Something new

M.A. Gavin,

It has been two months since the conclusion of our first co-authored story, and two months since the election that has undoubtedly changed our country.  Why we stopped writing is a mystery to me, although I would like to suggest some potential reasons.

1: The election results.  Due to the election of now President Donald J. Trump (#notmypresident), you were initially too depressed to continue writing our silly stories – designed primarily for our own entertainment.  Now, because of the political atmosphere you are distracted from writing by other obligations to defend the rights of fellow Americans, protest the insanity of the political scene, and to educate yourself with an arsenal of material to provoke conversation and potentially open the eyes of others.  Perhaps, now that we have this new president, we can restructure our blog from fiction to a platform allowing us to provoke thought and conversation.

2:  You no longer like me.  Was I too much for you over the holidays?  Did I overstep a line when we wore matching pajamas?  Are you holding a grudge because my dog vomited in your bed?  Perhaps I didn’t laugh at one of your jokes – I am obligated as your straight man.   Was I not gracious enough when you cooked for me?   Whatever the possibility, I express my sincerest apologies and hope to make it up to you with a round of naked yoga, bird calling, or an extremely large dish of ice cream, and then, continue our writing endeavors.

3: You were attacked by a magical creature.  Is there a creature capable of stealing one’s memories?  There must be!  Why else would you have stopped our writing experiment?  One day you were walking in the city, contemplating your next piece of writing, brainstorming how we should proceed, and suddenly, it swooped out of the sky and knocked all memory of this blog right from your head.  Why else would you have left me hanging?

4: You ran away.  We are certainly not the most well traveled pair.  Maybe you decided it was time for you to embark on a hero’s quest.  Exploring the great unknown you are traveling far and wide, north and south, east and west meeting a host of people opening your eyes to far better writing than ours, new ideas and views of others.  Regardless of where you are travelling… WHY DIDN’T YOU INVITE ME?!

Well, those are my primary thoughts on where you could be, or what could have happened to our writing endeavor.  Nonetheless, I felt it was time to pick up one pen and see what happens.  I propose we begin again either with a new fictional story, or in a blog correspondence, or whatever else you may fancy.  We still choose a day to post, and stay at approximately 500 words.

I hope you consider this proposal and pick up a pen.  Please include if any of my above conclusions are correct (I am leaning toward 2 or 3 being most likely).

Happy Reading!

-M.R.Gavin

Chapter 36

Arthur continued to feed Beatrice coded sentences and phrases over the course of the next four hours.  By the end, Beatrice was lying on the bed, sprawled on her stomach, covers kicked to the floor, and head face-first into the mattress.  Arthur leaned against the bedpost, head tilted all the way back, and let out a sigh.  

Beatrice turned her head to face him.

“I’m sorry for hating you,” she said simply.

“I understand.”

Beatrice shut her eyes tightly, a tear quietly escaping.  

“I feel like we are in a permanent stasis; every time we figure something out, we are right back where we started.  No closer to figuring out where my cousins go, or how to get home and back to normal.”

“At least you know what Gerald Sr. told me, and that he is here,” Arthur suggested, trying to lighten her mood.  

Beatrice rolled to her back and stared at the ceiling.  She allowed herself to zone in and out of focus while considering all that she had learned.  Her mother was safe, but experiencing trauma.  Gerald Sr. had his hands in everything, and was a leader in discovering and manipulating the blips.  Plus, Gerald Sr.’s gift for Arthur was, in fact, Arthur’s appeared betrayal in return for traveling with the cousins.  Finally, Arthur helped her recall the unidentified person from the photograph she found in her last period of wakefulness.  Thinking about this, she realized despite having been heavily sedated for a long period, she had not slept peacefully for a very long time. Slowly sitting up, Beatrice wiped her eyes and took a deep breath.  

Swinging her feet to the bedside, she slid down next to Arthur.  

“What are we going to do? Again.”  Beatrice stammered.

Arthur took a moment.  He couldn’t decide what move to make.  The classic yawn and arm around shoulders – too juvenile.  Patting her gently on the head?  Too maternal.  Instead, Arthur chuckled, “Well at least you don’t have to worry about walking in on your mother doing nude yoga.”  Shit, too paternal, channeling dad jokes.  Beatrice punched him in the arm, “Don’t try to make me laugh. He used to do that too.”

“How you are related still blows my mind,” he stated matter-of-factly, “It goes beyond your focus, how did the evil skip you?  Is his evil just limited or is your mother’s uniqueness just enough to prevent it?”

