Another Life – Chapter 6

Marty was treating Caroline like the protagonist in a fucking Jane Austen novel – in another eight or nine years, he’d have progressed to holding her hand.

I had no problem with Caroline. Actually, I didn’t know her all that well. I’d been trying to stay away from her – and to keep her sisters with me – to give Marty some room. Lord knows what he was doing with it.

He kept asking me to go to their house with him – and I kept going. I asked myself why: really, I did. Maybe 60% of it was loyalty to my buddy. The rest? Fucked if I know.

Tanya was jailbait. Avoid at all costs. That didn’t mean that I was blind. She was funny, with a caustic sense of humor and a sharp tongue. Ron was probably right: one of these days she was going to turn into a proper little hottie. Couldn’t fault her taste in music, either.

Sam was a conundrum, shrouded in a mystery, wrapped in a nutbar. I couldn’t figure her out – and I couldn’t decide how I felt about her. Dumb as a bag of rocks. Pretty. Sweet, at times.

Best left alone.

Against my better judgment, I took up with Anne again. That was a mistake. We both knew it, right after the first time we ended up in bed. But it took a second fuck, in her bedroom, before we were smart enough to call it quits.

Then Marty invited me to a cottage party.

– “I’ll drive, if you can get us a case of beer.” he said.

– “Let me guess: we’re taking the sisters.”

– “If that’s okay with you.”

It turned out to be a massive party, with incredibly loud music, over 100 people, and a beautiful night sky.

– “Sit near me.” I ordered Sam and Tanya. I didn’t want either one getting into trouble.

Quite a few beers were drunk that night – many of them by me. I was feeling a bit … melancholy. Maybe it was breaking up with Anne again. But I snapped out of it when I heard the first chords of Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ blaring over the speakers.

– “Listen to this.” I told Tanya. “The drums. Everybody hears the guitar – or Ann Wilson’s voice.”

– “She’s awesome.” said Tanya.

– “I know – but the listen to the drummer. He’s kicking the shit out of this song!”

Tanya just grinned. She loved it when I talked to her, made her the centre of my attention. She listened to me for twenty minutes solid, as I switched to Zeppelin, trying to explain what made John Bonham such an incredible drummer.

– “Tanya? Could you get Uncle Joe another beer? And one for yourself and your sister, if you don’t mind.”

– “I’ll get them!” yelled Sam, as she sprang to her feet. She was no longer a brunette – she’d dyed her hair blonde again. Off she ran. Tanya watched her go, and then turned to me.

– “Joe?”

– “Yeah?”

– “If I was 18, would you go out with me?”

Shit. Shitshitshit.

– “Tanya – you’re a bright girl.” I said. She could tell that I was building up to a ‘but’.

“I think you like me.” she said.

– “You’re smart, and you have you good taste in music.” I told her. “You still have to recognize why Neil Peart is a fucking great drummer, too … but you’re pretty cool.”

– “You didn’t answer my question.” she said.

– “What was the question?” I asked. I’d already had more beers than I needed.

– “Here you go!” shouted Sam. She handed us both a fresh beer.

I have to admit it: I was on my way to getting seriously blitzed. I hadn’t intended to. But keeping track of Sam and Tanya was hard work.

We ended up sitting around a huge bonfire. Sam was drunk, and clingy. Tanya was drunk, and growing incoherent. I was drunk – and not sure what was going on.

I do remember someone hijacking the turntable, and putting on ‘Achilles’ Last Stand.’ Martin found us there. While Caroline glared at us, he got us to our feet. Somehow, we got the drunken sisters into the back seat of his car. I ended up in the middle, with a sister on either side of me.

Tanya was fairly wasted, and a bit queasy. We rolled down her window, and made sure that she got a steady supply of fresh air. Sam wasn’t so far gone.

I was. I saw her pretty face, hovering near mine. And I leaned forward – and kissed her.

Lord knows what I was thinking. Maybe I wasn’t thinking at all. Her lips tasted sweet, though. Sam tickled my lip with her tongue. I did what any red-blooded male would have done, and slid my tongue into her mouth.

Yes, I was kissing Sam. French-kissing Sam, to be exact. Marty drove, while Caroline talked to him. I kept Tanya’s head near the open window, in case she was tempted to spew. Other than that, I necked with Sam. I did have the occasional lucid moment, and I did ask myself: what the fuck are you doing?

I ignored myself, and kept smooching with Sam. She was a good kisser. I did pull back, once, to look at her. Maybe I was drunk. Actually, I was quite drunk – but she looked just fine. And she tasted very nice.

On my other side, Tanya was snoring. At least she didn’t puke.

Marty got us home safely.

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 4

I offered to show Craig a good place to get costumes. But I had to practically threaten Eric to get him to show up. The three of us went to the Lido, the costume supplier for several downtown theaters.

Some guys would roll their eyes at the thought of going into such a place. But Craig and Eric were pleasantly surprised. First of all, the place was immense, with an incredible selection. Second, the mannequins on display looked fantastic. There was a roman centurion, a renaissance courtier … And third, most of the costumes were real. Not cheap plastic, not imitation, but real, quality cloth.

