The Wings of Oberon

Short Story written for a Final assignment for Writing Fiction. I was sadly limited on page length and had to improvise to include information I wanted. I plan on coming back and extending this piece in many many ways. I am pleased with the potential this piece carries and look forward to progressing with it.

Author’s Note: You wouldn’t believe how many things I did reading up on just for this story! I researched breeds of hybrid perpetual roses during the Victorian era and what colors were around during the time, I researched lighter-than-air gasses, refreshed knowledge of the British Royal Navy pre 20th Century, Great Western Railway, growing industries specific to Britain during the Victorian era, a variety of locations, and social etiquettes among the long list. Foxcroft was inspired by The Cleeve hunting lodge.

This is my first attempt at anything in the Victorian era leaning towards Steampunk with dimensional travel. I was short on time on doing too much more research to flesh this out fully. I hope it entertains at least!

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Business as Usual

 

“Mother, please, is this really necessary?” Cordelia Dawkins managed to breathe the words out as the long corset was wrenched tight around her bones. On came the layers of fitted clothing; stockings, bloomers, chemise, petticoats, corset, gloves, and the heavy dress with its high pinned collar.

“The skirt is situated too high, I can see her petticoats sticking out from under it, pull it down.” Mrs. Alice Dawkins instructed the maid who was dressing Cordelia.

“Yes Cordelia, it is necessary. Mr. Mortimer’s family is well connected inLondonand you would do well to marry him. I really don’t think you’ll manage to attract a better man, truth be told. Just think what that kind of connection could do for your father’s cotton factory? He might even be able to expand his business.”

“Business as usual I see.” Cordelia could not hide the scowl that crept across her face.

“You’re sister was married shortly after her coming out in society and you’ve been out for nearly two years now!”

“I’m nineteen! That’s hardly spinsterhood.”

“I’ve been patient in allowing you some time but it seems you’re just not happy with any man that comes courting! Now Mr. Mortimer is a good match, and luckily for you he is still interested in pursuing you. You will be amiable with him.”
Cordelia tugged at her collar, trying to loosen it from her neck.

“But he just seems so cold! If he’s interested, I’m certainly not seeing it.”

“From what I’ve heard from your father he is very interested.”
“What did he say?” Cordelia’s hands stopped their uncomfortable fidgeting with the dress and her hazel eyes widened in dread.

Mrs. Dawkins grinned slyly. “Perhaps you’ll find out today. He spoke to your father on his last visit toBristolto see you.”

“I hope you don’t mean…”
“He just might today.”

“No! Can’t I say no? The world is changing mother! Can’t I have a chance to see some of it before I’m stuck married for the rest of my life? What if I don’t want to marry him?”

The scathing glare from Mrs. Dawkins could have ignited the dark drapes behind Cordelia had she turned her gaze on them.

“Next you’re going to tell me you want to vote too.”

Sheepishly Cordelia cast her eyes to the floor. “What’s wrong with wanting to vote?”

Mrs. Dawkins lips turned into a thin line.

“If Robert Mortimer proposes marriage today you will say yes. There will be no further discussion.” She turned sharply on her heel and headed for the door. She paused and gazed down where Cordelia had left her needlepoint resting on a chair. The partially completed bouquet of flowers looked as if they were wilting rather than in full bloom and threads stuck out haphazardly from the fabric.

“Cordelia, another thing.”

Cordelia lifted her eyes up from the floor.

“Yes mother?”

“For Heaven’s sake, please keep your needlepoint put away today. We don’t want your potential husband knowing how ghastly you are at it.” With that said, Mrs. Dawkins was gone behind the mahogany door.

Despite her mother’s absence, Cordelia furtively reached into the hidden pocket she had sewn in the seam of her dress. She’d sewn hidden pockets inside all of her skirts and dresses, to hold her single respite. Out came the ivory pocket book, the front carved with a spray of wildflowers and each page stamped with a blank leaf for writing in the date. Cordelia pulled a tiny pencil from its sleeve in the book and wrote down a new entry.

19 June 1894 ~ Bristol

Mother insists my needlepoint is horrid. Luckily hasn’t discovered my knack for real sewing! A gift I will be ever grateful for from Aunt Charlotte. Mother would say it’s “maid’s work” though. I much prefer it rather than that ridiculously dainty excuse for a “lady’s” hobby. Moody Mortimer is on his way today. News doesn’t bode well… will write more later.  

The Proposal

They had been strolling through the manicured garden of the Dawkins’ home for twenty minutes and the boiling pit in Cordelia’s stomach only worsened as each minute passed. The roses were in their full summer bloom, heady and sickeningly sweet. The heat was stifling and the parasol did little to ease her discomfort. The hat pinned precariously on Cordelia’s carefully coiled golden-brown hair wasn’t helping the matter at all either.

Cordelia was in the midst of mentally composing her next journal entry. It comprised all the irritating details about her suitor that she despised. His cold indifference as if he had somewhere else he’d rather be, the neatly parted line in his dark hair, his groomed goatee, the constantly spotless shoes and creaseless suit.

He’s just too squeaky clean. Something’s not right with the man. She finished off her mental composition.

“It is lovely, is it not?” Robert paused in their stroll, reaching the heart of the garden.

Cordelia turned her head towards her suitor, confused and slightly startled. He had been monotone the entire visit so far, blandly speaking of the developing fashion trends inLondon. Making conversation as if he felt she would be interested in such things. Now, however, his eyes were fastened upon a particular pink rose that was the crowning piece in the garden. A Duchess surrounded by her pale ladies.

“Mother and Father are very proud of it, yes.” Cordelia responded politely. The garden irritated her. It wasn’t that she didn’t like flowers and plants she just had a hard time appreciating something that she saw as controlled by her parents. Robert knelt to touch a bloom on the fragrant rose, layers of petals beneath his fingertips.

“It’s rather impressive, to think of the process behind raising and caring for a specimen such as this. Day in and out spent watering and feeding it minerals, protecting it against sickness, so that it may one day flourish like this.” His stoic features softened, betraying a faint frown and worry lines etched in his face. Robert cleared his throat and stood back up turning to face Cordelia. The emotionless mask had returned. He straightened his vest and fiddled with something in his coat pocket.

Oh no, here it comes. Cordelia drew a tight breath. Her mother did not chaperone the visit in person today but she was keeping a watchful eye from the parlor window. Without looking Cordelia knew the grin was growing on her mother’s face.

