TITLE: The Queens of New Brooklyn
In a city where Hive Collapse has resulted in pandemic scurvy, Rossi introduces her new friend to an old one.
“The East River’s angry today. You should be inside, girly.”
Rossi spins, throws herself at the old man, hugs his waist.
“Is that what I smell?” Leo asks.
“Finally get a bodyguard, Rossalini?” Jenks asks, rumpling her hair.
“Leonard Nox,” the blonde boy says.
“Jenkins Porter.” He doesn’t shake the offered hand. “You’re the one that drove up Canal Street. In the armored truck.”
“That takes a pair.” He holds out his hand. Leo shakes it.
“Colonal Porter led the Finders,” Rossi says. “In the first war.”
“Her grand-dad and I fought together,” the old man says. “My people led themselves.”
A flock of untrained pigeons squabble over sidewalk scraps on the opposite street.
“You’re from Texas, boy,” Jenks says.
Leonard inhales, rubs his hand over his mouth. Rossi holds her breath, but he doesn’t deny it.
“What were you convicted of?” she whispers.
Leonard says nothing. He’s staring at Porter, muscles tense.
“He was born there,” Jenks says, with a small smile. “That wall’s not meant to keep people in, girl-child. It’s meant to keep people out.”
A single drop of sweat runs down Leo’s face. Rossi wants to touch it, even bring it to her lips like a tear.
“I’m old, boy. I even remember what honey tastes like.”
He reaches out with searching fingers; Rossi tucks them into her elbow, guides the blind man across the street. The pigeons rise up squawking, and settle down behind them.
“What was it like?” she asks.