Saturday, 12 September 2009

Saturday Wordzzle No 80

Yay! It's time to play Raven's Wordzzle again. For the what and the how go to Raven's Nest

I must say, there were some very tricky words this week: propeller was a hard one to knock off. Anyhoo, enough moaning and groaning.

The Mini (chisel, worship, suicide, organic, plus)

Michelangelo's Pieta

The sculptor's chisel has played metal midwife
And brought this labouring stone to birth.
Something organic, something dimly understood,
Had been sleeping in this marble block's future,
The sculptor knew, and his hands in worship uncovered it.
The messy minus of stone chips cover the workshop floor
The bold plus of this tender scene now strikes the beholding eye.
A mother gently supports the lifeless body of her son.
Some might say that it was suicide on his part,
But the serene look on her face whispers: sacrifice.

The 10-word Challenge (Charitable, alligator, tribute, drunk, slave, preparation, carrots, mountainside, propeller, lark)

Elroy Jackson, a.k.a. Mr Teeth, was not a happy man. For years now, the jazz club had been a sweet little number for him and now somebody had gone and burned it down. This was bad enough, but what worried him more was the fact that the club's owner, Baron Samedi, had vanished.

Now Mr Teeth may have looked like some steroid-enhanced gym-junkie whose IQ was about half what he could bench press in pounds, but underneath that shiny shaved head was a sharp mind, a wealth of street smarts and the predatory instincts of an alligator. He knew perfectly well that the Baron, one of the more powerful demons around, could not have been killed in the fire: fire would not have bothered him in the least.

Mr Teeth had toyed with the idea that the Baron might have set the fire himself, but that didn't make sense either – the club had been a sweet little number for him too. Who knew how many souls had been ensnared in the place over the years, what with the drink, the discreetly purveyed drugs and the other more personal services offered to the club's most favoured clients. No, the Baron wouldn't have torched his own place.

It was possible that a rival might have done it, but that still didn't explain the Baron's disappearance. Over the years, others had tried to make a move against the Baron but had quickly learned the error of their ways. Crossing him was tantamount to suicide. The Baron had enemies for sure, but none of them were that stupid. No, the only possibility that Mr Teeth could think of was that the Baron had been taken out by one of his own kind. He slid the picture of Harold that had been on the news and in the papers across the table to the man opposite.

"This is him,"

The other, one Edward Peck by name, reached out a slim, perfectly manicured hand and picked up the picture. Behind the twin discs of his steel-rimmed spectacles, a pair of keen blue eyes studied it carefully for a few moments before laying it carefully back down on the table.

"He was here in town yesterday, you say?" he asked. Mr Teeth nodded.

"I threw him out of the club at about three in the afternoon," he rumbled, "and told him to git by sunset or else. Looks like he had other ideas"

"Indeed," agreed Peck smoothly, "Now, when I find him, how do you wish to proceed: am I to bring him to you, beat him senseless, kill him or what?" Peck did not go in for euphemisms: a spade was most assuredly not a manually-actuated implement of horticultural excavation.

Mr Teeth knew that killing wasn't a likely option: the Baron had often boasted that he couldn't be killed by mortals, so it stood to reason that the young trumpet-playing punk in the picture couldn't be either. Truth to tell, he wasn't exactly sure what the most effective course of action would be. Best to keep it simple.

"Bring him here," He handed over a card. Peck quickly scanned the address printed on it and raised his eyebrows slightly.

"Mountainside Boulevard. Nice area," he commented, pocketing the card. He picked up the picture and dropped it into his Louis Vuitton briefcase. "Now, if you'll excuse me," he said, getting to his feet, "I really must be going, I need to call a few people in preparation. My fee will be the usual: fifteen hundred a day plus expenses, is that alright?"

"No problem," said Mr Teeth, getting up as well. He extended a huge hand and Peck shook it firmly. "I'll be in touch." he said, and with that he turned and walked out of the bar.

Mr Teeth watched Peck's Armani-suited form disappear into the crowd on the street. Fifteen hundred a day was a lot, but Mr Peck always delivered the goods.

Harold and Teatime wandered back out onto the street. The tiny cramped shoe-box of an apartment they had just viewed had been somewhat less than suitable: the wallpaper had been peeling and damp, the windows covered in enough dirt to grow a crop of carrots in and the carpet – if that's what the unpleasantly sticky brown and orange layer on the floor actually was, had been alive with vermin. The landlord, an unsavoury-looking slob in a filthy string vest had also been drunk – at just after nine in the morning.

"We could have fixed it up a bit," said Harold, "a good cleanup, some paint, some wallpaper..."

"I'm thinking more in terms of a gallon of petrol and a match," replied Teatime dryly. He scratched himself, "If that place has given me fleas, I'll..." As he was speaking, he was looking back over Harold's shoulder at the way they had come. "Great Ceasar's Ghost! There's that woman again!"

"What woman?"

"You know, the one at the station that helped you pick up the all postcards you so carelessly spilled over the place."

"Oh, good," said Harold, "Let's go and say hi." He turned and started back the way they had come.

"Let's not," suggested teatime, "she didn't seem that keen on you and we haven't time to lark about, we've another viewing in half an hour."

