Gabble, Rabble, & Ross

“It’s story time,” said Gabble, who was ten years old.

“There will be dragons tonight, probably,” said Rabble, who was eight.

“Horses!” said Ross, who was but six.

The children waited for Father to come and Father came. Home at last. Probably they summoned him in one of the old ways of summoning known to children and idiots and some artists but mislaid when thinking comes. I don’t know. It’s not my story, it’s Father’s, and not my father’s, but Gabble’s, Rabble’s, and Ross’s.

Father appeared in his evening jacket – we know the one – with a drink in one hand and he sat in his Father-chair, lighting a pipe. For them this was evening, like all the others, and as for how it had happened, why should they care? It was story time.

Father blew sweet smoke rings. He said, “I am going to tell you a story, children.” The children gathered around, Ross upon Father’s knee, like always. Like before.

“Will there be adventures?” said Gabble. “A hero named Perseus, Brigham, or Liam?”  

“And is he handsome and brave?” said Rabble, hoping for the best.

“With horses?” said Ross, who was a bit obsessed with horses just then.

Even the shutters outside rattled, it might be said, in this story at least if not others, for the night-wind shook them in anticipation of the story to come.

Father wrinkled up his nose. He stared at his drink. He sniffed at his pipe’s deep scorched bowl. For him, the memory of his trip home from London was a blank. A complete mystery. No train-ride, no newspaper, no pleasant conversation with the train’s ticket-taker. He was there and then he was here and nothing in between. Is it always this way? he wondered.

“No,” Father said to the children. “No horses. Not like that. This story is nothing like that.”

Gabble, Rabble, and Ross were silent but skeptical now. Skeptical but hopeful. This story could go either way.

Father said, “There once was a man named Harry Hamid, and he wasn’t a hero at all. Not handsome and not brave. Harry was a bit of a loser, actually, and his beard didn’t make any sense.

“One day, a Girl With Red Pants – who wasn’t wearing red pants on that day – invited Harry out to dinner, which was the thing exactly which Harry’d dreamt of for so long, and so wanting to impress, he said yes (Yes!) and then took her away in his Honda Civic. But hardly had they departed the parking garage when the city before him – his city! – transformed into something strange to him, like an alien landscape probably, unrecognizable.”

“Did it look like Piranesi’s prisons?” said Gabble.

“Or those drawings by Rizzoli you showed us?” said Rabble.

“Were they on Mane Street?” said Ross, still hoping beyond all hope to steer the story back around to horses.

“No,” Father said to the children. “Not like that. This story is nothing like that.”

“Harry stopped at a stoplight,” Father said, “and he looked out about him at his formerly familiar city. He wondered where he might bring The Girl With the Red Pants to eat to impress her. One restaurant might well be like any other for all he knew. And while so engaged in these thoughts, he happened to see, stumbling down a convenient sidewalk nearby, his sometimes-drinking buddy, Banta.

“Banta had green hair and she had tattoos like the circus-lady – remember the circus-lady, children? – but she was looking what is sometimes called worse for wear. Harry pretended not to notice, not to know her at all, for seated right next to him was none other than The Girl With the Red Pants, and after so very long!

“But as the red stoplight said green again, out of the corner of the corner of his eyes, Harry spied Banta falling to the sidewalk and thrashing all about violently. And o children, a conscience can be such a terrible burden, he would not leave Banta in such a state. Harry pulled the car to the side of the road. He got out, collected up Banta’s purpling form and he lay her down within the safe confines of the Honda Civic.

“‘She has to get to a hospital,’ he said, and off they all went: Harry Hamid, the Honda Civic, The Girl with the Red Pants, and Banta.”

“I knew all along he was a hero!” said Gabble.

“Harry’s going to save the circus-lady!” said Rabble.

“They’re going to ride in on a big white horse!” said Ross.

“No,” Father said to the children. “No horses. Not like that. This story is nothing like that.”


To be continued soon…

Comments

  1. "And with that selfless act, children, his beard suddenly DID make sense."

    How I assume this will end.

    Damn. I'm on the edge of my seat here. I'm hoping this ends well for, well, everyone involved.

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    1. I'm sort of hoping something happens to Ross. Mostly because I'm out of horse jokes.

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  2. Father has never heard of sending hand smoke or setting examples for his children, has he?

    I'm 23000 words into the story I told you about. May finish tomorrow.

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    1. I've been reading Algernon Blackwood and he has a lot of kids in country estates being told creepy stories by upper class family members.

      Congrats on heading into the home stretch. I can't imagine writing a 23,000 word piece at this point. I'm so addicted to feedback that I can hardly get past 600 before it's time to check in. Someday, I will again, I suppose. When I have a story that requires it.

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    2. That was supposed to be second hand smoke.

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    3. Harry Hamid the 1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero
      https://youtu.be/yZN0ejJyPcU

      He's the 1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero
      'n' you can see him ev'ry weekend with a carfull of kids and snow cones
      An', ya know, people 'cross town don't know his name
      But on Franklin Pike Circle he's king
      1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero

      Well , he won a little pony at the Hill High auction just the other day
      And he di'n't mean to do it and he wanted to give the pony away
      a-When they called out his name he tried not to claim it
      But the kids started cryin' 'cause they'd already named it
      And who's up ev'ry Saturday morning?
      Saddling his new toy? You guessed it-
      The 1432 Franklin Pike Circle Cowboy



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    4. Bobby Russell wrote that song about me, obviously.

