Grapecount Alley: Stringfellow and Sons

You swagger down Grapecount Alley during the day. The sun is shining above, the ever-present pidgeons and seagulls and crows fight for dominance. Rows of tall wooden buildings alternate with brick, packed in close enough that a cart has trouble navigating. The cool October day waned a bit when the buildings above the narrow street hid the sun.
You pass a side alley marked Grosvenor, down which a trickle of water runs in a groove in the cobblestones. A fat, red-faced woman with an enormous bosom hangs out of an upper balcony, singing as she hangs the washed linens.
Your destination is a rug shop built of large concrete bricks and painted white. You find that the place shares side walls with two other standard-brick buildings, which altogether make up an entire block.

This rug shop is run by four swarthy men who look up as you enter. The ceiling is very high and there are high windows in the front and ceiling. The place is overall well-lit. There are stacks of rugs one to two feet high with narrow pathways between them. None are rolled up. In the two back corners are tall racks that hold hanging rugs from crossbeams that swing out so you can see the front and back.
There’s a back room with a card table and a few bottles and mugs and piles of rug making goods. The back room is separated from the front by a half-height wall with an open door. There’s also a set of stairs leading down. On the floor below are more stacks of rugs. It’s also fairly well lit downstairs.
The men are unshaved and well-muscled. They seem a bit suspicious of you. They speak with a foreign accent and in short, quick phrases. One named Kilgore does all the talking while the others sit and talk quietly and filter in and out of the back room.
The hanging rugs appear to be more expensive and the rug merchant suggests rugs from there. He has a pole that he pulls the rugs down with. It’s an obviously well-practiced move, almost a magic trick. The other men make no attempt to sell rugs and seem uncomfortable with your presence.

Stringfellow and Sons – Rug Merchants
If anyone tries to go downstairs the rug merchant says that section is private and nothing down there is for sale. The four are willing to throw people out if they try to go down the stairs.
The rug shop is the front for a local fence named Presa Maximo. The fence has his merchant Kilgore Stringfellow buy and sell things that aren’t too expensive. But when a lot of money is involved the rug merchant sets up a meeting with the fence downstairs. The downstairs looks normal but there’s a back door that leads to a hallway running the width of the back of the building underground and stairs leading down farther underground. This sub-basement is where the fence meets people and keeps his stolen property.
The fence Presa Maximo is a shorter, almost bald man with narrow wide lips and no eyebrows. He wipes his sweating pate frequently in all but the coldest weather, but in such weather he keeps the heat up and wears heavy embroidered clothes. He has some connections with local officials and the leaders of various gangs. He’s currently troubled by his daughter, Jacarti, who spends far too much time drinking and carousing with her friends at the Speckled Frog tavern. Of course, he has no reason to tell a customer this.

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