Getting a little used to taking things slower over the weekend. The guys at the other table in Val’s, as you’ll read below, are significant to the story and I need to understand them.
Anyone who thinks post-menopausal women are not very interested in sex does not know any post-menopausal women. I’m the first to admit my sex life in my 50s is 10x better than in my 30s. I think it’s just a matter that Colour has been alone so long, she doesn’t even recognize her own feelings.
This cart had two men closer to Aurelia’s age. From the smell, the back of it was packed with fish. Entranced by the pretending princess, they said for them to check in at the RCMP station just ahead, on the north side of the road.
“RCMP?” Hartmann muttered once they moved on.
“Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” Colour clarified. “Sort of a national police force. Of course these days, there is no royalty and their mounts are bicycles in places like this or cars in the cities which still live.”
“I can fix the former,” Aurelia smiled, looking at the older man in a police uniform tending to a garden before a one-story office. She noted he was not armed. “He’s your age. You talk.”
Surprised that her friend could be self-effacing, Colour struggled to recall their cover story just as the man looked up. Graying hair and scruffy beard but in good shape and no glasses on his face.
Colour introduced herself and her young cousin from Texas, explaining they were backpacking from the Northern Federation and the girl “wanted to walk to the end of the world.” Curious why they didn’t go to Cape Breton Island, instead, Jansen used a little truth that they had heard a rumor about a spaceport nearby. General Hartmann didn’t make a noise or kick her leg, so it must have been okay. The RCMP sergeant, Jock Grady, he introduced himself, gave them a barebones précis of the little village and that while, yes, the spaceport was operational, it was only used every few months, when Ottawa or Trudeau had a bird to loft. Saying they’d been recommended to go to a place called Val’s, Grady confirmed it a tavern on the waterfront, straight up Sterling Street then a hundred meters east. Colour thanked him and Aurelia remained silent. Sun low in the west, they walked quickly with a smile and wave to any local they saw.
“He liked you,” Aurelia said out of nowhere.
“Excuse me?” Colour blurted back.
“As a woman; he liked you,” she said with another sidelong glance. “You know my kind has much better perception than you do. If I wasn’t here, he would have asked to take you to dinner.”
“But… I’m an old woman!” she protested.
“You’re barely over fifty. You’re healthy. Never having had children, you look ten years younger than you should,” the demi-human carried on. “Shall we take him back with us?”
“I have,” Colour admitted, “a horrible suspicion you are not kidding.”
“Of course not.” They turned right from Sterling onto Union. “I suppress his consciousness, Lenore picks us up in the middle of the night. He comes to in your bed in your house. Easy.”
“And before you object,” she said, pausing them in the street under the electric light illuminating the sign proclaiming ‘Val’s Tavern,’ “you like him, too. Your smell is completely different than it was from the lake. Do not ever try to lie to one of us. Friend.”
Getting a few stares while standing there for a quarter minute, Colour gave up.
“Maybe. Let’s get something to eat that isn’t your shitty legionary rations.”
Holding open the front door for her senior, Aurelia heard then saw everyone in the tavern become still. Opposite them was a long bar, also with some electric light, but the tables scattered about all had one or two candles on them. A door to the left led to a kitchen, her nose told her. An opening to the right to a deck overlooking the small harbor.
“My turn,” she breathed to Colour, before raising her right hand and voice. “Hey-uns, y’all! I’s Aurie Hardt, all the ways from Texas! Wanted to see the edge of the world, what with my-uns older cousin, here, from Maine. Right pleased to meetch y’all!”
One of two behind the bar, a woman in her mid-sixties with dark hair streaked with silver kept back in a loose braid, came around while rubbing her hands on her apron before putting out her right.
“I’m Val Kimler,” she said by way of introduction. “We don’t get that many outsiders – certainly not from as far away as Texas – but welcome to Canso and my place. Get you gals something?”
“We-uns been walkin’ all day,” Aurie Hardt went on. “Parched and famished! Cain we’s sit on the deck, just there? Seein’ the ocean is sumthin’ special for me. Y’all got some white wine for my cousin? I’d just take some branch.”
“Branch?” the proprietor asked.
“Oops! Just some water, thanks!”
There were four aged, wooden tables with benches on the deck. The one closest to the water had four men ranging in age from their twenties to forties. They also ended their conversation when Kimler sat them nearby. She lit a candle while Hardt and Jansen set their battlerifles aside and shed their packs before sitting.
“You are shockingly good at acting,” Colour admitted.
“I know. Not all demis are; my dad, for instance.” She fell silent when a much younger woman, a waitress, came out with a ceramic cup of water and a bottle of wine with a glass, handing them menus so old, the paper was yellowed. “To some degree or another, we must all pretend: to be accepted by humans.”
“So you can rule them?” Only a touch of sarcasm this time.
“Yes. Oh! Clam chowder in a cream base! That sounds great!”