Thursday, November 03, 2005

Nanowrimo: Day Three

I'm about 1,000 words shy tonight, but for good reason. The Big Moo launch party was this evening. Regardless:

14. A Handmaiden's Tail

"Dr. Smuckers, I'm sure you understand how awkward this is."

"I'm sure I do not. Please, don't be embarrassed. Continue describing your daughter's, shall we say, malady. The more I know the better I might be able to make a diagnosis."

"Well, you see, Doctor, our daughter—you'll remember Margaret, I'm sure—has a, how shall I put it, has a tail."

"A tail?"

"A tail."

"A tail."

"A tail."

"A tail!"

"Doctor, no one is more surprised than her mother and I, but rest assured, it is most definitely a tail."

"How long is it?"

"Seven inches."

"Seven inches!"

"Doctor, doctor. Please contain yourself. There are other patients in the waiting room. They might overhear, and as I said in the beginning, I'd like to handle this with some degree of, how to say, sensitivity. Margaret, though just about to begin kindergarten, is already very sensitive about people's impressions of her. Were she to begin school with a tail, the results could be disastrous on her self-esteem and socialization."

"A tail."

"Yes, doctor. Can it be removed?"

"A tail."

"Seven inches long. What's your professional opinion?"

"A tail."

"Doctor. If you'd rather refer me to another practitioner, I'm more than happy to seek a second opinion, as it's increasingly apparent that you might not even have one. Shall we do that?"

"No, no. Of course not; no. You must understand that I need to approach your daughter's, shall we say, malady, with some sensitivity. As you said, kid gloves and all that. Hmmph, what to do? Harrumm, who to confer? Pfft! What to consult?"

"Shall I schedule an appointment for my daughter to come in, then? So you can meet her and witness the… protrusion yourself?"

"Hmm. Parrumph. Of course. Please see Miss Smathers at the front desk on your way out. And one more thing before you go."

"Yes, doctor?"

"$30 copay, please."

15. Little Antoine vs. Big Antoine

In the annals of Libertyville history, many riots and near-riots have been recorded. The Block Association Battle of 1923. The Oddfellows Hall Spillover Fight of 1947. The Holy Shit That Girl's Got a Tail Disturbance of 1969. And perhaps—perhaps—the biggest riot of them all, truly even though it only involved two people, brothers, Little Antoine vs. Big Antoine, c. 1983.

When I say Little Antoine, I do not mean Little Little Antoine. He was not involved. He was, in fact, visiting his grandmother in Freeburg when the riot occurred. But even though Little Little Antoine was not involved, Little Antoine was. Even more importantly, Big Antoine was. And the fight was a fight that will be remembered forever.

It started like this. Little Antoine and Big Antoine, brothers, were inseparable. What Little Antoine did, Big Antoine did. What Big Antoine did, Little Antoine did. They were always doing something with each other. If one took a nap, the other napped. If one went to the store, the other went shopping. And if one ate half a sandwich for lunch, you could bet easy money that the other would eat the other half before long. The bottom half.

Then one day, what was once thought impossible happened. The details are lost to the mists of time, but it happened like this. Either Little Antoine didn't want to do what Big Antoine was doing. Whatever it was. Or Big Antoine didn't want to participate in Little Antoine's choice of pastime. Whatever that might have been.

All hell brook loose. At first, the citizens of Libertyville didn’t know what was happening. And then, they did. Water boiled. Wax melted. Paper shredded. Sculptures crumbled. The very ground cracked, mountains trembled, and the skies shattered. That's right: shattered.

Things came undone, and the battle was obscured by dust and dark. Libertyville residents could hear someone doing something in the broiling mist, violent noises booming occasionally as the crowd backed off. A moment later, almost as quickly as it had begun, it ended. The dust settled. Clouds parted. The sun shone. Birds sang.

And there, at the bottom of a crater the size of two city blocks, you could see them—Little Antoine and Big Antoine, shoulders heaving, breaths gasping, and chests heaving. Both leaned forward, hands on thighs, gathering themselves. When they had caught their breath, they looked up from the ground at each other, questioningly.

"What were we fighting about?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I think we were just fighting."



"That's silly. Why would we fight?"

"I have no idea."

"Well, let's stop."


"I'm glad that's over."

"Me, too. Say, want to go play pool down at Ronald's?"

"Sure. Lead on, little brother."

They scrambled up the slippery sandy slope of the crater wall, looked at the gathered mob as though wondering what all the people were doing there, shrugged, and walked off down the street together, arms around each other's shoulders.

Their conversation and laughter faded into the distance.

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