Finny's Birthday (part 4 of 8)
Finny's Birthday (part 4 of 8) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
Autoplay OFF   •   2 months ago
Joe takes Finny to meet some useful people. The first of which is 'Aunty Wainwright'

Finny's Birthday (part 4 of 8)

Joe's first stop with Finny was his 'office' in the pond square. Here he introduced her to Rodney Hassle, the auctioneer.

Rodney held out a hand and Finny half shook it and half curtsied, which left them both a little red-faced.

"Pleasure to meet you, Sir."

"Sure. Er, you too... Miss."

Joe shook his head. Ignoring Rodney, Joe turned to Finny.

"The point is, if you ever need to get hold of me in an emergency come to Rodney."

Joe then took her across to Bank Officer Montenegro. This time the introduction went off with less awkwardness.

Bank Officer Montenegro looked at Finny curiously, at the same time hiding a small smile that twitched around his mouth.

Joe led Finny back to the car, where they spent the next half hour sitting on the hood and watching the comings and goings.

Joe directed most of her attention to the people using the vaults; those almost magical devices that were exclusively the domain of what Finny had always referred to as 'The Party People'.

Those hedonistic, gun-toting killers and adventurers who were mostly criminals of one kind or another and were almost entirely clones.

Finny's eyes wandered to the LifeNet facility, the home of the clones, or so it seemed. A gentle slap on the back of the head brought her attention back to Joe's words.

"Oi. Pay attention. Watch the buggers at the vaults."

So Finny watched. Watched how, no matter how big or how many were the items deposited, the vault took them all.

She understood that this was ancient technology at work, but it still looked like magic.

Finally, Joe stood up and opened the car door.

"Right, next stop is Aunty Wainwright's. When you get there mind your Ps and Qs and don't touch anything you don't want to buy."

Finny joined Joe in the car. As he was starting the engine, he turned to her.

"In fact, don't even look at anything or she'll bloody sell it to you."

Aunty Wainwright's was a junk shop. No, let's get it right. Aunty Wainwright's was a junk emporium. The premises was on Santa Fe and directly across the road from City Hall.

To the casual observer in the street, it looked just like any other small shop.

But, cross its threshold,

and you found out that Aunty Wainwright actually owned the whole block and the shop front was just the entrance to a multi-storey maze of every conceivable item that had ever been scavenged,

repaired, reused or built by hand with lots of love but not much skill.

Mere seconds after the jangling of the doorbell had announced your presence, Aunty Wainwright herself would appear at your shoulder from around the nearest corner of piled high bric-a-brac.

Finny looked at Aunty Wainwright from her position on the other side of Joe. She was old, older than Joe even, and had straggly grey hair.

She was also wearing more clothes than Finny had ever seen anyone wearing all at once.

At least three baggy, shapeless skirts, numerous frilly blouses, a waistcoat complete with watch and chain and finally a pair of saggy woolly cardigans.

Aunty spoke, breaking the spell of her apparition.

"Joseph. I'm so glad you've popped in. Would you like a cup of tea?"

Joe quickly held up a hand.

"No thanks, Aunty."

Suddenly, Aunty's face was right next to Finny's, making the little girl take a step backwards.

"What about you, sweetie? Would you like a glass of ice-cold water? Hmmm?"

Joe opened his mouth to refuse, but it was too late.

"Yes please."

Aunty's eyes twinkled.

"Good girl. Follow me, you too, Joe. You'll put customers off standing there."

Joe and Finny set off after Aunty, who was moving at quite a rate for such an old woman. Joe leaned in and whispered to Finny.

"Don't say yes to anything else she offers you."

"Why?"

"You'll see."

They arrived in a small back room, which was a kitchen, living room and bedroom combined. Aunty Wainwright went to a large refrigerator and returned with a small glass of iced water.

Finny accepted it gratefully.

"Thank you."

"Call me Aunty, dearie."

"Thank you, Aunty."

"My pleasure girlie." Aunty held out a hand palm up. "That'll be one blue please."

Finny spluttered on her water. Fortunately, Joe dropped a blue chip into Aunty's hand. Aunty, however, seemed to be waiting for something more. Joe's voice provided the solution.

"Drink the water."

Finny gulped down what was left in the glass and handed it back to the old lady. Aunty shuffled away to the sink with it. Joe leaned down and whispered out of the side of his mouth.

"Told you. Don't accept anything from Aunty. And don't touch anything."

Finny swallowed.

"'kay."

When Aunty turned back to them, Joe put a hand on Finny's shoulder.

"Aunty. This is Finny. Finny, Aunty Wainwright."

Old and young shook hands.

"Ohhh, so this is her. Joe's told me such a..."

"Anyway." Joe interrupted loudly. "Aunty is probably the best fence in the Union and certainly the best one in New Flagstaff."

Aunty preened under the praise, tapping futilely at her straggling locks as if such could go any way to putting the silver bird's nest in order.

Joe made sure he had Finny's attention.

"Household goods, electronics, cars, weapons. Pretty much anything that isn't jewellery or arty stuff and Aunty is the person to take it too.

She won't rip you off quite as badly as others if you sell to her and she'll give you an honest estimate of the worth of anything you show her."

Finny wasn't quite sure why Joe was telling her this, but it was an interesting insight into his world despite that.

"Erm, okay."

Finny and Joe left Aunty Wainwright's a few minutes later. They were heading down Santa Fe and Finny was staring at the moth-eaten moose head on the back seat.

She wasn't sure why Joe had bought it, and from the way Joe was grinding his teeth, she was pretty sure Joe didn't know either.

Best not to ask, she thought and turned to the front to see where Joe was taking her next.

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