French feverishly worked with leathery gnarled tips poking out of her brown ‘hand me down’ finger-less gloves. The night air was ice chilled but this client was paying double as long as she did her work here -tonight.
Among the crumbling concrete buildings and trash cluttered streets glowing under bright flickering yellow neon lights she sat quietly. The city of Metroplex’s citizens were trained in one trade skill since birth. They would perform this one craft until the age of thirty. They were all masters by then and there wasn’t much else they could know so most just kept on doing it. It was all random. French got lucky as she was a knitter and not a sewage pipe shit scraper.
With wrinkled brow and old green eyes she stared down trained on the clacking wooden needles. Pulling this and looping that. At least she assumed they were clacking. She couldn’t hear them anymore. Here with these familiar worn grooves in the wood and plying her trade is where she found her transcendence among the youthful urbanites that plunged Metroplex into filth and chaos.
Bright and blood red was the yarn she was working with tonight and the little sweater was nearly complete. It was beautiful and fit for a toddler. The client said they would meet her here soon.
* * *
“Give me that bottle Jorn. You always drink half of it before I even get a taste. You are a girl you aren’t supposed to drink so much.”
“You offered and it helps my artistic vibe. I am a painter after all,” she took another swig. “How many credits was thing anyway? It tastes awful.”
“Not awful enough apparently and it was as many credits as I can spare on a carpenters salary. This is as romantic as I get.”
They did this on Saturday nights. It was standard procedure to haunt the Cyberdeliah, listen to fast hard electro music and trade credits for a bagged bottle of mystery booze. From there Jorn and Chek would wander around the park kicking over trash cans and getting drunk enough to not feel the cold.
Chek zipped up a grey faux leather jacket up to his chin. A thin silver chain hung down his thigh and bounced against his black skinny jeans as he walked alongside Jorn. She shuffled closer to him and the leather straps that hung from her old biker jacket flowed in the breeze. She held out the stained brown bagged bottle toward him.
“Here. You look like you need a little antifreeze,” she winked at him as a glint of light bounced off her jet black cropped hair.
He smiled and took the bottle quickly leaning in to kiss her lips before she could pull away. A kiss from Jorn was all the antifreeze he ever needed.
* * *
Chek’s lips felt warm against hers and she felt the old familiar tingle in her belly as she pushed back. Reaching down to tangle her colorful paint stained fingers with his she felt the rough texture of callouses built from years of hard labor. They were rough and strong but gentle. Always gentle with her. Many times she felt she didn’t deserve him. He was much too good for her.
They walked quietly up a small illuminated path hand in hand their heavy booted footfalls on the concrete thudded a warning to anyone ahead of them that there would be trouble coming if they wanted it. The city was a bit off in the distance but the glow of the night life escaped no corner of this sector for miles. To them it was a beautiful anarchy. The leadership was young but still they clung to the old ways.
Chek took a pull from the brown bag and suddenly came to a halt. She looked quizzically at his eyes which had grown to the large size she had only seen when he was ready to fight. Instinctively she thumbed the front pocket of her jacket where she kept the blade. Whipping her head around to take a count of how many there were she brandished the familiar weapon flicking it open quietly.
But she only saw an old woman. She folded the blade closed and stuffed it back into her pocket.
“Chek it is just an old lady. Doing what?” she whispered and squinted to focus her eyes. “Knitting.”
The bottle exploded into a hundred pieces as Chek spiked it onto the concrete. The booze inside quickly soaked the paper and began running out onto the filthy foot path. Jorn stepped back in surprise.
“Baby?” she was confused and began to get scared. ‘Was he that drunk already?’
Chek fell to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably. She knelt beside him and put her arm around his shoulders. Mucus ran from his nose in long strands as his tear ducks poured out droplets of agony on to the ground in a torrential storm of emotion and pain.
The old woman didn’t even notice his wailing as she smiled to herself holding the small blood red sweater up to the light pleased with her craftsmanship.
Chek looked up and saw the completed sweater in full view now. This only made him wail louder and cry harder. Jorn held her body against his. The trembling of whatever torment spell he was in shook them both violently. She clung tight to him feeling every thud of his heart and pulse of his seizing muscles waiting for it to pass but something had torn her man open. This was a wound that ran deep. This was something he had clearly never shared with her.
Danny Machal April 16th, 2015