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And Then Things Got Weird….

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The Beach at Wassup Dock, Kupaio, Fiji.

From the upcoming novel Shark Fin Soup

Ying Yang by Fred Barnett

“SHUT THE באַרען up, לאָך WAFFLE!” screamed queen Dauna, shocking the tourists on their way back to Nyah-Wassup Dock, some of whom dropped their free cups of Outtamywayasshole Coffee. “Oh, sorry, all. That was my morning Tourette’s speaking. What I meant to say was ‘Shut the באַרען up, לאָך waffle!’”

“No offense taken, my queen,” said the crone, Lupta.

The crowd were now focused on Bernie’s terrible choice of Bermuda shorts, as if they were rubber-necking the scene of a tragic car wreck.

“That..schlub,” said Lupta the sage, employing an old Fijian term, “will someday bear your fruit, Your Heinous.”

“P’leeeeease. Fruit?” asked Dauna. “You know that I pass out at the sight of juice. That slob? Really? Dauna’s curiosity about Bernie had been aroused. My ampullae of Lorenzini (sharkie sensing organs) have never felt like this, she thought as her rear / tail end began to sway. 

Bernie, in return, could not take his eyes off of her anxious shifting legs beneath her lucky parreo. Lucky? Why did I think the parreo was lucky, as if it were somehow alive? He watched ‘Her Heinous’ draw down an entire cigarette in a single breath while she took an uncomfortable, yet thrilling inventory of the silly human. Her deep brown eyes seemed to go ‘click click click.’

Dauna was beautiful and she was looking at — him!

Wanting a snapshot of his own, Bernie lifted his new Nikon and aimed. The camera flared, fell and melted in the sand. The insatiable shark goddess queen began to circle the hypnotized tourist. Bernie had a feeling that either he was going to be eaten by, or married to the captivating queen. Same damned thing.

Dauna’s spell was broken when the captain of the dive boat called the tourists back on board. Bernie’s heart was racing as he turned for one last look. The sultry queen of Kupaio was gone. 

She’d driven off, upset about her future.

Every so often, in the silence of night, a mysterious breeze carrying the name “Bernie” would gently jingle the chimes of Dauna’s fun foyer. “Berrrrrnie. Berrrrrrrrnie.”

(Sad violin music.) But forsooth, dear readers, for after Bernie had left the island, Dauna was to be married.

An arranged marriage…

…to a gold-plated schmuck-with-fins named Bunji.

Dauna, upset, drove off in her golf cart, running into some stuff along the way.

Human stuff.

Panpsychism (“All things have a soul”)

Scene: Dauna Robinson ‘The Dispatcher’s ofiice.

Cast: Dauna Robinson : The Fijian Shark Goddess

Bernie Benedict: ‘God Whisperer’ and Interpol agent.

Mary: Mother of Jesus — who hates Dauna

#

New Shark Fin Titled

Bernie had been asked his Interpol associate, T.K., to study up on the subject of  Panpsychism (“All things have a soul”) before moving to Hawaii. He didn’t know why — until now. Bernie had a feeling that everything in Dauna Robinson’s office was alive. Dauna returned to the office and set her soft bottom upon the thrilled sill. Bernie’s heart paused in deep silent reverence for the wooden board. Dauna paused to light another happy cigarette and admire another bit of Hawaiian ‘scenery,’ derelicts  sleeping in their pee on the sidewalks of Chinatown.

“SNAP OUT OF IT, BERNIE!” demanded a second woman’s voice from the ‘the Bernie file’ on Dauna’s desk.

Bernie jumped up, staring at the folder. “Dammit! Who the hell?” 

“What is it, hun?” asked Dauna.

Both of them saw the image of the Virgin Mary spreading like a coffee stain across the manila folder. Uh, oh shit…sorry, ma’am, Bernie apologized to the folder. Mother Mary had appeared on his browser a couple of times, but the two never spoke. Mary scared all of her lonely son’s friends away with her icy condescending looks. 

“I said snap out of it, cupcake! Or it’s your funeral!” said Mary.

“Funeral? Please! Not now!”

“Who are you talking to, hun?” asked Dauna. “Is there someone on the folder? It isn’t your new pal, lion chow, again, is it?”

“Lion chow? No. It’s his mom. Ms. Robinson, did you just call Mary’s son lion chow?”

Flat Mary rolled her eyes toward heaven and said in Latin, “Odio hoc canis (I hate this bitch).” The mother of God shook her haloed head in disgust and disappeared from the folder.

“P-leeeeeease, Ms. Holier-Than-Thou,” said Dauna. It seemed that Jesus’ mom had left the building. Dauna looked at Bernie, “Agent Benedict, let me tell you the truth about Mrs. Goody Two Sandals.”

“Who?”

“The Snow White of the desk set thinks that I’m trying to corrupt her precious little boy. Do you know what I think? I think that your melancholy hippie pal wants ‘a taste.’ The kid should be dating. Did you know that his dad, or mom, or their family cat cursed me with Tourette’s after I used the old man’s name in vain? So, I, Ms. Potty Mouth, have a free ticket to call Merkin Man whatever I want.”

