre gossamer mask that, when viewed a certain way, transposed a ghostly, seemingly holographic skull which obscured his true features.

“I have seen the darkened Carousel, its lacquered menagerie still and silent.” Leonine eyes glancing about the alley, the collection of refuse and detritus standing as silent evidence of the disrepair common to this part of the city. The Hedonist answered as he stopped short of La Roque’s position and cast his eyes downward to see a collection of bones glistening upon a metal pan in the twilight of the narrow alley. “You were supposed to be my eyes within the carnival. I have yet see a return on that investment, Illusionist.” The Hedonist’s temper beginning to simmer just beneath the surface in the face of such a delay.

“The world turns on its own timetable…not yours.” La Roque’s chimerical baritone sounding as he gathered the bones into his hand and cast them back across the metal, the bleached white rawness clashing against the blackened metal. Masked eyes were sent downward in study, La Roque seemingly reading their orientation as if it was guided by something other than physics and chance.

“Then you must also know that this sudden departure and sequestration are of great inconvenience to me.” There was a spark of annoyance within that wanton timbre, a subtle vibration rippling through the few panes of glass remaining in a nearby shop window. “As are cryptic words in dark alleys.” A dismissive flick of golden green eyes back to the masked figure, the Hedonist beginning to turn the iron band along a finger, fingers tracing over the etched scorpion design laid within the metal. “Where has she gone?”

“The fires throughout the city proved too great a temptation for what is housed within her.” The bones cast again, the pattern the same as the last throw and the one before that. “I am forbidden from answering that question.” La Roque intoned, the vibration of his voice unchanging in the face of the Hedonist’s obvious annoyance. “There are rules more ancient than anyone walking this plane which must be followed. The balance must be maintained.”

“Rules are for those too weak to forge their own path, for those too blinded by belief in things larger than themselves.” Heterodox words of one who knew better but had made his choice long ago. “If it weren’t so, it wouldn’t feel so good to break them.” The Hedonist’s libertine words meant to tempt La Roque, entice the figure with the promise that the prohibited was nothing more than fantasy, self-made shackles of weak and rusted chain that could so easily shatter.

“Rules are meant to be understood.” The Illusionist corrected. “It is in your nature to resist such sentiments yet it does not alter the Truth.” La Roque countered and scattered the bones again. “You fail to find that whom you seek because you have blind spots, places that even you cannot peer into…not without assistance.

“Mmm…” The Hedonist’s tone one of sensed opportunity as he deciphered the Illusionist’s words. “One only needs an understanding if they wish to circumvent them.” The golden green smear of his eyes led his hand to the metal, scattered the bones into a new pattern. “There are always exceptions…even in the most ancient of books.”

“There are doorways able to transcend this world for the other, loopholes to peer beyond the limitations of flesh and blood.” La Roque agreed, his masked face slowly turning to interpret the new pattern, the change in orientation reflecting the changes being wrought by this very conversation. “Though I caution against them.”

“And you’ve found such a…loophole.” The Hedonist surmised, unwittingly falling victim to his own nature as he leaned forward in servitude of his own temptation while ignoring the warning in its entirety. “What is it…this loophole?”

“You ask the wrong question…” The deep, soporific cadence of La Roque’s voice pulling even the Hedonist into its dreamscape. La Roque produced a playbill from the Shanachie Theater. The illusionist handed it to the Hedonist. “The question is whom?”
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"What are you doin back here, Sweeps?" Patch's croon a slow drawl of curiosity rather than accusation as he came into the canvas tent which housed the carousel. The fixer's burnt bronze gaze falling upon the elderly man as he sat on the floor of the carousel only after the sweet smell of the man's pipe had given him away.

When alive, the carousel held a certain hypnotic power over those who ventured past it. The dazzling lights and music combining with the uniquely carved and painted animals to create an almost mesmeric allure...as if the carousel itself was beckoning. Even dark as it was and had been, it still held a faint, raw magnetism about it. Patch could feel it, the restrained, dormant energy almost humming within the brass and iron, the polished and painted wood.

