Monday, November 25, 2013

Bath Follies, Episode 5

The encroaching midnight of a most trying day for many seemed to be the darkest ever, save for white flashes of lightening as quick to strike as a jack-be-nimble on the prowl; thunderous claps! and bellows! as if the heavens were demanding to be heard, and all of this proceeding with most inhabitants safely in their beds, save for the hardy few, or for the criminal element, or for the dedicated hardworking men of the constabulary! Indeed, Constable Bobbins walked his beat gaily swinging a nightstick near the Illustrious park where it is well-known that Crime stalks elegant passerby’s before seizing an unintended invite to hobnob straight into neglected coin-purses with the ease of a buttered scone sliding down one’s throat—as our Lady of Quality did discover just that very morning on this Disastrous day; a day usually reserved for worship and all things spiritual, yet also a day whereupon the hopes and dreams of one young lady would come crashing to a halt at almost to the exact moment a courageous young lad would discover a most exciting world beyond his ornately insular one; and, not to take likely this very point: he did also discover that gallantry is oft well-rewarded, at least by one’s own family, which is, in and of itself, quite an achievement since affirmation of the nobler traits that make up a fine character is not easily attained through familial approbation, as the requirements and expectations for achieving such are held to a much higher standard within the family circle of trust, rather than through one’s friends or casual acquaintances, where, if there is a perceived weakness in one’s character it is more easily forgiven. 
Perhaps then, it was not to be gainsaid that Lord and Lady Brumbly found Lady Angela's character deficiencies particularly vexatious—despite the sacrificial nature of her valorous act in saving her brother—in regards to her temperament, in the which she lacked the genteel qualities of refinement, humility, and amiability of demeanor that is readily observed in most level-headed Beauteous females of her age; and, qualities which are of great necessity given her hopes to land a permanent attachment to a titled gentleman. But Roger, with his eagerness to please at all times, with his courageous acts in toto at least equalling those of his sister, and with the dear boy being at an age where immaturity cloaks the mind much like a greatcoat cloaks a gentleman's shoulders, is likely to be accorded complete absolution for his character failings, even when catastrophe strikes as a result of his numerous misadventures, and threatens the lives of his own bad self, his sister, aunt and uncle . . . and any servants who might happen to be in the house at the time! It should not be therefore surprising that the dear boy spent Sunday night dreaming of all things valiant whereby he is as the most splendid Arthurian knight(Sir Lancelot) ever: ever chivalrous, spirited, kind, meek, merciful, obedient, considerate, wise, and loyal; whereas, our heroine did toss and turn, much like her suddenly topsy turvy world, fixating with an all-consuming passion on one very particular and pertinacious goal: to seek revenge on the one female she had always vowed would never get the best of her!—Lady Lucretia Whetstone. 
Such was the Brumbly household on that stormy night; at the mercy of Fate and all its intendant consequences, including the serious potential for a calamitous collision of decidedly maximum effect between various household members and the outside world even whilst Lord Brumbly and his wife, Joan, slept like baby goslings covered by the tender breast of Mother Goose—both truly lacking the delicacy of feeling necessary to comprehend the potential roilings of a household heading into chaos like as to a riot of malcontented factory workers!
And the propellant into such entropy would not solely be the fault of Lady Angela with all her manipulations, her fits of temper, and her self-absorption of feeling; nor, would the causation of such stem from her brother, Roger, whose vivid imagination, as we very well know, might lead—if misdirected and not corrected—to a fire which could, due to its macroscopic size, take out the whole of Sherwood Forest! Nay, the first malignant seeds of pandemonium as might cause considerable stress for members of the Brumbly household would sprout twofold: from a little town called Mayberry, five kilometers outside of Bath, the seat of the Dukedom of Mayberry and where the Beauteous Lady Lucretia lived in the Castle Brimstone with her father, the Duke of Mayberry, His Grace, John St. Gerald Whetstone; her mother, the Golden Pheasant herself, Duchess Judicia Whetstone; and, from Rakeshire Hall, in the hamlet of Orpheus Hollow, be it an estimate of five kilometers from Mayberry, and the seat of the Devilyn family from whence the eighth Earl of Rakeshire, the elderly Lord Merlin Devilyn, resided year round with his grandson and heir apparent, Lord Byron Devilyn, his granddaughter, the Lady Elspeth Parkington, a widow, her late husband being the Viscount of Belfry, along with her two very sweet children, Alexandra Parkington, come newly to the age of one and ten, and her twin sister, Grace. Another member of the Devilyn family being The Hon. Hugh Devilyn, second grandson of Lord Merlin, who, being also a barrister, is an elected member of parliament living peacefully in London, ever the determined bachelor!
