Journeyman and Black Ivy, Part I

“Keep going,” I shouted. “Keep going!”

Journeyman sprinted onto the tarmac road and turned hard right. I turned my head over my shoulder and looked back. No sign of that woman. I sighed with relief.

I followed Journeyman up a paved road with houses on either side. They all had the awkward earthy colours that are popular in Indian neighbourhoods. It only just dawned on me that Indian neighbourhoods are the only ones that are always safe, whatever the time. Maybe because they had people like Crazy Daisy for watchmen.

After the next turn Journeyman stopped to catch his breath. The hilt of Crazy Daisy’s blade jutted out from his shoulder. I reached a hand towards him, a gesture to let me examine it but he pulled away and grunted then pointed at a bus stop across the street. I nodded and followed him there.

A metal bench ran the length of its inside. One of two, maybe three bus stops in the greater Nairobi area that had a bench inside. And it was painted too. No rusty edges on this bench. I was beginning to wonder which pies the people of this neighbourhood had their fingers in.

Journeyman sat on the bench and reached a hand towards me.

“Pass me your sweater,” he said.

“Oh no, not this one,” I said. “It’s cashmere.”

“Come on,” he said. “It’s either that or your pants.”

I took off my sweater and handed it to him. He bundled it in his hands and passed it back to me.

“Now,” he said. “I’m going to pull the knife out of my shoulder. When I do, you’re going to press the sweater down on the wound and stop the bleeding.”

I looked at his shoulder. The animal-hide grip of the blade ended where Journeyman’s shoulder began. Crazy Daisy’s throw had generated enough force to bury the blade all the way down to its hilt.

“Let me take it out,” I said.

Journeyman scoffed.

“You?” he said. “Fuck that. I’d rather leave it in there than let you take it out.”

“Ha, ha,” I said. “You’ve got no choice. There’s no way you’re going to get it out yourself. Stop being-”

Journeyman ignored me, reached his right hand over his left shoulder and grabbed the knife by the hilt. His wrist jerked and he let out a muffled cry but the blade held tight. Journeyman snorted, gritted his teeth, flexed his fingers around the leather grip and pulled again.

The blade detached itself from the flesh of Journeyman’s shoulder with a sound like a plunger in a toilet. He brought the blade round to his face and examined the crimson-stained steel. It was a nasty piece of work; long and thin with cerations on the bottom edge. Journeyman ran his finger over the lacing that held the hide on the hilt then put the blade down on the other side of the bench and turned to his back to me.

“Kabirium,” he said. “I asked you to do one thing. Just one thing. Now would you please do it before I bleed out?”

I looked at the sweater in my hand and then back up at the blood running down Journeyman’s back and snapped back to reality.

“Oh, right,” I said and pressed the sweater against Journeyman’s shoulder. “Sorry.”

He batted my hand away and pressed the sweater down.

“Whatever,” he said and turned to the side at the sound of approaching footsteps.

A man in a faded suit walked up towards the bus top and turned into it. He took a look at Journeyman and me sitting there, with a bloodied blade on the bench and decided to keep walking.

“We have to get out of here,” said Journeyman as he got to his feet. “We have work to do.”

“Wait,” I said. “Shouldn’t we get your shoulder stitched up?”

“We can get that done at Black Ivy’s,” he said.

“Why would she treat your wounds if she’s the one who wants you dead?”

“She doesn’t want me dead,” said Journeyman. “But she may have some information on who does. I know where we can find her. She’s working the breakfast shift at a nearby hotel.”

“Breakfast shift?” I said. “Awesome. I’m hungry.”

Journeyman cocked his head and grinned at me.

“She’s a great cook,” he said. “But I don’t think you’ll want anything that she has to offer.”

 

 

 

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