Beatrice let her head fall to Arthur’s shoulder, “how would I know?  I forgot about him until five minutes ago, and my mother refused to talk about him.  Plus I am sure if I dig to deeply into my own memories I would blib.  Can’t your spy people tell you?”

“Somehow, he escaped our knowledge completely.  He disappeared many invasions ago, long before we knew about you.”

Allowing a shudder breath to escape her lips, Beatrice shrugged.  Gradually she drifted to sleep resting her head on Arthur’s shoulder and dreaming they were at J. G.’s Restaurant and Grill.  

“Sweet dreams, Birdie,” Arthur whispered.

-M.R. Gavin

Chapter 26

Beatrice knew the final day for the cousins plan was approaching.  Although she was blind to what the cousins would actually do, she was hopeful Arthur and his team had pieced it together and would be ready for them.  She had seen her cousins plotting so many elements but collectively they lacked cohesion and seem senseless.  Beatrice was aware of a few key locations: a bank, a school, a doll hospital, a pizza parlor, a bikram yoga studio, each located at different parts of the city.  While contemplating everything she was aware of, her plan took shape.  She would go to all the locations she knew of and observe.  Look for things out of place, potential hazards, good lookout points and hiding places, what else was near each location, anything with allure to her devious cousins.

With her plan in mind, she simply had to evade her cousins, a difficult feat with Janelle following her everywhere.  Involving Arthur could be the best way to get rid of Janelle – she was very invested in their relationship.  He most certainly knew how to shake a tail.  In addition, she hadn’t seen or heard from Arthur in over a week, and attributed the radio silence to his team having a major breakthrough.  She wanted to know the details and do her own searching.  It was a win-win situation.

Arthur’s phone went straight to voicemail; Beatrice left a flirty message sighing over how much she missed him, and promising him a romantic evening.  This would at least help convince her cousins of her intentions. She got ready, but instead of the sleek ponytail she wore last time, she curled her hair, did smokey eyes, added her bright red lipstick, skinny jeans, and the sexiest top she owned; she even considered wearing three inch heels, but opted for a more practical boots.  Walking out to her kitchen, Janelle’s jaw dropped.

“Birdie, wow!  You must have a very special evening tonight,” she crooned.  “Yes,” Beatrice replied flatly, “and I was hoping you would do me the courtesy of leaving us alone tonight, especially since it is unlikely my relationship with Arthur will last much longer since you plan on kidnapping my mother and I when all of your charades are complete.”

Janelle smiled sweetly back, “But of course, and Birdie, it isn’t like that.  You will see.”  As she turned to leave, she swept up her youngest, singing, “Ta ta Auntie Te Te, enjoy your evening, Birdie!”  and sauntered out the door.  

With Janelle gone, Beatrice looked at her mother, “I am off to Arthur’s.  I will explain when I get back.  Wish me luck!”  She pecked her mother on the cheek, gave Pepe a scratch on the head, and left.

In the apartment building across the parking lot, Janelle was already on the phone.  “The final phase is beginning.  The bird is in route to the weasel.  I repeat the bird is in route to the weasel.  Everyone take your positions.”

-M.R.Gavin

Chapter 24

Arthur stood speechless. Gerald Sr. had not yet made an appearance during this invasion.  Most of Arthur’s team assumed the reins were passed down to the younger generation, while their parents relaxed on a beach enjoying their spoils.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Gerald Sr. said gruffly pushing past a stoney faced Arthur.

“Your team has improved since you started tracking us,” he glanced around Arthur’s cramped apartment, quickly inspecting screens with live feeds, computers with calculations, maps, charts and photographs.

He turned to look at Arthur, grinning, “The family tree is wrong.  Janelle is Dolly’s daughter, not mine.”

Arthur was in utter shock.  He could hear the things Gerald Sr. said, but was stunned by his mere presence and mass.  He couldn’t help but think of the first time he saw Gerald Sr.  It was the cousins first appearance, since Arthur joined the team.  Although he mostly did research and tracking, an undercover clerk was needed unexpectedly.  Eager to prove himself and to interact with the conniving cousins, Arthur volunteered.  He went to work undercover, expecting Gerald Jr. to buy or steal athletic supplies.  Gerald Jr. never showed; Senior walked into the store, a massive man, with a huge head, dark, intelligent eyes, and shoulders as wide as the doorway.  Arthur thought briefly of a train bearing down at him as Gerald Sr. approached.  He quickly resumed his undercover work.  “Find everything you need, sir?”  Gerald Sr. smirked, “Now I have.” His hand moved, grabbing Arthur’s collar with surprising speed.  “Tell your boss, you will never catch us.” He set Arthur down, threw some cash at him, and marched out with his purchase as though nothing had happened.

