Esowista 1 and 2

At the end of the road, and across a short ferry, is the Esowista Market Barge. The Esowista contains in its superstructure, eighty-eight meters long by fifteen meters wide and two stories tall, nine shops of various sizes, and twenty-four vendors’ booths. The largest shop, taking up two units upstairs and one down at the bow of the hull, is Athens’ Books. The smallest, just inside of the port-side boarding stairs and floating dock, is Sage Flower Bakery.

Deck One of the Esowista makes a complete circle around the circumference of the hull, leaving a narrow central courtyard in the middle of the barge. Deck Two is reached by stairs on the bow-starboard side, and stern-port side. It is horseshoe-shaped, with Athens’ Books taking up the entire bow portion. Motor Launch Fish and Chips is in the stern-port side of the shoe, with an open patio between it and The Muse gallery. There is an elevated walkway at the midway-span of Deck Two that crosses over the courtyard.

 

1.

At the end of the road, and across a short ferry, is the Esowista Market Barge.

 

Joe Parker stepped through the low door into the main entrance to Athens’ Books. The proprietor, Sally Austin, looked up from her cluttered desk. “Good morning, is there anything I can help you with today?” she asked her customer.

Parker surveyed the shelves. Books were stacked without a discernable pattern from floor to ceiling. The old book smell was mixed with the next-door bakery, and just a hint of salt water. It was pleasant.

“There are plenty more upstairs,” said Austin, recognizing his confusion. “Just up the ladder, or the stairs right behind you. The ladder is more fun, though.”

Parker shook his head. “Do you have notebooks? Something fancy?” he asked.

“Journals or planners?” Austin replied. “I might have some of each.”

“I think like a sketchbook? Real thick.” said Parker. “It’s sort of for an apology.”

Austin nodded. “This apology, it doesn’t happen to be to a Sophia, does it?”

Parker’s eyes narrowed. “How did you know?”

“I know all of my regulars. I keep those in stock for her.” said Austin with a smile. “You must be Joe. What you’re looking for is upstairs, on the third shelf from the port window. Down at the bottom.”

“How much is it going to cost me?” Parker asked. “I know they’re not cheap.”

“Leather cover, archival paper. Limited edition. I would imagine you’re very sorry. But since you’re new, I’m going to give you something better than a deal,” said Austin, with a mischievous grin. “You don’t want the sketchbook. Go to the other end, Deck Two, The Muse gallery. I know Sophia’s had her eye on the little sculpture in the corner, the one by Grant.”

“But you’re not making a sale,” Parker protested.

Austin winked at him. “You’ll make up for it. Once you’ve visited, you won’t stay away from the Esowista for long. Come with Sophia!”

“Thank you,” said Parker. “I’m sure I will.”

“Oh,” Austin sweetly interrupted. “And, next time, bring me a lemon scone from Sage Flower.”

Now it was Parker’s turn to smile. “Done.”

 

2.

At the end of the road, and across a short ferry, is the Esowista Market Barge.

 

Alison Granger sat on the small patio outside of Motor Launch Fish and Chips. The wind picked up, catching her napkin and blowing it towards the edge of the table. She caught it beneath her beer glass just before she lost it.

Her friend, Jess Pond, laughed. “That almost made it into The Muse,” she said. “They’d probably put a price tag on it straight away. Probably call it something like ‘Nature’s Triumph over Mankind No. 611’.”

Granger laughed, too. “Worst part is, I almost spilled my beer.”

Pond considered her glass in the sunlight. “That would be a pity,” she confirmed. “This is good stuff.”

“Good old Motor Launch Amber,” Granger agreed. She leaned forward conspiratorially. “You know how they say they brew it themselves?”

“Yeah,” said Pond. “So?”

“Where?” Granger asked.

“What?” said Pond.

“They don’t do it on board. There’s no room!” said Granger.

Pond nodded in dawning agreement. “You may be right. I always assumed there was a basement. What’s behind that hatch beside Beachcombers?”

“I think that’s just pumps or something,” said Granger.

Pond sipped her drink, gaining just a slight foam moustache. “Does it matter?”

“No,” said Granger with a grin. “Not really.” She leaned back in her chair. “I love this place.”

“Cheers,” Pond agreed.