Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 48

The entry this week for Serial Setting 1 for Ubiquity details a laundry on the beautiful and deadly Windlet Islands. The Serial Settings series of posts is intended to provide usable setting material for busy GMs. Series 1 is for those looking to run Daring Tales of Adventure or Hollow Earth Expedition.

48) Fine Company Laundry and Tailoring, Main Company Compound, Greater Windlet Island

Few places on Earth are as hard on clothing as a jungle, and few jungles seem to be so keen to destroy as those on the Windlet Isles. Heat, humidity, fungus, filth, and all manner of hungry insects, wreak havoc on fabric, and leather in a constant war on fashion and decorum. Uniform costs for the Fence Guards count as one of the Company’s highest single expenses on the Isles, comparable to fuel and ammunition.

As a result, there are many small laundry services offered by members of the community, the Three Brothers’ Hotel, and many of the boarding houses. For real service, quality repair and replacement, and that special touch of style, however, one must go to Charlie Fine’s shop. Frustratingly for those with the desire to look their best, but lack the proper credentials and contacts, only those with access to the main Company Compound can do so. Not just anyone can saunter onto Company property.

The proprietor keeps his shop as spotless as the clothes he returns to very satisfied customers. He is known in the Company as a miracle-worker, and it is proudly reported that Fine holds several patents in the chemical industry. Of course, most who boast of such things are quick to add that no one works as hard as Charlie. The shop itself is not large, but it fronts a lengthy warehouse where the staff and numerous machines labour on rescuing work clothes and uniforms from the salivating jowls of jungle rot and decay. Fine oversees each stage of cleaning personally, but spends most of his own working time fashioning clothes for Company clients ranging from the Administrator and his family, to the groundskeepers. During the day, it is said that temperatures inside the shop are high enough to boil water. Fine just laughs at such talk and says, “Hot water works best for clean whites.”

The laundry is located not far from the main gate and has a small, two-storey building attached to the front of a double-wide, triple-long nissen hut. It is regularly white-washed and always presents a clean and sparkling face to the world. From the open front door pours the clean fresh scent of lemony soap, and the bright and cheery sounds of sprightly jazz records which puts more than a little lightness in the steps of passersby. Over the door a small sign reads Fine Company Laundry and Tailoring, and under that Fine’s slogan, “Leave the world better than you found it.”

Prices within are reasonable for both cleaning and tailoring, and it is believed that the shop is heavily subsidized by the Company to help improve living conditions. A famous conversation is often reported to those who are seeking access to the laundry, or who have asked questions about it, which relates that when the shop opened and the Administrator asked Fine why he wanted to set up shop on Greater Windlet, Fine replied with a wink, “I go where the work is.”

Usual Suspects: Charlie Fine

Fine is a small man with quick, dextrous hands, and twinkling blue eyes. He has finely sculpted black hair, always in place, and frequently paid attention in the heat and fury of the hell-blast furnace of the laundry. He moves like a dancer, and is always in immaculate whites. Never missing a dance or social gathering Fine is seen as polite, dashing, and indefatigable. His love of music, fine wine, dancing, and hard, hard work enamours of him of many, as does his policy of never uttering an impolite or hurtful word. People can be heard to say that he even works hard at being nice.

Fine, now in his mid-thirties, was born under the name Virgil Pugatti, and grew up an orphan on the streets of Paris with nothing but his dexterity, wits, and a talent for mimicry to see him through. Pickpocketing led to con artistry, and con artistry led to cat burglary when the thrill of it died, and successful acquisitions of priceless property led to concerted police attention and a need to reinvent himself. Always a hard worker no matter the dodge he was orchestrating, the young man found himself a position in a Chinese laundry owned by a strangely cheerful and vigorous fellow with an equally cheerful wife and a veritable squadron of chipper children. It had an influence on Pugatti and from that day he began to work his greatest con… the utter disappearance of Virgil and the creation of Charlie Fine.

He made contact with John Gast during a fierce, but ultimately successful battle with a massive blood stain on the Administrator’s tuxedo shirt after Gast was attacked at a banquet in Paris. One thing led to another, and within a few months, Fine was waging war on filth in the trenches on Greater Windlet.

Of course, the Gast business empire holds many temptations for a man forged in the crime-ridden streets of the City of Lights. It will remain to be seen if Fine will stay squeaky clean forever.

 

Rumours: Heard among Company staff and the formerly wrinkled and dirty

  • No one can set a crease like Fine
  • He has special skill at removing stains – even blood stains!
  • He saved the Administrator’s life in Paris
  • He is always drunk… it’s the only explanation
  • He met Louis Armstrong on a train and didn’t recognize him, talked to Louis about Louis for hours
  • He saves all of his money for an eventual retirement in the Swiss Alps
  • He is the father of more than a few island children who are growing up calling another man ‘Daddy’
  • He can identify anyone from their accent, no matter what language they are speaking

 

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