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Jan. 1st, 2014

Wow. The dust on this blog is insanely thick.
I'm really not going to explain that one since the last year has been best enjoyed as a closed book. In that vein, I am going to occasionally post short stories here. I am trying to learn how to write something start to finish thus...something short.

Disclaimer to any former readers, this is not in the same vein as the previous things so if you happen to be squeamish at all proceed with caution. Enjoy


“The monsters were never under my bed. Because the monsters were inside my head.
I fear no monsters, for no monsters I see, because all this time the monster has been me.”
Author Unknown


My cereal was soggy and it tasted of dust and watery milk. I dipped the spoon into the chipped bowl again and considered. This was a pitiful substitute for food but in my case pitiful was only to be expected and food wasn’t so common I could get snobby. I scraped the glop off the spoon with my teeth and regretted it instantly. Seasoned with doubt that bite slid down into a bitter stomach that had had enough. I got up and dumped the watery liquid down the sink and rinsed out the bowl. Any thing I didn’t eat the various kinds of insect life would be only too grateful for. I hadn’t descended to farming snack sized protein in my fourth story walk up just yet.

Well, now what? I still had a demon in a suitcase in my bedroom and three unknown corpses in the bath. The more I thought about it the more I thought, why the hell had I tried to fix that with cereal? That was a steak problem if I ever saw one. I didn’t have any steak on hand but I could fix that. The drawer next to the sink opened with a groan and I took out a plastic bundle. The demon could wait.
One steak coming up.

My bathtub was a relic of past prosperity on the part of the building. A huge cast iron monstrosity sat against the tiled wall of a fair sized room. Rust stains streaked the porcelain and tile that was visible under the gray brown legs that took up all my attention. I put the bundle in the sink and turned to the tub tracing legs to find a common owner. I selected a set as most likely to be on top of the pile, grabbed and hauled. A lean body pulled free with a sucking sound that made my breakfast grumble. The damned things were a nuisance. Roaches were bad enough in a cheap apartment but these things…

I tugged again and the whole mess fell over the side of the tub and splatted onto the floor. Within an hour of death the mucus membranes starred to break down and ooze out of the body coating anything they could reach in a viscous sticky slobber. Corpse slobber. God I needed to get out more. I got my bundle from the sink and unwrapped the first layer of plastic, set the remaining packet back down and clambered into a plastic apron that an elephants gynecologist would have considered adequate. I had modified the ties to reach around the front and laced myself in nice and snug. A noise startled me, I looked at the tub and realized I was humming. Pop goes the weasel. On second thought maybe I needed to stay in more. Out could go really badly.

The little packet was tied shut for only a moment, unrolling to reveal four knives with shitty handles wrapped in thick dull wire. The blades were sparkling, one hooked serrated blade, one long thin and flexible, one squat and thick across the spine, and one that was so evidently a butcher knife I never took it anywhere but the kitchen. Let things blend in, it saves time. I had collected these one at a time over so many years the pedigree was lost. The sushi knife had been a gift. I couldn’t remember who had given it to me, or even if it had been me the gift was intended for. I reached for it first.

Skinning was an art. Never more so than when you wanted to prevent the skin from ever touching the meat. Not only for health considerations but because eating it would be a trial if that picture was in your head. Luckily the skin had separated from the muscle layer without forming pockets of slobber and it came off smoothly as I rolled it up to either side of the incision. Like shrimp the important parts were all in a line and easily disposed of. I now had a potential barbecue layer out about three feet tall with six legs, triple jointed and heavily muscled. The torso was an odd lumpy shape that didn't yield much in the way of food. I always wondered if a squirrel and a crab had been thrown into a centrifuge and these were the result. The butcher knife pared away thick steak meat from the bounty and I set to piling it in a neat stack in the large bowl that lived in this room. When the bowl was full I took the remains into the bedroom and set them on top of the suitcase. A snuffling sound rumbled out and the whole pile vanished. Efficient. I approved, and the complaints about my lugging offal through the stairwells would stop now.

The bowl just fit in the fridge, my luxury. I took a single portion of meat out and slapped it on a cutting board, trimming away anything I didn’t feel like chewing on. A sprinkling of salt and pepper, and now to set for a few minutes. The suitcase at the foot of my bed looked completely normal. Brown canvas bound cardboard, cheap plastic handle, little plastic feet to keep all that tacky off a nice clean floor. I nudged it with my foot and the whole thing started shaking and growling. Relocated to the kitchen table the case was about the right size to fill half of a two person space. Perfect.

I stabbed it with the knife that had the thickest blade. Silence, followed by a huff of breath was my reward. I poked the knife at the case just hard enough to annoy a non tangible creature who didn’t like steel and it obligingly burst into a tight flame. My cast iron pan fit on top of the case with room to spare and in a few moments I set the steak gently into a perfectly hot pan to sizzle. My fridge yielded a small pat of butter and half an onion that quickly joined the meat. Perfect. Just perfect.