“Merkin Man?” Merkin Man sounds like a commercial.

“What? Should I ask Mr. Love-In to forgive me? He knows that I’d just start cussing again.” She smiled at Bernie. “Do you know what? I think that it turns him on.” Dauna turned away and lit yet another overjoyed, happy-to-die cigarette. The small smooth scars on Dauna’s neck caught Bernie’s attention. 

Dauna knew what the new agent was thinking, even as she faced the window. “On my island, we call these scars ‘shark hickeys.’”

Love Blooms in The Bacchus Bar

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10 p.m. — The Bacchus Bar — Cincinnati, Ohio 

“Now, give me your other hand,” demanded the goddess.

“What?”

“Give me your paw, impudent varlet.” Her bracelets began to orbit. Artemis began the Olympian Twiddling of Thumbs, an ancient mating rite on the mythical  hill. Bernie babbled something and, by accident, gulped down half cup of forbidden ambrosia.

Bomba, the new God of Kittehs, broke the stalemate as he roared and rolled over below the restaurant’s faux fireplace. He began licking his paws and rumbling. Bernie could see that his ex-kitty’s teeth had become chromed daggers.

Good vibrations, Artemis thought as she sipped. Her drunken twiddling became more of a twaddle. How do I tell the poor sap Bernie that I have to kill him tonight? the goddess wondered.

Go ahead,” Bomba’s yellow eyes said to Bernie. “Pounce on her, can opener!”

Bernie broadcast back in anger: “If I pounced, you big allergen, your mistress would pound me into jelly!”

  Disappointed, Bomba shook his lion-sized head. “Wuss flavored jelly. She’s going to kill you anyways, so you might as well take the leap.” The cat felt embarrassed for the weakling. Sad.

“She wouldn’t kill me. She’s supposed to protect me. I should kick your mangey ass!” shouted Bernie’s eyes back at his ex-cat.

  “You and what army, asshat?” Bomba stared back.

“Isn’t he sweet?” Artemis said, breaking the tension between her two boys.

“Was I just talking to my gluttonous ex-cat?” asked Bernie.

“Is something wrong?” She held up her long slim index finger. “And, yes, I would pound you into jelly.” Artemis stood and turned. “Check out my new blouse.” Her jacket spread wide, revealing a silk ivory halter that flowed like cream over her breasts. “Is this girly enough?”

“Tally-ho!” She was the fox, but Bernie felt as if he were the hunted. Bernie felt, no, he knew that he was tonight’s big game. Uh oh, I’m fucked. Maybe dead, too. He poured from an unmarked green bottle on the table.

Yes, Bernie. Tonight’s your lucky night, wuss jelly, Bomba winked back while chewing on something leathery.

“That’s my old purse,” said Artemis. Now keep twiddling, baby. Yeah, that’s it. So good. Ooooh, right there.”

Maybe it was the god hooch taking over, but Bernie wanted to meet Artemis’ challenge head on. He was feeling great, and was no longer in the mood to play subordinate prey to the Olympian huntress. But before he could finish that foolish  thought, Artemis stood over Bernie to show him what a mistake a challenge would be. Instead, he was checking out her legs. She realized that the stupid human was too lust struck to give a shit.

I going to conquer me a piece of that, he was thinking. So, woozy fucktard that he was, Bernie stood up tall, with intent to commit serious fuckage upon her divine κάτω περιοχές. Artemis, sensing danger, stretched herself taller, noticing that the ambrosia that Bernie drank had had a strange effect on her man toy. He was four inches taller than when he’d walked into the Bacchus Bar. For the first time Bernie was now able to look directly into deep dark her eyes with his own. Artemis heart skipped a beat as she stepped backward. Bernie followed her every step toward the darkest corner of the room as if they were dancing a tango.

Even my mother Leto would agree that this man looks elegant despite his horrid sport jacket. Bernie with an arm beneath her waist leaned her back and brushed his lips along her graceful neck. Artemis “put the brakes” on Bernie by poking at his new dimple. “The dimple. When did you get the dimple??” she asked, catching her breath.

“Dimple?” he asked, touching it himself.  He sat down. “Can I borrow your hand mirror, darling? Well, god bless the queen. Look at that, will you. Wellllll, what do you know?” He straightened his collar and said, “Nice haircut, too. Did I always have jet-black hair?” Bernie lifted a full glass of ambrosia and toasted his beautiful friend. “‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the moon never looked on aught so grand.’ I believe that was a quote from one of your old admirers, dear. Anteater, or antipasta… Antipater, or some bloody nonsense.”

“Antipater. I killed him. He tried to steal my undies from the Laundromat dryer when we were in college together. I killed him with this.” Artemis put her hand upon her new purse whose handle was a diamond mini-crossbow. “My new purse. Do you like it? Bergdorfs.”

“Right. Smashing, dear. What happened to your cute hunting tunic? I hardly recognized you when I walked in.”

“Don’t worry. This outfit is designed for bagging big game. The element of surprise. My prey will never know what hit him. Now, where were we, dear.”

