Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
Gather ‘Round and I will spin you a tale.
Watchman Wayne Nixon’s walk to the pauper grave was grueling. His stomach twisted every which way from Barfat Bluntbasher’s liquid hospitality.
Groff, the chief gravedigger greeted him.
“Hello Wayne, I read the toe tag for the corpse you left. That was a nasty injury he succumbed to.”
“Yeah, I would like to examine the body and make an identification. Notification may be necessary on this one and I am not going to want to handle that.”
“Sure, Wayne, I have some coffee and biscuits. Would you like to drop in or are you already in a dark place?”
“You are a sick man, Groff, just show me the body.”
Groff led the way.
Fortunately, they had not buried him yet. Digging up bodies was not enjoyable, to say the least.
Kraken tattoo with Zoqem inked under, right arm scar, broken nose, It was an identification to Wayne…
“Groff, do you have any final rest clothing for this fellow here?”
“Wayne…. It is a pauper’s grave. He goes in a hole, dirt gets dumped on him.”
“His widow is friends with my wife. Can we work something out? I need his clothing for evidence.
Groff agreed to, for a fee. Nothing was free.
Wayne removed the stained shirt, belt, pants, hosen, and shoes. It was no easy task, but necessary. As he placed them in a bag, something nagged at his mind that told him he was missing part of the puzzle. He pulled the clothing out and examined it immediately. Nothing.
The following night, Watchman Wayne,well-rested and ready for work, began asking questions.
He started with one of the few things he knew; Justin was working for towelheads. Wayne hated when the locals called the men of Vijayapura such hateful words, especially in the docks. Everyone came from somewhere, and no one had a pedigree down here.
Simply put, people were people to Wayne.
Rousing a ship’s captains late at night was not an easy undertaking. It was not as if the crew would just let one on board or pass a message, but Wayne had methods of convincing folks to get out and talk to him that are best not disclosed. After a fair bit of effort, He located the captain of the Satpura, who confirmed by a ledger that Justin offloaded them and other ships in the fleet and was an excellent worker. They paid him handsomely in Vijayapuran coin as he had connections to purchasers and trade was top notch.
After thanking the sailors, he departed, feeling not any more informed than before.
One thing was certain to Wayne. He had forgotten his lunch and he would be grouchy at the end of his shift without it.
It was time to talk with the Zoqems. They were a tight knit society that had a reputation for illicit trading. He headed off to the Puke.
It stank of sweat, death, and alcohol and the service was horrible.
Mel, one of Galvin’s girls, was performing. Her singing was a favorite, and she always implied that she would show a tattoo at the end but seldom did.
Death doesn’t matter,
I lost my gallbladder,
Glow and glitter,
I cannot store bitter.
What is better, hating,
hurting, or waiting?
I am looking around, anticipating.
Walk with me boy, not alarming,
knife stuck in your liver
sounds really charming.
I lost my love,
No love lost on you,
One evening with me,
And your life is through.
Wayne winced, but the young sailors did not. They emptied their money bags into a bucket and cried out for more.
Such was the crowd at the Puking Peasant.
Wayne’s eyes scanned the crowd and found the table where the Zoqems represented.
The Zoqems were dark and violent, sworn to secrecy. The Kraken tattoos were a reminder that they were involved in many things, none too forthright.
One thing was certain, they were not fond of Watchmen. As good a man as Justin may have been to his wife, his associates spoke volumes about other aspects of his life.
The leader of the Zoqem was Octavian, a wiry small man with a patchwork of scars, was a regular to the Puke, quick to snap his fingers. When he did, death quickly ensued.
Wayne remembered Octavian from childhood. Reared in a well established household, He had never wanted for anything, and could have been a well to do merchant with the connections of his father, but Octavian chose early on to run with the ruffians and go his own way.
He eyed Watchman Wayne, warily.
“What do you want Wayne?”
“Octavian, one of your boys, Justin, is dead. I am trying to get to the bottom of it.”
His face revealed nothing. “I know, Wayne. We saw you dump the body and retrieve the murder weapon from Barfat. When we figure it out, we will have no problems.”
“You let me figure it out, Octavian, It is my job and these are my docks.”
Octavian did not like to be challenged. He reached out to snap his fingers.
“You can try that intimidating garbage on someone else, Octavian. I don’t run scared. I will handle you right here in front of your friends if need be.”
“Don’t push me, Wayne. The only reason you aren’t on a hit list is you are a fair dealer. I will have you killed just as simple as anyone else. I’ll tell you what. I will give you until the end of the night to solve this, and come daybreak, we will do as the Zoqem as we do with all our enemies.