He knelt down on one knee on the swept pavestone path, he had one hand raised open in invitation.

“Miss Cordelia Abigail Dawkins, I, Robert James Mortimer, ask if you will join me in marriage and become my wife. It would do me great honor.”

Cordelia released the breath she was holding and looked down at his open hand. She placed her left gloved hand in his, tremulous.

“Yes, yes I will,” She said softly. Robert procured the engagement ring and placed it on her finger. He sealed the deal with a courteous kiss on the back of her hand before standing. With her hand in his, he led her back to the house to officially announce the news to her parents. The dressmaker was already on the way there to take Cordelia’s measurements for her wedding gown.

19 June 1894 ~ Bristol

Doomed to marry Mysterious Moody Mortimer. Parents are sending me off to my Aunt and Uncle’s house until the wedding. At least I’ll be away from here for a little. Note to self: Embroider gargoyles on all of our pillows after the wedding.

 

A Visit to Foxcroft

            “You know your mother wasn’t very thrilled about her marriage to your father. My goodness you should have seen her on her wedding day. Wearing our mother’s dress with a look on her face as if she was hoping the sky would fall down on her instead. Anything but get married. She wasn’t as fortunate as being able to marry strictly for love like I was. But look at your parents now; they seem rather comfortable in their life together. Perhaps you’ll be lucky, and your Mr. Mortimer won’t be all bad.” Aunt Charlotte smiled sweetly, her face folding into the gentle lines around her eyes.

“Thank you, perhaps you’re right.” Cordelia finished off her breakfast with a final sip of her tea. She was grateful to finally be able to feel her behind again between the long train ride and what seemed to be an even longer carriage ride yesterday to Foxcroft, nestled in Hawkcombe Woods.

“I was thinking I might go out into the woods today Aunt Charlotte, like I used to. I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit again after all.”

Her aunt gave her a playfully suspicious glance over the edge of her own tea cup.

“On one condition, you don’t go climbing up into the trees just like you used to. I can’t even count how many times I repaired your dresses and stockings so your mother wouldn’t know. Your uncle has gone to the village today to tend to business and won’t be back until supper. I suggest you be back before dark deary.”

Cordelia was out of the dining room before her aunt had even set her cup back down.

 

21 June 1894 ~ Foxcroft & Burning Village

One moment I was on the deer path in the woods, heading back to Foxcroft as the sun was setting, and the next I was Here! I don’t even know where here is. It looks like a small village but it certainly isn’t Porlock by Foxcroft. They’ve been attacked. Goodness…there are so many injured… and even more dead. There is something approaching, in the sky, something large. It’s hard to make out in the fading twilight. I’m writing this in the smoldering fires of what was once someone’s home. There are children crying. This is awful… It almost looks like a ship! Where on Earth am I?

 

His Royal Majesty’s Airship Oberon

“Blackmore, you’ve got to talk to the captain! I’m worried with the extra weight we’ve got on board that any battle maneuvers we are going to have to pull are going to be a strain. I don’t know if the engines and rigging will be able to handle it.” A voice whispered hoarsely in the dark.

“I am not questioning the captain on this. He knows the risks involved, it’s his ship. They would have been killed had we left them on the ground.” A low voice calmly countered the angry complaint.

Cordelia’s eyes popped open, woken by the hushed argument. Her face rested against a woolen blanket on a lower deck of the airship. The dozen or so survivors from the attack slept fitfully around her. She lay nearest to the door and turned her head towards it so that she could better hear what was said. A faint light crept in beneath the crack of it as the two men outside neared it.

“If the Alamanni’s dreadnought overtakes us they will die anyways, if not worse! King’s orders were to take out Jormungandr not to pick up every refugee in its wake.”

“That is enough Tyrnan. I don’t want to hear another word out of you about this. You will do what you can to reinforce the lines and sails, keep the engines running, and make certain that the steam balloons hold. I will inform Captain Bo of your concerns.”

There was a long pause before the first man answered.

“Yes sir.” Tyrnan’s steps receded and Cordelia could hear him stepping below to the lower deck, where the hum from the engines emanated.

The door to the crowded chamber opened soundlessly and the ship’s first mate, Isaac Blackmore, peered inside. The lamp in his hand cast shadows across the walls as the door opened wider. His dark eyes met Cordelia’s. His brow furrowed slightly knowing she must have been privy to the conversation. He nodded his head gently towards her before closing the door and heading back to the upper deck.

 

1894 June 22 ~ On the H.M.A.S. Oberon, air bound

Early morning light creeping in the porthole to our room. Most everyone else is still sleeping, can’t say I blame them. An enemy country’s dreadnought has been attacking all of the small border villages it would seem.

In this country, where ever this strange place is, they have a King named Victor instead of a Queen named Victoria. Fancy that. So he’s been sending his airship fleet abroad to stop the scourge of these Alamanni forces. I don’t know how I got here but I know I can’t sit idle below the decks waiting for whatever is coming. I’m going to go up top and see if I can be of some use somehow. I should figure out how to get home… although, there is nothing I’m really looking forward to back there. Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Owen must be worried beyond sick at this point though.

The others are waking now, I should wrap this up. They told the captain I wasn’t from their village, so he pulled me aside once we were all aboard to question me. I think he wanted to make certain I wasn’t an Alamanni fighter of some sorts. I told him the truth. What else could I say? I don’t know if he believes me or not, but he did get very quiet when I said “England”. He’s a very intense man, serious. Although he must be compassionate despite how scary he seems, to take all of these people aboard when he could have discounted them as simply casualties of war and moved on.

Interesting item of note: That Isaac Blackmore is a very handsome gentleman, in a rugged kind of way. He helped me up onto the ship last night, strong hands. He smells like…sunshine and wind. Very different from Moody Mortimer. Robert is soft and polished, and smells like Macassar oil from slicking his hair. Blech!

I’ll write again later once I find out more about what’s going on.

The Price of Freedom

Captain Bo was willing to allow Cordelia to help if it was needed. There were women who were part of the crew so it wasn’t an extraordinary request to grant. He sent her to Blackmore to assess how she might be of use. Isaac crossed his arms over his chest when she approached saying that she wanted to help. He eyed her dubiously.

“What can you do then?”

“I can climb in storms and sew a tight stitch.” She replied without hesitation.