“Twiddling.” Delicious. Beautiful. he thought. 

Delicious? Beautiful? Hmmmmm, she thought back. She’d never considered the mortal’s compliments before and she’d never been called “delicious.” Pizza is delicious, ribs are…

“Listen, angel,” said Bernie.

“Shut up.”  Artemis pulled him up from his chair by the lapels. “Dance with me.”

As they swayed, Bomba looked at Bernie. “Hey, Bernie, Did you like the little Christmas gift I left you?”

“Oh, the headless dead five-foot tall, nearly-extinct humanoid from Eastern Europe?  Awwwww….Thank you, Bomba. Good kitty. That poor creature—that gift, that you left in the alley for me was an endangered Gibor! One of the last.”

The cat yawned and thought, “Bite me.”

Bernie sent his thoughts toward his cat: “Am I boring you, flea bag?” 

“Bomba’s yawn is his way of saying happy birthday, cupcake.” She toasted Bernie.

“I’m sorry, your lordship,” Bernie said with his emerging Cary Grantish pan-atlantic accent. “Today, my darlings, is not my birthday.”

“Are you going to argue with us? It’s too hot to argue.” A tiny space shuttle circled with the rotating rings on Artemis’ hat along with a few new items of space junk. “From now on,” said Artemis, “this day, December 27, will be your new birthday.”

 

 

The Goddesses of Walmart

01 Artemis Scene Composition II_01

The statuesque goddess was enraged after seeing Bambi’s mother, a sacred deer, being slaughtered by the human hunter. The killer in the cartoon reminded her of the evil monster MacHeath.

Earlier, Artemis was feeling down because she could barely squeeze into her five-thousand-year-old tunic and had to find her new clothes in the big and tall women’s aisle of Walmart. Those shopping trips would be Artemis’ fatal fashion mistake. One muumuu that she tried on, in full view of the security camera that afternoon could have easily tented the Barnum & Bailey Circus including the freak show, concessions, games, the petting zoo and a calliope.

Zeus and Leto often watched Goddesses of Walmart for entertainment. That night they were horrified when they saw their daughter dressed in the giant  muumuu while trolling the aisles for deals on chips and soda.

Then the following celestial evening, after 50,300 hits on YouTube the voguish goddess Leto was forced to watch (in shock and horror) a video of her daughter shopping while dressed in a hideous floral nightgown and tennis shoes.

The hotel phone rang.

Bernie picked it up and handed it to Artemis who was eating bon-bons on the couch. “It’s your dad.”

Artemis grabbed the phone. “Daddy?”

The voice on the phone was powerful enough for Bernie to hear every word. The voice was angry enough to generate lightning from the earpiece.

“Artie. Dear Artie. Your mom and I decided that you can’t come home until you lose weight and come to your fashion senses,” daddy Zeus had said. “And tell your hobo friend to hijack himself a new suit with real pants if he’s gonna paint the town with my baby. Bernie’s friend Frankie should have already told him that life’s too short to dress like a bum. And what the hell is that thing you’re drivin’?”

“Uh…” Munch, munch, munch. “Bernie rented a Chia.”

“Everyone up here thinks that you’ve gotten weak and out of control. We can’t afford to have the other deities think that the Olympians are pushovers.” Zeus shouted into the phone. “For gods and goddesses sakes, Art-Art, you used to knock ’em dead.”

“Art-Art?” Bernie heard that and giggled.

The goddess shot lethal optikos (eye) arrows at Bernie. “Shut up, sandal licker! No, not you, daddy. There is going to be an epic battle with MacHeath’s army, so I promised to help out Bernie and his trollop friend.”

“You mean Miss Soapy Puppies?”

“Yeah, Dauna.”

“Princess,” the voice said. “Don’t come home until you’ve cleaned up your circle of friends.” Zeus hung up.

“But, daddyyyyyyyy?” The heroic figure wept a flood of diamond tears.

A text appeared.

Final judgment came to Artemis swiftly in a furious “bolt of rejection.” The bolt was hurled in the form of an angry text, with an angry minotaur emoji attached.

Artemis had just been officially banished from her home and family.

“What family, pop?” she texted back. “Do we even have a family name?”

“Good point, pumpkin. Let me ask your mom,” he wrote.

Back on Olympus, Zeus asked Leto, “Dear? What’s our last name?”

He texted Artemis, “You still there? Okay. Your mom says that our last name is ‘On High.’ We don’t need a last name, pumpkin, unlike the Kardashians. We’re bigger than Lady Gaga. We only use first names. Oh, your mom wants to know…what the hell kind of shoes were you wearing on the Walmart show?”

Zeus’ mighty presence was suddenly gone, and Artemis was hurt, and that meant that she needed tacos.

Artemis had become “an embarrassment” to the fashion-conscious Olympian gods, who were tolerant to a point, often turning their backs on lesser Olympian crimes, such as torture, mass murder, incest, rape, infanticide and eating one’s own children.