"Oh, come on, a few minutes won't hurt," said Harold, "Honestly, Teatime, you're such a slave to the clock sometimes!"

Sure enough, there she was, dressed differently today of course, but it was definitely her. She was apparently studying the objects in the window of a shop selling second-hand goods for some charitable cause - studying it very intently in fact.

Agent India was indeed looking in the shop window. She had been told in training that a good way to observe someone without looking at them directly and thereby giving oneself away, was to use reflective surfaces like shop windows, car door mirrors and so on. So it was with some annoyance – not to mention a touch of fear - that she observed Harold's reflection turn around and grow larger as he approached her.

"Hello again," said Harold brightly, charisma turned all the way up to number eleven. "You helped me clear up at the station, I think. I just wanted to say thanks."

It was a tribute to India's training and iron self-control that she managed to turn away from the window quite coolly, quite casually in fact, or so she thought. Inside she was buzzing: Apart from that brief encounter at the station, she'd never spoken with an AFO before: more senior agents had always dealt with them directly. Her job had always been simply to spot them and keep track of their movements until others could come and get rid of them. Now the wretched demon had seen her and wanted to make polite conversation it seemed, and she was on her own. Stupid, India, really stupid!

"Er, Hello," She hadn't been trained for this! "Er, it was no trouble, really." Surely it must be able to hear her heartbeat – it was louder than a propeller for goodness' sake! She needed to get out of here fast. Think, India, think! Getting a sudden idea, she made a show of checking her watch.

"Ooh, is that the time?" she practically squeaked in mock astonishment, "I have to go. Nice seeing you." With that she turned and hurried away down the street, leaving a bemused Harold staring after her.

"Am I that scary?" he asked.

"You're positively terrifying, old shoe," said Teatime wearily. "Positively terrifying."

Around the corner, Agent India had slowed to a walking pace. That had to be the lamest way of getting out of a tricky situation ever! Mind you, the look on the demon's face had been really good: surprise and then bewilderment. It had got mimicry of human expressions pretty much down pat, she'd give it that. If she had not had so much confidence in her gift of spotting demons, she could quite easily have believed that she had just rudely snubbed an ordinary human. Her gift was never wrong though and now she'd have to be much more careful about following her target. Still, not for much longer, she thought. The text she'd received half an hour before was unequivocal: JOSHUA SQD ETA 18:30. RV @ OGS 19:00 4 PLAN MTG.

The Mega (Charitable, alligator, tribute, drunk, slave, preparation, carrots, mountainside,propeller, lark, chisel, worship, suicide, organic, plus)

Now, Tony “the Maggot” Ryan, lead singer of the death-metal band, Suicide by Propeller, was renowned for his willingness to do anything for a lark. Having got exceedingly drunk after a last-night-of-the-tour party, he obtained an alligator from somewhere and put it in Sticky Steve, the drummer’s, hotel bathroom.

That worthy had got up in the night to answer a call of nature and had been scared out of his wits by the beast. Being less than impressed by the prank, he resolved to get his own back somehow. He knew, however, that whatever scheme he came up with would need a good deal of preparation if it was to succeed and thereby teach the Maggot a lesson.

His first thought was to take a chisel to the paintwork of the Maggot’s beloved Porsche, but he quickly rejected the idea as too unsubtle, plus he just couldn’t bring himself to do such a horrid thing to such a lovely car. Sticky Steve didn't worship cars the way some men did, but still he thought the car was just too pretty to be disfigured like that.

So what when? Steve mulled this question over as he took a stroll down the mountainside below the hotel. The air up here was so clear and clean-smelling! As he drew in a big lungful, Steve could feel it practically washing out his lungs and invigorating his whole body. He’d grown up in a grubby northern industrial town and the most charitable thing you could say about that place was that it looked best through the rear-view mirror of a speeding car.

Never a slave to passion for long, Steve began to feel his anger ebb away in the warm spring sunshine: it had only been a joke after all and the Maggot was a good mate really, well, most of the time anyway. He sat down on a little stone bench beside the mountain path and took in the view for a bit. Far below, he could see people toiling away in some fields planting something or other – organic carrots, maybe or potatoes, Steve didn’t know.

The hotel had packed him a little picnic lunch which included a nice bottle of wine. Steve unpacked this and poured himself a generous measure. The way the sun sparkled on the surface of the wine was almost hypnotic as he swirled it gently round inside the glass. He took a sip and savoured the crisp, sharp taste. Aaah! That was good! He lifted the glass in mock tribute to his loony friend.

At least it had only been a stuffed alligator – imagine if it had been real.


  1. What an amazingly deep poem with my crazy words! Beautifully done. And of course Harold's story is always fun to read. Enjoyed the last one, especially the last sentence. Well done.

  2. How do you do it? It must take ages to write. Come on, give us a clue as to how you go about it and how long you spend on this challenge.

    I simply adored the mini piece. It has such a graceful poetry about it.

    That first sentence is sheer genius! In fact the whole piece is fantastic. And then you enhance the whole thing with such an appropriate and fitting picture.