I slid the meal onto a plate salvaged from a trash can for being a disgrace to garbage everywhere. A tiny sprig of greens from the pot on the windowsill made a lovely finishing touch. A poke shut off the demon flame and it went back to sulking in the case, the table was perfectly unscarred. From that anyway. I should get a demon for the hot water boiler, efficient, noiseless, certainly a better use for the offal and bones than the dumpster.

My apron crinkled as I sat to eat. Food of the Gods. I sighed a happy sigh and chewed blissful mouthfuls. Steak was a perfect solution to the last few days. At this rate I might even feel up to cleaning out the closet before the tentacles broke through the doors.
Perfect.

So this is 2012

Well then, 2012 you ungrateful bastard, be gone. This is a long one, bring popcorn.

Year in review, January was the first month of spring semester and kicked off with one hell of a snow sprinkle cutting me off from campus on the first day of classes. It was however quite beautiful and I love me a good snow. My German car does not. It wallows in splendorus pig hood in even the smallest amount of real snow. It is truly ridiculous but as we get less than a week of proper snow here it is still a very good car for me. Seth worked a huge amount of overtime this month, just like the December before it and was notable for his exhaustion. It also rained. My favorite project from this month was a paper cube with a human brain drawn on it in tiny pen and given volume with tiny dots. It was displayed on three 50 cal shells as a reference to TBI and the problems that arise from it.

February, second month of spring term and well into the swing of things class wise. I took drawing foundations 2 and design three d for a staggering amount of random information. I may never recover. Seth worked slightly less overtime this month and mostly slept. February is all about rain here and it certainly lived up to it. I did a set of pastel studies that resulted in a finished piece of a winter garden with lilac trees turning into antler bushes. I discovered a love for pastels and a complete inability to control them to me specifics. I was infatuated but cross.

April, third month of spring semester and early planting season around here. I put in cucumbers, beans, and two more raised beds. Our chickens got a larger enclosure and took over one whole corner of the back yard much to their delight. They also started making hidden nests. We pulled ten eggs out of one tucked under the arborvitae against the fence. Pruning ensued. Much much pruning. I got the last of that hideous butterfly bush out of the ground and did happy dances of joy for the victory against hybrid invasive plants. We also pruned up the rhodies, and did another round of butcher the thing in the front yard. It's huge and unknown but puts out a variety of suckers that is astounding. My project for this month was a pair of carousel animals flanking a central cameo that I need to redo still. It was both lovely and infuriating. I still don't want to talk about it.

May, fourth month of semester and final month. Excessive grass mowing begins as rain slowly gives way to sun and the wretched stuff shoots forth with the vigor of drunken youth. Seth traded in the gas powered mower for a second hand push variety that I have fallen in love with. I mow twice a week and feel quite proud of the tidy lawn in front. The back yard however grows balder as the season progresses and I begin to look around for shade resistant grass seed not bundled with chemical fertilizers and herbicides. Two months later I would find some but my then it is past grass planting season and we are using the back yard regularly so it will wait for next season. Tomatoes go in, as does a smattering of other vegetables and some primroses for nostalgia. My finals piece for design is a camouflage poncho suspended from the ceiling by fishing line with nicknames on the outside in blocky vinyl letters. The inside has photographs from friends and from Seth paired with excerpts from letters sent home by soldiers copied out in sharpie. It was a very successful piece that spooked the class. Several of them climbed into it like they were supposed to but just as many refused, stating that it felt like a person alredy and being inside it would be creepy. Two points for me.

June, summer break and the farmers market starts again. I love that institution more than any other part of summer. The vendors and the vegetables, meeting the people who make your food from nothing. The bakeries, and the cheeses are charming and I am charmed. Seth has overtime still but we go to each market for the weeks shopping and to spend some time together, it's been in short supply. The final round of scholarship applications are looming and I am working on them steadily. My garden begins to gather some serious speed and the weeds are annoyingly vibrant. I weed, and weed, and weed, and invite friends over to weed with me. Also there is even more mowing. I am victorious with the mowing.

July, Independence day and it's attendant fireworks are no celebration for us with the complications of Seth's service memories. Coupled with the overtime ramping up to seven ten hour days a week the holiday is brutal this year. We are alive but weary by the time it blows over two weeks later. Our neighborhood is enthusiastic this year and continues to set off the big mortars for days after the day of. My garden is really rocking now and I look forward to harvest time in a few week. Until that is one of my chickens is finally seduced into the carrot bed and denudes it in one day. Full of contained fury for my ruined vegetables we build a higher fence for their pen. She out flies this as well and this time attempts the tomatoes but has little success. My had with tomatoes has proven itself this year in the five foot tall plants that tower over the hundreds of tiny green nodes forming in the leaves. Chickens are no match for this leafy tangle. Neither am I and weeding is called off on account of my sympathies going to the weeds that can live in this bed.