“And in a dress, no less?” His lips were beginning to curve upwards in a smile. Cordelia sensed mockery in his tone and defiantly placed her hands on her hips, lifting her chin upwards towards him.

“Better than you could.”

At this point Isaac broke into a chuckle, his arms relaxing.

“Well we can’t have you climbing in a dress around here. People might get the wrong idea. Boatswain Tyrnan could use an extra hand for his preparations. Tell him I sent you, and that you are to join his deck crew as a rigging monkey. He’ll get you proper attire and the supplies you need for the work that’s to be done. Good day Miss Dawkins.”

Tyrnan wasn’t very pleased when Cordelia approached him. He got her set up nonetheless and sent her up with one of the other rigging monkeys, a cheerful young boy namedDanvers, to show her the ropes and continue working on reinforcing the canvas sails and steam balloons. They had to work cautiously with the balloons on account of the heat produced. But the insulated clothing helped protect from the heat while still allowing agility for climbing. The engines below that fed the steam upwards through pipes were made to constantly boil, producing steam, and collect the condensation to boil back upwards again. It perpetuated itself so long as it was fueled.

The two of them were nearly finished with the reinforcements when something began to sting at Cordelia’s eyes. Smoke. There was smoke in the air in the direction they were heading. A town was burning in the distance. Farther off, the Jormungandr lie in wait for the Oberon to come nearer. She andDanvers climbed down from the rigging as the call for action stations rang out.Danvers headed off to his station and Cordelia approached Isaac as the crew around her settled into their positions on deck in readiness.

“What can I do?” Cordelia pulled off the insulated leather gloves and slipped them into the pouch at her waist that carried the large canvas needles and thread for the sails.

“Miss Dawkins, you’ve done more than enough,” Isaac began with a kind smile.

“Tyrnan is very impressed with what you’ve helped them get done. Right now though it’s best if you head below deck and stay with the refugees until we are clear of any danger. Captain Bo feels that we’re much closer now to the Jormungandr than before. The Alamanni’s heavy gunship has been operating cunningly, knowing we have the advantage in mobility. But it definitely outguns us. It’s been wreaking its destruction strategically, luring us in to where it wants us while we’ve been trying to catch up to it first.”

They were still thirty minutes away from even reaching the burning town but the anxious energy was building in everyone as they slowly moved closer. Cordelia took another look towards the havoc on the ground ahead and she was reminded of the smell of the village where the Oberon found her. The smell of fire as it burned through houses and bodies. The sounds of people screaming in agony as the flames charred their skin. She shuddered at the recollection.

“How long has your country been at war with Alamanni?” Cordelia voice was taut as she tried to push the memory away. Isaac watched her curiously and took a step closer.

“You’ve never seen death before, have you? Like this?”

“I can handle it!” Cordelia retorted, wiping the corner of her eyes.

“Yes. Yes, I see that you can. I’m surprised you held it together this long before it hit you.” He placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder and leaned near her.

“Really?” Cordelia sniffed and wiped her eyes once more. Isaac nodded his head with a wide grin.

“Indeed! Considering you popped into existence here from where ever it is you come from, and landed inAlice Springsafter the attack I’d say you’ve held up courageously.”

“That’s my mother’s name,Alice…” Cordelia’s voice trailed off and looked up at him. Isaac lifted his hand from her shoulder and his gaze dropped to the deck before he spoke.

“I cried the first time I saw death, the kind of death the Alamanni have been causing in their quest for conquest. It started in their own country, my country, shortly before I was born. My parents were trying to flee here, to Brigantes because the Alamanni were killing off and terrorizing their own people in an attempt to reign down control. I was twelve at the time. My parents didn’t make it too far beyond the border when the first Alamanni airship was sent out to scout and attack, initiating the war.” He turned his gaze back to her. Cordelia’s mouth was agape with a hand across it.

“What did you do?”

“I grabbed a nag of a horse and rode for the capital, to join King Victor’s airship fleet. Here I am twelve years later, and taking out the Jormungandr marks the beginning of the end for us. It’s the break we’ve needed but it won’t be an easy fight.”

An explosion resounded in the air as a shot flew towards the Oberon from behind the corner of a cliff face. Isaac urgently pushed Cordelia towards the main cabin’s door and drew the pistol from his belt.

“Go Cordelia! Stay safe!” He slammed the door behind her.

The ship creaked as it was rapidly turned in the air to avoid direct contact with the cannon ball. Pistols and rifles were raised and turned towards the Jormungandr seeking open targets, deck guns were firing and the already open cannon ports flared to life as the Oberon retaliated fire. The ship shook from impact of the heavy shots of Jormungandr’s guns. The canvas of the sails snapped in the wind as the ship continued its maneuvers.

Cordelia watched the deck through the cabin’s window. She saw youngDanversmaking his way up the rigging and another shot rang through the air, shaking the boy’s grip on the ropes and he tumbled. Cordelia bounded out of the cabin and across the deck leaping up to the rigging.Danversprecariously hung upside down, a leg bound up in a line. He’d hit his ahead against a mast, knocking him unconscious. Cordelia grabbed a hold of him once she reached him and cut him loose with the small knife she’d been given with her tools. Once she reached the railing, another of Boatswain Tyrnan’s deck crew was there to take the boy from her arms. They set him down and reached out for her.

“Come on Miss Dawkins!”

She lost her footing and slipped off over the side into the open sky.

Home Again

“Shh shh, quiet, she’s waking up.” Uncle Owen’s voice moved across Cordelia’s body. From the other side of her she could feel and hear her aunt gently crying. Antsy footsteps paced the floor below Cordelia’s feet. She slowly cracked open her eyes, the dim light from the lamps pierced into her brain and she closed her eyes with a groan.

“What happened?” she mumbled thickly, her mouth and throat felt dry.

“We found you in the woods last night. I thought a bear had gotten you! Oh darling Cordelia, I’m so glad you’re safe!” Aunt Charlotte leaned across the bedside to hold Cordelia’s hands.

“Don’t be ridiculousCharlotte. There are no wild bears inEngland.” Alice Dawkins’ voice sharply entered the exchange from the foot of the bed.

“Well from the looks of it she could have been attacked by a bear! She’s so bruised and scratched.”Charlottegently petted Cordelia’s hand. Cordelia opened her eyes once more, squinting at the light and tried to raise herself up. Her body felt stiff and was racked with aching pain.

