Archive for February 3rd, 2009

Love Among The Ruins©

(This is another tale from the Adventures of Open End. Valentine’s Day is in the offing. It is only appropriate then to post an episode from the life of  this  scabrous pirate in which he is ready to give a shot at love.b)
It was the month of March. Open End was holed up in Cartegena, Colombia and from the day one it was clear to the pirate those who belonged to the Golden Cockerel were a breed apart. The Golden Cockerel was a club where every member had class.  It was housed in a palace. All the streets led to it and ornate carriages riding on sent swirls of dust and the locals were to accept them as a class apart.And they didn’t care two hoots if they were inconvenienced. Open End of course was not there to acquire any class but to clear a doubt: What made them special?
The palace stood in its solitary grandeur surrounded by a sea of manicured lawn dotted with every sort of tropical plants; and not a plant among them was allowed to be there by accident. They were chosen for its color, fruits and form and they served a purpose. The lush growth of greenery merely tickled the fancies of those chosen few as they drove through its serpentine driveway to be received by a liveried footman. Within the cool halls paved in marble the ones who were admitted could recapture through a fretwork of Moorish design, those bygone glories of Cordoba. Those who had come from their wearied travels to pant before an elaborately carved fountain in the central courtyard perhaps thought of pleasures of paradise to come. Where the senses wearied of every day smells and sounds here was a heaven on earth! It was a paradise, which the Moors longed for. It was an impossible dream but in Cartagena it was an every day reality. Of course for Open End it was a challenge that he could not escape.
At the Golden Cockerel no one lived in the past or for future. They held the glory of Spain in a palace, which was dedicated to uphold the highest ideals of the realm. The Palace of Thousand Ports. Yes those who streamed to its portals would have done business at thousands or more ports of the world. Only the blue blooded darkened its halls and there they lolled all day while an army of lackeys let themselves into a lather dancing to their tune. What was the name of the tune they so brazenly called for? Privileged We Are. It did not matter if it was out of tune but who sang and for whose benefit alone counted. Open End could not believe it. He had taken enough knocks as a pirate and told so many lies to gain an advantage he didn’t think his uppercase was the sole arbiter to his sanity. Whenever he felt confused all those money in his treasure chests seemed to convince him he was as good as those hidalgos whom he had in so many encounters worsted time and time again.  He took a hard and long look at himself. He was low born and lived a low life all through. Or was he under some delusion?
Somewhere some one had goofed. So much so he was certain! Otherwise why would he seek out three months ago the haberdasher by appointment to the King? Did he not tell him, ’Money is of no concern fellow? In reply he grimaced but took order meekly the man who took the measure of kings and fitted him out in clothes, which would have tickled any blue blooded duchess. He had paid in gold for pleasing his tailor who received it in his gloved hand as if it were all a mistake. A bag of silver had seen to his conveyance. The grubby fellow who supplied the carriage with plush cushions and a liveried driver looked at him as if his cat had left him overnight at his door. But the money was real and he had to accept him at its face value. All those accoutrements and money spent for his appearance pleased numerous tradesmen who still seemed not to take him for real. Did he belong to the privileged class? Or was it all a mistake?
What a flood in silver and gold had he let stream forth! He cut every inch a hidalgo of infinite dash and polish, which shimmered up to his ruff. Dressed with the best the money could buy he was as privileged as any. But his confusion didn’t just go away.
The Golden Cockerel set belonged to an exclusive club. The Golden Cockerel surely had sympathy for anyone whose credentials were his own person but the door nevertheless remained shut. No wonder Open End would have been thrown out unceremoniously had he ever tried to get in by his own steam. It was unfair. How the privileged had set themselves a class apart went against his grain so to speak. His ingrained democratic values were in for a shock at what he came up against in Cartagena. It was intolerable. Unknown to him he was privileged as they….


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This story is inscribed for my grandchild Ilse who is turning 10 today.


Easy Come, Easy Go ©

Grandma Doris had a cottage by the water’s edge. No water-rat around Harper’s Fork lived in such circumstances as she lived. From ceiling to the floor every inch of space was taken up to house her collection. Obviously she was a water-rat of some means.
All day she seated herself on a rocking chair by the river. Watching the blue skies did not fill her heart with gladness; neither did she care to make small talk with fishes or herons which went about their business all day. She did not care to watch the sun rise or go down. All day long she sat there watching the river. If something caught her eye immediately she would dart a large pole with a hook at the end. Only when she lifted her hand one knew she had found something new. Of course that added to her collection.
Her house was kept by Jamie. He was her grandchild.  She loved him as only a grandmother could love. She let him admire all that she possessed. “I love to live surrounded by beautiful things,” she would tell him with a glint in her eye,”but the most beautiful object has a name.”
“What is it, grandma?” Jamie the water-rat would ask. “Oh, the object of my affections has a tail and throws up sparks. Always goes off with a bang!”
“ Ah I know.” Jamie was very clever.
“Tell me what it is?”
“A comet!”
“No, silly boy!”Grandma Doris would reply,”it is you.” How often she prided in the fact!
Whenever she sent Jamie on errands she was however careful to warn,”mind your hands, and tail.” She knew Jamie was very lively and full of fun as water-rats of his age. So she never forgot to add, “Don’t bang the door hard as you go out. Thank you!”
Jamie always came home late which she did not mind as much as he often missed half the items on the shopping list. Whenever she thought she would take him to task he always knew how to put it off.
One day Jamie came home and that freshly baked bread she had particularly wanted was soggy and bad. Before she could holler Jamie said,”Grandma Doris I bet no one has a cork as beautiful as the one over there!” Instantly she looked at the object he referred to. She smiled and she waited for him to finish. Jamie said,”It is from a bottle of port. From Portugal, I dare say.”
Laughing broadly Grandma Doris said,”Yes indeed.”She held it out for him to sniff but he had fled. It amazed her that she was talking to empty air. Jamie always knew when to make an exit.
Next day as usual Jamie came to ask if Grandma Doris wanted anything done in town. But she was rooted to the ground peering into the sky. She held out her hand to mouth,’Shh!’. ”Perhaps it may rain.” she said in excitement.
“Showers of pretty pennies,”she added and put on her apron to catch them all if it did come. She saw a puff of cloud appearing at a distance. Immediately she wagged her forefinger and shouted,”Get all the buckets you can find in the shed. Those may come handy.” Jamie knew his grandma too well to argue.
He brought three buckets and placed it by his grandmother’s side. Grandma Doris seemed to have completely forgotten him. So he ran to the backyard and rolled a cask to the front and waited.
The wisp of cloud now bellowed into a monstrous size and went on growing. From black clouds that filled the sky a lightening shot out like a tongue of fire. KRRRAAGHHH! An ear-splitting noise and the massive cloud melted into million drops. A shower such as that Jamie had never seen before.
Pitter-Patter! Pitter-Patter! Drops fell. Non-stop they beat a tattoo on the river.
Before Doris could realise what was happening the river had overshot the banks. “Jamie look out!”she cried loud from water which had come up to her chin. Jamie rushed towards her and said,”Grandma get into this cask!” No sooner had they taken shelter in it than they were tossed high into the air by a wave. The cask fell far with a ‘plop’ sound and they were furiously pushed farther and farther.
Grandma Doris peeked at the spot where her cottage stood. Her cottage was gone! It was broken into so many bits and pieces; so were all her collection. “Grandma Doris,”Jamie tugged at his gradndma and said, “Lucky to be alive eh?”
Grandma Doris could only snort in dismay.
The End

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