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The Man-Gler

Chapter 8: The snappy saga of Dot & Dash continues …

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“Dottie, darling, you will not believe the day I had today,” Dash said and sank onto his sister’s overstuffed sofa.  “It was Take-Your-Gay-Entrepreneur-to-School-Day and Archie invited me to participate,” Dash said.

“Sweet child.”

“Yes, he is.  Well, I had to sit through some truly ghastly displays of entrepreneurship, and I use the word lightly.”  He sipped his iced tea and then touched the chilled glass against his forehead.

“Do tell,” Dottie encouraged.

Dash sighed and shook his head as if trying to erase the memory.  “Some were just so dull and lacking in creativity, you know, so lemonade-stand, no real effort was put into it.  Anyway, they were harmless; I guess the kids enjoyed it.  Then,” he paused to sip his iced tea.  “You know those fake flowers clowns wear on their lapels that squirt water?”

Dottie nodded.

“Well, this … person … I’m thinking she was a female, but I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure, was wearing one — a rainbow colored flower — and she called up this one little boy, whom she referred to as ‘Little Man’ in a rather unpleasant Kathy Bates in Misery tone.”

Dottie tsked.

“When he approached she shouted at him to, ‘Get back, you, you man!’”

“Uh-oh.”

“Exactly.  You’re sensing the hostility?”

Dottie nodded, her fingertips to her lips.

“Naturally, the poor boy was confused, after all, she’d requested him to step up to the front of the class.”  Dash paused to sip his iced tea.

“And?”

“Well, I’m sure you know what happened.  She squirted the child.”

“What a jerk.”

Dash nodded.  “But not with water.  Oh, no.  This … person reached inside her camo vest, squeezed the rubber bulb and sprayed Tobasco sauce — or Man-Gler as she called it — at the kid’s eyes,”

Dottie gasped and jumped in her seat.

“Yes!  And managed to get out something about his latent potentiality for being a woman-hating impotent parasite before any of the adults could react.”

“She didn’t!”

“Well, I’m paraphrasing, of course.  I was too stunned — we were all too stunned — by her actions and the shrieks of the child, his classmates, the teacher, and other adults, to really hear her clearly.”

“Was he OK?”

Dash grinned.  “As luck would have it, despite his tender age, the boy’s a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and gave his attacker some sort of roundhouse kick that sent her reeling against the chalk board.”

“Oh, my god!”

Dash nodded and beamed.

“Then what happened?”  Dottie was on the edge of her seat.

“Well, naturally, the police were called.”

“Oh, the poor kids.  And the child who’d invited her must have been so embarrassed.”

“I don’t know about that.  Archie said the little girl is already exhibiting signs of male hating.  But I think he’s exaggerating.  Just because she won’t sit or play with the boys and accuses them of being cootie-riddled, doesn’t mean …well, you know.”

“Oh, dear.  What a … I don’t know … creepy thing for the kids to experience.”

Dash nodded.  “I was so shaken by the whole thing I truly wanted a cigarette.  But I didn’t have any, so…” Dash sipped again.

“Then what happened?”
”After the police left — and I have to give them credit – they tried to downplay the

whole handcuffing, Mirandaization, etc., so as not to upset the children any further — Miss Belvin, Archie’s lovely teacher, asked me to give my presentation.”

“Smart move on her part.”

“Yes.  Thank you.” Dash smiled.  “Well, during the preceding presentations my attention had been toward the front of the class, you know, being polite and watching the guests.  But while I set up my equipment and began my little patter, I noticed a lot of head scratching going on and not in a contemplative thought-inducing way.”

“What do you mean?” Dottie asked.

“Head lice, honey.  Head lice.”  He rolled his eyes and shuddered.

“How disgusting!”

“You’ve never said a truer word.  Naturally, I began to feel itchy and forced myself not to even start scratching, because I knew once I started, I’d never stop.  So, I raced through my presentation — “

“Which was?”

“The Cloud Monkey.”

Dottie nodded.  “Of course.  Good choice.  Big hit?”

“It would have gone over better had they not been so distracted by their incessant scratching and squirming.  But, yes.  They seemed to enjoy it.  I was going to let them operate it themselves, but the thought of having any of them close to me…” Dash shuddered and involuntarily gave his scalp a frenzied scratching.

“OK, change the subject quickly; you’re making me feel itchy.”  She squirmed and closed her eyes.

“I’m exhausted, honey.  Your turn.”

“I had lunch with Ollie this afternoon and I’m having my first slice of pizza in, like, a year, and am being so careful not to get any oil on my brand new silk shirt.  I even patted the slice with a paper napkin to absorb the excess.  I take a dainty bite, dab my lips and see Oliver looking across and I think he’s just stealing a glance at the girls.  But no.  Right there on my left breast…three Susan B. Anthony silver dollar-size dark circles of oil — I looked like a breast-feeding mother who’d had a seizure or something.”  She sighed sadly and scrunched her face.

