The Guilty Party

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Rescued Partial

Several years ago, as the 25th anniversary of my high school class graduation was drawing near, an enterprising former classmate established a place on line where we could reconnect, let each other know what had happened since we last saw each other, swap a few recipes, talk about our kids (and in some cases, grandkids!) and generally have a good time. The discussions were often lively, almost always fun, and sometimes they inspired me to sort of let loose with a bit of literary fun. So, at one point a classmate suggested it might be fun to write one of those stories where anyone who wants to can take a turn and see what we came up with. Thus was born the Saga of the Cookenflagens.

As it turned out, at least eighty percent of the words ended up coming from Yours Truly. Partly I think it was because most folks felt they had nothing to contribute (it gets tougher and tougher to let ones imagination soar as one gets older, does it not? and even when young so many have inhibitions about putting words on  paper), and partly, shame on me, that I was just plain old hogging the stage. It was way too much fun.

After a while the party line fizzled, as such things will, and the Cookenflagens fizzled with it, nowhere near the end of their fictional adventures. Even the computer that had what had been written so far fizzled, with a drooping screen and often cantankerous attitude about even switching on. This evening, for some reason, after what is probably four or five years of it not crossing my mind, I wondered if I could retrieve the partial from that computer, put it on a thumb drive and at least preserve it in case I might want to have some no pressure fun with it later in life. After a tense moment or two in which I saw a couple of ominous messages pop up on the wobbly screen, I managed to snag the Cookenflagens file and commit it to transferable memory. And I thought I would share the first bit, just for the heck of it.

The Cookenflagens and
The Chest of Destiny
Alan L. Hutcheson
(suggested by Melanie Rummer)


Let the story begin...........

Chapter One

A while ago, in a land closer than you might think, there lived a family of Cookenflagens.

        The Cookenflagens were lovely, caring people who read thick books, ate healthy food and obeyed all the traffic laws. They taught their seven children to do the same. Nothing bad or unusual ever happened to any of the Cookenflagens.

        Well actually, nothing happened to Mother or Father Cookenflagen. There were days when they rather wish it would have, just to lend variety, but as so often happens in these cases, the adventures were bestowed not on the workaday parents but the relatively carefree children. It hardly seems right or fair, but that is the way these things work and there is nothing to be done.

        It does not mean, however, that there are no adults to be found in this tale of bravery, derring-do, unspeakable terrors, true love and false promises. Herein may be found a plentiful supply of heroic men, gorgeous women, along with cruelly nasty and rather unattractive members of both standard issue genders as well as at least one or two specimens not so easily labeled. And of course you will find in full measure such staples of the trade as lovely but dangerous terrain, take-your-breath-away chases, credibility challenging escapes, heartbreaking passion and mind-boggling stupidity.
        And it all began in the backyard of Dennis Sandblaster, the crabby old man who lived next door to the Cookenflagens.

        One bright autumn morning--it was a Friday actually--Dennis was in the backyard preparing to prune his Dafnalia Crown Beauty rose bush. He had planted it, bare root, many years ago and it was the one thing in the world he truly cared for. As Dennis was meticulously disinfecting his pruning shears in a bucket of bleach solution close by the Dafnalia Crown Beauty, a tabby cat appeared on top of the tall block fence separating Dennis Sandblaster's property from that of his neighbors, the Cookenflagen family. Gasbag, Dennis' fourteen year old Chasbounder Retrieval Hound, spotted the tabby and made a lunge for it.

        Unfortunately, Gasbag suffered from cataracts, hip dysplasia, and irritable bowel syndrome, although the irritable bowel had not given him any trouble for a couple of weeks and so does not figure into the chain of events about to unfold. Not to say it definitely won't factor in at some later time in the tale, you never know, but at this moment the irritable bowel was in remission and it was the cataracts and hip dysplasia that caused Gasbag to plow clumsily into his master.

        Dennis came this close to putting his foot in the bucket, which would have surely ruined his new shoelaces, but as he sidestepped the bucket he lurched directly into the Dafnalia Crown Beauty rose bush, a shrub known not only for its glorious blooms but also its prodigious and numerous thorns.


