Tobal turned down another street and old apartments loomed up silently on either side like man made canyons. The early morning sun had not made it into these dark canyons yet and he walked in shadow. His boots were muffled by the light snow that lay on the cobblestones. The uneven surface made his footing treacherous and several times he almost fell.
Rounding another corner he almost stepped on a couple of crows intently fighting over a dead animal. They hardly noticed and hopped to one side before resuming their fight over the grisly remains of a rat or a cat. It was hard to tell which.
The street split in two separate directions. A battered sign said Oak Street and 30th Ave. Going left on Oak Street he headed down a street more narrow than the others. It looked like it was not used much any more, but then they all did. Looking back he saw the crows following him. They would fly a short way, stop to watch and then fly again to catch up. Every now and then one would squawk and a fight would erupt leaving loose feathers forgotten on the snow.
Old Seattle was a noted artist's colony. It was one of the areas where societies fringe element escaped the rigid structure of moderization. Unique products, specialty shops and services both legal and illegal were offered within the little shops that lined the streets. The owners lived above the shops and owned entire buildings. Some of the signs were broken or covered in grime and unreadable. He figured 2424 Oak St. should be a few more blocks up and on the right side of the street. A couple blocks further he found it nestled between an old bakery and a barbershop.
The dilapidated three story red brick building looked worse for wear than it's neighbors and some of the mortar between the bricks was missing. Tobal questioned the structural integrity of the entire building. A battered sign proclaimed "Antiquities and Curiosities". The windows on all three stories were covered with wrought iron bars that looked functional as well as ornamental. They suggested what kind of neighborhood this really was and he nervously glanced around him. The crows hopped a little closer. Stepping up to the door he saw he was too early. The closed sign hanging in the window read the shop opened at 8:00. Glancing at his watch, he realized he still had almost two hours to wait.
Leaving the shop, Tobal continued down the street until he came to a small park area and watched the sun rise over the city. He brushed snow off a battered bench and sat listening to the strange early morning sounds of this old city and watching the crows. One large crow actually flew onto the bench and turned it's head looking intently at him. Tobal had the eerie feeling that the bird was intelligent. After a half-hour of sitting in the small snow covered park the sun was up and he was thoroughly chilled.
Going back to the coffee and bakery shop he ordered a cup of coffee and a raspberry scone. It was warm inside and he stayed there until 8:00 listening to the locals and watching as they eyed him curiously. If anyone thought it strange to see a dark haired eighteen year old with a scarred face wandering the streets at this time of day they kept it to themselves. Tobal took his time and enjoyed his breakfast. There was some foot traffic in the morning streets and most of it toward the bakery. Customers would enter, stomp their snow covered boots on the floor, hang their coats or jackets on a stand and sit down to read the local paper or talk with their neighbors. Most of them looked over fifty years old and dressed in outdated clothing. They were not a part of the modern world as Tobal knew it. At 8:00 he paid for his coffee and scone and headed back to the shop.