Tag Archives: When the Captain Came Calling

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 11

Canto Eleven – Clubhouse Craziness

Two days had passed since the magic cat had given Valerie the strange wooden statue.  Now, it sat on the crate that served as a table in the middle of the Ghost House.  The newly re-formed Pirates were all there.

“I think it’s called a Tiki idol,” said Pidney.

“How do you know that, Polack?” sneered Conrad Doble.

“It looks kinda like the ones in the Tiki Bird Show at Disneyland,” said Pidney sheepishly, “Mom and Dad took me there when I was twelve.”

“Didja like the show?” asked Doble.  “The singing birdies and everything?”

“Yeah,” said Pidney matter-of-factly, “I have always loved everything by Disney.”

Both Valerie and Mary Philips smiled at him.  Pidney was always gonna have a lot of the little boy he used to be in him.

“It reminds me of the book you were telling me about, Mary,” said Ray Zeffer.

“What book?” asked Pidney.

“Ray was there when I showed the book to Mr. Salcom.  He’s in my Modern Novel Class third period.  It’s the book about the last voyage to the South Seas.”

“The one your Uncle Noah gave you,” added Ray.

“Noah Dettbarn is NOT my uncle.  He’s just a family friend.”

“Did your Uncle come to visit you recently?” asked Danny Murphy.  “Since he came home again, I mean?”

“He’s NOT my…  Oh, never mind.   It came in the mail a month ago.  It’s where I got those stories I was telling you about, Pid.”

“Oh, yeah.   The stories that you’re gonna share with us to become the Merlin of the Pirates,” said Pidney.

Valerie admired the way Pidney’s eyes sparkled when he talked about stuff that excited him.  And Mary’s stories were always something that excited him, no matter where she got them from.  Mary’s eldest half-brother, Branch McMillan wrote lots of fantastic stories full of lies and jokes and other nonsense.  A lot of that had rubbed off on Mary.

“So, you have a magic book after all?  Like old Milt Morgan had?”  Conrad Doble looked at Mary with an accusing stare that made Val want to punch him in the ear.

“Well, it’s not a magic book.  It’s a ship’s log book.  It has latitudes and longitudes in it, sonar readings, and some stories about what Captain Noah Dettbarn has been up to that are either huge honking lies, or the most fantastic things that ever happened to someone from Iowa.”

“Cool.  You have the book with you?” asked Doble.

“Not yet.  I’ll bring it to the next meeting.  I have to read all the stories myself first,” Mary said.

Doble squinted at Mary.  Valerie thought that must either mean that old King Leer didn’t believe her, or that his tiny brain was being squeezed too tightly by all the information Mary had just given him.  Surely it was the latter thing.

“What are we gonna do with the Tiki-thing?” asked Pidney.

“You really got it from a magic cat?” Ray asked Valerie.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s a magic cat, exactly.  It’s that ugly white alley cat that lives behind the Main Street businesses, by the water tower.  Crazy old Miss Haire asked me to go talk to it.”

“And did it talk back?” sneered Conrad Doble.

Pidney and Ray both glared at Doble, apparently not liking the tone of voice he used with Valerie.   But it was pretty much the same ugly tone he used with everybody.

“Um… It talked to me… yes.”

“But I didn’t hear it,” said Danny.   “Only Val has the witch ears that crazy old Miss Haire was talking about.”

“Witch ears?” asked Mary.

“She calls it the knowing,” answered Valerie.  “She says it is using all your senses to tell you more than any one thing can tell you by itself.”

“That’s real dog poop!” growled Doble.

“Miss Haire is rather eccentric,” said Mary, “but I believe she’s a good person at heart.  Did she say anything about the Tiki idol?”

“We talked to her before we got the idol,” said Val.  “We didn’t see her or talk to her afterwards.”

“Well, I think we should look up more about it in the library,” said Mary.  “Val, isn’t your aunt the head librarian?”

