Nature’s bells hold a calming quality, but to a certain man begrudgingly attached to his computer, the cliche failed inside the gust of an icicle breeze. Still Watson trudged on. He had much to think about, and his house lacked the solitude of a bypassed park bench. Radios blared and toddlers wailed and his mother wouldn’t turn off the damn television. Outdoors offered refuge. His feet brought him to the autumn festival, while as lively as his grandfather’s corpse, sported an overabundance of isolated seating. Also, he’d heard something about cheap drinks.
Watson especially looked forward to those.
After a quick survey of the park, Watson located a promising stand in the western corner. The girl manning it jumped at the sight of him, and then sheepishly looked down at her ludicrous uniform. Orange and yellow pinstripes have never been in Vogue. Watson approached carefully-one can never be too cautious with carnival workers, particularly when their uniforms resemble that of a serial killer.
“Hello,” said Watson casually. “Do you serve tequila?”
“Wow,” she sighed. “I always thought my first appearance would be more, um, dignified than this.”
“Bloody Marys?” asked Watson louder.
“I mean, I write this damn thing, and what’s my part? A carnival worker. Crusty, right?”
“Carnival workers aren’t crusty,” said Watson uncomfortably. “Unless they don’t shower, of course. Vodka?”
“The textures haven’t even loaded yet! What a lovely way to start the chapter. Oh.” She paused awkwardly. “Hello, Watson.”
“Erm,” said Watson.
“Just call me Anony, okay?” said the author’s Simself.
“Erm,” said Watson.
“We don’t serve alcohol here,” she sighed. “Too many kids running around, you know?”
“That’s a damn shame.”
“Damn right it is. Don’t look so bummered out, though,”-she winked knowingly-“it’s happy hour at the tavern.”
“I’m not very happy right now,” said Watson.
She rolled her eyes. “I know.”
“Because I wri-erm, worry about everybody in town, and I can tell from the state of your jacket that you are feeling pretty preoccupied-”
“It’s a very nice jacket!” protested Watson. “My sister picked it out for me!”
“No, I did,” said the frustrated author. The hour struck ten, and she whirled out of her incriminating uniform before continuing. “And I quite agree with you-it’s lovely. However, you didn’t button it up. That shows you weren’t thinking about the weather, because you were focused on something else, yeah?”
“An e-mail,” stated Watson. “I was thinking about an e-mail.”
“I know, I know,” snapped The Author, who on the other side of her laptop was very busy cooking dinner and thus had little patience for Watson’s thickheadedness. “Just go to the goddamn tavern, okay? You’ll meet a miracle.”
“A miracle?” scoffed Watson. “I don’t believe in those.”
“Then maybe you know the answer to the question. But in case you don’t, I’m sure some alcohol would help you find it. Brandy often works in strange ways. If you’re going to find any sort of miracle tonight, you’d best find a bottle.”
“I think,” said Watson slowly, “I think you might be right. Brandy sounds great.”
“Right.” She rolled her eyes. “Run along, Watson. The night is young, and so are you.”
Watson shoved his hands in his pockets and sighed. A Harsh, freezing gust of wind careened wildly through the park; sudden snow pelted from the clouds. Shuddering, Watson turned back to the stand, only to discover that The Author had vanished.
He blinked, half expecting her to reappear once more. Three blinks more and Watson sighed. Futility only rewards the underdogs. Shaking his head in disbelief, he stalked into the gradual darkness.
Snow settled on his shoulders, and alcohol in his mind. Over the years, the thirst had done little but grow. Rose’s expulsion had tempered it, but in the face of utter confusion, brandy beckoned like painted nails on a cold winter’s day. Vivid, restless, and unquestioningly faceless.
Some hours must have passed before Watson spotted the light in the distance. He stumbled towards it, fingers numb, breath spotty, through a thickening layer of snow.
He swung open the door and threw himself into the first chair he saw. He scanned the sign above the bar. Contrary to The Author’s word, it was not happy hour, and they were not serving brandy.
If there had been a ferret in the room, Watson would have chucked it out the window.
The door swung open. Watson kept his eyes glued to the pitiful menu pasted above the bar. No special on onion rings? What a load of horse shit.
Behind him, John Hanover raised his eyebrows and smiled. After a fierce run-in (it had started as an interview, as most of John’s fierce run-ins began) with a deadly decadent court of vanity fair supernaturals and a taxi drive that could only be described as “Lovecraftian,” Watson’s squinted eyes and self righteous frown bordered on ethereal. “Hello,” said John pleasantly. “How are you?”
“How am I?” pondered Watson. He thought back to the e-mail and sighed loudly. “I guess there’s no escaping from questions.”
“Never,” agreed John. Sensing a story, he added gently, “Would you like to talk about it?”
