Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[writing] Short story WIP, from "King of the Kingless"

Here's a snippet of WIP from the short story I revised last night. A return to my magical Portland continuity from "Number of Bus", "Green Grass Blues" and a few other pieces of mine. I am so glad to have my brain in decent form right now.

Once Upon a Time in His Youth

Fauntleroy Chen had been fifteen when he’d taken up with the homeless wizards who at the time had mostly lived in the old Southern Pacific roundhouse at the multimodal railyard just below Powell Boulevard in southeast Portland’s Brooklyn neighborhood. So many of his kind found their paths to the power through drink or dope that they tended to naturally blend in with the transient population. A shopping cart and enough layers to clothe three schizophrenics was perfect camouflage for the urban wizard on the make. The rest, who like Fauntleroy himself had traded away other things than sanity and sobriety for their power, often found it simpler to follow their brethren into the gutter.

At least they could find sympathetic company there.

He couldn’t stand being so grubby himself. But he learned a lot in the months he’d spent with that collection of dysfunctional, mostly older men.

“Them as called to the power, they gives up a lot,” said Vladimir with no last name. To be more accurate, he mumbled the words through rotten black stumps of teeth embedded in a bed of perpetual gum disease. It didn’t matter so much anyway. Vladimir repeated himself often enough that the unfavorable signal-to-noise ratio smoothed out after a while. “We gets more back, but it’s on the inside, doncha see?”

“Maybe…” Fauntleroy had already learned to ask leading questions and act like he knew even less than he probably didn’t.

“’S like a woman, right?”

That brought a mumbled chorus of agreement and several rounds of hawking and spitting from the assembled sages huddled in their grimy sleeping bags. And they stank, which always bothered Fauntleroy.

“I wouldn’t know,” he admitted. Woman, mature or teen-aged or otherwise, were an utter mystery to him. At fifteen, his dating skills were not yet finely honed. Or even crudely honed.

Tags: portland, stories, wip, writing

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