“My Mom’s sister, Aunt Alice, yes.”

“Can you, Pidney, and I meet in the library tomorrow afternoon?”

“You bet!”  Val liked the idea of looking stuff up with Pidney.  Using his football muscles to pull books off shelves and turn encyclopedia pages really appealed to a girl who liked to see football muscles in use and up close.

So, it was settled.  The Captain’s log book would be the magic book that sealed the New Norwall Pirates, and Valerie would get to do research with two of her favorite people on Earth all because of a silly little wooden-headed man in a grass skirt and a very ugly mask.

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, lying, magic, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 10

Canto Ten – Cat Magic, and It Isn’t Even a Black Cat

Valerie and Danny walked back towards Main Street unsure of what to do next in spying on Billy’s weird family.  How do you find out if someone is being hurt or tortured by their own family?  And what was old Witch Haire talking about?  Didn’t she know how scary she was?  And couldn’t she just come out and tell them what she knew?  Did she have to make kids discover stuff for themselves?

“Are you gonna try to do what she said?” asked Danny, kicking a stone down the street ahead of them.

“Do you even understand what she wants me to do?”

“Do I understand what a witch wants?”

“Yeah, that.”

“I have no frapping idea.”

“Frapping?”

“Hey, I have to go home and face Mom later.  She’ll know.”

Val grinned at him.  “Yeah, I suppose she would.”

“Look there, Val, it’s that damned cat she was talking about.”

It was indeed the cat the witch had mentioned.  It was a whitish color, about the color of muddied milk.  It had an ugly, misshapen head that was as flat as the flight deck of an aircraft carrier on top.  Valerie imagined little flying flea squadrons taking off from it in formation.  Its cat’s eyes were unusually large, expressive, and somewhat scary.  It had one light blue eye and one sickly green-colored eye.  And scariest of all, it was looking back at her like it was waiting for her to say something.  It just sat there in the alley behind the fire station, looking at her as if it wanted her to speak.

“Gawd, you are one ugly cat,” she finally said.  It blinked.

“You are pretty for a human.   But aren’t you supposed to talk to me about something else?”

Val was startled.  “Danny, did you hear that cat say something just now?  Without moving its lips, I mean?”

“Um, well, no…  Why?”

“What makes you think the stupid tail-yanker could hear me?  Did you know he once tied firecrackers to a cat’s tail and it wasn’t even the Fourth of July?”

“Danny?  That cat is talking to me.”  The cat seemed to be frowning, not something Val had ever considered a cat to be doing before.

“Val?  Are you feeling all right?”

“My name is Scraggles.  I don’t know if Mistress Haire told you that.”

“No, she didn’t,” Valerie said to the cat.

“Who didn’t what?” asked Danny, confused completely.

“Mazie Haire didn’t tell me that cat’s name, did she?”

“Sure she did.  She said it was called Scraggles.”

“If you are capable of learning the knowing, girl,” the cat hissed, “you’re gonna have ta pay a lot better attention than that.”

“Scraggles,” was all that Valerie said.

“You need to follow me down this alley,” said Scraggles in his spooky cat-voice.

“Okay,” Val answered.

The cat leisurely stood up and turned about, showing his somewhat scuffed-up hindquarters to Valerie and Danny.  It sauntered in an unhurried manner down the alley.  It passed between the fire station and the water tower.  Then it went behind the Post Office.  When they got to the garbage barrels in the alley behind Martin’s Bar and Grill, it sat down in the middle of the alley.

“Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark… BARK!”

Valerie and Danny both nearly jumped out of their skins.  It was Barky Bill, the dog the Martin family kept to keep the rats away from the trash barrels.   It shot out towards the cat who continued to sit with total unconcern.  Then, reaching the end of its chain, the dog nearly strangled itself and flipped on its back in a cloud of gravel, inches from the cat.

