Thursday, October 30, 2014

Miss Pickles Prefers A Single Room




Miss Pickles was an icon as the fifth grade teacher at the Malcolm Rutherford Primary School for the last 57 years.

The last thing she expected was to be not only retired but to have to find a new place to live after she broke her hip.

“I prefer a single room,” she told Ms. Fallon, head of the Sunrise Home for Active Seniors.

Ms. Fallon’s round face stretched in a smile.

“We do not have single rooms here at Sunrise, Miss Pickles,” she informed her newest resident in a perky voice that the elderly former teacher didn’t think was appropriate for a woman who was clearly over the age of 50. “We encourage our guests to make new friends. At this stage in your life it is always good that you are surrounded by people. I would think you, especially, would enjoy the company of adults instead of all those children you taught over the years.” Her lips pursed displaying what she thought of anyone under the age of 80. Not good at all.

Miss Pickles was not happy to hear this, but she didn’t allow her emotions to show. After all, you couldn’t show them when you dealt with children. Like feral animals they could capitalize on weakness.

“I did not come here to make friends, Ms. Fallon,” she said in her slow even tone that always kept her students in line. “I am here because my doctor said I can no longer live on my own.” Arrogant man thought he knew best when it was clear Miss Pickles knew her strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Managing to get Social Services in on this actually FORCING her to move here was reprehensible. But then, she did have to fail him in English when he was in her class. The boy never knew his grammar.

Ms. Fallon studied her computer screen. “I see we have a lovely corner room available,” she chirped. “Mrs. Timmerman is a wonderful woman. She lost her husband a year ago and came here to stay. She’s a favorite of everyone. Very warm and friendly, she’s heavily involved in our Tuesday morning knitting club, Thursday afternoon reader’s group, twice a week yoga class, and she recently organized a bridge club.” She beamed.

Miss Pickles didn’t beam back. She thought knitting was a waste of time, she read enough while teaching, she couldn’t imagine sitting on the floor forcing her body into odd positions, and cards, well, no thank you.

She allowed Ms. Fallon to escort her out of the office and into the building that housed the living quarters. She noted the walls were painted pale peaches, pinks, and greens. She was positive the staff thought the colors were meant to be soothing, but she only found it annoying just as the constant smiles of the staff members who always greeted her with a cheery smile and words.

“Mrs. Timmerman!” Ms. Fallon trilled the words as she tapped on the door and walked in without waiting to be admitted. “I brought you a new roommate. This is Lavinia Pickles, our newest guest.”

Miss Pickles didn’t like that. Does this woman not have any manners? She entered at a slower pace and almost reeled back at the explosion of color that abounded about the room. Lace doilies were everywhere along with splashy handmade quilts on both beds, embroidered samplers covering the walls, and seated at a comfortable reclining chair near a window was a spritely looking woman with silver hair set in tight curls.

“Hello, Lavinia,” Mrs. Timmerman greeted her, popping out of her chair with spry movements with one plump hand outstretched. “I am so pleased to have company. I’m Maisie”

Ms. Fallon looked at the look of horror on Miss Pickles face as she gazed around the brightly colored room and escaped with a murmured “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.”

Miss Pickles wanted nothing more than to flee from the chattering woman who sounded like a demented bird. This was why she never wanted even a parakeet.

She suffered through a day of seeing photographs of Maisie’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, meeting other ‘guests’ of the home, and turning down invitations to join a shuffleboard tournament, learn to play badminton, and so many groups and classes that her head fairly spun.

Didn’t anyone understand she really preferred to be alone with her thoughts and not scampering around this place like an energetic mouse? She really would have to do something about securing a single room. This was just not acceptable.

                                                ****
The screams then a strangled silence had the staff running to the rear room.

Mrs. Timmerman stood next to Miss Pickles’ bed. The latter’s throat was coated in red due to Mrs. Timmerman’s knitting needle sticking in it. Mrs. Timmerman was busily wiping her hands with a damp cloth.

“She didn’t want to join in,” she said with a deep sigh. “You know, we really can’t have someone like her here. Besides,” she uttered a giggle that didn’t go with her advanced age, “won’t a coffin be like a single room?”



Friday, October 24, 2014

Hallowen Surprise Party



“Are you sure Jazz said there was a party here?” Fluff looked through the tall iron gates at a house that should have fallen down in the 1800s. Spires rose high, partially blocking the moon.

“Yeah.” Puff stood beside him. “This is the address she gave me.”

“What do you expect for a Samhain party?” Horace grumbled, stabbing a button. The gates creaked and groaned as they slowly opened wide.

“Lights.”

“Music.”

“Candy,” they said in unison.

The trio walked up the drive toward the front door. They paused when a candle drifted past an upstairs window.

“Geez, she’s trying to scare us with a haunted house,” Puff said, now disgusted. “Come on, like anything could scare us. Whoa!” He ducked with a dark form swooped past his head, brushing his ears. “What the Hades was that?”

“Bats. I hate bats.” Horace raised a clawed fist in the air. “Outta here, you vermin! We were invited here.”

“So were we,” one bat responded in a squeaky snark. “We’re part of the atmosphere.” He flew off with his buddies. They all flew into a single digit formation.

