From the celebrated Novel, Bats, by Lord Frederick Jay Deutsch Barnett of Kailuashire, Sandwich Isles – copyright 2018
The Collected Letters of
Lord Huthbert Grieves and Lady Penelope Weeps
A Letter from Lord Huthbert Grieves to Lady Penelope Weeps, Ghoolkamish
April 30, 1779
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
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,
(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.
(Sent from London, June 1, 1784)
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
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.
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,
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.”
The full moon represents illumination, creation and renewal. You may lose your hair, your money, your loved ones, but if you hang on and get yourself out there beneath that clean, clear moonlight, with your eyes and heart accepting, that second chance will find you. That’s the beauty of it. It will find you.
“Imagine if you will…”
The Night of the Shining Domes
It was the biggest and the brightest full moon that the Earth had seen in over thirty years. The kind of moon that inspires love songs and the bedeviled among us to grow facial hair and chase cars.
Eight tuxedo-clad ghosts gathered and solidified themselves, at midnight, in the empty baseball field of Dodger Stadium under remarkably clear skies. The Stadium was built in 1962. The Elysian Fields where it stood had been named by the Pantheon of Greek Gods in 5000 B.C. The local LA politicians, had tried many times, and failed, to name it after their families and/or rich cronies. It was a sacred field.
The ghostly group was a collection of the most talented of the deceased, male, bald show-biz legends. There was Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Bobby Darin, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Mel Torme, and Al Jolson.
They walked the baseball diamond in a slow orbit around their chosen leader, the venerated spirit of Francis Albert Sinatra, who stood on the pitcher’s mound holding a ghost cigarette in one hand and his cocktail of choice, four ghost ice cubes, two fingers of ghost Jack Daniels, and a splash of ghost water. Frank was wearing his cherished magic toupee which was a gift from the music loving Grecian muse, Terpsichore, who called herself Cori, because, even she, had trouble pronouncing Τερψιχόρη.
Other curious follically-challenged spirits began to drift in from the night to witness the rare and momentous ceremony that was about to take place. A new toupee was to be requested for a possible and promising new member of the Chrome Domes. Two dozen additional bald and deceased guests arrived out of the dark, including a few daisy pushing songwriters, and band leaders, as well as two accursed showbiz agents, from the Earth’s molten core; Max and Lenny, the Kushner twins — known as the Lex Luthors of Hollywood.
When the performers had been alive, the tuxedoed giants of music had each sported one of Cori’s magic toupees; charmed hairpieces woven from the fur of the her long haired cat, Mr. Snuffles, of whom she was seriously allergic. Yes. Gods can be allergic to other gods. When these musical giants had been alive, the magic toupees had boosted their fragile egos so that they could keep on performing. Frank, a favorite of Cori’s, had been given a wonderful second act in life.
With the stars above them, the Chrome Domes held their charmed toupees against their chests and tightened the circle around Chairman Frank. The tops of their shiny heads pointed toward the heavens.
The solemn ceremony had begun.
The pale rays of the silent moon multiplied themselves upon the ghost’s polished heads until the moonlight snowballed ten-thousand-fold. A vigorous single beam, more robust than any laser, ricocheted back to the dark heavens.
The first signal had been sent.
They set their wigs back upon their heads.
The toupees were lifted and slapped down repeatedly, over and over again, upon the bare heads of ghosts in quick, efficient military precision. The flashing of domes was repeated thirty times. A coded message was being transmitted into the great beyond.
The Chrome Domes had sent their urgent message to star system LSMFT-456, hundreds of light years away, on the distant planet Brill, the beam entered the studio window of Cori’s two alien song writing partners, named Ada and Buddy Brill. The signals from the Chrome Domes were a plea for action, reaching deep into the universe.
“The Chosen One is ready.” The coded message said. “Please have Cori weave a special toupee for our new inductee, Johnny Passion.”
Johnny Passion, the washed up pop star, was about to be given a second chance, thanks to his number one fan, the heavenly muse.
“Toupee or not toupee!” The ghosts chanted as they dematerialized back into the endless night.
. Johnny Passion was Cori’s and the Earth’s last hope for the renaissance of quality music.
“After a combination of breakthroughs in health and longevity, mysterious rays from outer space, and the soaring popularity of high octane coffee originating from the blood soaked island of Kupaio, Fiji, the US Supreme Court has ruled that death, as it now stands, “does not negate the deceased’s obligations to paying one’s bills, taxes, college loans etc. until the responsible human’s body reaches such a state of decay that at least three out of four limbs will not stay attached.”
The Working Dead
DEAD Neal Orestein, despite having all of his monetary responsibilities paid in full was determined to return to work. Work was his life, uh death. You know what I mean. We all know someone like this.
