Prose

Masters Hold a Meeting Over Wine

20 June 2019

In the hot time before sunset, two figures met in the square by Mill’s Bedding. One was about fifty years old, wore a good shirt and nice brown shoes, was short and plump but not balding, and held a nice little pointed cap in his hand. His ruddy face was adorned with a goatee of surprisingly tiny stature. The other was a tall and broad-shouldered young woman with short clipped hair, perhaps balding, wearing a cap pushed back on her head, checked trousers down her legs and a coat that I personally would have described as two seasons past.

The first, as you may have guessed, was Michael Oost, publisher of the journal Logistics of the Downturned Many (that we may call Logothdoma for short). His companion was the young philosopher Arutha Marshall, who writes under the pseudonym ‘Rebuffed’.

Once under the shade afforded by the linen shop the literary types collected one another and moved towards a bench.

Note ought to be made that much was afoot in other parts, it is presumed, because there was nobody about at such an hour. The shade afforded by Mill’s was not enough to draw the others from this great undertaking.

“Do you have wine?” Rebuffed inquired in a raspy voice.

“No,” replied Oost. “Why? Should I?”

Rebuffed inclined her head. “I just assumed.”

Oost was silent for a time, perplexed. Rebuffed filled the space: “You know. Since we’re here.”

“What? Here?” Oost cast his head about. “Here by Mill’s? Why?”

Rebuffed: “Why…?”

“Why! What about Mill’s Bedding and the little square makes you assume that I’d bring wine?!” Oost was in a huff.

“Look, forget it.” Rebuffed sulked. “So why?”

Oost, stunned, appalled: “Why what?!”

“Why here?”

Oost, red and regretting the choices that had led him here: “Well, well, why anywhere? It’s as good as another, and cooler, so perhaps better.”

“Why anywhere, blother?”

“Blother?” Harumphing, dismayed, nice pointed little cap crumpled in a sweaty hand, Oost regained composure. “Logothdoma, remember? Your article?”

“Mm. Logothdoma. I ask: what do I know about logistics?”

An oddity occurred, then. Rebuffed felt a chill in her coat that might have been good. A momentary feeling of confusion gave way to a glow of satisfaction—the coat was good. At the same moment Oost felt a little spike go hammering into his chest and he became terribly afraid. “My heart,” he thought. He wondered if he’d worked himself to death. But the spike removed itself thereafter and he felt entirely better, if a little out of breath. And he wondered again when he’d work himself to death.

As he wondered he saw a momentary shimmer above the hot paving stones, lead his eyes from the linen shop to the square. A figure emerged. It was long and bending and appeared be-suited, a hint of briefcase on an ephemeral arm. For a moment Oost thought of the ephemeral documents therein. Then.

“But this can’t be!” he thought. “An apparition! A worker sprung from sun and stone.”

But, no. There was nothing. A little shimmering piece of pavement. Rebuffed, smiling to herself, was interrupted by Oost. “I tell you I just almost had heatstroke. How horrid!”

Rebuffed looked at him a little funnily and insisted, “You ought to have brought wine.”


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