🚎ONCE UPON AN APPENDIX REMOVAL: Story #1

The Trolley Tracks Are Alive PART 1

Hello, dear, sweet readers. It’s story time. Yeah, I’m talking to both kid and adult WordPress goers. 

Now that the Velva-pedia series has officially been canceled. Here is it’s replacement. 

This story takes place a little over a year before the events in HECCTROSSIPY book 1  The Legend of the Land. Artheena and Mell May, the vervett sisters, and their grungol best friend, Audry, are all fourteen and innocently oblivious to the horrors that await them when they reach adulthood.  

*** 

Artheena and Mell May broke into a sprint, halfway down their street. The jewel dappled, turtle-like shells on their backs glittered and gleamed in the light of the three moons, and their long hair trailed through the air behind them, like com-it tails. Picking up their pace to a speed faster than Earth’s cheetahs, the two vervetts’ nearly human forms became one glinting blur. The fragrant, invigorating spring night air whooshed past them, like a powerful storm wind as they continued building up their speed until they were a few steps away from their glowing teppid stone front walking path. Then like giant grasshoppers, they did a simultaneous high leap through the air. Higher than what would be possible for any human, well over the height of their house’s rooftop. 

“I love Leeandro Paul!” Artheena shouted, whooping as she leaped through the air again and landed further up the walking path. 

Mell May whooped with her, leaping and landing just a little ways ahead. “I’m Village 16 Mell May of South Section 40,346!” she jokingly shouted as she sprang through the air again. 

“Whatever! Keep dreaming!” Artheena teased, catching up with her sister and grabbing the edge of her shell, pushing her back to the ground. Mell May landed with the agility of a cat. In a split moment, she was high into the air again, pushing Artheena to the ground in return. Artheena wasn’t so agile, landing on her shell with her limbs and rear end in the air, spinning like a break dancer. Her soiled shirt, which had been rolled up and tied tightly around her waist, limply flapped about like a lizard’s broken wing. Mell May went on ahead of her, leaping towards their house and singing the catchy chorus to the latest popular Leeandro Paul song. 

The South Section 5,898 sisters always leap-raced each other home, after they came back from their favorite place to be—Village 3’s Music Club. It was a thing they started when they were little girls, yet old enough for their parents to decide that they could go to the music club by themselves. By now, they were fourteen, and leap-racing each other home was silly and childish, but it was tradition. 

Artheena quickly caught up with Mell May, both sang in tandem as they made their final leap toward the front door. She caught the knob and flung the door open before her feet hit the walking path’s end. 

They immediately stopped singing once they stepped inside the house. Their four-year-old kid brother, Willberry, was asleep in bed by this time of night.

Mom was in the sitting room, her shell turned toward the front door as she was busily bent over a row of small, slender wicker vases that she’d set along one of the couches. She wore a long nightshirt, and was washed up and ready for bed. The sweet, strawberry-like smell of her bathing herbs faintly emanated across the room. Using a tiny pair of scissors with blades as thin as needles, she carefully trimmed away any loose strands of wicker she had missed. These vases were her latest hand crafted wicker pieces, which the Guardians had scheduled her to deliver to the Home Decor & Housewarming Gift shop in the East Section, early the following morning. The vases were made of fine, straw-like wicker. They all had the same intricate leafy vine pattern made of died wicker sewn within Mom’s perfectly symmetrical weaving, but each pattern was a different color. These vases were for keeping paper flowers in, which was a traditional springtime household decoration all over Continent 15. 

“Hey, girls,” she put down her cutting tool and turned to greet Artheena and Mell May with a smile. “How was the concert?” 

“Awesome!” said Mell May, without toning down the volume of her enthusiasm. 

“Willberry is sleeping.” Mom reminded her, in a hushed voice. 

“Sorry.” Mell May whispered. 

“Leeandro Paul is so amazing.” Artheena gushed. 

“Yeah, and Artheena spilled diamond flower tea all over her shirt.” Mell May giggled. 

“It was crazy,” Artheena began. “There was this group of boys in front of the stage making the biggest idiots out of themselves, singing really badly. They were like…” Both girls pumped their fists in the air and barked mumbled nonsense in hushed voices. Mom cracked an amused smile. “I don’t know how Leeandro Paul was able to keep singing without laughing his shell off,” Artheena continued. “Or at least telling them, ‘Hey, you bunch of toilet bucket heads, shut up. You’re ruining my song.’” 

“I figured, since it was all boys up there, they would let me get close to the stage too.” She flashed a proud, nearly arrogant smile. “And they did. They stepped aside to make way for me, and…” Both girls inhaled and exhaled loudly with astounded expressions, as though they’d witnessed a miracle. “Me and Mell May got a head to toe glimpse at Leeandro Paul. It was the best moment of my life.” 

“Mine too,” said Mell May. “And he made eye contact with Artheena.” 

“He made eye contact with me,” Artheena echoed, a dreamy look in her eyes. “Leeandro Paul likes me. I tried to call out to him, but curse of Jyoseppy, I broke into a major hiccuping fit.” 

“Thank Jumellica one of the staff was nearby,” said Mell May, “I had him get me a goblet of diamond flower tea that I gave to Artheena, but when she went to take a drink…” They both burst into giggles. “She sneezed, big time, and got tea splattered all over her shirt and on some old lady’s ugly hat.” 

“Thank Jumellica that lady got in front of me, before Leeandro Paul saw me make a mess,” said Artheena. “She told the boys to quiet down, which gave me enough time to quick take off my sloppy shirt.” 

“I hope you apologized to that woman.” said Mom. 

“She disappeared into the crowd before I had the chance to,” said Artheena. “But I’m sure she has a swimming pool, or knows someone who has a pool that would be glad to remove the stains. So anyway, you wouldn’t believe this, and I wish you and Dad and Willberry could’ve been there to see it, but Leeandro Paul was dressed up like a Guardian.” 

What?!” Mom shouted with outrage, forgetting about not wanting to wake Willberry. “You’re right, I can’t believe it! How awful of him!” 

