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Deal 744: Blew Blue

In the welcome shade, the balm was soothing on his sunburn skin. Welcome relief indeed, but he feared that wouldn’t outlast his news.

“I cannot lie,” he gasped. “That would be wrong, and only cause pain.”

The staff were concerned. They smelled a rat, as any story that began with such a reminder seemed likely to prominently figure in some sort of shading of the truth. As his story unfolded, they were increasingly alarmed. No, this was not going to end well at all.

He saw a glimmer of hope that he might survive the day when the panicked bluster that developed around him as the report unfolded never seemed to include him. He risked it all to hope he could survive. He hadn’t endured all that training, days of boring lectures, and all those hours of practice to just fold now.

Suddenly he found himself alone.

They’d listened to his report, and simply left him to fend for himself.

Under the clear blue sky.

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Deal 743: Green and bear it

The green paint was an unlikely choice, but it seemed to have a calming effect on the captives after all, giving them some reason for hope.

Hope was punctuated by alarm, of course. Alarms came at uncertain intervals. Fortunately, the facility was run with a lot of neglect, meaning that escape attempts often went unnoticed.

If they were noticed, your only hope was to have the protection of a stronger totem.

The strongest totem was the Axe of Defense, but it hadn’t been seen around the place in years. Rumor had it that its wielder had followed the lead of the Axe of Offense, and made a successful escape. But there was very little available evidence available to support the rumors.

With the axes out of the picture, the next best totem was a bear. Not your average teddy bear, you definitely did want to be on the wrong side of these in a dark alley.

But the green paint was keeping things calm.

And the teddy bears were helping.

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Deal 742: Orange song

“Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” runs the old song, suggesting without saying many things. And yet, the refrain touches on something deeply satisfying: favorite smells, favorite tastes. Even as it makes a play for comfortable memories, the singer seems to be hell-bent on tormenting his one-time lover.

He has many impossible devices set up for the task. A shirt with no seams, washed without water, dried on a thorn-bush, etc.

Time passes, and the old laments change meanings as they get retold, resung, and even rewritten.

The gentleman should not kiss and tell, and that advice really should apply to airing all the rest of one’s dirty laundry in public. Not that people follow that advice any more, of course.

They’d often prefer to reinforce the lies they tell themselves through repetition, almost as if they fear the truth would come out if they ceased to believe the comfortable lies.

Today, the seamless shirt can be had with careful application of machine knitting. And the cleaning in a waterless well is commonplace for delicate fabrics. The barren thorn is less clear, of course, but was never all that important to the original, either.

The singer picked up his guitar and sang the old traditional tune, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Because despite all the over-thinking, one thing remains true. People fall in and out of love, everyone seems to know someone who felt wronged in the bargain, and the traditional melodies always invoke a maudlin mood.

And then there’s an orange. I don’t know how the orange was supposed to fit, it would not have been common in the English countryside when this melody was first composed. I’m not sure it’s common now. Or that the orange belongs in the song.

Oh, I’m informed that the orange is simply an error, and doesn’t belong, no matter how tasty it is poked all over with cloves and roast alongside the pig, then served with the chicken and all the herbs.

Someday the traditional song may be remembered as including an orange. If so, that might have been my fault.

“Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” runs the old song, “peel me an orange in one piece and then she’ll be a true love of mine.”

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Deal 741: Haiku series

The weird sisters three
cast my fate: for ever more
toast lands butter down.

Blunt knives are too good
want to slash the annoyance
telemarketers.

Telephone owned by
garlic fiend; a palpable
aura of allium.

The nose knows all
except what the nose knows not:
fear the unknown nose.

Fear not the unknown
conquer it through learning; then
it’s temporary.

Masquerade changes
status for a time; hobo
becomes gentleman.

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Deal 740: Boom

It hit me like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky: that cat had set the bomb.

Earlier, telling stories under the flickering light of an old gas lantern, someone mentioned the cabin that used to be across the lake. Naturally, after soaking in the lake and a keg, and then baiting each other with tall tales, our capacity for reason was somewhat limited. So in one of those group decisions that everyone follows without quite knowing who actually suggested it, we found ourselves using that same lantern to find our way in the dark around the lake looking for the old cabin.

We didn’t find it. We did find a burned out patch of forest just back of the shore, with a few intriguing bits of debris scattered here and there. There was even a slight, ragged depression at the center.

And sitting in the center of that was a cat, calmly taking a bath.

We went on for a bit, then decided that either we really had missed the cabin, or that burnt patch was all that was left of it. Making the story of its overnight disappearance seem more credible that it ought to be.

So what did we really know?

There was a burnt patch of forest, with a crater near its center. The crater had a lovely view of the lake. And those of us old enough to remember the old cabin were pretty sure that the crater was where the cabin used to stand.

Oh, and there was a cat in the center of the crater. A white cat without a lick of ashes on him. To be fair, that last point might not be important given that when we found the cat, he was bathing. And we were drunk.

In the logic of drunken adventures, the question quickly shifted to become why did the cat blow up the old cabin?

And for that we had no good answers.

The infamously ailurophobic among us were also concerned about what else the cat might want to blow up, and were we at risk for having found him at the scene of his crime?

Saner heads eventually prevailed. We remembered the owners joking about fishing with dynamite. Dynamite doesn’t age well. If there had been a case of elderly dynamite in the cabin, it might not have taken much to set it off. If it did go off, it would be difficult to imagine how a cat could have caused it and still been here to take a bath at ground zero.

There are no winners in drunken debates, of course.

By that point, we were hungry, so we grabbed the cat and went off in search of some fish and chips.