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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 6: Brown 2
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 5: Kondor 43
Derek Jacob Brown looked up at the tall, gaunt man standing in the doorway, and swallowed hard.
"Please, sir," he began, "I–I'm lost, and I'm hungry."
The man looked down on him, solemn as death for a moment; then he smiled, as if the sun came out, warm and friendly.
"Please, come in," he said. "I was just having a bit of soup, and there's enough for two."
He paused only a moment before crossing the threshold.
"May I hang up your coat and knapsack?"
"Oh," he said, "thank you," and slipped out of his book bag and jacket.
He was in a kitchen, of sorts. There were several large tables that looked like butcher blocks on top, with pots and pans and utensils hanging everywhere. At the near end was a huge hearth, with iron bars of every description. A large iron wood stove stood a few feet from it, and the flue from it fed into the masonry above the fireplace, but it had the look of having been added. Sunlight streamed through windows, and there were lanterns and candles in quite a few places in the room. By a small side table were a few wooden chairs, and the man set a clean bowl next to one already started, and ladled some sort of meaty soup into it. Derek sat down.
"I'm Carlo," the man said. "I'm the butler here. What's your name?"
"Derek Brown," he said. "And I'm really very lost; I'm not even sure what country I'm in."
"You are lost," Carlo said. "This is Italy–not too many kilometers from Sorio." Derek thought it strange that the butler of an Italian household should speak English so much like an American, but since he didn't speak Italian he wasn't going to worry about it. "But the roads through the Alps can be confusing, so it's easy to get lost. Where were you headed?"
Derek had no idea how to answer that, so he shoveled another spoonful of the soup into his mouth, and wiped his lips on a cloth napkin while chewing a bit of the meat. Then he had an idea.
"I'm not sure, actually. I was with a tour group, but I was looking out over the mountains and was kind of near the end of the group when I got a flat tire. I had hoped they would be waiting for me somewhere, but I must have missed a turn or something."
Carlo suddenly cocked his head, and raised his eyes to one side. Then he spoke again. "Would you excuse me?" He turned back to look at Derek. "I think I heard something. There may be someone at the front door."
Derek nodded as the man stood and walked out. He was about to take another bite of the bread when suddenly his fear came back to him. Here it comes, he thought. Carlo, not his real name, has left the room to find his axe, or to change into his alter ego. In a moment he'll be back to kill me. He looked around the room for some way to defend himself (you can't escape in these stories, he thought), and saw a rack of knives which included a cleaver. He rose from his seat, intending to arm himself.
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 #74: Another Novel. 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: