Explaining Wendy

All right, so…I told you on Friday that I’d explain the koala in a corset.

I’m going to have to take you back a fair while, to just after the Zombie Gnome Battle Royale. All the fuss caused Poor Batman to have one of his episodes, hanging on the outside of Fred & George’s house and screaming about “BAAAAAAAAANE.” Fred had been dosing him with Emphysema Joe’s special blend to get him to sleep at night, but any break in his routine led to…well, it wasn’t good for anyone. Fred was just about to go scampering to the front yard to harvest from the poppies, despite some ambivalence on my part, but the circles under his eyes and George’s quite uncharacteristic bad temper about the whole situation led me to the conclusion that desperate measures were indeed called for. So…I went to Miranda.

You may remember Miranda from Fred and George’s Glorious Advent. She’s a calming presence in the backyard, one of the few who can stop Willard in his tracks and also mediate Fred and George’s infrequent, world-ending disputes. (Normally George is so sunny-natured as to not care when Fred gets shirty, but even he has his limits.) I suspect Emphysema Joe supplies her with laurel leaves, but that’s a small price to pay. (She also gave me the solution to the Norbert Problem, so there’s that.)

Anyway, a stiff breeze ruffled my hair as I was trying to get Poor Batman back into the apartment. (The little fucker bit me.) Leaves and pine needles started appearing out of nowhere, so I dropped Poor Batman inside Fred and George’s abode and left the problem to them for a few minutes. I picked my way across the yard, nursing my injured hand, and crouched down to peer at Miranda. “You rang?”

“HELLO, DEAR. I’M GLAD YOU’RE LISTENING.”

I picked a leaf out of my hair. “You’re as bad as Tolkien elves. Shit’s always falling out of the air around them.”

“LANGUAGE, DEAR. LISTEN, THERE’S A PROBLEM.”

“I should bloody well say there is.”

“LANGUAGE. I HAVE SENT A MESSAGE TO ONE WHO MAY BE ABLE TO HELP THE CAPED ONE.”

“Do you, now.” I wasn’t surprised. A little cautious, but not surprised.

“YES, SHE’S ON HER WAY. I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT APPRECIATE KNOWING.”

“I do, I do. Thanks.”

“BETTER GET A STICKING PLASTER.”

I looked at my hand. “I don’t think it’s that bad.”

From across the yard drifted a long, piercing scream of BAAAAAAAAANE! Miranda smiled tolerantly. “NOT FOR THAT ONE, DEAR. HE’LL BREAK THE SKIN NEXT TIME.”

I may have breathed a term of surpassing profanity, but at least she didn’t chide me for that one. She knows my limits too.

Anyway, I got Poor Batman back into the apartment and held him down while Fred administered some poppy. I didn’t ask why he already had it to hand, he didn’t tell, and George had to go off to calm down. “I DON’T MIND TELLING YOU,” Fred said, “WE’RE HAVING A SPOT OF TROUBLE WITH THIS.”

“I’ll figure something out,” I muttered. “Miranda’s on the job.”

Fred’s eyes got really large and round, and he shut up. I went back inside to get a bandage. The rest of the afternoon was quiet, and I went to bed wondering what the hell Miranda had up her sleeve.

My alarm clock is of the sunrise type–the light begins gradually, strengthening to wake me gently instead of blaring me out of bed with a siren. That particular morning, however, it was only at half-strength, and I surfaced from a dream to hear Miss B’s someone is here, Mum growl.

“NOW DO BE POLITE,” someone said, from the head of my bed. Which is snug against the wall, I might add.

I blinked, sleepily, and reached for the bedside katana.

“NO NEED FOR THAT,” she continued. “THE NAME IS WENDY. WENDY POPPINS. MY SISTER MIRANDA CALLED ME. I AM TOLD THERE IS SOMEONE WHO NEEDS A BIT OF LOOKING AFTER.”

I blinked again. All I could think was, Miranda has a sister?

Miss B cocked her head, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and tried to focus. “Not before fucking coffee,” I groaned.

