That Place, Part 15

Deep in the forest sat two chairs. They were placed at the end of a row of trees that formed an avenue. One chair was made of wood, and when I say made, it looked as though it had grown naturally into the shape of an elaborate and intricate chair, with shapes that suggested scenes from nature, animals, flowers, and ironically, trees.

The other was made of metal, not iron, that wouldn’t be appropriate at all, but some sort of dark and shiny metal that suggested strength and inventiveness. That seems both specific and vague, but trust me, it did.

These chairs were diametrically apposed in style and material but that was no accident. I can’t say why but some of the cleverer among you might have guessed what they are to be used for. If so, please keep it to yourself.

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Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 14

“What were you thinking?”
The young man, whose name was Ahearn, regarded those who were looking at him with murderous intent and said this.
“Traditionally, one half of this thing is a local.”
Georgie’s nostrils flared and she stood up and started to move but Rachael laid a hand on her arm.
“Please don’t try to use tradition as an excuse,” Rachael said, “You delight in making trouble.”
Aheran smiled. It was more a taunt than an expression of joy. It made Rachael want to slap him.
“And yet… He has a point,” said Lady Bleakstone. (We met her briefly at the gate. Beautiful, silver hair and green eyes.)
“But arrangements were made,” observed a bushy bearded man whose name was Humphrey.
“The real question is have we lost our way?” asked a voice from inside a carved clock.
This set off a flurry of points, counter-points, discussions and arguments.
“Everyone PLEASE!” said Rachael in a loud voice.
“This is not the time for abstract discussions,” she continued. “I need to make a decision on what to do.”
Of course the rest of the room had their own opinions on this. Very strong ones at that. Finally, Lady Bleakstone snapped her fingers and the sudden drop in temperature got everyone’s attention.
“Miss Pegg is correct. She is the Host, and therefore what will be done falls entirely under her purview.”
Grumbles were made but no one could argue otherwise.
“I will consider this matter, and make a decision by tomorrow morning,” Rachael said.
“If we’re done here,” said Ahearn as he moved for the door.
“We’re not even close to done,” said Georgia who had anticipated this and was blocking the exit.
Rachael smiled. It wasn’t a smile of pure joy, more of a Schadenfreude smile.
“Ahearn, you’ll be staying indoors, for the foreseeable future,” she said.
This was more sinister than it appeared on the surface.

Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 13

Rachael was busy. Everyone wanted, no needed to speak to her. This one would not have their pavilion further away from the house than that one. Others objected to the colors of the bonfires. The Animals were practically tetchy. Everybody had some complaint. And with new guests arriving at all hours, she rarely had a moment to herself.

After a particularly stressful day, Rachael finally got to sit down with a nice hot cup of tea, though she would’ve preferred some wine but getting drunk wasn’t the answer. She took one sip when someone knocked at her door.

“Come in, “ Rachael said with a sigh.

Georgie entered with an apologetic look.

“Sorry to disturb ya,” said the large woman.

“What is it Georgie?”

“The Keeper of the Gate wishes to have a word.”

Rachael groaned.

“And it can’t wait till tomorrow?”

“His note was most insistent,” replied Georgie.

A short drive later and two women stood in front of Godfrey.

“What is so important?” asked Rachael. She and Godfrey normally got along but this had been a very long and stressful day.

“Lady,” replied the Keeper of the Gate as he bowed, “We’ve had a visit by the local Shire Reeve.”

“About?”

“It seems a young woman, from the village has gone missing,” he said.

“I don’t want to be callous, but kids run away all the time,” said Rachael.

“True enough,” observed Georgie, “Ah ran away when I was a wee girl.”
Godfrey took deep breath.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning it but there’s one detail that alarmed me.”

“Which is?” asked Rachael who did not like where this was going.

“Apparently, this young woman rode off into the night on a pony,” said the Keeper of the Gate.

“I’m going to kill him,” said Rachael.

“I’m afraid that’s not the worst of it,” said Godfrey.

“How could this be worse?”

“Her last name is Woodsmith.”

Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 12

“This is absurd!” claimed Margery.

Ms, Cuttlebuck, a smartly dressed women with short dark hair and grey eyes, smiled and replied, “Your opinion aside, the residents of Gateway House have the legal right to hold their event.”

Martin Shrubsbury, not nearly as smartly dressed with a receding hairline, cleared his throat and said, “Perhaps there’s some sort of compromise that can be reached.”

