Boots, Marisol, and the Cabaret (Part One - Day 3, Late Afternoon)

The afternoon light was merging slowly into the gold of a sun on the wane. Sister Lyen and Dorian stepped cautiously through the melting snow and slush puddles of Main Street. Occasionally, the pair had to dart to the side to avoid the icy splash of a passing wagon. They moved through a town made active by the Solstice Festival. Vendors shivered in their booths as lumberman and loggers, turned out for the week, ranged about the town in search of diversion.

“And so,” Dorian continued his account, “our widow has asked me tah train her fah work as a boat medic. Had her in tahday fah a dental procedure. She seems excited about it,” he concluded, “but Ah’m not sure we’ll get many more opportunities on New Kasmir.”

“It’s great to see Yeva really coming alive. Our entire trip she’s seemed so downcast; so focused in her mourning. I can’t wait to see the change it’s had in her to finally receive some peace.” Lyen tucked an errant hair beneath the cap she’d found in the coat pocket she’d relieved from Marisol’s engine room. A pang settled in her stomach as she was at once jealous and excited at the new development. She’d been considering asking Dorian if she could assist him, to learn, and to broaden her knowledge of the healing he ministered. Her impromptu surgery had piqued something within her, a visceral and instinctual call to mend.

Mind in the clouds, a particularly large puddle caused her to skirt away from Dorian’s side to pass, while a vendor took a precariously close turn to the nun. With a splat and sunken shoe, Ly shook her head in amused frustration: her right foot now covered to the ankle in sopping mud, she waited for the mule and cart to pass, a slight wave to the driver who waved back apologies.

“Làn yùn (rotten luck)! I think I can still feel my foot for now, but we better find someplace warm or I fear you’ll have to amputate, doc.”

“Hmmm,” Adler regarded the mud encased foot that Lyen fought to avoid smearing against her robes. “We have an emergency,” he declared. “Fortunately, tha outfittah’s shop is just anothah block on. Ah prescribe boots an’ dry socks,” he offered a mild smirk. Shall we?”

“In haste,” she took Dorian’s arm to steady her lopsided lope, robe-end in the other. Just inside the shop’s door, the smell of sweet pine and peppermint was a wall of welcome. To keep from tracking mud inside, Lyen bent double to relieve her shoe from her foot, leaving it just outside the door. There were all sorts of boots here, though most were utilitarian and rugged. A couple were obvious returns from wealthy folk who had probably just come to New Kasmir for the winter. Those were shiny and fluffy with all sorts of bows and tassels. Her hand was on her chin as she surveyed the stock, one bare foot wriggling on the stone threshold.

Dorian returned with a pair of heavy woolen socks. “Ah guessed ‘small,’ the medic shrugged as he handed them over. “Yeva told me she shopped here...left tha mournin’ dress behind and all. Apparently, tha rabbi let her of tha hook when he learned how long she’d sat with her husband.” He eyed the lengthy rack with its’ numerous boots. “Any of these seem right fah yah?”

“Thank you for these,” with a glance shot over her shoulder, Ly stooped to sock the poor frigid foot. “Just right. Well, they’re all so functional. That pair over there looks like something Jacy would have gotten.” The last time she was shopping with anyone was with Jacy by her side. In a small way it had given her comfort to see all the things set in rows waiting to be bought. She imagined Jacy might feel the same. But she was gone, now, and the boat was a little smaller. Just like Marisol, a fresh loss with fond memories. Chewing the inside of her lip, she chose the pair that looked like something Marisol would have worn. Functional. Study, but… her fingers pulled at the tongue to reveal a lively pattern of birds singing from tree branches on a background of buffalo plaid. “These are the ones,” a smirk was climbing her cheeks just thinking of how Marisol might wear something like these. To the shopkeep she asked, “Do you have these in a smaller size?”

To see Lyen’s face held in a secretive sort of smile brought Dorian to turn away, lest he spoil her moment. As the merchant hustled to his stockroom, Adler took a moment to study the firearms in their locked display cases. The shop was well provisioned...a requirement in a place like Aurora Creek. And there were several models whose lighter builds would serve…

Dorian returned to the boot rack to find Lyen discussing a second pair with the shopkeeper. He held his tongue as the nun pursued her aims.

“Would you say Marisol is a five or six, Dorian? I can’t picture her in anything but those steel toed boots she always wears.” The pair in her hand were patent leather, a deep burgundy with subtle styling and a similarly bright inner lining. “I think she’d love these.” It was providence, perhaps, to find such a gift before they met with their friend at the Cabaret de Montagne.

Dorian rubbed his jaw in contemplation, before measuring his forearm with the splayed fingers of one hand. “Just a guess,” he ventured, “but a boot? Ah’d think a six.” He admired the burgundy hue of Lyen’s find, with the vibrant lining hinting out at the top. “One thing Ah do know,” he said at last, “tha woman loves a good pair of boots.”

After a good natured argument over Dorian’s offer to pay was resolved by the shopkeeper himself, the pair stepped through the doors into the late afternoon chill. “Cabaret’s a block ovah,” he indicated with a tilt of his head. As they set off, he said, “our patient today mentioned it tah be a sly bar. More interestin’ was what he told us about a new singer, a small Spanic woman who’s now workin’ there. Ah conjure our mechanic’s havin’ a fine time.”

To see Marisol singing! Gods this was more than she could have hoped for. A bit ashamed of how excited she was to see the mechanic, and even then in a setting like the bar Doc had mentioned, Lyen pulled her cap down close around her ears as she replied, “This I can’t wait to see.” Somehow the bright orange robe she wore was free of mud, still she smoothed it over and patted it off. Her new boots were warm and pleasantly stiff as she and Dorian found the spot.

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