Author's Note- Character colloquial language and the lack of -"- for quotes and dialogue is intentional.
Timeframe: Pre-Kotor, Pre-Atlas Astray
Characters: OCs (Fawkes, the man, the blind beggar)
Summary: The man comes bearing thing beyond food of which the boy does not yet understand.
The boy came from the alleyway dragging his gangrened leg behind him. Between the trash-filled banisters of which he had searched the previous night and found only rotted cores of discarded fruit which were besmirched with maggots. He looked at the fortified walls, there in the distance. They were pockmarked and windswept of their edges and the sun rose behind them and their shadows fell on the main avenue, resembling fallen birds of prey whose beaks and claws looked for lost souls to rend.
His nails scratched against the shattered tiles of the street and they gave a forewarning to the beggars lined against the building walls. All of them a collected mix of what the world forsook. The blind and maimed and the scabbed youths and the old men who squinted at the sky with their lined eyes and the aliens whose strange skin contrasted sickly with the landscape.
He looked upon them and those that could judge him did so and found him unworthy of their time. He went and sat by a blind man, away from the youths. His eyes were blue and saddled over with a thin pale gauze, as if pneumonia had struck only those instruments of his will. The boy glanced at the empty bowl. Empty. He cursed.
Sorry. There ain't nothing for you today.
I didn't steal a thing.
You was thinking of it though. Don't deny it. I can hear it in your breathing. Every person in this world can be found out in their mischief and foul thoughts. And you'd be a thrice made fool if you thought a little ole blindness meant anything in those regards.
The boy sat down and waited. In the dull roar of the morning as the city shook itself awake to go forward and forage once more and satiate the omnipresent hunger. From which descended all the sins that could be counted and named.
The streets grew loud with the clatter of the vendors and their carts and the vagabond travelers whose destinations were unknown to themselves and the droids beeped and whooped in their displays of electronic affection and the disparate voices rose up in eclectic symphonies and the chatter of their movements echoed like drums into the daylight. A million different thoughts and actions conglomerated into a senseless whole that went abroad and below like a beast rooting in the dark earth.
The boy watched and when these strangers passed he called out to them, as did the others, save for the blind man who sat there in his hunched state pressing his fingers into the bowl; tracing its clay contours.
The strangers were a varied lot. In temperament and class and there were those who avoided the poor contingent and stared into some far off distance and then there were some who would look towards them all and turn away and scurry off at a quickened pace and then there were the occasional few who came forth and in a random process of contemplation would go forth and hand out a simple conveyance upon which the beggars' lives were measured.
But they were few and the boy had never met such people and his stomach gurgled and he could not swallow.
A man came down the avenue with a cigarillo tucked between his lips, hands in his coat pockets, and the smoke filtering into his face. He had the look of some pale mortician about his business.
The boy watched him. Drawn to him like some entranced snake.
The man's face was a cold dead stone but also malleable. A shifting mask. The boy looked at the clay bowl to his right then back at the man. The same nature and property found in both.
The man dropped the cigarillo and crushed it against his square toed soles and went to a cart and greeted the vendor like a brother and placed his hand on the vendor's shoulder. They conversed, the merchant in good cheer who laughed and guffawed and made motions to the sky with his broad hands. They talked for a while. Each gesturing in turn.
The crowd gave them a berth and they made use of it.
The shadows grew short and the boy sat upon his own shade. As did the other poor.
The vendor reached into a compartment and procured a large pastry and it glistened like gold. The mortician attempted to leave empty handed but the vendor would have no part of it and he thrust into the food into the other's hands. The man bowed his head and moved on and bit into his prize.
The man came nearer. His face shifted into neutrality and he stepped near the boy.
What'd you do to him? You some kind of Jedi? The boy said.
He stopped and turned and looked the boy over. The boy's emaciated muscles clung to his bones and his skin was bathed in a thin layer of mustard grime and his hair was like a thornbush and he smelled like trash and his eyes bulged forth like ash emeralds. He bit into the pastry and chewed it into a thin mush and chewed it more. He watched the boy's face. The verisimilitudes of the boy's bodily reactions.
