The wind was insistent at the bronze crown of the Wandering Woman. This was not unusual, it was the highest point above the Arrondissement. Monsieur L’Horloge drew his greatcoat tighter as he watched a flock of Psychopomps fly by, their glittering grey wings did not reflect the light of the setting sun.
A Bibloamour couple stood nearby, their pages fluttering in the breeze, rustling sweet secrets to each other. Other than the lovers, Monsieur L’Horloge was alone. While the view was spectacular, the chill dissuaded large crowds. Above their heads, the crown was washed in an ochre light, and looking down, the streets and buildings were starting to light up.
Checking his chronoton, for the thirteenth time, he pushed down his irritation at her tardiness. It did not dissipate but it held. The Bibloamours, their pages entwined, moved to the Way Out and then he was alone. He would give her ten more minutes and then he would leave. That was, he felt, more than fair.
Monsieur L’Horloge whipped around, and saw her. She was dressed in coveralls, stained with grease, and a short, worn leather jacket. The setting sun colored her pale hair a rich coppery red. She took out a crumpled pack of cigarillos, the label bore a logo of stylized devil with a lewd grin that winked and blew smoke rings.
“Would you care for one?” asked Frau Schlüsselherrin.
“Merci,” he said.
They huddled close to light up as the wind drew their smoke in elaborate spirals that rapidly dissipated. Both took a moment to enjoy their vice. Frau Schlüsselherrin, tapped her ashes over the railing and looked Monsieur L’Horloge directly in the eyes.
“There was something you wanted to say to me,” she stated.
He took a long drag on the cigarillo, filling his lungs with smoldering courage.
“In the past, I may have-“
Corrected he continued, “I inaccurately and unkindly stated the art of creating keys and locks was somehow inferior to the making of chronotons and other time pieces. They are both very difficult fields of craftwork that require a deft hand and a sharp mind. For that, I…”
He took another pull and exhaled into the ever-darkening sky.
“I offer my most sincere and humble apologies,” he said, giving a bow.
Frau Schlüsselherrin regarded him for a moment and it seemed that the wind held its breath. Suddenly, she grinned and punched him, playfully, in the arm and the stillness vanished.
“I happily accept your apology,” she said.
“Very gracious of you.”
She shrugged but also grinned. He took another drag and stared at the arrondissement below.
“That wasn’t all you wanted to say, was it?” she asked.
“No, it was not.”
“It’s not getting any warmer up here,” she remarked, “So what would make the great Monsieur L’Horloge recant his previous, if incorrect, position on the fine art of lock-smithing and key crafting.”
The cigarillo perched in the corner of his mouth, he took out a trim, green notebook out from his great coat, opened it and handed it to Frau Schlüsselherrin. On that page was a neat sketch of a stylized spider. She dropped her smoke, which was whisked away into the night.
“Is this…,” she trailed off.
Looking her straight in the eye he asked, “Do you know where the key for that is?”