August, heat peaks in this month as is usual but it gets above a hundred several days and that is a very hot summer. My pepper plants go mad and tomatoes not only ramp up further but now tower at eye level. I am afraid to go near that bed, the things look hungry and I have no wish to be fertilizer. The Stupice and Early Girls are just now throwing fruit, closely followed by the Amish Paste and Pear tomatoes. A trickle of fruits turn immediately to a flood. I am buried by tomatoes. Someone come dig me out. The girls ramp up production yet again and we get four eggs a day resulting in a desperate scramble to give away, sell, or illegally gift our friend, family, and complete strangers with produce.

September, the rest of my pitiful harvest trickles in bourn on a tide of tomatoes. The broccoli has long since bolted, along with the celery, and the onions are pitiful. Gone are the hoped for brussles sprouts, cilantro, lettuces, beets, carrots and cucumbers. Even zucchini failed to produce this year. All we got were a hand full of beans, a scary amount of tomatoes, peppers, and decent yield on the potato beds. Also a few handfuls of green beans. Next year I am scaling back to only what I know will do well and planting most of that a good deal earlier. The end of this month marks the starting point of the fall semester. I start color and process, and survey of western art history 1. Both were intimidating to start with and one came with a gigantic book. Seth has be now been on almost solid overtime for near to two months. Things are becoming strained, and his company is making some very unwise choices.

October, Second month of fall semester and classes roll to a steady pace. Art history is proving to be simple for me as it requires the type of memorize and regurgitate I am good at doing. Also my Prof. is entertaining and enthusiastic, taking time to explain and direct the cultures involved. Color and process is involved, my instructor here is a meticulous person that tends to tangents and documentation. I spend most of my homework time doing all the precise steps she ask for and documenting them to turn in. It is also the first month the Seth is on medical leave from his work. They stuck him with mental distress and set up short term disability leave because he stubbornly refused to give them a reason to fire him. Two weeks later half the shop was gone and replaced by temp workers. We scrambled to figure out what to do next.

November, Third week of fall semester and my Lovers birthday. Things are stable if tense with the finances in constant flux. Mid terms go without a hitch and I soar into the process half of my lab class. The projects get progressively more complex and more are added. Each one takes over sixty hours and by the end of the month there are three open with varying deadlines. Seth is reaping the benefits of the last grueling year and reassessing his professional life. I am working my arse off and praying it won't kill me before I get my hands round the neck of the scheduler.

December, fourth month of fall semester. I am exhausted and deadlines loom. Our situation hasn't changed much and it preys on our minds although we have enough of a cushion to last into the new year a couple months. Given the opportunity we do the paperwork for both a refi on the house for a much better rate, and a long term disability claim through the company. Welding has proven to be something Seth needs to get away from so alternate careers are sought. I crawl through finals and wind up the semester on the 21 of December amid the celebrations and merry making. I am very tired now, also working up to a fine state of anemia that I don't notice until I start having dizzy spells. I deeply resent being fallible, there is so much work yet to do.

The beginning of a new year means seeds. New plants for a new harvest and beautiful green growing things I look forward to all year. Soon the grass will grow. Soon the buds will sprout. Soon...

Serial info

As I suspected between the holiday sale at School and the ramping up of the finals season I have gotten absolutely diddly squat done on the story. Sorry about that as I really wanted to keep the continuity going. Not so sorry as I have really been working my buns off and adding one more thing to the schedule would break me right now. I prefer not to break me whenever possible.

If you live in the greater portland area and have a yen to see what I do with my time than come out to the Student and Alumni Holiday sale at the OCAC campus. Friday is the pre-sale event from 6-8 and tickets are ten bucks at the door, Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 10-3 are free to the public.

The story will be resuming after winter break which for me is the end of January. By the time that rolls around I may even know where I left my sanity. I saw it around here somewhere....

Happy thanksgiving all!

Part 13

Walking turned into thirst and soon I found my feet had decided to deliver me to the doorstep of my favorite lounging spot. A small awkward building painted a virulent green bore the legend Coffee. Tea. Sea. over the door and true to advertising served a variety of beverages and had a huge window overlooking the harbor. I headed to my accustomed spot in a corner at the back of the narrow room, a velvet covered wingback chair and a small table tucked between the edge of the windows and the counter. One wall was covered with jars of teas and coffee beans, steam pipes twisted into a gordian knot of brass fittings in the midst of it all. Ferocious glubbing and roaring noises emanated from the back counter as drinks were prepared barely muffled by the wooden screen separating the preparation from the consumption. A large tattooed man with arms bearing illustrations from five of the seven continents nodded at me pulling a cup from under the counter and turning to the whistling machine. I was presented with a tall cup shaped like a daffodil with a lovely little handle like fretwork filed to the brim with foamy goodness. I took it carefully and inhaled the rich aroma setting it carefully on the little table.

