Friday, November 29, 2019

the adventures of yeti - 27. the flower, the pig girl, the brave little lamb, and the highway.


by bofa xesjum

part twenty-seven of 27

to read previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





would you like to take a turn writing in the book, the witch asked cleo.

that depends.

on what?

on whether you let me take shelter here, and maybe give mr something to eat.

of course. with that, the witch handed the quill pen to cleo.

what should i write?

anything you like.

and will everything i write come true?

it depends on what you mean by true.

that’s a good answer, cleo said. and how many pages do i have to write?

oh, four or five will do. but, please, go on as long as you like…


cleo began to write.

once upon a time there was a little flower growing in the garden of an evil queen.

a little pig girl was driving her pigs along the country road when she saw the flower.

i wonder, the little pig girl thought, if anything will happen if i pick that flower?


she looked up and down the road. there was no sign of the evil queen’s guards, who had a fearful reputation among the country folk.

pick me, the flower said to the little pig girl, you will never get another chance.

with one last look down the road, the pig girl reached for the flower…

at this point, yeti lost track of cleo’s story. he stared into the fire.

in the flames and the ashes he thought he saw another story.


a story about a brave little lamb who became separated from his fellows in a ferocious snowstorm and found himself alone on the king’s highway, with the lights from the king’s castle shining in the distance through the snow…

and that, cleo said, is how i ended up driving through the snowstorm with those four bums and ended up here, where i thank you very much, madam, for your hospitality, which is of no common kind.


the countess nodded. you are very welcome.

dr franklnstein cleared his throat. thank you, that was very edifying, he told cleo. and thank you , countess, for the excellent hot toddy and blueberry croissant. and, of course, thank you, dr edwardstein, for returning my wandering boy to me.

dr franklinstein stood up. come, yeti, he said, it is time to go.

*

the rain had stopped falling, though sheets of water blew in the wind down the empty highway.

the night sky was clear.

dr franklinstein kept his foot on the speed pedal as his little car shot toward the lights of the city.

what were you thinking, yeti? he asked. you know you can never escape me, or escape anything.

yeti answered, all i wanted was to be free.


the end


Monday, November 25, 2019

the adventures of yeti - 26. the witch and the book


by bofa xesjum

part twenty-six of ?

to read previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





i approached the hut, cleo said, caring not what i found…

the hut had a low door, and a single small window, in which had seen the light.

an old woman sat at a table. a large, ragged looking book lay open on the table before her, with the light from an oil lamp shining directly on the pages. the old woman was writing in the book with a long quill pen, though whether she was filling in blank pages or simply writing in the margins i could not tell by peering in the window.


there was no fire in the hut, nor any fireplace that i could see, or any bed or other furniture that i could see.

the old woman was a witch. i could tell because she was wearing a big witch’s pointed hat, the biggest and heaviest looking witch’s pointed hat i had ever seen. it might have been a shiny black when it was new, but was now worn looking, raggedy, and gray.

the hut was so small, and the window so close to the door, that i was able to rap on the door while still peering through the window.


the old woman did not look up, but i saw her lips move, and i took this as an invitation to enter.

when i did, she did not look over at me or greet me, and as i approached her i saw that she was indeed writing in a blank book, or at least on a blank page.

what is that you are writing, mother? i asked, out of politeness, because what i really wanted to ask her was if i could take shelter and if she could spare a morsel for me to eat, as it was growing cold outside and i would have liked to hoard the meager rations i was carrying in my handkerchief.


i am writing the book of life , she answered. i am writing everything that has ever happened or ever will happen.

of course, i replied. i was well aware of such claims, having heard something like them from countless gypsies and wise women, in carnivals and on street corners.

it is a great burden, a heavy responsibility, the woman continued. i would like to be relieved of it.

i am sure you would be, i said. and that hat looks very heavy too.


it is very heavy, she answered, would you like to wear it?

