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Character Bolak

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The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. ..

OFF: This is my challenge post
ON: Fleet Street London

Bolak stepped down from the carriage and handed a few coppers up to the driver.

"Cheers Guvnor." came the reply from above and with a crack of the whip the horses were away to seek their next fair.

Bolak stared up at his destination. A first story barber sitting above the pie shop of the Widow Lovett. The woman in question was waving at him through the smog stained glass of her establishment and Bolak gave her a slight bow of acknowledgement before making his way inside.

The brass bell gave a bright jingle as he entered leaving the cold mist of the morning behind in exchange for the comfortable warmth of Widow Lovetts ovens and the sweet aroma of her pies. He began to salivate despite the full breakfast that still sat fresh and heavy within his stomach.

"Can I tempt you to a morsel?" she asked as she watched him eye her wares, but he shook his head ruefully.

"Alas I have already eaten." he replied and her handsome face sank in disappointment.

"..but perhaps a parcel to take back with me to the Grace once my business is concluded."

"Very good sir, I'll fix you something special." she said clapping her hands.

Bolak gave her a considered look, "Nothing too... special I hope."

She laughed shook her head, "Never fear Mr Bolak, we look after out own here on Fleet Street."

"Very good." he laughed a little nervously before asking, "Is he in?"

"He is, he is." the Widow assured him waving Bolak towards a door at the rear of the shop. "He is just finishing off a customer." As if to punctuate her words a muffled shout came from the direction of the ceiling followed by a loud crash and a heavy thud in the adjoining store room. Bolak shook his head as he made his way through the rear door and up the bare wooden stairs.

A narrow door sat closed at the top of the climb and he knocked twice and waited. There were scuffling sounds from within and the sounds of a low voice singing.

"Just a moment." came the response from within.

"It is Bolak." the dwarf called back and a sudden rush of footsteps was followed by the door being thrust open with a sudden violence.

"Well why didn't you say so." cried out the barber with a look of fierce delight. Bolak stepped back despite himself. It was not the faded tattoos that gave the taller mans skin a blue aspect, nor was it the vicious scar that ran from the mans bald pate and down his face dividing it neatly into two halves. He had long grown used to these distinctive features. What he would never get used to was the sight of his fine blue friend drenched from head to toe in a coat of fresh blood.

"Gods man you look like the back page of a Penny Dreadful." Bolak grimaced as he stepped into the room. Thankfully there was little evidence of the recent expiration other than the blood drenched barber. He must have caught the brunt of the expulsion.

"Who was it this time Mr Mok?" Bolak asked averting his gaze from the barber as he began the work of changing and cleaning away the blood.

"Oh the usual sort." Mok sighed, "A wealthy scoundrel, with a taste for blood sport in the bedroom. He occasioned to mistreat the niece of my dear land lady and well as you would expect he promptly received an invitation to enjoy my particular attention."

"It is a dangerous game you play." Bolak warned as he walked over to the barbers chair and ran his hand along the iron lever that sank down between the boards.

"Do not touch that." snapped Mok and Bolak turned to see the flash of anger in his friends eyes. His face quickly softened however as he walked over to light the burner beneath his kettle before plucking two tin mugs from a nearby shelf.

"It is not a game." he said quietly after a time as they stood waiting for the water to boil.

"You deny that you have come to enjoy it?" Bolak asked. Mok was silent for a moment and was saved answering by the whistle of steam from the kettle.

"Raktajino?" he asked keeping his back to Bolak.

"Make it a double helping." Bolak replied as Mok set about preparing the coffee. "Where did you get the brew it has been in short supply of late?" he asked absently as he peered through the window at the cold street below. He saw a group of children dancing the ring o roses near the apple tree across the street ans shivered. An ill omen.

"The Fesarius docked in the night hidden by the fog, they sought a secret landing." Mok replied handing Bolak the cup, "She unloaded a fresh shipment."

Bolaks eyes widened at the mentioned of that ship and Mok gave a small nod of acknowledgment as he sipped on his thick black Raktajino.

"Is he...?" Bolak began to ask and Mok cut him off with a shrug.

"I saw no sign of your brother." he replied, "If he came ashore it was under cover of the dark and no man would know it."

Bolak thought back to the face at the window last night and felt sick to the stomach. He was not ready to face Balok, not yet. There was too much work to be done, too much...

"Can I offer you a shave?" Mok asked with a mischievous smile, "My customers find it quite relaxing."

"Permanently so..." Bolak replied with wry smile, "...but why not."

Mok looked surprised and then laughed out loud as Bolak sprang up into the barbers chair. He eyed the utensils of Moks trade laid out neatly on the nearby table and raised a bushy red eyebrow as he saw the spot of blood still staining the razor.

"Might I request a fresh blade for the occasion?" he asked in a voice higher than usual and Mok gave a small bow and removed the bloodied implement from view. Using the steam from the recently heated kettle he soaked a white towel and wrapped it around Bolaks throat. The dwarf felt his pores opening up to receive the hot moisture intermingled with scented oils and allowed himself to drift towards sleep as Mok sang softly under his breath preparing for the shave.

"Attend the tale of Sweeney Mok.
His pate was blue without a lock.
He shaved the faces of gentlemen
Who never thereafter were heard of again.
He trod a path where few would flock,
Did Sweeney Mok,
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

"Now hold still Mr Bolak," came the whispered voice to his ear, "and I assure you the closest shave of your life thus far..."


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