The Nazarene

No man is born into the world
Whose work is not born with him.
—James Russell Lowell

Three hundred foxes, yelping and squalling, gamboled across the valley of Timnath in front of their captor, whose cheery laughter rang out on the evening air.  He whistled and cracked his whip, giving an extra twist with his left hand to the thong that their hundreds of leashes were tied to.  Then Samson turned to the boy walking by his side with a smoking basket of charcoal.

“You can set that down now, Halek,” he said.  “This’ll be a good place to start lighting things up.”

“Yes sir.”

Samson slipped the thong around a handy fence post and grabbed hold of the two nearest foxes by the napes of their necks.  He tied them back to back, braiding a brand into their tails.  The small boy stood respectfully by, too scared to come near the yelping foxes, but too absorbed in admiration to run home, though Samson had dismissed him with a good-natured nod.

“What are you going to do with them?” Halek asked.

what would you do with 300 foxes?

It was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 13

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed
Chapter 8: The EPA Chase
Chapter 9: The Ghostly Chapter
Chapter 10: The Frigid Urchin
Chapter 11: The New New Chapter
Chapter 12: The Things That Happened (At Last)

Chapter 13: The Evening Hornet

When Pumpkin dared to look around the corner again, Tradam was folding up his beach chair and putting away his newspaper. 

Rosy appeared to be in earnest conversation with him, and kept jumping every once in a while in a wild effort to read the name of the paper. 

After watching her for some moments with exasperation, Pumpkin got her attention and made violent signs to her, moving his hand like a mouth and gesticulating with a finger to the paper. 

“Does it say anything about the weather?” asked Rosy hesitantly, moving her head awkwardly from Pumpkin’s prompting to Tradam’s unapproachable face.

He only rolled up the newspaper in his left hand and smacked her on the head with it for an answer. 

“What about…” Rosy paused and looked at Pumpkin in panic. “What about – the stock exchange? Are they up, or down?” she added, eagerly, reaching for the roll in his left hand. 

He switched hands and asked cautiously, “Have you any?”

Rosy looked puzzled. “Have I any – newspapers?” 

“Any stock,” Tradam clarified patiently. 

“Without the T, I have,” replied Rosy, looking down at her feet. “Is that what you were reading about in the paper? Was it in the lost and found section?” she added, genuinely excited at last.  

“On this page it shows a graph,” observed Tradam, ignoring her last remark as he carelessly unrolled the newspaper and showed her a corner. 

Continue reading It was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 13

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 12

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed
Chapter 8: The EPA Chase
Chapter 9: The Ghostly Chapter
Chapter 10: The Frigid Urchin
Chapter 11: The New New Chapter

Chapter 12: The Things That Happened (At Last)

A madness that leads to the greatest success, is sure to be followed through with headstrong heedlessness of consequences by the fortuitous victor of circumstances. 

“And that’s what I always say,” said Johnnie disagreeably, after the adventure was over. But then, the adventure hasn’t happened yet, so she hadn’t said it yet; so Pumpkin was following through with headstrong heedlessness of consequences as the fortuitous victor of circumstances.   

It was not many moments since Pumpkin knocked on the door, when it swung inwards and an official beckoned them in. 

“You have accreditation for entering without security checks, I presume?” he asked, carelessly. 

“Ah, Treffelem Tagge!” exclaimed Pumpkin, slipping past him into the agent reception room eagerly. “I see you have been pro – ductive, recently?” he added, nervously, swallowing the word “promoted” in a flush of fright as he noticed Treffelem gathering his eyebrows of storms from the four corners of his face. 

They dissipated quickly at the fine rounding of his sentence, and Pumpkin saw he had steered clear of shoals on one hand and land on the other. 

“Certainly,” said Treffelem, tersely, but amiably inviting the rest of them into the agent receptive room. “Let me stamp your hearts quickly as you come in,” he added on second thought, taking a long stick with a camera on the end and preparing to fire it at Sam’s heart. “I’m security here. Big deal though.” 

“What does that stick thing do?” asked Rosy suspiciously. 

“It double checks the accreditation of personnel,” said Treffelem, pausing slightly. “And checks their heart rate, maybe. But I’m not completely sure about that.” 

Sam coughed. “I wish you were,” he complained. “I’m allergic to it.” 

“Excuse me. You’re allergic to – what?” asked Treffelem, slightly perplexed. 

“Yes, very allergic,” repeated Sam. “I went to the hospital once.” All of which was strictly true, as Johnnie afterwards remarked. 

“I’m also allergic,” volunteered Rosy. “To sticks.” 

“It’s electric,” observed Treffelem. 