It was common knowledge from within and without the walls of the Castle Brimstone, that Her Grace, Duchess Judicia was not one to have her desires thwarted in any way: not by her husband and most certainly not by her own daughter! You see, Lady Judicia lacked the necessary matriarchal qualities of the give and take variety which yields the kind of diplomacy that nurtures and sustains a relationship, a key mark of refined wholesomeness and happiness for many a family—she, preferring to take, which, even though such an action may yield instantaneous self-satisfying results, is almost certain to put noses out of joints for those on the wrong end of the take, as opposed to the give, wherein the results, though not immediately apparent, can be nigh on rewarding for those on the right side of the give! And, it is because of this most regrettable lack of diplomacy that Lady Judicia—with her overpowering need to prehend control over every aspect of the family’s life, though, more to the specific, with her over-breaching, meddling involvement to plan her daughter’s future, which had largely entailed arranging a suitable marital attachment to the Prince Marcus Chamberlain of Wussilandia—was, quite like as not, to be the sole causation of much discord in the Whetstone household. But it had always been Lady Judicia’s life-long dream, or obsession to be more precise, to join the house of royalty no matter the who or what she had to sacrifice in order to accomplish that very thing. And it was this vain, naked ambition that was most distressing to Lord Whetstone and Lady Lucretia. For, rest assured, Lady Judicia was decidedly alone in her ambitions, like as to a castaway on an uninhabited island; for, not only did Lucretia most violently disagree with her mother on securing her future to a member of royalty, since as we know she is besotted with Lord Devilyn, but her father also took his beloved daughter’s side—as was usual the case in these matters since it was Lord Whetstone’s biased opinion that his daughter could do no wrong. Still, the Duke had yet another reason to ally himself to his daughter’s cause—he was most spectacularly umimpressed with Prince Chamberlain, even going so far as to cast aspersions on the sly about the superficial nature of the man’s muppish character: his extravagant lifestyle, his foppish mannerisms, his vanity, his lack of political knowledge while still toadying up to Lord Whetstone in a most loathsome manner; for instance, in matters of political debate, the Prince would be like the wind; if a gale be from the east, so fly the flags of patriotism; if it blow from the north, so goes the Prince up the flagpole with nary a piece of clothing, and if it be a gale blows from the south or west, the Prince would turn as quickly as bodies hanging from Tyburn Tree! 
The end result of Duchess Judicia’s willful, calculated campaign to marry her daughter off to a despised Prince was that the Duke had had to intercede on his daughter’s behalf with such a fury of words to his wife, that she did, at least outwardly, retreat on this matter, though there was little doubt in Lucretia’s mind that her mother had every intention of selling her to the highest bidder with the highest title. And how very true that was! Lady Judicia was even now soliciting another alliance with some other hapless Prince, as almost any Prince would do no matter the consequence of his age or looks; but, this time she would do so in a more subtle, underhanded manner. In summation, be it known that Her Grace would sell her own soul if need be to accomplish the very thing that she’d been planning since the birth of her daughter, and the Duchess was nothing if not cunningly adaptable when seeking victory over a cause most important to her—so cunning she would leave nothing to chance to insure that her desires were carried out! Rumored about in the servants quarters was that Her Grace, an inexorable devotee to the study of astrology, was also a sometime practitioner of the black arts!
Now, Lucretia being not of like mind to her mother on these matters of the heart, and having accurately discerned that her mother’s unhealthy regard for her future would never be deracinated, there arose quite violent displays of temper between the two, such that the Duchess had threatened to disinherit her daughter, which made it all the more dire for the beleaguered young woman to secure Lord Devilyn’s affections as quickly as would be possible. Therefore, Lucretia had begun to secretly plan an elopement, giving no thought to Lord Devilyn's partiality on the matter!