Dash gasped.  “Did you get the stain out?”

“Well, that’s beside the point, isn’t it?”

“How so?”

“Don’t you find it even the slightest bit amusing?”

“A ruined silk shirt is nothing to laugh at, Dottie.  Especially since you buy high-end.”

“Forget the shirt,” Dottie waved her hand wanting to change the subject.  “Just because you’ve had some sort of epiphany and no longer lust after the finer things in life doesn’t mean I have to.  New topic.”

Dash sighed.  “Speaking of pizza, I’m getting hungry.  Let’s make dinner.”

Make dinner?  Dash, you know I don’t cook.  Let’s order in.”

“What do you mean, you don’t cook?  Honey, if you’re going to be getting married, you’d better learn how to cook and stop eating out and ordering in all the time.  You know, save some money.  Caterers, photographers and limos don’t come cheap.”

“Since when am I getting married?”  Dottie gasped.  “Did Ollie say something to you?”

“Ollie says lots of things to me,” Dash said and turned to gaze out the living room window.

“Don’t get all coy and evasive with me, buddy.”

“You must have something in your fridge.” Dash stood and went to the kitchen.

“Taunt me all you like.  I’m not interested in getting married, anyway.  Things are just fine they way they are.”

“Whatever you say, sweetie.  Ooh, eggs.  I’ll make us an omelet,” he called from the kitchen.

Dottie heard him crack an egg followed quickly by an, “Oh, my god!”

“What?  Have they gone bad,” Dottie called out to him.

“Eggs don’t ‘go bad’, they rot.  That’s why we call them rotten eggs.  But this isn’t about eggs.  You threw the shirt in the garbage!”  He entered the room holding the rumpled raspberry silk shirt.

“Guilty.”

“You didn’t even take it to the cleaner’s?”

“Think of the expense.  I have a wedding to save for, you know.”  She smirked at him.

Dash narrowed his eyes at her.  “I was going to attempt some club soda on it, but I see you’ve dumped some greasy Chinese take-out on top of it.  Honestly, Dottie, you’re impossible.”

“Oh, get off your soap box, you’ll fall.  So, did that friend of yours call you?”

“Which friend?” Dash halted in his walk back to the kitchen.

“The one with that inventor’s name.  What was it?  Ford?  Hewlett, Eastman?”

He sighed.  “Edison?”

“Bingo!  I hope you don’t mind that I gave him your new cell phone number.  He sounded a bit … desperate but wouldn’t divulge any info.”

Dash scowled, then pursed his lips.  “He says he’s lost time again.”

“Lost time?  What does that mean?  Lost his watch and wanted to know if you found it?”

“Are you purposely being dense?  He claims he’s got some sort of serial abduction going on.”

“Cereal abduction?  The Kellogg’s folks are kidnapping him?”

Dash stuck his head into the living room and shot her a look.

“OK, sorry.  You mean he thinks he’s been abducted by aliens?”

“This cheese has seen better days,” he called and tossed it in the trash.

“Aliens, Dash.  Come on.  Tell me.”

Dash entered the living room and set the tray on the coffee table.  “Eat up.”  He passed a dish to his sister and sat on the sofa across from her.

“Smells good, thanks.  What’s this green stuff?”

“Parsley.”

“I have parsley?”

“Maybe it came with the apartment.”

“Ha ha, very funny.  OK, aliens.  Lost time.  Continue.”

Dash chewed for a moment.

“Very tasty.”

“Glad you like it.”

“Al-i-ens,” Dottie prompted him.

Dash shrugged.  I don’t know what to tell you, really.  Edison’s an otherwise normal guy.”

“Otherwise?”

“Well, besides his insistence on believing he’s had these … encounters.”

“Close encounters.”

Dash nodded.

“Is he one of those Trekkie people?”

“Nope.”

“X-Files aficionado?”

“Nope.”

“Sci-Fi freak?”

“No, Dottie, he’s none of those things.  I said, apart from this, he’s just a regular, normal guy.  He’s not saying these things to get attention.  He hasn’t contacted any of the tabloids or anything to get his 15 minutes of fame.  He’s afraid.”

“Wow.  Do you think he’s crazy?”

“I don’t know.  He claims he’s lost time.  Unaccounted lapses.  The first time he was driving upstate.”

“At night, right?”

“No it was daylight when he started out.  Anyway, he had his GPS thingy on and was singing along to the radio heading to his parents’ house for the weekend.  What should have been a five hour drive turned out to be a 12 hour trip.  His parents were frantic.  They called the police when he didn’t answer his cell phone when he was a few hours overdue.”

“And?”