“To electric sticks,” added Rosy. 

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 12

Sobbing on the Shoulder

The cold wind whistled through the girl’s hair as she slammed off her music and opened the door to the car with a disgruntled little sigh.   Ellie shivered a little as she stepped out and waved her phone in the air for a signal, glancing disparagingly at the flat front tire of her little Subaru hatchback.  Back a little ways over the road she could see the glimmer of broken glass on the pavement in the faint moonlight that seeped through the treetops, and pulling an impatient little face she walked onto the bit of road ahead of her lit up by her headlights and glanced down again at her phone. 

Still no signal. 

Off the shoulder on the right a benighted squirrel smirked at her, rolling its puny, shining round eyeballs and turning to scamper up a tree, its claws rasping on the bark.  She smiled at it hesitantly for a moment, trying to build up the gumption to decide to try and change the tire herself.  It was hardly likely that anyone else would drive by at this hour of night, and if they did she wasn’t quite sure about stopping a random stranger to ask for help anyways.  She was starting to wish she didn’t work at a restaurant quite so far from her parents’ subdivision and didn’t get back quite so late.

But she could do it.  Ellie heaved a reluctant sigh and looked down at her small white hands. 

Fun.

She flipped the phone flashlight on and walked towards the trunk.  She had just laid her finger on the fob when something caught the light on the road behind her – it was the busted glass strewn across the pavement, but something was mixed in with it, just tinting it… red?  She peered over to take a closer look and then turned away and decided against it.  Whatever it was she’d rather not know. 

A slight but distinct click behind her made her jump and glance around hurriedly.   Slowly, Ellie made her way back to the front door of the Subaru, her back to the car, gazing around warily.  She felt the handle in her grasp and jumped in hastily, locking all the doors behind her and shivering slightly.

Continue reading Sobbing on the Shoulder

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 11

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed
Chapter 8: The EPA Chase
Chapter 9: The Ghostly Chapter
Chapter 10: The Frigid Urchin

Chapter 11: The New New Chapter

After AV had said “You begin to see how deep it is?” and Pumpkin had looked at her significantly, Johnnie drew him aside and they held a hurried, whispered colloquy together. 

“What do we do now?” began Pumpkin, lowering his voice even further. 

“Tradam has taken over the WAS, and is letting his criminal buddies go free,” whispered back Johnnie, pulling a pair of sunglasses out of her pocket and putting them in her hair. “There’s only one thing to be done,” she added, punching the kitchen counter. 

“You mean – beat him up?” inquired Pumpkin, unguardedly. 

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 11

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 10

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed
Chapter 8: The EPA Chase
Chapter 9: The Ghostly Chapter

Chapter 10: The Frigid Urchin

After a brief search, Johnnie was found holding out her Egyptian cutlass with her back pressed against the gilt wall and feet dug deep into the floor. 

AV pushed the refrigerator out of the way and confronted her solidly, pulling out a Tac-Force gun shaped knife that reminded Johnnie startlingly of her own Apache Revolver and flicking it open with astonishing rapidity. 

Observing this new development in the situation, Johnnie dropped her sword and pulled out both her pistols. “Don’t come any nearer,” she began sternly, “or I shoot. … You watch it,” she added, as AV advanced steadily, “You’re one against four, buddy, I wouldn’t do it if I was you.” Johnnie pulled a cowboy hat from the top of the fridge (which was where AV kept his 1865 collection of cowboy hats) and dramatically flipped her pistols in the air as she put it on in the intervening sweep, catching her pistols again and pointing them straight at AV’s breast. 

AV, his own hat off, stopped walking forward and, looking about him, considered the situation thoughtfully. 

“Nevermind, I guess it’s just three against two,” Johnnie corrected herself dryly, as Rosy slipped her hand into AV’s. 

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 10

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 9

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed
Chapter 8: The EPA Chase

Chapter 9: The Ghostly Chapter

“Pumpkin, what are you doing on that side of AV’s ghastly establishment?” hissed Johnnie, sticking her face inside the cat hole. 

“My good fortune was on a two-month vacation,” explained Pumpkin patiently, lifting the latch from the window and putting his head out in reply. 

“So, your point is…?” said Sam, resting his hands on the sill and pushing Pumpkin’s face slowly back in with his hand. 

“So I came back to clean AV’s windows. I’ll send him a handsome bill for it when I’m done here. Earn me some money. Hey, why do you two look like you saw a ghost and couldn’t catch him?” 

Johnnie looked aggrieved. “Pumpkin, I wish you wouldn’t say such things,” she said, getting up on her feet and bounding in all at once through the window he was cleaning. 