no thank you, i said, i have my own hat, thank you. i was wondering -

you were wondering if you could stay the night, and sleep in my straw.

as a matter of fact, i was.

the woman turned her face to me for the first time, and i saw that under her hat and her scraggly mass of white and gray hair, she had the face of a young girl, practically of a child.

would you like to take a turn writing in the book, she asked me.

at this point yeti, who had been listening politely in his usual way to cleo’s tale, interrupted her.


excuse me, he said, but i am a bit confused. are you recounting your life story, or are you describing the nightmare you referred to earlier?

oh, just let her go on with her story, the countess said, with an irritated glance at yeti.

just at that moment the butler reappeared.

dr franklinstein is here, madam, he tpld the countess.

yes, of course, if eddie is here, frank is sure to follow. show him in. is he alone, or did he drag anyone with him?


he is quite alone, unless he has someone in his pockets.

then show him in.

the butler left, and cleo took the opportunity to take a sip of the hot toddy she had been provided with.

dr franklinstein appeared and bowed to the countess, and then turned to the rest of the guests.

yeti! he exclaimed . what are you doing here?

it is a long story, doctor, yeti replied.

and we are in the middle of another one, the countess said. please go on , my dear, she told cleo.

after another sip of her hot toddy, cleo did so.


27. the flower, the pig girl, the brave little lamb, and the highway


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

the adventures of yeti - 25. cleo's tale - continued


by bofa xesjum

part twenty-five of ?

to read previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





what are you doing, cleo, boring our poor hostess with your sad story? i have been listening outside the door, and you began by saying you were going to relate the story of your nightmare. i am sure that would be much more interesting than yet another retelling of your woebegone tale.

the speaker was the driver of the car that had delivered the five lost travelers to the castle. a burly fellow with a surly manner who had introduced himself as “mister moses”. like his companions, he had pleaded weariness, been allotted a room to rest in, and was only now making his appearance in the polite precincts of the countess’s drawing room.

i’ll tell my story as my please, mose, if it is all the same to you.


the countess decided she did not care for mose or his manner, and she interjected, please go on, my dear, i find my story quite fascinating.

mose looked at the countess. you are the hostess, he said with a smile.. he pointed to am enormous armchair right beside the fire.

may i? he asked the countess.

please. make yourself comfortable.

cleo resumed her tale:


one snowy night i and my three younger sisters, belmolocha, astarte, and yezebel, packed our miserable belongings into handkerchiefs, tied the handkerchiefs to our chimneysweep brooms, slung them over our shoulders, and slipped out the back door of our wretched hut. i had decided that we should take the brooms with us as a precaution, as we could perhaps make a little money with odd sweep jobs, if our dreams of employment as entertainers did not bear fruit immediately.


the six older sisters slept peacefully as we made our escape. in any case, they knew of our plans and were gad to see us go, and had warmed us that if we tried to return they would not welcome us or plead with our mother to take us back, as there was already little enough work or food to go around.

all ten of us had been reduced to sleeping in the small back room, as the front had been given over to a kind of studio where mother attempted to train zenobia in the uncertain arts of emperor-catching.


we had picked a truly miserable night. the snow fell fast, and we looked forward with trepidation to a long journey down a long dark road to the capital, where we hoed to make the rounds of the theaters, circus offices, and booking agencies.

imagine our surprise when we found the high road virtually thronged with wretches like ourself.

many had the same design as us - to achieve renown as entertainers and catch the emperor’s fancy in that manner and get themselves or their daughters or granddaughters or sisters or nieces established as empress.


others wished to go to the capital set themselves up as coaches or trainers for the aspirants to the royal bedchamber.

it made you wonder, who was left to sweep the chimneys or sweep the floor or make the beds or serve the ale and mutton, throughout the length and breadth of the empire.

and behold, the question was answered by the third class of people swarming the roads - the zealots and wavers of broadsides and pamphlets, preaching revolution against the empire and its mad emperor, who had brought the world to such a pretty pass of chaos through his absurd whims.