 

From my novel BATS ^^ö^^: Jonathan’s Ride to Poenary Castle, Transylvania

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Poenari Castle’s broken silhouette passed hundreds of feet above Jonathan, framed by the rising moon and the black branches reaching out in “velcome.” The handsome laid back, mellow, and easygoing smasher-of-heads-against-breakwaters-and-pavement ex-lifeguard peered through the glass, breathless. The rain, thick as plasma, began to block his view from the taxi.

Despite the increasingly narrow passages, looming mountains and biblical weather, he texted Mina another time.

Bună ziua! (Good evening!) I am now in Romania near Poenari Castle. Up until now there has been no actual Wi-Fi. Earlier the driver, who wears a black  mask, told me about a free service called Si-Fi that has to do with antennas placed on, of all things, bats! I am well. In fact, I am even cooler than I was last month…and that’s pretty cool!

Cele mai bune urări (Best wishes),

Jonathan

The driver looked into the rear-view mirror and wondered, Is my passenger still…alive? He turned his head 360 degrees around, then another 180 degrees toward Jonathan and asked, “Are you there…sir? Let it be known, young sir, that breathing can attract a variety of…undesirables.” In the Prince’s hemorrhaging neck of the woods, breathing was regarded as overrated.

A long exhalation of foul human breath rushed from the backseat.

What the heaven has this human been eating? Plants? “Look, young sir!” said the driver. “Ve’re almost home! Ve’ll get you some real food.”

“I’m on a vegetarian diet, sir. I no longer eat anything with a face.”

Oy. Vun of those! The driver thought. “No problem young man! You can alvays rip the face off first.”

“Driver? Do you know where I can find a Mr. Karoly Tepesthe? He has some money put aside for me.”

The driver only belched.

“You didn’t eat him, did you?” Jonathan joked.

“No. I didn’t, sir. Haven’t you heard about Mr. Tepesthe’s terrible accident?”

“Oh, no. No, I haven’t.”

“Apparently Karoly was on his way home from the bank after he withdrew a million dolari in cash, tripped, and stumbled onto a very sharp twenty-foot pole—sorry, of course you couldn’t have heard. It doesn’t happen until tomorrow.”

Tales of Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and Moon.

Artemis, the Greek Goddess unloads a rant on Interpol agent Bernie ‘Eggs’ Benedict, the human that she’s in charge of protecting.

#

Cynthia

“I can’t take this! Please!”

“Calm down. I’ll protect you. I am Artemis. I am Diana, I am Cynthia, the moon goddess the virgin goddess of the hunt.”

“Wait. Back up. Did you say virgin?”

“Yes, I did.” Artemis sat up straight and tall. “I’m proud of my job. And it is my duty to defend my sister virgins. Being a goddess is what I do. Sometimes I have to smack filthy men down like mosquitos. Do you think that it’s an easy job? I had to go through all kinds of hell to finally get certified.”

“Certified? You’re kidding,”

Artemis’ tale unfolded. On her first day at Olympus High, she met God, The Big Cheese, who on that day, appeared to her as a popular redheaded cheerleader named Shelly. Shelly helped the tall gawky Artemis get adjusted to campus life. Artemis became the track and field champion at MOWSC, the Mount Olympus West Side College campus. Artemis then ranted on about her life after school. Her “shit jobs” with “shit bosses” and how she dabbled in real estate and interior design in ancient Helena. There was a second time that she ran into, and worked side by side with The Big Cheese in a Naple’s restaurant in 1889. This time he called himself Raffaele Esposito. “It sounded better that plain old God.” When Raffaele invented pizza, he declared that he’d “done enough” for mankind, said, “Fuck it,” and went back to his apartment. 

“Why are you looking at me like that, Bernie?” Artemis covered herself with the sheet.

You were there when God created pizza?”

“Thin crust was my idea. You should try my ricotta gnocchi with sausage and fennel sauce.”

“Marry me!”

“Marry? There are rules. If we are going to marry or mate, I’d have to kill you first. You being a mortal. Alas, it is my sad destiny to run through the heavens, alone, unfulfilled, and nearly naked…” 

“Stop!”

“…for all time. As Artemis continued her sad tale of struggle—hands over her breasts, to the weak-willed Bernie, he, through all-American know-how and due diligence, had managed to sneak his right hand beneath a lifetime supply of generous ass cheek. “You’re kidding about the pizza, right?”

“Kidding? I never kid. Do you dare to challenge the huntress? And move your hands away from my κώλος before I…Bernie? Do you think I’m getting too…uh, soft? Am I becoming a pillow princess? I heard someone called that on TV.” Artemis started to tie her tunic over her shoulder.

“No. You’re the most perfect being I’ve ever seen. Please. Don’t put all of that cool stuff away…”

An Interpol agent, a Moon Goddess and Jesus walk into a bar…..

Starring:

Artemis — goddess of the moon and the hunt.

Bernie Benedict, an interpol agent, ‘The God Whisperer,’  who is in the process of becoming  the god named Cupcaecius — and is looking more and more like Cary Grant every day.

Jesus, Son of God, nice kid, but kind of a doofus.

