Tax and Tithe

Well people, I’m stumped.  I saw a post with a picture of Castle Combe, “the prettiest town in England”.  I’m sure it was a prompt for a writing challenge.  After having written my challenge, I searched for the website to link my story.  For the life of me, I can’t find it.  I looked at 100 WC and Friday Fictioneers, but alas it wasn’t there.  I promise you I am not on cheap drugs, or expensive ones for that matter.  I am going to post the story regardless.  Enjoy it!

     The walk from our fields in the Cotswolds to the Market Cross at Castle Combe was twelve miles.  Father and I had four bundles of wool to carry and he worried that we wouldn’t get a spot on the Buttercross to show our wares.  We always got our asking price on the Buttercross, the only way we’d have anything left after tax and tithe.  As was our custom, we offered a prayer at St. Andrews church, “Sancte Gregore ora pro nobis.”

     Once we left the church father always said, “Damn Sir John Fastolfe! Tax and tithe be damned too!”

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Two Angels Watching

I recently found 100 Words – Flash Friday Fictioneers blog by Madison Woods thanks to Julia’s Place.  There is a great group of writers responding to her picture prompts.  Thank you Madison and Julia!  Here is my response to last Friday’s prompt:

“Can you hear them, Angel?”

“Yes Angel, they’re dreaming of building their cities on the moon.”

“I don’t like this.  Look what they’ve done to the earth our Father gave them.  They hunt the animals to extinction, they pollute the waters of lake and sea, they fill the life-giving air with smoke.  They do not show respect for each other or the gifts our Father gives them.”

“Remember, our Father is slowing their exploration.  He knows they’re not ready, Angel.”

“Yes but what of free will.  They forget they have souls, Angel!”

“Don’t worry, our Father has a plan for them!”

I, Ruby

Here’s my offering for the 100 Word Challenge prompt “Ruby”.

I hate my name.  Who, but my mom, would name their kid after a piece of jewelry?  I mean, when was the last time you met anyone name emerald, or sapphire or diamond.  Ruby is a stupid name.  I guess I’m lucky, Mom could have named me after vegetables like spinach, or broccoli or….brussel sprout!  When I have kids I’m going to name them after bugs.  “Good morning Earthworm, are you ready for a diaper change?” or “Mosquito don’t forget your lunchbox!”    That’ll teach her.  When Mom asks me why I called her grandkids after bugs I’ll say “Because I like bugs Gramma Ruby!”

Forbidden Doll Carriage

The prompt for this 100 Word Challenge is “…I’m exhausted. Close the door behind you…”

Here is my offering, taken from a dream I had as a five or six-year-old girl, who was sick of her big sister not sharing:
     “Mom!” I screeched, crashing through the back door.     “Angel, I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you,” said my mother of seven.     “Mom, Helena wouldn’t let me push her doll carriage. We went to Clancy’s to buy candy with the nickels you gave us. I was mad so I wished a giant would come and take her away. All of a sudden the floor started shaking. Helena ran outside to see what it was. I told her not to go. Then I saw a huge giant hand reach down and grab her. All I could think to say was, ‘Wait, you forgot her doll carriage!’ I’m sorry mommy!”

Peanut Butter and Crackers

“What’s in the box, Skinner?” Detective Bradley Carville asked as he tossed the wrapping aside and rummaged through the package uninvited.  “Hey!  What’s this? Peanut butter and chocolate jogging shorts? I’ve got a pack of crackers, let’s eat!”

Detective Christopher Scanlon grabbed at the package. “What can I say; my wife likes her chocolate melted!” Carville eluded Scanlon’s grasp and tossed the shorts back in the box.  Their eyes locked as the visual of wearing chocolate while jogging etched itself in their minds.  “Yuck,” they said in unison.  Carville pulled out his hanky and dabbed at the tears streaming down his cheeks, then reached over and dabbed at Scanlon’s face, who swatted Carville’s wrist away.

“Are you for real?” Scanlon demanded. “What are you my mother?”  Just then Scanlon’s desk phone screamed, startling the pair.  “Detective Scanlon,” Skinner barked into the phone as he scribbled information in his log book. “Okay, we’re on our way.” He slammed down the receiver and tucked the log book into his breast pocket.   “Let’s go, Carville.  I’ll brief you on the way.”

“No rest for the wicked, eh Skinner!” said Carville as he bounded after his partner.