"Diary?" my genial monolith asked. I had rarely heard him say more than one word at a time. I nodded in reply. He smiled at me displaying very large teeth, a nod later and he was back behind his counter manning the pipes. I pulled out my book and pencil nudging the table to a comfortable position. I sat and sipped calling up my earlier incident for review. I had expected some shock and resistance to Luther. I hadn't expected random interventions in the park. My society was one that would politely pretend they hadn't seen a naked man taking tea ten feet away on a bright sunny day rather than deal with something one simply didn't do. My father was wont to make rude comments about this tendency and I usually agreed with him. Today I would have been glad of some of that willful ignorance. This laid a new filter over things. Could I expect more assaults if I continued to appear in public with my… friend? And if we chose to take it further than friendship, what then? Small minds have always hated proof of a world larger than themselves. I rather enjoyed being the thing that made their tiny heads explode but I was contrary and had little to lose. My family was another matter. Mother had important clients that might be turned off by a scandal. Obversely they could flock to her door in droves for the same reason. Father….was a law unto himself. I wouldn't worry about him unless he told me I should. I had rarely met a more formidable man when roused and I heartily pitied anyone that tried to disarrange his world over this. He had views. I sipped again appreciating the beverage. I should discuss this with Luther first of all. He was principally involved in the unpleasant business. If he was unconcerned then hang the young fool. If there was a group of idiots causing trouble he would be the first to know as the main recipient. I wondered briefly if that was the motivation behind an unseen position in the back room of a museum where hardly anyone ever went. If so it was a brilliant career choice I had every intention of exploiting. If he was unhappy there then I would have to see if a more pleasing arrangement could be made. That would leave a vacancy in his present position that I knew the perfect person to fill. Namely me. I scribbled some of this down as it passed through my head turning the occasional page. When I had my head sorted and my cup was empty I left the customary coins in the saucer and set it on the counter. Next stop, museum. I had a mission.
****

Wow. We are quite a ways in to this little jaunt of mine. I will admit to being very surprised at the sheer amount of work I actually did on this. As you can probably tell we are approaching the end of the prewritten backlog. Due to the poo and corruption going on around here it has been awhile since I had a writing afternoon I could count on. With the dribs and drabs I have managed to put down we have another week of updates, maybe two if I get a blinding flash of inspiration. If I don't then the plan is to take a hiatus for the holidays and return in January when I have had a chance to breathe a little in the semester break.

Things you can do if you like what you are reading; Post to your social media site of choice and tell your friends what you like.

Throw some spare change into the tip jar if you can. I use it to go sit in my coffee shop and write more of the things you have been reading.

Spend a few minuets and tell me what you have enjoyed about the series so far, what you wish I had changed, or what you want to see happen. I make no firm promises but you always inspire me with your feed back.

The fall of Alexandria

The City of Alexandria was built by Alexander the great on an island in Egypt. The formation of the city was such that a natural harbor stood between it and the Nile delta creating one of the most prosperous trading destinations of it's time. Alexanders goal in creating this new cultural center was to collect every scrap of knowledge available and record it in the library he built. By the time it fell the Library at Alexandria held just over half a million papyrus, many of them the sole copy of that work in existence. Texts from Greece, Persia, Egypt, the Orient, and even the barbarian lands to the north were collected. Topics ranging from comedy to medical science, astronomy, to theology were covered.

Alexandria was primarily a place of learning and study that blended without prejudice greek and egyptian culture. Hypatia was a prime example of this. She was an amazingly well read scholar who had her own school and wore the clothing of a learned man, drove her own chariot, and in general ignored the traditional social roles for women completely. She invented the plane astrolabe and made many refinements to it over her abbreviated lifetime. Like I said, amazing woman.

With the rise of Christianity it made sense for religious leaders to migrate to the most influential city of the time to establish a more permanent base of power for themselves and to spread the fledgling religion. Christianity and Paganism co existed rather well in Alexandria for some time until the election of the Bishop Cyril. Cyril sought political power outside the scope of his religious domain and to gain it began to target wealthy and influential pagans. His followers stoned several men to death for defying the dictates of early Christianity but there was little change in the overall population of the city.

The turning point for Cyril was the decision, however it came about, to set his followers on Hypatia. After a particularly pointed sermon a group of the devout intercepted Hypatia on her drive home and pulled her from her carriage. They tore off her cloths and drug her to the nearest temple. With shards of broken pottery they flayed the skin from her body and when they were done, pulled her apart limb from limb. In the wake of this blood bath followers of Cyril broke open the vaults of pagan superiority and set fire to most of the libraries in Alexandria, keeping only that which had been written or sanctioned by the church.

