Sprint: Four Characters Describe Brother Fratatelli

Know One Stone? No? Well, this might be hard to follow. I’m thinking about how badly the characters in that book are explained visually, how I don’t take opportunities to really go indepth with how characters look. Here then is a test text sample of how each of the major characters in One Stone would describe one of their own, Brother Fratarelli. He’s a priest, he’s nice, and he’s fat.

I am particularly keenly conscious of this last point because rereading the book I kind hammer on the fact he’s fat in some really pointless ways. Rafe in particular refers to his fatness in internal dialogue a lot, and I need to bore into why Rafe would do that.

Anyway, the simple idea I had at first was that of the four characters:

  • Rafe sees class signifiers
  • Aderyn sees weaknesses and objectively verifiable surrounding material
  • Kivis sees emotional boundaries
  • Fratarelli himself sees anxieties and fears

Here then!


The monk – it was monk, right, with the robes that had a hood on them, the brown sack-like fabric and the knotted ties around on it because buttons were unholy according to some weirdo or other – mostly reminded Rafe of a particularly anxious egg. The man – definitely not a boy, not in the same class of thing as Rafe himself, even if the guy carried himself with a nervousness that didn’t feel like those men who asserted themselves on the world – was maybe what, twice Rafe’s age, and fat. Rafe knew enough about fatness to know that there were fat people who liked to be called fat and fat people who didn’t mind being called fat and there were fat people who got mad about being called fat, but Fratarelli was the kind of guy who couldn’t contest being called fat. It wasn’t the fat of the day labourers who lived on beer and boats, all broad shoulders and hard muscle leading down into a body shaped like a barrel all up and down. It was fat, in that when he walked his midsection swayed.

It was weird though because Rafe had seen plenty of fat people but not many fat poor people. Dude was a monk, though, looked right at your face at first. Palms were all soft, had ink under his fingernails. Moved around a lot, which was weird – didn’t fat people sit still a lot? Listened to and talked to people, real talky type. Shiny forehead, big brown eyes, hair going all silvery at the edges and the back. Was he bald or did he shave?

Rafe didn’t trust him, but he didn’t trust anyone who had a place to live.


Francis Fratarelli, aged thirty seven and a half, one hundred sixy seven cims in height and a hundred and forty or so keegs in weight. Priest (ordained) and deacon (mundane operator) of a small church. Almost no capacity to defend himself from the sides or back. Poor spatial awareness and a reliance on cultural positioning to make himself safe from attack in common spaces. Attack from the front probably fruitless; head and torso capable of free movement, and midsection likely to endure a stabbing wound to the stomach. Well connected to a large number of people, a congregation of at least fifty people who would notice if he went missing. Skills include cooking, sewing, boiler maintenance and literacy. Good natured and probably of no threat to anyone between ethical boundaries and unwillingness to do personal harm.

Extremely confusing that this man hired an assassin and bought a murderer, though. That did merit some consideration.


It was Francis, alright. The anxious, querulous, nebbish student, who had turned to books to answer ‘why’ and only found a soft voice whispering back ‘why not?’ Francis’ time had been far less gentle to him than it should have been – he wasn’t much older than Kivis but the man still carried himself with the slumped-down beaten-up steps of someone whose job had been killing him for forty years and he was still in his thirties. Prematurely grey, they’d say, but really, if he didn’t live in the shadow of the soot-belching stacks of the city and get such a regular dusting from it, he’d probably have completely white hair. The bowl between his fingers made a soft tappa tappa tappa against the surface of the table while he turned it over and over in his hands, still as he could make it.

It wasn’t like she’d asked the question to invoke this kind of crisis, it was just that when left to his own devices, she felt like Francis would try and find a crisis to happen upon him. There was always that problem when you were overburdened with questions. You got comfortable with them and then something providing an answer wasn’t a resolution, it was stealing one of your pillows. Francis was a man whose fears warred with one another, and who she could trust to do the right thing, when his panic left him no alternative. Ruddy skin and bit-back nails, but still, as always, smiling when he spoke to her.

Where better to be anxious, then anxious with a friend.


In the thin sliver of metal-tinged glass that rested over the sink the Brother regarded his complexion with a hopeful want that something would be different after all that had entailed. No stigmata nor brand had evinced itself on the pale skin at the top of his forehead, where his hair had escaped, the redness of his cheeks and throat remaining as untouched by beard as it was by creeping veins showing a deep corruption within. Somehow despite having sentenced two men to their death last night, in that frantic study, he could not find any sign of it. The same hazel eyes, sad and weary. The same ashed hair, still remembering a trauma of long ago. The same giant wing-nut ears he was sure everyone noticed and nobody was cruel enough to comment on. The same rounded little short nose, the one that made him look friendly, the one that made him look… soft.

This was the face of a criminal mastermind.

Cold water sloshed over rubbing hands around hard soap that smelled of nothing as much as soapness. He patted down his neck and swiped those hands through his hair, pushing it back down against his sclap where it was thicker, before drawing himself up, drawing in a big breath and considering the spectacle of himself. Was this what death looked like? Was this the person he had been yesterday? Had he always had the thoughtful pout to his lips, had he always opened his mouth one side slightly early because he knew people would notice the missing tooth if he didn’t try to hide it? Could, simply put, anyone tell?

Releasing his breath and letting his belly slop back into place with a defeated sigh, the priest regarded himself once more in his little broken mirror. It seemed to him most unfair. If he had done this and nobody would notice, then it spoke to all sorts of other things people did and nobody around them would notice, too. The joyous shape of him was somehow uninterrupted by the interposition in his life of a dreadful conspiratorial sin in the name of letting poor women control how often they had children. His eyes weren’t even bloodshot, like they often got when he had a good cry.

Maybe Kivis would have some advice about this. Or maybe, just maybe, he’d get distracted making her breakfast, and these thoughts would drip away until he was washing his face tomorrow morning, and he’d do this all again.