“I think the stupid dog knows he can’t get me,” said the cat, licking its right front paw disdainfully.  “It always nearly pulls it own head off to get me.  It is a beast with very little wit.  You’ll never hear any talking from him, no matter how much knowing you actually learn.”

“I think it’s cruel of you to torture the poor dog like that,” Valerie said.

“Are you talking to me or to the damned cat?” asked Danny.

“To the cat.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t you have some important questions to ask me?” the cat said.

“Yeah.  How does a cat talk like this?  You don’t seem to be moving your mouth.  Is it telepathy?  Mind to mind?”

“You are using the knowing.  You see what I do.  You look at the movements I make and the expressions I have on my face, and knowing what you know about cat behavior, you can actually infer what I have to say to you.  It is a matter of your brain figuring out what your eyes are actually seeing.”

“Why can’t Danny hear you?”

Scraggles looked at Danny, making Val turn towards him too.  She noticed the confused look of stupefaction on Danny’s face.

“He’s a boy.  Not even a very smart example of the species.”

“Hmm,” said Valerie.  She didn’t like the way this was going.

“So what…?”  Valerie stopped mid-thought.  What was the misty purple smoke that was suddenly filling the alley?   “What else am I supposed to learn from you?”

“Follow me.”   The cat continued down the alley, behind the Hardware Store and into the smoke.

Valerie followed.  Danny followed her.

Lurking at the far end of the alley was a dark, cloaked figure that seemed to be wearing a yachting cap, or a cap like the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island wore… a white one.

“Who’s there?” Val asked.

“I see him too,” Danny remarked.

In that instant someone seemed to whip off the cloak and cap… and then no one was there.  The alley was empty, except for a small wooden man carved from a block of wood and wearing only a skirt of grass and a super-ugly mask.

“Good Gawd!” gasped Danny.  “Did the cat do that?”                                                                                                

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, magic, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 9

Canto Nine – What a Witch Wants

The house was called the Gingerbread House by all Norwall kids because back in the days of the original Pirates, the old German Lady, Grandma Gretel had lived there.  She had been a survivor of Bergen Belsen concentration camp during World War II, and was so full of life as a result that she baked endless piles of gingerbread to feed to the local kids.  She had treated them like her own grandchildren, the grandchildren that she would never have otherwise, thanks to the dragons of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany.

Mazie Haire had bought the Gingerbread House in an estate sale after the old German Lady had passed away with no heirs.  Not only did the mysterious Ms. Haire move in, but she totally changed the fundamental nature of the place.  It still looked like a gingerbread house on the outside, except for the horrible face on the door knocker, but the inside was like a Gothic horror novel.   The walls were now bare gray brick, like the inside of a medieval dungeon.  The wall that once separated the living room from the kitchen had been knocked out, leaving only a support pillar in the center of the big room.  The fireplace had been expanded into a considerable hearth, all of gray stone.  In the center of the hearth was a massive black cauldron where she apparently did all her cooking.  In fact, Val knew that she would only use specific kinds of wood under that cauldron because Daddy Kyle had made the mistake of offering to sell her wood for her fireplace a couple of years ago.  She had made him search all over Iowa for the amount of dogwood she needed and for sweetbriar that turned out not even to be from a tree.  She wanted the apple-scented flowering plants with hooked thorns to burn in her fireplace, but the ones she planted in the yard of the Gingerbread House wouldn’t be ready to harvest for two years.  After he finished that difficult job for her, he never volunteered to do such a thing again… even though she always seemed to have plenty of money and offered to make it worth his while.

“Hold that ice pack on the lump, girl,” Mazie said when Valerie accidentally let it slide a little to one side.

“Thanks for helping us,” mumbled Danny, “but if Val is better, shouldn’t we be going?  I mean… err… you are going to let us go, right?”

Danny glanced nervously at the silent black cauldron on the hearth.

“Afraid I’m gonna cook ya and eat ya, are ya?”  Mazie cackled softly.

