The Price of Entanglement - Chapter 1


Oh crap! Jo thought, and cautiously extended a gloved hand out from under the convenience store's awning. It was pouring rain again, and there was no way she was going out into it untested.

She left her hand out in the downpour for several seconds, watching the drops collect and roll off the worn, slightly ragged leather glove. Nothing, not even on the metal ornamentation.

"Careful miss Jo, a rain's come up!" the old man called from behind the counter back in the shop. She glanced back at him and smiled; old Fred had been looking out for her and her friends for as long as she could remember.

"I caught it, no worries. Doesn't look like it's acidic this time! I should be okay."

"Haven't seen you with an umbrella these last few weeks. Somethin' happen to the one you bought last year?" Fred's memory for sales he'd made was nothing short of uncanny. Jo would sometimes stop by to visit for no reason other than to test his recall.

"Yeah, it got a bit busted up," she said, eyeing a stack of umbrellas not far from the counter. "I'd been meaning to get a new one. I guess now's as good a time as any." She shifted a bag of groceries in her hand and dug around in her pockets. Money was a little tight these days; she needed work, and she needed it pretty soon. Finding her credit chit, she pulled it out and checked the balance.

Ugh, she thought with a mental sigh. It was doable, but her gran had better not ask for any special meals for the next week or so. Canned pork 'n beans and spaghetti were going to be their staple for the next while.

"Yeah, okay. I'll take this one," she said, picking out a heavy black leather one that should stand up to the worst the weather could dish out. Assuming I don't have to club anyone with this one, she thought.

Fred grinned. "You sure do like the heavier ones. Can't blame you, wouldn't be caught in the open without one m'self. Should last a good ten years at least though! Can't imagine what you do with 'em to keep needin' new ones all the time." He took her credit chit and rang through the purchase.

He was exaggerating, though not by much, she had to admit. She had broken more than a few of the things over the years, and that was just the umbrellas. Dolesham had been a wonderful place once, her gran insisted, back when he was a young man and the town had been a proper town, not an overgrown satellite extension of the city of Holdswaine.

It wasn't such a bad place now, she thought. Sure, there were some unsavory types around, and once in a while they got a little rough and had to be taught to keep their hands to themselves. That was true everywhere though, and most folk were perfectly fine. She'd never run into anyone she couldn't run away from, or clock a good one if it came to that.

"I'd better get on my way Fred, gran'll be wondering where dinner is if I'm not back soon! Thanks, catch you next time."

"You be careful now, Jo," he said as he always did, and waved as she darted off into the dark streets.