Sunday, January 3, 2016
Have you ever experienced personal apocalypse? Has the sudden reality of your emotional existence reached up and smacked you in the sternum like a racquetball that you did not anticipate? Snow is not what I expected. It had been a warm year; it had been the sort of hot year that causes cactuses to wither up and accept the rapture of Mariah. It is nothing short of peculiar that this October is bringing a northern icy breath south into Kansas. The first snowfall of the year came like a stalking panther last night; it pounced unexpectedly and suddenly. It amazes me to sit on a bench and observe the reaction of others who did not anticipate this. I am slowly beginning to focus on a scene about twenty feet away by a pocket of trees and an abstact outdoor sculpture.
She is bent over rolling a ball of snow larger and larger. Dark hair peeks out from underneath her distressed fur hat and she is wearing a deep red coat embroidered with two geese and an array of Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum that brings to mind slavic folk tales. Her appearance to me is as if I were a perelesnyk dreaming. She is a forgotten memory of an uncertain rustic Aneliya. It is not the poetic act of her creation of a snow-man that is so mesmerizing, it is the reality of her existence.
Prior to my notice of the situation I was reading intermittently. I try to intimate that I am still reading. Sic et Non was not the best choice to read given the situation. I think of that unfortunate scholar, Abelard married his student and got her pregnant; as a belated wedding gift of sorts his in-laws kidnaped him and hacked his bollocks off. The irony of this is quite idiosyncratic. I fein to interact with a book written by a man deprived of erotic facilities while feeling guilt over my acceptance that my act of observation is in a way voyeuristic at its roots.
I feel that it is pointless to undress her in my mind. I cannot will myself to even remove her coat. Still I imagine what it would be like to walk over there and kiss her without even taking the time to inquire her name. Why I imagine this is not quite certain to me. I understand this to be an assault on her person, yet I know that such an act is nothing short of criminal.
I do consider what she smells like. An exotic mix of baking spices feels likely. I bet she smells like nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, dark syrup, and lanolin. I am too busy reflecting on the certainty of her coat smelling like fragrant woodsmoke and sheep oil, a snowball hitting me in the head was not on my radar.
I look up and see Tony and Nick walking away trying to look very innocent.
I place revenge on my agenda. I remember when they bricked up my door with toilet paper rolls and duct-tape. Nick's gleaming Chrysler got syrup-ed and feathered by some coincidence after that event.
She had placed the middle section and is now rolling the ball for the head. I feel compelled to get up and walk the 25 feet over to help her with the snowman. My fear however, is restraining my steps. I feel guilty for watching her like a common creeper.
She has set the head in place without my help. I feel self condemnation on account of my restraint. She is setting the eyes and buttons, and the bag she brought with her is revealing its treasures. A pink straw hat that was likely from last summers music festival is placed on the head, a wide ribbon of cable from a broken electronic device is made into a mouth, and she places the squared almond mouthpiece of an old phone in place for a nose. She breaks some branches from the small nearby trees to fashion “arms” from, and she polishes the “nose” with a disinfecting wipe.
She turns to walk away and continue on to her destination, but she turns back as if she has forgotten something. She reaches deep into the neck of her coat and retrieves a blue scarf. She places the scarf on the snowman and steps back as if to thoughtfully examine it. She steps forward, rearranges the scarf, and kisses the snowman's “nose”. I assume she is satisfied when she walks away with her bag.
Cautiously I rise and walk to the snowman. I lean down to kiss the snowman’s “nose”; I find it has a bitter lemon taste. I consider whether I really want to follow through with what I want to do next. I remove her scarf and replace it with my own brown scarf. I have had a long relationship with the brown scarf; it came from a retired professor’s estate. My mother once cleaned house for the old man while he tried to explain geology to me. Now I was sacrificing memories for fantasy.
As I place her scarf around my neck I feel the marks of age and repair on the well loved hand-knitted scarf. It is striped and has the name “Anna” embroidered on one end. I walk away I smelling the scarf; it smells of lanolin, cloves, ginger, and patchouli. I now have come to feel like I have known her for a while. Anna reminds me of the girl from my home town who went to senior prom dressed as Gwynhwyfar. While other students teased her and said she was retarded for attending the event in costume, I admired her quirkiness. I was too awkward and afraid to ask her to dance though.
In November I see Anna again walking on campus. She is wearing a grey vest and despite the return to warmer weather she is wearing my brown scarf as an ascot. I walk up to her and compliment her on the scarf. As she is on her way to lunch I inquire if I could join her in the student union: by some coincidence the discussion turns to Abelard and Heloise.