“I don’t know what’s worse!”Alicecontinued her pace of the room, her eyes blazing.

“The fact that you disappeared for an entire day and show up in this condition or your fiancé caught seeing another woman inLondon!”

“He what?” Cordelia asked, taking the cup of water her aunt placed in her hands.Alicepursed her lips and threw her hands up in the air.

“Some woman named Madeleine! Apparently she’s the daughter of the Hadley’s ofLondon, very influential family, more so than the Mortimer’s. Turns out they’ve been keeping her out of the public eye because she’s sick with consumption. Of all things! Can you believe it? Your fiancé was dallying with a sick girl instead of paying respects to your family! I’ve had to call off the wedding. His family is in an outrage over this. Apparently he and this Madeleine girl have disappeared. Her family is pressing charges against him should they find him.” Her pacing increased as her agitation grew.

“He must love her…” Cordelia mused softly, taking a sip of the water and thinking back to Robert’s words in the garden.

“What did you say?”

“Oh nothing Mother.”

“Ruined! You are ruined because of him! He’s made a fool of you, of us! I don’t think any man in his right mind would marry you now! We can recover from this… I know we can… I just need to think! Perhaps Mackay’s son. We helped him last year with his workers perhaps he might be persuaded to consider a…”

“Mother! No!” Cordelia found her voice and moved to stand up from the bed.

“Excuse me?” Her mother paused in her pacing and stared at Cordelia aghast.

“I won’t do it! You can’t make me mother. You made poor Grace marry for yours and father’s ambitions but I’m not going to do it! Disown me, say I died, do whatever you feel you have to in order to maintain your appearance and prestige but you’ll do it without me.” Cordelia slammed the cup down on a table and stared her mother in the eye.

“Is that what you wish?”Alicetightened her jaw and watched as her daughter grew before her eyes.

“Freedom, mother, it’s what anyone would wish for. And if it means giving up my family so that I can lead the life I want to lead than I shall make the sacrifice and live without you. I love you and father, I always will. But I refuse to allow you to dictate how my future is going to be lived. There is so much more to life than marrying for money and status. Just because you were unhappy in your life doesn’t mean I have to be unhappy in mine. That’s not fair.”

Alice’s strength faltered and she sank into the nearest chair.

“Very well Cordelia, have it your way.”

 

27 June 1894 ~ Foxcroft, sitting under a tree Hawkcombe Woods.

My parents have left me alone for now. I don’t know when they’ll speak to me again. If they ever want to speak to me again that is. Aunt Charlotte has remained cheerful despite the current falling out with her sister, she’s always been happier out here in isolation and away from the politics of the cities. Charlotte and Owen never had any children of their own. They said they are happy to allow a place for me so long as I wish it.

Here I thought Robert Mortimer was heartless when it seems like perhaps he had just given his heart away to someone else already. His family forced him into the same situation mine did I’d gather. A sick girl can’t possibly bear strong children, his parents must have hated the idea when they found out he fancied her.

I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with myself. Maybe I’ll see if the Merchant Venturers Almshouse in Bristol can use an extra body. Listen to the tales of the old sailors.

It’s been three days since I was on the Oberon in Brigantes. What I would give to know how I ended up there and how I got back so I could find my way there once more. I wonder what happened… I do hope they succeeded in taking out the Jormungandr. It was looking pretty dire when I’d “left”. I hope Isaac is all right…

I’m certain it was real. I have these journal entries to prove it. There’s no way I possibly wrote them unconscious, that’s for certain. As the days pass it feels more like a dream though, slipping away from my grasp. There’s a patch of Forget-me-nots growing at the base of the tree I’m sitting under. I shall press one in these pages, as a reminder to not forget.

Forget-me-not ~ Forget-me-not ~ Forget-me-not.

 

A footstep fell gently in the brush behind the tree.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding? You could have at least left us with a map to find you Cordelia.” His low voice whispered in her ear.

“Isaac!” Cordelia slammed her journal shut and stood up in a rush to face him. He wrapped his arms around her and sighed in relief.

“I can’t even begin to tell you what I went through to find you, Miss Dawkins. You had me very worried.”

Cordelia beamed a smile up at him. His face bore a cut across one cheek, still red from healing. Concerned, Cordelia reached up to place a hand on his cheek.

“Well I expect to hear all about it on the way back to Oberon.”

The Story So Far (Episode Five)

Happy Sunday you readers out there! A return to our long awaited program of The Story So Far! Tonight we have a very short piece written dealing with sensory issues, the loss of one in particular. We hope you enjoy!

Missing

“Alexander, good news! You’re going home today. The hospital is releasing you from their care. Your family has been contacted and should be here shortly.” The nurse, Rochelle, smiled cheerily at him. “Now, let’s get you up and ready!”

Her enthusiasm was catching, and all that Alexander wanted was to have his family in his arms again. Rochelle reached for his arms and shoulders to help him up out of the bed. He’d grown accustomed to the pattern of movement needed in order to achieve this feat, but still he could not feel the nurse’s arms pushing and pulling to help him up. The improvised explosive devise, or I.E.D., used by the hostile forces had taken its heavy price on his neurological system, but he was thankful to have made it home from Afghanistan. His bare feet made it to a tile floor that should have felt chilly. Instead it felt like a void. If he didn’t watch where and how he was moving his feet he’d offset his balance and he’d fall again. It took more concentration than he’d ever imagined. Getting dressed was slow and cumbersome. He tangled his arms within his sleeves, buttoning up his shirt was a monumental task, and Rochelle helped him to tie his shoes so they wouldn’t be too tight or loose.

By the time Alexander had accomplished dressing, his family was arriving. Rochelle stepped out to grab the final paperwork for his release.

“Daddy!” His daughter Olivia bounced through the door, all curls and smiles. She had grown so much since before he had been deployed overseas. She was immediately attached to his leg, pressing her face against the fabric of his pants. “I’m so glad you’re back! You’re never going to leave again, right?”

“No, sweet pea, I’m going to be home for a long time now.” Alexander reached down to touch her dark hair and cheeks. He could see her cheeks flushed in excitement, knew they should feel warm. He could see how gently her hair fell in curls to her shoulders but could not feel its soft texture. Her head stood above his knee now, where before she seemed barely knee high to a grasshopper. How fast they grow. “I think I’m going to have to start calling you sunflower instead! Who said you could grow so much?”