“I don’t know,” said Watson. “Rule number one of storytelling: the more facial hair somebody has, the more likely they’re a villain. Until a certain point, anyway. Then they’re a wizard. Or homeless.”
John shifted uncomfortably. “I prefer the scruffy look.”
Watson shrugged. Brown eyes had never threatened him before, and the mud on John’s shoes smelled nothing like the graveyard. He daren’t say it to himself-at least not at this hour, but he found traces of honesty in those plump lips, as well. “You can sit down.”
“Thanks!” grinned John. He whirled into a childish baseball cap and a white and yellow shirt, then pulled out a pad of paper and a stub of a pencil. Watson raised his eyebrows. “I want to tell stories,” admitted John. “Real ones. I’ve got to get in the zone before I do it, though, so, er, please excuse the uniform and the jankity pencil. The journalist firm hates its newbies.”
“They haven’t proved themselves yet,” said Watson. “From a businessman’s point of view, the fear is justified. The new employee could be a complete waste of time and money, and be a potential embarrassment.”
“By pushing us down, they ignore our talent,” said John. “When I applied, I thought I’d start out in the office, not delivering papers. How am I supposed to support myself by throwing the daily mail on every grandma’s doorstep? That’s crazy!”-he swallowed, bit his lip, and then looked to Watson before remembering why he’d sat down-“Sorry. I get carried away sometimes.”
“Don’t we all?” Watson sighed. Elizabeth, however much he loved her, was living evidence of that.
“ANYWAY,” said John, becoming suddenly animated, “what’s your story?”
“I’m stuck on the current chapter.”
“Maybe I can help you out,” suggested John, “but I can’t do anything if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”
“I got a weird e-mail,” began Watson uncertainly. “The return address was pound signs.”
“Shady,” mused John. “Very shady. And it said?”
“‘You are a beanstalk in a battlefield, Mr. Watson. Tell me: have you ever prayed to God?’ I don’t know the sender, and I don’t know to their answer, either. Somedays, I don’t even know the recipient. Hell, I don’t even know your name. I used to think that I had the whole world’s knowledge captured somewhere in my esophagus, but lately everything seems to prove me wrong.”
“I’m John,” said John. “And, if it makes you feel any better, I didn’t send that e-mail. There’s something you can count on.”
“Thanks,” sighed Watson. “I’m Watson, but that’s not important. Can you answer the question?”
“Sure. But my answer isn’t what matters. Yours is what’s important, but even more important than the question is the asker. Do you have any idea what the pound signs mean?”
A silence descended over them as Watson turned over the pound signs in his head, examining their underbellies, the crevices between their angles. No names hid there, and no clues crept from beneath the lines. He sighed heavily. “No.”
“I’m a journalist,” said John helpfully. “I know people. Somebody’s got to have information on this.”
“Yeah,” said Watson. He glanced at the clock, froze, and then leapt from his chair. Nearly four hours had passed since he’d left on his walk; Lizzie would be waking up soon. However, another question lingered in his mind. He said it quickly, before he was able to take it back. “Listen, John, I’m really grateful, but why do you want to help me?”
“Because I like you, Watson. It’s rare to meet someone so honest in a town like this.”
Watson thought this was absolute rubbish and half a mind to say so (he thought the librarians were all very honest), but instead nodded gratefully. John deserved it. “Well, thank you. I’ve really got to run, though. My daughter’ll be up soon.”
“I understand. I’ll call you tomorrow?”
“You have my-?” Watson blinked.
“It’s a weird game,” said John.
“Right,” said Watson. “Well, I’ll see you later.”
A cab awaited Watson as he stepped from the tavern. He raised an eyebrow-had it been sent by the mysterious e-mailer?-but then shook his head. Taxis, however obnoxiously colored, were rarely malevolent.
The drive home was swift and slippery. The car slithered about the street and onto the sidewalk. The car stumbled and crawled over a number of mysterious bumps on the road, but Watson thought little of them. His e-mail loomed far above any manslaughter charges. Another thought darted between those of his e-mail: John. He had such calloused hands, and such protruding knuckles.. They were quite nice, if Watson allowed himself to think it. The car screeched to halt, and Watson’s thoughts along with it.
He leapt from the taxi and sprinted towards the house. After the third hour of utter exhaustion, adrenaline often hit Watson like a cold slap with a fish. He threw open the door, ran for a midnight snack, and was greeted by a scowling welcoming party.
Like mother, like daughter, thought Watson sheepishly. Pandora tapped her foot impatiently, and Scarlett drummed her nails as if pounding out a death metal drum solo. Their collective grimace could have sawed a Congressman in half. “Why are you still up?” asked Watson, shifting his weight uncomfortably.
“It’s past night noon,” snapped Pandora. She’d never quite forgiven him for Rose’s unceremonious expulsion, and her demeanor towards him had since resembled that of a jilted grizzly bear. “And it’s today.”