“LANGUAGE,” she replied, mildly. “NOW, MY DEAR, I’VE BEEN TRAVELING ALL NIGHT AND WOULD LIKE TO GET INTO MY DAY CORSET INSTEAD.”

“You’re…wearing a corset?” I did not add under your fur only because I was having just a tiny bit of trouble with a talking koala on my headboard.

Slightly miffed, she folded her hands. “AS A LADY SHOULD.”

“And…” I blinked again. “What’s on your head?”

“THAT, YOUNG MISS, IS MY HALO. I AM PRACTICALLY PERFECT, BUT MY PATIENCE IS NOT INFINITE. DO GET UP, AND SHOW ME TO MY PATIENT.”

Miss B looked just as puzzled as I was, but I rolled out of bed, showed my new guest to the loo to clean up and change, and went to go make coffee. Odd Trundles, of course, paid no attention to the corset-wearing koala until he was done with breakfast. (but that’s–say it with me–another blog post.)

ANYWAY, that’s how Wendy Poppins, practically perfect koala in a corset, showed up. Within a day she had Bane behaving and Fred overjoyed that at last there was someone with “proper manners” about the house. George took one look at her and breathed “OYYYYYYYYYYYYYY MATE,” in a tone of surpassing wonder, and bent over himself to offer her a cuppa and a tour around the garden.

“THE ONLY TROUBLE,” he told me in hushed tones about a week later, “IS SHE ENT A WOMBAT. BUT OTHER THAN THAT, SHE’S…WELL, SHE’S…”

“Perfect?” I supplied, watching her from the deck as Wendy smartly spread a scrap of tartan over Poor Batman’s knees and pushed his tiny wheelchair out near the kale to catch a bit of sun.

“PRACTICALLY,” George said, and wandered off with a loopy grin.

So now you know about Wendy, you’re all caught up, and I can begin telling you about who shot at Willard and why I brought (almost) everyone indoors.

Tomorrow.

Acrophobia Minima

This could get complicated.
This could get complicated.

GEORGE: PLEASE, MATE, YOU’VE GOT TO GET UP.
ME: What are you…it’s six AM, what are you doing? Get off my pillow.
GEORGE: PLEASE! IT’S AN EMERGENCY.
ME: *grabs shoes*

ME: *shivering* What the everliving…
FRED: OH, THANK HEAVENS. EVEN TEA DOESN’T WORK.
tinyBATMAN: AUGH! ARRRRGH! ARRGH!
ME: *stares*
FRED: I’VE EVEN TRIED TEA WITH LEMON
GEORGE: RUINED A GOOD BANGERS AND MASH, HE DID.
ME: I…um…
tinyBATMAN: BAAAAAAAAANE!

ME: Okay, help me out, why is he on the roof?
GEORGE: BECAUSE HE’S BATMAN?
FRED: I TOLD GEORGE TO WATCH FOR THE IVY, THERE’S A PATCH OF IT NEXT DOOR–
GEORGE: AND THEN HE YELLS “POISON IVY”–
tinyBATMAN: WHERE? WHERE IS SHE? BAAAAAAANE!
ME: Oh, boy.
FRED: THAT’S NOT THE REAL PROBLEM, THOUGH.
tinyBATMAN: IIIIIIIIVY! BAAAAAAAANE!
ME: Good Lord, he’s loud. *grabs tinyBATMAN* Ouch! Motherfucker!
GEORGE: WHAT HAPPENED?
FRED: *in tones of awe and dismay* HE BIT HER.

ME: *hunching in a huddle with two Aussie ceramic squirrels, shaking my wounded hand* Okay, so he threw his lovely sausage breakfast on the floor and climbed screaming up to the roof, but that’s not the real problem? Help me out.
tinyBATMAN: *hyperventilates*
GEORGE: GO ON, TELL HER. *starts to giggle*
ME: If this is a prank, you little gob–
FRED: IT’S A SECRET. HE TOLD US IN CONFIDENCE. I CAN’T IN GOOD CONSCIENCE–
ME: Oh, for God’s sake.
tinyBATMAN: *whimpers* Baaaaaane…
GEORGE: *still giggling* HE’S AFRAID OF HEIGHTS.
ME:

We put tinyBatman back to bed, and Fred was all for tying him down, but George ran over to Emphysema Joe, who dipped into his Secret Stash of SuperStrong BatGreenā„¢ and things quieted a bit. Fred’s looking a little ragged from all this, and I suggested we find a full-time minder for poor tinyBatman.