“Johnnie! AV didn’t say you could come in,” protested Pumpkin, frowning at her and closing the window on top of Sam. “But I guess he’d be okay with it, as long as he never figured it out,” he added with sudden thoughtfulness 

“What about Sam?” asked Johnnie, peering down at said individual, who was now in the act of pounding at the window and gesticulating violently towards them. He looked a little threatening, too. 

“Well I’m sure AV wouldn’t want him inside, anyhow,” said Pumpkin, maliciously sticking his tongue out at Sam from a safe distance. 

“Well, that’s possible,” replied Johnnie, reluctantly. “He’s a horrible hand for breaking things – I don’t know what he’d do in a house like this… Sorry Sam,” she mouthed, shrugging her shoulders and pointing at Pumpkin while he was looking the other way. 

Presently, and forgetting Sam, they walked down the corridor together, and turned into the living room – carefully, because of the ax. 

“Say,” said Johnnie, turning suddenly on Pumpkin, “where’s Rosy? I don’t see her anywhere. We’re going to be in big trouble with Sam once he gets past that window if we don’t find her…” 

“View all, Johnnie,” began Pumpkin, pouring himself a cup of coffee. “She went to the WAS with AV and Daniella.”

“My torture! Daniella works at the WAS?” said Johnnie in disbelief. “How is that possible? You mean all these years, I could have…”

Pumpkin held up a finger and swallowed the rest of his coffee in a gulp. “No, sorry, Daniella went to take her biology test. I know that actually, because she hates school and it took AV and Rosy more than five minutes to convince her to go.”

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 9

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 8

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed

Chapter 8: The EPA Chase

No, the night was not through. No, oh dear no – the night was not through at all! Dear me, I was quite mistaken about its having been through! But no doubt you, dear reader, were at least somewhat aware that the night was not going to end there, with everybody comfortably a-bed, (except of course, Johnnie, Sam and Pumpkin, who were outside standing in the cold), – at least, you would never have supposed so if you had pursued a more steady course of novel-reading. 

Pumpkin wished it would end, certainly; as a matter of fact, he wished the whole evening away several times throughout the course of the night; and began bandying nonsense about severe colds and numb extremities and sudden amputations to such an extent that Johnnie and Sam had more than once to grind their teeth and keep their tempers from lashing out into more stirring expressions. 

And dear me! I was not only wrong about the night having ended, but about Rosy’s ever having ever gone to sleep, and about there being no further stir below. 

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 8

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 7

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge

Chapter 7: Ambushed

Long before Pumpkin had arrived in front of AV’s hauntingly tenebrific house, Sam and Rosy had made their successful exit out of the crowd, and entered a nearby Si Galala where Sam decided they would wait for Johnnie to show up so they could talk over a plan of action. 

Johnnie normally did show up, no matter where they were, at some time or other, so they hoped she would show up there, before much time had passed. (It was not a reasonable assumption, but they held to it without a second thought).

Their expectation was shortly exculpated by the sudden appearance of Johnnie herself looking in at them through the high-tech motion window, through which they saw her cross her arms after beckoning them outside.

Sam and Rosy jumped through the trapezoid in the center of the window, and landed under the fountain in front of Si Galala with dynamism. 

“At your service,” said Sam, bowing as much like other people as he could. 

“You shouldn’t risk getting caught for something so silly as not walking out the front door,” remarked Johnnie in a rebuking tone, as she looked at them admiringly. 

Sam smiled. “No one was looking.”

Rosy raised her eyebrows, as much as to say “that’s not true” and Sam looked uncomfortable and muttered beneath his breath, “Except you.”  “We’ll let it pass, but you’d better be more careful Sam, you never know who could be on your track. Why, Sam old fellow, you’ll never believe what happened-”

“I will, I promise to,” interrupted Sam, quite eager to finally have a good excuse to believe something totally unbelievable. 

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 7

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 6

Prologue
Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again

Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge

“Well, you’re definitely my new favorite person,” remarked Pumpkin, as he watched his ice cream slowly melting on the hot asphalt.

“I generally am a great favorite – but you really figured that out remarkably fast,” replied an unfamiliar voice with a smile in it.

“I was being sarcastic,” explained Pumpkin hastily, giving the person who had knocked down his ice cream a sidelong glance. “And I thought it was Sam there – Hello, I’m Pumpkin.”

“I’m Treffellem Tagge,” said Treffellem, introducing himself.

They shook hands.

“I was just walking towards the WAS,” began Pumpkin. “When something bumped into me and – well, here we are.”

“I work -” Treffellem was beginning at the same time, but stopped and let Pumpkin finish.

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 6