Events were proceeding quite smoothly and on course for the residents of Rakeshire Hall, the seat of Devilyn family, and from whence they had resided for many generations, starting with the first known occupant of Rakeshire Hall, a Lord Malefort Devilyn born to a very fine, upstanding noblewoman named Lady Gwendolyn Carstairs—she being the eldest daughter of the Duke of Endymire—and to an infamously dissolute, opprobrious alchemist by the name of Perseus Devilyn, whose black-browed, singularly handsome, but sulky good looks, combined with facile charm, had first bought him the consideration of Lady Gwendolyn and eventually her hand in marriage, for which he had pursued with much expediency and exigency; even, going so far as to resort to the vilest trickery by creating an elixir consisting of nettles and cantharides and slipping it into her food, thus ensuring that the ravishing Lady Gwendolyn would be much more agreeable to his marriage proposal, since it was common knowledge the woman was of keen intellect and sensibility, and not easily taken in by sleight-of-hand workings, or a pulchritudinous man’s evil premeditations! It may leave the reader to wonder why Perseus did ardently pursue Lady Gwendolyn in such a treacherous manner. For her money! But there was also an underlying, and perhaps more insidious reason appurtenant to that; for, as a lad in tattered britches, Perseus had always vowed to bring certain members of the aristocracy down to their knees, so as to gain the upper hand over these silver-spooned devils, to crush their spirits, forcing them all to bow to his will! so that in the end they would fervently beg him not to destroy their good names, nor tear asunder their cherished families. It leaves one to posit if Perseus had met with any success in his vengeful endeavors. Most assuredly he had, for his evil plan had been just this: to buy up notes on large properties in distressed conditions that were particular to those members of the aristocracy who suffered from limited pockets due to lost fortunes from gaming hells, or other misadventures; then, once in possession of these notes, he charged an excessive amount of rent or evicted the families altogether. Hence did Perseus become the sole reason for the extirpation of many a high-born family!
After years of a childless marriage, Lord Perseus’ only child and heir, Malefort was born. And oh! what a wicked wicked thing was then done to our Lady Gwendolyn by her husband, the black-hearted Perseus. For he did tell the most grievous lie—that her child had been still-born, when the plain truth of the matter was, Perseus had taken Malefort straight away from his birth and given the infant boy to his mistress to raise! And thereupon, were the first seeds of tragedy planted. For, shortly after rising from the birthing bed, Lady Gwendolyn rode out of Endymire Castle on the finest horse imaginable—a horse the color of the brightest star in the firmament!—her heart broken into a thousand tiny pieces, each piece lovingly sculpted like as to a crystal rose, the pedals of which were broken asunder and spread about on the grounds like shimmering water lilies lovingly framed in a thin coating of hoar frost, with her tears falling fast and hard much like an icy rain in the very first ordaining of winter, and with a spirit so crushed it was as if her body had fallen from some great cliff to be dashed on the rocks below! And thus did the Noblest woman in all of the kingdom ride out of Endymire Hall . . . only never to be seen again! The story now is the stuff upon which legends are woven with gossamer threads into the Quilt of Great Sorrow, for, even in the present there are whispers amongst the elderly town members of Orpheus Hollow who do claim to have seen—upon the appearance of a full moon, its color being delicate like as porcelain with ragged strippings of grey blotches dotting the face of its imperial globe—the Beauteous Lady Gwendolyn riding a most gloriously splendid white steed, and it being in the form of a unicorn, crying out for her infant in a voice so anguished as to make even the hardest of hearts weep tears that would of a certainty flood an entire valley!
Thus was the name Malefort handed down from generation to generation, to every first-born son and heir of the Devilyn family—though it must be stated now, that each Malefort born did suffer from the same dissoluteness and recklessness of character that had afflicted their prodigiously improvident ancestor Perseus; that is to say, they were forced to rely mostly on their wits, and their singularly swoon-inducing black-browed handsome looks, only thriving in matters of finance upon occasion due to a gifted propensity for being successful foragers of the fortune-hunting type, or, secondarily to that, having great success at the gaming tables through the basest chicanery; and, all of this obnoxious, and sometimes criminal behavior, spurred to the boot by repeated efforts to restore the family fortune; fortunes that each proceeding generation of Devilyn’s to the present had never failed to foolishly plunder. 
