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   Chapter 3 Brownie Oxford and the Barren Woods Blunder

Brownie Oxford and the Barren Woods Blunder: Brownie Bk 3 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 9549

Updated: 2018-03-13 10:29

Chapter 3

It was Crista who got me interested in flea markets. She was the queen of taking battered and used pieces and turning them into something new and fabulous. As I moved in with no actual furniture, buying my bed shortly after signing the lease so I had some place to sleep, her guidance at the various flea markets, thrift stores and antique type stores helped me furnish my apartment. Once the big items were purchased, refurbished and set in place, I continued going to pick up little things to add to my space. After a lifetime of simply existing with what was handed to me, I found myself eager to make the place I lived my own in every way possible.

I also found that occasionally I could find vintage materials, or worn out clothing that would serve as patterns for the pieces I created, even if they were no longer functional. Having a handle on retro pieces helped in my odd little sewing business. While the bulk of my clients tended to be drag queens like Ricky who needed everything from simple repairs to out and out garment creation, word of my skill with a needle spread and I found myself branching out, often creating pieces for historic reenactors and those involved in cosplay.

It was definitely broadening my view of fashion and garment construction. The week before, I handed a brown leather body armor slash corset looking thing to a shiny eyed steampunk enthusiast who practically skipped out of my apartment with joy as he clutched it to his chest. Oddly, learning the construction of the garment helped with my designs for class projects.

"No learning is ever wasted, " I muttered to myself remembering Mrs. Ellison's frequent admonition during my school days. She was one of the first dead I made friends with in the cemetery next to the Riverdale Girl's home and she took me under her wing. She also made certain I did my homework and met those would serve as tutors or who fell into the category of those she found appropriate for me to engage in conversation.

She tried her best to steer me away from those she felt would be a bad influence. In many respects, she was the closest thing I had to a parent growing up. For most of the foster families where I was placed I was merely a source of revenue. With my jaundiced skin and small frame their biggest hope was either that whatever was wrong with me wasn't contagious or at least wouldn't kill me on their watch.

This was my first time visiting this particular flea market, despite the fact that it was a weekly one throughout most of the year and one of the largest in the state. They closed up shop the day before Christmas and reopened a few weeks later. It was never one Crista favored so I hoped it would hold fewer memories. Thoughts on clients and potential projects, I parked and headed into the fray.

Given that several of the queens I worked with favored a retro vibe and the increasing number of cosplay folks appearing on my doorstep, I kept my eyes peeled for older garments. Spotting a rack towards the back of one of the stalls near the entrance of the flea market, I decided it was a good place to start. In addition, the location possessed several non-clothing related advantages. While the rack was towards the back of the stall, when standing on the far side of it, I could see the parking lot and those passing by. Both location and the rack itself concealed my waiting and watching for the arrival of the sedan.

"All while still looking at what I came to see, " I said, feeling quite pleased. As I positioned myself, I saw the expected sedan turn into the entrance and park. The driver exited the vehicle and walked towards the rows of open aired stalls set up for the flea market.

"Only Mr. Nondescript this time, " I muttered to myself as I picked out a dress from the rack. I tried not to dwell on what the woman was doing. Every time prior, I saw the two of them together, even if only one left the vehicle. I hoped this didn't mean she was elsewhere doing something nefarious, especially something nefarious in my apartment. My biggest fear was that in addition to listening devices, they would put something with video in my apartment so they could watch me. If they did, I was screwed. There would be no way for me to get my hair straightened or my brown contacts in without them noticing.

'Unless its black and white, ' I thought. 'Then my brown contacts would just look like contact lenses.' Having never purchased surveillance equipment I didn't know if color was an option. 'I might be able to work around that.' I thought as I looked at the garment I held.

Once, it was a beaded dress. It featured a silk slip underneath and a beaded transparent overlay. Over time, the overlay started to shred and much of

the bead work fell away. Some of the pattern of the beadwork could be seen and as I divided my attention between the approaching man and the dress, I decided I could use the dress as a pattern, not just for the garment but for the beads as well.

"I could probably trace out the design from what's left, " I mused. The man came closer and I was able to tell that it was definitely the man I spotted in the fabric store. For once my short stature helped as only the top of my head appeared above the rack. A slight bend in my knees and I disappeared completely without looking like I was trying to hide. He didn't see me in the stall and walked past. Even though he seemed to be wandering aimlessly, he made certain to scan each booth he passed a little more intently than the average bargain hunter.

"Somehow I doubt he's looking for an ottoman." I muttered straightening up as he continued on. In addition to the half disintegrated dress, I found a tailored blazer I wanted. The color was an alarming shade of grayish green that reminded me of mold, but it had a shape I liked and would serve well as a pattern. Once the man passed from view, I took my two purchases towards the front where the stall owner waited.

I again missed Christa since haggling was not my strong suit, but remembering her advice I asked what was the best offer the owner could do and bought both pieces for what both of us considered a reasonable price. I then moved on to the next stall. I was in my fourth stall and smiling over an unexpected find, when the brown haired man realized he passed me and doubled back. The find was a packet of vintage silk scarves never cut from the original bolt of cloth. It was wedged between the remnants of a bolt of lime green polyester and a large bolt of fabric that looked as though someone was hunting cookie monster for his fur.

I tugged it free and tried to hide my eagerness as I turned to the stall owner. After a brief haggling session, the bolt of fabric was mine. I paid the owner and tried not to do a happy dance in front of her. With my small bag of previous purchases and the bolt of fabric, my hands were getting rather full, despite barely scratching the surface of the market's offerings.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Mr. Nondescript from the sedan looking over a rather singular looking chair and foot stool. Both were covered in black and white cow hide and the footstool was supported by steer horns turned points down so they could serve as legs. The chair likewise featured horn legs, arms and sprouted two long curving horns on the back of the chair. It looked to me like a throne designed for a dude ranch.

Curious as to if the man would follow me out of the market I headed back towards my car to put my purchases in the back seat before continuing my shopping. Idly, I wondered if dude ranches had thrones. Did dude ranches crown a king of the cows?

"Or is that king of the dudes?" I muttered as I walked to the car. "Or maybe the Ranch King?" I unlocked my back door and placed the bolt of fabric on the seat, dropping my bag of vintage clothing into the floorboard. I closed the door and turned back to the flea market entrance. "Cowboy King sounds better, " I decided spotting the brown-haired man walking towards the gray Honda.

"I wonder why they aren't called Cowboy ranches?" I decided I would look it up later as I slowly sauntered back into the flea market. "Maybe dude means cowboy for some reason, but then a dude ranch would mean that they herded dudes instead of cows, wouldn't it?"

Once inside, I paused in front of the throne of the Ranch King and cut my eyes back towards the parking lot. The man saw me and was standing next to his car, a phone in his ear as he relayed his dilemma to someone else along the food chain. I wondered if it was the missing woman.

"Do I stay or do I go, " I sang softly to myself as I turned and inspected a chest of drawers. "Darling you got to let me know, do I stay or do I go. If I stay there will be trouble, if I go there will be double."

I paused, fairly certain I got my song lyrics mixed up somewhere. I also knew if I didn't start at the beginning I wouldn't be able to untangle it. I blushed as I saw someone staring at me, no doubt having caught me singing to myself.

"Sorry, " I replied trying not to look crazy. "Just had a song stuck in my head." I started to turn away and then I noticed something odd about the man. Not only was he wearing some sort of wide collared leisure suit, the kind favored by happening folks in the nineteen seventies, complete with the unbuttoned shirt and decorative chains, but he appeared to be in black and white.

"Crap, " I said under my breath. The man was a spirit.

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