MoonGoddess

The scent of gardenias filled the room as all six-foot-six of the alabaster skinned Artemis danced, swirled and spun her skirt off into the dark corners of the Bacchus Bar. Doves flew toward their table, each holding a linen napkin to protect what little modesty that she had left. Is she going to play me like a cat? thought Bernie. Bat me around until I become a headless gift to the other gods? Bernie Benedict was conscious enough to steal a napkin from the beak of one of Artie’s “modesty” doves. The one intended for her left breast. The face of Jesus appeared on the small square of linen.

“Σκατά! (Poopy!)” said Artemis.

As if someone hit the phonograph needle, the theme from Zorba came to a ripping halt. Bernie cried out. “Who invited you?”

The goddess quickly wrapped herself within the linen tablecloth. “Who invited him?”

“Wait! Don’t get mad,” said the Messiah. “I had to tell someone. I wanted you to be the first to know. Bernie I found someone! A goddess — of —my — own!”

“Not now, junior,” said Bernie.

The normally morose Messiah was jumping up and down. “Everyone calls her The Goddess Candy.”

Bernie asked, “Goddess Candy? Does she wear black leather and run a  restaurant called Dominance Pizza?”

Jesus, surprised, stared at Bernie. “Yeah. Hey! You know her?”

“Sure we know her,” said Artemis. “I hate to tell you, J.C., but she’s not a real goddess. That’s her ‘stage name.’ She’s a dominatrix. You poor schmo.”

“A what? לַעֲזָאזֵל! Daddammit! I feel like such a douchebagel.”

“Did she ask you to lick her boots?”

“Uhhhh… Please don’t mention this to my mom. Okay?”

“Sure. Hey, since you’re here, let me ask your opinion on something. If I, Bernie Benedict, a mortal, succumb to a goddess who is outside of my own religion…”

“Ass worship?” said Artemis, slapping away Bernie’s naughty tentacles.

J.C. was staring at the soaked, disheveled Artemis. “You’ll be damned if you do, Bernie.”

Bernie, downcast, looked upset.

Jesus elbowed Bernie in the ribs. “But damned if you don’t,” he laughed. Little Shredded Wheat Puss sure is in a good mood, thought Artemis.

Bernie, relieved, bowed in gratitude, hitting his drunken head on the table. “Ow. Fuck.”

“I’ll leave you two sinners alone,” said Jesus. “I just thought I’d tell you…mumble…ah לַעֲזָאזֵל!”

Fading while blushing, the Messiah went away in a little ‘poof.’

Artemis’ eyes smoldered at Bernie, “Definitely damned if you don’t.” The tablecloth she’d been wearing dropped to the floor. Guilt had left the building. She was naked and glowing pink from within. “See, cupcake! I’m PETA approved.”

“What?”

“No pelt.”

“Oh, god,” said Bernie. Oops what’d I just say?

“You rang, good buddy?” Jesus was back on the tablecloth.

“No! It was a mishtake.” yelled Bernie.

“Sorry. Did I leave my halo here?”

“It’s on your head. Now, go away,” said the pair, who was an explosive combination of pent-up bodily fluids, combustible alcohol and frenzied jutting protuberances.

“Did I already mention to you, Bernie,” asked Jesus, “that …”

“Scram!”

The savior faded away.

 

******** El Día de los Muertos ********

 

Día de los Muertos is the day that Mexico celebrates its dead. In the United States, this special day is observed by getting drunk and wearing baseball caps backwards — pretty much like every other day.

aside

This scene takes place next to the cloak room — at the Los Angeles offices of Interpol — on that festive day….mexican shark attacks107

The contessa lifted his chin with her two elegant bebés and spoke. “I know that you are new in town, Bernardo,” she said. “If you get lonely, you can visit me at Adobe Gillis”

“Your generosity is most inviting, señora…”

“It’s señorita — now that you are here, mi Bernardo.”

“Sí, señorita.Bernie hung his head, knowing that he would never be more than a common peón. “As you see by my ragged clothes, I am just a poor simple muchacho, too estúpido to find my own lowly locker.”

“Your fine manners reveal a true caballero, a gentleman of fervent breeding. ¡Let’s fiesta mi amigo!” Señorita Robinson grabbed, what she thought was a bottle of tequila from her locker. Instead, she’d grabbed the bottle of Pulque ‘the drink of the Aztec gods,’ that she’d gotten for a wedding present. She took a swig and handed it to Bernie. “¡Salud, Bernardo!” With her thick hair she fanned the droplets of perspiration about her neck, then yelped, “MÁS COCKAMOLE! Lo siento (sorry) Tourettes.”

“Bernardo tried to ignore that and took his first sip of the forbidden Pulque, — never intended for mortals. One sip would change his destiny.

Daunita smiled hungrily at Bernardo with the same grin that had tried to masticate his mast on the deck of Vinnie Maru. He shuddered.

Do not worry, there is no Big Man José.”

¿Quien? (Who?)

