2018-05-17 / Features

Silly Social Scenes

A WAND’RING MINSTREL (NYE)

A STORY OF GOTHICK HORROR: PRISONERS OF LUNATIC ENGINEER TRAPPED IN THEIR OWN HOME! – We have learned of a recent home invasion that, for sheer Gothick Horror, more than rivals anything from the pen of the Late, Great Horace Walpole – AND makes the work of Mister S. King look like Mother Goose!
We were at the Falls Generalized Emporium Saturday last for a cup of Our Favorite Brew, an iced-chai-latte-hot-cocoa-decaf-espresso with Brazil-nut milk and a dash of Angostura bitters, during the meeting of the Grumpy Old Men’s Breakfast Club. The discussion was underway as We limped through the door and continued to simmer through the lengthy process of making Our Favorite Brew. So fascinating was this palaver from the seamy underbelly of No’field’s Intellectual Elite that We strolled about the Emporium trying to look inconspicuous as We sipped Our FB and feigned interest in the products on the shelves.
A thoroughly animated former Coast Guard Radioman 2nd Class (whose name is being withheld lest there be legal action), stuttering with horror and indignation, regaled the GOM with a tale so mind-bendingly awful that his hearers shuddered in sympathetic shock and disgust (and not a little relief that each had not been the victim!).
On the morning of the 12th Instant the Anonymous Ex-Coast Guardsman and his Anonymous Spouse (a noted Bird-Watcher and Gardener) were enjoying the peace and quiet brought about by a loss of electric power, the result of Typhoon Dexter, which roared through parts of this burg the preceding eve. Happily for the Innocent Soon-to-be-Victims, their coal-fired generator kicked on, so they were snug and warm in their home, which was clearly identifiable by the thick plume of rich, black coal smoke rising high into the heavens, the very beacon and symbol of power in a powerless region. Gone were plans to take the trash to the trashman, the recycling to the recyclingman, the back issues of the New Yorker to the Western East Roxbury Foundling Hospital, Crematorium, Slivovitz Distillery & Aerodrome; instead, the spouses lazed over their eleventh cups of extra-strong Roxbury-roast coffee, nerves jangling in perfect harmony with each other as their eyes rolled wildly in their heads.
“Suddenly there came a tapping, / As of some one gently rapping, rapping at” their chamber door, at which the three fierce, ravening hounds sprawled in canine disarray at the householders’ feet, leapt to attention, snapping and baying at the interruption. At this point there occurred one of those forks in the road in the decision-making process, which if taken one way leads to Peace & Quiet, or, if the other, to Disaster Unmitigated. 
From his Comfy Chair, the Ex-Coast Guardsman could have touched a Large Red Button (the largest in town, far bigger than anything to be found in North Korea) that controlled the tiger trap on their doorstep, a device intended to protect the householders from bill collectors, vacuum cleaner salesmen, and door-to-door religious fanatics. 
However, THIS the Ex-CGR2C did NOT do; lulled by the caffeine overage into a sense of Heightened (if unwarranted) Confidence, he felt able to tackle any intruder who might appear, and thus opened the door to reveal the Ex-Pet Casket King of No’field, grimacing in what the Ex considered his most ingratiating smile. Ere the householder could slam the door shut and race back to the Red Button, the Ex shoved his foot inside and followed it, shouldering the hapless owner out of the way whilst bellowing a greeting to the spouse of the house.
Throwing himself to the floor, the door opener howled in grief, rage and frustration, knowing only too well that the stubby little former Third Lieutenant of Engineers, having gained admittance, could not be dislodged by any means short of the use of dynamite – and that the spousal couple were thereupon doomed to hours and hours of Engineer-talk from The Man Who Knows Everything.
And so it proved. Handing around an ex-cottage cheese container containing three chocolate chip cookies (without which he never left home), the Ex began at The Creation of the World and proceeded to The Present Time in hundred-year increments, explaining Every Advance in Engineering from the invention of the wheel through Archimedes and on to Stephenson, Watt and Gugliemo Marconi, elaborating on each as his fancy took him. Soon the householders limbs began to tingle, followed by numbness, lethargy and an overwhelming sense of doom, accompanied by the certainty that they were going to die and that their bleached bones would not be discovered until the neighboring turkey farmer arrived with their Thanksgiving bird in six months.
On and on the words rolled for seven hours and twenty minutes, until the agony came to an end when the Ex heard a chainsaw in the distance, the signal that the road was being cleared and that he could proceed to the next residence in search of a jack to repair his porch. Up he leapt, leaving behind the cookie container, and was seen no more that day, as the householders and their dogs (who had proved useless at repelling unwanted visitors) came gradually back to life, sadder but wiser.    

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