“Great,” whispers Urch to Turch. “We have to sit next to Smelly Santy; got here too late.”
Luckily Turchin McGurchin was perhaps the only person in the hobo camp who even compared in odor to “SS”, as everyone called him, and correspondingly minded less than anyone else about sitting within his circle of stench. Barely hesitating, he plopped his old bones next to him and offered salutations. Urch took a deep breath and then took the seat opposite Turch.
At the other table of the mission sat Jim Jackson Jones Johnson directly behind Urch, who we’ve met, then beside him the old man who likes to read books over at Furry Karl’s Joker’s Wild bar, then caddycorner to him another shabbily dressed man reading a book who looks suspiciously like the Librarian in a new guise, and lastly Tronesisia, the pleasure bot of the camp, although no one acknowledges her by that title. Currently she’s playing around with a giant 3×3 rubic’s cube, and having no difficulty getting each of its sides to turn a solid color again and again after a reset, the object of the game. She’s very fit in both mind and body, as the camp found out 2 years back when she first showed up as another one of those exiles from cursed Bennington.
There was a polite period of waiting before Turch moved to the food buffet on the opposite wall. Everyone else had done eating, with paper plates and utensils already disposed of. Despite the stomach rumblings, Urch decided to beg off food this morning, saying she had a lot on her mind and didn’t want to weigh her body down. “Oh?” said the stinky but kind Santa being at her table, trying to help. “Did your brain eat something disagreeable in the last several days? That could do it.”
“I don’t think that’s quite it,” offered Urch, use to SS’s strange words.
“Then perhaps a parrot brought the disease in from a foreign tropical country, perhaps that one with the long coastline. Seas breed disease. That’s why the one word is nested in the other.”
“Could be,” Urch said, trying to agree with Smelly Santy so the conversation will end in this direction. “How’s Farmington doing? she then asked. “I heard you went back there for a couple of days.”
“Nice in late autumn when the leaves are dive bombing off the trees and creating bloody colors on the ground. But this is early spring apparently.”
“Then how was it?” asks Urch again. She was use to this drill about having to ask the same question to Smelly several times to get a type of proper answer.
“The sand blurred the dimensions between people into fuzzy cantaloupes. Dust everywhere. Hoofprints. You know the story.”
“I do,” Urch began again. “And how was it by the way?”
“Oh kids are fine. The wife is asking for the alimony check. The elves are back at work.” Smelly Santy paused, the corrected himself. “*Out* of work again. It’s early spring, right?”
Turch now returned to the table with a plate containing a huge egg and piece of bacon, obvious products of the Bennington experiments. Suddenly glad she wasn’t eating this morning, Urch excused herself to check the upstairs. She was looking for someone in particular.
“Get me a glass of water while you’re up, Urch,” Turchin McGurchin requested before she left, nodding toward the food bar. “And don’t forget about telling me about your dreams,” he then demanded. He was hoping that Urch would spill the
beans wine while he ate, but there’s that condition of hers to cope with. Poor Urch, he thought. Always running away from food and eating.