Today is Friday the 13th, which always puts me in mind of the good old days when I used to write Star Trek stories and do terrible things to my poor redshirt characters on Friday the 13th. I don’t write Star Trek anymore, but my regularly-appearing redshirt, Richard Samuel Jones, has gone on to be a cameo character in all of my subsequent novels…no longer in his Starfleet uniform and often without his full name referenced, but he’s still a lot like the person he was back on the Enterprise.
So for Friday the 13th this year, I offer you Sam’s guest appearance in The Lioness and the Spellspinners. Rin, also known as Karina, has been sitting in The Black Lion tavern, trying without much success to decide what to do if she manages to get a substantial pay-off for a job in-progress…
A crash from the kitchen jarred Rin out of her thoughts, but didn’t cause any real alarm. It was the sound of a plate breaking, and that was pretty usual. She wasn’t at all surprised when Sam came out of the kitchen in a hurry, broom in one hand and a guilty expression on his face.
“Was that the second plate this week?” Rin called with a slight smile.
Sam sighed. “The third.” He began sweeping his way towards her table. “Magdala told me I’d better not come back in her kitchen for at least an hour.” The general man-of-all-work at The Black Lion, Sam moved in a perpetual cloud of broken dishes, knocked-over items, and spectacular trippings. No new incident ever bothered him for long, though, and Rin watched expectantly for his smile to return. She could use some of Sam’s usual cheer right now.
The smile didn’t come. He swept along and stopped in front of her table, looking if anything even gloomier. “I heard about Old John. I’m sorry about…”
“Thank you,” Rin said, throat suddenly tight.
“He was always a good sort, wasn’t he? He used to tell the best stories about when he was in the theater.” Sam smiled then, but it was a sad smile. “Not that I ever believed more than half of them, you know, but they were good stories.”
This was not helping. “Yeah, they were,” Rin said, and cast about for a topic change. “Hey Sam, what would you do if you were rich?”
Sam could at least be relied on to take things as they came. He scratched behind one ear and considered. “If I was always rich, or if I got a lot of money now?”
“If you got money now.”
“Travel,” he said, and made an idle whisk with the broom. “I always wanted to see what life was like in other places. Did you know most people never go more than ten miles from the place they were born in their whole lives? I’d like to go east, see if things are different in Waldisan or Perrelda. Or go a little farther north into Beaumont. I hear there’s lots more magic there, that centaurs and dragons are practically ordinary.”
“So you’d just set off and leave us all behind?”
“Well…not immediately. And not everyone.” It could have been the light, but Sam looked to be blushing. “I’d marry Denae first.” He’d been courting the pretty daughter of the baker for at least a year, so that was no big surprise. “And then we could go traveling together, you know. It wouldn’t be as good, to travel alone.”
“No,” Rin said. “I suppose it wouldn’t be.” And affable, pleasant Sam, who never had an unkind word for anyone, couldn’t possibly know the pained twist he’d just given her.
The problem, really, wasn’t that she didn’t have dreams, or that she’d never thought about what she wanted. It was that no amount of gold pieces was going to buy her dreams for her.
Read the rest of the story this fall!