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September 2012

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Heartless CHAPTER 2



Marco has spent the morning with working on an antique rocking chair that was of course brought in by Mr. Gold for restoration. He had no idea where Gold got his merchandise but he surely acquired many beautiful pieces. Marco was always happy to work on them and this chair was no exception, because it was a piece of art. He was so immersed in his work that he didn’t realize when someone came into the shop until the person cleared his throat.

Marco actually jumped at the noise, turned too quickly and swept a bunch of tools from the working bench, behind him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” the town’s sheriff – because he was the unexpected guest – said and quickly stepped closer to help picking up the fallen tools.

“Never mind. It was my fault, I wasn’t paying attention” he said, then he added a thank you after all his equipment was back in place. “How can I help you? Is something broken at the station?”

That was his first thought because he worked as the town’s caretaker as a part time job. Other than that he rarely talked to the young sheriff who didn’t seem to be a very sociable person, anyway. Sometimes, Marco thought that he seemed to be very lonely because he has never seen him with others his age, nor with girls and he contemplated inviting him over when they had their regular dinner with Archie, but he never went through with it until now. But next time he would surely remember to do that.

“No, it’s nothing like that this time. I need to ask you a few questions” the sheriff said.

“Oh.” that surprised Marco.

He knew that sometimes there were crimes committed in town. He saw sometimes people in the cells at the sheriff’s department and he knew that the town also had a judge, but he had no knowledge of anything that might be interesting for the law enforcement, or at least he was quite sure of that.

“You have built a desk for the mayor’s office, haven’t you?”

“Yes, years ago” he answered still not knowing what this could be about.

“And the desk has a secret compartment?”

“Yes, the Madam Mayor asked for it.” he answered truthfully.

“Has anyone asked about that desk, lately?” came the next question.

“As a matter of fact, yes but what is this about, Sheriff?”

The younger man looked uncomfortable at that question.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you that right now.” he said after some hesitation. “Who has asked you about the desk, Marco?”

“Mr. Gold. He came by a few days ago and brought in this beauty.” he pointed at the rocking chair. “He told me that he wanted to renovate his study and that would like to have a bigger desk in there. He said that he really liked the one I made for the mayor’s office. Then he also explained that he was thinking about a desk in which he could also hide some parts of his collections, some unique letters, I think, he mentioned. He asked whether I could do something like that. I showed them some templates.”

“Was the design of the mayor’s desk amongst those?”

“Yes, I’m quite sure it was. Am I in some kind of trouble because of that?” he asked, really worried now.

“No, not at all, but can you show the scheme to me, too?”

“Of course, I’ll bring it out, just have to find it.”

He went to the office and found the plans quickly. There was order in the shop even if it didn’t seem like that for an outsider. When he walked back out, the sheriff was pacing, obviously deeply in thoughts.

“Here they are.”Marco said and the younger man turned towards him immediately.

Marco spread the plans out on the working bench and Graham bent over them and studied the drawings silently.

“I guess it wasn’t hard to find out which one belonged to the mayor” he said after a few moments.

“I guess not.”Marco admitted. “What are you looking for?”

“I’ve seen everything I needed to see” Graham said. “Thank you for your help, Marco.”

“You’re welcome, though I don’t see how I helped with them.”

Graham smiled slightly, but it didn’t really reach his eyes and he seemed absentminded.

“Believe me, you did. Bye, Marco.”

Marco stepped to the window and watched as the sheriff walked down the street, towards Mr. Gold’s pawnshop. At the door he stopped, seemed to hesitate a bit then went inside.

***

He felt alive again as he walked under the canopy of oak trees. It was a wonderful feeling to be in the green instead of the grey stones of the castles. He was also wearing his old clothes, leaving only the heavy cloak behind that wasn’t needed in the warmth of summer. He almost felt like himself, even if he knew that it wouldn’t last.

He found the trolls’ tracks easily enough; the foul creatures didn’t pay much attention to cover them. Broken branches, clear footprints showed him the way. He still didn’t know what he would do when he caught up with the trolls. He had only a knife as a weapon – the Queen didn’t allow him to bring his bow and arrows –and trolls were much stronger than a mere human.

Not that he was much worried about his own safety. Since that fateful day when the Queen took his heart, he was prepared to die at any given moment and with the Queen’s frequent mood swings he came close many times – in all honesty sometimes even voluntary, provoking the Queen’s anger. He was in a brighter mood today though– thanks to being back in the woods – and so he hoped that he would come up with something.

Only half an hour into his tracking he glimpsed a white spot to the left, between the trees. He smiled to himself and whistled. The wolf came through the brushes in a rush, his tail wagging insanely fast.

“Hey, boy! How are you?” he asked as the wolf danced around his legs.

It took a while for the animal to calm down as they haven’t seen each other in months. When he stopped for a second, the huntsman knelt at his side and petted him all over affectionately. Seeing his brother almost brought tears to his eyes as the wolf’s safety without him was his greatest worry.

“You shouldn’t stay so close to the castle, my friend” he said. “There are a lot of hunters around here and the Queen’s guards patrol here, too. You could be in danger.”

The wolf sat on his hind-legs, letting the man scratch his ears and listening to the words with obvious interest. When the man finished speaking the wolf whined and licked the man’s hand.

“I know.” he said. “I missed you too.”

The wolf pushed his nose against the man’s thigh and woofed playfully. The Huntsman couldn’t resist and for some gleeful and free minutes they were wrestling around in the smooth grass. Then they stretched out next to each other and the Huntsman scratched the wolf’s offered up stomach.

“Sorry, Brother, but we don’t have more time for this. I have to get back in.” he looked up at the sun, “twenty-three hours.”

He stood up and looked at his only friend.

“Come on, we have trolls to hunt.”

***

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