Each Friday, [tweetthis]I post a photo and a bit of flash fiction. I keep the words brief because, you know, “a picture is worth a 1,000….” [/tweetthis] To find out more click here. I admit, I skipped a few Fridays. Still, for some reason Ray and Marla continue to visit me. Regular readers might remember Ray and Marla from other photo I took along my commute. To refresh your memory or you want to start from the beginning, click enter “Marla” in the search for this site.
“Your stop,” called the PedalBuddy steer-master.
Ray felt sweat roll down her Outsider as she launched herself off the PedalBuddy. She snugged up the straps this time without a reminder. Marla grabbed their backpacks from the shelf and before she grabbed Marla’s hand.
“His eye is on the sparrow,” came from Trench-coat Man as the PedalBuddy left them on the cracked pavement.
Ray’s eyes went to the sky, partly searching for birds, and partly looking at her new surroundings. Graffiti scrawled across the bricked-in window holes and snaked toward the roof-top. Some looked like children’s artwork, some like caveman symbols, and some was fat letters forming words that Ray could read but seemed nonsensical and without context. RADAR, WIND, PEACE, NOWHERE, and KNOW.
“Is this where Trumble lives?” She swiped at the edges of her outsider, her skin itching from the sweat pooled near the edges.
“Yes,” said Marla. “And where he works.”
“How far up?”
“Six flights. And yes, your Outsider must stay on the whole time.”
Ray looked away, trying hard to hide her face, but Marla pulled her back and tugged at the Outsider assuring a tight fit. They climbed in silence flights weaving around debris and glancing into gaping doors. Once Ray thought she saw a child, but it was an abandoned doll. The kind Marla told her she had when she was a child; life-size with elastic at the feet and hands, so she could dance with her owner.
Trumble’s door had a mechanical door chime. Two twists, a pause, a twist, a pause, and two more twists. Marla’s code. They heard footsteps and the metal door opened.
Ray recognized Trumble immediately. A tall, straight man with a nose and ears too big for his kind smile. Trumble had less hair than Ray pictured. Marla described him as balding, but Trumble had so little hair, that Ray thought it more to leave out the -ing and call him bald, or maybe hair-fringed. This idea made her smile and her Outsider squeaked as the seal broke.
“Come on in, and relieve yourselves of those monstrosities,” said Trumble. He wiped his gloved hands against his rubber apron and peeled one glove off, extending a hand to Ray. “Nice to finally meet you.
Ray curtsied as Marla taught her; a polite way to avoid physical contact. Trumble smiled and bowed. “You taught her well,” he said to Marla. “Did you bring the sample?”
“Yes.” Marla removed the sample from her inside pocket and handed it to Trumble.
“First some tea and palaver,” said Trumble. “Sit down. Sit down. It’s been weeks since the last visitor.”
Ray felt eyes heavy and her legs go leaden as she waited for the kettle to boil. Trumble and Marla spoke in quiet voices about their trio on the PeddleBuddy, their bean supply, and the aquaponics kit success. She tried to stay awake for what she knew was coming: the science, the testing, the progress, but the drone of the mundane lulled her into a dream.