Craig was impressed by a Captain Morgan outfit, but wouldn’t rent it.

– “That looks too fancy. I think I’m just a common sailor.” He settled on an oversized, brightly colored, striped shirt. It looked like a rugby jersey, to me, except that it had laces at the throat. He liked the look of a polka-dotted headscarf, too.

We found him some black boots made out of soft leather, and a wide sash to wear around his waist. Black pants that he could tuck into his boots completed the outfit.

– “I like the sash. Good for tucking a knife in, or hiding your driver’s licence.” I told him.

– “Should I get an eye patch?” he wondered.

Just then Eric came around the corner, with a bundle of clothing over his arm. He was wearing two eye patches – one over each eye.

– “Where are you guys? Ahoy, mateys!” he called.

Craig and I exchanged a look.

– “Maybe not.” he said.

Eric fell in love with a dark grey thing that looked like a vest. It was long enough to reach below his knees. It might have been appropriate if we were doing a samurai murder mystery.

But he had found a pair of boots from the Three Musketeers era, and a huge tricorne hat. I left Craig to help him find a shirt and pants, and wandered off to find my own costume.

Some people would hesitate to spend $200 – or even $100 – on a costume. I’m not one of them. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve spent that much on a fancy restaurant meal, or a sports event, or concert tickets. Some of those outings were memorable, others not so much. But a really cool costume can create a memory that will last a lifetime.

I found what I wanted: a black coat with silver trim and enormous cuffs, a soft tricorne hat, soft black boots, and a wide black belt with an ornate silver buckle. Add a large white shirt with a high collar and black knee-breeches, and I was good to go.

Perhaps a bit too splendid for Ned Mulligan, you might say. Too bad. Let the others think that I was some sort of gentleman pirate. A little deception can go a long way. Besides, when I tried it on, it felt remarkably good. And a glance in the mirror confirmed that it looked great, too.

Eric had somehow found a scruffy grey beard.

– “Doesn’t this look awesome?” he asked me.

– “It looks itchy.” said Craig.

– “How can you put a price on art?” retorted Eric. It made no sense, of course, but he never let that hold him back.

– “You look like Captain Child Molester.” I told him.

– “Precisely!” he roared. “I’ll take it!”

I took them out for beer and wings afterwards. Craig turned out to be a decent guy, as I had anticipated. He found Eric funny, and we had a few laughs.

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=256

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 2

As I expected, Eric had no plans for Thanksgiving weekend. He found the whole concept a bit twisted. He understood the appeal of trying to solve the mystery, but not the costumes.

– “You mean people dress up to do this shit?” he asked.

– “They do indeed.” I told him. “And so will you.”

– “Alright. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. There will be rum, right?”

Sheila was a lot more enthusiastic, when she answered my phone call.

– “And we get to dress up? Like pirates?” she asked.

– “That’s the plan.” I agreed.

– “I don’t have to be a saucy wench, or a watery tart?”

– “No.” I laughed. “That’s Monty Python, as you well know. This is Teresa we’re talking about: women can be pirate captains, and swashbuckle like the men. If that’s a word.”

– “What part do I get?” Sheila wanted to know.

– “Teresa will be letting us know once we’re all aboard.” I said.

– “Ooh – ship puns. Or is it that shit puns?” she said. “I better start practicing.” She held the phone a few inches from her face, and let loose a loud ‘Aaaaargh, matey!’ With her deep, mannish voice, it sounded awesome. “I love the idea, Colin. You can tell her I’m in for sure.”

I called Teresa with the good news.

– “Perfect.” she said. “Thank you, Colin. We’re almost ready to start. I’ll send out the introduction and the character descriptions. But I’d like to use you as a guinea pig, if you don’t mind. Can I show you what I’m planning to send the others, and get your feedback?”

– “I would be glad to help.” I told her.

We met at the cafe again. Teresa greeted me warmly once again, and then turned her laptop around to show me the screen.

– “Here’s the intro.” she said.

For more than three decades, the dread pirate Redbeard terrorized the Caribbean, plundering and pillaging far and wide. No one was safe: Spanish, Dutch, English and French ships and towns were all targets of his insatiable greed and bloodlust. In the course of his far-flung depredations, Redbeard was said to have accumulated a considerable treasure hoard. According to legend, the old pirate was too paranoid to bury his ill-gotten gains on some deserted island. Instead, he carried them with him, aboard his pirate ship, the notorious Sea Demon.

Finally, justice caught up with the dread pirate. An anonymous tip led the Governor of Jamaica’s soldiers to the Mouldy Maggot, a dockside tavern where Redbeard and members of his crew were drinking and roistering while the Sea Demon rode at anchor in Kingston harbour. Thoroughly inebriated, Redbeard was easily overcome by the redcoats, and captured. His erstwhile crew scattered to the four winds. The Governor loaded the dread pirate with chains, and confiscated his ship, the Sea Demon. The vessel was appropriated by the Royal Navy, and re-christened HMS Retribution.

