Coffee (part two)

Julien pried the seat from the table. It’s legs locked with the ornament base. He took a seat opposite of the now accompanied figure. “Mind if I sit here?” Julien wheezing an uneasy rasp, Strangers gave him anxiety but this was self-inflicted and felt forced. His eyes upon her, and hers expressionless as her own delved into the half empty cup. “Suit yourself.” her beak twitched in utterance. “I noticed you’ve been here .. for a while. People have came and went, I mean you’ve been here since me and my friends, and I noticed you reading that letter-” Julien was cut off as the bird slapped her plated hand down, fingers stretched out to not rip it with her talons. “I need it.” she only spoke in a droned whisper.

“Just curious as to what it is, .. and what your story is, .. I’m a Journalist that collects people’s stories of the city, you may have seen some of the zines for free on the window?” Julien paused frequently as he tried to restrain his hyperventilating lungs to soothe his flow, he needed to get back in the groove. The bird loosened their grip on the paper. She pinched the edge delicately and flipped it to it’s stiff balance. “You may read, .. it’s good news after all, but not good enough.”

He tilted his glasses to get a better light, it was an acceptance letter for the University. “Sounds like you got in, .. and the enrollment is in twenty days? Too soon?” She cast her gaze around, as if looking for an exit. “It’s not soon enough, I’m homeless. I was staying by Hanner Pub by the harbour-”
“Hanners pub?” chimed in Julien, “How did you find? I heard it’s a rough place to live, there was a break in a few weeks ago.”
“So you heard. The place that was broken in was mine, they took everything, including Furniture, my landlord blamed me, and wanted me to pay for everything lost, so I was fleeced of my money, then driven out and now I survive by playing violin.” She hung her head over the cup, back arched over her chair as she leaned towards the curious Rat. “Any good at it?” Julien cracked a smile and gave a gesture as he played an invisible violin. “Better than the woman with the two stringed guitar near the main street.”
“The one that plays the note over and over?”
“Yes, her.” The bird swallowing, “There you have your story.” she concluded.
“Not all of it, not by a long shot.” Julien ran a hand to coax back his ears. “I need help with a task, and you may be perfect, .. it says your studying Communications as a bachelors. So you’re good at English and writing?”
She nodded and added “Can’t see how I’d be of much help.” the rat checked his watch, “Sorry, just checking for lunch. But I need an assistant, short notice I know … but I’m due to interview-”

A voice roared with a snide coating “Sir Cheesemongler, your fungus is ready for consumption.” Cassandra spinning a plate on the edge of the counter top.” the rat excusing himself. Once he returned he offered half to the bird. “As I said, I need to interview someone, but I don’t want to go alone in case I fuck up. A group of pretty pretentious art hipsters who happen to be the cadre of model material. I get paid, I’ll split the share with you, and offer you to crash on my couch. Deal?”
She casted a lick along her beak, evidently grown favorable after sealing a cautious bite of the panini. “Sounds like a plan. I’m Voss by the way.”
“Voss, as in German for Fox, odd as it’s…”
“A Male name. I know.” the bird finished picking apart a mushroom with their beak, “Was Seeing Dr Thyme about becoming a handsome Peacock, he turned out to be a prehistoric asshole, so I’m stuck half way.” lowering their hood, with long white streaks at the ends of their facial feathers. “Albinism is a predominantly male trait that’s flared up as I took hormones, but they stopped it as I wasn’t ‘crossdressing’ enough.” Voss sneered, ending in a hard click of their beak. “Hard to do so, when each week you’re closer to being flat out broke. Anyway you have the advantage.”
Julien perked his brow, unusual assistant but he could tell this would be fun, “Oh, I’m Molkov-Julien de Spade, esquire the third, and so on, but you may call me Julien, and never-”
A Hoarse voice roared over “Jules!” as Ernan chuckled a bellow of laughter; “We’ve got it Haha! We’ll screen share a textfile and work on it together!” Julien uttered quietly to his new assistant, “Voss, excuse me just a small moment.” Strolling over to his early company.

“Ernan, fuck you and your sucky gimmicks. We’ve been doing this for years, and we get nowhere closer of NaNo’s Limit. We suck, and we fail, and I’ve got too much work to do.” Julien chest was tense, he’d rarely speak over Ernan. “If we work together we can do this! Trust me!” he barked back, his thick brow descended as he looked back infuriated. Teeth baring. “No we won’t, we’ll do it if we want, like everyone else. That is alone to the fruits of our own victory and defeat. For a group of writers we’ve done so very little writing. Also Cliff Get some fucking sleep you look like we’ve hooked you to a car battery.” The Fox drooling down the side of his cheek, partially hit by awe, he turned to Ernan in that slackjaw look. Cogs smashed in his vulpine brain. “Ernan. You do honestly suck.” arms slowly spreading out, as if the Fox was hit by divine transcendence. “And so do you Julien, but best of luck.” Cliff got up to get his coat from the back of his chair. “I really need to get back to work.” chugging the last of his coffee. Ernan fidgetted with his thick fingers, he fumed and watched the others part from his eyes. “Cowardly bastards.” were the words that slipped out, “They don’t know genius.” as people passed by, only Voss heard the chilled utterance as they were the last to leave.

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Coffee (part one)

Five PM. Thursday. St. Kerr Street.
Julien swilled and tilted his mug to his maw. Thinking admits the buzz of O’Bean’s Cafe, on their longest working day. His thoughts going over a moral dilemma, a crisis of his age at passing the first quarter of his life and already mid route to his thirties. The dilemma of course being whether to shave his ancient sage of a muzzle. His ratty whiskers growing more untamed, as his facial fuzz grow course beneath his lips.