For the price of stupidity and political power the greatest repository of knowledge collected since the dawn of human kind was destroyed. To this day we will never reconstruct the things discovered, written, pondered, and shared by one of the most advanced and cosmopolitan civilizations on the face of the earth.

*****

I hope that is the info you (the facebook crowd) were looking for. Lemme know if you have any other questions I might be able to answer.

part 12

Well, it's monday again. For another few moments at least. Funny how the time flies when you have stuff to do. Write another paper, work on a serial illustration project, make things for the christmas sale at the school...I though I was kinda lazy lately until I started totting up how many open works are on my desk lately. Including this serial four long range (meaning over one month)and two-four short range. Plus doing normal life things and attending classes. Lazy can get stuffed. Anyway, on with the story...




I strode out next afternoon for my accustomed perambulation somewhat more preoccupied than was usual, hat waving, feet in charge of my fate. Due entirely to this abstraction I fell prey to one of the few dangers of the open and supervised park block. I heard the first warning signs as I rounded a leafy hedge avoiding the party on the other side by chance and luck. A young man a few years my junior stood with furrowed brow and clenched jaw clearly peeved at my near transgression. I started to stammer out an apology and got no further than an open mouth before he interrupted.

"It really is too much you know, your courtship with that thing," He had a neighing voice held tightly with anger and made faintly squeaky. "I hope you realize it can't go on. A novelty I'm sure for a gel like you but not something to be done."

The topic shift left me behind for a moment, I was apologizing for nearly running him down and he was giving me relationship commandments? I was surprised, not by his opinion which could have been foretold by a dried bean but by the amount of sheer nerve needed to voice it aloud in such a public place and the sudden appearance of what was to all appearances a much more personal stance on my life than he should have had.
"I see," I was curious to see how far he would take his argument. "You think I should send him off." I waited watching him deflate to his normal uninspired dimensions.

He preened at my seeming acceptance of his dictates "I know your situation must be desperate but no right thinking woman could allow herself to be placed in such a match," The neighing had taken on a superior edge. "I mean, you can't let the side down and introduce such a standard. It could only lead to chaos and devaluation of all that is sacred about such things. Surely you must see that." He lit a cigarette and proceeded to smoke it right in front of me without asking my leave or even practicing the common courtesy of averting his exhalations.

I see," I was repeating myself out of sheer rage."So you believe that a relationship between myself and Mr. Strasberg would be an abomination?" I think I could actually hear my blood bubbling slightly as it passed through my ear drums. How dare this idiotic man interfere with my life as thought he had some right to do so? It highlighted all of the weaknesses my sex were forced to bear invoking my carefully controlled store of fury every well bred woman has shoved down in her heart someplace. He could barely be trusted to put his trousers on front first and had been given the right, nay duty as he saw it, to arrange my life as he saw fit. I had encountered this type of attitude many times in my life as I sought to be taken seriously as a mind in my own right but this arrogance was so thick I could have built bridges on it that would have outlasted us both. It was no longer aimed at me alone, the depth of my response surprised me but I felt absolutely that no fate was too humiliating for a man who would attack another while that other was absent. I spent a few precious moments mastering my tongue so that I might keep ill considered stupidity for him to exploit. My breathing gradually calmed, my left eye still twitched but I could hardly stop it so I ignored yet another annoyance to my day. This young idiot was acting for what he truly believed was the best. I could do nothing to change the fact of his convictions, they were bred in his bones and reinforced by insidious culture. I longed to yell at the ignorant little git, vituperative phrases lined up in my brain viewing for first place. I was quite charmed by the wording of "A lame peckered cockerel calling for a hen too stupid to notice.", but remembering my previous successful method of dealing with such young men I bit my tongue.
"I think that you should come with me, these arguments should be presented to my parents." The ultimate card of one ups man ship. I felt a little smug to have sorted him out so neatly. Either he would have to follow along behind me to my house to be slaughtered by Fathers logic and Mothers sarcasm, or else he should retreat and slink off.

"I hardly think it's necessary to involve them" he spluttered, pulling his head back, "Just you remember this young lady" he abruptly turned and left.

I was grateful it had been so easy to route him off. Stubborn crusaders could be dangerous if handled poorly. Particularly when the conviction involved their own cherished way of life. I had a head full of things to ponder for the rest of my afternoon.

Part 11

Barely late for this week we have yet another installment of the infamous Wilber. I love writing Wilber...




Luther turned from watching Cora rifle his desk obviously engrossed in her exploration muttering steadily under her breath. Wilber stood over by the death trap patting it fondly, most people had some issues with reality but Wilber was a special case. He had a fondness for historical torture devices the would ordinarily be reserved for a puppy. With fervor and iron clad exactness he recreated some of the worst things mankind had ever thought to build and called them things like Mabel. His reproduction Iron Maiden lived in a corner of his rooms with a doily on top of it and small plaque informing the world her name was Cecilia. In many ways Wilber was a stand up chap but common sense and and a meet the neighbors personality were not amount his virtues. He looked up when I prodded him and gave me a dreamy smile "The spring mechanism wasn't damaged, just let me reseat the swing arm and we can try it again." He trailed off as he started poking at the mounts again.

