Saturday, 15 August 2009

No hope

It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to leave. I have been unable to rebuild my life and now I find that my life is in danger. Even as I write, awaiting the first light of dawn and the first train from this city, I freeze at every slight creak or groan on the stairs outside my room assuming it to be the soft tread of the assassin or bounty hunter seeking to ingratiate themselves with the Al Andalusian authorities. I brought this upon myself, too keen to move on, too eager to put this sordid existence behind me I was careless and naive.

I met with Mr Anself earlier this evening. He is not a pleasant looking gentleman. I can still see his uncomely, somewhat turgid face, its thin sparse strap of black beard stretching as he laughed and ridiculed those brought before him. As I arrived at the pub, a small weaselly looking man was being ejected clutching his bloodied right hand wrapped in a filthy makeshift bandage, to his chest and moaning. I hoped his crime has been more than to ask for employment. Anself's retinue, his odious collection of lackeys, stood around grinning as I stepped forward to his small table. They let me speak of my ambitions, my wishes, this was my last hope, I put in everything I could dare to sway his favour and they lapped it up, smirking to one another, as they nodded in faux indulgence. I all but pleaded for his indulgence, there is a fine line within these circles between servility and weakness. I could not afford to seem too desperate and come across as weak and I spoke in crude in-civil terms of my time in the customs office of a trading state, the story I have used to get the meeting, spoke of maintaining order and procuring bribes, of indelicate means of eliciting information.

When I had finished, the assembled group of trumped up cut-purses and thugs went quiet as a tall wiry man, his eyes small almost lost in dark sunken sockets, fixed his gaze on me as he leaned forward to whisper in Anself's ear. Anself nodded, leaning back from the table, a most un-becoming grin splitting his corpulent face. He looked at me for a long moment, looking me up and down. It was a look I know well, a look that on the streets precedes the miserable negotiation of your services. Before I knew what was happening I was pushed from behind and sent sprawling in a most undignified manner as a fat arm caught around my waist, pulling me to his side. The crowd roared with laughter as he leant forward, his head crowding against mine, his breath heavy with beer and tobacco.
"Well said my dear", he leered close, his breath hot against my cheek as I wriggled to turn away from him. "Big ideas you have, big plans", he paused, looking out to his audience. "for a lying tenement pinchcock.". He literally spat the words, faom catching on the bristles, manhandling me as I tried in vain to escape his hold. "Yes, I know you, the truth, not this cock and bull tale about customs. D'ya think you can come round here with these big words and ideas and pull the wool over poor Guido's eyes?"

"No, no", I stammered, "you have it all wrong".

"What were your plans eh? Take the fat fools ship and sell it on? What if you'd actually convinced me? How were thinking you'd fly it?".

"No! I can do it!", I exclaimed, "I just need you to trust me, I'd fly it better than any of your idiot Jacks. I've flo..", I stopped mid flow as I caught his eye and looked about at the faces surrounding us. Of course he had my measure, what had I expected, in his eyes I was a whore trying to make a way out of the gutter. He was only slightly wrong.

He laughed, a loud, full belly laugh as those around us cheered and jeered at me. "Stick to what you know deary, since when did a rookeries Jade, like you know anything about airships? Been dabbing it up with some of my boys I shouldn't expect? Well, my dear I'm sure the boys here'll look after you won't you lads?". The crowd cheered as his pudgy hands man-handled me, and I saw my chance, stamping down on his foot, he released his grip. Ramming my elbow as hard as I could into his belly, I leapt on to the table and was out of the crowd and into the street while he could do little but scream abuse. As I left I saw that damned monkey, at the side of the snug, watching silently.

But perhaps I should have stayed, become glad-girl to his band of rogues, there's little else left for me now.

I ran from the pub into the narrow cobbled street, ducking into the first alleyway I came upon, vanishing from sight, never daring to look back more than a moment, feeling sure that his henchmen were close behind. I took the long route back, I didn't want to be followed, but of course, they doubtless already know where I am now, yet at the time it seemed the right thing to do. So it was with caution that I returned here, to my basic but not unpleasant room, for what will, one way or another I am sure, be my last night in this city.

I took a full half hour to pluck up the courage to cross the street and head up the side stair to my room. It was then that I found the note that made the memory of my torment at Anself's table seem trivial.

I had opened the door to my room cautiously, a quick look around confirming that it was all as normal, I quickly locked it and then grabbing the cheap gin from the table, poured a large measure into a glass. I stood staring out of the window for some minutes before I returned to the table satisfied that for the moment at least there was no one lurking outside.

And there it was. The note was succinct and subtle, and deadly, folded neatly, scented with rose water it had been left where I would be sure to find it. It read simply, "Hello Fanny, Hindenburg is it now? Interesting", it was signed, as if I needed to be told, by Miguel de la Rosa. My worries about Guido's band evaporated, this note was a death warrant. It meant I had been traced back beyond the sordid, stinking streets, back to my former life, by the ruthless mastermind of the criminal underworld. Naturally I assumed the worst.

So now I must run before I am taken by force so I am packing ready for the morning train. I am packed in truth, its not as though I have a lot possessions. I will be gone as...

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