Flash Friday

It’s kind of a sad story, but there’s a pet bird in it. Silver lining.
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This stretch of city, tight and dark, was home to people like Runt. He blended in with a worn sack over one shoulder and a carrier’s “uniform”. None of them were ever truly the same, but there were enough common elements to make it close enough. Dirt stains spotted his clothing, which was padded in places for a fight-or-flight situation, and Runt never went without a hidden knife or two.

Or three.

He traversed knotted alleyways with native familiarity, winding up in the peddler’s stretch. Some good wares, some hot, and it was a task to tell the difference. Mess up, and you’d disappear with the real thief.

But he knew a guy, as Runt always did, and he wove through the crowd to a covered cluster of tables and barrels. Suo had done well for herself, scraping by to finally settle in peddler’s stretch. The fog of incense floated around her stand, and Runt crossed through it on his way in.

“Suo,” he greeted as he reached the back, and a gaunt man locked his sunken eyes on him immediately. He was tall, lankly, and his shirt hung loose from his scratched up neck. He sat where Suo normally perched on her table, chittering to her bird.

“What you on about? Shop or leave.” The man’s watery eyes fixed on Runt, waiting. To his right, Suo’s bird squawked inside a cage, pecking at the bars. People came and went in this city, here more than ever. Happened dozens of times to friends and strangers alike.

He wondered what this man framed her for, or what bribe he accepted. Might be just this shop she fought so hard for, a gathering of tables and everything Suo made herself. Not anymore, obviously.

Runt nodded to the bird. “How much?”
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[Copyrighted © January 29, 2016, Jam Blute]

Surprise Saturday

Yikes, it’s been forever.
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“Mr. Barnett,” she spoke, breaking the padded silence of the waiting room.

He continued filling in the sudoku puzzle book he got years ago and only just now started. Pace had a lot on his plate at any given moment, but some of them were sweet. And these easy puzzles reminded him that he was a genius. How could that be anything but sweet?

“Mr. Barnett,” the woman patiently repeated. “The doctor will see you now.”

“Hm,” he answered, looking up. It finally clicked – that was him. No one used his legal name, and Mr. Barnett was his father anyway. “Right, I’m coming.”

He grabbed the pen and book, standing to meet the nurse for his psychiatrist’s office. ‘His’ used loosely – he saw a new one often enough, cycling through just in case. But Dr. Gertler was a staple. She knew what he wanted, what he needed, and he trusted her.

That made him want to throw up a little, but trust was trust.
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[Copyrighted © January 16, 2016, Jam Blute]