Names and Signs
The midnight traffic on Colfax had simmered down to the occasional drunk, and they were able to slip unseen into the diner. They entered quietly—it was an automatic one, with no human attendants, but any “hooliganism” would bring the brass running immediately. They chose a table and busied themselves with ordering first. Thorn covered an ident entry cautiously so that Pistil and Stamen could not see the entries. Pistil and Stamen counted their change and held an urgent whispered conversation.
The servos first brought out hot coffees. Pistil poured in all of the sugar and powdered cream on the table. “Free calories” he said after Thorn took the coffee black and Stamen limited herself to one packet each.
The servo opening then offered up a plate with a single lettuce leaf on it. Thorn grabbed it and opened the pack, waving the lettuce in front of it. A huge, red mottled claw slowly pushed the nylon lid aside and a hermit crab crawled out just far enough to take the proffered greens slowly and solemnly into its mouth. Thorn lifted the pack a bit more to reveal the hermit crab’s shell—a twisted snail shell that had once been a tourist motto, with a mother of pearl sheen scraped into it. Where there was once some attempt at a palm tree lasered into the sheet, there was now a dark felt tip scrawl:
Stamen read it “ from ossible to impossible, huh? Are you dreaming the Impossible dream?”
Thorn nodded, putting the hermit crab more over its meal. “It’s name is Potent—the potential is there. I can do it. My Spark can win.”
Nodding at the confidence, Stamen pulled out a hempen twine necklace from under her blouse, like the type she fancied the hippies of the 60s wore, with brightly colored papers twisted in it. At the end of the knots were a think brass charm:
As she held up the charm, Thorn read it: "A transformation (s) into joy (h), sh. “So is that what you want or is that who you are?” Thorn asked.
“That is who she is, she the main man la cream de la cream.” Pistil replied. “Look at her face—it would make anyone just mad with joy.”
Stamen turned to catch the light, preening a bit. Her eyes, a smoky dark onyx glittered from beneath a light silver eyeshadow, her high cheeks glistened softly with a damson shade of blush, her dark red mouth shaped in the pretty pout the teens all wanted these days. Yet beyond the make up lay true beauty, a delicate touch of symmetry and regal bearing.
Thorn could see where Stamen would have no trouble spanging. Pistil stroked her face with the side of his fingers, lingering in her hair, curling the soft jet-black ends between his thumb and forefinger. With his other hand, Pistil brought forth his boxcutter with the double blades. On the side, etched delicately was:
Thorn interpreted it: “P war and peace. Yep, I can see the anger. The chip you carry is a full fathom five deep.—but the peace—no way, man.”