“Drink up Bernardo. If my husband, Gran José, existed, he wouldn’t be  released from jail for another fifteen minutes. Let’s have some fun before he comes to kill you. This is our momento especial. Vamos a bailar—dance with me, vaquero or I will go to confession instead.”

             Jay and the Americans’ “Come a Little Bit Closer” began to play over the intercom.

Bernardo wrapped his arm about Daunita’s delicate waist. Her soft body radiated the warmth of the golden Aztec sun. The effects of the forbidden Pulque were  beginning to impact him.

______________

while innocent youngsters were being killed, at the nearby Raging Hormones Theme Park. 

That part of the plot will resume, shortly. Maybe. Don’t hold your breath.

_________________

Bernardo’s heart soared like the great bird Quetzalcoatl. He felt invincible. He challenged her imagined boyfriend. I will snap the península off the her Big Man José’s postal code! In Bernardo’s mind he was a bronzed warrior bounding up the stone steps of Templo Mayor toward heaven, aware that once he reached the golden crown of the pyramid, he’d draw a deep breath of her scent, a gift for the god Huitzilopochtli. Then, with eyes wide open, he would prove his fearless love to the bronze goddess, Daunita.

At the apex of the temple with arms extended, the enchanted Bernardo would leap into the wind and glide like an eagle above the pink clouds, toward the hot Mexican sun, into the cauldron of the voracious volcano Popocatépetl below.

Bernardo stood, eyes closed, and prepared to plunge. If he must, he was prepared to plunge again and again. 

Daunita closed her eyes, feeling the dream of her brave warrior again and again.

The Collected Letters of Lord Huthbert Grieves and Lady Penelope Weeps from the novel BATS ^^o^^

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From the celebrated Novel, Bats, by Lord Frederick Barnett of Kailuashire 

I.

The Collected Letters of 

Lord Huthbert Grieves and Lady Penelope Weeps

(1779-1790)

A Letter from Lord Huthbert Grieves to Lady Penelope Weeps, Ghoolkamish 

April 30, 1779

Dearest Penelope,

The artillery has stopped momentarily. As I lie awake in my muddy foxhole beneath the night sky of Ghoolkhamish — Alas, my angel, I can only think of you. 

When I come home, my dearest, though it may be five years from this day, I promise we shall marry. Your father hates me, I know, as does your dog — a part of whose shattered jaw is still attached to my buttock. 

Despite what your husband thinks, I know that we can make this marriage work. Though I lost half my face, one-third of my manhood and a nipple in the bloody trenches of Dyfthphedif, I promise that the cottage that I have purchased will be a happy one, surrounded by the warm laughter of children, or — at the very least — very immature adults. 

How is your cough, my Angel? I was distressed to find that your last correspondence had a small bloody piece of your lung stuck to it, Sweetheart. Please hang on to God’s precious gift of life until I can limp to your side.

Your precious letters warm my heart, Darling. I smell your perfume and, with a shield between my mouth and the envelope, kiss the lipstick on the seal before I dream my happy dreams every night.

With my good arm, I long to hug you and keep you warm, even when you cough (Though, alas, I regret, there will be no deep intertwining of tongues).

All my love,

Yours forever — Huthbert Grieves

 April 30, 1779

_____________________

II

The further love letters of Lord Huthbert Grieves and Penelope M. Weeps 

England 1769 -1784

(Sent from Port Apotty, Africa, May 31, 1784)

My Dearest Darling Angel Penelope,

Alas! This will be my last correspondence, my sweet, as I make my way home across the sea to your warm bosom after so many years in the muddy battlefields of Hominahomina. Please have a coffin and a plot prepared for me if I do not make it home alive. Our cavalry surgeon, Doctor Osândă, has informed me that the insect known as Arden’s creeper or the acid roach, has taken up residence in my ear, while I was stationed in the steaming tropical jungle of Haffarredrash. The creature has traveled to the part of my brain called the dorsal hypothalamic, which controls the heartbreaking spread of psoriasis especially in the remaining two-thirds of what the natives call my huk-huk.

Oh, blessed heavens above! Before we left port, I had received a correspondence from my servant, Mr. Upton. He says that you are now a free woman. Joy of joys! Could that be true, my angel of angels?

Upton had written that your childhood sweetheart and spouse of twenty years had passed on after receiving a dreadful blow to the skull. My tears are flowing for you, my love, like the mighty Incontinence Falls of the great Amazon.

Mournfulness overtook me when I had found out your tiny cherubs had been called to heaven on that calamitous evening as well. Your poor spouse and children—all dead—all on the same day! Oh, Providence! Forsooth! I had no idea that you ‘were with children.’ Eight? Well, fuck meself.

I had instructed Upton, my man Friday, to insure the safety of your children, but alas, it was too late. Upton reported that the fire had spread too quickly through the mansion. By the time the frightening oaf had arose from his drunkenness in the barn, the mansion had become a mound of ashes. Thank the Lord that Upton was able to rescue and deliver you to the safety of the barn before the fire spread.

