We had a Gardener in this evening, and she made a comment about my arm. I’m not that surprised. In that profession, you cannot fuss over hurting feelings. This lady must have seen thousands die, and hundreds die twice.
She had a row of parsniphead teeth on a string around her neck. Her sack of dandelions sat on on the bar top. The sewed on patches on her dress were fraying. But somewhere on Buber was a ship capable of top speeds, total protection, and divine luxury.
‘If you lost your arm in The Haircut, why didn’t you turn into one of them?’ She said.
I have had similar questions many times before, with most people asking if I was in the Butter Mice. My hook is useful, but a hook nevertheless. It’s no bother. We were drinking together soon enough. She ordered whisky without ice or lemon.
I asked to see some of her flowers, but she pointed out that if she opened the bag, any nearby parnsipheads for the next six months will hone in on here, no matter how many plants are outside.
She laughed about my project at first, but to my surprise agreed to tell me a story. Not my place to reveal her name, so I have used a G.
G: ‘You don’t have to work that hard once you know what you are doing. Your work becomes as easy as breathing.
Let’s say you had a woodland that needed clearing. I find a nice, big tree, and scatter my flowers around the base of the trunk. They are soaked with chemicals that turn them into parnsiphead catnip. After that, I climb up the first few branches, and listen.
The parsnipheads always turn up. Once they do, you have to work quickly. It’ll only take a few minutes for them to scoff down the flowers. The crucial element, what so many people forget, is that they are not interested in you. If they still have eyes, they are looking through you. I can take five down with a broken tree branch before they notice I am there. Thirty before the flowers run out. And that’s all you need to make a living.
I take jobs up to fifty parnsipheads. Two dozen gigs that size will see me through the year. There’s been a few close calls, but nothing to do with my targets. Falling out of trees when the weather’s bad, losing my water bottle under a blazing sun. That kind of thing. I don’t know why anyone bothers with The Butter Mice for such a small number. Are people still scared of them? Why waste bullets?
Now their numbers are dropping, we need more people like me. We need to reject emotion, accept these aren’t human, and get rid of them. Work like this across the universe, and the problem is solved.’
G had another drink, and left. She was tough, if a bit extreme for me. My opinion is these aren’t humans anymore. And I still cannot stop the nagging doubt there is something left underneath.