Wednesday, February 24, 2016

shelter from the storm

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

the highway was dark and empty and bumpy. the pickup truck rattled along, occasionally bouncing when it hit a really big rock or pothole.

“can’t you go any faster?” petronia asked sarah.

“i am sure she is going as fast as she can, and so is this truck,” ohyoukid told her. “you are doing fine, sarah, don’t pay attention to her.”

petronia looked back. “the storm is doing fine. too. i don’t think we are going to outrun it.”

“i just hope my poor sheep will be all right,” said sarah. “and that henry has enough energy to go out and make sure they are not too frightened.”

“henry!” exclaimed ohyoukid. “let’s hope henry doesn’t have any energy, so he can’t follow us. not that we can’t take care of him if he does.”

“could henry follow us if he wanted to?” petronia asked sarah. “i didn’t see any other vehicles back there.”

“he could try to borrow a truck from the millers,” sarah answered. “they have the next farm over. but i don’t think he will. i hope he makes sure the sheep are all right.”

“let’s not worry about henry or the sheep,” said ohyoukid. “let’s worry about ourselves. is there anyplace along this road we could take sheller in if this storm gets really nasty.”

sarah hesitated. “there’s the old chuttlesworth place. it’s about two miles down the road.”

“the old chuttlesworth place,” ohyoukid repeated. “it has a nice ring to it.”

“does anybody live in it?” petronia added. “like some old chuttleswoths?”

“just old mrs chuttlesworth, the last i heard,” said sarah. “and a few servants, but they might be dead.”

“dead servants? ha, ha!” ohyoukid laughed. “i didn’t know folks around here went in for things like that.”

sarah flushed. “i meant, i don’t know if the servants she had are still alive. they were getting old and she would never hire any new ones.”

“i was just funning you,” ohyoukid said. “but she’s still alive herself?”

“yes, the last i heard.”

they could hear thunder behind them now, getting louder. and the wind picked up, and sarah had to fight to keep the truck on the road.

“how big is this old place anyway?” petronia asked.

“oh, it’s huge. wait until you see it.”

“good, i guess that means she can’t refuse poor wayfarers.”

sarah was fighting harder to keep the truck steady. “oh, there is no telling what old mrs chuttlesworth will do.”

“she’ll take us in,” ohyoukid said confidently. “we’ll make her take us in.”

“and feed us too,” petronia added. “if she has anything at all to eat.”

“you know, girls,” sarah said hesitantly, “maybe you can take shelter there and i can go on by myself. i appreciate all you are doing for me - “

both girls laughed. “oh no, sarah,” petronia said. “that is not how it works. we have decided to help you. and once we decide something - “

“we go on to the end,” ohyoukid finished for her. “stopping what you start, changing your mind, going back and forth - those are things humans do, not us. that’s what makes us demons.”

“are you - really - demons?” sarah asked weakly. “that sounds so awful.”

“it’s just a word,” said petronia. “you can call us something else if you want - like sprites.”

“yes, that sounds better,” sarah agreed.

“or pixies,” added ohyoukid. look! there it is!”

they were approaching the old chuttlesworth place and a series of lightning flashes lit it up.

“that is big!” petronia exclaimed. “they don’t make them like that any more.”

“it must be at least seventy rooms,” shouted ohyoukoid over the suddenly rising wind. “maybe a hundred.”

now the rain caught them and started hammering on the thin roof of the truck. the two girls laughed and whooped and hollered.

“mrs chuttlesworth, here we come!” shouted ohyoukoid.

“i just hope she is home,” sarah muttered. she peered forward at the road, as the windshield wipers were having a hard time with the deluge of water.

“home or not, we will make ourselves at home,” petronia assured her.

to be continued

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"let me refresh your memory"

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

the main dining room of ernie's, on u s 40 between st charles st louis. it will be loud and bustling later in the day, but is almost empty at quarter past two in the afternoon.

quiqui folded the menu and handed it to the waiter. " - and a couple of lamb chops."

the waiter looked at faye. "surely the child can't eat all that."

faye blew a couple of smoke rings. "she's not a child. and what do you care if she eats it? i'll pay for it. if you think i'm not good for it, call ernie. i'm an old customer here."

