Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 26

Gantry laughed, a big booming sound that fit his frame. It sounded a bit forced to Jefferson, though, and no one else said a anything as it trailed off. For a few seconds, the only sound was again the rain. Jefferson kept his eyes on Mrs. Glass, and he could feel Farthing staring at him.

“Oh, come on, Mrs. Glass,” Gantry said at last.

“If he can deliver Clyburne, I’m willing to talk to him,” Mrs. Glass said.

Jefferson heard the sound of Farthing striking a match. “He couldn’t deliver his own ass,” he said.

“And you couldn’t get hold of me until I strolled right in here,” Jefferson said, eyes still on Mrs. Glass. “Seems like I might be your best chance. Desperate times, and all.”

Mrs. Glass regarded Jefferson for a while without speaking. “Mr. Farthing. Offer one of those cigarettes to Mr. Quinn.”

Farthing made a disgusted noise, then walked over to where Jefferson stood, fishing out his cigarettes. He held out the pack and Jefferson took one and tucked it into his mouth.

“Got a light?” he asked.

“You be ready to shoot this son of a bitch,” Farthing said to Gantry as he pulled out a book of matches.

“Oh, he’s ready,” Jefferson said around the cigarette. Farthing scowled, and lit a match. He was twitchy enough that Jefferson feared for his nose, but he didn’t dare grab Farthing’s wrist to steady the flame. He managed to get the cigarette lit and leaned back.

There was another stretch with no one speaking. Mrs. Glass continued to watch him, and in the flickering lantern light her expression was like a doting grandmother’s, except for the crazy eyes. Come over here, Mr. Quinn,” she said at last.

Jefferson walked over to where she sat, followed by Gantry and Farthing. Both men took up positions behind him. It was distracting, with Gantry looming and Farthing shuffling, but Jefferson managed to ignore them.

“Tell me,” Mrs. Glass said. “What do you think this is for?” She was holding the figurine, a selection of tools on the table next to her.

“For?” Jefferson asked.

“Yes. Why were they created? It is a decorative thing, of course, but I think it has a practical use, don’t you?”

“I find that it’s kinda hard to say, with this sort of thing.”

Mrs. Glass turned to glare up at him. “Well, look at it,” she snapped. “Lean in closer.”

Jefferson didn’t move for a moment, and heard both Gantry and Farthing shifting behind him. “This another test, is it?”

Mrs. Glass smiled. “If you like.”

Jefferson took a draw on the cigarette and took it from his mouth before leaning down. The feeling got worse, and his stomach hitched once, but he manged to get get his face down next to the thing. Mrs. Glass had been picking at the thing with her tools, it looked like–there were scratches and nicks on the thing that he was fairly sure hadn’t been there when Sullivan had carried it.

“Well ma’am,” he said, “it’s something to do with swamps, if all the critters I’ve been dealing with are any indication.”


“You reckon they have something to do with a specific Sciribath? Like it’s using them to send out word?”

Mrs. Glass looked up at him, eyes narrowing and a smile growing on her face. “Ah, you do know a bit about what Colonel Tacy was up to, don’t you? Even if no one in my organization does.”

“Don’t follow you, ma’am.”

“I thought you proposed an alliance,” Mrs. Glass said. “It doesn’t do for you to be withholding what you know.”

Jefferson straightened, and took a draw from his cigarette. “Well, ma’am, an alliance goes both ways, where I come from. It’s nice, chatting about Sciribath figurines, but I was kind of hoping to get something out of this. If you want me to go speculating about the Colonel, or help you out with Cylburne-” He shrugged, and took another draw before flicking his ashes into the bucket under the leak, “-I need some help with Temperance.”

Mrs. Glass turned back to her work for a few moments, carefully scraping at the figurine with a sharp hook. “We could simply have you tell us everything you know about the Colonel, and the thing he had at his beck and call for a time.”

Jefferson sighed. “Yeah, you could. You could at that. But hell, it wouldn’t be worth all the effort on your part. I have a funny feeling you know a good chunk of what I know anyway. And if you torture me to death I won’t be much help with Clyburne. And you’ll need all the help you can get, with these two clowns.” He flicked more ashes into the bucket. “No, easier all around you just give me a hand, and I fill you in on the Colonel nice and polite, while I’m helping you take care of Clyburne.”

Mrs. Glass said nothing for a long while. When she finally did speak, she was still focused on her work. “I didn’t ask you about the figurines out of a desire for idle chit-chat,” she said. As it happens, I believe I may know what has become of Temperance Winter, and it is tied up in what these things do.” She looked up, beaming at him. “Isn’t that delightful?”

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on September 29, 2012.