“I’m pumped,” Orleans said as she and Erica walked through the marketplace. The lights that surrounded them were bright and colourful and their owners loud, calling potential customers in off the stretch. The disc was preparing for the festival. They would be docking in a matter of days.

  “I know, Orleans,” Erica laughed, “you’ve talked about nothing else for the past week. You never do. Every year it’s the same. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.”

  “You’re not?” Orleans asked idly, glancing behind the curtain door of a slither of a storefront, squashed between Nanook’s Northern Nectar and The Elderberry Grove. Erica decided to delay her response as she followed her friend into the cramped room. The walls were lined with masks, their vibrant colours lost in the dim light they found inside. There was barely an empty space among them all, their grinning faux-faces staring out, lifeless yet… full of life.

  Peshway, the mask salesman, was laying on the sofa, rigid between the arm rests. Like a board between two cinder blocks, waiting to be chopped in two by a martial arts master. When he heard them enter he opened his eyes with a snap and – upon recognizing one of his many yearly customers – smiled and relaxed. He sank into the cushion below before standing slowly to his feet, uncrippling himself as he did so with painful looking tugs of his body.

  “Orleans, my friend” he said, hobbling towards her, regaining rigid composure with every step.

  “Peshway, how are you?” she replied, embracing the old man as he finally reached her.

  “Stronger than I look and weaker than I feel,” he said as they came away. He glanced at Erica briefly.

  “And you brought a friend,” he said, not quite hiding his indifference.

  “Peshway, it’s Erica,” she said, irritated, “I come here every year with Orleans.”

  “Well, who’s to say?” Peshway answered with a wry smile and turned back to Orleans.

  “Chill out, Erica, he’s just messing,” interjected Orleans with a grin, hoping to stop the explosion that was imminent. Erica had a thing about being remembered, a thing Peshway was probably very much aware of.

  “Look old man,” Erica said, attempting to stay her hand – and the majority of her venom – for Orleans’ sake, “Have you got any new masks or not?”

  “Child,” he said, taken aback, “I am a curator of guises, to ask me such a question is to insult me greatly.”

  “So that’s a yes?”


~ by Joseph Blame on February 9, 2011.

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