Quiet; peace and quiet, the near silence of city in pre-dawn darkness meant that the noisy hustle and bustling sounds along the streets of the daytime city had long since become silence. Shop window lights all over the city threw just enough light out into the streets to cause eerie shadows running hazily along the ground from shapes that in normal daylight were solid and normal. Nearly the only vehicles on the road at this time of night were the ones inhabited by men in blue uniforms with coffee in the drink holders of their cars and guns in the holsters on their belts as their work shifts of the night were nearly over for another work day.
A squad car cruised slowly past the front entry to the old building that housed a small contingent of foreign workers by day. The driver slowed to a near halt as the vehicle nearly inched past the buildings entry and he used a flashlight to illuminate all the areas around the front door of the building enclosed by a wrought iron fence. Satisfied that all seemed as it should be the man in blue reported in all clear by radio to his home precinct and continued on his way.
Past the securely closed and locked front door of the building and the front reception desk and the closed doors to the major work areas of the buildings daily occupants and down the hall away from the larger offices and entryway, one door was nearly closed and not latched shut. A thick, brushy lupine tail tip belonging to its recumbent mostly wolf owner prevented the door from closing completely. Bright light from inside the room sent a bright ribbon trail out into the hall and onto the hallway carpet.
Inside the room, on a soft piece of leather spread out on top the room's desk laid all the implements a cobbler of bygone days could ever want to clean and keep fine leather looking as it should. Laid gently amidst the paraphernalia required for its upkeep and care lay one nearly knee top high boot in the best leather a Mountie of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police could ever want for his footgear. The mate to boot on the desk was held lovingly in the hands of its owner. The man's dark, shortly shorn head of hair was tilted down closely to the boot he held by encasing his left arm nearly to the elbow inside the boot. His right hand held a soft, clean white cloth as he rubbed away at the soft brown leather.
The man rubbed and rubbed, put the cloth down and applied cream from a jar to the leather with another clean soft clothe and then picking up the first clothe rubbed and rubbed again. His lips opened and closed letting his tongue moisten them often while he worked over the boot. He still wore his uniform of the day before and the only concession he had made to his own comfort was the loosening of his lanyard and the opening of the Velcro closure at the collar of his red serge tunic. He worked and reworked the leather on the toe of his boot. Every once in awhile he would stop and appraise the boot, running his eyes along the length of leather from boot to heel and from the heel to the opening at the top. He would turn the boot this way and that and then look severely at the toe of the boot again, at which point he would begin the process all over again.
The animal lying near the door watched the man with an almost jaundiced eye of disapproval. He shifted his front paws, lifted his head and rearranged his jowls over his paws again, making a sound deep in his throat as he did so.
Work on the boot halted as the man lifted his head and turned his gaze towards the animal lying by the door. He sighed; he dropped his head in abject disapproval and then commented in a soft whispering voice. "You're right. I am a dunce or as you so succinctly put it a total blithering idiot." He turned back to his work on his boot. "You are quite right, if I were not such a coward, I would not have allowed Francesca to walk home alone. It was unchivalrous of me. Regardless of the fact that she refused my escort, I should have made sure that she reached her domicile in complete safety."
The soft clothe in his hands worked over the boot with strong, sure strokes. His lips continued to open and shut as he whispered to himself while he worked. The wolf lying by the door raised a paw and placed it carefully over his ears and let a soft growl escape his lax jaws.
"Yes, I know she said that I might walk her home some other time." The man tilted his head as if listening for a response from his fury companion. "Well, of course, there is the fact that Ray is rather adverse to any liaison between his sister and myself." He paused before continuing, "And while I will agree that he did state that he would rather have me er a...a attendant on his sister, I can not take that as a Carte blanch offer to be her suitor." A deep sigh of air released from his lungs and he hung his head low over his boot once more.
As he worked the sound of his booted foot hitting the defunct water fountain in the hallway at the precinct after Francesca Vecchio had walked down the hall clearly reverberated in his memory. He peered closely at the boot toe. "There." He said the word with satisfaction and set the boot on his desk before picking up its mate.