Friday, November 1, 2013

Dead Rite chapter 161.01

The taxi deposited them in a suburb of Wells virtually indistinguishable from the suburb of any medium-sized city in England. Semi-detached houses set back from the road with individually-tended, neat lawns and borders on spring bulbs and the profusion of yellow flowers that marked the Englishman's need for colour after the long, weary days of winter. Low walls and militarily cut privet hedges separated the gardens from the paving slabs of the pavement and the tar-and-grit style road. Plane trees thrust from the pavement at sporadic intervals, their roots lifting the concrete slabs and distorting the curbs.

Harold remembered pavements like these. As a child he'd ride his bike along them, their smooth surfaces easier on the pedals than the grittier roads. He remembered the muted clatter of bicycle tyres over the cracks, the occasional tilt as a flagstone shifted under the weight. Flagstone paving was rare these days. Councils had been stung too often by spurious American-style lawsuits from people trying to make a living from falling over. They only laid tarmac pavements now, with cobbles reserved to town centres, often cordoned off with signs warning people of surfaces that became 'slippery when wet' and absolving the council of any responsibility for falls.

He looked over at Jasfoup and Sefskapoi, negotiating with the cab driver over the fare. Sefskapoi was asking not for a discount, but for a cut of the take. Jasfoup was arguing about a tip, claiming that 'putting your foot down at amber lights' was worth at least five percent of the fare. The driver seemed to disagree, citing the concept as a natural extension of driving and not conducive to increased fares.

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