“No, um… “

“Don’t you worry none, Danny Murphy,” Mazie said.  “I don’t need your pushy old mommy meddling in my business any more than she already does, so I believe I won’t eat you and give her reason to fret.  I have baby-sat for your little sisters and brothers.  I didn’t eat them, did I?  Cooking don’t make Murphy’s taste any better than they do uncooked.  I’m likely to get food poisoning.”

“You don’t really eat people do you?” asked Valerie, nervously.

“I might eat you, sweet girl.  Especially if you go around committing sins like spying through people’s windows.”

“You’re one to talk!” growled Danny, “with that telescope of yours in the attic room.”

“Oh, for goodness sakes, child.  Get yourself up to the attic and see for yourself.”

Mazie pulled the folding ladder down from the ceiling.  She forced both kids to go up, at the same time forcing Val to press the cold pack against the aching lump on the side of her head.  She followed them up.

The telescope itself was fairly large.  It sat on its tripod in the middle of the single upstairs room.  It was pointed out of the dormer window.  It was pointed up at the sky.

“That is not a spy telescope.  It’s a stargazer.”

Valerie looked all around her at the many pictures on the walls.  Most of them were fanciful drawings of constellations done in colored marker, and using both five and six-pointed stars.

“Well, you could point it at windows in people’s houses, couldn’t you?”

“Sure I could.  Try it young Murphy.  Find a window to point it at.”

Danny took hold of the telescope and pointed it more towards the buildings that faced the Gingerbread House on that side.  There was the back side of the Fire Station.  There was also the back side of the Post Office, Kingman’s Grocery, the old Brenton Bank, Victor Martin’s Bar and Grille, and Stewart’s Hardware store.  He could also see the ground under the water tower and the front corner of old Cecily Dettbarn’s front porch.

“Not much to see, huh?”

“Well…  If the windows were open…”

“How many windows do you count, boy?”

“Not counting the windows on the Dettbarns’ porch?” asked Danny.

“Not counting them…”

“Two.”

“One is the window in the back room of the fire station, and the other is on the back side of the Hardware Store.  And, as you can plainly see, that one got broken a few years back and is covered from the inside with wood and cardboard.”

“Yeah, um…”

“There’s no x-ray vision knob on there anywhere, is there?”

“No, ma’am.”

“There most certainly is not.  I do not use that thing for spying on people.”

“But my dad says you are always up here watching everything with this during the day.”

“I don’t generally watch people.  Here, look at these.”  Mazie opened a drawer in the sideboard and pulled out a sketchbook.  It was filled with pictures of dogs and cats.  Mostly different pictures of one dog and one cat… one very ugly cat.

“That’s Billy Martin’s dog,” said Danny.  “That’s Barky Bill.  I don’t know the cat, though.  It’s a really ugly cat!”

“The cat’s true name is Scraggles,” said Mazie.

“True name?” Valerie asked, “what’s a true name?”

“It is said, mostly by me, that if you know a cat’s true name, the name he calls himself, then you can divine that cat’s thoughts and personality.  Scraggles is what you might call a devil cat.  He is somewhat evil and works to further the causes of Chaos.”

Danny looked knowingly at Val as she continued to hold the ice against the throbbing half of her head.  “A witch, right?” he whispered.

“You may call me a witch,” Mazie said as if she heard Danny clearly in spite of the whisper, “but people who have the knowing are important to the community.  They can steer you down the road where your destiny lies.”

“Erm, sorry, Miss Haire,” muttered Danny.  “I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“Yep,” said Mazie, almost to herself, “If there is one admirable quality about that Mary Murphy with her great big personality and loud ways, it’s that she is good at teaching her children to be sorry about the wicked things they do.  Now, if only she could do the same for that vile old grandpa of yours.”

Danny frowned at that.  Val almost laughed at the change in emotion on his face… flustered embarrassment to confusion to indignation to almost speaking out, and back to flustered again.