"Huh? Oh..." Sweeps looked up with a startled look and fumbled with the pipe he'd been puffing on. "Al-A-Ga-Zam, Patch." The use of such a venerable catch phrase revealing that Sweeps had been with it far longer than Patch had been alive. "Like ta come here...puff me pipe and sit with the beautiful beasts." Placing the pipe back in his mouth before he reached up to give a deferential pat to the lion which silently roared above him, the lacquer still shining despite the wan light which snuck through the gaps in the tent covering the carousel.

"It's a fine attraction." Patch agreed. He'd been out supervising the loading of the various rides and amusements the yardies had assembled for the flat beds. He'd ventured into the tent for a bit of shade and a few moments reflection on the morning meeting with Benny. The groan of engines and shouts as cranes swung whole sections of pig iron about could still be heard beyond the canvas rustling of the tent walls. Patch's eyes roamed over the menagerie, their hooded gaze drawn towards the black wolf which seemed forever frozen in a powerful, slinking stalk of some unseen prey. It reminded him of a story his grandfather once told him...

"No word from Fia eh?" A quiet puff. "Miss that girl." Sweeps' words pulling Patch's attention back to the present.

"Not yet." Patch answered as he fished out some rolling papers and a little bag containing his own special blend of tobacco. "You know the life, Sweeps." Speaking while sprinkling and filling the paper. "Fia's a trouper...she'll always have a spot here once she's sorted out whatever needed sortin." Licking and rolling the paper as he, too, wondered where the Firestarter had gotten off to. She'd tried to get Patch to ride the carousel more than once, those mismatched eyes almost challenging the fixer, though he'd always deferred with a drawled promise of 'next time'.

"Shame." Was all Sweeps had to say and quietly puffed his pipe before clearing his throat and glancing up at Patch. "But since you're here...was wonderin if you be havin a job for me this jump?" The old timer's voice almost cracked, that hopeful little lilt protecting a nugget of pride that no amount of bad luck or time could ever wear down.

Sweeps was an old timer in every sense of the word. That white beard stained with just a bit of yellow from the pipe tobacco was always quick to part and reveal a gap toothed smile of grandfatherly gentility. He'd been an agent at one point running a two way joint that could be run fairly or rigged. Sweeps was too ducky to gaff it and the beef it caused got him fired. By then, time had taken its toll, bent his body over and gnarled his fingers to the point that any all day and night kind of work taxed him to the brink. As a result it was almost impossible for him to pull a full time gig these days. He'd earned the name Sweeps at the Crossroads as he spent most nights walking the midway with head down, spectacled eyes sweeping the ground for loose change.

"What kind of work you lookin to do?" Patch's lethargic croon sounding as he lit his cigarette with a strike of a match and tipped his trilby up on his brow with a thumb. He'd brought Sweeps to the Crossroads out of respect for the man and his career; had ignored Benny's bellyaching about it for the last few seasons too.

"Whatever's available." Sweeps answered, aware Patch had a job to do and wouldn't carry his weight even if Sweeps would have allowed it.

"Finch is always needin help with the Zamps. Ain't exactly strong...but it beats carrying the banner." Patch offered and was greeted with a nod and a smile from Sweeps.

"Them punk rides always push a carny hard...be nice ta get back in the game. Me and Finch go back a bit too. Thanks Patch." Lifting his pipe in a little salute before standing with a bit of a groan and a dusting off his tweed vet and making an adjustment to a bow tie that never would stay straight. "Ain't true what the others be sayin about ya." The joke offered with a little wink.

"Don't be thinking you're gonna slick me having a bit of sympathy, Sweeps." Patch answered with a dilatory smile, a turn of his head over his shoulder when he heard the tent flap get pushed aside.

"How we doin, Patch?" The question launched from behind the fixer's lazy lean against the carousel pole. Its owner another old timer who'd been with Patch for years and the show even longer...a real with it and for it trouper.

"Any better and we'd be twins." The indolent drawl matched the movement of the fixer's hooded eyes as he gave a nod to the man who came to join him and Sweeps at the carousel.

"Sweeps...ya old gig artist." Said with a grin for the grey beard as he teased.

"Be cool now, Rooster." Sweeps answered in kind with a mock warning. A little puff on his pipe revealed that gap toothed grin. "Gonna go find Finch...got some ideas for them flat rides he runs. Stay on that grind Rooster." A parting shot of humor for Rooster as Sweeps gave Patch another nod turned for the tent flap, his parting words implying Rooster lacked the skill to be a true talker.