"Wilber, I want you to listen carefully. Are you listening Wilber?" I slowly turned him to face me bending down to look directly into his eyes. He nodded silently, his eyes widening as the fog lifted in his brain."This is a very pleasant young lady whom I am very interested in getting to know better. She is fascinated by the work I do and very intelligent." Wilber continued to nod slowly as though spring powered. "I am a peaceful man of great restraint so it pains me to have to inform you that if you and your toys make an unfavorable impression I will regretfully have to see how many of them can be used on one victim before his painful and lingering demise claims what is left of his mortal shell. Have I made an impression?" I held him in place till the nodding had gathered speed and he was starting to look normal, for Wilber, again. I stood back up watching him and within seconds his face misted over and he was petting his lethal wind up toy absently murmuring to it about tension and stress tolerances. I could only hope that some of what I had said was still in there somewhere. I thought about shrugging just for the pure expressiveness but it never worked right, not having a spinal column meant the shrug came all the way from the floor in more of an undulation. Somehow it lacked emphasis and I was feeling more intently annoyed than a gentle expression would serve. Cora made an Ohh sound and I went to see what had excited her and whether it could be a way to salvage this afternoon.

She had one of the belly drawers open and was examining the rows of pliers and clamps. There was a range of sizes from hair fine wire pliers to one clamp that had paddle shaped grips larger than her palm. Her obvious delight made me smile to watch it. The amount of joy she derived from a drawer full of tools was lovely, watching her be unreservedly happy over such a simple thing did wonders for my mood. I was willing to forgive Wilber an accidental beheading if it meant watching her face like this. She was such a personality that her joys and triumphs couldn't help but be contagious and I was more than willing to be infected. I had to admit at least to myself that I wanted this woman. I wanted to keep her in fine style, but mostly I just wanted her to be mine, willingly, joyfully, mine. So many faces looked away from me, so many people feared me still for no better reason than I was too different for them. I was content to be myself but I still wanted someone else to be content with me too. She was so smart, and so very beautiful, I couldn't believe she was giving me the time of day. I watched her dismantle my desk exclaiming over this and that for almost an hour before I reluctantly interrupted her riffling. "We have been gone for quite some time, your parents will be wondering if I've made off with you." I wanted to keep watching her but dared not risk the ire of her parents, they were much to important to the success of this courting.

"No they won't, and I wouldn't have minded anyway." She was still bent over the drawers rustling around only partially aware of what I had said.

I had an electric thrill hearing her words, I knew better than to think it was me rather than her downright lust for my work space talking but still, second hand lust was a starting point. I was prepared to be humble in the pursuit. "Cora it's been over an hour." I tried not to laugh at her expression of puzzlement.

She stood scanning the room as she straightened as if looking for a thief to accuse of stealing her attention. She huffed out a disgusted breath and shook her skirts into place shutting the drawers as she went.
"I suppose we should be going then. I can't explain how my manners deserted me so, please forgive me for neglecting you so shamefully." Her chin came up pugnaciously, daring me to refuse her apology.

I wanted badly to kiss that chin to see if I could fluster her again, she was adorable when disgruntled. I forbore my impulse least I find myself impaled on some spiky device of religious conversion from the dark ages of which, thanks to Wilber, there was an ample supply. "You are forgiven, shall we go?" I extended a limb which she clasped absently and we were standing outside in the open air before either of us noticed she was in effect holding my hand. We both looked down and laughed at the same time I stood still waiting to see what she would do. I willed her to stay as we were, even though it would be improper, just to feel someone else's hand on my skin. That one small touch was filling me up like breeze in the sails of a ship. I tightened my grip involuntarily staring down at our point of contact afraid to look at her face, to show her how much I was moved by such a small thing. She seemed to understand what I needed, gave my limb a squeeze and set off for the park tugging me along behind her. I was walking in the open with a beautiful woman publicly declaring her interest. Well. Today was for firsts.

I dropped her off at her door refusing an offer to come in but securing a second invitation for the day after next. I felt quite triumphant as I walked back to my dusty museum to put my desk back in order and start the next assignment waiting for me.

part 10

Please excuse the evening update, my art history paper unexpectedly turned out to be due on the same day all along and it just happened to be wednesday. Oops. Anyway...on with the tentacles. (we get to meet Wilbur! You have no idea how long I have been waiting to introduce Wilbur..)




