The Visitor–Chap. 7a in The Saga of Panooksa

Idea by Tom Austin                                          Original story by Tom Austin

     Revised and vastly improved by award winning author Meg Sorick

Brad lay face down on Milly’s bed, his head poking out from beneath the covers. With the newspaper spread out on the floor in front of him, he perused the real estate section. He looked up to find Quincy observing him from a safe distance. No doubt, the cat was curious about this intruder. Brad’s feelings about Quincy, however, were considerably darker than mere curiosity. What on earth did Milly see in the creature?

“Are you ready?” Milly called from the kitchen. It was about time for another treatment.

“Just a minute.” Brad turned a page of the paper. Quincy stood and stretched, then resumed his vigil.

“Just let me dispose of the body,” Brad muttered. He had never been a cat person and he was even less fond of this particular cat at the moment.

Milly leaned against the doorway. “When will you two learn to forgive and forget?”

“Forgive and forget?” Brad repeated. “Maybe when he’s dead and buried. My carcass is sore as hell!”

“Bradley Peters, do you remember what I said about swearing?” Milly scolded.

“It looks like someone sharpened a Ginsu knife on my butt!” Brad glared at the cat and quietly swore at him.

“Do you know I can still hear you? That’s ten more dollars in the swear jar.”

“Damn!”

“Twelve! Keep it up, and we can get new wallpaper. But if you really feel like it, then go for broke and we can paint, too.”


Mr. Humphrey ran the local hardware store. When Milly first moved into the apartment, she had been a frequent patron and had gotten to know the proprietor quite well. He was short and stout, reminding Milly of a fire plug. And though his Coke bottle eyeglasses were a clear indication of poor eyesight, he recognized Milly as soon as she entered the store.

“Milly, you haven’t graced my store for weeks! What can I do for you?” he called out from behind the antique cash register —his pride and joy.

“Well, my boyfriend, Brad, and I are here to look at some paint samples. We want to liven up the apartment.”

“So, I guess the traditional feminine colors are out?” he asked, with a twinkle in his eye.

“We’re looking for a nice inoffensive eggshell color,” Milly said.

“Excellent. I’ve just the thing for you,” he said with a clap of his hands. “I’m carrying a new brand and my first order came in just a few days ago. Now, are you painting yourselves, or do you have a professional in mind?”

“We’ll probably end up getting more on ourselves than on the wall, but we’d like to try doing it ourselves,” said Brad.

“Can I give you a piece of advice? In an old building like that, you’d best get all the old paint off first. And if you find you find a crack in one part of the wall you’ll be able to see if it carries on to another part of the wall.”

Brad frowned. “What happens if I do find a crack?”

“Never fear. For the price of a cup of coffee, I’ll advise you on the best course of action. If you find a crack, take photos and email them to me. Or, after I close up, I’ll come over and take a look. Just make sure to call.”

“I do have one question.”

“Shoot.”

“How do I get the paint off?”

Milly looked heavenward and with a heavy sigh, rolled her eyes.

“What?” Brad asked as Mr. Humphrey chuckled.

After Mr. Humphrey supplied them with everything they needed and Brad paid for it with his Visa, they said goodbye and walked back to the apartment.

“So what was so funny?” Brad asked Milly when they were alone.

Milly snorted. “Seriously, Brad? You perform organ transplants on a regular basis, you’ve restored a classic car all on your own, and yet you are clueless about painting an apartment wall? I’m sorry but that is just hilarious! Hellooo !


After studying the instructions several times, Brad came to the conclusion that removing old paint should be relatively easy. “Just have to brush the paint remover over the whole wall.” He checked the instructions again. “Then, wait two hours and scrape the old paint off.”

The section of wall nearest the floor would be the most difficult. Milly had given him a step-stool to sit on and —considering his still-tender backside— had taped a small pillow onto it for extra cushioning. He opened the jug of paint remover and poured some out into a small pail. As he dipped the brush in and lifted it back out, a big glop came with it. It reminded him of hair gel, only much thicker.

“How’s it going Michangelo?” Milly called from the kitchen, where she was preparing lunch.

When he didn’t answer, she decided she better check on him. As she peeked in the sitting room, she found Brad wearing goggles and surgical gloves, with a small mask around his neck. He turned at the sound of her laughter.

“You look like a mad scientist from a cheesy horror movie!”

“Sure, sure, go ahead and laugh, young lady. Once I get this glop brushed on evenly, I have to leave it alone for two hours. Then I’m all yours.” He took a step toward her with the messy brush in his hands.

“Don’t you dare come near me with that glop on you,” she said, backing away. “Besides, maybe you want to eat before you get too far into the job. I’m making those sandwiches you love so much.”

“You mean the ones with Fluff ?”

She grimaced. “Yeah. Marshmallow Fluff with banana slices. Gross. Simply looking at it is makes my arteries harden. Brrr.”

“I’ll have you know those sandwiches got me through college. Mac and cheese on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays it was bananas and fluff. And on weekends I had pizza and beer.”

“Good grief! You must have a cast-iron stomach!” She caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Quincy, resting on the couch, had begun cleaning his paws. Milly inclined her head. “Looks like you have an admirer.”

Brad ignored the cat, lowered his goggles, and raised his mask. After shooing Milly from the room, he got to work. Some time later, he sauntered into the kitchen and snapped his rubber gloves to get Milly’s attention. “Ok, the glop is on. Start your watch.”

“Not bad, Michelangelo. Now, go wash your hands, and strip,” she ordered.

Brad’s jaw dropped. “What did you say?”

“Get your mind out of the gutter. No grubby pants in my kitchen.”