The humor came from the fact that Rooster was arguably the best talker the carnival had. Man could build and freeze a masterful tip with a bally that would clean the Midway and leave even the most stubborn of rubes parted with their cash. And that was why he worked almost exclusively for Isaac's routine...Rooster got a percentage of the gross from the show and Isaac's show was often the biggest draw. The man was also a notorious story teller; his ability to cut up jackpots was legion amongst the carnies. Sure, such war stories were full of tall tales and embellishments but it didn't matter when the liquor was flowing and the pockets full after a strong day.

Rooster gave a grunt and leaned forward to spit his tobacco on the dirt floor and gestured with a tattooed finger towards Patch's cigarette. "Those things'll kill ya." Grinning and turning a weathered face with permanent crows feet up over the carousel. "Haven't been barnstormin in ages." Referring to the off-season jump Benny seemed hell bent on making. "Didn't know I missed it till I got yer call." Another spat of tobacco to the dirt and Rooster was wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand.

Sharp eyes missed nothing as they roamed over the carousel and her wild things. "Ain't right ta keep her boxed up like this." The rounding boards, the carousel's panels which made the famous crown, were stacked up off to the side. The highly decorative boards added the flash with painted scenes, mirrors and lights...but now all they seemed to do was collect dust and leave the old girl's guts exposed up above.

"Wasn't expected." Patch answered, the two words answering the barnstorming and the carousel comments. Patch gave a bit of a wistful smirk for the cigarette bit, appreciative of such an ironic sense of humor. "Think Benny's still bit about last season...said we barely got off the nut." It was a guarded line from the fixer.

He'd met with the boss earlier that morning and Benny had been a bit more excitable than usual. Pacing back and forth in his trailer, a stack of ABAs on his desk. The commercial traveler's cheques were often used in the carnival world...often purchased under an assumed name and carried in place of cash to slip the bank's eagle eye on transactions. Not out of the ordinary, but something had made Patch's blood itch hearing Benny press on the need to turn money quickly. His grandfather had cautioned him during his days on the reservation to always be mindful of such a feeling...would say the spirits were dancing in his blood for a reason and they'd keep doing so, more and more, till they were listened to.

It had seemed like Benny was running from something...and taking his carnival with him.

"That a fact?" Rooster asked, blading his body towards Patch after stepping up onto the carousel to lean against the rump of a beautiful chestnut stallion. Fingers which sported several other tattoos which bled up to his hands and beyond tracing the intricate lines of the horse's tail. Man had more tattoos than some of the freaks at the sideshow.

Patch knew Rooster knew a yarn when he heard one and gave the man a measured look. The fixer was aware at how superstitious all carnies tended to be and knew if he expressed any misgivings he had to Rooster they'd inevitably spread like the Clap throughout the show. "That's what the man said." Patch answered honestly and gestured to the tent flap where the shouts and hollers of the roughies and yardies continued unabated. "Hence the smaller, greener crew...tryin to keep the burr small for this short run."

Patch's drawl made enough sense for Rooster not to press the issue. Man had been around long enough to know some things were best left to those at other levels. Truth of the matter was he trusted Patch far more than anyone else. "You heard from the Lil General yet?" Asking about the advance man who was responsible for making sure everything was ready when the convoy rolled into town. Rooster asking for both he and Isaac as he knew the knife thrower would have certain expectations.

"Yeah...called me bout an hour ago. Says he's got a spot picked out and a couple of cake eating sponsors to back us." Patch pulling on a slow drag from the last bit of his cigarette and dropping the remnants beneath the toe of his boot.

"I do love me the church groups." Rooster grinned and pushed off the stallion. "I'm off to go see if Lucille needs any help with Rufus. Big boy ain't be liking tha heat an Red'll be in a twist."

Patch chuckled and gave a bow of his head as he reached up to adjust the trilby. "Don't get bit." The slow croon holding a lick of implication within its timbre as the caution was meant to warn against Rufus and Lucille.

