Friday, April 27, 2012


There was once a summer where the skies seemed brighter. The trees seemed lusher and the scents stronger. The grass was greener and the water bluer, which I didn't quite believe possible 'till I saw it for myself. I was punting down a canal-like inlet in the middle of the Reedy Wetland, trying to reach a friend's hole on time. I was late because I'd forgotten where I'd left my hat and my friend was a mouse, currently engaged in drawing a manga.

Everyone knows that you never go punting in the Reedy Wetland without a hat, and I wasn't about to be the exception. Even so, I was still kicking myself over possibly being late and was rushing as fast as I dared through the bluer water. This is not a particularly safe thing to do, considering the Vivacious Algea, but under the circumstances it didn't seem I had a choice. Still, my spirits were high. It was sure to be an enjoyable party, even though we were secretly not partying at all.

I docked my boat along the mouse's quaint little dock and stepped quickly to her door. She was never one to admonish indiscreetly, but just imagining the look she'd give me if I was delayed a second longer added urgency to my knock. The door flew back as if she'd been standing there with her paw on the handle. "Why, Fox!" she cried amiably. "I didn't expect you to be first."

I stepped past her into the hall, noting the disapproving droop in her whiskers and counting myself lucky that that was all that was in the droop. "You mean Daner W isn't here yet?" I asked, only removing my hat once the door was safely closed.
"No, Hatta hasn't arrived yet," she replied quietly, turning to lead the way toward the kitchen.
I raised an eyebrow. "Is the use of his real name discreet?"
She ignored my whisper, loudly changing the subject. "I'm so glad you could get away for tea! And I know how you're fond of sugar so I took special care with the sugar bowl for this occasion."
I laughed. Mouse was feeling daring. "Good. I see by your clock I'm only two minutes late. Daner shouldn't be long behind me. In the meantime can you show me your rough sketches? I've been dying to see them!"
Mouse shook her head vehemently as she fetched the tea from the stove. "Absolutely not! Rough sketches are for the artist's eyes only. Finished ones are for viewing."
She began to pour two cups, hiding what she murmured next in the gurgling of the liquid. "The Algea has been thick of late next to the Painters Window! Will She be safe?"
I knocked the table, shacking with mirth as if she'd said something funny. Inwardly the news was tearing me up. "I think taking care of one's self is a harder skill to measure than most people would imagine," I replied. "After all, the very nature of the skill requires that one be on their own, therefore making observation trying, if not impossible. However, I think our friend manages wonderfully when she has to."

A thump from the next room drew both of our attentions. Mouse, as I recall, gripped the tea pot menacingly, and, as there came another thump from beyond the adjacent door, I began to wish I had left my hat on. One more thump later and the door flew open and in stumbled Hatta. He looked wet and bedraggled, with Algea clinging and squirming vivaciously all over his person and with his hair sticking out in ever direction from underneath his top hat. The hat was dry, though, and he was holding it firmly on his head. There was an arrow sticking out of it.

"Hatta!" Mouse cried, running and embracing him tightly. She couldn't hide the squeaky catch in her voice.
"I've arrived!" he panted, adjusting his dripping glasses. "Have you started without me?"
I plopped four sugar cubes into my cup. "Didn't really get to. Did you, by any chance, come through the Piano Room window?"
"Had to. I couldn't imagine another way in, what with the Water Guard chasing me. That window is well hidden in a cozy nook of grass that they'll never suspect."
The Mouse was all concern as she held him at paw-length. "Hatta! The Water Guard?! Did they hurt you?!"
"No, no, it's okay, Mouse," he replied soothingly. "My hat helped. But I fear our Tea Party will necessarily have to be brief. Have you the Raven?"
"It's in the writing desk," she whispered. "I'll fetch it. Did you manage to get the message through?"
In answer he took his hat off, pulled the arrow out, and withdrew a manila envelope. "Did one better. I fetched back a reply."
Meanwhile I was downing my tea and standing. "If the Water Guard are as close as you say, we're in danger. I should go out to see if I can't thwart them. They don't know my real alliances. Can I read that letter as Mouse gets the Raven?"
Hatta blinked his cool blue eyes at me. "Do me a favor first, old man. Touch your dominate knee with your dominate forefinger."
I smiled at him and answered carefully, "Only, good sir, if you first do me the honor of glancing down my dominate ear with your dominate eye."
He nodded and handed the envelope over. It was a little worse for the wear, smudged with dirt and with an arrow hole through it. I slid it carefully open and read over the contents as best I could. "It's as I feared… If we don't do something the whole of the West Forest, even as lush as it is, will be up in arms!"
"Or up in flames," Hatta said quietly.
Mouse came back holding a statue of a bird. I sighed, moving toward the hall. "I'd like to know that's secrets as well, but I'd better hurry. Just don't forget to tell me next time we meet! I'll honk once if I get them after me, and twice if they're headed for you two. …Oh, and be good, by the way."
"Fox!" Mouse cried admonishingly, but I was already getting my hat and opening the front door.

