Friday, May 29, 2020

Desert Twilight

This desert scene is a little fuzzy due to scanning the whole picture. At least it softens the sky somewhat, and darkens the mood overall. What drew me to the subject were the hard lines, ala Cezanne. He'd have painted this one for sure, if they had deserts in England or France. Believe it or not, that's snow out there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Splash One

Compared to the Six Forks Palladium, the Southern Sports Emporium was tinsel and mirrors. So went the consensus of three performers invited as special advisors. There was no mermaid palace behind the scenes, a private dressing area complete with food machines, fridge and microwave. Its pool was a modest affair with only a curtain that raised and lowered over the rear stage. A concealed door admitted the guests.

Lori, the resident star, cavorted in a suit of red scales, long brown hair flowing in her wake. Shoppers grew ever more vocal in anticipation of having four  of them to gawk at. The visitors were said to put on a top-rate act. 

Struggling into their suits behind the curtain, the trio lacked top-rate enthusiasm: blonde Binia in white, redhead Ellie in green, and the brunette Sirtis in blue. When they signaled readiness, the curtain raised to lively applause. Lori also joined in the welcome, standing in the neck-deep water.

Binia motioned her over. The suit had a sort of lobster paddle in lieu of elegant flukes. "Lori, we don't have feet. When you push off, use the crowns instead of the heels."

The store manager, Mr Stark, addressed the crowd with a mike. "Direct from our neighbor to the north, we're delighted to host Binia, Ellie, and Sirtis!" It was their clue to jump in.

The water's coldness was in contrast to the heated concourse at Six Forks. The pool itself, rather than being recessed, was a slapdash affair of plexiglass, and the concrete floor remained unpainted.

Ellie took a turn tossing the beach ball, having partnered with Lori. "I definitely like the glass. We only use it as a crowd barrier. But anyway, is this the only toy you have?"

"Well, so far." Lori batted the ball to Binia. "What do you guys have?" 

"A submarine, Frisbees, sea horses, flying fish. . . ." Ellie had the impression Lori wasn't all that interested. 

Sirtis as usual went her own way, zooming along the bottom, drumming on the glass to the thrill of kids--and a manically chasing, yapping terrier. 

During the break, all four sat with fins dangling in the water. Stark kept up a tempo of special "today only" deals. Fortunately it was too noisy for anyone to engage them in converse. Back home, the trio upheld the mermaid mystique by remaining silent in public. Lori suggested that wasn't very friendly to paying customers. 

That brought up Binia's next tip. "You need to do shows, like water dance or a coin toss, and that takes at least two of you. We have these pails and shovels for scooping coins, and a treasure chest to dump them in. What else. . . .no gum or hard candy. When you surface and take a breath, you might suck it into a lung." 

"Try some theme music," Ellie added. "We like Enya and Constance Demby. And it's a good idea to pin your hair. It looks good billowing under water, but when you surface, you look like a drowned sheep dog." 

Binia took a hard look at the home attraction. "Aren't you writing this down?"

"I don't know; Mr Stark isn't gonna lay out that much money."

"You mean--" Ellie traded looks with the others. "You're the only one here for the duration?"

Lori sloshed water with her fin. "Oh sure, I guess so. He'll probably hire somebody else by month's end, if the suit fits. Keep it fresh, he likes to say. I'm just an inventory checker who got 'volunteered' for this." 

"So, ladies." Sirtis contemplated her raised and dripping flukes. "We thought we were helping a sister. And all the time, this guy just wants free advertising. We've been punked!"

Stark emerged behind them with a grandiose bow. "Folks, don't forget our sale on outboard motors. But be careful out there, and watch out for the mermaids!"

"Oh yes." Sirtis balanced on her hands, did a powerful sweep of the tail, aimed at Stark's back. 


Stark made an ungainly splash, floundered and thrashed, struggled to keep head above water. Thinking it staged, the crowd roared appreciation. Stark had no choice but to affect a strained grin as he struggled onto the stage. "Are you nuts? Now the suit will shrink. It's ruined!"

Sirtis made as if to bite his nose, forcing him to lean away. "Watch out for the mermaids." 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Judgment of the Clueless

Gators U hosted its culture seminar at a convenient time for vampires: seven in the evening. Not that they believed in this escapee from a Lugosi film; Cambris had been discovered as a disembodied voice on the Wicca Horror Show, in keeping with the fact she could no more be filmed than reflect in a mirror. The college staff good-naturedly toed the line about no cell phones or cameras.