Ms. Cuttlebuck smiled, it was not a warm or comforting smile. It was the smile of someone who knows more than the person being smiled at.

“Mr. Shrubsbury, a compromise would imply there is something that you have that I desire, you do not,” said Ms, Cuttlebuck.

“We will see you in-“ began Margery.

“Please,” said Ms. Cuttlebuck, “Let’s get down to brass tacks. While you have the right to challenge this in court, it will not come before a judge for years. And I believe that your solicitor will tell you that this will ultimately be thrown out as frivolous. You will also be, as they say, on the hook for my fees. Let me assure you, this will bankrupt you.”

Margery looked at Shrubsbury who sighed and nodded.

Turning to Ms. Cuttlebuck, Margery shot her the most withering glare. This always worked. However, Ms. Cuttlebuck stared back with look that might be used on a child having a tantrum to show that no amount of screaming or crying were going to make the slightest difference.

“If that’s all, please excuse me, I have real work to attend to,” said Ms. Cuttlebuck.

“Thank you for your time,” said Shrubsbury.

Margery said nothing but they both left the office. Once outside, she turned on
Shrubsbury.

“What good are you?” she hissed.

“Legally speaking, we haven’t a leg to stand on,” replied Shrubsbury, who was expecting this response.

“So, you’ve just given up? Well let me tell you, I have not!”

He in fact had given up, and was hoping to get a little shopping in as he didn’t get down to London as much as he’d like to. But knowing this was not the time for personal confessions he gave this advice.
“As your solicitor, I suggest that you just let the people out at “That Place” do whatever they are planning and just…”

Shrubsbury paused.

“What exactly are they doing?” he asked.

“Some sort of gathering,” she spat.

“I’m not sure why this is a problem.”

The real problem was Margery was unaccustomed to being thwarted. She knew that saying that out loud was childish and petulant, so instead she just said.

“They are up to something… unwholesome.”

“I’m not sure that’s a crime. And even if it were, given that there is no evidence, it’s virtually impossible to prove.”

With that, Margery smirked.

Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 11

Godfrey was not entirely correct. Things were not so much about to be busy as were currently busy. An inordinate amount of tourists had arrived at Druwick. Tourists might be a misleading term though, they did not come to see the sights, such as they were.

Druwick was not a prominent historical site. No important battles were fought here, no one famous was born here with the exception of Edith Goodsberry, who wrote a book of poetry, “The Call of the Thrush,” which detailed the joys of pastoral life.

Sadly, it was so dull, it prompted many a dewy eye youth to move to the big city, which was not Edith’s intent. You can still find copies at several shops in Druwick and in donation bins for charities all over the country.

However, the merchants of Druwick were enjoying a brisk trade due to all the visitors and consequently made more money than the total sales of “The Call of the Thrush.”

If there was one common factor to all these visitors was that there were no common factors. Some were shabby and others chic, old and young, short and tall, stout and lean, ugly and beautiful. I could go on but I think I’ve made my point, they were all very different, except they seem to know each other. Margery would’ve found the whole thing very suspicious.

Suspicious or not, they spent money freely and that buys quite a bit of good will. In fact, they cleaned out most of the food in town, not just from meals eaten but buying bundles of meats, cheeses, breads, veg, desserts and beer and wine. Shopkeepers and their staffs worked very hard but they smiled as they did.

The other thing was no one stayed in town, at least not very long. This might have irritated Lucy, proprietress of the inn, but the pub was busy so it took the sting out.

Everyone in Druwick was doing well except Barty Wooodsmith, husband to Margery and father to Judy. He was worried, which was not an uncommon state for him but the reasons were. He drove into town center and went to speak with Constable Clive, who offered him a cup of tea.

“What’s the problem Barty? Too much free time with the missus out of town?” chucked Clive, who felt safe from Margery’s wrath due to distance.

“Oh no! Ha. Good one then,” replied Barty who took a sip of tea.

“Is it the neighbors? I told you that there’s nothing I can do-“

“No, not that Clive. It’s Judy.”

“Has she gotten into s spot of trouble then?”

Clive held his teacup in both hands and said, “The thing is, she’s gone missing.”
“Are you sure she’s not just at a friends house?”

“I’ve called them all, nobody’s seen her, since the night before Margery went down to London.”