“It wasn’t awful. It was sexy.” Mell May defended. 

“Sure was.” Artheena agreed. 

“A villager imitating a Guardian is not sexy,” said Mom. “It’s wrong, and it’s insulting to authority.” 

“He could be my authority any time.” said Mell May. 

“Oh, yeah.” Artheena grinned. 

“This isn’t funny, girls!” Mom reprimanded. 

Mom, it’s no big deal,” Artheena argued. “He’s a performer. Performers ware costumes all the time.” 

“Yes, actors, Artheena,” said Mom. “Actors whose contribution is to play the part of a fictional character that’s scripted in a fictional play. Leeandro Paul wasn’t acting as a fictional Guardian character from a play script when he was doing his concert. Was he?” The girls exchanged looks that said, Ugh, parents. They knew that what he had done would be considered publicly offensive, but they felt their latest Music Club crush should be an exception to the rules. “So he was dressed up as a Guardian as himself, which I think is arrogant and disrespectful, and I don’t think I want you girls attending his shows anymore.” 

Mom! No!” Mell May protested. 

“The Guardians didn’t care!” Artheena argued. “If they did, they would’ve arrested him and escorted him off the stage, and they didn’t!” 

“Were there any Guardians around at the Music club, tonight?” Mom demanded. 

Yes!” the girls lied in unison. They couldn’t honestly answer that question, because they weren’t paying attention to whether or not if there were Guardians among the crowd when they could hardly take their eyes off of Leeandro Paul. 

“What’s going on out here?” Dad demanded, hurrying out of the bathroom. The sounds of a muffled argument from behind the closed bathroom door had alerted him to jump out of his bath and help resolve the problem. He was naked and dripping wet. Tiny leafy stems and pieces of grass from his bathing herbs stuck to his skin and hair. Artheena and Mell May snickered at the sight of him. 

“Dad, you forgot to weed your skin.” Artheena joked. Mell May burst into laughter, and then Mom. 

“Oops,” Dad laughed, looking down at his arms and chest. “I forgot to scrub off before getting out of the tub. So what’s going on out here? What are you three fighting about?” Mom told him about Leeandro Paul’s absurd and disrespectful performance and how she didn’t want the girls to attend his shows anymore, while Artheena and Mell May insisted that it was no big deal and Mom was blowing things out of proportion. 

“He might not ever do it again,” said Artheena. “It was just a costume. It might be his gimmick to dress in a different costume with each show. Next time he does a show in Village 3, he might come on stage dressed up like a poomditto bird for all we know. It’s no reason to stop allowing us to see his shows. Besides, if people were offended by him, he would’ve been booed off stage, and he wasn’t. They loved it.” 

“Yeah, especially us,” said Mell May. “And like we said, there were Guardians there, and they didn’t stop him. Please, Mom and Dad, please don’t make us have to stop seeing his shows. His music is so wonderful and uplifting, and it makes me and Artheena happy. And you know how happiness is the key to better empowering Jumellica’s positive energy.” 

“Maybe we should just let them go see him,” said Dad. “He’s just a Music Club singer. I never heard of performers being harmful and dangerous to the public. Yes, he had some nerve portraying himself as a Guardian, but he wasn’t hurting anybody. If he’s foolish enough to keep imitating authority, the only harm done would be brought onto himself.” 

Artheena and Mell May silently hoped to Jumellica that Leeandro Paul would perform in normal stage clothes from now on. 

“You’re right,” Mom sighed. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to let the girls enjoy his music while it lasts, because I don’t think he’ll be performing much longer.” 

