Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
Note: Travis Prinzi loved the Lost finale. Others didn’t, for reasons illustrated as only S.D. Smith can. –Pete Peterson
Jellybean Highfive stood at the entrance of the house called Diffident Manor. He walked in reluctantly, stood in the doorway in an unassuming fashion. He had been invited here by invitation.
‘Place looks odd,’ he thought inside his mind, with his thoughts.
“Hello, stranger,” a voice said from in front of him. The voice belonged to a woman–a curvaceous, vivacious, hellacious woman.
“I’m Vivica Hellen,” she said, drawing on her cigarette like a smoker, “but my friends call me ‘Curvy Vivica Hellen.’”
“Because of the…?” Jellybean began.
“…curves,” she finished. “Yes. Because of that.”
“Why are we here?” Jellybean asked, looking around at the quaint, humble insides of Diffident Manor in an uncertain way.
“I got me an invitation, I did,” Curvy Vivica Hellen said.
“Me too,” Jellybean said. “Mine was a little odd. It said…” and he showed it to Curvy Vivica Hellen.
Come to Diffident Manor. Stop. Great riches await you. Stop. Why am I writing this like a telegram? Stop. I just can’t seem to stop. Stop.
“Mine says the same thing,” Curvy Vivica Hellen said.
“Mine too,” Jellybean Highfive said, drawing out a cigarette from his pack of cigarettes. He lit one with fire, began to smoke it cheerfully. “Mine too,” he repeated, this time with extra rasp.
“It’s a mystery. Why are we here?” Curvy Vivica Hellen asked.
“You’re here,” a voice boomed, “because I invited you, by invitation.”
Jellybean looked around, but saw no one. He thought how weird that was, then remembered all the ways voices could be projected into the room with a person not present. “Yeah,” Jellybean asked. “But why?”
“Because we need you,” the voice boomed again. “We need you to save Diffident Manor in a desperate sort of way.”
“How desperate?” Curvy Vivica Hellen asked. “On a scale of 1 to 12, how bad off is the Manor?”
“10.5, easy,” the voice said. “Maybe 11. I’m so serious. I’m not even lying.”
“That’s high,” Jellbean said.
“Yeah, so…” the voice paused, then continued, “…can I count on you?”
“Sure.” They said together, at the same time.
“Jinx,” Jellybean said, “Jinx.”
Ten hours later they stood in the sitting room, having each committed various atrocities combined with acts of goodness.
“The Manor must be saved and it must be by you,” the voice said. “Then you will have a reward of gold.”
“Nice,” Jellybean said, “but who are you?”
“I will tell you who I am,” the voice said, “when you solve the mystery and rescue the Manor and get the reward.”
“The reward of gold?” Curvy Vivica Hellen asked.
“Yes. That one.”
“OK,” they both said together, but it was far too pivotal a scene for Jellybean to say ‘Jinx.’
‘Not this time,” he thought. ‘But it is tempting,’ he also thought.
Then there was a tumult in Diffident Manor. The entire building began to shake with shaky shakes. Into the room came six ugly giants. Their names were “Essential,” “Important,” “Serious,” “Central,” “C.S. Lewis,” and “Nimrod.” Essential spoke. “This is Important,” he said.
“Nice to meet you,” Jellybean said.
“No, you idiot,” Essential said. “What I’m about to tell you is Important.”
“I knew that,” Jellybean said.
“Hear me and you might live,” Essential said. “Maybe. Go to the bottom of the house, the basement. There you will find three keys. The middle key must be used in the chapel closet, or doom will follow doom.”
“What kind of doom?” Curvy Vivica Hellen asked.
“Certain. Doom,” Essential said.
Then Nimrod did strike Curvy Vivica Hellen on the head and she did die. Jellybean felt her pulse and it did not exist. In fury he killed Nimrod with a look, and a gun.
“It’s all right,” Serious said, “I’m kind of a wizard. Go to the cupboard and fetch me a pail of water.”
Jellybean ran, fetched a pail of water.
“Pour it over her head,” Serious said.
“Really? Are you…”
“Serious? Am I Serious?” Serious said. “Of course I am.”
“Do it,” C.S. Lewis said. Then he left, muttering “I have to get to the shed or the whole Manor will fall down at the end.”
“OK,” Jellybean said. He dashed the water on her head. Curvy Vivica Hellen revived. She asked for a cigarette.
They smiled and wondered, ‘What kind of a place is this?’
Three minutes later they were all in the kitchen, except some others had disappeared. There was Jellybean Highfive, Curvy Vivica Hellen, Essential, and Serious. Nimrod was dead.
“Essential,” Jellybean said. “Why didn’t we fetch a pail for Nimrod?”
“Because he got what he deserved,” Essential said.
“But all Nimrod did was kill some one for a little while. Now I’ve killed Nimrod forever.”
“It’s what Diffident Manor wants,” Essential explained. “It’s what Deuteronomical Max wants.”
“Who is Deuteronomical Max?”
“It will be told to you in twenty minutes.”
“What happens in twenty minutes?”
“You mean other than you finding out who DeuteroMax is?”
“The Manor of Diffidence will change forever, and we have to stop her.” Essential said. Then he walked into the refrigerator and disappeared in the light.
“Where’d he go?” Curvy Vivica Hellen asked.
“I don’t know,” Jellybean said. “But he was the shortest giant I have ever seen.”
“And a good friend,” Curvy Vivica Hellen said. “A good friend.”
“Well, one thing’s for certain,” Jellybean said.
“I’m going to find this Deuteronomical Max.”
“Why?” Curvy Vivica Hellen asked.
“So I can kill him.”
“I don’t think that’s what Essential meant,” she said. “Before he disappeared behind the mayonnaise he winked at me and whispered, “‘It’s so cold.’ What could that mean?””
“We’re about to find out,” Jellybean said. “We’re about to find out.”
Four hours and twelve seconds later Curvy Vivica Hellen and Jellybean Highfive stood in the chapel. They thought about the keys, but not very much.
“I’m so glad we’re here,” Curvy Vivica Hellen said. “So glad.”
“Me too,” Jellybean agreed. “Me too.”
Then all the giants came in, smiling, reading books. Nimrod looked up from a Nancy Drew and ambled over. He gave Jellybean a hug.
“Sorry about the, um, unpleasantries earlier.”
“Me too,” Jellybean said. “Me too.”
Curvy Vivica Hellen said, “I’m the one you tried to kill.”
“True,” Nimrod said. “True.”
They were all smiling. With their teeth.
But also…with their…