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The Stolen Necklace, Notecard #4

This week’s notecard is from Dorian Tolliver. He’s more competent than I expected, but uses stamps and symbols for no reason, which is why perhaps his sister and Charlotte have trouble taking him seriously. Big question: Does he have a thing for Charlotte, or is he just playing the gentleman?

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The Stolen Necklace, Notecard #3

So far I haven’t chosen to make any replies to the first couple of notecards, but I want to do that in the future, and the next card, I think, will be a response from Charlotte’s friend, Juniper. We also have yet to hear from Dorian Tolliver or Lord Dovecoat and could do with more from Aunt Amelia. The last note, I want to be short and either a surprise or something poetic and sweet. Seven more cards to go, though, so we’ll see. I like Rose a lot, but she and her brother seem like they would always be getting into trouble. The hard part is going to be making it a complete story. Stories are extremely easy to start, but ending them well, and especially short stories… uff da. Well, it’s good practice.

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At the Voting Booth

On Election Day, Tony stood in line at his local community center. He sipped at a hot coffee from the diner down the street and pulled up the hood on his sweatshirt to keep warm in the chilly morning. If he had been fully awake, he would have noticed something a bit odd about the people standing in line with him and even about the community center.

Tony had never actually been to the community center before. It was located just where he had always thought the Super Clean car wash was. Now, he looked up and down the street and scratched his head. Maybe the car wash was on the next parallel street? It was too early to think. He took a big gulp of coffee and nearly choked on it when he thought he saw a thick blue tail sticking out underneath the trench coat of the man in front of him. The man turned around.

“You ok, buddy?”

Tony blinked. The man was just an ordinary man, no tail, to blue skin of any kind. “Yeah, the coffee just went down the wrong way.” He shook his head. It was too early to be up. He must still be half in dreamland, for the community center seemed to be shimmering in front of his eyes, and just behind the shimmer sat the car wash.

It took about a twenty-minute wait in line before Tony entered the building. He had brought his driver’s license and voter’s card as required. The large woman at the registration desk took a long time finding his name.

“Not one of our usuals,” She said, nodded at his ID and voter’s card. Her hair was so curly and shiny that it looked very much like copper wire––it was copper wire! Again, Tony blinked and saw that she really had soft blond curls. “You’re not on the list, but here’s your ballot. Vote wisely.” She cheerfully handed him a long roll of paper and nodded towards the curtained booths behind her.

“Um…” Tony knew something wasn’t right. “I’m not the list?”

“It’s okay, honey, we can’t keep track of everyone because everyone doesn’t want to be tracked. You see?”

“Not really.” Tony threw his empty coffee cup into a trash can and headed for a booth with his roll of paper. He didn’t remember voting ballots ever being this long. A tall man in a three-piece suit dramatically flung one of the velvet curtains aside. Tony entered the booth and the man flung the curtain back into place. The booth was rather spacious and even had a roof, an actual desk, lamp and velvet-cushioned chair. He sat down and gingerly picked up the fine gold pen that sat on one side of the cherry wood desk. “Here goes.”

He unrolled the long ballot and found it to be made of an odd shiny substance. Tony uncapped the pen and read the first amendment: Amd. 354, 452: The planet NeBon-Bon should be reserved for those with sweet teeth only.

“Huh?” He moved on to the second one: Amd. 789,437: Super power wars shall only be allowed on the third day of the second month of the lunar year on the eighth ring of Saturn. “But Saturn only has seven rings…” The next twelve amendments listed were much in the same vein and total incomprehensible to him. The listing of candidates wasn’t much better. There was a zombie running against a pit bull, a clown running against a ghost and someone named Zooko, a fairy pitted against a warlock, and an alien running for mayor against an android. Tony suddenly had the feeling that he had stepped into a different universe just to vote for his district representative. He was sadly unable to leave the booth until he filled out the entire ballot, which was over six feet long.

Copyright Pixie Beldona, 2010

Bake Sale for the Underprivaleged (On Totalitarianism)

Bake Sale for the Underprivaleged

 The sign read: “Bake Sale for the Underprivaleged.” Noni and Adam stopped to inspect the goodies while the weedy girl dressed in careful shabbiness dropped her arm protectively over an overfull cash box.

“This is soooo great that you’re doing this!” Noni gushed as she bought a brownie. “I mean, it’s, like, so nice to see someone actually doing something!”

“Your sign is spelled wrong.” Adam said as he fished in his pockets for some change. He dropped four quarters into the weedy girl’s hand. “So who is this money going to?”

