The Fallowing – The Second, Part III

by Steppen Sawicki

I’ve decided that Sam uses bow and arrow.

Novel: Occult adventure

When we came downstairs into the bar, there was a commotion going on. Several men and a woman had abandoned their breakfast and were treating someone on the floor like a punching bag. Before I could interfere, the punching bag was picked up forcibly, dragged to the door, and tossed into the snow outside.

This person hardly seemed fazed by any of this treatment. They stood, stiffly but with speed, and turned back to the doorway of the bar. It was an old man dressed in tattered layers, like a beggar. His face held still more wrinkles than his clothes.

“My things,” he shouted. “Give me back my things.”

“They aren’t your things, you thief,” spat back one of the men who had thrown him out.

“I need my things. He’s in town. I need them.” The ragged man tried to step back into the bar as if he were still welcome there.

Someone punched him in the stomach and shoved him back into the snow.

Now I felt bad about the whole thing – the old man was clearly in a poor state, but I could hardly defend a thief. Really the most obvious course of action would be to give him a shove of my own for good measure. But while I was thinking this over the owner of the place spoke up from behind the bar. She was a beefy old lady, and her words carried well.

“Just hand them over. Otherwise he’ll skulk around here all day.”

The men and woman scoffed, but picked up a worn pack from the floor and threw it onto the ground outside so that something inside it crashed and tinkled. The old thief crawled to it, chattering to himself. He stood, with difficulty this time, and stumbled down the street without any glance at the bar or its patrons, who were going back to their meals and morning beer.

Sam made a beeline for the bar. “You know this man?”

The owner barked a laugh. “Everyone knows Marx. Everyone from Scarsdale, that is. Man used to own half the town. Textile factory. Among other things. Lost it all.” She turned away to clean up some plates left on the bar. She had probably told this story already to other travelers.

“How?” Sam prodded.

“Who knows? Lots of people like that in Scarsdale. Now stealing gloves and hairbrushes from travelers who don’t know to keep an eye on their stuff.” She indicated the woman who was now chattering angrily to her companions. “Too many to put bounties on, so don’t bother yourselves with Marx.”

“We’re not bounty hunters,” I stated.

The owner glanced at my rifle and Sam’s bow and then shrugged as if to say it was no business of hers.

I would have argued further, but Sam asked the woman how to get to Cotter Street, and I felt that sudden giddy rush of knowing we were going to the antique shop. Immediately following behind that was disgust at that giddiness. I wheeled away from the bar and stormed outside to get some fresh air, however cold. Before me, pressed into a snow bank, was the impression the thief Marx had made. Looking down, I saw droplets of blood beside my boots. I hadn’t even noticed the old man was bleeding.