Rakes & Scoundrels

Phineas Gage is starting up trouble again. He and Karl Tanner always get into rows if you put enough whiskey in them. They quarrel about petty things. This time it was a look on Tanner’s part that Gage took the wrong way. He takes everything the wrong way since he got hit with an iron a few weeks back.

I think the whole thing could’ve been avoided if we booted the both of them an hour ago but Papa’s remiss to do so with those who can pay. Papa and Sam are breaking it up downstairs. They sent me upstairs under the foolish pretense of sparing me the ordeal. I would laugh if it wasn’t so troubling. I’ve witnessed worst within the last week.

Our reputability is oft challenged due to the brawls that happen here nightly. Only the scoundrels and rakes drink at John’s Tavern. The respectable folks walk on by, holding up their noses at the filth flooding out of this place. They drink at Godrick’s Noose. The most important business is done there.

Here we serve up the ale and they serve up their punches, beating each other silly at the slightest offense. Most men try to outdo each other in how much of a fool they can make of themselves. It’s sad really. And it’s unfortunate to say that even some women succumb to this debauchery. Mary Bellows, the wife of Bert Bellows, managed to out drink some of the boys here yesterday night but she was so redfaced and shameless that she bared her chest to any man who cast her a glance. I would feel bad for Bert if he wasn’t encouraging her with a hearty laugh.

It’s a small comfort to know that such immoral self-indulgence isn’t confined to our little neck of the woods. Earlier this week, we took up a semi-permanent tenant as a favor to Mr. Hollow. He calls himself Sebastian Calderon. Apparently, he’s under the special employ of Godwine as a writer of sorts. He was the only recommendation from the city and it’s no wonder.

He lodged with us a week back and every night he drinks himself under the table. He got punched out by James Taylor on the third night he was here. Some vile words were exchanged. Mr. Calderon slurred that James was a backwoods bear while throwing up some obscene gestures. James came back with calling him a dirty foreign spy before decking him in the jaw and leaving him on the floor. He managed to pick himself up some minutes later but was still so drunk and stupid that he passed out again on the stairs. Being our tenant, papa instructed me and Sam to drag his arse to his room. We left him snoring on the floor. I bet he felt quite at home there.

He tends to keep to himself otherwise though he has some strange habits. He leaves in the early morning and walks about town. Some report seeing him stalk the edge of the woods. That’s suspicious enough. I’m not quite sure what he expects to find out there other than wolves. What’s more concerning to me is his habit of recording private conversation.

The morning after his fight, with a fresh bruise blooming on his chin,  he sat on the stairwell writing while everyone else was talking themselves into a frenzy about the man on the corner. It was the usual Dowell and Burress nonsense. A peek over his shoulder showed that he was recording the whole thing directly from everyone’s lips. He caught me staring. I wanted him to. He rolled his eyes as he made his way back up the stairs. A little later, he came back down and made his way out. Dowell jumped up and called everyone to the window, pointing at the two of them–the man and Calderon–sharing a pipe together. Everyone rushed to the window, some with faces pressed to the glass.

Mr. Burress think he’s taking notes for the slaughter. He’s been floating around certain theories about him being some foreign spy all while spitting whiskey. After the man was picked up, he started claiming that Calderon passed along the necessary information and that we should all fortify ourselves from a likely invasion. I swear when Alan’s not reigning in a plow, he’s riling people up. I wonder how Mr. Miller puts up with it. Mrs. Dowell’s speculating is even more ludicrous. She thinks Calderon is a spiritual agent, reaping souls with those strange eyes of his. They’re rather dark, black you might say. He has an intense look about him. He’s unnerved several with his staring. No one can help how they look so I give little water to this but I can judge how a man carries his looks.

I choose not to get involved. I never do. Much too busy for silly talk.

Papa actually wanted me to straighten out the books but here I am wasting time on theories. If I must be spared from anything it’s this idleness. But one can’t help getting caught up when you’re stuck on the lower floors watching the doors, making sure no one makes too much of a mess of themselves.

I know I shouldn’t envy Sam. It’s sin but I can’t help it. Father always sends him out and about on business. Papa’s getting up in age so he’s preparing him to take over. Little does papa know that Sam isn’t too keen about it.

Oh, but I won’t go into it now. I hear Phineas cussing in the street and papa’s calling me down.