Both teenagers rejoiced, whooping and clapping and jumping up and down as they thanked their parents repeatedly. Mom and Dad couldn’t help laughing at how ridiculously passionate their daughters got over their Music club crushes. Then all four of them fell silent at once when they remembered that Willberry was sleeping. 

~~~ 

Artheena tossed her shirt into the pool with the rest of the day’s laundry. The living liquid would remove the tea stains overnight, and the shirt would be as good as new by the following morning. Then she and Mell May took their baths and swished some teeth wash, but they had no intentions of going to bed, especially not after the thrill of going to another Leeandro Paul concert. While taking a quick dip in the pool to let the liquid remove the bath water wetness from their hair, they made plans to sneak out and see what their grungol friend, Audry, was up to. They had to tell her all about the awesome concert. Audry had never went to a Leeandro Paul concert, but she’d heard about the alluring vervett singer/songwriter/musician from a few of her grungol friends who had seen him when he toured Group 1 a season or two ago. They said that even grungol girls were smitten with him.    

His deep aqua marine eyes were stupefying. His tall, lean muscled build and pretty-boy face made Artheena’s and Mell May’s hearts pound with desire. Blissful goosebump chills ran through their bodies at the sound of his melodic voice. Once they saw him and listened to him sing, they couldn’t get him out of their heads. Leeandro Paul was a new artist to their village group, but that night, he had the confidence and swagger as though the whole land was under his thumb—Like a Guardian. 

It was a school night, but Mell May and Artheena did their usual sneaking out routine that they had been getting away with since they were little. They were, what we Earthlings would call, night owls. After exchanging good-nights with their parents, they acted like they were going to bed. Once in bed, they waited for the sound of Mom and Dad’s bedroom door being closed, and then waited another few moments. Their parents were hard working, socially active people who also had an overly energetic four-year-old, so it didn’t take long for them to fall asleep. The girls would then slip out of bed and change into daytime clothes in the light of the moons and the teppid stone that glowed in the yards. 

Mell May’s room was at the front of the house, so she was the first to open her door as carefully and quietly as possible and creep towards Artheena’s room with silent footsteps. Artheena, the gifted one, always intuitively knew when Mell May was approaching. Then she’d sneak out of her room the same way. Both girls would creep across the house in silence until they snuck through the back door and were out on the teppid stone pool deck. The coast was clear when they were outside, and they didn’t have to be careful and quiet anymore. 

They hurried over to Audry’s favorite burrowing spot in their back yard and called out for her. Although she lived deep underground, grungols have an unusual sense of hearing. To them, every sound on the surface reverberates through every grain of dirt, allowing them to hear what goes on above ground from their under-village. 

Far below the South Section 5,898 family’s back yard, Audry was in her cave home, eating breakfast. The house was bustling with friends and relatives all preparing for a big night. It was Audry’s mom’s second cousin’s 167th birthday—Or rather, birthnight, since grungols are nocturnal. Through the noise of the chatter and clanking of breakfast dishes, Audry could hear the distant calls of her vervett friends on the surface. She excused herself from eating and hurried out of the house and down her street. One of her friends from around the neighborhood, a grungol boy named Brotell, came with her. 

“Ditching the party already?” Brotell teased, knowing how devotedly attentive Audry was to her two vervett friends. No matter what she was doing, she always dropped everything and burrowed up to the surface whenever Artheena and Mell May called her from their back yard. 

“Of course not,” said Audry, climbing up a neighbor’s wall garden. Maybe they’ll want to come to Jill’s party with us. They sound like they have something important to tell me.” 

Brotell climbed after her. Once she reached where the garden ended and the wall was bare dirt and rocks, Brotell was on the wall beside her. He was sometimes more attentive to her than she was to her vervett friends, which gave her the suspicion that he liked her. 

The two grungols then tightened every muscle in their bodies and flattened themselves against the wall. Their dog-like snoots pointed strait up toward the under-village ceiling, and their fluffy lopped ears were held firmly against their heads. They took a deep breath, closed their eyes and nostrils, and sped up the wall with all six limbs, faster than scurrying spiders. Their four remarkably powerful arms and two remarkably powerful legs allowed them to burrow through the dirt at a speed far beyond Earth’s digging machinery. They also had the ability to resolidify the dirt as they burrowed through it, never leaving behind any holes or dirt messes or unstable ground. 

“I know we’re earlier than usual,” Artheena yelled over the loud motor-like sound of the grungols’ burrowing, as they emerged to the surface. “But we have a long, amazing story to tell, and we need plenty of time to tell you it before you have to get ready for school. Hi, Brotell.” 

“Hey, girls.” he said, giving them a friendly, silver toothed smile. 

“There’s no school today,” said Audry. “The two and three-year-olds’ schools’ roofs started crumbling apart during the day, and several other schools for kids and adults have cracks in their walls and roof that the Guardians thought looked too threatening. So all the schools are undergoing inspections and repairs tonight, which is great.” She clapped all four furry, flat fingered hands. “Because tonight is cousin Jill’s birthnight! I’m so glad I don’t have to miss it. I hate when people’s birthnights are on a school night and I have to miss out on them.” 

“Thank Jumellica it was during the day when those kids’ schools caved in.” said Mell May. 

“Thank Jumellica,” Audry repeated. “Although I’m not surprised this happened. Our under-villages school buildings have been around for I don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of years. Probably since Group 4 was first built.” 

“Audry thought you girls might like to come to the party with us.” said Brotell. 

“Of course!” the vervetts said in unison. 

Mell May jumped onto Brotell’s back and got into the awkward but speed promoting burrowing position. Artheena jumped onto Audry’s back and did the same. In less than an Earth second, they were on Audry’s street. Moving through the ground at such speed felt more like moving through a strong blast of wind. It was a speed to fast to allow any dirt to cling to them. 

To us, the grungols’ under-village would look like a place where a race of mystical people from a fairy tale would live. The streets were made of silver-white crystal and bordered with glowing gem stones that were either silver-white, warm gold, or a soft shade of blue. The South Section street that the four teenagers walked down had scenic vertical gardens on either side. Hundreds of different species of colorful underground plants grew along the exterior walls of grungols’ cave homes. Most bore flowers and many other kinds of produce. 

