Another one from the series known under the working title of THE LAST STAND. Just like ‘nasty, brutish, and short’, this one is not so much a part of the story, but a description of a character, a way of getting inside his head. Not all the characters are male, although most of the lead ones are. Eormen is a man’s world.
The boots were old but well-made. It was unbelievable that they had made it so long with only minimal repairs and no lasting damage. Their surface was deeply lined but it was not broken, the brown leather cured still further by the relentless desert sun. The boots lived in a modest house strewn with books, and every day they patrolled the frontier town, visiting every business and listening to the everyday gripes of the proprietors. So-and-so is suspected of stealing peas; Mr Nikka’s kid hasn’t shown up to work for the third time this week; the stories soaked into the leather like oil.
The boots and their owner were in many ways identical. At forty years of age, Ruíy Nahatore was something of a miracle: he had his original arms and legs, including a full complement of fingers and toes. Not one of his eyes were made of glass. He even had all of his teeth – there were kids half his age with teeth missing, but not Ruíy Nahatore. He endured.
The last of his patrol stops was always the liquor shop, but Ruíy was no drinker, at least, not in a sense any more than recreational. He saved this business for last because he needed time to think of what to say to his son. Today, he would talk about Fenn Nikka’s kid, who had been fired from his fourth job. Jeat’s reaction was typically unenthusiastic:
“That’s a shame, sir.”
“That it is, son.” There had been a time when Jeat had referred to his father as ‘Pa’, but for many years now it had been ‘sir’, and probably would remain ‘sir’ for evermore. Jeat watched his father peruse the shelves but did not volunteer any conversation. “You’ve had a run on the corn liquor, I see.”
“I’ve had no problems here for a month now. I’m afraid you’ve nothing to write in your book today.”
“I see. Well, you know where I am.”
“That I do.”
Ruíy turned to leave. He supposed the pangs he felt would lessen over time the same way everything else did. Despite the empty feeling, he was unsurprised; he had not expected anything else.
Ruíy turned suddenly, catching his toe on a wooden box full of wine, which clinked as he stumbled. “Son?”
“If Fenn Nikka’s kid shows up here, I’m gonna assume you sent him. Don’t bother. I don’t need help, and certainly not his kind of help.”
Ruíy nodded and left.