“A state trooper found him in some corn field, his car stuck in the mud.”

“Oh, why is it always a corn field.  He’s just blown his credibility with me.”

Dash raised his eyebrow at her.

“Oh, come on Dash.  He fell asleep.  Maybe he’s a narcoleptic or something.”

“OK, let’s change the subject.”

“Oh, don’t be like that.  Come on.  Tell me more.”

“No.  I won’t have you mocking him.”

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to mock him.  It’s just that it seems rather far fetched, doesn’t it?”

“Dottie, don’t you think I asked myself — and him — all these questions?  He’s in perfect health.  Isn’t into drinking or drugs.  Isn’t narcoleptic or epileptic.  No leptics at all.  I mean, honestly, what does he have to gain by confiding in me?  He risks ridicule and exposure as a nut job.”

“Maybe he hates his job and is looking for a way out.”

“Oh, confinement in an asylum with shock treatments?  He loves his job.”

“What does he do?”

“He’s a gallery owner.  You’ve heard of it.  I think I even took you to an exhibit there.  The Knight Gallery.”

“Ha ha!  Night Gallery like that old TV show.  See?  He’s into sci-fi.”

“K-n-i-g-h-t Gallery, Dottie.  His name is Edison Knight.”

“Oh.  What ever happened to that show?  And the Twilight Zone?  Those were good shows.  Somebody should bring them back.”

Dash gathered up their dishes and took the tray back to the kitchen.

“Tell me more.”

“Not much to tell.  He was embarrassed and scared when the trooper found him.  He lied and said he’d swerved to avoid hitting a deer and then got stuck in the mud and fell asleep.”

“Why didn’t he call his parents?  Ask for a tow?”

“Because he lost time.  He had no idea how he got there.”

Dottie made a face.

“What?  What’s that face supposed to mean?”

“That kind of stuff happens all the time upstate and in the Midwest and down South.  Edison wasn’t wearing bib overalls, was he?”

Dash sighed.

“Does he have all his own teeth?”

“Stop it.  You’re being mean.  Yes, he’s got all his teeth.”

“Well, a lot of the people you see interviewed on TV who claim to have been abducted seem to be wearing bib overalls and missing a lot of teeth.”

Dottie received another eyebrow raise.

“What else?”

“Then he said it’s happened in his own apartment — here in the city.  Not a corn field in sight.”

“Ooh, creepy.”

“Exactly.  He said it even happened once when he was on his cell phone talking to me.  I thought we just got disconnected but when I called him back I got his voice mail.”

“Maybe he just got a call waiting and forgot to get back to you.”

“Well, when he checked his account, he’d used up all his minutes ‘cause he never shut off the phone.”

Dottie rocked her head slightly back and forth, debating the validity of her brother’s words.   “There’s got to be a logical explanation.”

“Why?  You don’t think this could happen?”

Dottie shrugged.  “I need some physical proof.  He should try to set a trap.”

“He’s already done that.  He set up heat sensitive cameras in his apartment.  And the motion detection ones.”

“And?”

“He said he’s got pictures to back him up.”

“Have you seen them?”

“No.  He didn’t offer to show them to me and I didn’t want to ask to see them ‘cause I didn’t want him to think I didn’t believe him.”

“What?!  He claims he’s got pictures of aliens and you didn’t ask to see them?”

Dash shrugged.

“Does he say they’ve done experiments on him?”

Dash nodded.

“Jeesh.”

Dash nodded.

“Maybe he should get one of those Tabasco-spewing lapel flowers and squirt ‘em next time they visit.”

Dash sighed and went to the kitchen to wash the dishes.

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Previous episodes in the Dot & Dash Chronicles:

Chapter 1: Unday Runch

Chapter 2: Om on the Range

Chapter 3: Swim Cinema

Chapter 4: Dancing with the Czars

Chapter 5: Cloud Monkeys

Chapter 6: Broken Record

Chapter 7: Winches & Pulleys

 

Born and raised in the Bronx, MARY VETTEL has spent the last 15 years residing in Southampton, NY, where she’s written six of her nine novels, two of her illustrated children’s books, and The Chronicles of Dot & Dash. She also adapted her novella, Greetings From Hell! (based on her three years living in Central Florida) to a stage play which was produced by The Naked Stage of Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY. Her novel, DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN, is available on Amazon. You can also view some of her work at www.MaryVettel.com

 

DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN by Mary Vettel

A sometime amateur sleuth, Billie offers to help the cops solve a local murder. One mention of her psychic visions and they scurry, but when a body from a cold case appears in her backyard, they’re all ears. During this turmoil, Billie realizes her accountant, Emmett Gilmour, is sweet on her. She’d like to let him know the feeling’s mutual but doesn’t remember how; it’s been decades since she dated.

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