“So you don’t spy on people with the telescope,” said Valerie.  “How is it that you seem to know so much about the people in this town, then?”

“It’s the knowing.  You are a clever young girl and could have it too if you just paid more attention to what you are seeing.  Try it.  Use it to solve the mystery of Billy Martin.  He needs you two, you know… just not in the way you believe now because of what you thought you saw.”

“How do I use it?” asked Valerie, wrinkling her nose in disgust.  “I don’t know how it works.  I don’t even know what it is, or what you mean when you say it.”

“Try it on the cat.  On the way home.  Look old Scraggles in the two mismatched eyes.  Try to figure out what he’s trying to tell you.  If you can do that, you can begin to use the knowing as a force for good in the world.”

Val nodded as if she were agreeing, though, in reality, she was merely anxious to get away from this strange old lady.  She didn’t even care anymore if she ever found out the answer to what a witch wants.                                                                               

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, magic, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 8

Canto Eight – Strange Sounds from the Martin House

The Martin house on Elizabeth Avenue was a very square and Republican sort of Victorian-style house.  It was Methodist plain and practical.  Yet, there was a very unfortunate aura of trouble hanging over it now.  It had been super respectable in the old days as the Campbell house, but now it seemed more like the brooding sort of place where murderers might live.  Val and Danny watched it from the safety of the hollyhock stand in the neighbors’ yard.

“Do ya think anybody is in there?” Valerie whispered.

“Yeah.  The car is out back by the shed, and it’s too early in the day for the bar to be doing much business.  The old Vicar ain’t there.  But Billy’s dad and aunt will both be there.”  The Vicar was what everybody at the bar called Victor Martin.  A vicar was a British preacher or something, and everybody told their troubles to Victor Martin at the bar… that explained the name as far as Valerie knew.  And the names sounded almost the same.  Iowans weren’t really that clever about nicknames.

“And Billy?”

“Yeah, he would be there.  I don’t know where in the house, though.  I’m not ready to go knock on the windows anywhere.”

“Knock on the windows?  Really?”

“We aren’t going to the front door and knocking, are we?  That’s what the old witch wants.”

“Do you think you could lift me up high enough to look in the side windows on the West side?”

“Yeah, maybe.  But that would be like spying or something.”

“Well, isn’t that the kind of thing Pirates do?”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

They walked over to the window on the West side of the house.  Both of them were hunched over when they walked and extremely careful about being quiet, as if walking in that silly manner somehow made them harder to see or hear as they trampled the lawn in broad daylight.

“Okay,” said Danny, “You sit on my shoulders and I’ll lift you up so you can see.”  Danny got down on all fours and Valerie put one leg on each side of his head.  He wobbled like a scarecrow in the wind as he strained to lift her up.  His hands gripped her thighs tightly, but if he had wobbled too far in one direction, then he would’ve merely succeeded in dropping her to the ground head-first.

“Careful, there, Buckaroo.  You’re gonna drop me.”

“I got you, Val.  I will never let you fall.”

After almost falling at least two more times, Val finally got a look into the first-story sitting room.   Richard Martin, in all his raggedy glory, was lying on the couch watching TV.  He had on a stained and dirty-looking T-shirt, boxer shorts, and he had an open can of beer balanced on his ample stomach.   He was a blonde man with a very ugly face, and he looked rather drowsy as he watched what seemed to be the Phil Donahue Show.

Suddenly there was a loud banging sound coming from somewhere below, possibly in the basement.

“Damn that stupid brat!” Richard cried out suddenly.  “He’s beating up the damn house again!   Kelly!  Stop that kid from breaking stuff!”

“He’s your bratty kid.  You stop him, stoopid!”

“I locked him up in the basement again to keep him outta our hair!  But maybe you gotta go down there with your old broom and swat him around a little.”

“Well, if he’s in the basement, he can’t hurt much.  Everything in the basement belongs to either Billy or Vic.”