Evening colors were invading the sky, turning it all pink and purple. The crickets sang among the reeds and the frogs were quietly square dancing up and down a nearby isthmus. I nodded at them politely and then hurried down the dock. I was suddenly hoping that Hatta remembered to remove the Vivacious Algae before the spines got to him, but knew deep down that Mouse wouldn't let him forget.

Suddenly a whistle sounded behind me, in the grass. I un-looped my boats hold rope and punted free, into the current. Looking back nonchalantly I spied the five Water Guard scurrying up to the water. I waved to them, then took off as fast as I could go, careless of the Algae. Who cares about the Algae! I thought. If she can head through dangerous waters for the cause, then by yiminey, so can I! Besides, I've been in need of a new boat for awhile now…

Noting that the Water Guard were all now in the water, speeding after me, I casually gave my boat horn a long squeeze and then waved at them again. The Water Guard had very tough exteriors, but on the inside they were fragile as glass. Wave impudently at them and speed off and they were sure to give chase in a hot rage.

There was a splash off the port side. Glancing that way I saw her, skimming through the bluer water. My knuckles went white as I gripped my pole, and I quietly held my breath. She swam under my boat, surfacing and leaning up over the side.

"Mermy! It's so good to see you! What on earth are you doing here?" I whispered frantically at her.
She brushed her long, golden, wet hair out of her face, looking up at me in confusion. "What? Oh! You're leading those Water Guard off the scent, aren't you?"
I couldn't help but smile down at her as I punted. "Yes, dear. Mouse is giving Hatta the Raven. I'm ever so glad to see you're alright! I was worried after hearing what Mouse had to say."
"Shouldn't you be afraid of being seen with me?" she asked coyly.
"Not in the least! How could I be when I love you? Besides, the Water Guard are always dreadfully short-sighted."
She playfully splashed me with her fins. The twinkle in her pearl-blue eyes enraptured me for a second…
"Fox! I said, how can I help?!"
"Oh, sorry. Um, can you give me some extra speed? I think they're gaining… Also, once we're far enough away from Mouse's you can help me direct these guys through a few of the roughest patches of Algae. That ought to slow them up and let us get away!"
She smiled, heading gracefully around the back of the boat. "I thought you'd have a plan, dearest. You always do, when you're not distracted."
"Hey! You're right, though… Want to grab some pizza after this? I know the best little Italian place! Candles, checkered tablecloths, vodka, the works!"
I could feel her eyes narrowing at my back. "You promised me…"
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding!"
"Why on earth would you suggest we go for pizza on a dire evening like this, anyways?"
"You can't guess?"
"…The owner is an old, dear friend and contact isn't he?"
"Really, the most amiable, loyal Italian you'll ever meet! But come, love, tell me about your adventures. Did you learn anything? Did you succeed? Did you get hurt?"
At this last question I glanced anxiously back at her, but she was all smiles. "Worried?"
"Of course I was!"
This got a laugh. Then she started her tale as we both continued to propel us through the bluer water. There were things she'd overheard that I dare not repeat and near scrapes that I cringed at the telling of. But all in all my dearest mermaid took care of herself quite well, something I was sure of all along, deep down inside.

And in the end we had pizza at the Italian place, laughing and chatting and exchanging invaluable information that would ultimately save the nation. It was not a summer day that I could ever easily forget.

And now if you've read to the very end of this blog, bravo! Here's the link to my recently published (two days ago) and now available book, The Flying Fix-it Shop
 If you enjoyed this sample of writing, then buy it and enjoy a better, more well-rounded story of mine.


  1. You're a nutcase, dear brother, and I love you.

  2. O.o It seems so familiar, and yet...


  3. In honesty, this latest little entry confirms you as my favorite of all authors. I could curl up with a book full of writing like this, especially with these characters, and while away an entire day reading and sipping coffee.