“Catch…” Arthur calls out. I come back; he throws an apple into midair, it lands in my palms. “Looks like it is going to rain, do you want to take the carriage into town?”
I nod in please and bite into the fruit with a crunch like bone. I back kick from the wall with my heel that I was leaning against. I walk to towards the door and exit through the gigantic wooden arms and enter to the outside to wait for my carriage.
The slowly dying sun brushes my face; the clouds in the sky seem to be moving faster than they should, probably being chased by their replacement. Benjamin slows the two horses carrying the carriage.
“Morning sir, is it just into town today?” He notes.
Only Arthur knows my secret, I cannot risk it being exposed on a single newspaper or voice.
He jumps down from his perch shuffling the white granite stones that inhabit the ground and opens the carriage door.
“Yes, thank you.”
I take off on my voyage to the town’s center, in flight it would take seconds but on horse foot the journey would be little less than a full hour.
“Slow it, easy now boy.” Benjamin halts the horses that clog on the cobble floor, I heave forward as the carriage stops. A couple of unseen footstep later the doors fly open to let in the weak light and earsplitting haggles and gossip. I step down to the ground which is ridden with rodents decomposed food that has mixed with the rain and is washing the juices further down the street with a stench that haunts the nose, but no one is caring as this is everyday life. The wind hits me with its cold hand, I wrap around my overcoat to bring back the warmth that was stolen.
“I shall not be any longer than an hour, Ben.” I utter. He tips his hat. I step away from my carriage, looking around at the stalls, meat and jewelry is held high in the air to show off their appeal. Street children surround me holding their hands out for little money for sweeties; I let the pennies from my hand cascade to theirs.
“Now, go spend your money and find enjoyment!” I amusingly muster with a monster accent, the children run away into the crowd counting their money.
I walk over to a jewelry stall to browse their artifacts; I pick up a silver ring it holds a red cut stone. I stand in awe of this jewel and try to imagine where it came from in time. A feeling keeps me staring.
“Thirty pounds, that one” A raggedy female voice chants.
I look up there is an old woman with white long hair with the back of her head covered by a black hood. She trundles over pulling her wardrobe into her.
“That there is a lover’s ring, if you were to wear that you will fall in love with the most beautiful of women for as long as you wear it.” She snorts, wiping her nose.
“Love is not a commodity that I am aware of in these passed years.”
“I think you should fall in true love at least once in your life, how old are you?”
I look up at the old lady and think about twelve thousand years old.
“…I am twenty-five, Ma’am.”
“Well then, if you buy this, you should fall in love soon enough, son.”
I am awestricken by her bargaining speech that I reach into my pocket and pull three papers out and hand it over to the old woman; she has earned it with her words.
Suddenly a high pitch whistle drowns out a hundred voices at the same time. My fingers wrap around the ring with a cold grip while I pin-point the police constables alert, I scope through the crowds of shoppers with a sharp eye looking for a break in the horde to see what the emergence was. Contained horrified screams come from the other side of the markets court yard from mothers sheltering their playful children with their arms, shocked that a crime has just been committed and planted that unneeded vision on their seeds mind. Suddenly a ruffian sprints through the taken aback standers in an evasion; his facial appearance was dry muck so it made the identity to this culprit rather arduous. I shove the ring into my right pocket for safe keeping as the wanted flees closer. Another police constable takes his chance and flies at the young scruff, rumbling him to the floor. I walk on over to make my presence known as the punishment to the young man maybe less sever if someone of my stature was to take pity on him.
“What is his charge?” I say to one of the policemen.
“Lord Maze… His charge was stealing a loaf of bread, which he ate before we caught up to him.” The law speaks.
“May I speak to the accused, officer? Son, what is your name?” I ask the young man.
“It’s Byran, sir.” He is out of breath.
“Why are you stealing food, do you have financial problems at home?”
“No, sir, I gave my wages to my sister to pay the bills with yesterday and she had gone out to borrow some food money from my grandmother who owns a public house on the other side of town, but when I returned home last night, she had not returned and her bedroom window was opened wide, I was hungry that’s all, sir.”
At that precise moment I knew who he was, but the question had to be asked.
“And your sisters name?” I abhorred saying.
“Piper Morris is her name.”
I realize what I had done and it brings me back to the enormity of the shadows within me, now that she is only a name in a journal of murder. I stare at the young man; the feeling of sorrow settles snug in front of my empty hole a relentless feeling of guilt hits my hurt as I control the shakes in my knees and hands.
“Constable, how much was the bread? I would like to pay for it” I take out my wallet.
“Half a shilling, I believe” He proudly bleats.