“You have a point.  We don’t care that much about Victor’s stuff, do we?”

“I don’t.  But he’s your son.  You can do the explaining later.”

Then they all heard a power saw grinding through wood, both the residents who were supposed to be there and the Pirates who were spying.

“Good gawd, Richard.  That little creep might be gonna cut us all up and eat us some night.”

“I know he ain’t supposed to use that saw, but it belongs to Vic.  So, we’ll let him get it away from the brat.”

The sounds of a hammer and nails came next.  Valerie looked down near Danny’s feet and noticed the grimy cellar window was open a crack.

“What’s going on?” asked Danny in a hoarse whisper.

“Billy is locked in the basement, and he is building something to take revenge on his family.”  Valerie almost didn’t believe it herself.  Billy was the kind of kid who would curl up in a ball and mew like a kitten if you just looked at him too long at a time.  Valerie never took him for an ax murderer before.  But you never knew about those quiet and meek ones.  You never knew what they were really thinking.

“I see you didn’t take my advice.”

Valerie fell on her head and briefly saw stars.  It was possible Danny had dropped her.

“Oh, no!  You made me kill the most beautiful little girl ever born in Norwall!” Danny cried.

“Pick her up and bring her with you.  Follow me.”

As Valerie shook her head to shake the cobwebs and sand out of her ears, Danny fumbled around picking her up from the ground and soon had her on her feet.

“Quickly now, before those two horrible harpies come out to see about all the ruckus in their yard.  You are both trespassing.”

To Valerie’s utter horror, Danny was following the old witch Mazie Haire, and dragging her, wobbly-legged, toward the witch’s own Gingerbread House.

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Creating Covers on Computer

Yesterday’s cover art… entirely too bananas

My daughter the Princess often disses my cover designs for my novels. The one I created for my half-written manuscript, displayed above, is really too yellow by about 500 degrees. I wanted to write a yellow book about sea stories and island magic set in Iowa, a State about as far removed from an ocean in any direction as a State can be (Well, maybe tied with Kansas and Nebraska). But yellow is not the right color. In fact, the green accent color makes me a bit nauseous next to the yellow. So, I vowed to my critic I would try again and do better.

Take a look at these alternative designs;

Really? What a maroon!

Maybe something more woody?

Will this one attract woodpeckers, do you think? Or is that too racy an idea for a novel about a young girl growing up. Woody Woodpecker is a sex symbol, isn’t he? No? Whereever did I get a fool notion like that?

So, how about something more purple?
Or is a combo of purple and wood better?

I could really use your input. If you wanted to vote, you could choose a cover name from this list to tell me about it in the comments;

Banana

Maroon

Woody

Purple

Purple and Wood

Something better, Stupid!

I promise not to get mad about any commentors who choose the last one. But I don’t promise to make any new ones either. It is, however, quite easy to make changes using computer programs. I don’t have to redraw anything. Although I could be slightly worried that the Tiki totem could be viewed as racist, even though his race is “little men made out of wood.”

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, daughters, illustrations, imagination, novel plans, novel writing, Paffooney

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 6

Canto Six – Bacon and Eggs

Mom had breakfast ready and on the table.  Eggs and bacon on stoneware plates, one for Val and one for Daddy Kyle.  She was a great cook and loved to stuff her small family with what she made.   That was probably the reason she was watching over a second pan-full of sizzling bacon.

“Your father isn’t ready yet?” asked Mom, left eyebrow raised.

“Oh, he had to change his pants again for some reason.”

“That man can find more excuses for dragging his feet than…”

“Mom?  Is something the matter with Daddy?”

“What do you mean?”

“Last night I thought he was crying in the machine shed.”

“Well, you know your Daddy Kyle.  He loves his machinery, and that big old combine is broken down again.”

“It shouldn’t be.  It’s only two years old.”

Mom looked at her with unreadable eyes.  Was she mad?  Sad?  What?