Eventually there came a day many generations forward, when a very fine and brave young woman, the Lady Charlotte Randle, who, after she married the most recent Lord Malefort Devilyn, gave birth to a first-born son she named Merlin, thereby breaking with convention in order to spare the boy the unctious, merciless task of carrying upon his stout shoulders such a scandalous, such a portentous, such a cursed name as Malefort throughout his life. Even so, Lady Charlotte would no doubt, if she could, peer down from the heavens and cringe, as her only son, Lord Merlin Devilyn did yet follow to a degree the ignominious traits of his forefathers from Perseus on down, but whether it being due to a natural inherited inclination, or from great necessity, is not yet known. 
It was most unfortunate then, that Lady Angela, so smitten by her own sublime fantasies for making what would most certainly be, at least in her own mind, the most talked about wedding ever to the most delectably wealthy, highest-titled aristocrat ever, that it did blind her to the dereliction and paucity of character Lord Devilyn had already displayed just in their very brief moments of romantical contact of which fairy-tale dreams are made; and, that if she had but known the history of this notoriously rapacious, reprehensible family, or bothered to investigate such, our heroine would have been better prepared to read such character deficiencies within our Villainous Lord post-haste upon first sight, and certainly with a clearer head; for, let there be no mistaking the fact that Lord Byron Devilyn, being the firstborn son of the late, and most recent, though not lamented, Lord Malefort Devilyn, did show the same unsteadiness of character from youth as did his ancestors; though, one must admit to being sympathetic as to a possible cause of Lord Devilyn’s particular peculiarities: the pressure of being the first-born son of a notorious family with such a grievous history must have been a very great one. After all, how appallingly unfair is it to saddle from infancy a male child upon whom the entire financial fate of his aristocratic family rests! An impressionable young boy’s heart should be shaped by fantastical dreams of heroic swashbuckling adventures of knights and knaves, of dragons and monsters, of magic and wizards, of quests to the past and the future through the portal of an active and prolific imagination!—and not by nightmares, whereby the fear of failure haunts his every dream, whereby the fear of disappointing a father determined to shift the subsistence of his family entirely onto the back of his first-born son much like a mule loaded down by one hundred stone of household goods, is enormously great, and of a certainty not a burden any child should ever have to bear! For, it is on the threshold of manhood when a young stripling searches the stars seeking his own identity, and his own destiny in order to follow his own path, and not a path designed to lead a conscientious young man straightwith to the Department of Familial Obligations whereupon he is imprisoned for life by the suffocating needs of holding his family together!
It is in no way surprising then, that Lord Devilyn had spent the youth of his childhood pondering what would be the quickest and most practicable way to restore the family coffers. In his own mind he had only two choices: gaming, or fortune hunting. Suffice it to say that gambling held far more appeal to the young man, for His Lordship had not one iota of desire to be legshackled to one woman for life unless it reaped pecuniary dividends of prodigious proportions. Youthful dalliances and indiscretions with various female members of the haut monde, both married and unmarried, had left Lord Byron with a bitter taste in his mouth. But there was also another reason, perhaps even a more significant, compelling one: His Lordship had no wish to sire a male child preordained to carry the torch of infamy and disgrace of the Devilyn male first-born, thereby suffering the same fate as other’s before him! But, be that as it may, it was also true as to how Lord Devilyn had oft expressed to his grandfather, Lord Merlin—and, as to the usual, such conversations taking place after a particularly wretched night at the gaming tables whereby His Lordship did rack up huge debts—that, if worse came to worse, a marital attachment would not be the most distasteful arrangement so long as his future wife possessed the wealth of Croesus! 
         Hence the carriage ride with Lady Lucretia; the side-affects being so positively catastrophic! that our Brave young heroine, Lady Angela Rosecroft, did suffer the most ghastly Sunday she had yet lived!