“Audry and I invited a couple more extra guests!” Brotell announced over the crowd noise, as the four of them stepped through the curtain of pink and purple flowered vines that was Audry’s front door. 

Artheena and Mell May were greeted with many welcoming hellos and furry, four-armed hugs while Audry sat back down to finish her purely herbivore breakfast of three kinds of vegetable salads, bread made of ground nuts and seeds, and a stewed dark purple vegetable that was like a cross between turnips and Brussels sprouts. The vervetts helped themselves to some salad and sour fern & sweet berry tea as they mingled about the jam-packed kitchen, chatting with the party guests. 

Cousin Jill lived in the North Section of Under-Village 8. Mell May and Artheena had went to Jill’s house with Audry and her family only a few times, since they were ten years old. So they didn’t know her all that well, but they were still excited about visiting her. She was fun and bubbly and like a big kid. Best of all, she lived in a different under-village, which meant they got to ride an underground trolley. It was so much fun to ride the trollies. They sped along their slippery wet tracks as fast as the wind, and the walls and ceilings of the trolly tunnels were festively lit with glowing pictures and designs. 

After breakfast was finished, everybody pitched in with cleaning the dishes and the kitchen as quickly as possible. Then all the grungol guests strapped travel totes to their backs, filled with presents for cousin Jill, along with their coin holders and bottles of well water. And they were off to the trolly stop. 

*** 

Well, folks, that’s all for Part 1. I hope you enjoyed the read. Keep your eyes peeled on your WordPress Reader for Part 2, which will be coming soon. Want to know more about vervetts and grungols? Click the link below, and help yourself to a full length novel about them. 

Love you all! Post you soon!  

Come write with me in the Writers Mastermind!

PART ☠️☠️☠️☠️ of… 🧀💩 Skeevids! Eeeeew! 💩🧀

It’s the conclusion! The fourth and final excerpt of chapter 24. I know this was an odd place in the book to post rough draft samples, so I hope you’re not totally lost. If you kind of are, and you’d rather start at chapter 1, you’re welcome to be a beta reader. Even though this is the second book, there are recaps on things that went on in book 1. So you’ll have enough of an idea of what previously happened, to be able to follow the second installment. I will announce when The Will of the Dark Creator is ready for beta reading. Anyhow, here’s the rest of this grotesque chapter. 

Sweet nightmares… 

***  

Artheena moved like lightning. First sprinting through the South Section, and then doing high leaps over West Section streets and from roof top to roof top to get to the Household Cleaning Supplies store more quickly. The store only sold the same few types of items, so she was able to get what she needed and get out, in a little over an Earth minute. Then she sprinted and leapt home at such a speed, she barely felt the rain drops touch her skin. 

The house was freshened up a little bit, by the time Artheena came home. Willberry was no longer screaming, which meant that his bath was over. Artheena heard him still in the bathroom, sobbing and talking to dad in a winy voice. 

As she headed for the cleaning supply closet to restock it, she found mom in the kitchen, busily scrubbing Willberry’s vomit and skeevid juice soiled bed clothes in a wooden washtub full of pickly green, soapy water. “Breakfast is going to be light, this morning,” said mom. “Just spring grain porridge and roasted dried beans, since our oven isn’t going to be available.” 

As long as the swimming pool stayed solidified during the rainy weather, they had to continue doing their laundry the hard way, and use the oven as a drier. 

“That’s fine.” said Artheena, not having much of an appetite, despite how active her morning was. 

“I changed Willberry’s sheet and pillow case,” said mom. “I’m going to need you to do me a favor, and spread a good amount of toilet leaf litter over his bed, so it doesn’t get any more soaked. The poor guy puked up just about half an ocean this morning. I tried my best to scrub the mess out of his bed and his carpet, but unfortunately, the carpet is probably going to get filthy again, if he has more huge accidents.” 

Artheena quickly finished putting away the new cleaning supplies, and hurried into the bathroom. Her stomach turned at the sight of poor Willberry. He was lying naked on a shallow mound of towels on the floor. Without his nightshirt, she could see the full extent of his skeevids. Bulges and clusters of the infected bumps took over his body, leaving only a small number of spots where his skin was clear. In other places on his skin that had no bumps, Artheena saw translucent gray and dark gray circles on them—the sign of more skeevids to come. The other tennis ball sized skeevid had popped while Artheena was away, leaving both knees with a large gray crater in them. The crater over his left knee had three darker gray circles within it. 

“Artheena, get me out of here,” Willberry wined through pitiful sobs. “Dad won’t stop cleaning the tub, and it’s making my stomach feel barfy.” 

Dad had emptied Willberry’s bath water, and was now busily wiping down the inside of the tub with a handful of mange fruit wedges, and removing stray pulp with a wiping leaf. Artheena remembered how the strong citrus smell of mange fruit made her nauseous, when she had skeevids. 

“I just came in here to get the toilet litter,” she said, giving her brother a sympathetic look. “Mommy says to put some on your bed, in case you have another accident.” 

“Dad, stop it,” Willberry pleaded. “I’m going to throw up again.” 

“That’s what all those towels are for,” said dad, calmly. “If you’re going to get sick again, they’ll catch it.” 

Willberry gagged loudly, and his eyes began to water. Artheena got out of there with the bag of toilet leaf litter, before a stream of vomit shot across the bathroom floor. 

His bed and carpet were still wet from when mom cleaned them, but at least his room smelled like housewashing soap and mange fruit, instead of puke and skeevid juice. She scooped heaping mounds of the absorbent litter onto his bed, and carefully spread it out in an even layer. Then it was time to get out a coping shroud, and put it over the litter. The boxes of shrouds had been unloaded from the wheel burrow, and stacked up outside of Willberry’s door. Artheena cringed, and her stomach turned again, as a cloud of powdered herb smell wafted from the shroud once she began unfolding it. The smell was like a mixture of dead leaves, metallic minerals, and a weird sweet smell that reminded her of ripe plums and ink twigs. She had forgotten the smell until now. More traumatic memories flashed through her mind, as she carefully laid out the unfolded shroud. “Why do we even use these things? Bleck,” she said to herself, brushing away herb powder that got on her hands. “They don’t do anything at all.” 

Another bloody-murder scream echoed through the house, as Burjiss carried Willberry back to his room. He was wrapped up in a towel, which was already starting to turn gray. Artheena cringed, hearing the muffled pops of more skeevids bursting beneath it. 

“It stinks really bad in here!” Willberry yelled. “What did you do to my room mom?!” 

“She cleaned it up for you!” said Burjiss, raising his voice over a crying meltdown. 