“He says he can fix it.  He says the problem is just mechanical and you know how handy he is with tools.”

“Sure.”  He did love that combine.  Maybe that was what made him sad.   He loved Valerie and he was always sad when she was sick too.

Valerie gobbled eggs and bacon.  It was good, but even better eaten fast so you could enjoy those bacon burps for the next half hour.

“You eat like you’re starving.  I wish I could eat like that, Val, and stay as thin as you do.”

“Mom, I’m only eleven.   I’m not supposed to be a fatty at my age.”

“I thought you were ten, dear.   Where does the time go?”

Valerie was still thinking about yesterday, the holiday Monday… and why did so many people have to feel sad?

“Do you know what makes Ray Zeffer so sad, Mom?”

“Ray Zeffer?  What brings that up?”

“He and Danny Murphy walked me all the way home last night from town.  He’s such a gentleman.  But he always seems sad.”

“Well, I would guess that losing your father the way he did, such a short time ago… well, it might have something to do with it.  I know his mother, Donna Zeffer, is sad a lot too.”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

“And there was a brother that died… older brother…  Bobby, I think.  His family has been through a lot.”

Valerie buttered a piece of toast and then sipped her milk from the mug that Grandpa Larry had given her years ago.  The mug had a big red heart on the side of it.

“I didn’t know about the brother.  Younger or older?”

“Definitely older.  More than ten years ago.”

“What was more than ten years ago?” asked Daddy Kyle as he came in to breakfast.

“Valerie was wondering about Ray Zeffer because he and the Murphy boy walked her home from town last night.  How long ago did Bobby Zeffer die, Kyle?”

“Oh, at least sixteen years ago.  But what’s this about boys walking Valerie home last night?”

Uh-oh.  Dad radar had picked up a boy-alert… a potential boyfriend/trouble/rock salt alert.

“Danny and Ray were just being gentlemen,” said Valerie.  “They wanted to make sure I got home safe.”

“And they didn’t have anything but your safety on their little minds?” Kyle asked with a skeptical smirk.

“I suppose now you want to shoot Ray?” asked Valerie.

“Who said anything about shooting Ray?” asked Mom.

“Dad did.  He wanted to shoot Pidney and Danny last night, and now he wants to shoot Ray!”

“Kyle!”  Mom’s scolding stare could wither flowers that were otherwise in full bloom.

“I was just kidding around!” said Daddy in a defensive voice that sounded a lot like a little boy who’d been caught pulling his sister’s hair.  “I wouldn’t really shoot anybody…  It’s a dad thing.”

“I’m sure it is,” said Mom.  “But let’s not joke about that anymore.”

“Yes, ma’am.”  He was thoroughly chastised, and Valerie marveled at how Mom could make him so instantly repentant, like a Baptist preacher preaching Hellfire or something.

“The bus is here, Princess,” said Daddy Kyle while peering out the window. And it really was.  Valerie had to hustle.  The old yellow bus driven by Milo Volker was waiting at the end of the Clarkes’ lane, and he wouldn’t linger if she didn’t show up fast.  Still, it made her grin to see the look of relief on her Daddy’s face as he realized the dangerous conversation was at an end.

Leave a comment

Filed under family, finding love, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 5

Canto Five – Everyone is Naked Under Their Clothes

The night was typical.  Six nasty old hens pecked Valerie’s hands as she searched under them for eggs.  The last one of those took a girl-fist to the side of the head.  That, of course, didn’t faze the stupid hen.  Chickens apparently have their brains hidden safely in their butts.  But chores always came to an end.  Mom was always sympathetic about chicken-stupidity-caused peck marks, and rubbed salve on them, visible wound or not.  Then it was time to finish any homework needed, and up to bed.  And Val always slept naked under the quilts and comforters.    She slept well because… well, because naked was good when you were asleep.