The park was sprinkled with other couples who had our idea before we got there. I could see the hats with this season's high plumes waving about in the paths and the day toppers bobbing next to them. We walked side by side and joined the processional, one of several pairs going round and round passing each other. I felt odd walking with a companion, I had made a habit of perambulating as it allowed me to think and I felt it was good for my health and digestion. I spent so much time absorbed in my own thoughts that it had become second nature for other pairs to avoid me on principle as I had walked directly into a few of them. I will admit that it had been on purpose a few times but having a bruised bum from one such encounter had put a stop to my petty amusements. As we rounded the corner of a tall hedge I saw the large museum that bounded one side of the park and it occurred to me, he had worked there for some time. Right there. Had he seen me before? Was this where he had decided to pursue me? I half turned to ask but he had anticipated me.

"No." He was smiling slightly. "I saw you for the first time in the street outside Mr. Davenport's home."

"How did you know?" I looked up at him as we walked.

"You were staring at the museum and you have a quick mind, you would have asked eventually. Would you like to go in?" He was steering us around the next corner closer to the sprawling building.

"I would love to see inside, can we go behind the public area? I want to see where you work." I sped up a little without thinking about it, realizing only when I felt my arm pulling at him limb. I slowed again a little embarrassed but he was smiling at me again.

"Let's go."

We wound around to the side of the building behind the columns of the facade to a smaller door set into the brick work. He produced a key from some pouch under the cloak and opened it standing aside to let me proceed first. It was a dingy hallway with rooms branching off either side and some loud noise coming from the last room but one on the right. He stepped in behind me and pulled the door shut after us. A high pitched shrieking echoed down the hallway startling us both. He took off at speed with a string of curses following in his wake and me tagging along at the end. That last door but one was hanging open by the time I got there and I looked cautiously around the frame. Whatever I had expected to see it wasn't a huge wooden contraption with leather bands dangling from it studded with spikes and hung about with manacles. A thin short man was half under the largest studded beam of it desperately holding it off his lower anatomy, Luther stood beside him.

"Wilber, how many times have I told you not to set off your contraptions till I get here?" This had the sound of a conversation that had roots, the kind of thing you hear between couples that have a good argument and chew it like best toffee. Luther looked like he would have been tapping his toes if he could have. A rapid flicking at the hem of his cloak betrayed something tapping at any rate.

"I was just tensioning the spring a bit to see if my calculations were correct, It shouldn't have gone off." He sniffed, he actually sniffed in annoyance, pinned under eighty pounds of spiky lumber and struggling to keep it from perforating him like a receipts book.

Luther sighed and bent forward and suddenly the timber was suspended over his head. His cloak fell back exposing eight tentacles thicker than my thigh flowing from the trunk of his body partially covered by a kilt of linen. Two of them held the beam aloft with no apparent effort and the other six braced out radially to support the lift. Wilber crawled out of his death trap and stood some little distanse away dusting himself off. I decided it was safe enough and slid around the doorway coming into full view of both men. Luther started as if he had forgotten I had been behind him and turned abruptly to the smaller man. "Where do you want this porcupine?"

"Back in the rests if you don't mind" Wilber looked a bit abashed and rather dusty still. He started shifting rapidly from foot to foot brushing surreptitiously at his trousers.

The Beam settled back into it's niche in the contraption smoothly and the cloak was yanked back into position with more force than was really necessary. By the time he turned back to face me it was a smooth wall of cloth as it had been before. He gestured with his head,"Wilber this is Miss Cora, Cora this is Wilber the Idiot." His tone would have etched the streets clean.

I proffered my hand since I had no idea what else to do and I couldn't leave Wilber standing there looking so crestfallen. He leapt at the chance to redeem the situation and shook my hand so vigorously my elbow rattled in it's socket. I withdrew my hand rather more quickly that I had offered it, asking simultaneously. "What is it you do Wilber?"

"Ah, you may not…let's just say that Wilber has an unusual specialty and leave it there." Luther put himself in-between the two of us and started nudging me to the far side of the room. I could see a massive old desk with all kinds of random things strewn around the surface. As I got closer I realized it was the grown up version of my little closet, with all kinds of glue and fixative, tools in orderly rows and dozens of little drawers I desperately wanted to poke through.
He gave me a gentle push toward the desk and heard Luther say "Look at anything you want to see."

Part 9

Okay, another update on time in the bank. Yay! I always had a warm thought for authors and artists who updated their projects regularly, I never knew I should have sent them quantities of alcohol (or substance of preference within certain legal and contractual limits) until I had this brilliant idea to serialize a story. It works so well for the first few weeks with the schedule you set up for writing and editing and posting it all....and then you have a life lesson and it all goes to hell. I want to run across one of those life lessons that the tv shows used to air, the ones narrated by Lavar Burton with rainbows and such. My educational TV these days has Mr. Crappy the bitter Paperwork Gnome with leprosy. He Craps! He misfiles! He has no extremities!
Bugger. Now I keep seeing that as a web comic.
Damn my eventual need to self sabotage!

Enjoy the story guys.