Author note: I hope y'all used the ZOOM feature on your computers. And if you got this far, I salute you. You're probably wondering if I'm still having fun writing. At all. In whatever genre. Fiction or non-fiction. Well, as you can see, I'm still chugging along even though it took awhile to get this episode out. Know why it took so demme long? Because I'm a moron, that's why. Within the last two weeks, this is what I've done to myself: two fingertips nearly cut off, one back going out, one tooth broken by a piece of popcorn,( the kernel part), one fall from a great height of approximately 5' 4", four weeks of chronic sinus problems leading to walking diagonally and into walls, one treadmill desk set-up, (stay tuned for description and pic), and the real stunner, back spasms after walking too long on treadmill, (two plus hours).  

I'm fine now.  Any yes, I'm still having fun. Ima like a reader. I have no idea where I'm going with this but I wanna find out. Exciting, wot? Today's featured throw-in genre: Gothic. Today's featured accent/voice: a mix of renaissance and wth? And don't forget that I also threw in one of my favorite movie phrases. Oh yeah, my-not-so-very-favorite word of the episode is D E R A C I N A T E D, because it thymes with, D E C A P I T A T E D.  So, just for funsies let's play around with a snippet of text a little bit!

. . . "discerned that her mother’s unhealthy regard for her future would never be deracinated, there arose quite violent displays of temper between the two, such that the Duchess had threatened to decapitate(d) her daughter." 

Is this the place where I tell you the above is not in the original text? That way you don't have to go back and read it again. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Teenage Modern Philosopher's Club Chatroom, Episode 2

NOTE:  ". . ."  means brief period of silence.

CorpusOrgan1: Of course pizza exists.

Lil’Con: Or, perhaps it’s tasty deliciousness is all in our heads. It tastes good because we believe it to.

TheGreatPlato: If we can believe things to taste good, everything would taste good.

CorpusOrgan1: Maybe it’s physical existence doesn’t matter at all. If we warrant its existence, it will exist.

TheGreatPlato: So if I wanted to will something to not exist, could I? Are you telling me that if I take this bag of Cheetos, believe it does not exist, it will disappear? 

CorpusOrgan1: That’s not exactly what I’m saying, but its possible.

TheGreatPlato: Well lets give it a try, shall we? Cheetos, I will you to no longer exist.
. . .

Lil’Con: Is it still there?

TheGreatPlato: No, Confucius, it’s completely gone! Everything Aristotle said was right!

CorpusOrgan1: -_-

TheGreatPlato: My god! The things I could do now that I can make things disappear! No more homework, no more anchovies, maybe I can even make the Universe disappear! Do you think it possible, Aristotle?

CorpusOrgan1: I think it possible that you can will that bag of Cheetos back into existence and choke on it’s contents, Plato.

Lil’Con: Wait, I’m confused are we being serious or sarcastic?

TheGreatPlato: I’m as serious as the existence of Aristotle.

Lil’Con: So . . . not at all?

CorpusOrgan1: Let’s not go back to the idea of the “existence of people”, boys. Let’s stick to the topic at hand: Pizza.

TheGreatPlato: Hold on, mother’s calling. Brb.

*Five minutes later*

TheGreatPlato: I don’t believe this! That psychotic baby!

Lil’Con: What happened?

TheGreatPlato: Socrates told his mother I bullied him out of the club, and she called my mother to complain! I’ve been grounded, effective starting tomorrow!

CorpusOrgan1: He went to his mother? That’s low, even for him.

TheGreatPlato: I know. I also have to let him back in the club, and be nice to him from now on. 

TheGreatPlato: Prepare yourselves.   He  is  officially  unblocked  as  of  . . .  now.

SocRocks9 has been added to the group.
SocRocks9 has logged on.

TheGreatPlato: Hello, Socrates.

SocRocks9: hi dickwads.

CorpusOrgan1: Socrates, how could you? Getting Plato in trouble with his mother!

SocRocks9: just wait until you get home aristotle. my mom called your mom too.

CorpusOrgan1: . . . No, you didn’t. You wouldn’t.

SocRocks9: i didnt, my mom did.

Lil’Con: Socrates, I know how upset you must feel, but can’t you find within yourself enough positive energy to move past it and not resort to such . . . childish moves?

SocRocks9: you think thats childish? my mom is over at the neighbors right now, calling your mom.

Lil’Con: [censored]

TheGreatPlato: Your phone was working well enough when we got our joyous call, why is she using the neighbors?

SocRocks9: she doesnt want to pay the international fees. she said she would tell the neighbors our phone broke and she needed to call our dying grandma in China.

TheGreatPlato: Class just runs right down the line in your family, doesn’t it?


Lil’Con: But Socrates, I don’t live in China.
. . . 

