Title: Up from the Bottom
Word Count 753
Up from the Bottom
The foot kicked his thigh, short irritating prods. He moved away from it. But it worked its way under his arse, then and began to try to lever him from the floor. Kit scrabbled to sit. He squinted up, He could not see the man behind the smoking lamp.
“Aye?” His nose was stuffed, his voice was gone.
“Get up. You're going upstairs.”
He put a hand back. Watson was the only warm thing in the world, still curled against the foul and dripping wall, still asleep. He was filthy, they both were. Watson was still smeared with Bradley's blood, and his own. He had wept, late in the dark, trying to be quiet. They both had.
“What of my friend?”
“Not him, just you. Now.”
Kit stumbled numbly after the light. Upstairs, first stone, then wood. Then a wooden hallway, and a wooden door. His eyes were watering. He had no idea how long he had been below.
He stepped through and heard the door lock behind him. There was a joint stool, and a small table here. And simple ordinary light, guttering in the draft. And sitting easy at the table, leaning on his elbow as if he had never been afeared in the dark, Tom Kyd.
“Marlowe.” Kyd rose to take him by the elbow.
“Sit, man.” He guided Kit to the stool, and crouched himself, as one does with a child, to meet his eyes. He looked close, and Kit had to let his own eyes drop.
“How dost thou, Christofer?” Kyd said. His voice was very soft.
Kit felt his chin wobble. No. Stupid to snivel now like a boy. He would not.
“How long has it been?” He forced his voice down to a good manly register.
“You were taken Thursday. It is Saturday evening now.” Kyd said.
“The trial will be Monday. I saw Ned Allyn and got some money. He is going to talk to Mister Henslowe. We can borrow, try to get you freed after that.”
“ Just me? What about Watson?”
Kyd shook his head. His mouth was tight. “His condition is – he actually struck the killing blow.”
“I know-- I was there. I'm a witness to that. I don't know about him. But at least for now we can move you both to a better place, with less rats.”
“Here, Christofer. I brought you a little food.”
Bread and apples, cheese. Kyd set them out on the table.
Oh. And oh. Kit ate like a child with his dirty hands. He looked up, shortly dismayed. The food was more than half gone. He swallowed. “Watson?”
“Don't fret. I have more for him, this is yours. Did they not feed you at all then?”
“Threw some hard bread in, once. To watch us fight for it, I suppose.. Watson got a little.” Kit was drooling. He swallowed again.
“Eat the rest.”
He could not help stuffing the food in, eating so fast that it hurt. He looked up, dizzy, to see Kyd paying the guard. (And him, an ordinary man with a human face. Kit watched, in the dazzle of light, saw him nodding at Kyd's words, extending his hand for the purse. )
And see how he held it, weighed it in his hand. He walked away, with the swagger of petty power. Money would make him comply, but not hurry. Kit watched closely. It could be said-- thus. Yes, in a play. Kempe for the guard, if they could get him. Have him walk and turn, thus. Nowhere to write. Try, try not to forget.
The food was heavy in his belly. He yawned, flushed and dizzy.
“This way, gentlemen.” It was the same guard with the prying foot, but Kit's state had risen. He was a gentleman now.
The new room was a closet. But the straw on the floor was clean. Two other men looked up, as Kit came in, incurious as cows, but not starving.
“I'll be here on Monday, Christopher,” Tom Kyd said. His eyes were blue and earnest. There was a vertical wrinkle at his brow.
Kit nodded, yawning. “Thank you, for the trouble, the food, everything.”
Tom Kyd touched his shoulder once, gently, and departed.
Kit sat down in the straw to wait for Watson. He fell asleep, waiting.