Olivia’s face broke into a wild grin. “That’s what mom always says!”

At that moment her footsteps sounded in the room and Alexander looked up to greet his wife.

“Elaine.” Her name escaped Alexander as his face lit up in a smile.

Her pale blue eyes shone with the tears resting heavily within them before she broke her restrained composure and rushed to her husband. Arms thrown around his neck, a kiss pressed against his lips. The imaginary impression of the pressure he should feel taunted at the edge of his lack of physical sensation. It made the sight of his wife and child even more fulfilling to his thirst to feel their arms wrapped around him, the smell of his wife’s skin and autumn hair that much sweeter.

“You can’t feel me, can you?” Elaine’s eyebrows knitted together, her voice strained.

“No.” Alexander released a breath in a heavy sigh. “I’m afraid not. If only I could.”

His wife’s face grew tight as the glimmer of tears resurfaced in her eyes. Olivia looked up, eyes wide and quiet, absorbing.

Alexander slowly moved an arm up to his wife’s face, watching to see when his hand connected to her skin. He focused on trying not to push against her too hard while still connecting with her, a difficult balance to find. His other hand moved to hold his daughter’s hand.

“But I’m standing here with you two now, that’s all that matters. I’m home.”

Rochelle returned to the room, a clipboard and pen in hand. The papers to send him home once and for all.

“Alright, we’ll just need your signature on this paperwork and you’ll be good to go!” She set the clipboard and pen down on the bedside table.

“Ow! Daddy! You’re squeezing me!” Olivia cried and pulled away from him.

Alexander released Olivia’s hand and pulled both of his hands back against his chest, afraid to touch, afraid to hurt.

“Come here, sweetie.” Elaine beckoned Olivia towards her before taking a step back. “Help me get Daddy’s bags for him real quick.” They moved to pick up his belongings from the chair in the room.

“Thank you,” Alexander said to Rochelle as he attempted to pick up the pen for the first time. It slipped about on the table, evading his clumsy grasp. Too much pressure. Not enough pressure. Finally he had it. He moved the pen waveringly towards the signature line on the release paper and signed his name. The ink barely showed up at the start of his name, too light on the paper, and nearly tore at the end from pressing too hard. But it was signed. He was going home.

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Until next time, that’s The Story So Far!

– Instructor’s Comments “This is powerful.  You must know about this first hand.  I want the ending, however…his wife has to have some anger and fear here..great story!  Thank you…I just want you to keep going with this:)  So many come home with issues just like this.”

My Princess and the Pea (A Fractured Fairytale written for a class)

There was once a prince who wished for a princess for his bride, but she had to be a real princess. He traveled the lands far and wide in hope of finding a real princess to steal his heart. There were many princesses across the world, but whether or not they were real princesses he was not sure. Something about them always seemed to be just a little weird, something not quite right, they were not real princesses. The prince returned home to his castle after his long search. He was very sad that he had not found a real princess.

One night it was storming and all of the villagers were in their homes because the storm was so fearsome. There was a knock on the village gates, and outside there was a girl who had been caught in the storm. She was in a terrible state, soaked head to toe from the rain, her dress torn at the edges, and her shoes worn with holes in them. The old King opened the gate himself to let her in.

“Thank you, your Majesty very much!” She said with the sweetest and most polite voice. She curtsied to the King in the pouring rain. She told the old King that she was a real princess who had gotten lost in the storm, and asked him if he would allow her shelter for the night until she could return to her home. The old Queen was doubtful of the girl’s claims that she was a real princess and had a plan to see if the girl was telling the truth.

The girl was as polite as could be to everyone she spoke with, a flood of “please” and “thank you” poured from her lips. The servants of the castle lead her to a warm bath, and she smiled graciously to each of them for their help and kindness to her. While she was occupied, the old Queen decided to place a pea under the covers of the bed that the princess would be sleeping in. The old Queen then placed twenty more mattresses on top of the pea and then twenty more feather beds on top of that! If she was truly a princess, the old Queen thought, then she will not be able to sleep a wink because of that one little pea.

During dinner the old King and Queen, and their son the prince, spoke with the princess asking her many things. Where she came from, how she got lost. As always she responded with the sweetest of manners and a lovely smile on her face. The prince was charmed by the princess and her delightfulness. The old Queen was displeased at the sight of her son admiring the girl who said she was a real princess.

When the princess went to bed, she was so exhausted from the storm that she slept all through the night until the sun came through her window. She descended the stairs from her room and joined the old King and Queen, and their son the prince, for breakfast.

“How did you sleep last night?” The old Queen asked the princess. The princess beamed a smile at the Queen’s concern for her.

“I slept very well, thank you! The bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in. Your hospitality is beyond extraordinary!” The princess said brightly. The look on the Queen’s face became smug as she now believed that this girl was not a real princess, otherwise she would have felt the pea under the mattresses and would not have slept a wink. The prince saw the look on his mother’s face and knew in that moment what she had done. He stood up quickly from his seat and pointed a finger at his mother.

“How dare you?” he asked the Queen. “This girl has been the most polite, well mannered, and gracious lady I have ever met. She has gone through a terrifying night of getting lost in a storm, and still she is pleasant and patient.” The Queen looked aghast that her son would speak against her so. The princess had dropped her fork on the floor in shock as to what was happening.

“I have met many princesses, mother, but not a single one of them were as kind and gentle as that young lady sitting there.” The prince continued, stepping closer to stand by the startled princess. “Delicate skin does not a princess make. To me, she is a Real princess because of the way she acts and treats others. That is what makes her special, mother, and I love her.”

The prince swept the princess up in his arms and they rode off to a new land where they were married, became King and Queen, and lived happily until the end of their days. Who knows if she really was a real princess or not, what matters is that she was a real princess to her prince.

The Story So Far (Episode Four)

Good evening once again ladies and gentleman and welcome to the fourth episode of The Story So Far! Tonight we answer the question “What would have happened if Goodman Brown had passed his hero’s test?”

 

The Devil is in the Details

Young Goodman Brown awoke in the woods in the dim morning light. He brushed the moist dirt from his trousers and walked into the streets of the Salem village. He felt as if a weight had lifted from him as his body warmed to the movement of strolling through the village. The good old minister was ambling along the graveyard and imparted a blessing upon Goodman Brown as he passed. Goodman Brown smiled graciously in thanks as he went along his way.  Goody Cloyse was catechizing a little girl named Prudence who had brought the elderly woman her pint of milk.