Arthur looked at Gerald Sr. now, still the same menacing presence, but a head of grey – instead of black – hair.  

“I remember you, too,” smiled Gerald, “we were both younger then, more sprightly.”

“You didn’t come here to reminisce about old times.  Get it over with.  Wipe our computers, fry our surveillance, kill me if that’s what you are after,” Arthur huffed.

“Kill you?” Gerald Sr. scoffed, “Why would we kill you?  We need you.  You are an essential piece of our plan and have done quite a number on my niece, Birdie.  She’s head over heals for you.”

Arthur, feeling the blood rush to his face, replied, “Then why are you here?”

“By now I am sure you have discovered how we can manipulate things so you hear only what we want you to hear.  We also are responsible for Beatrice being unable to hear or see certain things.  I know it is frustrating her, and it must be quite distracting for you.”

Arthur watched as Gerald Sr. meandered around his apartment.  “I came to give you a message and a gift.  Time is up.  We will succeed.  Say goodbye to Beatrice – you won’t be seeing her again.  Good bye, Arthur.”

“The gift?”

“Oh, you’ll find it soon enough,” Gerald Sr. replied with the door crashing behind him.

– M.R. Gavin

Chapter 22

What could have possibly happened in the ten minutes it took her to get from Arthur’s apartment to hers?  Sure they had been distracted by Beatrice’s mind blips, but anything major going on with the cousins would have been brought to Arthur’s attention immediately.  Plus, the cousins had been gone for at least an hour prior to Beatrice and Arthur’s awkward good bye outside his apartment.

“Mother, I have been watching you and our cousins all night.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary – for them at least.  What are you talking about?”

Pepe appeared from around the corner, slinking with his tail between his legs to Beatrice’s mother, whose hair, though normally eccentric, looked as though she had been grasping and tugging fistfuls of it at random.  She lapsed into sobs burying her head in the tie-dye throw pillow she recently added to Beatrice’s muted decor.

Beatrice was taken aback; her mother was always expressive, but extremely positive.  She had never seen her mom break down.  What does a child do the first time she truly sees her parent break down?  Feeling as though time stopped, Beatrice watched her mother in shock, but suddenly exploded into a fury of motion.  

“Mom,” she whispered moving to the couch and putting her arm around her mother, “Sit up.  You are worrying poor, little Pepe.”  Beatrice scooped Pepe up and sat him on her mother’s lap, where he started lapping the tears off her face and his whole body wiggled with every wag of his tail.  “Look at him trying to take care of you,” Beatrice cooed, “I am going to make you some tea.  Your favorite is white mango with a sprinkle of paprika, right?”

As Beatrice walked to the kitchen she could see her mother was still far from her usual self, but was gradually letting go of the horrible tie-dye pillow, and she heard a reluctant giggle escape due to Pepe’s tickling tongue.  

“I have so much to tell you about Arthur!” Beatrice called from the kitchen, hoping to distract her mother by telling her of their awkward but emotionally stirring goodbye.  She relayed the story from the kitchen, explaining how Arthur walked her out, and instead of his usual peck on the cheek, he leaned in for a fireworks inducing kiss, and how reluctant he was when she started to pull away.  And finally, how he had returned to his all business manner, with a startled look  on his face.

“It was both exhilarating and odd,” Beatrice mused as she handed her mother a fragrant mug.  She had done the same things her mother did for her as a child: favorite drink, distracting story, a teddy bear, or in her mother’s case, Pepe.  

“Thank you, Birdie,” her mother sighed, “but it is awful.  Look at what Gerald gave me when he left; he didn’t even say anything, just his evil smirk and walked out the door.”  

Beatrice took the crumpled page, opened it, and read, “This time you can’t be left behind.”

– M.R. Gavin

Chapter 20

“Arthur!” shouted Bobby, before Beatrice could elaborate, “You need to check this out.”

Arthur hurried over to Bobby with Beatrice following cautiously behind him; as she reached his station, she saw live footage streaming on the left monitor, and a three-by-three grid of other surveillance locations, cycling every fifteen seconds on the right monitor.  However, she was drawn to the center screen, where Janelle, her boys, and Gerald Jr. walked into the bakery.  This changed to a traffic camera shot of Janelle and Gerald driving together, then switched to the first time the cousins ambushed her apartment with Janelle and Gerald Jr. walking out of the camera’s range.  As Beatrice gazed at the changing scenes, she listened to Arthur and Bobby’s exchange.  