Patch watched as Rooster spat his tobacco and just grinned before turning to out to where the trucks were lining up. He felt that itch in his blood again and cleared his throat to call after Rooster. "Hey Rooster...fifth of your favorite bottle for any heads up out there." Patch alluding to any sense of trouble which might be picked up out on the Midway.

"You worried bout beef?" Rooster asked. "Anything I see'll come straight to you." Reassuring the fixer with a two fingered salute from his brow.

"Always...why none of you cappers want my job." Patch smirked and returned the salute, eyes roaming over the wolf once again while he tried to source that blood itch and put it to rest once and for all.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Gonna be a great run...got the dates all lined up, sponsors in our pockets...already gave the boys the okay to burn the lot fore we jump to the next town." Benny pitched his own version of a bally quickly. He always did when he was nervous. "Got my advance man and fixer already supervising the set up. Yes sir...gonna be a real red one." The pitch was meant to reassure the three men who sat opposite the carnival boss. "I gotta tell you...finding you guys was like mana from Heaven...you want anything to drink?"

The three men were positioned opposite Benny's cluttered and disorganized desk, two standing though the important one sat in the worn out, age faded chair...the other two were there only to keep watch. An amused smirk developed upon macerated features as Benny mentioned the realm above; fingers absently picking at a flaking piece of old, worn pleather on the arm of Benny's good chair as he listened. He glanced up as the carnival boss finished speaking, a certain lambent polish lighting aurelian colored eyes. "Is that so?" He coveted a drink but instinctively knew whatever swill the carnival boss had on hand would hardly satisfy. "You had numerous debtors..." Fingers returning to picking at the chair as if the peeling, sun dried covering were a recalcitrant scab. "Consolidating them into a single debenture was no small feat." The man produced an esurient smile as he paused, the expression rising to the halcyon glint within eyes that sparked with malicious avarice. "Fortunate that I am as persuasive as I am generous. You would be wise not to conflate such traits with tolerance or leniency. You will be turning a profit soon, yes?" The word, one of his favorites, oozing like molten gold from the mouth of the modern-day Croesus.

Benny cleared his throat as the man spoke, noted the way the man's canines showed when he smiled like a stalking wolf, forever hungry. "Of course." Benny reassuring the first question while feeling a thin sheen of sweat breaking out on his bald scalp. He had been desperate...running from loan sharks and bookies who meted out a kind of justice that Benny didn't have the pain tolerance to withstand. So, when the money had been offered with a promise for Benny to retain ownership of the carnival he'd leapt without looking.

Now he looked though. Looked and saw the lean figure sitting opposite him as one who might be worse than all of those loan sharks put together. A life long carny, Benny could read people when not blinded by desperation or...greed. The man looked almost gaunt...as if something had gnawed upon him incessantly from the inside yet Benny felt that rawboned appearance merely skinned something much more potent and forceful.

"Profit...profit...yes...yes...in no time. We get off the nut, file down the burr with a smaller crew and you'll get your end in no time." Benny blinked and sat back in his chair with a reassuring nod and smile.

The Wolf didn't know nor care to learn what any of that lingo meant. His ravenousness lay in different territory. Auriferous eyes had narrowed in on the word profit. "We both will get our end." Correcting the carnival boss. And there was the hook. The Wolf produced that bewitching smile once more as he dangled the promise of fortune and clover before the man.

"I like the sound of that." Benny grinned, feeling the pressure seemingly lift just a bit and be replaced with the promise of more cash.

"Don't we all." The Wolf answered in kind and gave a glance up to his associates, a small inclination of his head to indicate they were done here. "We will speak again soon...perhaps after your first stop." Rising as one of his associates moved to open the door of the trailer, little golden motes of dust illuminated within the rays to dance like tumbling coins upon the air. The Wolf exited the trailer without another word, a debt paid and a more important rendezvous on the horizon.


"Tell me." The prompting words guiding the admission with the light touch of a shepherd's crook stroke of knuckles along the woman's delicate cheek. The lost little lamb had the Hedonist's full attention as they sat together in the dim light of an empty bar. Such early hours called only to the committed and the desperate it would seem...rather like another hallowed place though locations such as these welcomed their flock on all days...not simply Sundays.

