A Story About Crows for @lizzers_
Once Upon a Time, I lived far north of here in a “ranch-style bungalow” on a hill in a city bound by a river. The city itself still had many Wild Places. Not the kind of wild places where one might go after a night in one’s cups, but the kind of Wild Places one might go and get lost and not be able to find one’s way home unless one knew how to gauge the sun’s position in the sky and the placement of shadows cast by trees. There was a “little forest” in the hills behind my best friend’s house and we used to explore. Really, it was a stand of enthusiastic poplars pushing each other about on an empty lot between two houses, but to us it was a forest.
In fact, I’d be willing to say it *was* a forest and anyone who said it wasn’t can be damned.
In front of my house, the trees grew with their heads bent together, nodding against one another across the street. This formed a canopy of leaves in the summer through which dappled light played and two skeletal fists clasped together in winter. Across the street were six enormous douglas fir trees and lining our side, maples and elms.
Our neighbour’s home was a dainty wartime hut with one bedroom off the front room and one bedroom off the kitchen and our neighbour Elsie had a concrete basement lined with jars and jars of preserves. “Her husband”, my Da said, was “a drunk and a mean old bugger and when he showed up he caused all kinds of trouble and when he was gone nobody missed him much.” Our house was on a hill; theirs was on a flat, so their roofline came even with our bathroom window.
Summers were hot and humid in my hometown, and the sun and the birds up at 4am and the mosquitoes and blackflies swarming by noon. My parents were teachers, and from May until the end of June, my father cursed the birds for waking him too early, particularly after the nights when there had been Much Revelry at our house. The songbirds, he didn’t mind. He would yell obscenities at the corvids.
So my father bought a pellet gun.
And he climbed up on top of the house just before dawn, and he sat there with his pellet gun. And he saw the crows flocking out of the fir trees to roost on my neighbour’s house. And he started shooting at them. He wanted to scare them all away.
He shot out my neighbour’s windows. And the crows were back the next morning. Laughing. Cackling. Mocking.
A Story About @ElBne for @jamesmagnus
Once Upon a Time, I had something Very Important to tell my friend Bne*. Or maybe it wasn’t Very Important. Maybe it was more like one of those times when you really haven’t anything to do so you bum around looking for pals to bum around with. Or maybe it was something Moderately Important but only in terms of a LARP in which we were both playing. To be fair, I don’t remember what the deal, as it were, io was. But I wanted to talk to him. So, this being in the days of text messaging being something that Blade Runner and Blade Runner alone could do, I went to his house.
Phoning, you see, was not an option, because Bne lived in a house with some other gents, and sometimes they just didn’t feel like answering the phone. Or didn’t pay the phone bill. Or answered the phone and then went off in search of the requested party, only to discover an *actual* party happening somewhere else in the house and then forgot that somewhere in the house a phone was off the hook. (This being back in the days where if the phone was off the hook, you couldn’t leave a message – you got the most annoying buzzing booping sounds and you just had to hang up or go mad.)
Also, I wasn’t near a phone. These were the days, of course, when “portable telephones” were things you carried in a baby carrier or a rolling suitcase. The smallest ones were the size of encyclopaedias (which were, of course, hefty tomes of printed reference material organised alphabetically, usually one tome per letter, depending on the edition. These were, of course, the days before Wikipedia, when “looking something up” meant going to an actual library that contained actual books and which had an actual reference section that contained actual reference material. Stop looking at me like that. This is most decidedly not fiction. THAT IS WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE OKAY. People who were really good at trivia were really good at trivia because they read encyclopaedias, not because they downloaded cheats for the trivia app on their phones) or perhaps stale loaves of bread. Unsliced bread, of course. If you wanted to phone someone, you had to either spend thousands of thousands of dollars on a “portable” phone or you had to spend a quarter at a pay telephone (which is a little bit like a prostitute, only you pay to talk, not fornicate) or find somewhere with a public-access telephone or just go home and call. And since I was already nearer to Bne’s house than I was to my own, and since I hadn’t a quarter, and since I was a student and couldn’t afford Ramen noodles much less a “portable” telephone (yes, we did have Ramen noodles back then, and thank #Glob for that), I went ’round Bne’s house to just, as they say, “knock him up”.
