Sunday, May 22, 2016


After the others were settled into their rooms, Jonathon went out to explore this place known as 'Baby Philadelphia.' The sky seemed normal. The sun was bright. It didn't harm him. He didn't try to eat yet. Just because some things were different, doesn't mean all things were different. His fangs were still there. A woman sold 'pasties' (meat pies) from a pushcart. They smelled fresh. He asked what kinds she had. She said goat and lamb. Jonathon bought a lamb. The preferred currency in this place was quarters. They had Franklin's image, after all. He gave her two. The pushcart woman said 'thankee' and passed them to her little daughter, who stowed them in a metal, bank-like box. There were no napkins. Franklin eschewed litter and he was, after all, the grand poo-bah of the place. But they had a type of waxed paper. The woman gave him a few, one to wrap the pastie and two for clean-up after. God knows they were useless on grease. Such is life in a blended eighteenth and twenty first century polity.

Jonathon took his lunch and spotted a narrow passageway, a tunnel really, running between two brick townhouses. He asked a boy where it went. The urchin told him it led to a small 'pocket park,' the perfect spot for a quiet lunch or peaceful introspection.  So he thanked the boy and entered the tight, dark alleyway. If another person was coming the opposite way it would have been close, not belly to belly close, but still... That's why ladies avoided the place.

After sixty feet, he came out into the light and his eyes did react to the renewed brightness, but apparently he was still able to withstand it. Before him, beyond the walled gardens  of surrounding houses, lay the park, a manicured landscape of carefully clipped green grass, small boxwood hedges and potted rose bushes trimmed into low, round topped 'trees.'  A pavered walkway traversed the space from east to west. It's sister did the same from north to south. He sat down on a traditional, teek, garden bench and began to eat. No problem there. His vampire nature still at bay and the meat pie tasted so good, savory and salty and peppery and rich. Jonathon cleaned his hands the best he could. Waxed paper only did so much. Then he sat and watched as another man, obviously a gentleman, came in from the opposite side, took a seat across the walkway and nodded, as a well dressed, turbaned little black boy cooled him with a large, leaf shaped fan woven from palm fronds. The gentlemen didn't say a word... no thanks... no acknowledgement. He just sat, looked through a carefully bound book and fell asleep. The little boy stopped, picked up the book, put it on the bench and went back to his task.

Jonathon tried to engage him, but the young fellow would have none of it. He put his finger to his lips and went 'shhhh.'

It was then that the 'changed' vampire knew. The little boy was a slave, or something very much like it. Jonathon took a few quarters out of his pocket and quietly gave them to the child, who responded with a small bow, as his 'gentleman' snored on.

The vampire got up and left.

He continued exploring this artificial place that he half knew, but only half.

Then he went back to Franklin's big stand-alone house. Little Bastid Annie was teaching the parlor maid to play Black Jack. Everybody else was taking their afternoon nap. He sat down in a big wing chair till Doctor Franklin came back for dinner. Then he said - Old man, you've got some explaining to do...

Franklin knew something was up. It was only a matter of time. He said - After dinner, my boy. Let's eat first. So they washed up, changed their linen (shirts & neck cloths), joined the rest and went in... Had a good roast beef dinner too.

After that, they talked....

<more next time>

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