“You best pay good heed to what the lady says. You’ll be thankful one day!” called Goodman Brown in a knowing voice to Prudence. Goodman Brown heard footsteps nearing at a fast pace as he turned the corner by the meeting-house, and he found himself wrapped in the arms of lovely Faith. She had heard his voice and dashed in joy to meet her husband upon his return.

“My dear Faith, you are indeed a blessed angel on earth.” Goodman Brown breathed against his wife’s cap, pink ribbons fluttering in the gentle breeze. He grasped her hand lovingly and led the way back to their home to tell her of all that had happened the night before.

Days passed and life could not have been more peaceful or blissful in the house of Goodman Brown. He did indeed cling to the skirts of his loving wife, and his prayers at church were sent with the highest fervour. Before long, Faith was with child and they were to revel in the birth of their firstborn. One cold evening as Faith was rocking the cradle of their infant son, a knock was heard upon the door. Goodman Brown stood up from the fire to answer and found Prudence at the threshold with tears in her eyes.

“Elder Cloyse has vanished!” Prudence managed to choke out around the sobs. “I could not find her at home for my lesson this evening and none can tell me where she might be!” Goodman Brown ushered her inside to warm herself by the fire and said he would gather men from the village to search for her. The men searched all night until the early hours of morning. They had found signs of Goody Cloyse’s passage through trails in the woods, but old Goody herself was not to be found.

By the lunch hour, a ragged figure was seen hobbling out of the woods and towards the village. Goody Cloyse had returned. Prudence was eager to hear of the news and rushed to the old woman’s aid in getting her back to her home and tended to. At the approach of the young girl, Goody stumbled in her effort to recoil. With an animal gleam in her eyes she snarled at Prudence.

“Do not touch me with your sinning hands, child!” Goody shrieked at the young woman before continuing on her shuffling way back to her home. The once saintly woman now bitterly locked herself away in her home until the end of her days. She no longer took the young ones in for their catechisms. Prudence was heart-broken. She had loved the elderly woman dearly and sat at Goody’s doorstep every morning until she had passed.

Months passed. Goodman and Faith’s son grew, Prudence started smiling again, and more villagers would disappear in the night. One by one over time they went. Every man and woman would return in a similar condition to that of departed Goody Cloyse. They were selfish, greedy, lascivious, and mistrustful among many other dark moods. Sweet Prudence left while she could to seek her fortunes in the untamed west.

Goodman and Faith showed eternal patience with their fellow villagers, giving when others were in need and providing all that they could afford. The possessions in their home became few, but still they were happy. Their son, Ishmael, was growing into a fine man in the community and worked thrice as hard as the rest. The younger children, despite being raised in difficult conditions, were showing promise for the future and they looked to Ishmael as their leader.

One fine summer afternoon, Ishmael told his parents of his intention to go hunting in the woods to find some game for dinner. Goodman and Faith wished him luck and eagerly awaited his return. Evening waned and there was no sign of his return. Night finally fell like a cloak upon the Salem village and Goodman and Faith began to worry. There was no sign of him still as the moon travelled across the starlit sky. Goodman and Faith knew what had become of him, and they could only hope that their son would make the right choice. Faith wept.

In the morning hours, Ishmael finally returned from his trek in the woods. Bundled carefully on his back were the butchered remains of a stag. He knocked upon the door of his parents’ house, requesting permission to enter with his prize. Goodman and Faith welcomed his return warmly. But the bearing with which their son carried himself had changed, almost as if he had aged over night. There was a worldly air about him, and Goodman noticed the change clearly. In his heart, Goodman wept.

The growing peace in the town quickly raged into chaos. Crime upon crime inflicted upon fellow man without remorse. Ishmael, now possessed by the devil himself, was the catalyst. Then the horrors of the witch trials of Salem began.

Faith refused to accept what had happened to her son, even though he had made his own decision that altered his fate. She told Goodman that she was going to speak with the devil herself, and she did not care what the cost might be in order to save her son. The weather was growing cold, and with the crisp autumn winds Goodman could feel the ache in his joints growing as age was wearing upon him. He begged Faith not to go, and she seemed to relent to his wishes. They shuffled to bed, seeking warmth beneath the coverlet and in each others’ arms. In the dead of night, Goodman felt a chill wake him. Faith was not at his side. He stumbled out of bed as quickly as his cold bones would allow and reached for his shoes and coat. He glanced out of the window and noticed an ominous glow in the dark of the night, the orange glow of fires.

The voices of the crowd grew louder to Goodman’s ears as he left his house. But one voice rang clearer above them all, that of his son’s.
“Amongst our ranks we have been harbouring a witch! She has been attempting to work her evil magic upon us through dealings with the devil, and tonight she shall burn for her crimes!”

Goodman could see the pyre in the middle of the crowd, his darling Faith bound to a pole in the centre. Goodman shouted in pained rage and tried to shove his way through the mob. The flames were still working their way up from the bottom, nearly licking the bottoms of Faith’s bare feet.

“Restrain that man, lest he try to free this damned woman!” Ishmael the devil commanded the mob. There was a malevolent gleam in his eyes as he watched the crowd force Goodman to his knees. The screams of pain were finally erupting from Faith as the fire began to swallow her flesh. Tears streamed from her eyes that she had cast heavenward. In between her anguishing cries, prayers could be heard tumbling down from her blistering lips.

Goodman Brown watched his wife burn. His anger swelled within with each crack that sundered his heart. The burly men that had contained Goodman carried him back to his home, as he had exhausted himself trying to fight them all night long. He lay in bed knowing his heartbeats were numbered, heartbreak would send him to his grave. But could he forgive the devil and follow his wife to heaven, or had her selfless act damned her instead? Goodman Brown took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He had made his decision and his last breath shuddered out of his worn body.

Ishmael entered the room sullenly and fell weeping at his departed father’s side.

The Story So Far (Episode Three)

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, tonight in our third installment of The Story So Far we would like to present you with an interesting retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Visit to Newgate” using characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories with a quiet nod to George Orwell.

(I would have been slapped if I turned in another seven page story instead of four like we are specified to do, so I apologize for the brevity of this. I hope you still enjoy it though.)

