It Can Be Intoxicating-Arrondissement Part Forty-Four

Mr. Twig walked down the alley in the foggy, pre-dawn hours. The sky above was tenuously lightening as he knocked on the back door of the boulangerie. With a creak, the door swung open.

“Good morning Mister Twig!” exclaimed the baker, her chestnut fur dusted with flour.

“And good morning to you Mademoiselle Darcey.”

“How was work? Did you break up any fights?”

“I prevented several and assisted one gentleman to leave.”

“Assisted?” asked Darcey who ‘put up her dukes.’

“It would have been an unfair fight, given his heroic intake of cocktails.”

“How gallant of you!”

“We wish everyone to have an enjoyable evening.”

“You don’t enjoy violence, do you?”

“No, but it can be can be intoxicating.”

“You sound like you know that first hand.”

“It’s too long a story to be told at a doorway.”

“Okay, I’ll let you off now, but I want to hear more sometime.”

“Perhaps.”

“You are very mysterious.”

“Only accidentally.”

Darcey laughed and said, “Fine, fine. I have your bread ready.”

She handed him a pale blue paper bag and he handed her a seven copper concept piece.

“I slipped in a few of those sweet rolls you like.”

“How much-“ he began.

“Call it an accidental kindness.”

“Merci.”

“See you tomorrow. This dough isn’t going to knead itself, not properly anyway. Au revoir.”

With that, she shut the boulangerie door and the warm scents of bread faded. Gripping the bag gingerly, Mr. Twig began his walk home. Fog continued to roll in, making the streetlamps glow like engorged lightning bugs.

Mr. Twig enjoyed his walk home each morning. The Arrondissement was quiet, the hurly-burly of the day still slumbered. All he heard were his own footsteps and the faint stirring of early risers. From a side street, a figure emerged, a perfectly ordinary person, the kind you would pass without any curiosity.

“Mr. Twig.”

“Yes.”

“Would you please come with me.”

It was a statement, not a query.

“No. I will not.”

“I think it is in your best interest to do so.”

Mr. Twig stopped and placed his bag of baked goods on a crate that stood in the alley. Violence was coming and he did not wish his breakfast to be ruined. Wasting food was a sin.

“Your assessment of my best interest is skewed. Please tell your people behind me to stop.”

“Impressive.”

“You are not the first group to gang up on me, and you will not be the last.”

“Do you remember what happened at Les Requêtes?”

“I remember that you were driven off.”

“After much damage.”

“It’s not going to work.”

“What?”

Mr. Twig pivoted as one of his assailants tried to strike him in the back. As the fist moved past him, he grabbed the arm and flung him into the chattier member of his gang sending them both off into the fog. With a smile, Mr. Twig began to fight.

Punches and kicks were landed and blocked, limbs were broken, though none of Mr. Twig’s. He had not lied to Mademoiselle Darcey when he said that he did not enjoy fighting. He reveled in it. Each blow delivered and the pain inflicted was a delight. Nothing could be as wonderful as this. Later, he would regret each strike but at that moment, it was transcendent.

After pummeling his foes, he leapt to the one who spoke to him. More accurately, tried to distract him. Mr. Twig leaned in.

“I am going to go home now and if you are wise, you won’t follow. But in the interest of honesty, part of me wants you to.”

Bloodied and battered, the figure held up his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Apologies. We underestimated you.”

“Accepted.”

“One last thing.”

“I do not-“

Before Mr. Twig could finish, the figure blew a cloud of fine particles into his face and everything faded to grey. What came next had a dream-like quality, his limbs were bound, followed by movement, and images wavered like light reflected by water.

When finally everything coalesced into clarity, he found himself shackled to the wall of a barred cell. Sitting on a low wooden table, was the pale blue paper bag containing his bread and sweet rolls. The chains allowed him to reach it but no further.

Shame of his joy of savage brutality kept him from opening the bag. But wasting food…

“Bollocks,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

He looked up. Clearly, he was not alone.

“Yes?”

“Do you work the door at Les Requêtes?” asked Zsófia.

This entry was posted in Arrondissement, Short Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.