“Why?!” Willberry screamed. “I don’t want it cleaned!” 

“Your room was filthy, and sick children need to be in clean rooms!” said dad. Tabatha came hurrying into the room to help them. 

“I don’t want you cleaning my room ever again, mom! I don’t like clean smell anymore!” yelled the little vervett, sounding bratty. However, none of them reprimanded him for this. They all empathized with his pain and sensitivities, especially Artheena. 

“It smells just fine in here!” she sternly argued over his crying. “It only smells bad to you, because your tummy is so sensitive! Now it’s time to get back in bed, and try to get some rest!” 

“I want to go to bed in Mell May’s room!” he argued, in a howling wine. 

“No!” said Tabatha. “Mell May’s room will make your stomach sensitive too, and that won’t be any good!” 

“I want to go to Mell May’s room! I… want… to… go… to MELL MAY’S ROOM!” he kept screaming, as Burjiss, Tabatha, and Artheena gently unraveled the towel from him, and laid him on the herb powdered paper. Then they carefully folded the shroud over his whole body and around his head, leaving only his face uncovered. “I WANT TO GO TO MELL MAY’S ROOM! MELL MAY’S ROOM!” His voice rose to such a scary sounding, screechy pitch, he no longer sounded like a person, but like some kind of raging monster. And there was a crazy, murderous look in his crying eyes. He was angry because he wasn’t getting his way and couldn’t fight back, but his pain and suffering amplified this anger to a level that had them all a little frightened. “GET THIS THING OFF ME! IT’S PRICKLING ME! IT’S PRICKLING ME!” He kicked and beat against the inside of the shroud, as his rage turned to panic. 

“Don’t freak out! It’s not prickling you!” Tabatha could barely shout loud enough over another screaming fit. “The shroud has medicine in it that’s good for you, and will help you heal!” 

His screaming rose to such a volume, the sound vibrated through the wet carpet and jabbed through Artheena’s ears. She couldn’t believe that such a deafening sound could come from a small child. 

Then there was a sudden loud, gurgling rumble from Willberry’s bed, accompanied by an intense, putrid smell that was worse than the smell of vomit and skeevid juice. Willberry had worked himself up into having a diarrhea accident. Burjiss, Tabatha, and Artheena exchanged anguished looks. They were going to have to remove him from the coping shroud, give him another bath, replace the soiled shroud and any soiled toilet litter, and then try to calm him down while getting him back in bed, all over again. Artheena remembered crying and screaming a lot, when she had skeevids, but she wasn’t even half as loud and temperamental as her brother. 

“Please, Jumellica, help us keep our sanity.” said dad, his barely audible words sounding weak and powerless under Willberry’s screaming, reminding Artheena of how strongly the dark side was rising against Jumellica’s admirers. 

*** 

Thank you so much for reading. I hope your stomach is doing OK. Despite the nastiness, I hope you enjoyed these excerpts. If you did, it would be awesome to have you express that with a like or a comment. If you didn’t enjoy them, those comments are welcomed too. Part of being a writer is getting to know readers’ likes and dislikes. 

I don’t know when I’ll be back on Earth full-time, where I can spend more time catching up on those of you I follow, and writing more original posts,, but I’ll get back as soon as I can. 

Love you all! Post you in a while! Another space taxi is on its way to take me back to planet Velva Leena.   

SURVIVING 5 WEEKSWITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING, IN 90+ DEGREE WEATHER: PART 2

On Wednesday morning, I talked to mom on the phone, and she gave me some hopeful news. Dad spoke up, and told Juan that he was disappointed in his lack of communication. But he told him this, in an tactful and polite manner. Mom also thought I had just planned to stay at Gina’s overnight, and was going to be home that day. When I told her that I wasn’t, she asked me, “How long do you think you’ll be staying there?” 

“Are you guys still going to be working with Juan?” I asked. 

“Yeah,” she said. “He’s supposed to be coming by, this afternoon.” 

So I was like, “Then I guess I’ll see you sometime, maybe in the fall.” 

Sure enough, dad’s polite assertiveness went in one ear, and out the other. Once again, Juan was a no-show. No calls, no texts, and no regards for us customers. 

I hate to jump to conclusions, but I was getting the idea that there was racial discrimination behind the way he was treating us. Like because he’s Puerto Rican, maybe he had put up with too much prejudice from white suburbanites, and by the fault in human nature, his mind put all white suburbanites in the douche bag category. So maybe he was like, screw these stupid gringos. And now we were paying the price for the wrongs of the real suburban white douches. 

 Thursday came, and he promised my parents that he’d show up again. When mom told me that, I was like, “Pahhaha! Whatever.” His excuse for not showing up was, he still hadn’t gotten that part yet. It was some sort of coil thingy. 

Dude! Seriously? Not only did he travel all over Florida, which I’m sure isn’t completely desolate of places that sell appliance parts, just about anything anyone needs could be found, over the internet. Why had he still not been able to get one stinking coil thingy, after almost a whole week?! Is that coil that rare and special? Is it made out of gold plated moon rocks, or something? 

I had a dentist appointment that day, and my dentist is in St. Cloud. So after the appointment, mom drove me home, instead of all the way back to Gina’s. Christa planned to go to Gina’s for dinner, that evening, so she was taking me back there with her. So I was stuck at my partially livable house for a couple of hours. To my surprise, Juan showed up! He also brought a shitload of equipment with him. I was like, yay, finally! I left the house with Christa, feeling hopeful again. 

PSYCH! 

Mom called later that night. She said that Juan got to work, but then it started raining, so he stopped. What the fuck? Fixing the air conditioner is an indoor job. Why the hell did the change of weather outside stop him from being able to continue working? Mom had no explanation for this. She said that he went out to eat, but he left all of his equipment there, which could only mean he was coming back to finish the job. 

Christa went home that night, but came back to Gina’s the next day, and told us how the repair job went. When she came home sometime after 9:00, Juan was back from the restaurant, but he changed his mind about finishing the job. After not doing a single thing to fix the air conditioner, he called it a night, and left all his crap at our house. 

I wondered, what the hell was Valery thinking, recommending this puttz to us? Come to find out, she had a different guy from the same business fix her air. A guy named Ivin, who she said was great. I told mom to please urge dad to call or text the repair service, and request Ivin. Juan seriously had to go. 

