Segment One: Reunion of Yin and Yang
Katherine crushed the soggy rolled up November 14, 2010 newspaper. A three line ad, circled several times in red marker, bled, marring the palm of her hand. Her brown galoshes provided a welcome shield from the rain slick sidewalk. Remnants of a late season hurricane dropped buckets of water on the northern coastal fishing village.
The chill-moist air contained familiar odors from the fish house. Mornings were dedicated to gutting, filleting, and freezing, afternoons to disinfecting the tables. A person could determine the time of day by the smells sweeping through the streets. During the past three months, she’d learned the ancient business employed half the village.
With the back of her newspaper-laden hand, she brushed dripping strands of hair from her brow. The edge of her yellow slicker flapped as the wind sailed down the narrow corridor between houses. The brisk air caught under her skirt, swirled around her thighs, and she shivered. Above the adjacent door, tuneless rusted chimes clanged, the sound grating her nerves.
If a professional appearance guaranteed the job, she’d be rejected. The plate glass window insured her makeup was intact, but the flirty curls she’d coaxed into her straight hair an hour ago, appeared flat-ironed. Drowned rat was probably an apt description she would earn from her potential employer.
The sign dangling from a small plastic hook on the exterior door announced “Closed”. She stretched her arm, baring her wrist, and eyed her watch. Eight fifty am. Appointments began at nine am. She hunched her shoulders against the next gust. Where were the other applicants? The unmistakable squeak of rubber boots sounded behind her. She crossed her arms over her chest and inched closer to the locked door. The line formed at the rear.
“Pardon me,” a smooth baritone voice commanded. She glanced behind, catching a glimpse of a male chin, then quickly dropped her gaze as wind blown rain threatened to run down her neck.
“You’re blocking the entry.” The oddly accented words were foreign to the village. If she wasn’t mistaken, there had been a hint of some European dialect.
Katherine edged to the side of the gray stone building, leaving just enough room to give the man access while she remained protected under the overhanging eaves. The man, well concealed beneath the hood of a blue raincoat, quickly inserted a key, turned the knob, and walked into the building. She glanced left, right, shoved the soggy newspaper into her pocket, then scurried forward.
The room was warm and blessedly dry. Scents of lemon-oiled wood within competed with the wet earth just outside the partially opened door. A gust of wind whirled inside and slammed the entrance door closed. Overhead, bright lights flickered to life. She swept back her rain hood, released the metal fasteners down the front, slipped off her coat and turned to take in the well lighted room. The fine hairs at the nap of her neck rose.Something was wrong.
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