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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Steampunk · #2312600
What's missing may be priceless
"StAG Firebox - Closed for judging! picture prompt

"There are no medals for the silent heroes working the metal." Those who toil among the wires, rust and coils know this. They want little more than a place to rest. Medals are for others. The bosses have more than a few that they've never worked for. We work. We toil. We keep our mouths shut."

Hong's shop was a mess. Sure, he knew where everything was. Sure, he had most anything one needed or wanted, and if he didn't? There was nowhere else that would have it. We thought he must be 100 years old and had touched these bits and pieces when they were new. It was 1972 (or 2515 in Bangkok if you want to know). The shop was hidden off of a path halfway down a soi to nowhere in particular. The neighborhood sagged under the passage of years. Word was that he had known Thompson back in the day when this village of silk weavers hummed with the voices of hawkers selling chicken-rice and soup, the stench of durian overcoming it all. Thompson was nowhere to be found, but Hong had nowhere to go. He opened his shop every day. Not to make money. Word was he had some stashed away, far away. He just wanted company.

The shop was hidden from tourists and nosy meddlers; but his regular customers knew when to show up for cake and tea. It was hot and steamy at 4 in the afternoon. I wended my way past clothes hanging outside while I listened to the clang of supper being prepared for hungry children who would soon be home.

I needed a valve. A very special valve. It's value... priceless.


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