Professor Turkel let his glasses dangle on a sport coat with elbow patches as he took the podium. "We're pleased to have three members of a TV show. For those of you in journalism, writing or acting, their life experience should be insightful."

Seated behind the podium, Ed tried not to laugh. Neither Cambris nor Wicca were alive in the technical sense. Station management, also ignorant about that, had him in a real pickle.

"Let's introduce our guests," Turkel resumed. "Cambris you know by her stage name. With her are Ed and Wicca, producer and host respectively."

"Hostess," Wicca said with tired resolve. "I'm a hostess." Ed tried to pry her out of the seat. "Who, me? What do I say to these mask-wearing, TP-hoarding sheep?"

"Life experience," Ed insisted. "Try to keep it this side of the Twilight Zone."

With an eyeroll, Wicca sallied forth to more applause from the tiered spectators. "Umm. . . .why are soap bubbles green and purple?" It reminded Ed of the Munsters episode where Herman wowed the beatniks. "What else. . . .ladies! When you do floor exercise, put Fido out. He won't pass up an opportunity like that." Subdued tittering broke out. "If you're an older guy out jogging, and get passed by a girl pushing a carriage, hang up your shoes. And your cape!"

Ed, pushing fifty, didn't agree with the cape part. And Wicca didn't know the difference between life experience and crackpot philosophy.

"Who should we send to Mars? Weirdos who clog the grocery line because they crave the clerk's sole attention." That actually drew cheers and claps. "And drivers who hang their arm out the window." She made a smiling hand gesture in conclusion.

An alarmed Ed sprang up to seize her wrist. "I keep telling you--it's a thumbs up!"

"And I say this one is longer, so it makes more of a friendly greeting!"

The crowd laughed. Ah--it was a comedy warmup for the main speaker. Cambris, though, was equally at a loss for what this bunch needed to hear, and required some coaxing.

Wicca pulled her up. "They think you're a playwright, girlfriend. Get out there!"

Pads and notebooks whispered out of satchels when Cambris came forth. "Shall you fain find joyance in the judgment? How so in a shadow time of changeling twaddle, polemics e'er relumed, and a script ripped unread?"

A girl whose mask sported bunnies raised a gloved hand. "It was effective to put 'ripped' after 'script', since that changes it from an adjective to a verb." The professor nodded approval, but it didn't sit well with a former village matron who brooked no sass from pre-medieval serfs.

Cambris turned pinpoint grackle eyes on Ed. "This mortal dares to intermeddle, pitting piffle jellified against the dissonance of eons."

Ed bowed his way forward, making a self-conscious wave to the crowd. "They're supposed to do that. It's a teaching seminar." He scurried back to his seat.

"I see the problem," Wicca said. "These people don't know when they're being insulted. I always thought the backpacks make them look like little parachuters."

"Chill," Ed muttered.

The audience seemed to enjoy the byplay, so much gimmickry in their estimation.

"Whence your course," Cambris posited, " 'neath doomed skies? Mine own path wends 'tween worlds and words insentient. Naught to our gatherage lends empyreal tryst; none but solace of nocturne and moonmist."

"Hrrmmm." Ed squirmed, but the students were busy writing it down. What else would a "vampire" talk about?

"You said life experience," Wicca pointed out. "In our case, undead experience. Ha ha ha!"

A goateed youth in a logger's cap raised a hand. "Did you get your skills through an MFA?"

Again Ed had to ease on stage to translate for her. "Master of Fine Arts. It's just another degree you go way in debt for, and can't find a job."

It didn't improve Cambris' opinion of today's society. She swept a fluted arm to encompass it all. "Yon commonage is enrapt in a turpitude less loved in my day, and the more avidly they do evanesce."

Prophetic sentiment notwithstanding, the crowd applauded the display of wordsmithing. Professor Turkel, still clapping, replaced Cambris at the podium. "Marvelous. We can almost believe she's a creature of the night. Am I right? I picked up on some unusual word pairs. I think we'll call the style 'Cambrience'." Both laughter and clapping signaled the group's agreement.

The trio headed backstage, ostensibly having garnered a few fans for the horror show. Ed hoped he hadn't soured Cambris' worldview. "Cambris--I tend to talk out the side of my mouth. What's the rush getting back to the Outworld?"

"Pish! These people have a foul taste."

Like Wicca, who used a "soul drain" to recharge her magic--limited to the criminal element at Ed's request--Cambris stalked the same hunting ground.

"Oh that," Wicca said. "This is the most medicated place I've ever seen. You can't find anybody who isn't flying on something."

"Hey," Ed objected. "I'm a regular nature boy. Skip my chapter."