Meanwhile, I had no problem adapting to living with the Jaramillos. Jaden started summer break from virtual school. So he didn’t need his work desk. Gina moved it into the guest room, and let me use her saddle stool for a chair. I set up my computer, and was happily able to write again. Jaden was a sweet little gentleman. He didn’t come in and pester me for attention, like he pesters Christa, when she visits. After not participating in playing with him, for most of his life, he was used to me being absent. It’s not that I’m a bad aunt who doesn’t care about him. It’s because everything he likes to do is visual, and involves constant action. So I can’t really participate. Well, I can, in a way, but it’s no fun needing everyone to constantly describe things for me, or having to ask fifty questions. Like, what’s going on now? Which Ninjogo guy is this? What did I just step on? Oops, sorry, what did I just knock over? 

I got into a cozy routine with them. Carlos left for work, early in the morning, and was usually gone until evening. Sometimes he was home in time to have dinner with us. I had breakfast with Gina and Jaden, and then worked on my book for most of the day. I kept water and high protein snacks in my room, so I wouldn’t have to interrupt Gina and Jaden’s play time, or chore time, and have them have to help me find a snack from the kitchen. 

With a hyper, talkative child in the house, things could get pretty noisy. So I resolved that problem, by downloading an album of white noise fan sounds, on my I-phone. I put a track called Soft Fan on repeat, turned it up to a real fan volume, and was able to blank out the other noises in the house, and concentrate. Being able to concentrate on writing after so long, felt like the best luxury privilege in the world. Then it was dinner time, and then time to write some more. Before Jaden went to bed, we all gathered in his room to hear Gina read a chapter or two of Harry Potter. I was happy with them, and not missing being home. 

Juan didn’t come back on Friday—go figure—but our air conditioner got fixed on Saturday. Alas! Not by Juan, by Ivin. I was shocked when mom told me that Ivin is Juan’s dad. Juan said that he might’ve been exposed to covid. So he pawned the job off to his dad and his brother, whose name is also Ivin. The Ivins were thankfully opposite of Juan. They were AWESOME! They got to work without any delays or excuses, and they busted their asses until the job was done. It took them only a few hours to accomplish what Juan couldn’t even do a half-assed attempt at, in a week. Valery was right. Ivin was great! Both of them! They were our heroes! By Saturday evening, WE HAD OUR AIR CONDITIONER BACK! WOOOOHOOOO! I also greatly appreciated that the Ivins wore masks, and they were exceptionally conscientious about their hand cleanliness. Being that I can’t see, I had no idea that Juan was coming into our house, with no mask on until the parents told me, after the fact. All the more reason for me to be pissed at him. 

Mom and dad complained to the Ivins about Juan’s poor communication. Ivin Sr. knew about this issue. He had gotten on his son’s case about not communicating when he should. Sadly, like with my dad, Juan obviously let his dad’s constructive criticism about that fault go in one ear and out the other. Part of me regretted not being home that day. The parents weren’t so mad at Juan, like I was. They thought he was a really nice guy. His poor communication was the only thing they complained about. If I was there, the Ivins would’ve heard a whole ugly earfull. I would’ve told them every single infuriating detail about our experience with Juan. I hope there’ll come a day when he crosses paths with someone who gets as psycho angry as me, and it gets him fired. Or else the sonofabitch is going to run his family’s business into the ground.  

Sunday, Christa and the parents came over, along with Carlos’s grown daughter, Felicia, and we had a nice little Father’s Day celebration. Dad and I were on good terms again, and we were as close and happy of a family as a 1960’s sitcom. Then I went back home that night. Back to my air conditioned room, where I could keep my door, and noise canceling window closed, and be blissfully secluded. 

What I learned from this experience is, I need to get a Yelp account. From now on, I’m going to make sure I get the first and last name of every person who does any kind of repair work or remodeling work at our house, and the name of the company that person works for. Then I’ll bless good reviews on those who deserve them, like the Ivins. But if somebody pisses me off, like Juan did, click-click, BOOM to that person’s career. I’ll not only be armed with Yelp, I’ll find the company website, and lash out my complaint there. I’ll find the company number, and find someone to report every detail of my complaint to, with the hope of getting my chosen target in deep shit. I’ll also tell everyone on all my social media accounts, about my terrible experience with Such-and-such McSuch-and-such from Blah-bitty-blah Incorporated. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! 

Love you all! Post you next Weekend!     

   

      

    

  

SURVIVING 5 WEEKS WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING, IN 90+ DEGREE WEATHER: PART 1

We Americans are so spoiled, in these modern times. Isn’t it great! While there are other people in the world, starving, stuck in war torn countries, and living in bug infested huts, I have the audacity to get my panties in a wad, when the wi-fi glitches up for a few minutes. God forbid if the internet is out, for a whole day. Then my other personality, Princess Prima Donna, comes out. If we don’t have any hot water available at the moment when I WANT to take a shower, I just take a baby wipe bath. Cold showers are for the house plants, not my supple delicate skin. Well, this spoiled princess was forced to rough it for over a month, when our air conditioner upstairs quit working. This happened in the middle of May, and we live in Florida. May, in hot and humid Florida, is when the temperature gets in the 90’s. The worst time to lose such an important creature comfort. Even worse, we could not find someone who would be willing to fix the air conditioner. Or maybe we could’ve. 

Covid didn’t shut down air conditioning repair businesses. My parents are big on supporting small businesses over corporate ones, which is great—except for when you come across one of those small businesses that will never be anything more than small. My parents are such good people. They were so nice and patient with these unprofessional shlups, which only prolonged our suffering.    

First, dad got in touch with two guys—a father and son—who fixed our upstairs air conditioner, the last time. Things worked out with them, and I was impressed with their work ethics. When they made a mistake, and installed a wrong part, they owned up to it. So they came back to fix the mistake, and it was free of charge. The only problem was, the father felt very uncomfortable working at our house, because he didn’t speak english, and nobody in our house speaks Spanish. His son knew english, and had to be there to interpret for him. I guess having to depend on his son made him feel even more uncomfortable, because it was a downer on his pride, or something.  

dad texted the son. He even opened a hole in the kitchen ceiling downstairs for the guys, so they could climb into the duct work to fix things. Then three weeks go by… 

*** 

During the first couple of weeks, the upstairs part of the house became a giant slow cooker, which was taking a tole on my concentration. I struggled with my book revisions, word by tedious word. As I sweated bullets, and fought the body’s defensive urge to want to conserve energy, and be a lazy blob. Both my ceiling fan and oscillating fan were kept on full-blast. The oscillating fan was set to not move, and I had it pointed directly at my work desk. Still, it was soooooooo hot. 

