Friday, March 12, 2010

Decker #12

Decker awakened as the first light of dawn made his window glow a soft purple-blue. There was a fresh suit of clothes laid out for him, and his own road-worn attire was bundled neatly along with a swim suit and skin-diving gear. There was a note on top suggesting he test each of the items for proper fit, and offering suitable replacements should anything be unsatisfactory. He was pleased to note that everything seemed perfectly tailored.
Slipping quietly out his door, he scanned the spiderweb of halls and stairs that jutted and angled up, down, and out from where he stood. He remembered the controlled chaos of the house's exterior and applied that to where he was; there was no sense to be made of it. All he could do was pick a direction. He thought he'd come up to bed, so....down it was.
He met Rolfu at the first intersection. "Sir, please let me take your things. Is everything quite satisfactory?" He waited for Decker's assent, then continued, "If you'll follow me, I'll show you to where you may break your fast. The others are not yet awake, though I thought I heard Degren stirring as I passed his room."
It was a simple affair of bread, cheese, fruit and fruit spreads laid out as a small buffet on a sideboard. There was an oval table some eight feet long and four feet wide at the center of the room. One wall of the room was mostly windows, the upper glass of which was partially shaded by an exuberant growth of some ivy-like vine.
"This is the servants' breakfast, but please take no umbrage, sir," Rolfu requested, "The Lady dines here with us regularly. The rest of us will be down shortly, though the Lady will remain with the Young Miss, as the young miss seems to have had a rather, er, difficult night."
Decker took a cup of an interesting hot beverage; a sort of tea with an aroma of cranberries and ginger, slightly sweet and having just enough bite to wake up his mouth. By the time he'd loaded a plate, the rest of the staff had joined him. Degren followed a few minutes later. There was small talk and curiosity about their journey. The servants shared information about the area, along with nervous legends surrounding the sea life they might face while they dove.
"Some say that's why the hotel is deserted," Shand said. "People were disappearing off that beach, which is strange because there are no treacherous currents, and no one has ever seen any creatures capable of taking a person in those waters."
""Some say they've seen 'em," Pueri said. "My grandmother's best friend's uncle met a surfer who said he'd been thrown off his board and knocked around pretty good by a giant eel with the head of a woman and the arms of seven blacksmiths."
Decker wondered if the surfer had been drinking river water. the stories went on, describing various phantasmagoria or speculating on moving dimension doors, until Cletus stomped in in a tizzy.
"Dad-gum ding-dang weasel breedin' pecker pirates has swiped my duds!" He was dressed similarly to Degren and Decker now, in clothes provided by the house. "Muh hat, muh deerskins, muh ding-dang shit-kickers!"
Rolfu rushed to ameliorate the situation. "Sir, we're terribly sorry, but your, er, 'duds' were infected with a type of vermin for which we have no method of removal. I took it upon myself to, um, incinerate them immediately, so as to prevent the infestation from spreading to the good Lady's abode.' He shuddered slightly. " I do hope I was in time. And, er, I apologize most humbly. We have no garb of similar, er.. quality.. to replace them with. However, I trust you have inspected the garb we did replace your...duds...with."
"Ah ain't wearin' no ding-dang duck fins, yuh cotton-pickin' white-collared coolie! and y'll never catch me in short pants, nuther! Ah.m a growed man, y'see?"
"Er, no, not the diving gear, sir," Rolfu said, "the bundle beneath that one. Once again I apologize for my actions. I had only the interest of the Lady's house at heart, and I was neglectful of your situation. However, if it pleases you, I shall adjourn henceforth to your room and retrieve the replacement clothing so that you might examine it."
"Nuthin's gonna replace my duds! They was sewed fer me by hand by an injun woman thet stayed with me fer a time. Shallow Water, she was called. Good woman. Now I got nuthin' to 'member her by!" He seemed close to tears.
Rolfu strode out of the room as quickly as decorum permitted, and had soon returned with a bundle significantly larger than either Decker or Degren had been given. "Good sir, please do us the service of scrutinizing this humble offering, our small attempt to redress the wrong that has been done you." He began to unwrap the bundle, but Cletus grabbed it from him.