About the pregnancy. For my part, I do pardon you your irresistible charm. Upton can be unruly and some days I question my hiring the brute from the Calcutta Circus. Be assured that he is my “responsibility.” Upton comes from fine stock and I will personally claim the cherub, Uptonette, as a Ward of Court. When he approaches his fourth year, the child will be assured a fine position in a reputable shop.

I am a gentleman, my love. I will support you both until I can find the guttersnipe bastard a suitable place of employment where the sun and lice shall not harm his fair skin.

 The hour of my arrival draweth fast on. Lastly, I vow that mine remaining eye desireth thou above most.

All my love,

Yours forever and ever,

Huthbert Grieves

___________________________

III

(Sent from Bristol, England, May 14, 1784)

My Dearest Darling Huthbert, 

Every day I look for your letters. Today, I feel that cupid is in the air.

A terrible thing happened at the Hollis’ grand mansion next door to my home this week. A terrible man attempted to kill neighbor’s entire family, except for the young wife, Hippolia, a woman who might be mistaken as my twin.

After clubbing the husband, Rhynos Hollis, to death, and presuming that the children were all asleep in bed, the villain set the house on fire. Thank the Lord above that all eight Hollis children were spending the week in London’s Marshalsea Children’s Prison because of a misunderstanding over the property rights of a beaten elder, or they all would have perished in that fire.

 During the blaze, the wife, Hippolia, was dragged outside only to be violated repeatedly until the rapist dragged her blindfolded down to Cornwall, where she was spotted, by drunkards no less, laughing at the Duck n’ Fishes pub. The rough beast continued his assault upon Mrs. Hollis the entire weekend, attracting numerous noise complaints at the inn. Mrs. Hollis had managed to escape from the brute and seems to be handling her weekend of terror quite well. She did tell me that the impetuous monster has threatened to return again, here to Bristol! The cheeky devil warned Hippolia that he will hunt her down like a fox, and imprison her royal suite at the notorious Saint Germaine Hotel in Paris and prod her day and night until her wicked spell upon him is broken. The poor woman. How dreadful!

There is some good news—for you, my hero.

My husband, Owen, has left me, knowing that my heart belongs only to you—and his own heart belongs to his ballet coach, Fabricio. My two children are both fourteen-years-old and have moved away with their own large families. I sit, all alone, waiting ONLY for you, my love. I pray that I may be worthy of such a pure soul.

More good news! My consumption has disappeared entirely since I refashioned my diet to only simple sweets. You will find that there is much more of your dear Penelope to love when you return.

I hope you are well. Please tell me when your ship, The Obbrobrio (The Disgrace), comes into my port, my heart of hearts.

If the recipient of this letter is not my beloved Huthbert, please disregard, I prefer chocolates.

My love, you are forever in my thoughts and dreams.

Penelope

_________________

IV

(Sent from London, June 1, 1784)

Penelope,

Oops!

Yours,

Huthbert

One last abysmal Letter from Lady Penelope Weeps 

Sent from: Kent on Birminghanfordkingshire

To: Lord Thaddeus Huthbert Grieves— by way of Lord Ward Toady, Wraithamwichshire, February 21, 1790

_______________

V

 My poor dear Lord Huthbert!  I am in distress!

Since you wrote Oops! as the only and last word in your final letter, I’ve had troubling cogitations, my dearest. For aught I know that you may soon be with the angels, and after losing half of your face, one-third of your manhood, one nipple, and discovering that an acid roach that had entered your brain at Hominahomina, has affected the remaining two-thirds of your huk-huk. 

Three days ago, I found out that you were alive, my darling. Joy of Joys! While I was relaxing at the Drivel Pub in East Piffle I overheard the sailors, talking about how their frigate, the Countess of Cachtice, rescued a man who called himself “Huthbert” within the hold of an abandoned Chinese junk (?). One of the sailors at the Pub, who’d been given the epithet Jack-the-Gaff by his shipmates (Curiously, it was neither of Jack’s rough hands that were shaped like a hook), said that you were found nearly dead aboard a ghost ship adrift among the treacherous whirlpools of Vodu, West Africa. 

Oh dear, what were you doing in China? 

The Daily Advertiser directed me to Charity Hospital in Piffle. Alas, I was barred from visiting your room by the Empiric Doctor Phineus Osândă who instructed me to come back later in the week, as your medical situation was “extremely distasteful.” What could that mean? I thought.

 While resting at the Piffle Inn, I came across this story on the front page of the Journal. A similar story regarding your recent condition also appeared in Lloyd’s Post. 

“One unfortunate passenger, identified as London’s Lord Thaddeus ‘Huthbert’ Grieves was found below decks, soaked in his own blood. Specialists from Shire Bedlam Hospital reported the Lord Huthbert’s colon was “severely damaged by an Asian swamp eel” (Monopterus albus). The grotesque fish had chewed through the poor fellow’s colon!”

Huthbert my love, how on Earth did that abhorrent creature end up inside your lower intestine? What were you doing in China, my heart of hearts? Who were these “opium men” who were “playing a trick” on you, as per the article?

