Sunday, May 28, 2006

Need. Caffeine.

Six days without coffee or alcohol. The caffeine withdrawl headache is finally gone. And I am edgy. Really edgy. Can't sit down and write edgy.

Maybe I'm naturally edgy? Hard to say.

So I cheated. This is half an episode. But it's still four pages on in Word, and the bag is in it, so I hope that makes up for it somewhat. Enjoy!

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen was in a fix.

She had been trying all week to find the bag of yarn, and here it was the knitting night and she had nothing to show for her efforts. Nobody could distinguish one man in the darkness with a bag from another man in the darkness with a bag, including herself. Perhaps she should ask Gladys to find him; the old lady was certainly a good sleuth. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen had narrowly avoided Gladys several times during the week. Maybe she was being paranoid, but it seemed like more than coincidence to her. That woman would trail her to the end of the universe if necessary for that yarn.

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen had to get the yarn back, whatever the costs. If she didn’t, all was lost.

She would have posted fliers if she could be certain no one in the knitting circle would see them, but that was about as likely as them not finding out about a yarn sale. She considered posting in the local classifieds, but that would only work if the man she encountered during the blackout was a habitual classifieds reader. She was in too much of a hurry to wait for a call, anyway. There had to be a faster way, but she couldn’t think of anything practical.

So she tried the impractical. She couldn’t be certain it wouldn’t work. After all, she had made it this far, hadn’t she?

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen walked over to the refrigerator and looked at it apprehensively.

“Mir-a-bel…” she said in a singsong voice.

She was answered by a low growl from above the refrigerator.

“Mir-a-bel, dear,” Kathy-or-maybe–Karen said, trying not to let fear enter her voice. They could sense fear, didn’t she know it. “I need the book, Mir-a-bel…” Slowly, she reached above the refrigerator, trying not to cringe. Mirabel didn’t like cringing. Ignoring the persistent growls, Kathy-or-maybe-Karen felt around gingerly for the book. She pulled it cautiously toward the edge of the refrigerator until it seemed like she was in the clear.

“Ow!” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen exclaimed, jumping back from the refrigerator. The book toppled to the floor with a thumb, pages scattering. She glanced at the scratch on her hand. It was one of many, slightly older wounds inflicted by Mirabel.

“I don’t know what Gavin saw in you,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said, gathering up the loose pages and placing them carefully inside the book. She sat on the floor and laid the book in front of her, flipping through it until she found an entry that sounded about right.

“O-kay,” she sighed, pulling a magnet off the door of the refrigerator. It was a neon green plastic number eight. She grabbed a candle from the cupboard, lit it, and returned to the book. She glanced at the book again, then assumed a serious expression, the refrigerator magnet held out straight in front of her.

“I now invoke the Law of Three, what once was lost returns to me,” she said solemnly, drawing the magnet toward her chest.

She waited, the number still poised in the air in front of her.

She waited some more.

Nothing happened.

She re-read the entry in the book, silently mouthing the words. She turned the number around and looked at the tiny magnet glued to it. She made certain it was facing outwards, and tried it again.

“I now invoke the Law of Three, what once was lost returns to me,” she said, raising the last syllable of the sentence involuntarily. This created the unfortunate effect that it sounded more like she was asking a question than making a command.

Again, she waited.

Again, nothing happened.

“Damn!” she said under her breath, slamming the book closed just as the buzzer rang. A small, startled scream escaped her. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen went pale and stared at the door as if the Grim Reaper himself was standing behind it. She knew this was a ridiculous reaction, but she couldn’t help it. A lot of things she would have formerly dismissed as ridiculous were becoming very real to her the past couple weeks.

She pressed the Talk button on the intercom.

“Yes?” she said, her voice quavering a bit.

“Hi, there! It’s me, Gladys.”

Her again. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen took a breath to calm herself. “Um, Hi, Gladys.”

“I was going to call but I don’t have your number.”

“Uh, yes,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said. Nobody had her number. She was very careful about that.

“Well, the meeting’s tonight. I don’t know if anybody told you, but it’s been moved to Ivy’s. Peg’s place is chaos. She got some kind of new-fangled storage system for her stash that she’s putting together.”

“Oh, thanks,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said.

“Since you’ve never been there, I thought we could go over together,” Gladys said.

She wants to come up for that yarn! She can’t come up for yarn that isn’t there!

Plus, the mandala was still chalked all over the floor. That might be harder to explain than missing yarn.

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen glanced at her wristwatch, the refrigerator magnet still in her hand.

“I’ll be right down,” she said. If Gladys had anything to say about waiting outside, she didn’t say: Kathy-or-maybe-Karen didn’t press Listen to find out. She threw on her snow gear, blew out the candle, snatched the book up from the floor and shoved it unceremoniously atop the refrigerator. Mirabel hissed, but Kathy-or-maybe Karen ignored it. Double-knit mittens were good for more than cold weather. She was downstairs, locking the lobby door behind her in less than five minutes flat.

“What happened to your hat?” Gladys asked. The older woman was dressed in a sky blue parka and tan slacks, her cheeks and nose bright red. A shaggy aqua alpaca scarf was looped several times around her neck like a fuzzy snake doing its best to take Gladys down headfirst.

Kathy-or-maybe-Karen touched her head self-consciously. In the distance the horizon was a uniform deep blue, the sky completely masked by low-lying clouds. A nearby streetlight suddenly turned on.

“I didn’t like it,” Kathy-or-maybe-Karen said, trying to conceal how edgy she felt, standing out in the open on the street like this. The whole block was nothing but row houses and dead-end alleys.

“It was clever,” Gladys said. “You don’t see very many bunny hats.”

“Yeah, well, it wasn’t really me.” She glanced down either end of the street. There was no one in sight, not even cars driving by. Not good. “Shall we go?” she said brightly

“You’re not bringing the bag?”

“Uh, well…” She needed a good excuse, fast! What would be plausible? Maybe she forgot it. No. That wouldn’t work. Gladys would wait for her to go back up and get it. Kathy-or-maybe-Karen’s eyes wandered over the street. Tomorrow was garbage day; at short intervals along the sidewalk, black trash bags were piled up on the ridge of snow the plows had created when they cleared the street. Maybe the yarn was accidentally thrown out in the trash? No, who would do that? Yarn felt totally different than trash. And besides, that implied that it was lost forever, which it wasn’t. It was just very much temporarily lost.

A man emerged from of a house across the street carrying a black trash bag, causing Kathy-or-maybe–Karen stared so openly that Gladys swiveled around to see what it was.

The man was himself was not very remarkable: he was an archetypical metrosexual, his hair neatly trimmed and styled, his clothing sleek and stylish, inclining toward black. He could have been practically anybody.

But the bag. The bag had knitting needles sticking out of its sides. One of then was circular, dangling a good eight inches out, bouncing against the side of the metrosexual’s black camel coat.

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4 comments:

Jeanette said...

It may be only a half episode, but it is very good. So far I am feeling that your Kathy or maybe it is Karen episodes are the strongest, but it is still early

Carrie K said...

That was a half ep written under the non influence of caffeine? Pretty good. Poor Peg is dealing with her pixies, I wouldn't want any of my knitting friends over then either. What if the pixies went home with them?

Christine said...

No, actually I wrote it before I quit the caffeine,and I couldn't finish it...(sulk)

Carrie K said...

Aww. Your muse will return. Once she finds an alternate source of caffeine. I mean, once you adapt to the natural energies your body exudes without toxic intervention.