"Ah'll open the ding-dang package!" He started tearing at it like a kid at Christmas. Inside, he found a mid-length coat that reminded Decker of a medium brown Australian drover's coat, a hat of similar style, heavy blue denim pants with leather at the knees and rump, a soft denim shirt with leather elbow pads, a silk union suit, and a pair of Wellington-style boots made from some sort of reptile skin.
"Well, ah'll be...." Cletus was dumbfounded. "You, ah, how...ding-dilly, how'd you know...." his speech tailed off as he held the various garments up to himself. Finally, he added,"Where kin I try 'em on?"
Rolfu showed him to the nearest empty room. The rest of the party laughed and finished breakfast while they awaited his return. After what seemed a pretty long time, he paraded in in his new "duds".
"Fix yer eyes on this, Decker!" He opened the coat to reveal several flaps, loops, and pockets that held his various weaponry as though they were designed for the purpose. "This here's jest like whut ah see'd in the Grover Cliff gen'l store one time! Ah awluz wanted me some get-up like this. An' it fits like it'uz made fer me, right down tuh the shit kickers!" He turned to Rolfu, beaming. "Ah guess ah fergive yuh, Rolfie."
He did cut quite a different figure in his new clothes. Fiela looked at him almost wistfully, which he missed entirely as he displayed for his friends. Finally, he set to his breakfast.
The rest of the staff went about their daily affairs, but Rolfu attended the three men. "Whatever Aida's plans may have been before," he told them, "she will be remaining here for a time. Her return home has unearthed some rather painful memories, it seems, and she is quite unable to travel, perhaps for some time."
"I'm terribly sorry to hear that," Decker said, to which Degren and Cletus nodded in agreement. "Shes...well, she's been an interesting traveling companion. I wish her the best. Please tell her we said goodbye, and that we'll, um, miss her."
The lady Gudren met them in the front foyer. "Gentlemen, it has been our pleasure to accommodate you, and we offer our gratitude for your services in accompanying Aida on her trek home. We wish to extend you some small payment in this regard." She proffered three pouches, each the size of a medium-sized apple.
"Lady, I don't think..." Decker began to protest.
"I insist you accept."
Each man took one of the hefty little sacks. Cletus dangled his in two fingers, blatantly assessing the weight. Degren elbowed him and gave him a harsh glare to which he shrugged and slipped the pouch into one of the many pockets on his new coat.
They thanked her profusely over the clopping of sixteen hooves; the carriage had arrived, and it was drawn by eight burly satyrs. They grumbled and groaned, rolled their eyes and shrugged as they pulled. They complained back and forth to each other about the work hours, the miserable conditions, the health benefits, and the retirement plan as the three men stowed their gear and boarded. Each had a belt with many pouches, some of which were obviously loaded with snacks; they were constantly reaching in to one pouch or another and drawing out raisins, nuts, chocolate, and other delicacies and popping them into their broad, sensuous mouths as they conversed. Some of their other pouches clinked and jingled quite blatantly.
They were waved off enthusiastically by the Lady and most of her staff. Passing the broad arch of the estate's boulevard, they turned onto the main road and the satyrs broke into a full run. They were surprisingly fleet; the grass and rocks, roots and leaves that lined the road almost became a blur through the carriage window. Decker thought to ask the carriage driver how long the ride would be, but it occurred to him that there hadn't been a driver. Of course, he thought. the satyrs wouldn't need direction; they were sentient beings!
Cletus had opened his pouch and was playing with the contents; it was a selection of gold and silver coins of various sizes and shapes. He'd bitten each one, nodding in a satisfied way at each bite. Now he was practically mesmerized by the little pile that lay in a fold of his coat. He stirred at it with his finger, watching the little glints as the morning sun streamed through the carriage window onto his hoard.
Decker was feeling comfortable. He was on his way to get the next piece of his life's puzzle, and he was pretty sure he was going in the right direction. The Furge personality had been leaving him alone for the most part, though he could tell it was an uneasy truce at best. The occasional surges of feeling he had for Degren were becoming less discomfiting. And they were in a luxury carriage, being drawn by eight satyr bodybuilders! How dreamlike, and in a good way. The warmth of the morning sun, good friends, and the rumbling, rocking motion of the carriage soon lulled him off into a pleasant sleep.

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