"Why?" The woman coyly asked as she cheated her face away from the Hedonist though struggled to keep celeste colored eyes under control as his fingers moved from cheek to sable strands of hair. The sensation was magnetic and thrilling in its dynamism as he never seemed to part his skin from hers.

"Because I want to hear you confess." The expectation made sotto voce against the shell of her ear just recently exposed by brushing fingers. The Hedonist's eyes alighted upon the rise of primrose flush within the woman's cheeks as his words had their desired effect.

Chartreuse eyes blinked as he felt the sudden and invisible vibration in the air, keen eyes catching the unseen ripples announcing another's arrival within his sphere of influence. The tingling birr upon the web enough to draw both eyes and attention away from the blossoming of carmine and the raven-haired woman entirely. That she wilted like a flower absent the sun once his attention moved towards the door was not missed nor lamented. The Hedonist watched as the Wolf entered the vacant bar, the man's slender frame and angular face a poor mask for those who had the gift to look beyond the skin and taste the marrow.

The wanton smirk which formed upon seeing the Wolf had nothing to do what the Hedonist saw...but what he knew his presence portended. "Shhh...I enjoy deferred pleasures." Turning back to the woman as he lightly pressed his finger to pouty lips. "This will only be moments." Susurrate words promising a return even as he parted from her company with a libertine pinch of her chin.

The Hedonist strode with skulking purpose towards the Wolf who had left his bannermen outside to watch the door. Theirs was to be a private conversation. The golden green smear of leonine eyes prowled over the Wolf who leaned to the side to put eyes upon the woman.

"Must you always?" He asked though the smirk which formed was born of familiarity.

"It is my nature." The answer that of the scorpion upon the turtle's back. "Idle hands..." Mockingly quoted.

"I agree." The Wolf answered, the golden hue of eyes returning to the Hedonist. "Tis why I spent the morning acquiring you a carnival." A feigned put-upon sigh accompanying canines becoming visible as that cunning smirk formed a crescent across his face. "The carnival will continue to operate...with my backing of course. Its owner was more than agreeable to my terms. One more plucked from your tempest to be placed upon my battlefield beneath Plutus' watchful eye." An incult chuckle for they were always in competition with one another. "I consider my debt paid." The sobering addition added after a moment of enjoyment.

"Always wanting more." The Hedonist chided though the rich laugh the Wolf's words enticed from his chest sounded his understanding of the never-ending game. "Such cupidity plucks out the eye and leaves one blind to the finer things in this world." A licentious lick of words for he knew the game still had time left on the clock. "Your debt is paid." Granting that which the Wolf sought more than anything else.

The Wolf gave the acquiescence a shallow nod of his head, a comfortable silence settling upon the pair for several moments. "Do you still plan to follow the advice of your soothsayer?" The Wolf finally asked, a certain appetency for information on display despite the subtle mockery when uttering that last word. His was a more direct approach.

"In a way." Admitted. "It is time to employ a bit of leverage." Answering as much as he dared. Though they worked well together, their particular talents enjoying a certain synergy when mutual interests aligned, they were still in competition with one another.

"Ahh..." The Wolf purred, enjoying the machinations as they played out in real time. "You seek to force her to return then?" Asking though doubting he would get an answer. "A dangerous gambit, but it makes sense. The triduum approaches at the end of the month..."

"Perhaps you'd care for a drink..." Shifting both body and conversation so that the Wolf put hunting eyes upon the woman at the bar. Not even they were immune from one another's influences...a fact the Hedonist intended on using to bring the Wolf once more into his debt.

Leverage

"I've been desiring one all day. Your doing, I wonder?" The Wolf answered with a smirk after a moment appraising the woman and moved past the Hedonist and further into the bar.

The Hedonist lingered alone for a moment. His compulsion required Josette to be a part of the carnival before the Hallowtide. He smirked at the irony of him requiring faith. "You certainly move in mysterious ways." A derisive lift of his eyes towards the ceiling. Those golden green eyes lowered once more and he was watching the Wolf order a drink, the Hedonist absently drifting their way to introduce the woman and earn yet another debt from his brother.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Certain small ways and observances sometimes have connection with large and more profound ideas."
~ Chief Standing Bear, Ponca Native American chief

Weather worn and calloused hands reached down to claim a handful of hardpacked soil. The gritty clumps of earth gave way between the palms as the hands rubbed together with the remnants staining the skin, it's color joining that of tawny hands. Burnt bronze eyes watched as the foundation of the transient location became a part of him; the site fusing with the man.

