Grandfather's Bastards

Moe Interlude #1

Moe shakes off a yawn and rubs his chest as he rises. His schedule is different than most at the Waystation, and he’s tweaked it as best he can over the years, and he’s found use for this eccentricity. He had read once, as a boy, about a group of Blue Monks (he wasn’t sure if it was the same ones that were supposed to come with the luxe tunes as well) would wake up in all hours of the night for their work. When Moe started brewing on his own, the easiest time to sneak away for a spell would be in the late night hours, and that’s where he got some of his best work done now.

It’s early, or late, depending on how you put a spit in it. It’s been a few hours since he closed down the “confessional”, the time that he kept the place open with only himself out in the front for late night visitors. Sunny tended to be up at the crack of dawn to start things cooking, and that left him only a few hours to work in peace. She would chide him as he would laze in a couple of hours later, and then again take a drink or two and nap in the afternoon, but it meant that no one else was around to bother him as he worked. In theory, anyone could do what he did, and he always wondered if someone was willing to try to press the issue, maybe take a shot at it. But if any neophyte wanted to crack it, they were missing the work.

Moe flips open a very worn hidebound book, flipping through figures and charts. He walks down the aisles of his stock, paying special attention to the barrels still racked with aging product, draining a little and giving each a thoughtful sip while jotting down notes in his book. Mow notes, with some pride, a now empty small cask of special reserve. It had been a test batch, and he was rather proud of how it had worked for Dutch-boy and Shiva.

A small smile touches his lips. “Now, that’s a thing.” Moe offers a shake of his head as he opens the cask. There’s something stuck to the underside of the cask, somewhere in the neighborhood of grainy and slimy. Moe grabs a chisel from a workbench and begins to scrape, collecting it and storing it away. The barrel would later be cleaned and reused, but what was left behind was too valuable to wash away. Any dolt could make some juice, and squander some of Monty’s hard earned fruit by making it vinegar. ‘Course that was as about as sure of a thing that could assure your trip to the man as you could have managed. One of those books that managed to get passed around liked to preach a bit about “natural selection”, which a lot of dick hardholders liked to insist meant it was justified that they got to lead. But one hadn’t been the sharpest knife, and left in a bit about the artificial type. It would take generations, countless generations to winnow what you wanted, but when you finished a batch in a few months, if you started at a couple of years, you got a lot of generations. And the more Moe worked at it, the more people wanted his stuff. And the more people wanted his stuff, the more they were willing to give him to help get more of it.

The secret, it seemed, was giving people the means to do what they wanted. Maybe it was offering them a simple drink to whet their thirst, maybe take away their pain for a bit. Then, it was offering them a place to play cards, for the simple price of paying for their drinks. They had always wanted to play, and he had given them their excuse, and when a man was up, he tended to play fast and loose with the jingle on drinks and tips. And the more that it seemed that Moe could offer, the more people were willing to ask, and the more they paid for the pleasure of doing what they were going to do anyway. Requests became more…esoteric. Specific. And if they needed a little push, well…

Dutch-boy. That was an interesting case, that it was.

Moe turns on a burner, heating up the water for his mash. He did he best to drown out the nagging idea of “personal responsibility” that did its best to keep him in trouble. He had promised…well, that might have been a bad idea.

“Stupid kid.”

Moe pours himself a draught of barrel of something finished and sips, thinking about the other night. Not the night of the kids hook-up (of which the pair seemed typically ungrateful of), but the one after that, with one kid getting very crispy around the edges. It was going to be a hard project to handle, and the line was tighter than he liked. Some test batches failed, after all, but the kid looked promising, if he wasn’t about to flame out right here. And if Moe could deliver…hell, who knew what people would ask him for next time.

Which led to the next problem. Moe gulped his drink a little deeper, watching the surface of the water begin to quake, a moment of calm, right before the boil came. Something was coming, he was sure of it. Something was always coming, but something was gnawing at his guts this time, something Marco had said. Moe had done his best to not look at the Maelstrom, had made it his policy not to look. They were just pictures in a book, he had once told himself, remembering another scrap of paper he had once read. But maybe, this time, he would have to.

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Nihachi

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