The Mall was bustling, now that noon was almost here…runners tramped back and forth between stores, their overflowing backpacks and hip-nets glinting with hidden possibilities. Sifters perched before their mountains of plunder, quick hands flying as they sorted out the trash from the treasure…handing the trash to the crafters, for a final sorting and possible rebuilding, and the treasure to the sales crew, setting up their spaces down the center court. Smells and sounds drifted like smoke above the tiled floor, and Blue hurried down toward her spot trying not to pay too much attention to either.
Passing banks of collected aroma, she wove her way between them with only a quick glance to scout out possibilities…the Gap crew seemed to’ve picked up some coffee somewhere, or at least something with a passable imitation of its smell…the Hotties had their usual day olds, and what looked like a pile of excrement but was most likely whatever topping they’d concocted today. Blue’s sensitive nose twitched, and caught the scents of cinnamon, brown sugar, and some other spice, as she hurried past.
Hey, Blue…the voice was soft and hoarse at the same time, and the small sifter that stepped out of the shadow of a column and into her path was a study in contradictions as well. His face was slow and expressionless, but his hands and eyes twitched rapidly, almost in unison, enough to make the light of the tiny hand-rolled he sucked on look like a laser-toy. Hey…just wanted t’say…better not let Big Rob catch y’all letting that cat in here, y’know? I mean, far as I’m concerned, cats gotta have shelter just like the rest of us…but you know how he is.
She carefully controlled her voice as she tilted her head at him, a fake confused expression on her face. Cat? Billy-G, what -are- you talking about? We ain’t got no cat. You think Jamie and Spike’d let a dirty ol’animal get inta their precious stuff? I -don’t- think. She chuckled, dismissingly…
Uh-huh. Whatever…just wanted t’say. He turned away, the tiny point of light inscribing whorls and spins of light in the shadowy areas between the columns. Just sayin…geez. His voice trailed off as he slipped back to his pile…and Blue carefully didn’t let the shaking start until she was safely out of his sight and headed down toward her own pile.
Sev looked up with a hassled look on his face as she approached, nodding to the little runner at his side. Ok, ok, I got it…tell Spike we’re gonna be on time, no matter what -some- people think… He bit his lip in a habitual gesture as the kid took off past Blue, and hollered after him. And -grab- something on the way back…you think we live on charity? Then he turned his scowling eyes on Blue, and shook his head. And you…you ready to do some sales this time, or you gonna pass out like last time? I haveta take over for you -one- more time…
Blue shook her head, confidently. I’m on it, Sev…really. What’ve we got today? Anything good? She moved forward toward the right hand pile, going gracefully to her knees to hover her hand over the contents…not -quite- daring to touch until the sifter’d given permission. But even from back here she could see that her group had done their usual good job…the glint of shiny plastics and sturdy metals could be seen through the grime, and even the bundled cloth looked like it held surprises of the positive kind.