Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 24

Jefferson approached the ruined house in a wide arc, trying to get a look at it through the rain. Rain ran in a stream off his hat brim, adding to his difficulty in seeing anything. He thought he could see a faint trail in the tall grass leading toward the front porch, and he began to forge his own trail around the back, soaking his shoes and trouser legs almost immediately.

There was a back door, hanging by a single hinge, and he approached it as quietly as he could. After a few moment’s consideration, he carefully lifted the door slightly and eased it open. He stepped through into a kitchen, cabinets barely visible in the gloom. There was a strong smell of mold in the room and there was rain coming through the broken window over the sink. He stood, head cocked and listening, until he heard the murmur of voices.

He made his way down a hallway, shuffling his feet. The rotting floor still creaked several times, but it seemed that the sound of rain pounding on the roof and dripping through various holes covered the noise, because the sound of voices didn’t change.

There was a flickering light up ahead, and as he approached it he heard the sound of water pattering loudly on metal.

“Thank you, Mr. Gantry,” came a voice he recognized as Mrs. Glass. Jefferson pulled up and waited. For a time, the only sound was the rain, in and outside the house, and the patter of water in the bucket. Then came a few clinks and an odd scraping noise, just audible over the other noises.

“There’s only two hotels,” muttered a voice Jefferson thought was Farthing’s. “He’s got to be in one of them. One hour, and we’re done.”

“Patience, Mr. Farthing,” Mrs. Glass said. Her voice held a distracted quality, but still had an edge to it. “We have more important things to worry about than Mr. Quinn.”

“And that bitch,” Farthing said.

There was a clunk, and a moment of silence. “Language, Mr. Farthing,” Mrs. Glass said at last. Her voice had lost the distracted quality, and Jefferson had a feeling that Farthing probably regretted getting her focus as he had. “Temperance Winter is a dangerous woman, as you’ve found, and her involvement simply makes moving against them impetuously more unwise. In any case, we’re at a critical point, and we can’t afford to ignore the Sciribath.”

“Yes’m,” Farthing said in a sulky tone.

The small noises started up again, but the conversation seemed to have ended for the moment. Jefferson took a deep breath and stepped into the room.

Everyone in the room froze for a moment, giving Jefferson time to take in the scene. Mrs. Glass was sitting at a rickety table lit by a gas lantern, hunched over something. A bucket sat next to her, catching drops from a leak above her. Farthing and Gantry were both sitting at another table with another lantern, playing cards on the table between them. They both looked up in shock as Jefferson entered, even Farthing remaining still.

Mrs. Glass looked up and released a single bark of a laugh.

“Mrs. Glass,” Jefferson said. Farthing and Gantry leaped to their feet, tipping over their rickety chairs. They both reached under their coats, and Mrs. Glass held up a hand.

“Hold a moment,” she said. “Mr. Quinn. You’re a daring man.”

“Or a stupid man,” Farthing said. His hand hovered near his jacket, and he’d started shifting back and forth again. He had a bandage on one arm, Jefferson noticed.

“Gotta be, sometimes, you know how it is.”

“Daring or stupid?” Mrs. Glass asked.

“Both, Ma’am.”

Mrs. Glass nodded. “True enough.” She set down the figurine she was holding. “So, what can we do for you?”

“Mrs. Glass,” Jefferson said. “I think we can help each other.”


Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on September 15, 2012.