Thursday, May 26, 2016

Story 136: Sir Cater of Pillar, Knight Errant

(An ode to the brave caterpillar who landed and held onto a speeding car)

Oh, I sing a tale
Of a knight in a dale
A noble warrior was he
His heart, it was true
And his skin, green and blue,
And his legs numbered 13 and three,
And three,
And his legs numbered 13 and three.

Sir Cater was his name
And great was his fame
In the land of Pillar and beyond.
One day at King’s behest
He embarked upon a quest
To cross the Ocean of Pond,
Of Pond,
To cross the Ocean of Pond.

Sir Cater, the Brave
Sir Cater, the Strong
Sir Cater, how art thou best.
You fight for your neighbor
And you fight for the stranger
Until that day you take your final rest.

His boat was a mighty frond
As he traversed the Ocean of Pond
To reach the Island Where Youth Is For Aye.
He braved winds, he braved waves,
He braved beasts, he braved knaves,
He nearly sank, but made the shore by and by,
By and by,
He nearly sank, but made the shore by and by.

Sir Cater, the Wise
Sir Cater, the Just
Sir Cater, you are almost there.
Your journey was long
But if you only remain strong
Your reward will have no compare.

He mounted the shore
And began to explore
The Island Where Youth Is For Aye.
He knew not why he had been sent
Only that King was insistent
That he discover on his own the reason why,
The reason why,
That he discover on his own the reason why.

He realized at the last
That his final task
Was to prepare for transformation
Into a Winged Knight
One who would take flight
As Defender of the Realm and of the Nation,
Of the Nation,
As Defender of the Realm and of the Nation.

He ascended The Tree
And dangled from its knee
And cocooned himself from rain and from gust
And he changed, and he grew,
Great things were in store, he knew,
As he slept the sleep of the just,
Of the just,
As he slept the sleep of the just.

Sir Cater of Pillar
Your journey has ended
Your life is no longer the same
Your future is bright
You emerge a new knight
And Sir Butter of Fly is your name.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Story 135: Off Season

            “Why are you going to The Shore now?” he asked with capital letters.  “Nothing is open and you’ll be bored as a gourd!”
            “Don’t you see, this is the perfect time to go!” she argued as she backed out of the driveway in her car that literally was bursting with her luggage.  “No crowds, free parking – free beach!”
            Freezing beach, you mean!” he shouted at the retreating car as it sped away – he caught a glimpse of a waving hand before everything vanished in the glow of the rising sun.
            Two hours later, she arrived at the southernmost tip of The Shore: a cute little town so old that the whole thing had been preserved in formaldehyde.  She made sure to gaze at the retro houses she normally crawled by in traffic jams each summer, taking advantage of the view now unencumbered by thronging hordes of tourists.  Parking in a random spot on the street just because, she basked in the glow of the flashing parking meter and took a few moments to truly listen to the glorious, impeccable silence.

-                       -                       -                       -                       -                       -

            Back in the car, she headed over to the converted-mansion motel, easily finding a space in the lot because she was the only guest.  Most motels in this town would not remain open in January; however, several such as this one had the foresight to know that there always will be a demand once it is seen that the place is open.
            The pool was covered, the sauna was boarded up, the elevators were cordoned off, and there was no heat, but she refused to care.  Peace, quiet, and frigid sea air would be worth any sacrifice, and she was bound and determined to prove that thesis.
            Only one restaurant on the block was open and the lone employee took an hour to catch and prepare her cod dinner, but that just added to the authenticity of the locale.  Ice cream would have been the perfect topper to the meal; she settled for the after-dinner mint.
            She had decided long ago to spend the entirety of the following day on the beach because it was free, and also because it was free (she had a thing for free, and the fees during the summer were in the double-digits).  No other human being was in sight as she planted her umbrella and bundled up in her blankets to stretch out in her lounge chair.  The roaring waves provided a good show and the passing dolphins took turns between laughing in her direction and giving her concerned looks.  The members of the last pod almost beached themselves in order to drive her farther inland just before a blizzard hit – man’s best friend indeed, she grumbled as she gathered her drenched self and belongings and trudged back to the motel while the snowfall accumulated around her.
            After the plows cleared the streets the next morning, she went on her excursions: however, the miniature golf courses, nature trails, and jet ski rentals all were scheduled to open in four months.  The boardwalk itself was open, except in the places where the boards had been pried up to cover the arcades, food courts, and shops (she did manage to sneak in a ride on the swings in the amusement park section, but what fun is swinging yourself over an empty park with no one to match you scream-for-scream?).  The local mall was up and running, but you see one T-shirt/key chain/candle/Christmas tree ornament, you’ve seen them all.  Besides, she did not come to The Shore to Shop – she came to Experience, and Experience she would, even if it was a bit lacking.
            Packing up her car, she bade farewell to the wintry sea as she began her trek back to the humdrum suburb from whence she came.  She would refuse to admit to anyone that they were right about how shut down everything was; however, she was comforted knowing that, for two days, she had ruled a ghost town.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Story 134: Ahh!cne

