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A Madness Alights
Last Whiteman Chapter 5
The Hinterlander's presence among the tents had the Tradesman buzzing with queries even as the kidnappers sulked in silence hatching their plots. Somehow it was known by one and all that the stranger out of the Forbidden Lands beyond the sleepy suburbs had come to Buck Garrison's Motorcycle Repair:
Brick Williams, the knife-maker, came to him as he knelt at the last tarnished portion of the rim of a racing bike he was touching up for a British Diplomat's brat son.
Only the diplomatic immunity of the visiting dignitaries, the civic authority enjoyed by meat police or the tribal impunity of biker gangs lent wheeled freedom to the individual. The roads and streets were generally camps or markets, places where tents were raised as adjacent buildings collapsed beneath Time's harsh weight.
Trucks and cars had long since run out of gas as the price of oil soared or had been outlawed by the Penthousers or nationalized by the military. In any case, streets not cleared for bus traffic were clogged with cars and trucks now used as habitations. These streets were also crowded with block-based tents. For the rounded streets rarely flooded, equipped with gutters as they were, designed to shed rain, while the sidewalks pooled deep during storms.
Brick was a friend, a caramel-colored man up from D.C. Way, “Buck, yo man don' look like no Hell's Angel. Dere 'nother gang in town, maybe needs some gut-stickers made. I'm hungry fo' work, brotha.”
“Nah, no gang rider is he, and so far as I know, he walked—or appeared outta nowhere. Man don' talk a lick—juz loogin' fo a girl a blond hair.”
“A White muvachucka?”
“You knowz id, Brick. If he needs a knife—I'll sen 'im yo way.”
Mombassa Mike stalked on by and inquired, “Da Outlanda, I will make him god of machete, no charge. I seek good will if his tribe rides in. The Watchmen are weak, the Guardsmen drunk, the Meat Police too few. I would be machete maker to the New King of this fallen place.”
Buck snorted, “Don' count out da Real Poleese, Mike. Meat Poleese be but dey dogs.”
Mombassa Mike seemed stymied and stammered, “Inform the Outlanda' dat I am his friend. I am your friend Buck.”
Then Dessalines, the Haitian machete maker appeared, “Motacycle Maan, I shall make machete for the Hinterlanda', not the Nigerian dog, Mike...no you my friend...”
Before he could say a thing, Dessalines and his apprentice were off, swaggering serpent-like through the tents.
Back at that last spot of tarnish he was, when another figure stepped up among the increasing bustle to inquire. Buck Garrison had had enough of interruptions and rose in a fury and snarled, “Ah...oh, my friend from Hinterland, you have made quite an impression. Every mother's son among the tradesmen wants the honor of branding your upcoming deeds upon some tool of his.”
The man gazed into his eyes softly and with what he gathered was gratitude, and unslung his ball peen hammer and placed his left finger on the rounded end, shaking his head that it would not do, and likewise pointed to the flattened end of the hammer head and shook his head likewise.
Buck Garrison was developing a liking for this man, and once again looked at his throat and noted that it was covered by a black scarf and decided that this one might have once swung from a vigilante rope and grinned, “Oh, we makin' some big noise up in Bal'moe, fo show!”
Buck had a foot-pedal grinder in his tent, and as the Hinterlander stood like a sentinel at the doors into Hell at the tent mouth, his back to the mechanic inside, Mamma Garrison's hardest working son got down to it, doing what he was headstrong sure was the right thing.
As darkness fell, Buck emerged from his tent, whose mouth had been left unblocked by the silent man in his black hat and noticed that the Hinterlander had bent his back and hand to that spot of rim tarnish. Buck lit his lantern and held it up, showing the spotless rim, “My thanks, Hinterlander. I trade you my effort,” announced Buck, and as the man nodded darkly and straightened to his full height, his eyes took in the gleam of his transmogrified hammer in Buck's extended hand.
The stone-faced man almost smiled, as his eyes narrowed on the once-rounded and now pointed end of the hammer, and the six short points filed and polished on the face of the once flat end. Buck could not help but gush with pride, “I dunno what your hard-ass is about, but this 'ere 'ammer done come up from da forge o' Hell. You think a Buck Garrison when you go ringing The Man's bell!”
The man took the hammer with a hard hand and a somewhat softened face that suggested a humbled heart. The face turned from the hammer in his hand and tilted down into Buck's face with a suddenly weary look that let Buck understand that a force of projection was at work here, that this man was older than appeared and sore wounded somehow, despite his outward invincibility.
Buck wanted to ask him not to continue on whatever grim errand he was on, then swallowed what would surely be taken as an insult and perhaps might materialize as a curse.
“God be with you, Hinterland.”
The man nodded and then turned about into the gathering dark and walked towards the one tent that Buck Garrison had wished he hadn't went, the tent, that unlike the boast about his hammer-shaping was Hell-sent.
Buck whispered a prayer, hoping the words would follow this right-setting man, “Good Lord keep you right tonight, Ma Man.”
“Now led me cover this Brit Brat's bike against the night.”
Buck wheeled his latest project into his one room workshop and abode, smiled at Heeler, the laziest damned dog in Baltimore, curled up in his car tire bed, a midget Doberman, worthless as tits on a boar hog. Parking the bike, he pulled the chainmail curtain across the tent flap and tied it tight, hung his lantern to low dim from the tent pole, and bedded down in his folding cot for the night.
“Do some right, Ma Man—do something right in this damned town to break this wrong spell we up and bound. Do some right.”
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RubenNov 26, 2021

It certainly sings!
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