The remainder of the dirt was released to blow free upon the wind. His grandfather had taught him on the Res that a man might hold the earth for a moment, but only the foolish or arrogant would try and claim ownership over something with so much power.

Patch crouched in the middle of the midway and tipped that trilby hat up high on his brow with a thumb, the hand rolled cigarette dangling from his lips as he collected another handful of dirt. What had once been sacred to a people nearly forgotten had become ritual for the man who had run from the reservation. He needed to get a feel for the spot...not just the placement of rides and booths but the very foundation upon which it all was fixed and built. The fixer glanced about the carnival and noted every hole had been filled whether it was a 20x20 loke or a center joint octopus. All had their banners out, the brightly colored canvas announcing the attractions from the line up at the front end to the major and spectacular rides at the back end. Multicolored lights flashed while the agents polished their cracks on one another and the music from Jingles' battered PA system crackled and popped through prewar speakers. They were on the precipice of opening...no high grass here as Benny had made good on his promise to set them up with a good first gig.

"Think the ground'll give its blessing?" Boz called down to Andre, Nails and a green jointee he hadn't bothered to learn the name of. Jerry? Johnny? Jimmy? Boz didn't know and didn't care...let the kid make it a couple of joints, maybe earn a nickname and then he'd bother.

Boz leaned on the open window of the dog house of his ride, the enclosed both keeping the operating controls out of the elements. The Ride Jock squinted his eyes against the sun to eye the fixer still crouched in the distance. "Toss me up one of them Stripes while you're at it eh?"

"What's he doing?" The kid asked while eyeing the bottles but knowing better than to ask. He had yet to earn the right to drink with the veterans and looked to Nails as she spoke up.

"Don't let the calm fool ya." Nails answered and tossed one of Andre's Red Stripes from the foam cooler up to Boz. Nails was one of the carnival's top agents. Known for the best flash and could gaff a game as well as any of the boys. She stroked a hand over her half shaved head, blonde bangs hanging low over one side of her face and a golden nose ring bragged of bad girl toughness to any who laid eyes on her. The kid was her responsibility...she was hoping to turn him into a jointee that could hold his own at a no skill dime pitch and then they'd see about promoting him. "Patch been doing that for years. Needs to feel the spot."

"A mi fi tell yu," Andre clinked his bottle with Nails' and chuckled through that expression of agreement. That Jamaican patois could be hard to pick up on sometimes though Boz and Nails didn't seem to struggle with it. "Da Patch-mon be havin dem heavy spirits lately...got dem tons weightin him down...enough fi stone dawg." The booming baritone falling quiet as he sipped from his own bottle.

Word ha gotten round, spread just as Patch thought it might. Quick as a wink, news of Benny's new backers had flown round the grounds. The carnival's resident candy flosser spun pure sugar and gossip as sweet as you could find, and she'd seen the slender looking fellow leaving Benny's trailer with those other two. Stories of new money, stories of Benny selling the carnival coming back to life like the zombies used to scare children in the dark house...never ending rumors always swirled about such a close group.

Patch could feel the diverse vibrations of power radiating on his hands, the fixer sensing the disparate meanings within the tremors. He still had that itch in his blood, the ground just confirming it wasn't a fleeting thing. Something was coming. Spinning beyond his control. His grandfather often talked about visions...how the People would have them...powerful things that gifted windows into the future or the spirit world. The fixer had never had such an experience though he felt premonitions like little echoes of their big brothers.

The music picked up several notches, the sound jarring and sudden as it jerked him from his private reverie. The Arch had just opened up and already Patch could hear the squeals of children and rising barrage of voices as people spilled through the turnstiles. He dusted his hands off and pulled his cigarette from his lips. As if feeling a few sets of eyes upon him the fixer turned towards the trio and even at that distance the imagined look from those hooded eyes had the four of them scattering to get back to work.

Something was coming. Spinning beyond his control.
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