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Jonah gestured hospitably towards the goods Parker and Gail had brought from CommBloc80120. He waited, as Parker stood puzzled by his old fashioned manners. “After you, lad,” he chuckled.
Parker blinked and stepped towards the pile of bags that Gail and Czajka had unloaded from the rickshaw. He picked up a large one near the edge. Although large, it was light enough, and the bumps and bulges confirmed that it was one of the bags of yarn. CommBloc 80120 had three flocks of sheep, and wool, or things made from wool, was their main tradable. Actually, Parker thought, glancing at Jonah, it was likely the sweater Jonah wore had been knit by one of their CommBloc, or at least with their yarn.
Jonah slung one of the bags of wool over his shoulder and opened the glass door to Windsong. As Parker and Gail stepped into the atrium, they stopped to look around. Czajka, who had been there many times before, brushed passed them and headed for the Common House.
Parker sat back on the end of an old green couch. The sun shone through the doors and roof making the area warm and cozy. He could see the mail slots on the wall behind him, and the walk-street of townhouses through the glass doors beside it with its own glass roof. The atrium seemed to link all parts of the community with it’s see-through doors; the homes, the Common House, in which he knew there was a shared kitchen, the kid’s area, and a hallway towards which Jonah now gestured.
“Not that way,” Jonah corrected Czajka, “there’s square dancing in there tonight. We’ll go to a meeting room.” Czajka nodded and walked to the hallway.
As Gail bent to lift the bag she’d dropped, she let out a small exclamation. “Look!” she said, grabbing Parker’s arm. She pointed at a mosaic mural on concrete floor just where they’d been standing. The pattern of yellow, orange, green and red evoked thoughts of flowers and kaleidoscopes. “Who did that?” she whispered.
Jonah smiled and shrugged. “Don’t know. That’s been here since Windsong was built. Long before my time. Old Al’s gone now, he’d’ve known. Come on.” Jonah jerked his head gesturing them toward the hallway.
The three followed him down the hall. The hall was short, a couple meters to the corner and a couple more past, with at least five rooms leading off it. Parker tapped Gail on the shoulder as they turned the corner to point out a room in which people could be seen doing pottery. “Neat,” she replied.
When they got to the end, Jonah pointed to the room on the right. “Just toss the bags in there,” he said, and tossed his in. With the four of them unloading the rickshaw, it only took two trips, though Parker and Gail took a third trip to get their own packs.
“Are you staying, Czajka?” Gail asked. “Or do we need to book our ride back?”
“Mmm,” Czajka mused, then turned to Jonah, “Is Alice around?”
“Yep,” chuckled Jonah, “I think she’s square dancing.”
“Cool,” Czajka replied. “Guess I’ll be around a bit. How long you figure you’ll be?”
Gail looked to Parker, who seemed to be counting internally. “Umm, three hours.” He glanced at Jonah for confirmation.
Jonah nodded, “Though you’re welcome to stay for dinner and the night. The spare room isn’t being used.”
Gail smirked as Parker rubbed his neck uncomfortably. “That sounds good. I’d like to see more of how you guys do things around here,” she said.
“That’s true,” Parker agreed, “but we don’t have to stay over.”
“Parker!” Gail sighed, “By the time the meeting’s done, and we have dinner, and we look around, it’ll be too late to expect Czajka to take us all the way back to Strawberry Hill.”
“True,” Parker admitted, “it’s just….”
“Unless you were planning on pedaling the rickshaw yourself?”
“No one will impugn your dignity, dear. You’re not always on duty, you know.” Gail’s eyes sparkled merrily at Parker’s reluctance. As the youngest ever elected to the CommBloc 80120 council, he was cautious of doing anything that might be misperceived.
“Fine,” he replied. “I am beleaguered by beautiful women. Or one, anyways.”
“Decided, then?” Jonah asked into the pause. Gail and Parker nodded.
“Ok,” Czajka said, “I’ll see you two tomorrow. I’ll leave now, before things get all political and whatnot.” He waggled his eyebrows in mock solemnity, as he bowed and walked backwards towards the Common House. Gail laughed. Parker tried not to.
“Good times,” Jonah said. “Shall we head into the meeting room?” Parker and Gail nodded and followed Jonah to the room across from where they’d deposited the trade goods. It was plain, a table and several chairs with a blackboard on wheels at one end, and well lit as the sun shone through a large window.
They sat, Parker and Gail across from Jonah. Gail bent and rummaged in her pack for a moment pulling out a clipboard and pencil. “Ok,” she said, “whenever you guys are ready.”