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The Litter in the Alley

Glide, feint, fake a parry, thrust!

Malus practiced the opening sequence of the Moonwall Maneuver with precision resulting in a direct strike. He then deftly picked the page from the broom-handle skewer and tossed the unread page into the bag.

“This is so lame!’ he complained to Tobias. “I need a new adjective to describe the level of dickishness Emerson has sunk to with this.”

Glide, feint, fake a parry, thrust!

“What else could I call that dick?” Malus pulled another of the sheets of paper from the broom handle. Something about this one however caught his eye. ‘Dear Ezra…’ it began.

Tobias thought about Malus’s question for a moment before beginning to offer suggestions: “A festering sack of mundungus; a vile scroyle; perhaps even a skanky skellum.”

Malus finished reading the page he held from start to finish. “That dick!” he said. He took the other pages out of the collection bag and scanned them for further information, looking from one to the other in disbelief. “I can’t believe it! That old wino! He knew everything! The whole time!”

“Or perhaps, a syphilitic shaft of Cupid,” continued his pale companion.

“Tobias. Did ‘Father’ ever talk about someone named Ezra Crumb?”

Tobias had been leaning against the wall, arms crossed, watching as Malus did all the work. He lifted his head as if to search the sky for an answer. “I am not sure. Who was he?”

Malus read from the papers in his fist: “Dear Ezra. I have but one ally left to me in this city, apart from Martha, and that is you my dear friend. Not a day passes without some contemplation of the truths we discovered during those nights of fine wine and tobacco…”

Tobias frowned. “No, that is not right,” he mused. He went over to Malus side and took the papers from him. “Yes, that is Father’s script. I know it well. But he never spoke of a friend.”


“He did not speak about himself.”

Malus sighed and looked around for more stray documents.

“However,” began Tobias again. “He did keep journals. He forbade me from reading them.”

“Do they still exist?”

“Oh yes. They are still in the library. I don’t see any reason we could not read them now.” No sooner had he said that than a pensive, uncertain expression fell across his face. “Unless you do?”

Malus had a sudden hope. A forlorn writer had come into the Gangplank the other night in search of his lost satchel, and Emerson had promised Malus a half day off for every one of the documents that was returned, up to a week off at most. There was no doubt in Malus’ mind that Emerson had given the satchel to Njal, and the contents, which had some apparent value to the stranger, had been tossed out. How lucky he was that they had not been consigned to the hearth.

“Tobias! Search all the alleys around here for more papers! There is something important in them.” Malus fell again into a fencing stance and worked his broomhandle easily through a remembered drill. “You and I are going to Dunsany, for an entire week!”

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