Sunday, July 19, 2009

heidi senberg, or the wages of guilt, act 1

late at night, in a cottage in a bleak countryside.
heidi senberg hears a knock on the door. she puts down her knitting and gets up from the table. she opens the door.
"good evening, aunt margarethe. what brings you here at this late hour?"

"what brings me here? as you know, heidi, i am your aunt margarethe, and i have known you since you were a little girl. you were a curiously joyful little girl, prone to laughter at the most inopportune times, and as such, you attracted the attention of the ecclesiastical authorities. then, when your mother, my younger sister sillibet, ran off with an imperial guardsman at the time of the first forty year war, i took you in, even though i had already seven children of my own, with three more to come.

although i was only following the dictates of common charity, i would quickly pay the price of my folly. as the years went by and the ecclesiastical authorities gave way to the peoples tribunals and then back to the church and then to the revolution until a poor person's head began to spin, it was always you, heidi, who remained curiously untouched. whenever a new archbishop or a new commissar or good king matthew or his ill fated son augustus rode through the village, who did their eye fall upon, but the little girl with the strange laugh, who became the darkeyed wench with the even stranger laugh."

"this is all very well, aunt margarethe, and quite a speech from someone normally so taciturn as yourself, but what exactly has brought it on?"
"what has brought it on, you little fool? you have brought it on by stirring up trouble again, bringing yourself to the attention of the authorities with this ridiculous complaint about getting strange packages in the mail. only today the malignant and implacable inspector bohr visited me and pestered me with questions about you. me, a broken old woman only hoping for a few moments of peace."
"and what did you tell him?"
"nothing good, i assure you. my days of protecting you are long past, my girl."

"but aunt margarethe , i have indeed been getting these strange packages and as a citizen like any other i have a right to make a complaint. as you know, the days of turmoil are over and a dull peace has settled over the land. you can make all the nasty insinuations you like about coming to the attention of the commissars or prince augustus or anyone else, but today i make a humble living with my knitting and selling my oat cakes. i am just a poor citizen like you, getting along as best i can one day at a time."
"hush! i hear someone!"
the door was flung open and the malignant and implacable inspector bohr stood before the two women.
aunt margarethe threw her shawl over her face as if avoiding the evil eye.
"good evening,sir," heidi addressed the visitor. "would you like one of my oat cakes? they are the best in the village, if i say so myself."

"no thank you. permit me to introduce myself. i am inspector bohr, or as the ignorant and superstitious villagers like to refer to me, the malignant and implacable inspector bohr. i am on special assignment from the ministry of the interior to investigate any curious happenings which might indicate a crack or fissure in the structure of society."
"i trust, sir, that i am not a crack in the structure of society, or even a fissure."
"as you know, miss, the villagers regard you as a sorceress or witch. those with long memories hold you accountable for the untimely fate of prince augustus. in these enlightened times we in positions of authority smile at such ignorance. of course you are not a witch. but you are a troublemaker, which is the same thing. "
"i, sir?"

the malignant and implacable inspector drew himself up. "yes, with these ridiculous allegations of strange packages in the mail. you know very well that you are sending them to yourself, simply to bring attention to yourself."
"but, inspector, the packages exist. i not only reported them, i brought them to the station."
"of course they exist, you made them yourself. do you think you are dealing with commissar gratz, or prince augustus now?"
"ah! i see, sir, that in your enlightened state you do not disdain the malicious prattle of idle tongues!"
"hark!" cried the inspector. "what is that?"
"yes," exclaimed aunt margarethe, "i hear something too."
the night outside the window and the open door was suddenly illuminated with torches.
"bring out the witch! bring out the witch! avenge prince augustus!"
heidi fixed inspector bohr with her gaze. "hold them off as long as you can."
"yes, miss."

"no." cried aunt margarethe, "let them have her!"
heidi snatched a couple of oat cakes off the table and wrapped them in a cloth and put them in her pocket. then she ran out the back door.

she ran across the fields until she reached the high road.

the skies were filled with strange burning stars.
a blue star exploded and sent a rain of red sparks to earth.
a riderless red horse with three heads passed her, headed back to the village.
a green horse with a guillotine on its back passed her going in her direction.

heidi saw prince augustus riding past her on his white horse. she rushed forward but when she touched the horse, both horse and rider disappeared and she landed on her face in a ditch.

she picked herself up and ran on. frogs and salamanders and tiger cubs began to rain down on her.
the full moon exploded and the souls of the saved emerged from it and drifted down to a mountain on the horizon.

then the sun suddenly rose and exploded, and the souls of the damned emerged from it and filled the whole horizon and the whole sky.

heidi kept running. an old woman in rags grabbed at her arm but she shook her off.