among this group of would be saviors was a scowling, dark-visaged young man calling himself by the single name of ricardo - “little ricky” to his rivals and detractors - who had established something of a following, largely among young women.

alas, belmolocha, astarte, and yezebel fell under ricky’s spell. ignoring my wise counsel and warnings, they joined ricky’s troop and left me standing in the road.


where was i to turn? i had no illusions as to my own unaided abilities to charm the emperor, especially with so many thousands of rivals. nor did i wish to return to the chimneysweeping business and my mother and older sisters, where i was sure to meet cruel mockery at best and relentless abuse at worst.

i found myself wandering off the main road.

into a thick woods.

i found a path in the woods and followed it.

presently i saw a single small light among the trees.

the light led me to a small hut.

i approached the hut, caring not what i found…


26. the witch and the book


Thursday, November 7, 2019

the adventures of yeti - 24. cleo's tale


by bofa xesjum

part twenty-four of ?

to read previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





let me introduce myself, to those who may not know me.

my name is cleo brown.

i was born with the soul of an empress, but whoever was assigning lives the day i was born missed a beat, or missed the boat, or missed something because i came into the world in a station very far removed from my proper one.

my mother was a chimneysweep. and she had eleven daughters, born each one year apart, in the month of the mouse, beginnng in the year of the toad. we all expected to be earn our livings, and be chimneysweeps too.

our names were isis, helen, genessisa, felicitrope, entropia, destiny. cleomene , (myself) , belmolocha, astarte, zentropia, and yezebel.


the first thing i can remember is my mother telling me, you are going to have to earn your keep.

that sounded reasonable enough at the time, because i was yet to learn that there were people who did not have to earn their keep - people like princesses, and queens, and empresses - and the favorites of princes, and kings, and emperors.

at first, we were all to follow in her footsteps and be trained o be chimneysweeps and fireplace polishers. an ancient and honorable profession, or so we were told.


and then, in the year of the shark, when i was eight years old, my youngest sister, yezebel, was four, and my oldest sister, isis, was fourteen, the emperor adam xvii, cursed be his name, issued his infamous proclamation that he would take as his bride not a vestal virgin chosen from the long line of vestals bred from time immemorial for that purpose, but would conduct a search through the entire empire for a perfect specimen of feminine grace and beauty.

mothers throughout the empire immediately began preparing and training their daughters , hoping to ensnare the monarch.


the more innocent and optimistic ones prepared all their daughters, however many they had.

the more calculating ones selected one daughter, and concentrated all their hopes and efforts on her.

my mother was one such. she took the measure of all.

isis was too tall, helen was too thin, genessissa’s ears were too big, felicitrope’s ears were too pointy, entropia’s chin was too pointy, destiny had a nose like a pig, my nose was too long and pointy, belmolocha had no sense of humor, astarte talked too much, and yezebel talked too loudly and had no respect for anything.


this left zentropia. she was to be the favored one. from that day on she never got a cinder on her dainty person, but was groomed by our mother for her one in a billion chance to be empress. the rest of us would have grumbled in any case, but that was far from the worst of it.

zenobia’s education had a price. things had to be purchased for it. that meant the rest of us wore even more raggedy rags than before, and that our rations were cut by two thirds, and all we were given to eat was gruel and potato skins. mother assured us that potato skins were packed with all the protein we could wish for.


unfair! unfair! my soul, which had been fired with the thought of becoming empress, pointy nose or no pointy nose, rebelled! and this rebellion in my soul, was, so far as i was concerned, proof in itself, of my fitness for a throne.

i resolved to run away to the capital, and persuaded the three younger rejects, belmolocha, astarte, and yezebel , to accompany me.

i convinced them that we could form a juggling and acrobatic act, and join the circus - where we would surely be seen by the emperor, who, on seeing us, would forget all about the foolish search through the kingdom and fasten on one of us.

we hastened to put our plan into action.

at this point cleo’s story was interrupted by the entrance into the drawing room of another member of the traveling party she had arrived at the castle with.