The Prisoner at Newgate

“My dear Watson, I’m glad you’ve arrived. I have a favour to ask of you. There is a particular prisoner at Newgate that is in need of medical attention. I want you to attend to this man. I would normally accompany you, of course, but this sick man would likely make an attempt at murder at the very sight of me. If you go alone he will behave properly.”

Watson barely had time to remove his hat and coat when he entered the door before Sherlock Holmes addressed him. Watson shrugged his shoulders back into the folds of his damp coat that the rain had taken a fondness to on his walk back from the club. He stole a glance at the clock.

“Do you wish me to see the prisoner at this time of evening, Holmes?” Watson asked perplexed. Holmes didn’t even turn in his seat where he sat smoking his pipe in front of the fireplace. A considerable cloud of tobacco smoke clung to the air in the sitting room.

“Yes, Watson, I do. The man may be condemned, but he is not scheduled to meet his the moment of his death soon. I see no reason why he should be allowed to leave this earth before then. He should wait each agonizing day and hour until the allotted time that due justice is mete out. Please do this for me, Watson.”

“Very well, Holmes. I’m certain you must have your reasons that this can not wait until tomorrow. I’ll do as you ask.” Watson reached for the door to leave with his bag in hand. Holmes voice interrupted Watson’s movements once more, this time he turned to look at Watson.

“A word of warning my friend, this prisoner is cunning. He is not to be trusted no matter what he says to you. Be wary, and never take your eyes away from him. He is called James, and you’ll find him in the condemned ward.” With that said, Holmes turned back to face the fire and returned to his fervent smoking. The blue smoke coiled up along the walls and hung from the ceiling like clouds.

Watson hailed a hansom to take him the short distance between the apartment on Baker Street and Newgate prison on Newgate Street. Watson was accustomed to the wet and dreary London weather, so was not affected by the potential dampening of spirits the weather can cause. However, as soon as the dark building was in sight, Watson felt an inexplicable chill creep up his spine. The trip was short, and soon Watson’s feet were upon the cobbled street before Newgate Prison. As he was walking up to the entrance a feeble old woman stumbled against him. She recoiled in the dark and peered at him beneath the brim of a tattered straw bonnet, her eyes rimmed in red with permanent tear trails marking her gaunt cheeks.

“No use anymore, I don’t know why I keep trying. If her father had stuck around she wouldn’t have done what she did. Sell herself she did, on the streets. She doesn’t care that she hurts me, she doesn’t care that she’s done wrong.” The woman lamented hysterically before continuing on her way down the street.

Watson knocked on the door of the governor’s house, explained his undertaking to the officer on duty, and was lead through the heavy oaken gate to the murky stone passage which led to the yards. Watson could hear pitiable crying as they crossed the yard for the more upright individuals of the prison population and headed towards the press-yard. Not just from the women, but likely from the boys and young men as well. The cries were eerie in the moonless night coupled with the sound of the rain pelting the stone and steel construct of the prison.

The turnkey opened the gate for Watson and his escorting officer. They crossed the yard swiftly while the chilly rain battered against their shoulders. Once the officer reached the building he led Watson to a narrow stair-case and the two men climbed upwards to access the condemned cells. The lights were out in the two lower cells, but candle light shone from the third cell at the top of the stairs throughout the small passageway. A man was heard singing a children’s rhyme, his voice carried softly from the cell.

“Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s;
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells at St. Martin’s;
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey;
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch;
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney;
I’m sure I don’t know,
Says the Great Bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed;
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.”

The officer unlocked the cell for Watson to enter. The prisoner was sitting upright on a bed on the floor eyeing Watson with keen expectancy as he entered. The man imprisoned inside must have indeed been wealthy for he resided in relative comfort when compared to the rest of the prisoners. He had a mattress, with a pillow, and a few blankets in his possession, as well as books for his personal convenience. He was not chained down in manacles either. He was relatively clean, which was also evident by the basket with the soap and bathing supplies inside. Watson could spy the signs of fever on him though, in the pallor of the man’s face and the rosy-colored spots visible on the man’s chest through his loosely buttoned shirt. Typhoid. This was not a surprise to Watson considering the conditions that most of the prisoners lived in. The man seemed familiar to Watson, but he could not quite place where he had seen the prisoner before.

“Good evening, James.” Watson greeted the man, setting his bag down beside the bed. “I’m here to inspect you and do what I can to make certain you stay healthy.” Prisoners died all the time in Newgate, despite this Watson was determined to do as Holmes asked, even if the act of kindness seemed to be cruel at heart. Sherlock wanted this man healthy and able to face his fate meeting the lady Justice standing strong, not sickly in bed.

“Your aid is much appreciated Doctor, thank you.” James replied. The comment may have been intended as sarcastic by the look in the man’s eyes, but the tone of voice implied only congeniality and gentlemanly manners. Watson proceeded in helping James stand on his feet and examining him over.

“You seem to be fighting off the fever fairly well by keeping clean as you are. Your condition could be worse, but I recommend immersing yourself in a cold bath, and I’ll speak to the governor about getting you fresher food and water.” Watson proclaimed after looking James over thoroughly. “May I ask why you were singing that children’s song?” Watson inquired of James, who had remained compliant and helpful the entire time.

“I was merely pondering on simpler times in life, of moments lost in the past that can never be recovered.” James answered graciously. Freed from Watson’s inspection he sat himself back down upon his bed gingerly. Watson packed up his bag, making certain all of his supplies and tools were accounted for.

“Do you feel any qualms for the life you have led? I imagine that in your situation you must have time now to be more introspective concerning yourself and what have you done so far in this world.” Watson’s hand was nearing the cell door to leave but he looked at James, waiting for his reply. At this point James laughed, a deep and dark laugh, not one of mirth or good humour. His dark eyes, shining with fever, narrowed at Watson.

“You will not find me clinging to a bible in my final hours, sir. I will not be begging God to forgive me for my trespasses. There is only a single regret I suffer from, but God can not help me in easing it.”  Watson’s hand faltered at the sound of sinister fervor in James’ voice. “My only regret is that I failed to kill Sherlock Holmes. Goodnight Watson. Please send my regards to Holmes, with reverential enmity, M.”

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Thank you folks for tuning in, and until next time, that’s The Story So Far.