"i don't think mister dipietro is here right now, madam."

"then ask larry . i just saw him here."

"i'm starving," said quiqui. "why don't you just take the order? you have written it down, haven't you?"

"yes, miss, i've taken it down. and you, madam, what would you like?"

"just coffee, please. strong coffee. i won't need cream or sugar."

"very good, madam." the waiter scratched something on his pad and left.

faye watched him as he crossed the room and spoke to the maitre d.

"all right, you're all set, now start talking."

"i talk better after i'm fed."

faye blew a smoke ring into quiqui's face. "none of your sass, missy. this is a good time, when the place is still empty."

"all right. what do you want to know?"

"i told you what i want to know, all about hoover and dillinger."

"all - that covers a lot of territory."

"then get started."

"have you forgotten how the universe began, faye? let me refresh your memory."

"yes, do that."

quiqui looked around the room. two men in brown suits who looked like county commissioners had gotten up and were heading for the exit.

now the only customers were faye and quiqui and an old woman sitting by herself on the other side of the room at a table big enough for ten people, staring into a martini glass.

"in the beginning," quiqui began, "was the big tree. there were eighteen apples on the big tree, one for every dimension in the universe.

and then one day the big wind came along and knocked the apples off the trees, and the universe was shattered into eighteen different dimensions.

every dimension had its own woog - which is a concept you humans are incapable of, and every woog had its own angel, and the angels got together and invented time and life and warfare."

"angels? you mean like on christmas cards?"

"no, i mean destroyers of worlds. you know that. or should. "

"why were they destroying worlds?"

"because that's what the worlds are there for."

"is this world going to be destroyed?"

"of course."

"but not right now?"

"no, not for a while."

"so i'll have time to finish my coffee - and you'll have time to finish those steaks and oysters."

"let's hope so."

"you know," said faye. "maybe i don't really need to hear all this after all. since i'm only a human and too dumb to understand it. can you just get to hoover and dillinger? "

"no. shut up, this won't take that long. now, once the angels invented time and warfare, naturally they spent all their time fighting each other."

"but the big wind came along - and, this is the best way i can describe it to a human, it kicked up some dust left over from all the angels' battles, and now there were not eighteen angels but thousands."

faye started to interrupt again, thought better of it, and lit another cigarette.

quiqui continued. "the eighteen original angels did not care much for this new arrangement, and they banded together - sort of - to round up the new angels and divide them up and make them their slaves.

but things did not go so well for the original eighteen, as fighting the endless streams of rebels was thirsty, dirty work . it also produced the so-called expanding universes as humans know it, to the point where the original eighteen lost all track of what was going on.

each of the eighteen decided to create a sub-angel, or dirty worker, to fight the rebels and try to bring the universe under control."

"um - and is the universe under control?" faye asked.

"does it look like it?"

"here comes my coffee now. and he's got something else."

"my oysters, i hope."

the waiter approached with a cart. he put a pot of coffee in front of faye, and filled the cup that was already on the table.

then he placed a big plate of oysters in front of quiqui. "will you need some time with these,miss?'

"none at all. bring me my steaks."

"if you wish." the waiter refilled both their water glasses. "would you like a beverage, miss?"

"do you have yoo-hoo chocolate drink?"

"ah - i have never heard of it, so i say with some assurance - no, we do not have it."

"it's good stuff. they have it in new jersey."

"we are not in new jersey. we do have large supplies of coca-cola."

"i don't care for coca-cola. how about moxie?"

"i believe we have that."

"then bring me a couple of bottles."

"very good. would you like some ice?"

"of course."

the waiter nodded and left. faye watched him cross the room.

"what a scarecrow. they used to have better looking waiters." she turned back to quiqui. "you were saying?"

but quiqui's mouth was full, and it was clear that she was not continuing her account until she was finished.

shelter from the storm

Friday, October 1, 2010

harding grows weary

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

"let me refresh your memory"