SocRocks9: your lying. she looked up your number online.

Lil’Con: I’m not lying, we live in Indiana.

SocRocks9: but it says there is a confucius family in china, isn’t that you?
. . .

Lil’Con: Confucius is my first name, Socrates.  

SocRocks9: then who is she on the phone with??

Lil’Con: I don’t know, but it isn’t my mother.

TheGreatPlato: I can see intelligence runs strong in your line, too, Socrates. 


TheGreatPlato: How about this. I’ll stop talking about you and your oh so “elegant” mother, if you stop making up lies about me.


TheGreatPlato: Thank you, Socrates.


TheGreatPlato: You’ll see. I’ll brb.

*2 minutes later*

TheGreatPlato: I’ve just shown my mother what you wrote to me today and last week. I’ve been given permission to kick you back out of the club.

SocRocks9: WHAT??

TheGreatPlato: You should also expect to hear from your mother soon. My mother is on the phone with her now.

SocRocks9: NO!

TheGreatPlato: Yes. Goodbye again, Socrates.

SocRocks9: YOU PIECE OF —

SocRocks9 has been disconnected.
SocRocks9 has been blocked from the group.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Teenaged Modern Philospher’s Club Chatroom! by UteroKid

SocRocks9 (Socrates)
TheGreatPlato (Plato)
CorpusOrgan1 (Aristotle)
Lil’Con (Confucius)

New chat started
TheGreatPlato, CorpusOrgan1, and Lil’Con are logged on.

TheGreatPlato: Is everyone here?

Lil’Con: Present.

CorpusOrgan1: If you are referring to my virtual presence inside this chatroom, the answer is yes. 

TheGreatPlato: Yes, Aristotle, that’s exactly what I’m referring to -_-. You can save the “State of Being” topic for the actual discussion. 

CorpusOrgan1: No need to be so snippy.

Lil’Con: Perhaps he does, if this is his way of achieving self-cultivation. 

CorpusOrgan1: Excuse my lack of temperance, but his “self-cultivation” can kiss my ass.

TheGreatPlato: And before I answer that with my own poorly chosen words, I would like to begin this meeting with some news. Now, you all agree with dismissing Socrates from the club, yes?

CorpusOrgan1: Of course.

TheGreatPlato: Confucius?

Lil’Con: I do agree . . . but I’m still concerned about how he will take it, he’s so volatile.

TheGreatPlato: Which is exactly why he needs to leave the club. I cannot take another one of his anti-conformist spouts, especially when it ends up with him pulling his pants down and peeing on my mother’s living room carpet and stomping on the subsequent puddle.

Lil’Con: I remember.

TheGreatPlato: Good. Now that I have your confirmations, I will inform you that an hour ago I sent him a lengthy email telling him that he is no longer a member of the Philosophy Club. I was very kind and gentle about it; he couldn’t possibly take it badly. 

SocRocks9 has logged on.


CorpusOrgan1: Uh oh.

Lil’Con: Plato I thought you were going to block him?!

TheGreatPlato: I thought I had! Socrates how did you unblock yourself?!


TheGreatPlato: Well, Socrates, to be fair we founded it together. And though we are forever appreciative of your part in starting this club, we just feel that your personality traits no longer mesh with the general personality of the group.


Lil’Con: Socrates, I know you’re angry, but could you please turn off caps lock? It is really disturbing the peaceful atmosphere of the chat room.


CorpusOrgan1: Why don’t you go to another computer?

CorpusOrgan1: Oh here we go.


TheGreatPlato: We can’t do that, Socrates, it’s too extreme. This is why you can’t be a part of the club anymore. You take things too far.


SocRocks9 has been disconnected.
SocRocks9 has been blocked from this group.

TheGreatPlato: Finally blocked him.

Lil’Con: For good?

TheGreatPlato: Yes, I took away his administrator status. 

CorpusOrgan1: Wait a minute guys. I just got an instant message from him.