“I’m knoc-nodding off,” said Scarlett. “But really, Watson, I need to talk to you now.”
“Elizabeth’s eyesight’s gone wonky from the wait,” said Pandora mournfully. “I suppose one bizzaro grandchild is better than none.”
“Jesus!” cried Watson. He swooped her up in his arms and kissed her forehead, hoping fervently that her eyes would return to normal.
“Come on, Lizzie, see straight!” muttered Watson. “I wasn’t home that late, was I?”
It was then he noticed the cake on the counter. He looked at Elizabeth, then the cake, and then back at Elizabeth once more.
“Now that that jaw dropping revelation is over,” said Scarlett quickly, “let’s get this birthday party over with, shall we? I’ve got a lot to talk to Watson about, and would prefer to do so with as few speed bumps as possible.”
“What’s the rush?” asked Malix. “She’s a fairy-she’s got centuries for birthdays.”
Elizabeth burped her disapproval. If she had her way, she’d skip straight to her twenties without a grain of remorse. Watson glanced down at her and nodded. “My diaper changing days are over. Everybody knows you’ve got to age up the toddlers as soon as you can, or you want to light the house on fire before the night’s over. Somebody bring me the lighter.”
“For the candles.”
She sighed in relief.
A few gasoline related mishaps later, the candles were lit. Watson, believing his daughter hadn’t the breath in her to blow them out on her own, snuffed the flames himself.
“DAMNIT, DAD!!!” screamed Elizabeth.
A very startled Watson (Elizabeth had kept silent around her father until this moment) lost control of his hands and dropped her to the floor.
“I’M A MONSTER!!!” screamed Watson, who, in his dismay, smashed his hand through the countertop and now secretly believed he was the Incredible Hulk. Fatherhood had thrown all his dearly beloved logic in the trash compactor.
If Elizabeth hadn’t been leaping wildly into childhood, her reply would have gone as follows: “You’re not a monster, Dad, and I really shouldn’t have blown my top, but do not steal the candles from a five year old, and especially not this one.”
Her waning speech impairment limited her to simply gurgling instead.
“Rather lovely nose I’ve got here,” she said after the swirling had subsided and her language returned.
“I broke her!” Watson cried. “Look at her eyes-she’s broken!”
“Way to go,” snapped Pandora. “You snapped my only grandchild’s eyesight in half.”
“Actually, you’re going to have tw-” began Scarlett.
“Most people never see their noses outside of the mirror,” said Malix pleasantly. “If you ask me, she’s quite privileged.”
“Oh, wow!” said Elizabeth. “Somebody should really throw out this crusty food.” Everybody continued to fuss, and her revelation remained sorely under the din. “The food that’s not my nose?” She glanced around and then, upping the volume, continued. “On the table? That I can see? That’s not my nose?”
“Broken!” wailed Watson. “I can’t believe I broke my daughter’s eyes! A horrible dad, that’s what I am, a failure…”
“She lost before she even got a chance to begin,” said Pandora mournfully. “Whizzer! You made her into a loser, Watson!”
“Nothing’s wrong with being cross-eyed I’ve dated guys with way worse problems,” said Scarlett. “Now snap out of it, Watson.”
“It’s not a big deal, really,” said Malix. “How about some cake?”
“Sounds delicious,” snapped Elizabeth, snatching up a slice of cake. “Looks delicious, too.”
Like John’s lips… thought Watson. He froze. Did I really just think that? About a man?
“Hey, Dad,” said Elizabeth. “I’m not cross-eyed.”
I’ve never thought this way about anyone, really… And especially not a man. John. John…what’s his last name?
“Hello?” Elizabeth sighed and visibly deflated. “Maybe Grandma’s right. Maybe I am a loser.”
I need to know his last name, his last home, his last thought before he said hello. Such lovely-oh Jesus, Watson, this is a man you’re thinking about!
Oh, fuck the gender, the time of day, the few hours they’d known each other! The sparks had flown, and the connection had taken flight. He’d call John tomorrow. They’d get a coffee, talk about the e-mail, maybe even discuss their writing, and then later they’d…
A shiver danced up his spine. Tomorrow, he thought to himself. The world will start tomorrow.
Family bonding! Phone calls! Love at second sight!
Junior Senior – “Can I Get Get Get”
A/N: Heehee, I totally stole the title from the song above. (:
Anywho, I’m starting up a rainbowcy soon! I’ve got the first generation planned, made, the town set up, and hope to have it up and running by the end of this week! I’ll post a link to the first update on here, and another on the forums.
Here’s a sneak peek of the founder, Blanca Dove! I’m kind of in love with her.
Thanks for reading, everybody! How do you like John so far? 😀