How was ol' Eddie in the sack?
Edward's dead. His ailment finally took him--But not before sending him into a delirium. He kept asking for you. He sobbed when you never came.
Do you expect me to feel pity for him? A man who, in his last hours, lost his mind and babbled for a toy he threw away?
Perhaps he finally knew something of the pain I’ve felt all these years.
"Free me?" He grins with a wry smirk. "Honestly, what other answer do you expect me to give?"
He shifts back with a grimace, his knees starting to throb with pain but if he was worried or hurting, he hid it well. “Oh no, just the opposite my friend. The Mojave is mine. New Vegas is now my Rome, and I have renamed it as such. New Rome. As for what I am doing here.. just passing through. Looking for more green pastures, as it were.”The man lied.
"One more clever than that." Joshua turned away from the younger man. Had to. Couldn’t bear to look at him longer, lest his fire reach a blaze and consume what rationality he had left in him.
Through gritted teeth, he said, “You’re an idiot to have come here, Edward. We eradicated the White Legs. We’ve grown stronger since you sent those animals to hound us. And I—I will not let you leave her alive. No, you’ve been on God’s good earth for too long.” His hands trailed over the pile of pistol’s on the table as though they were a lover’s thigh.
Young Edward was terrified. He had been in ‘danger’ before but not like this. This was his first time away from home, away from his mommy and the walls of the school where the Followers made camp. His weapons had been taken - though if push came to shove, he was very glad he had bothered to learn martial arts all these years. Perhaps he’d get to test them today.
They had been in this political banter for so long now. Ed was getting impatient.
Edward’s eyes glared at Joshua for a moment as he pondered. “Ask if he knows how to use him. I could teach him how to use the weapons.. how to summon big fires.” He’d seen some dynamite outside as well. “Let me see one,and I can show him.”
Joshua, on the other hand, was accepting with inevitable fate with a resigned sorrow. Edward’s silver tongue wouldn’t be able to save them; they had gotten in too deep this time. It was his fault, too. A slip of the tongue and here they were. Caught, like Yao Guai in the trap.
He translated and the chieftain replied quickly, agitated. “He is offended that you think he does not know how to use firearms. He said that if that is all you can offer him, then you are useless. Crow food.” Come on, Edward. Think bigger.
A drop of sweat fell down quivering lips and further upon trembling hands. Bony fingers grasped at the material of another’s pants as he shook in pace - doing his best to keep his composure.
Young Edward ran a hand through his soggy and hot hair as he pretended to be cool - staring down certain death from across a stump that served as a table. The tension and silence was deafening enough to ring in his ears. He found Joshua’s fingers and squeezed them tight, looking at the man sitting to his right, serving as his translator between he and the fearsome Blackfoot chieftain across from them both.
Terrified children. He thought. That’s all we are.
"Tell him I have seen the guns in the pile outside of camp. Ask him if he knows how to use them. Ask him if he wants to be an even stronger chieftan." But their negotiations were not going well. Edward was already abandoning his thoughts of brown-nosing and turning towards musings of murder instead.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.
A stalemate of words. His tongue was tangled now, skewered on the twin blades of the two conflicting languages. Why had he agreed to this? Joshua couldn’t even be sure that he was translating things correctly anymore. And there were Edward’s fingers, clutching first at his pants and then at his hand. Like a child hiding behind the leg of their father.
He complied, translating Edward’s questions for the chieftain. He was an impressive man; he was surrounded by wives and children, imposing at six foot three.
The chieftain thought. Yes, his people had seen guns. What could these men offer him? Nothing, surely. Look at how they sweat, like pigs on the roasting stick. He spoke, and Joshua translated.
"He wants to know how you could possibly help him, Edward. You are a child." The last part was added almost as an afterthought.
happy shall he be that taketh them and danceth them upon the rocks
Staccato beat measure tap tap tapping out on the clock and the heat was killing him. Stuffy suit, patched knees, tussled hair—Joshua knelt on the pew and prayed under the cold eyes of his father, begged for candy and forgiveness from a god who had stopped listening to the Wasteland a long time ago. He tried to stand but Papa pushed him down so he asked for one more thing and then turned his eyes to the light filtering through broken stained glass, shattered saints and sheep and lions. Tried to remember the stories of the men in the windows. Tried to remember the names of the beasts with bits and pieces from other animals. Conglomerate mismatch, like the fabric of his own tattered suit.
Jonah’s leavin’, said the priest. Papa nodded.
Think he’ll go easy? asked Papa, but it didn’t sound like a question to Joshua. His gaze moved to the priest with the grizzled face. Unhappy face. Unhappy, unsnappy, unpappy. The boy sang this little rhyming song in his head until the priest spoke again. Spoke slow in the gait of a tortoise.
Don’t think so, admitted the priest as he crossed his hands over his chest. Papa nodded like he did when Mama asked if the food was good and it wasn’t. Papa looked distant, like he was watching angels, and Joshua thought of all those nice ladies with the golden hair, golden halos, golden skin.
He’s gotta go, the priest said with renewed vigor. Man’s a sinner, he affirmed. Joshua remembered the stories about how they were all sinners even if they tried their hardest not to be and he felt sorry for Jonah in the way that only eight year olds can. But this was the business of adults and it bored him. So the boy went back to thoughts of candy and breakfast after Sunday mass and then back to Jonah again. What had Jonah done? He was the woodcarver and he made small toys and flutes. Wielded a heavy ax that he never let the kids touch. Joshua watched him cut down a tree once and he remembered the dull thud of steel on wood, the final scream of the tree, the blood of sawdust spilled from the split between tree and trunk. Maybe Jonah cut down the wrong tree and maybe that irritated the Lord real bad. Maybe he just didn’t pray.
Well, regardless, he wouldn’t be getting any candy from the Good Lord.
Alex was sitting on the edge of a cliff relaxing drinking a bottle of tequila.
One shouldn’t loiter here. The yao guai are swift and unpredictable.