The boy's face tightened. As if in an unmanifested anger.
The man swallowed. No, I am not.
Then how'd you get Marcus to spot you some food. I ain't ever seen you round here.
I'm an old friend of his.
No you ain't. Your accent's too rough. And friends of Marcus don't have money to spend on pointless kriff. Like that coat of yours. So how'd you do it?
The man looked the boy over again. Past the grime, and the gangrened limbs and the foul expression. Into the boy's bones and muscles, as if there was nothing from which could be hidden and that every manifestation of thought and desire had left some etching within the boy. He took another bite and savored the taste.
If you aren't going to tell me, you can get out of here. The boy looked at the pastry and his stomach let out a groan and his eyes glazed over a bit.
The man let a thin smile crawl along his face. You want this? He waved the food about. It left a fog in the air.
The boy waited, stuck on his paunches. You some kind of idiot? His hands trembled on the tiled street.
He waved it again. Drool fell down the boy's face. Unnoticed.
He put it inches away from the boy's hands, and when they came to grasp it he snatched it away. He put what was left into his mouth and masticated and swallowed it.
The boy spat on him and it ran down the side of his cheek and he took a handkerchief from his pocket and swiped it off and put the cloth back into the pocket.
I like you boy. See you round.
The man went down the avenue in between the unwitting people and blended into the masses and the boy watched him till he was only a faint blur in the distance.
If that man comes back round here, you get out of here and find yourself some hole to crawl into.
I'm gonna sit right here. That man ain't coming back.
And when he does? The blind man tilted his head in the direction from where the sound had reached out. You'll be at his mercy. His whim. Whatever that may be. You trust his intentions enough to sit there. I wouldn't.
I ain't you.
No. No you're not. But you got ears and you're still alive and that counts for something. Not much but some. Listen here.
What if I don't wanna? The boy scratched at the fleas and dug his fingernails into the roughed skin.
Then you get your ass somewhere else. In that dank hole preferably. That man you spoke with isn't a fool. Some passing tourist who you can finagle.
I know that.
Do you? Your attitude is a sad sight then. To think someone would knowingly deal with such a man. Crazy. You have no conception of what he is. Something beyond your ken. You think that you know what the world has. That you've measured it in your six-
-Seven years of life. You've known nothing. Seen nothing.
I've seen more than you.
Have you? Just cause a man is blind today doesn't mean nothing bout yesterday.
The beggar flicked his hand into the bowl and came away empty and he stared out into the crowds which he could not see. He sniffed the air. The carried breeze was littered with the smells of the marketplace and he drew the ripped sleeve against the drool that leaked from his lips.
Look out at the people there. The blind man's finger quaked at their direction. Do you see them? Yes, you do. You see what they wear. How they move. The way they react to the world and the other people in it. But you do not see as that man can. Pull them apart. Each person consists of his individualities. Of the things that come together. Your hand is one such thing. Same goes for your face. Your thoughts. Things you once saw and did. All of them pieces. That man can see them; mold them to his own ends.
You're crazy, the boy said. He saw his hands, his legs, the tattered rags. Crazy.
You can't deny what he is. To do such a thing. He shook his head. Get outta here while you can.
I ain't your son so stop with the lectures.
The advice is free. Same thing I'd tell anyone with your misfortune.
Then tell it to them. Maybe they'd even pay you for it. And shut up.
And so the man did.
When the evening came, the boy went to his feet and limped back into the alleyway and found a cesspool of water and he cupped his hands in it and drank it and tasted the moss and the trace of oil. He gagged on it but did not spit it out. In a growing nausea he returned to the selfsame banisters and threw the foul fruit into the street and searched for some food to eat.
He found nothing.
He took one of the fruits in his hand and limped to a hidden crevasse. It wriggled in his grasp.
He looked at it for a long time, well into the night.
Things don't just happen. Every tumblin rock got's a mover behind it. So you know, the blind man said.
Like I didn't. I ain't a babe.
Didn't say you were. But people don't think through these things. Events that aren't so good happen to em and they look all around and say that there's no order to it. Crazy to think so. Ain't a one that says the good stuff in their life has no meaning to it. They claim that for themselves. On account of their will. Saying that they the mover.
