by Raji Singh (editor, archivist Fiction House Publishing)
From the miscellaneous writings of Shelva Fiction, circa 1890’s: Shortly after discovering that a tall taler from way back – Efraim – had stowed away in their medicine wagon.
Shelva Fiction and newcomer to the Fiction House, Efraim Ephraim, sit at a table in the yard on a cool evening. They snap beans for supper and Turt snarfs the scrap ends they toss.
“Mz. Shelva, I just had to come along with you and Doc Fiction. It commenced becoming right unbearable back home. Being the town’s ever so handsome, most eligible of bachelors, it got to the point if I moseyed down the dirt surface main drag of a hot summer’s day and little as undid the top button of my shirt to cool my long johns, every Sadie Hawkins with a mattress turtle-shelled to her back come lookin’ to bed me.”
Efraim bends down, pets Turt’s head, and says, “No offense ol’ fella. Not my intention to link you to any sordid sort.”
~ ~ editor’s note: Turt’s used to many-a-two-legged sea salt who’s a whale taler, so he’s unfazed by jocular Efraim. He just yawns. ~ ~
~ ~ Shelva’s note: Allow me this brief moment to describe “ever so handsome” Eee-phraim: Pale and skinny as any hemophiliac czar or czarina of my homeland. Gaps in his teeth wide as the continent Mother Russia encompasses. Many balding patches on his head look bare like Siberian tundra. Unappealing nose is an icicle, a Moscow spire. And his odor, from living in a musty cabin among his roots and plants he grew for his moonshine, ach, worse than month old borscht. ~ ~
“Yeppers, Mz. Shelva, some of those mattress-backs, when I undo that button, they begin promenading lickety-split out from shops, houses, even the Meth-e-diss Church to fan me; to keep me from suffering direly from the vapors. The dust storm sprung up from all those wavin’ Sadie Ladies, well it clogs up the courthouse new fancy clock. Mayor Blowregards Hizzoner, he comes to the point of askin’ – no – demandin’:
“Either come to town only at night when your beautitude is not so evident in the dark, Efraim, so the females of our fair town aren’t burnished with confounded passions for you. Either that, or wear the sweltering Sir Knight full body armor from the courthouse lobby.”
“Well, Mz. Shelva, I ask you. Not much of a choice, eh? So here I be. And so to make a long story short…”
Then he continues for a half-hour longer while I am trying to understand – ‘Mine Eee-phraim, why in the name of the czar’s jewels do you wear long underwear mid summer?’ Ach! But I let him ramble, for, you see, he reminds me of my old tanta who lives in the steppes of Russia. I liked the old peasant woman’s sweetness, as I like Efraim’s now. A lot blown up with himself, but that is all right. He is crude, but, deep in, a goodhearted soul, I can sense.
I can tell mine sweet druzhyna Doc has taken an almost instant liking to him. He will call Efraim soon for some experiments they’ve already been cooking up with roots and plants, all the earth’s makings for the stump juices Efraim knows so much about. Their great plan sounds as cockamamie to me as Efraim’s Sadie story. But who knows, maybe the idea will develop into boon for the future of humanity. We see, yes, we shall see.
“…Well Mz. Shelva, what finally set my decision in stone, to give you and Doc the honor of my accompany – you see, less than six months away is the every four year Sadie Day. That’s the day they run to try capturin’ good catches like me. Leap Year. 29, February. You probably don’t have it where you’re from.”
At present, I know not what he talks about. Soon, I’ll learn all those great Ameri-kan holidays like Sadie Day.
“So Mz., I’m a might powerful sprinter. In the past I could always outrun any mattress-shelled Sadie on the day they run.” He looks upon Turt. “Picture ‘em runnin’ all wild ‘ol fella. Like smelt or grunion on the beach.”
Turt nods, nonplussed.
Efraim turns to me. ‘But nowadays I’m tendin’ to slow even though I’m just entering my prime.”
Suddenly Turt trumpets out.
‘His version of a chuckle’ I wonder?
I am thinking ‘he’s used to reactions like Turt’s.’
“And besides, a new mattress factory opened in the town. Selling the lightest weight fare, could ever be imagined. Didn’t suppose I’d be able to outrun ‘em any longer, and I’d end up,” he glances wryly to Turt, than says, “Netted smelt, ready for the fryer!!”
NEXT WEEK: DOC FICTION’S BUST ENHANCERS AND OTHER INVENTIONS THAT WENT BUST.
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE, but that’s a different story. It’s available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)
Raji Singh, 2013