June 20, 2018
Always with these roosters. You would figure a city as big as Briarglen would be spared, but between the livestock merchants and terrace chickens, here it is worse than any farm house. Now that I am up a wash and a rinse is my sole focus. Water is scarce since it must be ported into the city. Its use, therefore is sacred and not to be taken lightly. A sign of status and privilege. The bath warm with fire, gains of harmony.
I dress and then am out the door. Today I am on patrol, which I greatly prefer to to the boredom that is standing guard. To be about in the mass of humanity is its own reward. I always feel a subtle sense of added energy. My job however makes crowds potentially deadly. The trick is to avoid unrest and not to intervene except where necessary. Not good for making my numbers but it keeps the stress down.
My circuit is down Baker street, across Division, back up Center, and then back over to Baker street. Anything that falls within those twelve city blocks is my beat. My job is keeping the peace. A phrase wide enough for a cart to travel down it. My personal interpretation stresses my peace pretty highly. You might think my inaction makes for a bad city guard but really the people appreciate it.
Too often the city guard intervene when they are not asked and don’t know what is happening, and since might makes right they feel justified. The council prefers this aggressive approach as it collects fines aplenty and keeps the boot squarely on the little guy. My pay is routinely docked for not issuing enough fines but I make it work. I grease the right hands here and there and allow the right people to grease mine. The money goes around and around and no one fears I will rock the boat. I am not delusional enough to think the people of my beat like me but they prefer me to my likely replacement and that is what keeps me employed.
It’s dusty today, hasn’t rained in two weeks. I walk slow, children laugh and scream, paying me no mind. Carts creek along pulled along by every manner of beast. I linger in front of the corner bakery and savor the great smells wafting from inside. It’s too much, so I decide to stop in. Anthony, the owner, sits behind a small counter next to a beautiful glass display case. “Good day Anthony, how is business?” “Very good, very good, how are you Bartuc? Today’s bread is the best I have ever made” “Hah, you say that every day.” “That is because it is always true. Everyday I make the bread better than the day before.” “Maybe I should wait for tomorrow then, as that bread is bound to be even better.” “You could Bartuc, but tomorrow’s bread won’t feed today’s hunger.” “Can’t argue with that. I will take a loaf.” Happy with his victory he fetches me the top loaf from the display case. “Here it is, two cents please.” “Thanks, Anthony.” I hand him the coins and take my bread. As I am heading out the door I hear “come back soon, the bread will be even better then.”
Man, Anthony talks a big game but this bread is amazing. Its hard skin covers soft white flesh, that seems somehow layered. A satisfying bite and a indescribable freshness, like the bread is fresher than the grain it was made from. I eat as I walk, doing both slowly to enjoy them more. Suddenly my path is blocked by a kid, maybe ten or eleven. His face is dirty and he has a hand out.
“What is your name kid?” “Cesar sir, can I have the rest of that bread? I am O’ so hungry.” Reluctantly I sigh, “sure kid here you go.” I hand over the bread. “Thanks mister, you’re the best.” With a speed not commonly seen in the malnourished he bolts down the nearest alley, scarfing down the bread mid stride. Very well then, there is always tomorrow’s bread.