A Benevolent Cause
Just to make things abundantly clear she did just destroy a perfectly expensive couch. She took a knife to the red jacquard fabric with the gold acanthus leaf embroidery. The only halfway decent thing in the whole damn airship. To let a woman like Juliet Idonia Keavney Payn on board a ship such as your own was a sure way to bring ruin to even The Hellish Poisin of Atlantis. Would you have thought she would take so much offense at being rescued from the clutches of Krioål? (Or rather some thugs who intended to introduce the two of them in a rather sanguine manner) You acknowledge her nobility and let her have the run of command quarters while you command your crew to make a clean getaway. Granted she never really got a chance to meet big K and we only had to subdue a half dozen of his minions. She should have had a clue! They call him Krioål the Render for a reason; you have good cause to be alarmed! Apparently he rends things and err... people! What he would have planned for the noble child of the sleeping wolves could not be any thing but dire.
After two weeks aloft things have calmed down. You have become more acquainted with your small crew and, she has remained mostly invisible though Juliet has came out for the occasional meal with the crew. They have taken to calling her “Lady Jules” despite her dislike for such a Sobriquet. Usually your cook Dillon brings a tray to her and usually tries to take her requests in mind when preparing in order to both lessen the work load and placate the VIP. Dillon came on board originally as a mechanic. You might remember the first time we had engine trouble after he came onboard. He claimed that the problem was that we were suffering from a “puff-corned carburetor”. You gave him a puzzled look and explained that because of the altitude a carburetor would be less than effective which is why the airship's engines are not carbureted. Fortunately he was able to help out in the galley and took over for Deidre when she was forced to leave the crew. You now have a top notch cook but are still uncertain why he wanted to get a job as a mechanic when it seems Dillon is a cook that any captain would fight for. You have quite the meal awaiting this evening as Jules will join the crew it seems.
She entered the room with much of the grace befitting her social rank. You recognize the status exchange as usual but mention nothing. If she feels like treating you as an underling and not an equal that is her business and none of yours. Juliet sits down and there is awkward silence for a good ten minutes. The coffee and slices of a rather decadent looking cake are served.
Juliet finally speaks “What may I ask is this?”
“Blackout Loaf” Dillon had to turn around in order to reply “I did try to dress it up a little with swirls of caramel and shaved almonds!”
“This dessert is brilliant!” Juliet rotates to face you “how did you manage to find such a great cook?”
Surprised by her sudden willingness to converse you reply in an uneasy tone “I assure you ma'am it was completely by accident.” you observe that several members of the crew including Rusty the new propulsionist nod in agreement.
“My stay on board has been.... unexpected.”
“How.” you are curious of course as to the expectations of Juliet who has been acting the part of a snotty noble.
“Well your ship is called The Poison of Atlantis or something like that?”
“Actually it's The Hellish Poisin of Atlantis.” (you make a dramatic pause) “You see Poisin has two ayes not two ohs.”
“What difference does it make? Poison or Poisin, they are similar enough.”
“Deferring to your nobility I will leave that be then.”
“Alright If your ship is called The Hellish Poisin of Atlantis then you must be pirates?”
“Some might call us that.”
“Some might call us a load of filthy flying bastards!” Jane Callan our navigator shouted out.
You turn to glare at Jane while she goes back to hiding behind a mug of coarse ale that the crew brews onboard from whatever is convenient. “Some call us that as well but I tend to prefer that we be called multidisciplinary entrepreneurial merchants.”
Juliet looks both concerned and confused “So... abuse of captives is not the standard operating procedure for your crew?”
You have a puzzled look on your face as well. “Ma'am I believe you have us confused with the Royal Air Corps that seems to be how they operate.” (You laugh a little at your own joke.) “Anyway where is the captive?”
“Am I not your captive? You do intend to ransom me?”
“No not exactly we were going to return you home; though, now that you mention ransom it might be a good idea. How much do you think your family would give for your safe release?”
“You are joking?” She looked concerned again.
“Yes we will be within the Divine Principality soon, in 14 days we will return you to Casswater.” You did not think it fair to offer that you had agreed to accept a bounty for her safe return. You mumble something about foiling Krioål being reward enough. you feel that the conversation is becoming hollow and so you stop talking.
Juliet returns to Command Quarters and locks the door. In about 18 days you leave her at Casswater. You take the payment for her return which prompts her to throw a fit. You return to your ship and leave. Business is business.