The window and door were kept open too, for better air circulation. That was another challenge on my concentration. I hate doing anything with the door left open, because people could see me, and I can’t see them when they see me. It’s a paranoia thing that came about, since my vision crapped out. I really don’t have anything to hide from those I share the house with. It’s not like I’m working on top secret documents for the mob, but there’s the fear of things like, what if someone peaks in, and catches me in the act of flicking a booger. Or what if they see me so lost in thought, I don’t realize that I’m fiddling with my nipples? There was also the constant distraction of mom, who walked across the upstairs hallway, at least several times an hour. Carrying the squeaky wicker laundry basket back and forth, and slamming the hall closet door. 

Having to keep the window open was enough to put me on the verge of an artistic-person temper tantrum, but I couldn’t tell the crows and blue jays, “Hey! Shut the hell up! You can’t sing! Just let it go!” I couldn’t yell out the window to the neighbors, “Yo! Shut the hell up! The whole street doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your sprained rotator cuff! And will someone turn that damn radio off! Not everyone is in the mood to rock out to 15-minute commercial breaks about Dunk’n Doughnuts and 1-800 411-PAIN! And how many times a day do your freaking yards need to be mowed and weed whacked, people, sheesh!” Unfortunately, there was no better choice, but to either soldier on through the annoying distractions, or close my door and noise-canceling window, and die of heat stroke. 

Yes, I know, the simple solution to this was, to just work in the air conditioned downstairs. But there was no way to concentrate there either. Not with the way my brain operates. Mom was down there a lot, going from room to room, going outside and inside. Back and forth, in and out, doing loads of laundry, doing yard work, washing the clanking dishes, shuffling through crinkly papers and magazines, and there’s always some noisy objects to re-organize. All the while, she likes to keep the TV on, and graze on noisy snacks. The ringer to the parents’ house phone is on full-blast, and so is the phone’s speech impaired, caller ID announcer. 

Then when dad comes home from work, the TV volume goes up, and the two of them get into loud conversations about politics. The noise of snack grazing goes up in volume too, as dad likes to crunch on raw vegetables. When he answers his work phone, he can’t carry on a conversation with coworkers without pacing all around the house, and pretty much bellowing to the neighborhood, about Duke Energy’s latest problems with fixing transformers. 

There’s never that much activity upstairs. So trying to concentrate in my room was the less aggravating choice. 

The first couple of weeks of barely getting much writing done, was starting to get me depressed. As much as I love working on my books, working in broken up spurts, and needing to lay down and cool off in between, made the writing process as tediously drawn out as trying to hike across the country, with narcolepsy. 

As week two smoldered into week three, the temperature gradually rose. During the day, I had to put the full blast oscillating fan right next to my work desk, and keep a bottle of water with me, 24/7. 

The nights were hot too, but maybe ten or more degrees lower. With the window open, and the two fans on high, it was actually kind of Pleasant. All I had to do to stay cool and dry, was to sleep in light pajamas, and take the comforter off the bed. The thought came to mind, of maybe going nocturnal for a time, and do my writing at night. Then again, there was no chance in hell I would be able to sleep during the day, through the sweltering heat, and all the lawn mowing, and mom’s closet door slamming. 

The parents and I noticed that we slept better, with fresh air coming into our rooms, and hearing all the sounds of nature. The crickets and frogs were like Mother Earth’s lullaby, tapping into a primitive part of our evolved human brains, and reconnecting us with our ancient ancestors who were one with the rest of the world’s untamed flora and fawna. Then along came a limpkin, and the tranquility of nature was screwed.   

A limpkin is a large, plain and average looking brown bird with a very long beak, and a squawk that would even get on crows’ and blue jays’ nerves. It’s a shrill, squeaky, squawk that sounds like a giant seagull being brutally tortured. Or like the piercing screams of a giant toddler having a temper tantrum.  

At that time, because of the covid forcing people to not go out as much, more wild creatures felt safe to roam beyond their usual habitats, and settle into new territories. During the past six years that the parents and I lived in St. Cloud, we’d never had limpkins living in our area. Gina, who lived in Kissimmee for ten years, had suddenly started to hear limpkins’ banshee cries in the wee hours of the night too. They had their shrieking  fits at all unpredictable hours of the day or night, which means that they aren’t totally nocturnal. We assumed that their obnoxious behavior was probably because it was their mating season. 

Sometimes our neighborhood limpkin shrieked for love, at the top of its lungs, at a decent hour of the morning, like 7:00 or 8:00-ish. Other times, it started at around 4:00 A M, or even 2:00 A M. And once it got going, it took a long time to shut up. I was surprised that a neighbor or two didn’t hunt that bird down, and shoot it. I sure as hell wanted to.   

Once again, the simple solution should’ve been to just go downstairs to sleep. There’s a comfortable couch in the fireplace room I could’ve crashed on, but I was afraid of disturbing Christa’s sleep. She used to stay in the upstairs guest room, when she visited us, which is next door to my room. She’s a light sleeper, and often complained that my snoring kept her awake. Once the downstairs guest room was added to the house, she never stayed upstairs again, unless our grandma was staying over too. If I started snoring in the fireplace room, she would’ve heard it, and it would’ve kept her awake. She’s just that light of a sleeper. 

After three weeks of not being able to concentrate on my work during the day, and getting my sleep disrupted at night, I was really starting to hate those air conditioner guys. 

*** 

By the end of the third week, dad finally texted the air conditioner repair guy’s son again, and let him know that he had been waiting to hear back from him, for weeks. The son’s excuse was, “Sorry, we were busy.” 

I thought this was a lame excuse. Unless there really was another crisis going on, where people’s air conditioners were breaking down, all over Florida, one after the other, and repairers couldn’t keep up with the demand. The son was even too busy to take a few seconds out of his day to return dad’s text? Seriously?