“I don’t know how I missed it before, but it happens again and again.  From the time they arrived to ten minutes ago.  Janelle is more important than we originally thought,” Bobby explained.  

“I’m sorry,” Beatrice interjected, “What is so important about Janelle and Gerald Jr. being seen together?”

Bobby turned to Beatrice, his face a mixture of confusion and pity, “It’s not just that they are together.  They are together in private, evading the cameras, and causing interference.  All signs of knowing they’re being watched.”   

As the center monitor changed to an interior shot of the bakery, Beatrice could see Janelle and Gerald Jr.’s mouths moving in conversation, but was overcome with the gut-wrenching sensation of time going into warp-speed and then slowing to the pace of snail.  Once the sensation passed, the screen, too, changed.

“See?!” Bobby exclaimed, “The two of them are up to something bigger than we thought.”

“Dig into footage from past appearances,” Arthur started, “Find out if these private conversations and this wacked-out sensation are on-going or new.  Update me by noon.”

“Beatrice,” Arthur turned with a concerned smile, “Let’s finish our conversation.”  Beatrice tried to put on a brave face, but was terrified of what would happen when they talked.  Perhaps sensing her hesitation, Arthur gently reached for her hand and instead of taking her to the tiny kitchen table, led her out the apartment door, and into the parking lot.

“You looked like you could use some air,” he whispered, “Every time we catch a break, another problem seems to surface.  What’s yours?”

Beatrice spoke quickly, afraid if she didn’t get it out in one breath, she never would, “I couldn’t hear what you were so excited about in the kitchen.  I mean that – sensation – hit while you were talking… Like I wasn’t allowed to hear you, like we can’t hear where my cousins go.  I think they know.  Janelle and Gerald.  They know something and will ruin all the good in my life. Again.”

Back at Beatrice’s apartment, Janelle pulled Gerald Jr. aside.  “So far everything is going great, Gerald, but we both know, we can’t leave them behind this time.  Birdie and Aunt Te-Te have to come with us.”  Gerald simply smirked in response.

M.R. Gavin

Chapter 10

By 12:25, Arthur was in his blue Honda Accord and already on the phone.

“It has begun,” was all he said to the other end of the line.  After a brief pause he continued,  “Review the complex security cameras, have social media experts scour for further leads and information.  I am in route.”

Throwing the car into reverse, he drove with extreme dexterity despite his unassuming persona.  He flew down the street weaving through cars, turning knobs and dials on the dash.  A screen appeared with a rotating image, waiting dissipate and become of use.  “Review all known information concerning Beatrice Theodora Lee.”  Instantly, the screen burst into action, scattering the rotating logo into hundreds of pictures and characters, as a computerized voice began speaking in a rapid succession of names, dates, associations, and life events.  

This continued for the four minutes and  fifty six seconds it took Arthur to arrive at his apartment complex.  Turning left, he continued the wide swing of the car, slammed the brakes, and parked perfectly in his usual spot; he dismissed the chattering screen, climbed out of the vehicle, knowing it was unlikely he would see it again, and marched to the door of his building.  He appeared borderline dangerous to those who saw him; his eyes were focused and unblinking on the door to his building, as he walked blind and deaf to the rest of the world.  His neighbor, Ernie, was about to give a cheerful hello, but stopped halfway through uttering the word by the chill of Arthur’s eyes and authoritative steps.  

Entering the building, Arthur bypassed his traditional route of the elevator and instead, rapidly mounted the stairs to the third floor.  He unlocked the apartment with dexterity, smoothly locked the deadbolt and set a security code without a glance, and reached for a remote with just three buttons.  

Across the town, a dozen other men and women were hurriedly heading home, rushing upstairs, locking doors, and anxiously looking back at the text they had received less than five minutes prior,

“It has begun. Prepare to debrief immediately.”

Arthur stood in front of his television looking grim, and steely faced.  In a sense, this was what the last three years had been preparing him for; this was the chance he had been waiting for; this was going to make the monotonous days of waiting, observing and researching worth it, but he was surprised by the pangs of heartache, guilt, and worry that kept creeping up on him.  He was sent here for an assignment: build a relationship with someone connected to the cousins, use the relationship to learn more about the cousins, expose them; truthfully, he had never considered what it would entail for Beatrice, or that he would actually grow concerned for the well being of someone like her.  Regardless of these unexpected feelings, he stared at the screen with the face of a drill sergeant, as the faces of twelve others began to appear.

M.R. Gavin