And what'd ya say?
Well, I reckon that there's some mover out there. Working like he always has. Somewhere he won't be bothered. Behind the veil I guess. And he knows. Of what we do out there in the world. Our insides an-
Sounds like that man you telling me bout.
They not the same cloth. The mover watches. He don't worry about such things like molding and taking. It isn't something he concerns with. He's about the truth. A principle such a man is not too fond of except what he declares.
You think too much.
Got to. Ignorance has been going round here like a plague. A cue I think from that mover about his business.
The boy watched the blind man's face. There was a half smile on it, hidden beneath his beard. An ole lady came up and deposited a half eaten sandwich in the bowl and the blind man thanked her and she scurried away and he bit into the food like it was ambrosia and savored every morsel and when he was done he licked the bowl clean.
See. I told you.
You say a lot of things. Don't make them better than any other words.
The blind man sat there and rested his hands on his knees. Boy, he said.
You gonna listen this time?
No. Never said I was ever going to.
The man'll come back.
No he ain't. Bother some other fool.
The man returned five days hence and he stopped by the boy who looked up at him, filthier then before. He held a credit chip in his hand. The sunlight refracted off of it and found a home in the lined eyes of the beggars; all intent upon the matter of the boy and the man, save for the blind. A bright sight. Like precious silver of which they had only conceived of in dreams and in hallucinatory graspings.
You want this, the man said.
He smiled. That is good. He twirled it between his fingers and walked past the line haggard against the wall in their emetic despair. His boots sounded like tolling bells. Each step a note lower in the clef, till each click of heel and sole was a chime with a bass ringing that shook into the very timbers of their throats, so that there was no room to ply him with pleadings.
He gestured at them with the hand holding the cigarillo. Do you all want this?
He thrust his other into the air and the trail of smoke trailed behind and the beggars nodded and made sounds in their mouths and reached out their hands. He moved from their grasp and came to the boy and with a dramatic flair; he placed it at the boy's feet.
He squatted down and looked at the boy. Face to face. He blew the vapor at the boy and he sucked it in and coughed and rubbed his eyes. Here you go, he said. What you desired. His eyes were like black pearls and what light was put into them was not reflected.
He spun on his heels and strode away and the boy took the credit into his hand and held it to his chest and looked to the hungry faces which rose from their stations like stricken cadavers who rebelled at their burial. Their voices cried out. That the money would be of no use of him but that the value was untold and could mitigate their suffering.
It's mine. Kriff off.
Run, the blind man said.
And the boy was stricken and his leg did not obey him and a frail rodian child came for him and grabbed the credit and the boy pushed the other's face away and yelled out at them that he would kill the person who tried such a thing. They did not listen and pressed themselves upon him and stepped upon the blind beggar's clay bowl and it shattered and they strode across the shards and felled the boy. One of the fellow children kicked him in the mouth and blood spewed out onto their leggings and another bit deep into his arm. And amongst themselves they fought. Once fraught limbs granted a renewal. A rebirth. Blows flew and kicks were spent and the boy could not see the sky and heard the dim crack of his ribs and the fractures in his leg and the credit was cool underneath his touch like a salve. Till his fingers were peeled from it.
One voice cried out in cheer and fled down the street with some few in pursuit. The others wandered off and tended to their wounds cursed the boy and the man and the blind beggar and all those which they knew.
The boy coughed ragged gouts of blood. The sky was a darkening blur. Tinged with streaks of orange and red. He convulsed and shook and cried at the anguish of his bones and in time grew silent.
The blind man reached out to the boy and took him and laid him in his lap. His hand trailed down the minted scars, the puckered eyes, the royal tinged bruises like ink blots, the broken lips, the outspoken nature of the boy's ribs and the dexterous skin like sandpaper. The man's hand shook and he sorrowed what he could for the boy though that capacity had fled him.
His other hand flitted over the shards of his bowl and it bled from their edges. Scarlet and thin into the cracks of the street. Underneath the footsteps of the passersbys.