Two days after his death, after scraping through the mound of loose dirt over his grave, Neal was able to see daylight and the exasperated face of his long suffering wife, Stella.
“Just look at those fingernails,” she scolded. “The dirt! Just where the hell you think you’re going, Neil? Certainly not inside our home like that.”After 60 years of marriage, Stella, holding flowers, could read his workaholic mind, even if it was becoming worm chow.
“Oh, crap,” Neal said feeling all used up. He sat up and spat out soil. “Stella, what are you doing here so soon? I thought that I was the one who was to supposed to haunt YOU! I’m off to work. I got to get a coroner’s note or that young punk Cabebe, will fire me. He hates old people.”
“You mean, dead people,” she said. “Now, lay down and relax. I’ll call your boss and tell him you’re not coming in, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE DEAD!”
“Dead I can handle,” he said, “but unemployed and dead? Pour some coffee on me, Stella. Look at the time.”
“We don’t need money and Happy Hills Cemetery doesn’t have a Starbucks. Go back to endless sleep, old man. There is no more job and there’s no more you! I came here to grieve your death. I feel like a fool wasting my time trying to talk sense into you.
“Please, Stella, I love brains. I mean I you. Your brains, brain. Your mind,” Neal sputtered.“Where’s my tie? What time is it?”
“It’s 8 a.m., idiot. They just opened the cemetery gate.”
“Give me your hand. Help me get up. I’m already late.” Stella reluctantly pulled her husband to his feet. She was shaking her head, accepting he’d never change.
“I gotta catch the Long Island Express bus,” Neal told her, spitting out a beetle. “Is this burial suit okay?”
“Except for the slit down the back, it’ll do. Just don’t walk on my carpet until you get cleaned up.”
Neal stood and wobbled unsteadily, brushing himself off. “Stella, after my first heart attack Cabebe said that myocardial infarction is not a good enough excuse to skip work. I’m gonna need duct tape to patch this cheap jacket. I’ll stop by Target.”
“Listen. I’ve got a hair appointment. Have a nice afterlife, fool. You never needed me.”
“Oh, thanks. I’m barely cold and you start in with the guilt. So, you’re saying I no longer have a job?”
“That would seem logical, Neil.”
“Who are you, Mrs. Spock?” asked Neal. “I gotta go.”
“You don’t need a job,” she pleaded. “The office staff never got the memo that you’d died. I never had a chance to call them. Hey, watch where you’re tossing that dirt! I just bought this dress. The next time you talk to God, tell him to treat you to a nice manicure. Neal ——You’ve got a worm in your nostril. Ugh. Don’t kiss me. Go get some cologne.”
Neal promised to make it up to Stella the following weekend, but today, he had obligations. He got on the bus and was told by the driver to “Hey, Mack. Go sit in back with the other ‘stinkers.’” That’s what the ‘smug’ living called the dead these days. Neal had never been a victim of discrimination before.
Neal arrived at work an hour late and was given a warning by Cabebe. The slick, young exec sniffed the air and suspected that Neal had passed on. He assigned the stinker a new desk in the basement.
The next day, after a restless night shambling around town in pursuit of an ambiguous protein snack, Neal was able to make it to work — right on time.
Young Cabebe, was happy, because he no longer had to pay ‘old, faithful’ sucker Neal a living wage. No one else knew that rotten Neal was still working and helping to make CEO, Milton Armstrong, rich.
By the following week, Neal had realized that Cabebe was taking him for a —nearly free ride. He began to lose the feeling of pleasure of work. He left the office while the blinding sun was still high and the season was moving toward Daylight Savings. Neal stumbled toward the station thinking about how his grandkids maybe could use some college money. Tomorrow, he would hit the pavement, seeking the American dream like the other millions of recently deceased workers. Over 20 million of the dead wandered the boulevards.’ You could see the dead, worn out executives, in every city, shuffling and mumbling “Job. I neeeeeeed job.”
Neal’s commuter train passed his final resting place at Happy Hills on his way home toward his old house. Graveyards are for slackers, he thought. A real man needs to work.
While waiting at the 5th Avenue crosswalk, he saw a hopeful sign. Just a literal literal sign — on a telephone pole, illuminated by the ghostly moonlight.
Highly Motivated Executive Services Wants You! YOU need $$$ and WE need BODIES to fill our Diamond Lane Passenger and Ticket Line Holder jobs!
We’re also seeking Parking Space Blockers and Human Speed Bumps (No limbs required).
— Downtown, Full Time. 24 hours shifts available.
Tango #2 finished 7-20-18 5 pm
“It takes a child to Raze a village”
Let’s go a-pillaging
a village-ing, a-pillaging,
with Odin a-thundering
a-pillaging we’ll go.
Our horde goes a-plundering,
a-sundering each underling,
A torch for each porch,
and a-pillaging we’ll go!