The Story So Far (Episode One) -Edit-

Good evening and welcome to the first episode of “The Story So Far”. Tonight we’ll be taking a look at the first installment of an American Retelling of a narrative poem from 1810, Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake. This project is intended to be a story essay.

Lady of the Lake

The Dame of Belle Isle Park

The street lamps passed in rapid succession as Jim Ryan drove across the Belle Isle Bridge towards the island on Lake Superior. He was on the hunt for a few quiet hours to himself, and Belle Isle on a Friday night seemed like the place to visit. The new police chief of Detroit was feeling the strain and pressure, and needed to escape the city bustle for a small reprieve. With his ascension to police chief came the task to free the city from the grasp of the mafia. The head of the Milo family had proven a tenacious Boss, but with the success of local authorities, he was forced to take cover and hadn’t been heard from in a while. The rest of the family secreted themselves away in the seedy underbelly of the city to avoid persecution. Adriano Milo, the uncle of Boss Milo had been an invaluable informant. Rumors were that the Sicilian, Rogero Gregori was providing some of the Milo family refuge.

Jim parked his Hudson Town Sedan by the Detroit Boat Club and took a stroll along the clubhouse’s pier. As he rounded the corner of the clubhouse, he caught sight of a woman, silhouetted by the moonlight, staring out across the lake expectantly. Jim stopped for a moment to take in the sight. To be certain, the lady cut a fine figure standing there. After taking her in, he took a step off of the walkway and onto the old boards of the pier, which creaked beneath his feet. Startled, the young woman gasped and turned to face him. Jim raised his open hands and smiled kindly to ease her fear. He must have made an alarming sight stepping out of the shadows as he did. With the past couple days off duty he hadn’t shaved, so his five o’clock shadow was prominent. Stress and restless nights painted him a haggard figure. He was a far cry away from the polished-button and clean-shaven man the public recognized him as.

“Didn’t mean to startle you, ma’am. I was hoping to walk along the pier, but I see this one is already taken,” said with a soft chuckle.

“You know what, that’s quite alright,” she said, breaking into a wide smile. She looked at her watch and spared a final glance out across the water. “I was waiting for a friend to show up, but I don’t think he will.” Chagrin tinged her voice.

“Well, now that’s what I would call a crying shame. A fine lady such as yourself shouldn’t be kept waiting.” Jim took a few casual steps closer.

“Aw, applesauce!” A blush tinged her cheeks beneath her bobbed black hair. “Say, I don’t suppose you’d be interested in joining me for a belt? I uh… I know of a juice joint nearby.” She bit her lower lip. Jim paused before answering. Apparently she was inviting him for a drink. So much for a few hours of peace, he thought to himself. But, the opportunity of discovering the speakeasy on the isle was too much of a temptation to resist.

“Absolutely, I’d be delighted!” Jim answered. He looked around and didn’t see any other vehicle near that could’ve belonged to her. “Shall I drive?”

“Nah, come on, let’s ankle! You were looking for a breath of air anyways, before I ruined your plans.” She strode up to him and tucked her arm inside his, then proceeded to lead the way. “I’m Elena, by the way.” She beamed a smile at him.

“Jamie,” he replied. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Elena.”

Before long, Jim noticed that the aquarium was coming into view. He could see the gothic-styled entrance, the carved stone archway topped with the face of the god Neptune. Elena wasn’t taking them to the front door, though. She led him around the side until they came across a secondary door that led to the basement. Elena fished a card from her purse, which she then slipped beneath the door. Seconds later the door opened, the man behind the door gave Jim an appraising look before handing the card back to Elena.

“Go ahead,” Jim said to Elena, nodding his head towards the interior.

Elena walked ahead of Jim and immediately headed towards a walnut Victrola and began shuffling through the records. Jim gazed nonchalantly at his surroundings as he walked up to the bar, noting the individuals that frequented the speakeasy. He recognized Malvolio Corrieri. Jim had seen his pictures in the police reports concerning Rogero Gregori. Corrieri was Gregori’s right-hand man.

With Corrieri here, along with a few other names in Gregori’s crew, the speakeasy was bound to be Gregori’s joint. The mafia units had been planning a raid on Gregori for a few months. Their intent was to try to knock the man down before he grew even bigger for his britches. The last Jim knew, before he took his short leave, was that the raid was planned for tonight. The police force had been bolstered by the appointment of a new chief. Corruption was still thick, but many were hoping to start chasing the mafia out for good.

The swinging sounds of Henry Allen playing the trumpet reached Jim’s ears as he took a seat. Elena slid onto a stool next to him at the bar. She slapped a hand on the counter and threw a wink his way.

“Your drinks will be on me tonight! So, what’ll you have?” Elena inclined her head towards the bartender, who made his way towards them.

“I’ll just have a brown plaid please,” Jim said to the bartender. The bartender reached for a bottle of Scotch and a glass, poured Jim’s drink and mixed up a cocktail for Elena, and then passed their drinks to them.

“Scotch and a French 75, there you are ‘Lena.” The bartender gave her a nod before walking off.

Jim had lost track of time as they conversed and laughed for what may have been hours. Through his conversations with Elena, although she was clever in what she allowed to be known about herself, Jim gleaned that she was in fact one of the Milo family. If a raid was to be enacted upon Gregori’s turf, Jim didn’t want this kind young woman to be caught in the cross-fire. Jim finally scooted his stool away from the bar and stood.

“Leaving so soon, Jamie?” Elena frowned in mock distress.

“I think I should before I’m too bent to drive,” He laughed. He noticed Elena standing up as well. “Oh no sweetheart, I’ll walk back on my own. I don’t want you walking all the way back here by yourself, you hear me?” Elena put her hands on her hips and smiled.

“You’re a real swell fella, Jamie.” She placed a quick kiss on his cheek. “Be safe.”

Jim headed for the exit, a sense of urgency prodding him through the warm haze of Scotch.

“Watch where you’re going!” The man entering the speakeasy growled at Jim, who had bumped into him trying to leave. The man was Rogero Gregori. Jim froze, every muscle in his body tensed. “You know who I am, don’t you? I know who you are too, you mulligan. I suggest you beat it if you’re thinking about staying chief of police in my town.” Jim’s jaw tightened, but he didn’t say a word. Instead, he slipped out the door as quickly as he could.

 

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Thank you all for tuning in tonight folks. That’s The Story So Far.