“Your grandmother was eaten by Dracula!” Puff shouted, as they continued up the drive.

An owl hooted from a spindly tree and another owl flew nearby.

An eerie howl sounded from the house along with creaking doors opening and closing and a piercing woman’s scream cut through the air.

“Whoa.” Fluff skidded to a stop. “That was really loud.” He slid backwards a few paces. “How come there’s no cars here? Or party voices? And why didn’t Jazz take us with her and Nick?”

“Stasi and Blair wouldn’t let me go with them either,” Horace groused. He ambled up the wooden steps that groaned under his weight.

“They couldn’t have found a better place for a party,” Puff commented, looking at the porch, the splintered wood silvered with cobwebs,

Horace tried the lion-faced door knocker, but no sound was made. “Freaky.” He looked around and finally spied the doorbell button. He stabbed it then winced as another scream erupted throughout the interior. The door slowly slid open with a fingernails on chalkboard screech. “How lame is this.” He walked in with the bunny slippers behind him.

“Where’s the party?” Puff shouted. “And lights?”

“If there be light, let it be shown,” Fluff spelled. “Give us light!”

A lone candle beamed in the distance, floating mid air.

“Oookay.” The three started to turn toward the door that now slammed shut and sounds of locks snicking shut echoed in the air.

“There’s no party here. They sent us to a haunted house.” Horace bypassed the staircase and headed for the candle.

“No hauntings here.” A skeleton stood in a doorway. He grinned maniacally then suddenly disappeared.

“Ho ho, so not creepy,” Fluff sneered, his ears swiveling like a periscope. “We’ve been frightened by the best. There’s nothing you can do that will scare us.”

“Yeah, bring out your worst!” Puff challenged.

“There better be some hot babes at the end of this,” Horace demanded, leading the way down the long hallway where the suspended candle still beckoned with a soft orange glow. “Or at least really good food.”

Wooooo! A blast of icy air assaulted the trio from an open doorway. When they stopped to look they saw two women in shrouds floating in the room. Each only boasted half a face.

“Oh wow, I am so scared. I want my mommy,” Horace scoffed.

“Yikes!” Puff jumped in the air. “Something just touched me.” He looked around but there was nothing near him.

Fluff huddled closer to his brother. “I don’t think this is a good place for us. Let’s go home and raid the neighbors for candy.”

They froze when heavy footsteps sounded upstairs.

“That’s it. They’re up there.” Horace gestured for the bunny slippers to follow him just as the hovering candle winked out.

“Oh ick!” The first step slowed them down as something ooey and gooey attacked them. It grew more difficult as they climbed upward.

As they slogged up the last step a tall figure appeared.

“Welcome my pretties.” Jazz, wearing a black ankle length dress and peaked hat held out an old fashioned broom that sparked with magickal colors.

“Clich├ęd much, Jazz?” Puff laughed. “You really thought all that stuff would scare us?”

“Come with me,” she invited, turning gracefully, her voluminous dress sweeping around her body.

“I see our honored guests have arrived.” Nick, handsome in evening clothes and red silk-lined cape popped into sight. His fangs shoe white in the darkness.

“Gee, if only we’d known it was a costume party.” Horace laughed, holding his arms over his rounded tummy.

“Hey!” Fluff snarled and snapped his own fangy teeth at a rat that ran across him.

They followed the witch and vampire down the hall, pausing every so often to view portraits turn from normal people to horrific faces, sneer at blood running down the walls, and hands shoot out to grab them.

“The haunted house in Hollywood was better than this,” Puff told Jazz.

“Ah, but this one has something very special for you,” she intoned in a deep voice.

“Something you may not appreciate,” Nick used his best Bela Lugosi voice.

The room they reached was huge, yellow from candlelight and a fire burning in the massive fireplace. Stasi and Blair were dressed in their own witchy garb, while Trev wore dark purple wizard robes and Jake wore his Border collie fur.

A large table laden with food beckoned the hungry slippers and gargoyle, but they quickly discovered they couldn’t get to it.

“What the hell is going on?” Horace demanded.

“Yeah!”

“There is something that needs to be done first.” Jazz snapped her fingers. A large bubbling cauldron appeared nearby. Steam roiled upwards along with the rich smell of herbs.

Horace sniffed appreciatively. “Stew?”

Fluff and Puff backed up when they saw Jazz’s smile. Except there was nowhere to go when they found themselves surrounded by witches, vampires, wizards, and Weres, oh my!

“Something you three have needed for some time now,” Blair said, caressing the coarse bristles of her broom.

“And once it’s done you can eat all your tummies will hold,” Stasi promised.

“What’s done?” Fluff asked suspiciously.

“It’s a trap!” Puff shouted, but it was too late.  “Get us out. Get us out! Get us out!” He pointed his ears in the air, but his magick fizzled out like a dead 4th of July sparkler.

The three cowered and howled with displeasure as the witches each picked one of them up and carried them to the large cauldron.

“Exactly,” Jazz said, dropping Puff into the hot water.

WAH!” But it was too late.

Fluff, Puff, and Horace were now terrified as they’d never been fearful before.

After all, what can be more horrifying than a Halloween bath for smelly dirty slippers and gargoyle?