“It’s for Hepperpot, duh.” The girl said. “They are recovering from a massive earthquake, and people are actually gouging them on food prices.”

“Oh, that’s so awful!” Noni said. “Here, take another dollar!” Adam picked up a peanut butter cookie.

“These look stale.”

“Don’t be rude, Adam, it’s for the poor! This is really, so very awesome…” Noni nodded to the girl as she grasped one of Adam’s backpack straps and pulled him away deeper into the quad.

“Rude? Noni, you think it’s rude to ask where my money is going?” He bit into his cookie and spat out the mouthful. “Ugh. Stale. If these people can’t even make a proper peanut butter cookie, how do they think they can help the poor? There’s more to this than just a bake sale, I’m telling you.”

“Well, on the news the other day they talked about company XYZ…and the earthquake…” Noni trailed off as she bit into her brownie and grimaced. “These are…interesting.”

“As in horrible? I’m no geography major, but I’m pretty sure there’s no country called Hepperpot. I’m getting our money back.”

“No!” Noni held him back. “It’s for the poor, Adam! So they aren’t the best bakers in the world, the money still goes where it’s supposed to!”

“Does it?” Adam shrugged out from under her arm. They both looked back to the bake sale table to find it empty.

 A few weeks later, Noni and Adam strolled through the quad after class. They noticed a large group of students gathered at one end in front of the Anthropology Department. A tall girl dressed in trendy army fatigues shouted platitudes into a microphone while everyone cheered.

“What’s going on?” Adam asked one of the students.

“Aw, get this, man, some American corporation is selling food to the survivors of the Hepperpot earthquake! Selling! It’s, like, so wrong!”

“Like, soooo wrong!” Adam said in the same tone. The student glared at him.

“Ha, see?” Noni pointed at the giant banner scrolled over the school building’s face. “Action for Hepperpot now! It’s a movement!”

“That it sure is,” Adam said with a wink. He nodded to the tall girl with the microphone. “She look familiar to you?”

“Not really…I mean, kinda like that girl from the bake sale last month, but this girl has blond hair, not red.”

“Check out that cash box.” They saw an overflowing guitar case at the microphone girl’s feet. A man in a suit, tie and dark glasses sat on the steps and kept a hand placed on the handle.

“Something’s not right about this.” Adam said.

“But they’re helping––”

“The poor, I know, I get it. Notice they haven’t given any evidence that this corporation is doing what they say. I mean, they could just be lying.”

“It’s a corporation, what more evidence do you need, man?” A student next to them snarled while snapping picture with his cell phone.

“Nice phone,” Adam said, staring at the fruit logo on the back side.

“This is a necessity!” The student scowled.

“Necessity or not, it’s a great product…made by a corporation.” Adam said, stepping back as the student lunged at him.

 Adam woke abruptly to staccato knocking on his door.

“It’s Saturday,” He opened his dorm room to find a worried looking Noni standing in the hallway. “What is it?”

“Adam, you gotta see!” She urged him down the hall to the lounge where a giant television blared the weekend entertainment news. Noni pointed at a tall, elegantly dressed brunette standing confidently next to a popular movie star.

“Hey, that’s…” Adam said. They listened intently to the news reporter.

“Actor Evan EagerBeaver has just set up a foundation to help the world’s poor! If you would like to donate, call the number on the screen. The EEB foundation will help those swept into poverty by recent earthquakes and turmoil in the third world. Evan, how wonderful! Tell us how you came up with the idea!”

“Well…” the handsome actor’s eyes flicked to the woman on his right and then to the screen, “something has to be done. We also plan to sue the corporation that’s been selling food to those in Amnezia.”

“Selling food? How horrible! Those poor people!”

“Yeah, they’re selling water too, if you can believe that. It’s awful, but I am proud to say that the EEB foundation has raised over ten million dollars already to help the world’s poor and put those corporations to shame by giving the poor and homeless food for free for life.”

“Wow, that is so amazing, Evan! Who knew you had such a kind heart?”

“Don’t forget the green projects,” The brunette placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled at the camera.

“Uh, yeah, we plan to invest…a million dollars in new green energy. Once we get all the new floating windmills in place, people will see how awesome they are.”

“Even better!” The reporter cooed. “If only other rich people would follow your example!” She turned to face the camera. “Once again, to donate and help those poor people, call the number on your screen! No amount is too small to feel like you’ve done your part!”

Noni switched off the sound, “It is weird, Adam, that this girl is everywhere with this stuff.”

“Yeah, and they changed the name of the country to another one that doesn’t exist.”