George suggested a friend of his named Selina, but I nixed THAT idea right quick. We’ll see.

She-Wolf and…Batman?

swac The final episode of SHE-WOLF AND CUB is up! You can begin at the prologue and read all the way through. Zombies, cyborg assassins, and Westerns all rolled into one, with a bonus twist. Heh. I love taking the conventions of Westerns and twisting them ever-so-gently.

I had a TREMENDOUS amount of fun with that story. Plus, Fireside Magazine pays its writers a living wage, so that’s awesome as well.

The kids are back in school after a long weekend; I, however, might need a damn break after all the running around in the past three days, not to mention a frenzy of housecleaning. At least we didn’t paint. There’s not much left to daub, unless it’s the accent wall in the dining room, so…

No. No painting.

Baaaaane I found a small Batman crushed in the road yesterday. He’s recuperating with Fred and George. I’m not so sure how good a nurse George is–he seems to think a lager will fix everything right up–but Fred is precise and punctual, which makes for good medical care. The poor Caped Crusader kept shuddering and moaning “BAAAAAAANE…” and that turned Fred an interesting shade of pale–or as pale as a russet squirrel can get–but when I checked this morning, he was sedated.

Me: Where’d you get the meds from?
Fred: I HAVE WAYS.
Me: Please tell me you didn’t just hit him on the head.
Fred: COGNITIVE RECALIBRATION WASN’T NECESSARY. I’M A DOCTOR, NOT A SUPERVILLAIN.
Me: …good to know.
George: *ambling in* RIGHT THEN, MATE, WE’VE GOT A SUPPLY FROM JOE FOR THE NEXT COUPLE–OH, HULLO, M’UM. COME TO CHECK ON THE OLD PATIENT, HAVE WE?
Me: And the mystery is solved.
George: YOU WON’T STAY FOR A CUPPA?
Fred: DEAR LADY, UNLESS YOU WANT ME HARVESTING THE POPPIES, EMPHYSEMA JOE’S THE ONLY PHARMACIST IN TOWN.
George: MIRANDA SAID SHE SAW SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. SURE YOU DON’T WANT A CUPPA?
Me: …no, really, I’ve got to go wash my hair. See you.

I have a bad feeling about this…

Zombie Gnome Battle Royale I

Well, maybe not Royale. Maybe just Battle with Cheese.

This all started because Emphysema Joe wouldn’t share with Phil.

Guarding the young green
Guarding the young green
That’s a photo from last year, when Emphysema Joe came home. He’s been watching over his green for a while, and I suspect him of dealing to the entire neighborhood. He takes care of the plants, though, so despite his…business…dealings and his habit of pranking Norbert I’m glad to have him around. He’s also a brake on some of George’s wilder plans, which I would never have believed when he arrived.

Anyway. So Phil found out he didn’t have to go on jaunts to the front yard to harvest the Japanese bloodgrass (long story) when I first planted the lavender, and then Joe arrived. Things were fine until the one hard freeze we had last winter, when Phil couldn’t get down the deck stairs and Willard got a little troublesome. Normally he listens to Phil, who is pretty much the only person who can make him behave other than Miranda. Fred and George were off on their Big Adventure to find out about the last tenants of their mysteriously unoccupied house, so I wasn’t warned of the trouble until Norbert started screeching a Bigtime Alert and I found Phil trying to rappel off the deck.

Good times. I took Phil down the steps to visit Joe while Willard calmed down and got used to his cage (again), and we had what I thought was a nice little chat, but Phil made an observation Joe didn’t really care for when they were discussing something about Cuba and 50s geopolitics. (I may have only been listening with half an ear.) That’s when I found out why Phil pursued the greens so assiduously.