            The dermatologist completed her exam and said to the patient, “Well, they’re not tumors, so no need to worry about that rigmarole.  No, what you have is a depressingly common case of post-adolescent acne.”
            “But I’m 73 years old!”
            “It affects everyone differently.  Now, I’m going to write you a prescription to take ----; it usually clears the whole mess up in about a week.”
            “But doc, I’m already taking ----, ----, ----, ----, ----, and ----!  If I take one more drug, my internal organs will literally melt!”
            “Hm.  All right, there’s an over-the-counter cream you can try first for a few weeks and see if that works.  It’s on TV and some names with pretty faces say they use it.”
            “Do you think it works?”
            The dermatologist entered the exam room.  “Hi there, let’s see how the ol’ pox is coming along.  You can take the bag off your head now.”
            “I already took it off.”
            “Oh.  Oh dear.  And how long has the swelling been going on?”
            “For the past 10 days.  I went to the Emergency Room where they gave me some antibiotics and told me to go see you.”
            “Um-hm.  I don’t remember if this is one of the side effects listed for ----?”
            “It isn’t.  I called the manufacturer and they said they’ve never seen anything like this in the 35 years it’s been on the market.  They want to pay me to model as their ‘Warning’ photo for the elderly.”
           “OK.  I’m going to put some cream I have here on your face and wherever else there’s swelling….  I see the acne’s still with us.”
            “Yes, it’s actually gotten worse.  Some of them have merged to form clusters of super-acne – I think I only made them angry, doc.”
            “Well, I’ve haven’t been defeated by mere skin inflammation yet, and I’m not about to start now.  I’m going to give you some tea tree oil that you also can get from the store – it’s mostly natural and should do the trick.”
            “Just as long as my face doesn’t sprout tea or a tree.”
            The dermatologist entered the exam room.  “Hello, I see the swelling has gone down nicely [thank goodness].”
            “Read my face, doc.”
            “Beg pardon?”
            “My face.  Read the word spelled out on it.”
            The dermatologist stepped back a bit to see the bigger picture.  “W – A – R – exclamation point?  Is this a joke?”
            “I wish I were that funny.  I’m scared, doc – I think they’re this close to rising up and killing me!”
            “Now, now, no need to panic.  I won’t let them get that far.”
            The dermatologist snapped on a pair of gloves.  “Lie down, please.”  The patient lay on her back on the exam table as the dermatologist placed a pair of goggles on her and on herself.  She turned her back to the patient as she began mixing liquids at the counter.  “I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but your post-adolescent acne has entered the rebellious teen phase and must be wiped out immediately.  I’ve encountered this type only once before, and it nearly destroyed me.”
            “Destroy – ?”
          “However,” the dermatologist turned back to the patient; she was now holding a steaming cauldron and a ladle.  “Victory was mine then, and it will be mine once more.  Don’t move.”
           The patient froze as the doctor ladled the sub-zero liquid onto her pustulant face.  She lay silent as miniscule screams were heard, until they were cut off abruptly by the sound of ice forming.  The dermatologist then took a hammer and chisel and cracked the layer of ice off the patient’s face, catching the shards of the combination of chemicals and casualties into a bin marked “Biohazard.”  She held a mirror up to the patient’s face.  “Better?”
            The patient gazed in astonishment at her reflection.  “My face!  My wrinkly clear face!  You’re a miracle-worker, doc, how ever did you do it?”
            “Liquid nitrogen, plus one of my own special ingredients.  I’ve found it to be the duct tape of skin care.”