I reach back into my wallet and pull out a ten pound note and hand it over to one of the policemen, he takes it with a look of peculiarity as it was more than what the bread has actually cost, it was the least I could do for the child.
“That should be enough; I believe this was just a complete unfortunate situation the young man has been thrown into. Hunger will make us all do unspeakable things. Have you learned your lesson, son?”
Byran nod in complete union to my words, the police constables stand him back on his feet. I take hold of the young man’s arm and lead him away from the law, he is shook up from almost being imprisoned and I see the why is this man helping me within his eye. I lead him through the despicable on looking people shying away from their ugly suggestions, his eyes and silent emotions have no place at that exact moment so he keeps nomadic within him.
“Now I want you to come see a friend of mine tomorrow, his name is Charles, he works in the compound within my castle and he will give you food and money and a new career with better pay, if you would like that?” I reveal to Byran.
“I really appreciate that, sir; I work as a chimney sweeper, the money I earn doesn’t even fill my mouth. Why would you want to help me?” He says with an up on his day.
“That is my job, to look out for the less opportune on this planet. Now head home fast and get a wash, I will inform Charles that you are to be expected.”
“Thank you, I will, I won’t let you down, sir.”
“Oh… And contact the police and make a statement in to your sister’s disappearance.”
“I will, Thank you, sir.” He waves goodbye.
He begins to run passed the deadened peepers who have lost curiosity in the crime; their attention has now been taken by the reason of my association. I look around at the people pretending not to see me, when a young woman catches my eye from in and out of the crowd’s movement, her skin was a light caster sugar color that melted my eye and I was addicted. Certain people in the mob dodged and slurred her with a single look, she sees everything they throw at her and ricochet it away with pride of which she is, head held high not to be brought down by the heaviness of others thoughts. I pull out a handkerchief and pat down my forehead as the moisture had started to build upon the drizzle. I shove the hanky into my left trouser pocket and hark back to the ring in the right; I stretch in and root around, my pocket was empty. Did Byran steal it? Was I pick-pocketed? I tow out my pocket out into the open, a small hole had formed in the stitching.
My eyes shoot to the floor scrutinizing everything resembling a burnished ring, street trekkers feet did not help my matters anything, moving or blocking views, I loathe the thought of paying for something and letting it be picked up by another who would not treat it with the same respect I would, I trundle back near to the old woman’s selling stand and notice an individual kneeling. I rotate to get a closer look on what the person is looking closely at. A fingerless glove pinches the ring for stares.
“Excuse me, I believe that is mine.” I utter confidently.
It was the young woman, the one I lost in the crowd.
“How can you tell? If it was yours it should be on your finger, not the floor.” She gasps with a smile, I mirror it back.
I show her the escape route that the ring had made from my pocket.
“It fell out through here.” I finger the hole.
“I’m still not convinced; you could have seen me pick it up and make out that you dropped it.”
“You want proof?” Still smiling, I grab the old stall-keepers attention.
“Excuse me… Hello… Old lady! Did I or did I not just buy this ring from you?”
The old lady squint’s her eyes to get a nearer look at the rings illustration. She wipes her running nose on her sleeve and shuffles over a little further. I glance at the young woman; she smiles in accuracy to her convictions.
“Well don’t stand so far away so I cannot see it, bring it closer.” The old woman grubs.
I step to her and hand her the ring, she takes it with an intent look searching for familiarity. She nods.
“Yes, I did sell it to you, it is a love ring.” She blurts out with coughs.
“Thank you, I know you did.”
The young woman looks like Napoleon must have moments before the end of The Battle of Waterloo. She holds it out. And I feel like a comic, where are my manners?
“Keep it, just promise me you will look after it, it’s a love ring, it’s supposed to make you fall in love. But that could be a ploy to buy it.” I insist; she balls it up in her hand.
“I will, I promise you.” She sniffs in the cold.
She turns with the smile for a free ring and walks into the wind, taking a few steps, when she turns and looks at me like she has forgotten something.
She trundles back over to me shooting her lips to the side of my face. Numbness massages my chest, she pulls away, I don’t know how to act, I begin combing back my hair and looking around at the crowd, not that I didn’t want to stare at her, I did.
“Thank you.” She gently pecks.
I open my mouth, I am meant to say my pleasure, but nothing comes out so I transform the hole into a smile, lucky my cheeks were already red with the chill. She slides her thumb over the saliva she has left, finishing it out pinching my chin.
“Perhaps I will see you around the town again?” She hopes. What should I say?
“Err… Yes hopefully.” She nods and heads back into the crowd, disappearing in their rush and looking for blame because she walks the same streets as them, she is not like the norm I have meet. I remember her eyes where as dark as night is black.