Because Joe began restricting the supply after that, and without the green, you see, Phil turns into a bit of an asshole. I would never have believed a mild-mannered formerly-perpetually-stoned garden gnome could be such a douchebag; he started sealioning every time I took the dogs out, mostly about Nikita Kruschev. (I don’t know, man. Seriously, I have no idea.) That was bad enough, but then he began trying it on Miranda, who got as close as I’ve ever seen her to smiting someone after about a month of perpetual bothering. I finally brokered a peace by getting Joe and Phil to agree Che Guevara was a true revolutionary (you have no idea how difficult THAT was, either) and things were calm for a while.

Except unbeknownst to me, against my advice and my strict orders, Joe had decided to ration Phil again. I’m pretty confident he had no idea where it would end up, but I’ve still scolded him roundly.

Because this happened.

Doesn't look like much, does it?
Doesn’t look like much, does it?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a crime scene. What happened? Well, I’ll tell you when I come back.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Joe and Norbert

Rollin It’s probably time to move Fred & George’s little house to a safer location, ever since the Great Mystery Hunt. (I’ll tell you guys about that when the weather improves.) They might even have to share it with a horseradish, which will no doubt lead to many hijinks. As it is, Emphysema Joe is hiding behind the new spring growth of lavender, and is happy to remain so. I had a long conversation with him the other day while I was planting radishes–he wanted to be caught up on all the latest gossip, being a little bit of a hermit. I think only George visits him, and they only talk about green things and video games. “HE’S A SQUIRREL,” Zombie Joe says, quietly, puffing to light his pipe to his satisfacction. “THERE’S NOT A LOT OF PHILOSOPHY THERE.”

“Not a lot of philosophy in me either, buddy.” I was too busy scraping out a row with almost-raw fingers. The earth is a little chilly in spring, and my fingernails were already full of dirt.

“YOU’RE PLANTING RADISHES.”

“And carrots. And fennel.” I yanked a few more weeds. They get going early in spring.

“THERE YOU GO.”

“There I what?”

“RADISHES ARE PHILOSOPHICAL.”

“How so?” I seeded the row very carefully. Radish seeds are tiny little motherfuckers.

“A FIERY VEGETABLE GROWN UNDERGROUND. DON’T TELL ME IT’S NOT.” He puffed on his pipe, quite pleased. It smells halfway between skunk and lavender when he really gets going in that corner.

“Uh, okay.”

“SO HOW’S MIRANDA DOING?” He sounded very casual. If I didn’t know the entire backyard was in love with her, I might almost suspect he was disinterested.

“Fine. Urging the crocuses to store up against next winter, and trying to coax some of that sorrel up. She says summer’s going to be interesting.”

That perked him up. “INTERESTING HOW?”

“Just interesting. You know how she is.”

“MUST BE A DRAG, BEING AN ORACLE.”

“Sometimes that gleam in her eye makes me suspect she likes it.”

“THAT’S PHILOSOPHICAL TOO. SEE? YOU’RE HALFWAY TO AN ORACLE YOURSELF.”

“I’m a writer, dear. That’s different.”

“I’LL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT. WANT A TOKE?”

“No thanks.”

Norbert piped up from his vantage point. “WHY CAN’T YOU SMOKE THAT STUFF WHEN THE BIRDS COME? THAT WOULD SCARE THEM AWAY.”

Emphysema Joe shrugged. “OR MAKE THEM REALLY, REALLY HUNGRY. YOU WANT THAT?”

“Don’t fight, you two.” I patted some fine soil down. “At least, not where I can hear you.”

“HE’S RIGHT,” Norbert sniffed. “YOU’RE A PHILOSOPHER. A PRAGMATIST, TO BE PRECISE.”

“Must come with motherhood.” I rolled my eyes and began scraping a row for carrot seeds, too. Between the two of them, it’s a wonder I get any work done at all.

The favs are coming up nicely, and Miranda’s whispering to the crocuses seems to have paid off. I wish she’d talk to the dogwood and find out what’s ailing it, but she’s less interested in things that are taller than she is. Maybe I’ll ask her next time. Of course, I’ll probably walk out there and get waylaid by something else…

PS: *whispers* You can buy the Rose & Thunder ebook directly from the site now.