"I found this looking forlorn in the kitchen and thought we could use the company." He wheeled it into the room so mother could pour but she motioned to me with her head and kept on with her embroidery. Father smiled and gave the trolly a shove parking it in front of me. Freed of it's support he moved very slowly carefully placing his feet so that his limp would only slow him instead of tripping him. Many years of familiarity guided him to his chair without mishap, normally he would have a stick to help him but the furniture had been arranged to present a hopscotch pattern of support should it be required. "So Luther, what is it that you do?" Father said.

"I have employment with a natural history museum restoring exhibits and preparing diorama for public display as well as for private instruction."

China rubbing together alerted me to the fact that I had lowered the tea pot till the spout was scraping the rim of the cup. If ever I had fantasized about having employment I would have wanted, no, lusted after that very situation. Having access to someone in such a position that happened to be kindly disposed toward answering several hundred questions…

"You have the undivided attention of our Cora," Father was smiling now. "She has an interest in that field."

I felt his question as he looked at me, "I occupy my personal time with the research and recreation of unknown species from the various scientific expeditions to which I can obtain access." I handed mother a cup of tea and stood to take father his cup. "How do you take your tea Mr. Strasberg?" I said pivoting back to the trolly.

"Black with lemon if there is any, sugar if there isn't." He replied promptly.

Luckily we had lemon for mother, it was hard to come by with any regularity this far north. I set about getting the maximum juice in the cup without spraying it in my face or sending pips flying about the room. I turned back to him and proffered the cup and had to try not to stare as that thin limb slid out of the cloak and under the saucer stabilizing it and curling over the far side edge to lock it in his grasp. Another limb circled the cup twining around the handle and lifted it to his face. The movements were so precise and almost dainty that they seemed out of place on his frame. He caught me looking and winked, so quickly I could have been mistaken. I couldn't help smiling at him, it was so absurd.

I turned to my chair and saw my parents had been watching us, I blushed suddenly. They looked so content and knowing sitting there holding hands with their tea. A postcard picture of the perfect proud couple. I sighed internally as I pushed the little pang of resentment further down like a hot marble in my throat. They had worked so hard to have a life together and sometimes it was so perfect and exclusive it hurt. I would never wish them less than they had, but I couldn't help resenting just a little how much it bound them up in one another, and how much it reminded me I was always alone.

After the tea and scones had gone down I was asked to show my work and with both parents discussing the finer points of the animals I drew out of their boxes and Luther asking attentive questions I lost another hour. By that time I was cramped and stiff from kneeling on the floor and stretching back and forth between the seated figures. I had been handing little figures of fish to Luther for some time before I realized he was only far enough away from me to preserve decency and had been very comfortable rolling up his sleeves and exposing the many limbs. At one point he was holding his teacup, three maquettes, and a small box I had absently handed him. My first thought was how handy it would be to have someone like that around the house. My second was indecent in the extreme and I thoroughly enjoyed it before moving on.

Standing took some time and was accompanied by odd popping noises as my knees reacquainted themselves with standing. I began to ferry my boxes back to their bench and stuff them under it. On the second trip Luther was standing with the rest of the stack balanced in front of him. I motioned to him to follow me and went back to the work room stooping to place the boxes under the table as he handed them down to me. He was so quiet I nearly smacked my head on the underside of the table when he spoke.

"I should arrange a tour of my museum and work spaces for you, if you have achieved this much without guidance you could be quite extraordinary with an education in craft."

" I would very much like that, so many of the scientifically minded institutions allow women only in selected parts of the exhibits that they think don't go over our heads. A chance to see how the displays are constructed would be invaluable. " I straightened to show him my face, how much I wanted what he offered me.

"Shall we go for a stroll? Your excellent scones have rendered me in need of a constitutional and I understand there is a park not far from here." He stood aside to let me exit my nook.

"Let me get my hat."

The way things are now.

You may have noticed that there was no story update this week. To be frank I only just realized this myself. The life-splosion I have been dancing around for a while has been joined by a friend and the two of them are proceeding in company. My Seth is having a hard time right now, pre midterm studies are at a peak point for my school, and my closest friend is going through a really horrible life phase. I gotta admit that all I did today was drag my sorry butt to class and home again where I promptly chugged a banana and some Advil and passed out for several hours.

For the next few months I will be doing a lot more husband hovering than usual, I will be on call for that friend even if she gets sick of me, and I will be sleeping as much as humanly possible. I apologize ahead of time for the inevitable disruptions that will cause to the posting schedule and the frequency of my ridiculous mid week stuff. This week I am going to let myself have a vacation. I have to be human sometimes, and I have to let that be okay. So if all goes well and I don't have to spend the next weekend with a box of tissues and a shotgun we should be back on the normal posting schedule for Tentacle Punk. I think that means we get to meet Wilbur and his favorite Iron maiden named Cecelia.

Think me up some good thought for the next few days. See you on Monday.