Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brechalon - Chapter 1 Excerpt


The interior of the bookseller’s shop was dark and crowded and it smelled of old leather, old paper, and old glue. Terrence took a slow, deep breath, enjoying the fragrance the way some people might enjoy the scent of a rose. An old bespectacled man lifted his head from behind a massive volume of Dodson. He raised his eyebrows when he saw Terrence’s blue and khaki cavalry uniform. Terrence removed his slouch hat and fished his wallet from an interior vest pocket of his tunic.
“What can I do for you, Sir?” asked the bookseller.
“Revenge,” said Terrence without smiling.
A momentary look of panic crossed the older man’s face, but then his eyes widened.
“Garstone?”
Terrence nodded.
“Yes, I have several copies behind the counter. Not the type of thing I’d expect an army officer to be reading.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” said Terrence. “One would think that a bookseller would know that.”
“Indeed.” The man paused and then pulled out several different editions of the infamous work of Kazia Garstone. H looked up to study his customer’s face. “So many people are interested in this one, either for its politics or its, um indecencies.”
“You don’t have a first edition?” asked Terrence, his face giving nothing away.
“Oh, I do. But I’m afraid it’s not inexpensive.” Opening a small cupboard behind him, the bookseller pulled out a book wrapped in linen and placed it on the counter. With great care he unwrapped the cloth exposing a green leather-bound book with gold leaf edging. “Two hundred fifty marks.”
“I wonder what Garstone would say about such profiteering,” said Terrence opening his wallet and pulling out five crisp banknotes that together equaled the stated amount.
“I don’t think she would mind. You know, if you’re interested, I might have a lead on a signed first edition of Steam.”
“Really? How much?”
“Four thousand marks.”
“Kafira’s tit!” said Terrence, chuckling as the other man winced at his blasphemy. “I’m afraid that’s beyond my allowance.”
The man nodded knowingly. “Would you like me to wrap it up for you?”
“Nope.” Terrence took the book and tucked it under his arm. “Is there still a fish and chips cart by the park?”
“Oh yes.”
Terrence exited the store and turned left, heading for Hexagon Park. He had to jog across Prince Tybalt Boulevard, which was at least twice as crowded as Avenue Phoenix. He was almost hit twice, but arrived at the park’s edge unscathed. Hexagon Park, as the name implied, was an expansive park built in the six-sided shape of a hexagon. It was filled with fountains, ponds, walkways, flower gardens, orchards, and at its center, a plaza with a steam-powered calliope. Terrence could hear the music playing even at this distance. Along the sidewalk at the edge of the park, several vendors were selling food from carts. Terrence purchased a newsprint cone filled with fried fish and golden chips and made his way down the cobblestone path to the center of the park, taking a seat about fifty feet from the bright red music machine.

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