berry
“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

There is a wanted man in our midst. This is perhaps the least newsworthy sentence ever crafted here at Tuppenny, given the average population of Ealdwic. There are plenty of places to get lost and anyone who spends time here learns not to ask too many questions of those who don’t want to be found.

Asking questions is our business, however; and we were intrigued by a gentleman whose visage has been posted all over Ealdwic of late. The fliers give little information but suggest that this particular individual has been around for a very long time. When we put word out that we were hoping to meet him, we didn’t expect a response. Much to our surprise, he acquiesced.

Berry is an engaging mix of the modern and the very old. Passing him on the street, one would see a man lingering around the edges of middle age. He carries himself with the easy confidence of an old Hollywood star–think Bogart or Holden with a touch of ancient warrior muscle rippling just beneath the surface. This is a man who has marched with Alexander the Great, a man who has fond memories are of fighting alongside Pyrrhus of Epirus.

He was dressed impeccably for our meeting, in a pinstriped suit and fedora that only served to amplify the film noir tough guy vibe. The scarred and tattooed face might be a little intimidating at first, but the distinctive Aussie accent and charmingly boyish grin are completely disarming. It’s heartening to see someone who has lost and found himself so many times over several millennia can still smile with a genuine twinkle in his eye.

When asked about having his face plastered all over Ealdwic he was quite non-plussed. Turns out it is more an issue of personal vendetta than an official manhunt of any sort. “A old friend is trying to find me for revenge of sorts..Bad thing happened. I thought he was killed and was forced to leave him, but turns out he is a bit like myself.”

Berry lives several hundred years at a time and then is somehow regenerated without much memory from his previous life other than odd bits and pieces. “The one thing that has been constant in all these lives has been my name, My mother named me Berry, because I was her sweet one.. And it has stuck, Even if everything else is lost, the name and face remain.”

This time around, Berry has certainly had his share of tragedy. He lost his wife to a car accident when their child was still a young boy. His tattooed face is the mark he bears from that time, punishment from the father-in-law who blamed him for his daughter’s death. When speaking of his son, now a well-known DJ in London, Berry’s face softens with the same pride that any loving father would have.

He doesn’t seem to know why he has lived so long but he does see his situation as having a purpose. “Old Gaia has chosen me to protect her own….Always meeting and caring for them.” Still, it seems a very tough gig–living long enough to lose everyone he cares for and then losing himself, over and over again.

If you happen upon Berry in the streets of Ealdwic, rest assured that his mother was absolutely right. Berry is a sweet one. In spite of his fierce exterior and his warrior’s instincts, there is calm matter-of-fact goodness to him. He’d much rather have a chat with you than a gunfight; and, given the number of gunfights he’s likely won, a chat is definitely the better choice.

Mayahuel Bailey is a new addition to the Tuppenny Dreadful staff.

@MayahuelB

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