this is an excerpt from letter from an unknown

Friday, July 10, 2009

on the north road: the girls part 3

dede, eleusinia and fifi landed on the northeast side of the cornfield, at a fork in the road. the north road led to pierre south dakota and northfield minnesota. the south led to lincoln nebraska and topeka kansas. both roads were deserted.
they wandered and danced around aimlessly at the edge of the field, waiting for something to happen.
a big truck finally came chugging up the south road, heading north. the bed of the truck was covered with a canvas over rounded slats that made it look like -
" a covered wagon! " dede shouted. "woo! woo! woo!"
fifi started dancing in a circle. "woo, woo,woo!" she flapped her hand over her mouth like an indian in a wild west show.
they were having fun. they were glad to be out of that old briefcase.
the truck saw them and stopped. an old man was hunched over the wheel. he looked about 300 years old. a big straw hat covered most of his weatherbeaten face. the stubble on his chin looked like the lichen on the walls of jericho.

he was polite though. "headed my way, ladies?" he peered out of the tall cab.
fifi jumped up on the running board. "you're old," she said. fifi didn't have very good manners.
"fifi!" eleusinia admonished her. eleusinia prided herself on her deportment. "you will have to excuse my friend, kind sir. she has had a bit of a shock lately."
this got a laugh from dede and fifi.
"manners, shmanners," the old man answered. "where you all headed?"
dede jumped up on the running board beside fifi. "where are any of headed? where will it all end?" she asked the old man.
"dede!" cried eleusinia. "don't go bothering folks with your nonsense!"
"i'm headed north, " said the old man, "i'd advise you to do the same. ain't nothing good coming from down south."
"sounds like 23," said dede. "let's roll."
eleusinia ran around and got into the cab beside the old man. dede stayed on the running board. fifi jumped on top of the canvas where she continued her wild west dance with a lot of woo woos!
they headed north.

"if you don't mind my asking, sir," asked eleusinia when they had gone a few miles. "what exactly were you - what are we - fleeing from down south?"
"the big bad wolf! oo!" dede exclaimed from the running board.
"not the big bad wolf. wolf! not the same thing at all." the old man wagged his finger at dede.
"two hands on the wheel, dad!" dede shouted as the truck veered slightly to the center of the road.
"everythin's under control." the old man muttered.

ella enderson was walking back to her little house after bringing water to pa and sonny boy in the fields. she looked up and saw the truck pass on the highway with fifi capering on top. she dropped her empty jug and ran back into the field.
"pa, pa! i just saw a devil!"
fritz enderson looked up saw ella rushing toward him. he leaned wearily on his hoe.
"how many devils this time, ma?" asked sonny boy when she reached them. he hadn't stopped his hoeing.
"just one for sure. but there might have been a couple more."
"jist one? was it a big one?" sonny boy asked.

"speak a little more respectfully to your mother," fritz told him. he whacked sonny boy on the side of his big round head with his hoe.
"aw gee, pa! you didn' have to do that."
"go back to the house, ma." fritz told her. "get your bible, you can find the right verse to exorcise the devils. you can do it. i know you can."
ella nodded and turned back to the house.
"i don't know why she gets to sit in the house and read the bible all day," sonny boy grumbled for the thousandth time. "she's plenty strong enough to be out here in the field with us."
fritz whacked him on the head again.

"it's just as well we are headed away from kansas," eleusinia observed. "i understand that this is tornado season."
"tornados!" the old man chuckled. "a tornado will blow a house away? you know what wolf is fixing to do?"
"no, dad, what is wolf fixing to do?" dede asked.
"destroy the world."

future adventures of the girls will appear in the girls

Saturday, July 4, 2009

angie stays cool: the girls part 2

angie, boom boom and cece landed on the west side of the cornfield on the road to laramie.
"i want to be a cowgirl." said boom boom.
"i want to be a cow," said cece.
'you already were a cow," boom boom said. "don't you want to be something new this time?"
"get your thumbs out, ladies," angie told them. "here comes farmer brown."
farmer brown was kicking up the dust in his ford pickup. he went right past them without slowing down.
"farmer, farmer!" boom boom called after the settling dust. "what's the matter, don't you like us any more?"
"boo on you!" cece added.
angie let her arm drop. "i think we have a problem."
"why?" asked boom boom. "just because dumb old farmer brown doesn't like us any more?"
"let's wait for one more car," said angie.
"look, it's senator vandegriff!" cried cece.
a long black limousine was heading toward them. all three began waving frantically, but it picked up speed and roared past them.
"oh no!" shouted boom boom, "the senator didn't even stop!"
"and neither did the chauffeur," added cece.
'that's right - lou was always a right guy."
"come on,' said angie. "no more hitching. we have to find a house - there's no time to lose."
they turned and starting running down the highway.
about four hundred yards down the road they almost went past a little house hidden behind a tall untended cornfield.
"looks deserted, " said cece.