25. cleo's tale - continued


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

the adventures of yeti - 23. the castle


by bofa xesjum

part twenty-three of ?

to read previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





a dreary evening in the castle, with a storm raging outside.

it had been raining through the evening, and if the travelers who had taken shelter were to be believed, snow was approaching from the south.

the five travelers had arrived earlier, and the countess had thought they might provide her with some amusement, but they had all pleaded weariness, and the ever gracious countess had allowed them to retire .


there had been four men - one good looking young man, one surly brute, two taciturn nonentities - and a young woman who had seemed the least sociable of the lot.

the fire crackled in the grate. the countess yawned. she was almost tempted to go to bed herself.

forbes, the butler, appeared.

dr edwardstein is here, madam.

does he have anyone with him? you know how fond he is of picking up strays on the highway, especially on rainy and stormy nights.


he does have a young man with him, madam. one i do not recall ever seeing before, though of course i can not be positive, with madam being such a welcoming hostess and allowing all manner of human and beast into her most gracious presence.

yes, show him in. i just hope he is not expecting any scintillating conversation or entertainment.

forbes laughed softly. perhaps he thinks dr franklinstein is here - or is expecting him to show up later.

who knows? in any case, show eddie and his friend in.


forbes departed, and a minute later dr edwardstein and yeti entered.

yeti was impressed with the countess’s drawing room, as he had been impressed with the castle and everything he had seen in and around it since dr edwardstein had first approached it in his pickup truck.

who’s your friend? the countess asked dr edwardstein.

the doctor turned to yeti. what did you say your name was again?

yeti.


yes, of course. the doctor turned back to the countess, nodded, and headed toward a chair near the fireplace.

i was singing the praises of your pastry cook to my young friend here, the doctor announced as he settled into the chair. i hope we are not too late to sample some of his creations.

it is never early or late here in the castle, eddie, you know that. actually, i had some unexpected guests earlier tonight and they made short work of alexander’s apple strudel, but i am sure he would be honored to whip you up another batch.


that would be very nice, the doctor replied. and some coffee, perhaps…. i am still feeling a bit chilled.

of course. and how about you, young man, does apple strudel suit you? and some coffee? and, please, be seated. we are all friends here.

yes, yes, thank you, yeti managed to say. he looked around for the smallest, most uncomfortable chair he could find, and sat down slowly in it. his clothes were still a little wet, but nobody seemed to mind.


the countess rang a little bell on the table beside her thronelike chair.

forbes reappeared and took the order for strudel and coffee.

i don’t see any guests, dr edwardstein said to the countess, after forbes left. and i don’t see frank. i take it he is not here.

no, he is not. we had a carful of stranded travelers earlier, but they all pleased exhaustion, and preferred the company of morpheus to mine.


ah. but they enjoyed alexander’s apple strudel.

so it seemed.

the apple strudel gave me nightmares, a voice behind them said. or something did.

a young woman, the only female from the group of five stranded travelers, appeared, and took a seat.

i am sorry to hear that, the countess replied. perhaps some coffee will clear your head.


maybe. thank you. the young woman yawned.

what did you say your name was? the countess asked her.

cleo. cleo brown. miss brown to you.

yes, of course. tell me, miss brown, do you expect your friends to awake any time soon?

i really couldn’t say. they are not exactly my friends. three of them are my associates, i wouldn’t call them friends. they are not likely to wake up. the other one, the mug who looked like a strikebreaker, we just picked him up on the road , i don’t know anything about him.


i see. you know, miss brown, i am not making any demand, but it is the custom in these parts for travelers to attempt to repay the hospitality of their hosts by telling a story, if they can, especially on stormy nights such as this.

you want me to tell you a story? miss brown answered. sure, i’ll tell you a story. i’ll tell you the story of my nightmare.

the countess smiled. i am sure it will be most interesting.

24. cleo's tale