 ◊

Several months later, Adam and Noni sat side by side in Current Events 462 and gaped as their professor told them of a new bill being introduced in Washington DC.

“Well, kids, it’s been a long time in coming, but Nutshell, the force for the poor, has finally gotten a bill into Congress regarding the recent scandal with XYZ corporation and their affiliates selling food and water to the poor! Thanks to this great new bill, XYZ will not be able to charge a dime for their products! It addition to that, the government is looking at a serious overhaul of the corporation and others like it. It is simply inhumane to sell people what they need to survive.” The professor gloated as he clicked to the next screen on his computer presentation. “Here is Congressman Marion Marionette with her aids, all of whom wrote this innovative bill together. The bill itself is over twelve hundred pages long, so they really did their homework…”

Noni and Adam gasped as they saw the weedy woman standing at Marion Marionette’s side. This time she was impeccably dressed in subdued grays and handed Marionette her speech to read.

“Like I said,” Adam whispered, “this is more than bake sales, a whole lot more.”

On Totalitarianism–Security Checkpoint

Security Checkpoint

Some people like to make a point. Such people are the bane of my existence. Yes, I have the unhappy role of working in Airline Security, Inc. I have been doing it for twenty years, but recently I have noticed that people are feeling a bit repressed by all of the safety measures we have in place. Take the other day when I was testing out a Body Scanning Machine Thingy (BSMT). This middle-aged man walks up in a skeleton suit, one of those black, formfitting onezies with a skeleton painted in white on the front and back. The guy thought he was pretty funny. So, yes, these are the things I have to deal with. Mostly I try to humor the customers, because, of course, they go through a lot on an average airplane flight. Then there’s Lola, one of the ‘trying to make a point’ people, and, yes, a Bane! Strikingly beautiful, but nonetheless…

Lola Richardson flies often for her job as a consultant. As to what kind, I had always guessed “hair” because she changes that quite often––different colors, textures, lengths. Actually, the only thing she keeps the same about her appearance are her boots. The first time she came through, one morning on her way to Dallas, I thought that maybe she’d forgotten about having to slip off one’s shoes to send through the scanner. I greeted her with an indulgent smile and asked where she was off to. She flirted and said how she’d never flown from this airport before.

Let me tell you about Lola’s boots: Purple shiny fake leather that goes up to mid-thigh, including all twenty-one crowded sets of lace holes, five-inch heels made of some indestructible material that, although not hazardous, is thus-far unidentifiable. When I ask her as I always do, where she got them, Lola shrugs and says, “I didn’t know you were also the fashion police.” We make this exchange quite often since she comes through security four times a week.

The first time Lola came through, she sent her numerous carry-on boxes and bags down the conveyor belt––each of which seemed to scatter annoying glitter and sequins everywhere (Even now, when I stand in front of the mirror to check the progress of my balding head, I find glitter nestled in the crevices of my face.) and stopped abruptly, causing the line of people in back of her to wobble. Ever so nonchalantly, Lola lifted her right foot up, placing the heel on the conveyor belt. She stretched out, much like a ballerina doing her exercises and undid all twenty-one laces as slowly as possible. We had to open up two new stations just to compensate. Some of her fellow travelers giggled, getting the joke, but most just wanted to make their flights. When she started in on her second boot I asked if she could speed it up a bit. She looked up at me with her fantastic wide brown eyes and said, sweet as honey, “Oh, I’m sorry, am I inconveniencing you?” Bane. Bane, bane, bane of my existence! The airport would like to ban her, but I tell them that’s only inviting trouble. So yes, we watched her undo her second boot, both of which went through the scanner just fine. Her bags, however, were filled with shampoo bottles, hairspray, suntan lotion, face cream and the like. As we, sadly, threw each bottle away, she pulled out a store receipt and said loudly what each item cost.

“Our liquid carry-on policy is clearly stated on the signs just to your left, the signs as you enter, and the notices on our website.” I hissed, but Lola only arched a perfect brown eyebrow and stared at me. “Yes, and how much safer I do feel. I suppose I’ll get this stuff back on my return flight? Or will you bring your aging girlfriend a new face cream this evening?” After that it was again with the re-lacing of the boots––and this she did much faster, sitting on a bench by herself. She packed away all of her empty bags into another empty bag and clip-clopped off to her gate.

One day, not so long ago, I asked Lola what exactly she was a consultant for.

“Security, of course.” She answered as she handed me her black leather jacket with the zippers and buttons made of gunmetal.

Originally written in 2010.  ––P. Beldona