"we'll give it a quick check," said angie.
they raced through the dried stalks, taking no precautions.
boom boom charged through the door of the little house with the others close behind.
the house wasn't deserted. a little old woman sat softly mumbling at a worn table. although they hadn't seen any smoke from outside, a low fire was burning in a tiny fireplace. the old woman looked up and saw the three girls.
"who are you?" she cried. "what do you want?"
"this isn't going to hurt," said angie.
"what isn't going to hurt? what do you want?"
"we don't want your dried up old body." boom boom told her, "so i guess we'll have to take your soul." she advanced toward the table.
"demons!" cried the old woman. "begone!" she picked an old worn bible from the table and brandished it at boom boom.
"ha! here's what we think of your bible!" boom boom snatched the book out of the old woman's hand and threw it into the fireplace.
but the bible bounced out of the fireplace. and st jerome and john the baptist jumped out of the bible.

the girls screamed. st jerome chased boom boom out of the door and out into the field. cece was right behind them, chased by john the baptist. boom boom headed into the field, toward a patch of woods. cece ran back toward the highway. st jerome and john the baptist howled imprecations at them as they chased them.
angie, watching from the doorway, couldn't understand what either of the holy men were shouting. she stayed cool. she turned back to the old woman, who glared back at her and bared her teeth.
"demon!" she hissed. "witch!"
"you got anything to eat in this place?," angie asked her.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

whatever : kax ver plint

once upon a time there was a little boy whose only conversation was the word "whatever."
his mother was in service as a parlor maid at one of lord derby's summer residences and she had hoped that he would in time take his place below stairs as a cook's helper (he liked to eat) or a postboy (he didn't care much for horses but was not afraid of them).
one day his lordship arrived at the summer residence in preparation of a visit from the russian foreign secretary and the president of brazil to finalize the minutiae of a secret treaty. the housekeeper was an old favorite of his, and so he agreed to subject himself to the tedious business of having the new servants presented to him.
the little boy's mother, the new parlor maid, was near the end of the line.
"this is sylvia, the new parlor maid," mrs harrisworth the housekeeper announced.
sylvia dropped a neat curtsey to his lordship, who was falling asleep on his feet. he opened his eyes with a start. "quite, quite," he said. he looked down at the little boy who was standing beside his mother.
"and what is your name, little fellow, eh?" lord derby addressed him in his best votegetting manner.
mrs harrisworth frowned and sylvia blushed furiously. "i am sorry, my lord, but that is the only thing the boy ever says. i have tried to correct him - i have prayed - ," sylvia stammered.
"!" lord derby laughed heartily. "i like it! by the lord harry, we can use a chap like this in the foreign office." he looked down at the boy. "look here, young fellow, how would you like to help finalize a secret treaty between her majesty's government and russia and brazil, eh? doesn't that sound jolly?"
"excellent. we'll convene in the green room after dinner, and after cigars. bring the lad down to the green room after the gentlemen have had their cigars, eh, mrs harrisworth. by the way, what is the lad's name?"
"very good, my lord." the housekeeper replied with a glance at sylvia.
"his name is william, my lord," sylvia answered.
"excellent, excellent."

william's first foray into diplomacy that night proved a success, so successful that the treaty between britain, russia and brazll has remained a secret to this day. if the choleric brazilian president or the subtle russian diplomat found the presence of a nine year old boy at the negotiations disconcerting, their wonder soon gave way to frustration at dealing with the lad's implacabllity.

as the years went by william's successes multiplied. although he never became known in any capacity to the general public and was never listed in any official capacity, as "lord william" and later under the sobriquet of "the dustman" he came to haunt and then dominate the corridors of earthly power. inevitably, he became considered too valuable to deal with terrestial governments and became a negotiator and then chief negotiator with the galactic empires. those empires, which then as now, were divided between those kindly disposed or indifferent toward earth, and those which saw it simply as a source of gladiatorial amusement.
in time it was william, drawing on the lessons of his masters derby, disraeli and bismarck, but in no small part guided by his native genius, who arranged for the "first world war" to be staged for the entertainment of the empire, in lieu of the total destruction which the more bloody-minded craved. the success of this enterprise was mixed. although he had "saved the day" in one sense the spectacle he had engineered proved so diverting that he could not prevail against the demand for an encore. at this juncture, his career hung in the balance. whispers were heard in the corridors that the old man had lost his touch and his nerve, and that fresh talent was needed to contend with the capricious masters of the universe. but he prevailed, and has prevailed. he was helped by the herbal assistance provided by his diplomatic adversaries, who had become so bemused by the novelty of a mere earthling dealing with them on something like their own terms, that their amusement ripened into something resembling "affection". they laughingly referred to him as "kax ver plint", roughly translated as "the old human."
for over half a human century lord william has continued at his post, keeping his patronizingly friendly adversaries diverted by an endless series of minor amusements. but the best medicines and medics in the galaxies must finally yield to the mistress of the universe, time herself, and william's days are numbered.
who will replace him?