Morning came, as mornings do, with a stupid rooster crowing the sun up.  Of course, if hens are stupid, roosters, having the additional mental handicap of being male, were stupid times ten.  No, stupid times twenty.  Beau the rooster always got it wrong.  The sun was never actually up until at least a half hour after the stupid rooster claimed it was up.  Chicken pot pie.  As Valerie pried her eyes open, she imagined chicken pot pie cooking on Mom’s stove.  Beau-flavored chicken pot pie.

When she got to the bathroom, Daddy Kyle was already in there shaving.  No problem.  Once again Valerie marched in naked as the day she was born, though with considerably more hair on her head.  She went straight to the shower, grabbed the shampoo off the shelf, and twisted the water on to just the right level of warm she always used.  Warm, soapy water all over your body… piles of foamy shampoo in your longish hair… it was a little like Eden must have felt to Eve.  And Eve liked being naked too… at least, until the mistake with the snake.  Of course, Eden had to end when the water began to grow cold.  Even in the summertime the well could put out near freezing levels of cold once the water heater was drained.

Kyle looked at her when she stepped out and grabbed a towel.

“No hot water left for me again, huh, Princess?”

“Sorry, Daddy.  I need a good hot shower in the mornings.”

“Shouldn’t you put on a robe or something, dearest?  You come in here every morning completely naked.  You are getting too old for that.”

“Old?  Too old for what?

“When a girl reaches a certain age, she starts to change.  When that happens, well…”

“But, Daddy, you are used to seeing me naked.  You changed my diapers while Mommy and I were still in the hospital after I was born.”

“I know… I know…  And it isn’t that there is anything wrong happening.  It’s just…”

“You can’t be getting shy.  I’ve seen you naked too… a lot.”

Kyle’s face reddened.   He was apparently trying hard to stutter on.

“When a girl reaches a certain age… well, she…”

“Yeah, she changes.  I know Dad.  Mom told me what to expect.  But honestly, I don’t even really have boob bumps yet.  I look like a little boy when I’m naked… except I don’t have one of those water hoses to pee with.”

She was standing with the towel in her hand, looking at him while she was completely bare and being mildly amused by his extreme discomfort.  He finally sat down on the closed cover of the commode, completely defeated.  She decided to push things a little.  She dropped the towel and went to sit on his knee even though she was a little damp around the edges and quite sincerely still naked.

“Princess…”

“I love you too, Daddy.”

“No… I mean, yes, I love you… but this is not a good thing for a big girl to be doing.  I worry you are getting so used to being naked around a man like me… even though I’m your Daddy… and one day… when boys, um… get curious… the way boys are… and, well…”

“If that’s what worries you, Daddy, no boy besides you has ever seen me naked.  And I won’t let a yucky thing like that happen… until the time is right.”

“Okay, but promise me the time is not right until you are thirty.”

“Daaaad!    You know everyone is actually naked under their clothes.  Everyone has a body… so no one should be ashamed of it.”  Surely he recognized that bit of wisdom.  After all, it is what he’d said to her on the subject more than once.

“Okay.  I trust you and believe in you.  But develop a little modesty maybe?  Put on a robe when you come in here.  Or wait till I’m done.”

“Don’t you like me like this?”

“I love you.  But you are getting to an age where you being naked like this around me… well… begins to get… um, uncomfortable.  And your little wet behind is making my pants wet.  I have work to do today, and now my pants have a wet spot shaped like your butt.”

“Oh, Daddy!”  She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.   He put an arm around her shoulders and gave a squeeze.

“I hope we can start getting some better habits going, Princess.  We don’t want to get your mom mad or anything.” Valerie hopped off his damp lap and padded over to retrieve the towel.  She wrapped it around herself and then gave him one more grin before she barefooted it out of the bathroom and toward her waiting school clothes.  You never knew anything for certain.  Maybe one day she would just have to go to school naked… to show Daddy that… well, okay… maybe not to school.

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, Iowa, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney