HEREWITH OFFERED this week’s snippet, without comment — on the snippet. The shed project has metastasized. And going on yet another weekend. I awoke at 6:30 this morning, legs and feet aching and mouth dry. It was raining. The weather predicted more of the same. I got up, took four Advil and my neuropathy med, drank a bottle of water — while browsing Facebook and some blogs — and went back to bed. Hey! It’s Saturday. I get to sleep in. I was out like a light in minutes.
And woke up at 1:00 in the afternoon, feeling quite refreshed, albeit late for the world. The rain had stopped, but the ground outside was wet, and I resolved to blow off work on the shed for the day — pending permission — and set about cleaning up the kitchen and preparing breakfast. Later on, SWMBO got home from work and advised that the old shed was open, its doors flapping in the wind. More concerned about sacks of concrete mix getting drenched in the rain than about any potential theft, I put on shoes and went out to check. The lock had been cut. And recently, as the concrete sacks were still dry. I got a new lock from the stash of hardware and closed up the old shed, knocked pooled rainwater out of the slough in the tent, and straightened up a bit before going back in to watch the last ep of Hinterland on Netflix.
Maybe tomorrow, I can get around to getting started on the platform frame. Meantime, it’s on to MI5 (the Brit spy/cop drama — ten seasons).
It’ll Be a Hot Mess Tonight
The Gabrielle Dolly
The dolly found herself dropped into an emotional funk. Everybody was dissing her. Ignoring her. Dismissing her presence, her opinion. Wasn’t she supposed to be the reincarnation of the most successful Childe ever? OK, so she still couldn’t remember a thing — well, except for occasional, scratchy, black-and-white flashes, like cuts from a movie she barely remembered seeing — not at all like memories. And they made no sense to her. But didn’t the bare fact of her miraculous existence merit her getting cut some slack? But no! She was recruit this and “Hey you” that. And she had, at one point, gotten heartily sick of being called a baby Troll.
Out of nowhere, a song popped into her mind. Since she didn’t remember ever learning it, she let herself assume she was making it up on the spot. Nobody loves me/Everybody hates me/Guess I’ll go eat worms… It made her laugh — a short, mordant bark in recognition of the irony inherent in it.
Besides, she knew from her time in the survival courses that worms were a good source of protein. Still…
Feeling a little better, but still in a sour mood, she hitched herself up and marched off to the barracks. The shortest distance between the mess hall and the recruit barracks led across the parade ground. But, to be seen on the parade ground with nothing apparent to do — even in notional free time — was to be assigned some unpleasant task, so she took a roundabout way from the mess hall across the central campus of Meander until she came to the outskirts of town, as it were, and the recruit barracks — two-story clapboard buildings with outside stairs and tilting windows (now closed against the February chill except in the spaces where the steam radiators produced a tropical heat), set on spongy ground among tall, clean-limbed, second-growth oaks.
As she approached the utility pole that carried the barracks’ electrical supply from the mainline, she saw that the wooden circumference from chest level on a billilaalu to just above head-tall on a frekun ang was plastered, as usual, with handbills for the sensation of the moment. These were technically litter, but tacitly permitted so long as they did not exceed the envelope of good taste. They generally were just a bit racier, a bit spicier, a bit less decorous than their officially-sanctioned cousins on the official bulletin boards inside every building and under shelter in outdoor common areas. The dolly had never seen anyone distributing them. They simply appeared spontaneously, from her point of view, like mushrooms after a predawn rain. And were about as safe to consume — i.e., not entirely.
This set were printed on a fluorescent lime background in magenta ink and were drawn in a style that made her think — for no particular reason — faded San Francisco Art Nouveau. The legend was simple. In bold letters, all caps, it read:
TONIGHT AT EIGHT. IT’LL BE A HOT MESS. DON’T BE LATE. SHHH! IT’S A SURPRISE.
–Apparently referring to some sort of inside joke. Something all Trolls were presumed to know, but culturally ignorant Man girls… not so much. It keyed to her mood. Reading it, she grumped a little more grumpily, stomped a little more stompily, and frowned a little more frownily. She crossed the barracks lawn and clumped up the steps, through the entryway, and into her unit’s bunk room.
A quick visual sweep told her nobody was there at the moment. And, as it could be anticipated they would be shortly, and she really didn’t want to be there when they did, she spun on her heel and re-exited–
–Running into and nearly running down her assistant training NCO, the billilaalu Little Low.
“Oof!” they both asserted simultaneously.
“Watch where you’re going, recruit!” the Lance Corporal barked, righting herself and bushing her uniform back to rights.
“Sorry, Lance,” the dolly muttered.
Lance Corporal Li’h Loah
“What’s that? Do I hear a baby Troll?”
“SORRY, LANCE CORPORAL! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” the dolly shouted and stomped off, leaving Little Low to stare after her, gape-mouthed. But the event took place in off time (and the Troll Guard was strangely notional — compared to other military units — about troopers’ behavior while on liberty), so, while the dolly’s rudeness might be remarked upon later, there was no immediate disciplinary action to be taken. Little Low merely turned and went on about her business.
Another recruit — a frekun ang from Slovakia, who was just coming in and had been brushed back by the dolly’s explosive exit — asked, “What’s up her butt?”
“Didn’t get the memo,” Little Low said, standing, staring at, as it were, the memo — a pink-and-green handbill push-pinned to the barracks bulleting board.
“Her birthday’s been rescheduled. Surprise party in the mess hall tonight.”
“Ah! I see. Thus posters all over camp.”
“Exactly. Thus posters all over camp.”
“Is secret, no?”
“Is secret,” Little Low said, semi-consciously aping the no-articles syntax of the other. Pasu learned Man language in various and sundry ways, and usually — even in English — took on the accents of their teachers. This guy, apparently, learned English from a native speaker of a Slavic tongue. To Little Low, it was less than remarkable, but did not go entirely unnoticed.
“Poor kid,” the frekun ang said. “I hope she gets some joy out of it.”
“As do I,” Little Low said. “As do I.”