Looking back on it now, I know I should’ve been more meddling in this situation. I should’ve snuck around the house to grope for dad’s phone, when everybody else was either asleep, or at Gina’s. He has an I-phone too. If I made the effort to find it, I would’ve told his Siri to turn VoiceOver on. So I could unlock his phone, and read through his text messages. I believe he didn’t have his screen set up to need a pass code to unlock it. I didn’t know this son’s name, but I would’ve figured out who he is, by the context of his and dad’s exchange of texts. Then I would’ve either texted him, pretending to be dad. Or I would’ve memorized this guy’s name or number, and text him myself. I wouldn’t have raised hell, just yet. Posing as dad, I would’ve asked this son questions such as—When do you think you will be available? Will you be available or not? Please get back to me. Thank you. If I were texting him from my phone, I would’ve let him know that I was dad’s daughter, and tell him that I got his number off the internet. My texts would’ve been more pleading and pushy about why we need our air fixed, and I would’ve thrown in some mentioning of my disabilities for a flair of manipulation.    

Dad was just too darn passive. He didn’t want to get on the son’s case about forgetting to return his texts, because he was busy. Dad worked for a power company, for over 40 years. So he has a lot of empathy for those who work in utility service jobs, and have to deal with companies’ and customers’ demands and expectations. 

As for me, empathy shmempathy. 

Come to find out, those guys were not too busy. Gina and Carlos’s air conditioner broke, shortly after ours did, and they called on the same two guys. The guys were communicative with Carlos, and fixed their air, right away. Most likely because Carlos speaks Spanish. So they just didn’t want to work at our house, because the father felt too uncomfortable with the language barrier. I’m no business woman, but if I were them, I would’ve first made up a plausible but polite and tactful, bullshit excuse about why my service couldn’t be available, for the time being. Then I would’ve given dad a list of other repair services that might be more helpful. Instead, they just brushed dad off, and left us hanging. After the son returned dad’s text, with his “busy” excuse, dad never heard from him again. Bad business.   

By week four, dad got ahold of a different repair service, recommended by our friend, Valery. When the guy first came to the house, I was highly impressed. He was a young guy named Juan, who did air conditioning repair jobs in multiple counties. He drove all the way to St. Cloud, from Tampa, to fix our air conditioner, at 9:30 on a Friday night. He was an angel in human form, selflessly working extra hours, for the sake of helping others… 

Or so I thought… 

I don’t know shit about the mechanics of air conditioners. So forgive me for being awfully vague about what was wrong with ours. Juan didn’t have the part he needed to fix it, but he did something to temporarily recharge the thing. He said that it should keep our air working over the weekend until he could come back with the part, on Monday. 

The air conditioner worked for a mere few hours. Juan only recharged it part-way. When dad told him about it, Juan claimed that he didn’t know that not fully charging it would make it quit so soon. 

He promised that he’d be at the house, Monday morning. So dad took that Monday off. Morning turned to afternoon, and Juan hadn’t showed up, or even called or texted dad to let him know that he would be running late. Dad was the one who had to text him, and ask him what was going on. Juan said that he had two other jobs to take care of, before coming to our house. Around 12:30-ish, he called dad to let him know that he was just leaving Tampa, and was on his way. Tampa is about an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive away, depending on traffic. So we figured he’d show up sometime around 2:00. How about, it was almost 5:00 when the ass pimple finally arrived, and with no explanation for what took him so long. So dad took the day off of work for nothing. Bad enough that the guy was seven hours late, he didn’t even have the damn part to fix the air conditioner yet! The best he could do was give it another half-assed recharging, and he promised to come back tomorrow afternoon.  

Tuesday came, and the incompetent bastard stood us up. He didn’t show up, and he didn’t call or text dad to explain why he couldn’t show up. No apologies. No offering service discounts to make up for his mistake. Nothing. He just seemed to not give a shit. 

By now, it had been almost five weeks with no air conditioning in half the house, and living with a creepy huge hole in the kitchen ceiling. Keeping the ceiling open this long welcomed in an invasion of flies. Dad insisted on taking care of the air conditioner issue, but he was still being too nice and too patient, and a total push-over with these repair service duds. And he didn’t want to deal with me, mom, and Christa complaining about it. That only made him get snippy with us. The air conditioner issue was causing tension between him and mom. Throughout that month, they were bickering more and more often. Dad would get irritable with mom, and mom would get very critical and knit picky. They bickered about stupid Juan, that Tuesday night. Mom was so fed up with the situation that she went upstairs in their room to eat dinner. 

I decided enough was enough. If dad insisted on patiently waiting around for whenever Juan felt like doing his job, I wasn’t going to stick around. It had been more than a month, and I was dead sick of living this way. I texted Gina, and told her about what was going on, and asked her if I could stay over at her house for a while until things get resolved. Thankfully, she was cool with this. So I packed up my necessities and a bunch of clothes, and had dad drive me there. When I explained to him why I wanted to leave, he was not at all happy with my attitude. 

The way I felt about it was, if he insisted on handling the situation, I wished he would be more assertive about it. Pester Juan. Forget Juan, and move on to the next service. If he paid for the silly prank of a repair service that Juan gave us, then demand a refund. And if he can’t get a refund, raise hell about it. Give Juan’s service negative reviews. I wanted him to stick up for himself as a customer, and stop letting these bogus repair services take him for a chump. 

Dad was just so patient and empathetic and understanding towards Juan. He’s not one to want to nag, and be a pain in the ass. He’s considerate towards others, and gives them the benefit of a doubt. He doesn’t want to get ugly and vengeful towards people. I don’t like being that way either, but unfortunately, sometimes you have to be a bossy, demanding, career threatening pain in the ass to get things moving. The way dad felt about it was, he was handling the situation the best he could, and if I didn’t like it, that wasn’t his problem. 

Then he left in a huff. Jaden, who was getting ready for bed, overheard some of me and dad’s disagreement. So me and Gina had to carefully explain to the seven-year-old, why grandpa and aunt Tia were arguing, and why I was coming over to stay with them, at such an unusual hour. I brought over my set of Harry Potter books for him to borrow, which helped him completely forget about the family squabble. Gina put my luggage in her nice and cozy guest room. The guest bathroom, which I had all to myself, was just a few strides away, down the hall. I was in a part of her echoey new house, where I could move around during the night, and not have to worry about the noise waking up Jaden. I was so grateful that Gina let me stay there, figuring that living with the Jaramillos might end up being my new home…