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  3. First dates that proceed straight to the ER do, if nothing else, make for good stories...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Hi, Doug! These days, I mostly just venture out of my house to acquire good stories. Which means I have the perfect job.

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  4. Will the girl with the red dress be annoyed or understanding? This will be a good test for her.

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    1. If I can only manage to get up the ambition to write the second half, everyone will know!

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  5. Had a flashback after reading about Banta.

    Way back in 2003 I was working for a third-party x-ray repair company that had the contract in one of the major hospital systems in my area. Our headquarters was in the main building of that hospital, but given the facilities the hospital owned my boss and I often had to drive all over the godforsaken county to fix equipment at different clinics. Coming back to the hospital one morning, I noticed this guy trying his best to cross a busy intersection in front of the main building. This guy was not only moving slowly but was limping quite badly and literally had to dive the last five feet before he made it to the sidewalk to avoid the onrushing cars.

    Truthfully, I'm not really sure the guy got out of the way in time. But you would figure being next a hospital the a-holes in the cars might have slowed down a bit out of simple human compassion.

    Long story short, people in this area can't seem to understand why I would leave this inbred rat's nest in a New York minute if I ever get the chance.

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    1. People have very important places to be. Apparently. So it doesn't surprise me that people wouldn't slow down for a guy in bad shape crossing a road - the surprising part is that you remember it and it still has an impact on you so many years later.

      I try to look out for other people, with varying results. I can't make anyone treat each other better.

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    2. Truthfully, as the years have passed with me living where I'm at I've found myself growing more callous. Of the three regions making up South Carolina all have their failings. But at least the Low Country and the Upstate largely act like decent human beings, when you disregard politics. But here in the Midlands, most of these proles are missing something of their basic humanity.

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    3. I try to remain optimistic, but I agree with a lot of that. People are usually pretty okay one-on-one, but political crap gives even the good oens a handy excuse to throw around some awful stuff.

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  6. Ha ha good story.I like the way u dived into ur story from another person's perspective.Oh how I get jealous,I almost never had this kind of chance.I always worked as hard as a wood cutter for many days roaming behind women before stealing their hearts.How sweet it would be to have born in America or europe and just go straight up to women and try my chances.I am waiting for the next part.Probably at the end u will show harry's genius or stupidity.lets see,what happens.

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    1. It's possible here, I suppose, although I certainly don't make it a priority. The last several women I've gone out with have eventually asked me out... because I'd never do it if it were left up to me.

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  7. Harry was bit of a loser but I am a total loser.

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    1. Haha. I think that perhaps Father was just being polite.

      On the upside, I'm usually pretty happy. Maybe I shouldn't be, as I don't have a lot of those status symbols and grown-up things that people are supposed to want. Like a relationship and kids and upward mobility.

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  8. I'm glad our friend Hardry had a conscience...but...how is going to find the hospital when his town is no longer familiar to him?

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    1. Don't get too far ahead of me here. My heroics are going to be short-lived enough as it is!

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  9. I've always enjoyed your technique of coming at stories sideways. And I must say that when I saw your post title, I thought this story might perhaps involve a law firm.

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    1. I have a short attention span and I have to write things in ways that interest me or else I'll never manage to get through it. This one is... well, it was a fun experiment.

      I have to be careful about writing about law firms, since my nonprofit relies on them a lot and there's an off-chance someone might actually read this stuff!

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  10. It's nice that he stopped to assist Banta. It would be even more impressive if Banta we're a total stranger.

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    1. The upside is that I've worked with the poor, the sick, and the homeless for so long that I know most of the people wandering around Montrose in bad shape.

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  11. What a story to tell your children this is. Will it ever stay PG? Was it ever PG to begin with? The strangeness of the outside world makes for scary fiction, and even scarier non-fiction.

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    1. Hi, Fang! I'm at a point where I'm torn between writing escapist but positive material and stuff that is pretty hardcore dark. I seem to be splitting the difference right now. I'm going to figure out someday which side of the line I want.

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  12. There were many stories about our father but he didn't tell many of them himself. At least I don't remember him telling very many. You do need an attentive audience to tell a good story which is why I can tell stories to children easier than adults.

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    1. I don't know whether anyone told me stories on a regular basis growing up. Well, my grandmother, but they all involved living on Guam.

      And I don't have much exposure to children now. My nephew has always been more interested in playing video games than listening to stories. I hope there are kids who still enjoy sitting around listening.

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  13. The mane thing is the horsepower under the hood is enough to bet the purple Banta quickly to an oxygen tank. Surly Father wouldn't tell a tail of woe.

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    1. Horsepower! That's what I needed.

      I might end up using that in part 2. It's too good to pass up.

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  14. You go Harry! You're going to be a hero and get the girl in the end :)

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    1. Some of my clients have called me a hero. They're about the only ones, but I suppose one has to stick to what one knows well.

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  15. I just know this story is going to end in tears. Actually, most of your stories do.

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    1. One of these days, I'm going to start writing uplifting things. Actually, that was the idea behind my swearing off of politics. And then things like this happen...

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