“We’re going to Findlater.” Scanlon said once they were out of town on Highway 11.

“We’re going to find what later?”

“Findlater, my friend, is a noun not a verb! It’s a town about 41 miles to the southeast.  The local RCMP picked up a runaway teenage girl with a horrific story to tell.  The constable said it’s not for the faint of heart.  Carville, I know you when it comes to enforcing the law but the girl we’re going to interview is raw.  You need to keep your fat self, your “I just sucked a lemon” looking face on the other side of the two-way mirror.”

“Come on Skinner, I can’t help it. It simultaneously appears when I open my log book. FYI, I’d prefer it if you used the word portly when discussing my stature.”

“Sorry Brad.  Did you know you are referred to, by everyone in the squad room, as By the Book Carville because of the amount of time you take to detail in your log book?  God sent you to teach us all tolerance and patience, partner.”

Once they had arrived at the RCMP detachment Skinner said “Carville, I’m going to talk to her alone.  If she gets even the tiniest glimpse of that sour puss of yours she’ll clam up.  Stay here “By the Book”, take notes.”

They were standing at the two-way mirror watching the girl in the interrogation room.  She was only fourteen years old, but when they looked into her green eyes they got a sense of vast horror, ancient and life altering, horror and angelic innocence existing in the same moment.  According to the RCMP officer who picked her up, she seemed unaffected by the fact that she had been detained and just kept saying, “You have to save my brother!  Please, you’re wasting time!”  That look had come into her eyes the moment the constable mentioned taking her back to her foster parents, and had been there ever since.

Skinner’s empathic nature made this almost unbearable for him, but he always won that war and nurtured his victims into telling their stories and this poor young girl would be no exception.  He would purge later.  He gently pulled the gruesome details from her, wiping her tears, hugging her when she became overwhelmed, holding her hand to give her courage to forge on.  Carville could see the darkness lifting from her eyes as Scanlon worked.

She wanted to make it clear that she was not abused by her parents, but her step-brother was.  She told Scanlon that he was locked up in a closet, and had been there for at least six months, with fencing wrapped around each leg and his body, chained into place.  He was being starved and when they did feed him they made it as unpalatable as they could.  Often they doused his food with hot sauce.  He was made to soil himself because they didn’t let him out to go to the bathroom. When it was discovered his stepmother would rub his own feces in his face and his father would urinate on him. If he did scream to be let out to go pee, his stepmother would pour dish soap in his mouth and just leave it there.  It would run down his chin and the soap would leave an irritating rash.  When her parents did leave the house, the girl would let him out and feed him cereal and smooth cream on his chin to soothe the soap burn.  The interview lasted about an hour.  On the other side of the two-way mirror, the Constable and Carville discreetly dabbed at their eyes.

The only judge in town was in court so Skinner had to go to the justice of the peace a few counties over to get the arrest warrant.   After what felt like an eternity, Scanlon and Carville rescued the boy and his parents were incarcerated.  Scanlon had the little boy on his knee in the squad room waiting for his auntie to pick him up. “Are you hungry buddy?”

“Yeah.”  the boy replied.

Scanlon opened the box his wife had sent him. “Let’s see what I have.  Do you like peanut butter and chocolate?”

“Yeah.”

“Carville, throw me a pack of your crackers man.”

Once the boy had left, the squad room christened the partners with a standing ovation. Peanut Butter and Crackers became their nicknames for the rest of their careers.

Enlightening Midnight

     The day started out like every other day.  I, Snowball Catus, descendant of Felis Catus, woke up.  I heard the thud of the human’s feet hitting the floor upstairs.  There was much scurrying around, slamming of doors, water splashing and then finally his trundling downstairs.

     “Good morning Snowball, are we ready for breakfast?” he asked.

     First, he does some more splashing with the water and tinkering with his gadgets and has a steamy cup of something.  Then I hear my breakfast hit the bowl.  Next he comes over to pick me up and pets me a while.  I purr for him and he sets me down in front of the bowl.  He usually waits for me to finish breakfast and then he lets me out to roam the backyard. 

     Today I heard the back door slam as soon as I started to eat.  It was curious but I wandered upstairs to the human’s room, tucked myself into his bed and went to sleep.  A door slamming awakened me and I heard the human downstairs.

     “Snowball I’m home! Come here pussy cato, I have a surprise for you!  Come and meet our new friend, Midnight.” he said.

