In a tweaking of my usual mid-weak format, I’d like to point you elsewhere: the shared-world home of my novel, The Glass Sealing. I and the other participating authors occasionally post steampunk-related articles or tie-in pieces there to flesh out the fictional city of Southwatch, where social standing is realised altitudinally, and the rich and poor a separated from each other by the Dark Cloud, a free-floating layer of toxic smog which it’s not much fun to live beneath.
This week I provided an example of newspaper journalism written for The Southwatch Register by one of my characters, Tarek al-Baz, a multi-pseudonymous literary figure who on this occasion deigned to descend from the city’s sun-drenched skyways to the funk of ground level, there to sample the joys of a street market called… the Arastro.
My friends and neighbours in Spain will likely get the reference, but for everyone else: the Rastro is a Sunday street market in my area of Madrid. The Arastro featured briefly in my novel, and now I’ve taken the opportunity to return…
“Can you spare a little?” asks of me the man with a noticeably irregular gait and shoulders made lumpen by the self-made crutch beneath one arm, the other hand (twisted, a knot of fingers about the cup of a palm) outstretched in hope of a coin; yet who, it must also be noted, appears well able to negotiate his way through the tightly-packed throng at this intersection of Brick- and Bakerstown.
I shoo him away, and he tugs at a slovenly cap in apologetic deference as I pass—but the coin purse on my belt is faintly tugged. Anticipating just such a move, I see that once malformed hand slip with clever dexterity into the pucker of stringed leather, strong fingers spreading it open and darting in, leaving it just ever so lighter as the beggar hobbles on, back turned, seeking a more kindly donor. One might hardly have noticed.
“Hoy!” I call, and magically his crutch lifts, shoulders straighten, and on fleet steps he vanishes into the crowd like a fish slipping between reeds.
A quick check of my purse reveals it three and one half shillings down. I could have baited the hook with pebbles, of course, but I considered myself to be making a purchase: of experience. I did not begrudge him his prize, it was a lesson bought cheap; and, as the cunning “beggar” ably demonstrated via his escape, Competent Negotiation is an essential when one sets foot within the Arastro street market.
You can read the rest of “A Morning Spent in Commerce at Street Level” here.
AND, what kind of self-publisher would I be if I didn’t also take this opportunity to remind you of my recent ebook release, Given Names – the second title in the End Trails weird western series? Not A Very Good One.
Click the image for the Amazon page, or here for details on how to get a copy half price…