In Time: Moving On

I’m returning back to my Steampunk story, which previously left off with Laundry Woes. This next bit continues with Roderick, who entered the modern world and found someone to help him maneuver around it in the form of a homeless man named Jeffrey. You can read more of the story here.

When Jeffrey had finished bathing and dressed in his new clothes, they went back out. Sirens pierced the cacophony of human sound and a police car flew past them to the back of the building next door. Jeffrey’s eyes rounded as he saw they were going to the laundromat and he looked at Roderick fearfully.

“Aw man, what’d ya do?” He asked Roderick. Roderick did not answer, just averted his eyes as they went past and pulled his hat lower over his face. “Yer gonna kill me too, ain’t ya? When you don’t need me no more?”

Again Roderick did not answer. He just propelled Jeffrey forward in silence.

“Whatcha want first? The bank or food?” Jeffrey wanted food and Roderick knew it. Train hopping took a lot out of a person, even if he was only half a person. He needed sustenance also, but did not want to deal with the crowds he saw in every restaurant they had passed.

“The mercantile. You must have one around here.”

“Mercantile? What the hey is a mercantile? We have restaurants, pubs, cafes, and grocers for food supply.”

Roderick’s eyes caught a flashing open sign on the corner. Ed’s Market hung in large letters above the flashing sign. Five rows ran from the front of the store to the back and were neatly stacked with supplies. He pushed Jeffrey through the door ahead of him. “Mercantile, market. Same thing,” he said.

“Ya should just said that, then,” Jeffrey responded hotly. Roderick realized that human nature was overpowering survival and Jeffrey would be gone as soon as his belly was filled. He hoped fortune favored him today and all he needed to do would be finished quickly so he could move on. He had never liked dwelling in one place too long. He had no conscience that told him what he was doing was wrong, but nevertheless, something deep inside of him told him taking the life of another was a sin against nature, an imbalance of good versus evil, and he did not care to think about it. He let each memory die with each hop on the train. Each new place gave its own memories, memories erased with each new leg of his journey. Nothing looked familiar to him, though his pouch grew heavier by the day and he could feel the magnets contained within it increasing. He liked it that way. It enabled him to live guilt free and do what he had to do to protect his identity, an identity no one would ever accept.

They entered the store with the ring of a bell. Jeffrey walked ahead of Roderick enough no one would suspect they were together, which, after watch him stuff food inside his coat, into his pockets, was a relief. It also meant that Jeffrey was not be chattering his incessant chatter at him and he could focus on his surroundings undisturbed. He pulled minimal things from the shelves, choosing to stick with foods that filled him without weighing him down. When he was finished, he gave the items to Jeffrey along with coin and directed him to pay for them. Jeffrey had done enough thieving for both of them and after the things he had already done, he knew he needed to be more careful. While he waited for Jeffrey to check out, he waited by the big window and looked at the street beyond. He saw the big bank a few buildings down from the market and next to it, a small shop boasted a simple “Antiques.” He smiled. He would not be here much longer. He did not even need to go to the bank now.

“What is it?” Jeffrey said to him. He held out a small handful of coins. Roderick shook his head.

“Keep it, and the food.” He tossed the hotel room key to Jeffrey. “Enjoy the room, too.”

“What? Ya leaving?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Your services are no longer required, and as long as you tell no one about me, no harm will come to you.” Roderick tipped the brim of his hat at Jeffrey and disappeared into the crowd.

To be continued…


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