I fear that this may be the last chance to tell you that you have always been the Love of my Life, my greatest thrill, equal to my recent swim in a vat of chocolate, with the two equally pale Cadbury Brothers at their new desert parlor in London. The brothers playfully nicknamed me “Bonbon.”

I ended up marrying the elder of the brothers, Sir Richard Cadbury. I never saw his very wealthy brother, Sir Simon, alive after our dip. The police had come over one afternoon asking questions about a public argument that the two brothers had had in the Lamb’s Lair Pub. It is as though the thick London fog had swallowed Simon. He was a nice lad.

My new husband, Sir Richard, it seems, has had a number of wives but only keeps a picture of his first, Hermia, upon the piano. The sorrowful man had lost Hermia along with his only two children when the three sailed into a maelstrom, though, this time, near the island of Bermuda. Richard often talks of her beauty and her long red hair and warned me that his deceased and beloved Hermia, managed to ruin his following six marriages and mysteriously drove all the ensuing wives away! Richard fears that I will also disappear because of an apparition. You, of all people realize that I am made of sterner stuff.

Oh goodness! As I look from the front window into the moonlight, I can see a woman with long red hair, with two barely clothed moppets in tow. Poor things, so pale and hungry. I will not wake our butler, Grieves, who has already turned in for the night. 

I’ll try to write again, soon. The children are crying just outside my door. They seem to be asking for pudding, of all things. Poor dears. Their cries are weak.  I’ll offer them a warm fireplace and something to eat. 

My heart-root, I have addressed this letter to your very close friend, Ward Toady, at Wraitham, as I cannot seem to locate you, my love, my life. 

Yours in Eternity,

Lady Penelope Cadbury

P.S. Richard said that he would post this for me on the morrow. It is time to greet the poor family outside. More crying. I must go and answer the door.

________________________________

VI

This last express post was sent on August 6, 1790

From: Lord Ward Toady / Wraitham Hospital, Southeast Londonshireham

To: Lady Penelope Cadbury, London

This letter was never read by the recipient, Lady Penelope Cadbury *Lady P. never had a chance to read her last mortal link to her beloved Lord Huthbert. The letter was found unopened at the Cadbury home a week after her disappearance.

_______________

My Lady Penelope Weeps Cadbury,

My god woman, did you not hear? It is with great sadness that I must inform you that your love, my oldest and dearest friend, Lord Huthbert Grieves, had been brutally murdered in the early hours of February 18. I pray that you will not take umbrage. I was certain that you, yourself, had been murdered back in February. The Lord’s assailant was a maniacal woman with long red tresses followed by two young children. 

The trio were seen by my own hospital staff, hovering near the stone path leading into to the hospital grounds at two in the morning.

No one knows how the fiends had gained access to Lord Huthbert’s private room, as several members of my hospital staff were awake and on duty! 

My primary nurse, Mrs. Walinkova, was first alerted when she heard the voice of a woman screaming your name from the garden. “Penelope! Penelope’s gray matter will be my …pudding!” The woman’s screeching was followed by the wailing of children (“Pudding! Pudding!”) which was heard by the entire hospital staff. 

 The cacophony outside was followed by the agonizing scream of our dear  Lord Huthbert. His private room was on the second story. The staff and I ran to Lord Huthbert’s door. It took four people, ten minutes to force the door open as it was being held shut by a ghostly gale of wind. When my four servants were able to gain access the wind came to a sudden halt. They found Lord Huthbert in the closet, hanging by the neck. My scullery maid, Fifi LaDerrier, reported that the poor man’s skull had been gnawed through as if by a giant rodent. 

After the staff and I had taken Lord Huthbert’s body from the closet and lay him on the bed, Fifi, whispered in my ear — with hot breath — in French, that poor tortured Lord Huthbert was finally at peace. As we drew a sheet over Lord Huthbert’s face, we both caught a glimpse of the Arden’s Creeper (the acid roach from the jungles of Hominahomina) crawling behind the headboard. I could no longer blame Lord Huthbert’s insanity on my souple pâtisserie Fifi! Indeed, It was the roach, boring into the afflicted man’s brain that drove him mad enough to harbor eels in his bottom!  

As the Lord’s body lie covered, a quartet of my servants, who were embracing and adjusting one another’s bed clothes at the chamber window, were frozen by a spine-chilling scene in the garden below. They had become transfixed by three pale figures beneath the cold moon, screeching like Irish banshees and dressed in thin white shrouds — It was the red haired demon and what must have been her two children. As if gliding on wheels, the phantoms left a trail of fresh sea algae along the cobblestones before vanishing into the woods. Wraitham is a two day’s journey to the nearest coast.

Dearest Penelope, I am so sorry to be the one to impart this terrible news.

May our Huthbert rest in peace,

In friendship, 

Lord Ward Toady

P.S. Mrs. Walinkova says that she was familiar with you from the circus days at the Drury Lane theatre. She asked me to relay this message: 

“Cheers, Penny! I am well, and though I no longer soar above the crowds at Drury, Toady says that I still defy gravity. The silly man! Please stop by for draught someday.”

_____________________

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