        The cat leaped down into the Cookenflagens' backyard. All reliable accounts  make no further mention of him (or her, there is some discussion on this point) so we may assume he, or she, led a full and prosperous life until the unfortunate incident involving the riding lawn mower which does not enter into this particular adventure. Gasbag had a sudden attack of irritable bowel, which apparently does after all factor into this opening scene, and he sought out a peaceful spot under the flasberry tree on the east side of the property where he could suffer with a modicum of privacy. Which is why the loyal Chasbander did not see the tall stranger come through the gate on the west side of the Sandblaster estate and approach the preoccupied Dennis.

        The tall stranger looked at Dennis for a moment. A strange, enigmatic grin flitted across his face, only to be replaced by an even stranger, if equally enigmatic look of ennui.

        “I'm back,” said the tall stranger.

        “What?" snarled Dennis, who was trying to pick thorns out of his nose. The effort was causing him to go not a little cross-eyed.

        “Don't you know who I am?" the stranger asked.
        “No idea. Ow!”

        “Perhaps this will jog your memory.”
        As Dennis plucked another miniature Dafnalia scimitar out of the tip of his bulbous nose, the tall stranger morphed into a young woman, a rather attractive one at that. As a matter of fact she was by any objective standard a babe of the first water. Dennis' close up vision was still a bit blurred from but he could see that over the stranger's shoulder several tiny faces had appeared, lined up along the top of the fence . It was the Cookenflagen sextuplets: Harpo, Popeye, Bozo, Ernestine, Bubbles and Teto.

        “Hey! Mr. Sandblaster!" called Harpo, who was the most verbal of the six nearly identical siblings and often as not served as defacto spokesperson. “Who's the babe?" He pointed at the young woman. Harpo ought not to have pointed, for besides it being bad manners, he lost his grip on the top of the fence and disappeared back into the Cookenflagens' yard.

        Popeye and Bubbles, who had underdeveloped senses of empathy, laughed uproariously. Ernestine and Bozo looked around the Sandbag yard and wondered where Gasbag had gotten to. Teto hoisted himself high enough to loop an elbow over the top of the fence and thus anchored felt safe in pointing at Dennis Sandblaster.

        “He's picking his nose," said Teto, who despite his precautions tumbled back, landing next to Harpo.

        “You find out who the babe is?" said Harpo.

        “Mr. Sandblaster is picking his nose," said Teto.

        “You're a moron, you know that?" said Harpo.

        “I know," said Teto.

        “You kids get out of here," said Dennis Sandblaster. He shooed at the remaining Cookenflagens, who stayed right where they were. “And you," he said to the young woman. “Are you about done morphing?"

        Dennis Sandblaster's eyesight was recovering a bit and it had been a good long time since an attractive young woman had paid him a visit for any reason.

        “Is your dog supposed to be like that?” said the young woman.
        “Like what? Oh my lord!”
        While it is true that Dennis had avoided putting his foot into the bucket his shoe had caught the handle of the protruding pruning shears, launching them through the air all the way over to the flasberry tree where they had inflicted mortal damage on his old companion.

        “Gasbag!" cried Dennis. “Dang and blast. This is turning out to be a very difficult day."

        He got his shovel out of the shed.

        “Well, old friend, at least you died in your favorite spot," said as he began digging.

        Gasbag tried valiantly to wag his tail in reply, but found that being dead placed limitations on a even a fictional canine's powers of animation.

        “You can't bury your dog in your backyard," said the young woman, who looked to be morphing back into tall stranger shape. “It's not sanitary."

        “Don't be telling me what I can do," snarled Dennis. “This is all your fault anyway." He heaved a shovelful of dirt on to the stranger's shoe tops. “You can't even decide what you want to look like for more than a couple of minutes.

        “Which shape would you prefer?" said the tall stranger/young woman, who sounded like he/she was asking mostly to be polite.

        “The babe!" yelled Harpo. “Bring back the babe!"

        “Shut up!" said Dennis.

        “You're kidding me, right?" said Harpo. “You telling me you don't want the babe?”

        “Well?” said the stranger.

        “You mind?" said Dennis “I'm burying my dog here." He threw another spadeful of dirt, this time in the direction of the fence.


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A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.