Actions

Work Header

Everybody Comes To Kowalski's.

Work Text:

1. Modesty Barebone

Sad part of the job, but Jacob knows he's got to keep a special eye on some of the kids. It's not the ones that steal for themselves he has to worry about. It's the ones who steal for other people. Modesty, when she slinks in, her hair in neat braids, is the kid who steals for someone else. And Jacob can look away while one mouth gets fed, but if he looks away while too many mouths get fed, well, it's sad, but he can't keep giving out charity if he can't pay the bills.

"Hey, kid," he says to Modesty, and she looks at him with some recognition. Jacob doesn't know why. But there's a couple days missing in his memory from when he hit his head outside the bank. Jacob supposes he must have run into her then. The beggars remember his face most than he remembers a beggar's face. That's also not something he's proud of, but it's also something that's true. "Need a job? I need someone to keep the flour out of everything in the back and check for mice."

Modesty looks suspicious. "How much you paying?"

Yeah. Because paying a girl like her too much ain't something he can afford, and also would give her the kind of impression to go to the cops. Jacob names a number way too low for what it's worth to him to keep the place clean and free of vermin, but he can give her bonuses. He thinks he's seen her around some of the Christian stuff. Easter's coming up, and some extra cash then would help her family, and give him an excuse to keep paying more to help her family. She ain't got any reason to tell him about them now, but, he figures, a couple months from now, he'll have a better idea of how many mouths need to get fed.

 

2. Queenie Goldstein

She walks in, dressed in shades of pink, and Jacob gets the feeling he usually only gets when he wakes up after dreaming up a great new creature shape for his pastries. It's like the heavens have opened up and the sun is shining. The rabbis back home had talked about feeling that way when they saw a beautiful plant for the first time. There's even a blessing for it, although Jacob was never great at remembering those. But he can make up his own one: blessed are you, God, who makes beautiful people. Or, perhaps, blessed are you, God, who made the goldene medina -- America, the golden country -- and golden women to live in it.

"You the owner?" the beautiful woman asks and Jacob thinks she might be flirting. Hopes, more honestly.

"I am," he says, offering his hand. "Jacob Kowalski. What might you like? It's on the house," he throws in. "Every first time customer gets something free. Makes you want to come back."

She giggles at him, but it feels good, not like she's making fun. "I'm gonna hold you that, Mr. Kowalski."

"Call me Jacob," he says.

"Queenie," she replies, and shakes his hand.

 

3. Tina Goldstein

This time, at least, the familiar feeling is because Queenie's told him about her sister, even shown him a couple pictures. This is meeting the family, but in a nice kind of way. Tina likes the pastries shaped like the giant two-winged eagle the best. Jacob's no great judge of character, but when she asks him for his parents's names and their old cities so they can square it all with the rabbi, he gives them gladly.

The kesuba says Yakov ben Yitzchak Izzik HaKohen and Malka bas Sholem. The date and location are left empty for now. Jacob used to go with some of the guys at the cannery to the very early morning services before their Saturday shifts, but this rabbi wants to make sure to meet him properly and have a chance to have a good, long talk before he marries them, but the bakery keeps Jacob busy, and the winter keeps Rabbi Portnoy busy with visiting the sick and then, sometimes, burying them. Jacob makes sure the leftovers at the end of the day get taken to the rabbi to get distributed as he likes, and when spring arrives, the rabbi marries them with pride.

Queenie opens up her own shop right next door, using Jacob's bread for sandwiches and other things for the people who live and work in the neighborhood, and they do a good business. A lot of people come by, some of them make Jacob twitch a little bit or cover his neck and he's never sure why, but they seem to know Queenie pretty well, so there's no harm in that.

 

4. Newt Scamander

"Salamander?" Jacob offers as someone new walks in, offering him one straight from the tray. "New today, so it's all free samples. We've a contest for best filling." Jacob points to the sign in the corner, which Modesty had painstakingly written out. She's going to night school and her reading and writing are improving by far. Jacob still wouldn't trust her at the till, though.

The man who walked in is staring at him in askance and says, very offended, "it's Scamander, actually." He brushes off his coat, as if to apologize to it, and then takes the salamander. He bites off its head. "Mm. I like raspberry."

Modesty puts a tick mark next to raspberry and beams at him.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" Jacob asks. He's starting to get an impression... something about a suitcase...

"No, never met you before, sorry," Scamander clearly lies.

But then it clicks. "You gave me the silver!" Jacob cries and comes out from the other side of the counter. "My investor!" He'd been concerned about how to pay him back and then he walks right into the shop. Maybe the rabbi's right about these things. "Come, I'll show you the books. Do you want to cash out or stay in?" He's been putting bits and pieces away here and there in case the investor wanted to cash out, but from the way Scamander is eating the rest of the salamander, Jacob thinks it's most likely that he's here to check up on his investment than to try to sabotage it. But even still, investors need to be kept abreast, otherwise, it's a kind of lying. Jacob keeps clean books, he prides himself on it. Even charity gets marked off. He wouldn't want anyone to think he's stealing.

 

5. Credence Barebone

Modesty brings her older siblings to work on days when she can't, and Jacob appreciates it. This time, it's an older brother who Jacob has never met before. But big families are the same everywhere, so Jacob shakes Credence's hand and ignores how the kid looks beyond terrified. Some kids look like that during their first real job, after years of stealing to keep themselves from starving.

"Welcome, Credence," Jacob says. "Has Modesty explained the job to you?"

Credence nods in a way that keeps his head focused at the ground the entire time. Jacob decides against clasping the boy around the shoulder in welcome.

"Excellent," he says instead. "Let me know if anything comes up. Take whatever you want for lunch, and if you want to bring home some dinner, my wife next door does amazing roast beef."

And even with his head down like that, Jacob can see Credence smile.