Jake’s Bones

by Amalasuntha

“Well, if a nephilim and the daughter of a titan can’t hook up, what’s the world coming to?” I admit, it was one of the best chat up lines I’d heard.  The day we got together.  Happy days.  You know when they say that someone lights up the room, she literally did.  Or maybe that was just me.    I roll over to look at her – her response is to mumble, drool and roll over taking most of the covers with her.
Up, I’m sure I have to do something this morning.  But it isn’t until half an hour later, after retrieving my abandoned clothes scattered about the cold linoleum, battling my hair and winning, and finding the corpse of my alarm clock under her dainty boots that I remember.  I’m late for my fortnightly appointment.  Lighting a fag as I run out the door, I wonder what excuse I could come up with for being late again.  The queue at the Jobcentre saves my skin, by the time I get to the front they stamp my card, not caring how long I’d stood there.  Having rushed out with no time for breakfast, I decide that some retail therapy is in order.   There’s only one place to go after buying a substantial bacon sandwich to ease my protesting stomach; I head into the Lanes for Jakes Bones.

The Lanes are a collection of small and smaller shop units stacked three high, which are crammed into a series of lesser unevenly paved streets, bent and angled, as if crushed up from the pressure of having too many shops in one space.  It isn’t that of course, nor is it that the Lanes are the highest concentration of Others in the City.  Like attracts like, and most Others in business eventually open up a shop in the Lanes.  Here you can find almost anything: mixed in with the usual low rent fortune-teller one room shops were tattoo artists, new age shops run by witches, a young Naga running a Surfing Equipment store, a pair of sylph sisters running a shop selling performance kites, all the oddments and liminals of City society crowded into a small area.  Despite the many differences in businesses and owners, the Lanes feels peaceful, entering it is similar to the feeling I have in the presence of my lady: a deep abiding peace and reassurance which I am assured is the same upon entering some great cathedral.

Behind a nondescript brown solid arched door in the Lanes, between a commercial tacky pink make up store complete with Barbie look-a-likes and a little Japanese place selling spectacular tat run by a down and out aging Kitsune, Jake’s Bones sits quietly.  Regular customers already know it’s there: you can’t just happen upon it by chance idly passing time until the car park ticket runs out.  Jake’s place could perhaps do with a coat of paint, but couldn’t everywhere down the Lanes?  Inside the store is comfortingly small and dark, the windows all covered in ageing black lace, a prerequisite in a business which primarily sells corsets.  Jake is serving a young dark-haired woman when I enter – then again, everyone’s hair looks dark in here – his hands deftly measuring and going places that only a very close acquaintance should ever go in private.  She flinches as I enter the shop, as if I have caught her in some most secretive act, but a few murmured words from Jake and she settles back down, nonchalantly turning as if to shield this most private of acts.  The lady doesn’t seem to mind Jake’s hands down her bra, and I know from many previous visits and the purchase of my own corsets here that Jake doesn’t either; he is simply doing his job to the best of his ability, gaining measurements of shape and curve in order to make a corset of the perfect fit and size.  It’s an almost unnatural ability which all his customers, whether men or women pay that little bit extra for: that and the minor spell-work stitched into the seams.  That spell work is present in the threads, I’d known without looking the first time I’d bought one, but his regular customers probably didn’t.  Most probably figured they had a sense of a good piece when they saw it.  Don’t get me wrong, there were no compulsions or Tears of Bryony or any of that stuff, Jake’s not that kind of chap.

Jake is a small bald man quiet-spoken, and most women find him reassuringly non-threatening.  He has a collection of line-work tats which are just visible at his cuffs and collar, and tends to dress as if from the 1920’s.  He looks good in the dark pinstripe shirt and waistcoat too – proper Oxford brogues complete the look.  It suits him I have to say.  He and I have been in alliance ever since he came to the City around 30 years ago and I helped him find somewhere to be and to fit in, and eventually to set up business.  It’s a debt he’s not forgotten, and I stick my head in every now and again to check he’s all right.

He also has a wonderful collection of pierced unmentionables and the finest stock of satin ribbons I know to be in existence.  Whilst he is occupied with final measuring and discourse regarding cloth choice and trimmings, I choose a narrow pale blue, knowing that it will make a good peace offering for the crime of running out on my lover this morning and additionally look amazingly good against her blonde hair.

I choose a red ribbon for myself, and just happen to peruse the sale rack of satin lace trimmed corsets whilst I’m there, I hear the door close and realise that the dark haired woman has completed her order and left.  I look up to find Jake making notes in his day book. “Another satisfied customer?” I enquire.  He nods smiling.  That’s one of the things I like about Jake, to me he is transparent and honest: a rare thing in this City.  I wander across to his antique desk, complete with original Victorian cash box and present my ribbons for purchase.  Sensing my intent, Jake is kind enough to wrap the blue in folded tissue paper held with a flower seal.  Bless him, for a fetch he’s not done bad for himself.

Fuelled with bacon sandwich and with peace offering in hand, I go home again, or more accurately, where I currently reside.  The small flat is in a block with a manager, Mrs Cavanell, commonly known as something unprintable.  She has rules, all of which I have broken bar one:  I still haven’t let a man stay overnight.   I’ve managed to sneak in alcohol, pay my rent late, smoke and take at least some of the illegal substances on her banned list without her knowledge – either that, or she didn’t care anymore.  I’d certainly given her reason enough to abandon the prospect of saving my soul.  The woman has banned her tenants from watching, taking about or having recordings of the Smurfs for goodness sake, what can you do?

Read more about Amalasuntha HERE


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