“Tell me everything,” said Clive taking out his notebook.

Posted in Short Stories

Time to speak

I’m taking this week off from “That Place”, but the story will continue next week.

As everybody knows, tomorrow are the midterm elections, which are vitally important. Two years ago I urged everyone to vote, whatever they believed in but this time I’m writing to say that if you believe that everybody deserves the same rights and respect, both under the law and in everyday life, get out this Tuesday and make your voice heard. This is not a time to be silent.

However, if you think that certain people are less than and should enjoy less protection, shut the hell up. You cannot be tolerant of intolerance, that’s some loophole bullshit that Nazis, racists, and other hate mongers like to throw around to hide their abhorrent beliefs. We’re on to you, time to reevaluate your baseless fears.

I like to think those who read what I write share my values. Of course, I could be wrong, it won’t the first time or the last. But this is what I believe. If you don’t, then you’ll have to live with your choices.

So get out and vote and vote Blue, it has never mattered more. Also, don’t protest vote, it’s self indulgent and only done by those who feel they have nothing to lose. Guess what, you have everything to lose, they just haven’t gotten to people like you yet. But they will.

So vote and bring some friends, we must stand together.

Posted in Thoughts

That Place, Part 10

Margery left early the next morning with the local solicitor, Martin Shrubsbury, to speak with, or more likely to, Cuttlebuck & Dee. Since she was very focused on legal matters, the absence of her daughter was overlooked. You might think that she was a bad mother but to be fair, checking to see if your offspring was abducted by an enchanted pony doesn’t come up very often, if at all.

Later, that morning, Constable Clive was biking out by “That Place” as per the orders of the town council, just to check on things. He didn’t enjoy it. But his desire to not be called on the carpet by Mrs. Woodsmith outweighed his fear of “That Place,” just barely.

Today however, his fear was replaced by confusion. About five meters from the road side, a tent had been erected. Not a grubby little pup-tent like he had as a child. This was a splendid tent. It was made of striped, green and gold fabric and was as large as a cottage. In fact, a small stream of smoke emanated from a hole in the top.

Sitting on a chair before this tent was small man. He was dressed in long coat, boots and what Clive thought at first glance was armor but at second glance appeared to be rugged, outdoors style clothing.

Clive got off his bike and approached the man.

“Mornin,” said Clive.

“Who goes there!” bellowed the man, who had leapt to his feet.

Clive held up his hands, to show he meant no harm and said, “I’m Clive Barrowman, as you can see, I’m a constable.”

The man produced a device, it looked like a mix between a sextant and a kaleidoscope, and inspected Clive from head to toes. With a satisfied “hmmm”, he put it away.

“Please accept my apology,” the man said with a formal bow, “but I cannot shirk my vow, given what is to come.”

“Right, of course,” replied Clive who was more confused than before.

“Allow me to introduce myself, I am Godfrey, Keeper of the Gate.”

“Nice to meet you sir.”

Godfrey looked at him expectantly.

“And what can I do for the Shire Reeve this fine morning?” asked the Keeper of the Gate.

Clive paused, it took him a beat to realize that that he was the Shire Reeve.

“Well sir, it’s just that there’s been a bit of controversy about…This area.”

Godfrey nodded.

“And I just wanted to check and see if…”

Clive realized that he had no solid orders as to what to do if a large tent, like you might see in a historical drama was erected on the side of the road.

“All was well,” finished Clive.

“Indeed it is!” said Godfrey, “And I thank you for checking in on your side of the veil.”

The question of what exactly his side of the “veil” was tabled as the car pulled up to them. It was a sleek German roadster with a dark red paint job and the driver-side window lowered with the sound of tiny motors whirring.

In that window was a breathtakingly beautiful woman with silver hair, bright green eyes and a sly smile on her perfect face. She extended her perfectly manicured hand to present an envelope to Godfrey.

“Lady,” the Keeper of the Gate said as he bowed and took the envelope.

Clive also bowed. He was not naturally a bower, but this seemed to be the proper thing to do.

Godfrey opened the envelope and scanned the contents.

“You are expected, Lady,” said Godfrey.

She laughed and it sounded like rain on the leaves. With that, the window whirred closed and the car sped off towards “That Place.”

Godfrey turned to Clive and said, “If you’ll please excuse me, things are about to get busy.”

Posted in Short Stories