The Governor has ordered Captain Teresa Fairwind to transport the prisoner to Bermuda, where he will face a swift trial and public execution. Captain Fairwind has been given the Royal Navy’s newest vessel, HMS Retribution. A new crew was swiftly recruited from the experienced local sailors and sea-dogs.

YOU are a member of the crew.

Read the description of your character, and dress appropriately. Further instructions will be made available upon arrival.

When I had finished reading, I looked up at her.

– “What do you think?” she asked.

– “Honestly?”

– Aren’t you always honest with me?” she asked, with that bewitching half-smile. It had been one of our favourite ‘pet’ phrases when we were dating.

– “It’s cute.” I said. “A bit melodramatic, a bit campy – like an old Errol Flynn movie.”

– “That’s fine.” she said. “Kind of what I was aiming for.”

– “And you’re the Captain?”

She nodded. “I thought it would be easier than coming up with complicated instructions for one of the players. Speaking of which: here are your instructions.” Teresa spun the laptop around, opened a new file, and then turned it back to face me again.

You are NED MULLIGAN.

– “Ned Mulligan?” I asked her. “Really?”

– “Remember that time you took me golfing?” she reminded me.

I did. Like most novices, Teresa missed the ball completely several times, but she also managed to knock three golf balls into the water, and hit two golf carts and a vending machine. She was able to laugh at herself, and enjoyed the outing, but she found the whole concept of a ‘mulligan’ fascinating’.

– “You mean I get to hit it again?” she wanted to know.

– “Yeah. Go ahead and tee it up again.” I said.

– “And it doesn’t count as a stroke?” She looked at me sideways, squinting, as if suspicious that I was trying to trick her.

– “That’s the whole idea.” I confirmed.

– “Isn’t that cheating?” she asked.

– “You wouldn’t do it in a tournament, or if you were playing for money. But it’s only a friendly game, and I’m the one inviting you to take a mulligan. A do-over.”

Now she just smiled at me. “Keep reading.” she said.

As a young man, you were a pirate, and a member of Redbeard’s crew. You were brave and clever, so that Redbeard made you one of his lieutenants. But he grew too bloodthirsty for your taste, and also promoted some unsavoury characters alongside you, including the Falcon, and the Scar.

You chose to leave his crew, and jumped ship at Tortuga, taking a bag of doubloons with you. Redbeard swore revenge, and offered a bounty for your head. Both the Falcon and the Scar vowed that they would earn that bounty. The Scar, in particular, promised to drink a toast from your skull. You have been on the run ever since.

You were in Kingston, Jamaica, and horrified to learn that the Sea Demon was in port. But you were equally delighted to learn of Redbeard’s capture – serves him right. You hear the gossip in the dockside taverns: Redbeard’s crew are all over the place. What if one of them recognizes you? The ship HMS Retribution is leaving for Bermuda. Is Redbeard’s treasure still hidden aboard?

You sign on as a sailor …

YOU HAVE – A PISTOL

YOU KNOW:

– THERE IS A PLOT TO FREE REDBEARD AND HELP HIM ESCAPE

– THE FALCON IS ABOARD, DISGUISED AS A MEMBER OF THE CREW

– THE TREASURE IS HIDDEN SOMEWHERE ABOARD THE SHIP

– YOU ONCE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF A LETTER BELONGING TO REDBEARD. IT MAY HAVE CONTAINED THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE’S LOCATION. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU ONLY SAW ONE LETTER … IT WAS THE LETTER ‘C’

– “There’s a treasure, too?” I asked. “Or is that instead of a murder?”

– “Both.” said Teresa. “I’m going to space out the murder mystery clues, so that no one can solve it on the first day. But I thought a treasure made sense. This will keep people searching. Plus, we can have multiple winners – solving the mystery, or finding the treasure.”

– “Very clever.” I told her.

– “How about the character description? What do you think?” she asked me.

– “Couldn’t I be ‘Wicked Ned’, or ‘Lusty Ned Longsword’?”

– “You’re Ned Mulligan.” she told me, firmly. “Get used to it. If it’s any consolation, that’s your secret identity. Until somebody else guesses or uncovers who you really are, they’ll only know you as Able Seaman Colin. Everybody will use their real name as an alias.”

– “How many letters are there in the treasure code?” I had to try.

She wagged a finger at me. “No more clues for you. Seriously, Colin – what do you think?”

– “I love it. The description gives me enough of an idea to base my character on. And I’m all pumped up to go out and get a costume. How does the pistol work? Do I have to get a replica pistol?”

– “No.” she said. “I’ll put the items on pieces of paper, so that people can hide them in a pocket, or wherever.”

We discussed the mechanics of the game, without getting too specific. Knowing the people who were participating, I thought it would work well. I was more than looking forward to it: I was ready to start that very day.

Teresa and I discussed the weekend and the game for a long time. We both had two large coffees, and were beginning to feel the effects of too much caffeine.

– “Walk me home?” she asked.

As we walked, we continued to discuss her ideas. She seemed quite taken with some of my suggestions, but wouldn’t give me any hints about whether she planned to use them or not.

– “And you’ll help people get costumes?” she asked, again.

– “I promised.” I reminded her.

– “I’ll hold you to that.”

 

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hank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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