CorpusOrgan1: This is what he just sent:

........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...') 
..........''...\.......... _.·´ 

TheGreatPlato: Very nice, Socrates. Your high level of class continues to astound me.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Mamie Barlowe, Episode 7

The next morning I open one eye and immediately wish I had died overnight. Pain radiates through my ribs, through my upper back, through my neck, up to my head, and down one leg. I lurch to the bathroom. Time for some old-fashioned relief. I carry a good supply of pain pills, see. I get a few from Grandma Barlowe. She says at her age she only has to stroll into the doctor’s office and he’s writing her prescriptions: sedatives, stool softeners, morphine, you name it. I asked her how she got him to prescribe morphine. Simple, she said. She uses a wheelchair on her ‘bad days’, then fakes pain noises; you know the kind, you’re seated in the dentist’s office and suddenly hear all kinds of shrieks coming from the torture chamber. Grandma’s real good at shrieking. I learned that recently. Not many things make me shiver, see. One of them is walking into a freezer finding a dead body. Her shrieks remind me of those frosty moments.
After swallowing two codeine tablets, I stumble into the kitchen to make coffee: black, no sugar, no cream. Forget the cappuccino expresso stuff. Crap like that will hurl me to Italy and back in sixty seconds.
“Hello, darling.”
Crash! Boom! Bang!  My vintage half-a-cup coffee mug goes flying, my head hits the cabinet, and my hand falls hard onto my new marbleized formica countertop. I turn around, but I’m unleashing a thunder full of cursing in my mind, see. It feels like my lips are forming words that begin with the letters, f, s, d, g, and any combination thereof, but nothing comes out. Good thing. Mother Barlowe in all her glory stands near the door, her arms folded across her upper body like an oversize pretzel super-glued to the bosom area of a red sweater. The expression on her face is twisted into a mixture of sardonic and demonic amusement. One eyebrow is cocked near the ceiling. Chill’s right. My psychic powers may have temporarily taken a powder. I usually know when Mother Barlowe is within shooting distance. Problem is, I’ve never had my glock nearby, see. “A phone call before coming over would be nice, Mother.”
“I tried. Your phone is dead, Mamie.”
I groan. “It died. I’ll replace it today.” I refill a styrofoam cup, and offer Mother Barlowe coffee. She shakes her head, but continues to glare at me. I stare back. “Ok, your eyes are shooting javelins at me. Problem?”
“You mean besides the fact you left me stranded in the hospital parking lot?”
“Was that you? I thought you looked familiar. I wasn’t sure.”
“Listen Mamie, it’s bad enough your Grandmother pulled that stunt in the hospital, but don’t let her draw you into her orbit of crazy.” Mother Barlowe walks over to the broken pieces of coffee cup, bends down and picks them up before throwing them in the trash. Too bad. A set of vintage four cups are now down to three. “And frankly, I’ve had enough of her shenanigans.” She plants herself in front of me, like she’s daring me to shoot her or something.
I almost throw my cup against the wall. There are days when Mother Barlowe makes me wish I had never owned a bulletproof vest; I’d be dead by now. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, once she’s out of the hospital she’s going into a retirement home. There are some really nice ones nearby. I’ve already put the papers in.”
“You mean nursing home. Isn’t that a little drastic, even for you, Mother?”
“Even for me? What? You’re insulting me now?” She takes a small step forward narrowing the distance between us. That’s a bad sign. Time to run. If I could. But she’s got me boxed in. 
Uh oh, now the pointy finger starts to wave. Won’t be long before it touches wounded flesh. Mine. “Grandma Barlowe is as sane as you or me. Putting her in a home is just wrong.”
“I see. So, I’m the one that puts up with her crap day in day out, but you’re the expert?”
“No, I’m just—”
“You, who never stops by; you, who never calls; and you, who has basically checked out of this family!” Forefinger scores a hit right below my neck line. I glide sideways by a foot. Mother Barlowe moves with me. Getting ready for the killshot. “Your grandmother assaulted a nurse, she assaulted my car, and now she’s in the hospital on psychiatric hold. What is your definition of the word sane, Mamie? I’d really like to know.”
My tookus finds a cozy, secure spot up against my 1956 Fabulous Foodarama Refrigerator by Kelvinator, the kind of refrigerator that says, Look Ma, I can stuff Joey, Suzy, and baby Dumpling in it like one big happy turkey! Well, it’s time for me to fight back, or die. Looks can kill, see. “She went a little off base, Mother. Temporary insanity, they call it. She was just trying to help me.”