     I thought I heard lonesome mewing sounds as I sauntered down to the kitchen.  As I rounded the corner, there was the human, cuddling a tiny scared black kitten.  Midnight was the kitten!  Oh great! I now had a job.  I would have to find a way to console the little fur ball.

      “ I’m scared! Meeooowww!” howled the kitty.

     “Now Midnight, you need to stop crying.” I scolded.  “I won’t let anything bad happen to you.  I’m Snowball Catus.  Think of me as a big brother.  Shhhh, I want to tell you a story that will make you feel a lot better.”

     “Nothing is going to make me feel better, ever.  I miss my mother!  I miss my brothers and sisters!” he wailed.

     “But the story is about the animals the human took from their homes.” I protested.  “He put them in a pond he built called Hounslow Pond.  It only existed for three seasons.  For some reason he took all the creatures out, drained the water and filled in the hole.  We ended up moving here.  This is our home!””

     “Why did the human do this Snowball?” meowed Midnight.

     “I don’t know.” I sighed.  The little guy started to tug at my heart.  “Humans are what they are Midnight.  Hounslow Pond was special because all of us were feeling the same homesickness.  A great horned owl known as The Imperator, Bubo Virginianus, gave us the strength to unite and survive well in our new surroundings.  Each night we would meet and recite the Credendum, the living history of each of our species.”

     “Sniff.  Did you recite the Credendum Snowball?” asked Midnight as the human put him down on the floor beside me.

     “Midnight Catus clean yourself and I’ll tell you the story.  One night The Imperator roosted on a branch overlooking Hounslow Pond.  He was going to speak to us; we were bound to listen.

     ‘This is witnessed in the Credendum as one of our beliefs.” Bubo began.  “In the olden times we lived in Quiddity.  In the land there was only nature. We had only to be what we were to survive.  The ancient humans lived as we did, and only had to be what they were to survive.  Then the new humans came and built the boxes of clangor they live in.’

     He allowed us to finish grumbling before he went on.

      ‘In the present, we have come together as one species.’ he said.   ‘In Quiddity, Raccoon Lotor’s ancestor, Procyon Lotor, hunted the fish, mice, birds and frogs according to the Credendum, at one with nature.  Today, Raccoon hunts in dumpster and garbage can to feed her young.’ Bubo paused, spun his head around, then he continued. 

     ‘In the past Procyon’s habitat was near big water with small timbers, bordering corn and vegetable fields.  In the present, Raccoon lives in garage, shed and boxes of clangor near Hounslow Pond.  When human feeds the creatures of the pond, the pond gives back beauty to feed the human soul.  The new human is voracious in the present and takes all, with nothing to give in return.  The new humans took nature from the creatures living in Quiddity.’

     ‘The time has come for me to nourish in Big Field.  The sun is kissing the horizon.  I shall soar and think on the Creator.  When I return, I should like to hear from the descendants of Felis Catus to gain some insight into the new humans.  Snowball’s species has lived with humans for four thousand seasons.  I suspect his entry in the Credendum will prove fascinating. Snowball Catus,’ he hooted ‘see that you are ready when I return.’

     With that the Imperator silently descended from his perch.  He floated just above our heads and then silently disappeared into the shadows of dusk.

     When Bubo returned this is what I said, ‘Four thousand seasons ago, my ancestor, Felis Catus lived with humans who built enormous stone mountains to carry their spirits to the Creator.  Catus was worshiped by these humans and mistakenly thought of as a god…”

     “Snowball, am I related to Felis Catus too?” asked Midnight.

     “Yes Midnight you are.  Hey you stopped crying!  Are you feeling a little better?”

     “I-I think I am. Thanks brother.” said Midnight.

     “You see!  I told you, the Credendum works!” I said giving Midnight a few licks.

     “From now on when I feel like crying I’ll practice my own speech for the Credendum.  I am Midnight Catus, descendant of Felis Catus, little brother of Snowball Catus.”

     “That’s a very good start Midnight.  Later I’ll tell you all about the rest of the creatures of Hounslow Pond.  Now get over here and go to sleep kitty.”

     Midnight curled himself in a ball against my stomach, and purred himself to sleep.  I have a feeling it’s going to be fun enlightening Midnight Catus!

Midnight photo by: kittyblogger.wordpress.com

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