Unable to focus on much. His ears perked and glassy eyes turning to feign interest in his to companions. The Aberdork writing group. “NaNo is in two months.” Grumbled Ernan Quinn, a Clydesdale stallion, decked in a sharp Hugo boss coat and purple Irlen glasses (they didn’t help his eye sight, but he thought they helped him look ‘postmodern’.)
“It’s three, actually.” Sighed Cliff, the tired short hair fox stifling a yawn. Who’s name is prounced CIF, as in chronically insomniac fox. One too many night shifts and the writing group was his way if reclaiming lost time. As the mutual, overarching ethos of the group it was the only thing either of the three did in their spare time, as per a boy’s club. Four sixths of the cups on the table were due to cliff’s consumption. “How about we write a trilogy, one book each, I’ll start, CIF gets the middle, and we know jules here loves a good climax.”

Julien stopped stroking his rough chin “we don’t even know what the characters we’ll have or how they’d develop earlier in the series … But we can build a shared setting.”
“Excellent, any one up for a science fiction space opera?” Cliff barked more excited as the gallons of caffeine powered his semi-dead body to life once more. Jittery, with Julien noticing a growing eye twitch.
“Talk amongst yourselves, gents, I need to place an order.”

The rat strolled between the neatly ordered tables, catching snippets of conversations; possible love affairs, neighbourly gossip, organising frat parties and two bad dates. One ending low-key and the other by he’ll snag for a story. One that’ll never be suitable for children.

“Could I get a mushroom and pesto panini.” Flashing a grin, with slick of his lips at Cassandra O’Bean. The store was run by twins, grey-neck kangaroos. Both were green aprons with the store’s logo emblazed upon them, a ‘O’ split down the middle like the seam of a coffee bean. Art nouvea ornation, akin to the physical store.
“Only if you don’t choke and die like last time, if I knew you were that fragile I’d only let you order from the kid’s menu.” Cassandra was the bitter to the sweet and sour O’Bean duo. “To be fair I only passed out for two minutes … ”
“And with the guy’s I’ve seen you ‘bite’ I’m surprised it was a panini that nearly did you in.” Slitting the snacks plastic wrapper and placing it under the grill.
Julien gave a blank gaze, turning into a smirk as a quick recovery. An unexpected jab at his sexuality, Cassandra really was giving a “low blow”‘ Julien squeaked “Any lower and you’d be under the table with a mouthful.”
“That your professional opinion? We both know writing doesn’t pay that well for gourmet paninis.”
“Which is why I’m here getting the sloppy seconds of a supermarket discount bin.” Cassandra tearing into a laugh, placing a hand on the counter for support. Nodding up with a glint in her eye. “It’ll be five minutes.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
Julien turning to rejoin the group, his eye catching the hooded avian at the back wall. Idly turning the cup in it’s saucer, a lonely creature pulling the rat’s heart. In a moment of unease he made his way towards here, .. Could be a good story.

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Prologue

Voss’ melody weaver across the train station. So early in the five o’clock morning of the night’s shadow. He only played for an audience that wasn’t there, that no longer is there. Litter flittering with the breeze of the autumn wind, Voss’ tail feathers brushed along the broken tiled floor. Dried out, and dead weeds pushed through the cracks, in preparation for the foilage’s winter slumber. Darker days that Voss didn’t want to ruminate over. His beak peaked open and he began to sing.

“Mellowing my mind…”

His voice high pitched an octave too far for a male peafowl.

“Won’t you please,.. Pay me in kind,”

He had waited patiently, talking to Doctors for the drugs his manhood needed.

“I can’t sing … ” he finally croaked “I’ll never be King.”

The bow stroked the strings one last time, Voss tucking it back into it’s rugged case. A symphony only few knew of the transgender peafowl. Voss Vossinsky, half-Scot Half-Hungarian Java Peacock. Only his anatomy didn’t cover that per his species moniker. No grand plumage no irradiant blue feathers. Just there mere dull brown of a feminine peahen. The violin case against his back, and his back against the imaginary audience of rustling wind. The “king” the solitary platform, where another night in his mind’s eye he was the man he wanted to be.

The city was quiet with a few blurred lights of “sleazy” establishments, and the bird going down cooler paths, away from the blitzed crowd of scattering barflies. Voss’ mind grew restless. He only lived here a few months and besides the self-health group who’ve sole role thus far was holding an axe to the identity grindstone. Voss felt he didn’t belong, transversing the slippery lauded bricks of a road. They took measures and expended so much energy making sure the “wrong” transgender or transsexual person did not get their help. Friends were few and far inbetween, people he once met and steadily felt close, had moved away abruptly without warning or were misplaced through time, and bad directions. Voss didn’t keep much contact with people, hardly a blip, he muttered, stirring a gaze from passers by. The bird smelt of long unwashed days of grime.

introversion was killer; you loved the time you had by yourself. Your own room, and quiet abode from Society, you don’t here it knocking as it tears the walls of comfort and security down. Financial issues was one thing, Voss tweaked his beak akin to a grimace, he hated how he came across socially. Voss had applied for university late in a last ditch effort to have some lonely standing left. Their awkward shy voice very grating to his own ear. Dorkish mannerisms and the chronic anxiety that came with being social meant any friend Voss could find … Was worth the weight of the glibbonous moon plated in gold.

They found found a half-eaten sandwich near the park bin, and found s dry spot hidden amongst shrubs to rest. The church bells rung hours later, the the clockface pointing at 9AM. Blue skies with a thick haze of fog obscuring it’s steeple.

High expectations, Voss rose up and pulled himself towards the post depot, hoping just like the other days had gone by, that a letter will be waiting for his bloodshot and weary eyes to read.

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