“Help you? Great dane in the house that’s exactly what I wanted to hear!” Mother Barlowe does sarcasm well. I’m in for a rough ride down the rapids without a raft. “Do you know what’s cluttering my desk right now, Mamie? . . . I’ll tell you. A box of anonymous complaint letters. Addressed to me. About your grandmother. By concerned adult children. I get a few every month. Sometimes, I even get phone calls. Would you like to know why?”
I’m experiencing the sensation of nodding, then shaking my head all at the same time. It gives me a headache.
“Well, I’ll tell you anyway. Take the case of Miss Dotty Traxel. All of 86 years old, and happily single her entire life. Then, she met your grandmother. Your grandmother introduced her to a much younger church-going man: looks, age, mental state, not important to your grandmother. You know why? Because he was a Deacon. Then, Miss Dotty Traxel became Mrs. Dotty Furnell practically a week after meeting him. Then, a week after the reception, this so-called deacon left her flat, cleaning out her checking and savings account. Then guess what happened, Mamie?”
The pressure of having to answer right away is very high. I throw my head back. Away from the heat, see. But my head takes a bounce off a vintage freezer door magnet that reads, “I haven’t had my coffee yet. Don’t make me kill you!” Mother Barlowe leans in further. If my face were a sign it would read, DEAD END.
“I’ll you what happened. Funeral services for Miss Traxel are this weekend. She dropped dead from the shock. Now, I can give you more examples. Would you like to hear them?” She finally leans back as if she needs relief from the breath of her hot air boomeranging off my face.
I blink. This time I’m going to answer. “Some other time, Mother. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve got to get to the office.” Weak, weak, weak! But it’s my mother, see.
“Ok, Mamie, just so you understand why I finally had to do something about your grandmother, capiche?” She heads for the door, carrying a purse that could hide a 1978 Rossi Overland sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun.  At the last minute, when I think I’m in the all clear, she turns back around. “Goodbye, darling . . . Oh, I almost forgot, you’ll be the one to sign your grandmother out of the hospital. Then break the news to her.” The door shuts quietly behind her. My life just took a turn for the worse. Where is Sable Mink when you really need her? Just finish me off now, see!
I walk into the office several minutes late for my appointment with Mr. COB III. I’m not looking forward to this meeting. For all I know, there may be a fourth Mr. COB III out there. But I am cheered by the sight of my secretary back in the office. “Good to see you, Vera. Where’s my client?”
Vera has a smile that would empty a monastery full of monks. “No one has come in today, Ms. Barlowe.”
“Any special packages left by you-know-who?”
She shakes her beehive blonde hair do. That’s not all that shakes, either, which makes Vera a really big asset in the office. Distractions are an important part of my business, see. Evasive action is required alotta of the time.
“Oh wait, Miss Barlowe. I almost forgot. Your aunt Flo called. She’s been trying to reach you since last night.” There’s that smile again. If heaven promised to be full of blonde bimbos with buxom hour glass figures and glittering smiles, there’d be less crime from the male population, see. Not that Vera's a bimbo. Far from it. 
“Your hair looks good, Vera. Was it a painful reconstruction?”
She blushes too. Like a Rubens painting. “A little. But I’m sure it’s nowhere near as painful as getting shot in the uh . . . chest area.” She looks at the ceiling. Vera’s never been married, see. Doesn’t date. Still lives at home. Still sleeps in the bed she grew up in. God help her if she ever sees a naked body other than her own.
“Yeah, all that pain and I’m still hauling two giant pumpkins around in my uh . . . chest area.” Didn’t stick around to see the blooming bright red of Vera’s cream complexion. From a Rubens painting to a can of red porch paint I bet. My secretary has more brains than an MIT graduate. It doesn’t make her a stimulating conversationalist. I plump into my leather chair and take out my new phone. Before I can reach my aunt Flo, Vera pokes her head in. “Your client, Mr. Clarence Oberon Binghorton III is here.
       “Thanks, Vera. Send him in.” This should be good. But I’m not in the mood, good or otherwise. It’s about time for my annual vacation by the shores of Gitche Gumee. Mr. COB III walks into my office. I take one look and wish I was staring at Billy the Chimp again. Only this time, without a bulletproof vest. Maybe I should pack my replacement Glock for this “vacation.” Go “bird” hunting. Yeah, that sounds about right.