Now. I mentioned Bne lived with some other gents. This meant that any given day, if you showed up at Flamingo Manor (their abode), you could ring the bell or knock on the door and you would be soundly and effectively ignored or not heard unless The White Mass was at home because The White Mass, if I remember correctly, had a fondness for lounging on the chesterfield in the altogether, reading gaming books and waiting for some poor schmo to knock on the door or ring the bell. I did not, therefore, do either of those things. I entered the house, hollered (which was proper manners for Flamingo Manor), and, receiving no reply, I began to search the premesis for Bne. He was not in the living room (thankfully, neither was The White Mass). He was not in the “dining room” (some milk crates with a “table” made of pizza boxes). He was not in the kitchen; I didn’t enter the basement because frankly, there were things that happened in that basement that no one who wished to remain whole should ever witness. Also, Duane.
I went upstairs and knocked on Bne’s bedroom door. There was no answer. I opened the door a crack to see if Bne was abed. He might have been but it was impossible to tell because Young Bachelor Living On His Own. I decided to Write a Note.
I penned a note, and began searching for a thumbtack. Some tape. A piece of chewing gum. (That is where the search for A Sticky Substance ended, because House of Bachelors. Iew.) There was nothing. So I grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and pinned the note to Bne’s door; the note that indicated I had been by and was looking for him and because he had not been there, clearly he sucked. Not having found him, I left.
Bne came home later. He went about his business, went upstairs, changed from his work clothes, went back down to the kitchen, made himself some Ramen noodles (or, knowing Bne, ketchup chips). His room-mate saw him. Said, “hey, cenobyte was here.”
“Oh yeah? What’d she want?” Bne asked.
The roommate blanched. “You mean…you didn’t see the note?”
“What note?” Bne asked.
“The. Um. The note stuck to your door with a knife?”
“The fuck you say?”
“There is a giant butcher knife sticking out of your door. She came here looking for you and didn’t find you and stuck that note to your door with a giant, eight-inch blade, and you didn’t see it?”
“I think,” Bne said, “I would have noticed something like that.”
Bne, incredulous, went upstairs and looked at the door to his bedroom. The door he had opened not moments before. The door where, stuck at roughly eye level, there was a large kitchen knife holding a note.
“Oh hey,” Bne said. “There’s a note here! Huh.”
And that is how Bne found the note I left him the day he was not home.
A Story About That Time I Wore A Towel On My Head An Pretended It Was My Hair, or Mother’s Cuts are the Deepest, for @melistress
Before I started elementary school, I had long, long hair. It was blond like spun gold and I wore it in pigtails high on my head with fuzzy green ties and bobbles. My mother would brush my hair every morning like a well-trained torture specialist. It’s a surprise I had any hair at all. She might as well have fed it through a combine.
So she decided that when I started school, I should get a hair cut. *A* hair cut. Not ALL of my hair cut. I went from having lovely, curling mermaid tresses to having a mushroom cut. A MUSHROOM CUT (they called it a “page boy”, but it was not a page boy. It was a mushroom cut). My mother said, “if you’re going to fight with me every morning, I’m going to cut your hair”. I had pointed out that all animals fight when they’re being attacked and that it was a question of survival, the way she wielded that hairbrush (it may have come out as “BUT IT HURTS WHEN YOU DO THAT!”). Hence? Mushroom cut.
The third day of school, after having fielded all of the “why did you cut your hair? You look like a boy” comments, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I wrapped my favourite blue bath towel around my head and secured it with a headband. I once again had flowing, beautiful mermaid locks. I went to school. My teacher made me take the towel off my head and called my mother because I was “being disruptive”. I hardly think launching a legitimate human rights violation complaint citing freedom of expression is “being disruptive” (although at the time it might have come out as “BUT THIS IS MY REAL HAIR I CAN’T TAKE IT OFF MY HEAD!”), but that’s what elementary school is all about, isn’t it? Tramping all over our human rights and trying to teach us not to question authority.
The next day, I chose a *brown* towel, figuring that the reason my teacher had caught on to my ruse was because most people under the age of 80 did not have blue hair.
That was not what had clued my teacher in, as I discovered with the brown towel, the subsequent yellow towel, and the red towel. One week of multicoloured towel turbans, and not one – NOT ONE – slipped past that vicious gorgon who smelled faintly of chalk dust and stale coffee. She was on to me. Neither could I fool her with the wig I ferreted out of my mother’s costume bag. The jig, as it were, was up. I had to accept that my butchered boy hair was simply something I had to live with.
So I got tough and I got mean and I figured that if I looked like a boy, I might as well fight like a boy.
…okay, I didn’t actually get mean. But that was the year I started playing tackle football and stopped wearing skirts and girly blouses.
*Bne is not his real name. His name has been changed to protect his