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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 61: Kondor 62
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The hotel was even more comfortable than Kondor anticipated. The concierge was polite and helpful, not only asking him if he needed anything but also making suggestions such as coffee, lunch, newspaper, massage. He decided to take the coffee and the lunch. The suite was spacious, with both a sitting room and a bedroom in addition to a bathroom which had shower and separate tub, sink with ample counter space, and a bidet. Towels were stacked in a linen closet, along with washcloths, and a variety of soaps, shampoos, creams, toothpastes, and other toiletries. Behind doors he thought led to a closet there was a hot tub.
Kondor began to wonder how long it had been since he'd been really clean. For several years he had been a crewman on the Mary Piper, where baths were an expensive luxury one bought when in port a couple times a year. Before that he'd been living with Lauren and the Parakeet people, probably a few months of washing in a lake. He was in Sherwood Forest for about a decade prior to that–oh, he left out the Vorgo; it was easy to forget, as he was not there long, but at the moment it seemed very important. Still, it was before Sherwood, when he was on that other Mary Piper traveling in space, that he really had anything remotely like a modern bath or shower. He didn't know which to take first. Considering the amount of dirt which must have built up on his body over the years, he thought it best not to sit in the water with it. A shower, a long hot relaxing shower, would be the place to begin.
After his shower, he put on a hotel robe, and went through his things. He really had nothing very clean to wear either, and his fatigues were looking quite worn, threadbare, from their years of service. He gathered all of his clothes together and called the desk to find out about laundry. Yes, he was told, they could have all his clothes washed and returned in two hours. His day was dissolving into time spent waiting, but it seemed the best thing to do. His lunch had arrived, so he might as well relax, get that paper, and eat, and then have clean clothes to wear when done. The paper told him nothing–not even the dates matched anything familiar to him–but in terms of culture and technology, it seemed to be very like the world in which he was born.
It was thus late in the afternoon before he again left the hotel. Since ammunition was his top priority, he brought his guns as well as a substantial amount of cash. He repackaged his belongings so that most of the valuables were in the duffel bag, which he arranged to have put in the hotel safe. His other things he left in the room; the only ones which were worth anything to him would seem like toys to anyone from this world, or at least like nothing they understood, so he wasn't too worried about being robbed. He asked directions to a sporting goods store, on the guess that they would carry gear for hunters. If they had the right bullets there, all the better; if they didn't, they would probably have some notion where he might look.
They did have bullets for the pistol; he bought two hundred, four boxes. That would reload the gun twenty times. They did not have the right clip for it, but the shells would fit the three clips he still had. For the rifle bullets, they referred him to an army surplus store a few blocks away. Then his eye fell upon a crossbow. He had fired one the last time he was in this world, but it paled next to this one. The bow was a stainless steel spring, with a cantilever quick loading system and a comfortable trigger. He bought it, along with a harness for it and a quiver. Remembering Lauren's arrows he also purchased fifty quarrels with target points and a hundred with hunter points. It was more than he wanted to carry, but they were quite willing to deliver everything to his hotel (especially when they saw the roll of bills he produced to pay for it all). So he left with nothing but that with which he entered, minus a few hundred in cash.
The surplus store did have the bullets he needed; again, they did not have clips, but he had three clips for that and could pack them himself. With fifty bullet clips on an automatic weapon, you could use a lot of ammo very quickly. However, there was a limit to how much he could carry. He bought seven hundred rounds, and wished he could stock up with more, but with the gold and the gems and the bullets and everything else, it was becoming more than he could carry.
There were also clothes at this store, fatigues not terribly different from his own. Although he owned and sometimes wore other outfits, the fatigues were his favorite. They were durable, comfortable, and offered camouflage which had been welcome more than once. He purchased two sets, shirt, jacket, and pants, in the green, and two in the sand, and decided to get one arctic white outfit in part because it was warm and he wasn't well equipped for truly cold weather. He looked at a machete, but settled instead for a smaller Bowie knife, less useful perhaps as a weapon, not very good for hacking through jungles, but a tool for which he would find many tasks, and one which would not likely be taken for the weapon it was.
All of this he brought back to the hotel and unpacked in his room. The order from the sporting goods store was waiting for him, and he went over it to make sure it was correct. He loaded the clips for both guns, but left the rifle in the room, taking only the pistol when he left for dinner, extra clips in the pocket of the new green fatigues he wore.
When he asked at the desk about local restaurants, he was told that there were few in the city finer than the one in the hotel, but that a car could be arranged to drive him wherever he preferred, and there was a list of fine dining establishments they recommended. The lap of luxury, he thought, was a nice place to be seated. He would eat at the hotel tomorrow night, he said, as he would have to be at the museum on time; tonight he would like to go out and see a bit more of the town.
The driver recommended seafood, which was not something Kondor particularly favored at present. He had eaten enough fish for a few worlds sailing the oceans on the Mary Piper, and before that when he was living by the lake with Bob, Lauren, and the parakeet people. Meat was what he wanted, steak or prime rib or roast beef or something on that order. He didn't need elegant, as long as what he got was good. The driver knew a place, a steakhouse with a good reputation but a casual atmosphere.
That proved ideal, and he ate more perhaps than he should have done, between the large steak, the open salad bar, the batter-dipped fried onion, the baked potato, and the mushroom garnish. He passed on the dessert, and rode back to the hotel.
He relaxed in the Jacuzzi before dressing for bed. It was the most comfortable mattress in memory, and part of him wanted to stay awake and enjoy just lying on it. But sleep crept over him soon enough.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #94: Novel Meetings. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: