“Early Stages” Chap. 10 in the Panooksa Saga

Idea by Tom Austin                                                    Written by Tom Austin

                                               Revised by Tom Austin

Things were far from harmonious at the Shine house. Milly had her own ideas of how she wanted things at her wedding. And Tilly had her own. It soon became obvious that nothing was going to get done. Tyler looked at Brad and said “At this stage a wise man says nothing. Say anything and you risk getting your head handed to you.”

Tyler listened to decibel level rise. What he was hearing was almost a screaming match. When the volume reached an intolerable level he stood up, held a book with his right hand, and raised the index finger of his of his left hand. Tilly and Milly were hunched over the breakfast table looking at a very rough sketch and barking at each other. When Tilly noticed her husband standing she put her hand on top of her daughters shoulders, and told her to be quiet. Suddenly, there was silence where only moments before there had been barely controlled chaos.

“I’ve only two pieces of advice. One for Tilly and one for Milly. Milly, your mothers have been planning your wedding day since the day you were born. In fact, you weren’t a day old before she started talking about the day I’d be taking you down the aisle. Listen to her, consider her suggestions. And if you find them sound but in need of alteration don’t be afraid to do just that.”

“My next piece of sage advice is for my wife. Tilly, I know you want to do everything. And you want only the very best for our daughter. That’s only natural. But Milly is the one getting married. She has the final say. If anybody needs me, which I doubt, I’ll be in the den.”

Tyler walked across the living room, entered the room he called his ‘den’ and closed the door. Milly’s jaw fell open, watched her father walk across the room, and disappear behind a door.

“What was all that about,” she said?

Tilly motioned for her daughter to be silent and to come into the kitchen. “Since you’re about to be part of this family, you better come as well Brad.”

Tilly spoke quietly, almost whispering.”Ever since the accident, when we saw Messenger for the very first time, your father has had heart problems. He has heart arrhythmias. But for heaven’s sake, don’t let him know you know, or I told you.” Tilly went on to inform them that he retired from being a doctor because of the heart problems, but that he still teaches and lectures at The Town hospital.

Milly was puzzled. “Hold it just one second. Did daddy have these heart problems before or after meeting Messenger?”

“He started getting them when we came here,” said Tilly

Milly suddenly went silent. “That’s two. Now I want to talk to Sirena Telford”.

“What are you on about?. What does that horrible woman have to do with my Tyli-poo,” said Tilly

Milly and Brad couldn’t believe their ears. They both looked at Tilly with a mixture of horror and astonishment.

“Yuck. Mother, that name is terrible.”

“He dislikes it too. I’ve tried different variations over the years, but nothing seems to fit”.

Brad agreed. “Makes me want to hurl”.

“Let’s get back to the matter at hand. You still want to know about Sirena Telford?”

“This very instant!”

“She might be the key to something that’s been bothering Brad and me ever since we first met somebody that looked very much like Messenger.”

Brad went outside to chop wood for his soon to be in-laws. The mere mention of Messenger made his blood boil. He had to do something physical to get rid of this sudden surge of hostility. He took off his shirt, set a piece of wood on the chopping block, and brought the ax down with his strength. It wasn’t long before he had worked up a significant sweat.

Milly and Tilly returned to making preliminary wedding arrangements only this time there was less confrontation to worry about. They were still talking when Tilly went to the kitchen to make some coffee. Tilly was not aware Brad was outside, shirtless, sweaty, or chopping wood. When she looked out the kitchen window, she saw Brad and the sweat glistening on his body. Suddenly the words “That muscle, those abs. He’s an Adonis” slipped out.

Milly was shocked at what she just heard.


“Sorry about that. I was once a young woman too you know. I simply meant to say that you picked well.”

“Well…just stop it. Hearing you talk like that is just plain creepy”

“You know his body would be perfect if it didn’t have those scratches on it,” added Tilly.

Milly went beet red and grabbed the nearest magazine and pretended to read it. She didn’t even notice the magazine was upside down.

Together Milly and her mother fleshed out a plan that was essentially Milly’s. But this time it had a little more meat on the bone. Milly would get a few friends from her realm,  to act as bride’s maids. The gown would be paid for from her trust fund. Brad wouldn’t know there were going to be two gowns though. Brad thought about asking Mechanic Mike, the man who took care of his red Mustang, and the person he’s known since the seventh grade to act as best man.

Tyler read a book in the den. When he entered the room he decided he wanted no part in the planning stage. Milly was her own woman, as was Tilly. Nothing would get done until those two learned to talk to each other instead of trying to compete. But after a while, the volume calmed down. He hoped that the two had learned to talk to each other, instead of talking at one another. As was his habit he frequently stood while reading. For most of his professional life, he had stood, and saw no reason to change that particular habit. The den was where he kept all the awards he had amassed over his time in the second realm. A lot of the time when he knew he was going to get an award he would saw ask Tilly a rhetorical question. “Why should I should I get an award? For heaven’s sake, I’m simply doing the job I was trained for”. One thing he resented was an award ceremony in the middle of the workday. On those occasions, he openly complained “Why can’t they just mail me the damn thing. I could be saving somebody’s life right now, or setting a broken limb. But no. I’ve got to eat some of this god awful rubber chicken, and look like I’m enjoying it.”

Of all the awards, and there many, the one he liked the most, and the one that had presented the least inconvenience to him was the Century award. The Town hospital turned one hundred years old and Tyler was the acting as chief of staff. The actual administrator was practicing his putting skills when he flipped on a golf ball. He broke his foot on his desk. Tyler  accepted the century award, made a few golf-related jokes, and brought the award home. The award was obviously a rush job. The hospital never noticed the incorrect spelling on the plaque. Instead of reading the century award it read the “Sentry” award. There would soon be another reason to like it.

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