by Terri Wagner
The cold seeped into his collar and ran down his back. The sodden overcoat he had stolen from the dead corpse on the side of the road had proven useless. Just his luck, steal a rotted coat from a rotted body. Still it was something.
He saw the light in the distance. It was beckoning, promising warmth and maybe something to drink. He felt in the coat pockets. His reddened, cold hands felt the cold reassuring touch of coinage. So the corpse had been a man of means. His thoughts briefly centered on the poor soul. Must have been the victim of a robbery. He couldn't remember seeing any obvious marks but then he hadn't tried hard. Just buried what was left and took the coat. The boots were too small. He had given them to the kid. The one he left behind in the stable. He'd be warm until Oxmoor returned, hopefully, with some food. He wasn't sure. First, he had to buy a drink. A very nice warm frothy drink.
He headed steadily toward the tavern in the foul weather. His home was in the southern lands, where it never sleeted or snowed. And he missed his mother, sometimes his father. But they were long gone, the famine of 10 years ago took them away.
He closed his mind to the memories, especially of Ceclia, his wife, his companion, the mother of his kid. All he had left was the kid, his son, a good kid. Needed a home, a mother, a safe place.
Well, Oxmoor straightened his shoulders, with a little luck, he would find what he was looking for soon. Tonight, he would just go into the tavern, sit in the back and have a drink. It was good to be able to pay for one. Usually, he had to beg and whine and clean out the stables for a small meal he always shared with his son.
The rain fell harder. Oxmoor sighed. His luck had been all bad since the famine, sometimes he thought it would never change.
He opened the door of the tavern and breathed in civilization, companionship, warmth. It smelled good. He shook off the forlorn coat and tucked it under his arm. No sense in letting anyone see it, they might recognize it. He didn't need attention.
He spotted a stool in the back near the fire and slipped into it. His back was against the wall, he was close to the door, a necessity when you were in an unknown village. The barmaid, a tired and pretty little thing, came over. He made a gesture indicating a drink only. He'd just drink one and then buy some food, bring some to Kallia, his son. Finally, the drink arrived. He took one small sip and savored the warm, frothy mixture. His whole body seem to unwind. He glanced about the building with interest.
Now, a technical writer would just say, it was a dark and stormy night.