    I'm sorry, but I cannot award more than 10/10 for this. 100% is the maximum allowed by law!

  3. Argent, it is SO not FAIR to read yours first. I was blown away by the mini. To read Michelangelo's sculpture and then convey it to! And Harold -- I didn't want to tear myself away when a timer rang downstairs! And the whimsy of the third piece.

    Well, I doff my cap to you! Excellent writing and completely engaging reading!

  4. Aside from the length these were fantastic.
    As a Pastor I loved the firs.
    As a fantasy fan I love Harold , the monkey and all.
    Then you come up with something very different for the last one.
    I salute you.

  5. We dragons used to take big blocks of marble like that and drop them on castles but this is a far better use.
    Great little story
    We dragons love to eat demons . They are not on the endangered list. As usual a great long story.
    Did we say long. Did we say very long. Did we say very, very long?
    But if you can survive to the end it is very good.

  6. Great work. Loved the first piece's take on ole Mike. Harold and Tea Time are quite the pair. I wonder about the future for Harold and India.

  7. @Raven - Thank you, you're always so kind. The word 'chisel' got the poem started really, after that, the rest was not too hard.

    @PhilipH - I don't really know how wordzzles get done. All I can say is I start off by just reading over the words a couple of times to see what comes to mind. Having got hold of one or two of the words, I then work to reel the others in one by one. With the Harold story, I have to try and fit the words into the overall story that I want to tell (not easy as the words pull the story all over the place if I'm not careful). Many thanks for your very kind words.

    @RestonFriends - Thank you! I've always loved the Pieta. I think it conveys such a sense of serenity - apart from being just a lovely piece of sculpture - so lifelike.

    @DrJohn & Fandango - Thank you for the kind words also. I am working on shortening my posts, honest! (Harold was about 2/3 the size of last week) Please bear with me until I get my Super Shrink Ray fully perfected (unless you fancy lending me yours which is clearly working well).

    @Rich - Thanks also. Harold and India? Well, who can say: it's a funny old world after all.

  8. The poem about the Pieta sculpture was very, very good. It had real feeling in it. I liked the Harold and Teatime episode, too. I look forward to reading them. Teatime is very funny, and is fussy and very proper. It's kind of like having a little devil on Harold's shoulder telling him to do wrong, without a corresponding angel on the other shoulder telling him not to. Perhaps Agent India will turn out to be the angel. In the last story, the name of the band, "Suicide by Propeller" was funny. Bands do sometimes have strange names. I've heard of people in bands doing strange stunts, too. The story also had a good ending, with the man forgiving the prank.

    I liked last week's stories too, about the astronauts that ended up in a slightly different world, and the story about the woman whose husband passed away due to complications during surgery, and of course the Harold and Teatime episode. The Harold and Teatime stories really need to be put into a book someday, maybe a whole series of books.

    Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

  9. I loved all three of these! I didn't find them long, but I guess it's because I got lost in the story. When the Harold one ended I thought, "what? not done yet!"

  10. I loved the poem - but will be honest and say i haven't read the latest about Teatime and Harold yet - am going to go back to the start, print them all off and give them a good, solid reading: much easier in hard copy :)

  11. Loved all three today. The Michaelangelo one was beautiful. The Pieta traveled to New York for the World's Fair 1963/64 (I think) and I saw it there. We rode on a slow conveyer belt past it so a crowd wouldn't gather in front of it & clog up the works. I'm an artist, but I don't work well in 3D, so I truly appreciate the talent and hard work it would take to make such a thing, especially in a medium as unforgiving as stone.

  12. You are far too good for this; anyway, how could I ever follow that.

    I have also left a comment under the previous post - again, very admirable indeed. I shall have to visit more.

  13. @Stephen - Thank you for the thoughtful comments. I often wonder how bands choose their names, some of them are so bizarre. I'd like to do more with Harold and Teatime one of these days if time ever permists.

    @Bug. Thank you. I do have sympathy for people who dislike reading long posts as I find my own eyes crossing if I have to read too much off the computer screen. This week's will be shorter, which will please some and not others. You can't win.

    @Pixies - hope re-reading the whole thing doesn't highlight too many holes in the hastily slung-together plot!

    @CJ - How fortunate to be able to see the Pieta in the "flesh". I'm not much of an artist in 2- or 3-D, but that stone looks like real skin to me You can see the muscles underneath and the facial expression is so tender. It's one of my favorite peieces (along with David).

    @Friko - You're too kind. I have read a few of your posts now and I reckon you definitely could "follow that". Look forward to seeing you again soon.

  14. Came by here this morning for a read.. lost track of time and ended up making the kid late for school :-).. nuff said really! Yet more beautifully crafted thingies from the mind ( didn't say warped) of the Argent lady!.. oh, and I read somewhere that the pieta is actually a horrific example of perspective or whatever the size relative thing is!.. those renaissance buggers! tssk!

  15. @Watercats - Hehe, sorry about making you run late. The Pieta may be a horrbile example of perspective, but I'd kill to be able to make art like that.

  16. Love the poem, Argent , a masterpiece for sure!

  17. @TFE - Thanks for the kind words! I have my moments!


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