“Yes, dear,” he said, trudging from the room. He returned moments later, in just his boxers and with washed hands. As he sat at the table, Milly set a plate of sandwiches in front of him, then went back to tidying up.

When Brad was quiet for a while, she glanced over her shoulder. The cat had followed him in and had stationed himself at his feet. Brad was treating Quincy to Fluff and Banana sandwiches by putting some on his fingers.

“Hey, I made those for you!” said Milly.

Brad shrugged. “I can’t help it if your cat has great taste.”

“Well, now he’s got fluff on his whiskers,” she complained. “Listen, when you finish abusing your stomach, why don’t you and Quincy go for a walk? You did say you had two hours to kill.”

“Sounds OK to me. Where’s his leash?”

“Um, Quincy is a cat? Cats don’t have leashes.”

“Okayyyy….”

“But before you go outside, you might want to put your pants back on.”

Brad looked at the cat. “C’mon your lordship. The queen has dismissed us.”

Milly glared at him. “Damn you, Brad….”

“Ah, ah, the swear jar!” he reminded her as he ran from the room, the cat on his heels.

“Out!” she ordered, slamming the door shut, barely giving Brad time to pull the zipper up on his jeans.

After they had gone, Milly moved around the sitting room to inspect Brad’s handiwork. The old paint was already bubbling, and some already dropped to the floor. “Looking good,” she said to herself.

As Milly returned to the kitchen to finish cleaning up, there was a noise behind her. She stopped in her tracks. Had Brad forgotten something? “Brad?” she called out. “Is that you?”

There was no answer. She slowly walked back to the sitting room and peered in. The jug of ‘glop’ that Brad had stored in the closet, was now in the middle of the room. And she wasn’t alone. The old man from 14 Rillington Place sat on her couch.


Further musings of Meg can be seen at http://megsorick.com/

Check out her Bucks County Novel Series at https://megsorick.com/books/

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The Doctor Has Landed–Chap. 6 in the saga of Panooksa

Idea by Tom Austin  Written by Tom Austin

Chapter 6 in the story of Panooksa

 

Something happened to Milly. She realized her feelings were new, but she also realized she cared a great deal for Brad. So with several herculean efforts she got him in the car, and back to her apartment. Brad was essentially a zombie, but one extremely open to suggestion. When they got to the apartment Milly gave him very basic commands, and steered him towards the bedroom. Brad collapsed on the bed, face down. Milly stood at the end of the bed, and studied the man her heart felt so much for. She saw he was still sweating, his brain still working feverishly, trying to make sense out of what he had seen and heard. Milly worked almost as hard to take off his sweaty clothes off. She started muttering to herself.

“Men. You’re a strange lot. When you’re presented with a problem you go to the ends of the earth to look for a solution, even when a perfectly good solution is staring you in the face”.

Milly now moved to the side of the bed.

With a mighty heave she rolled Brad on his back, and started to unbutton his shirt. She got on top of him, her legs straddling his sides.

“Why do guys have everything on the wrong side ?. Buttons, fly. The only thing that’s in the right place is the zipper. You’d think you guys would get that one right. But no. Some of you screw that up, and I’ll bet that really smarts”.

Brad stirred, and for a minute rolled onto his side. Milly jumped, went back to side of the bed and pushed him back.

“Oh no you don’t. Get on your back dammit ! Jeez, I’ve dealt with more cooperative drunks”.

Milly pushed, and again got him on his back. Before Brad could roll she tore his shirt open.

“Be nice and I’ll get you a new shirt”.

Buttons sailed in every direction, some showering Quincy who was watching the proceedings in the bedroom with extremely mild interest. With the shirt in tatters she now dealt with the thorny issue of his pants. She got top of him again, straddling him, and undid his belt. She got off the bed, and starting tugging at his pant legs.

“Jeez. Most of you guys can’t wait to get out of your pants, and into mine. Please give me a break”.

No such luck. Milly stood at the end of the bed, and analyzed the problem. Then she realized that she had a 200 pound lump of flesh on her bed. Milly gazed at the unconscious lump, and starting pulling on the pant legs with all her might.

“I’m going to cut those damn things if this fails”. She moved to the bottom of the bed, She kneeled on the end of the bed, put one leg on each shoulder, and slowly peeled them off. As she pulled off Brads pants she discovered Brad was wearing Boxer shorts. With Daffy Duck on them.

“Those stay on. I don’t want to deal with that right now”.

After the pants came off she covered Brad with a blanket. Quincy continued to watch Brad when Milly went to change. He decided to move to a warmer venue – Brads buttocks.

Milly changed into a ratty old sweat suit that was still comfy. She stationed herself in a rocking chair that was opposite the door to the bedroom. And slowly fell asleep.

The silence was shattered by a blood curdling scream. Quincy had had a nightmare, and put his claws into Brads rear end. Milly charged towards the bedroom, and inspected the damage. She responded by saying in a soothing voice ‘it’ll be all right’. But Quincy had done a lot of damage. Blood was slowly oozing onto the sheets. Milly knew she have to do something. She got back onto the bed, and somehow convinced Brad to drape himself over Milly’s crossed legs.

“This so embarrassing” said Brad.

“I’ve seen far worse sport” said Milly

“I’m just talking about the circumstances”.

“What do you mean ?”.

“I’m a grown man, and I’ve just been used knocked on my…front by a crazed cat. That’s humiliating. That’s what it is”.

Milly looked at Brad with tiny beady eyes.

“I’ll have you know Quincy is not crazed. He might be little rambunctious, but I assure he is not ‘crazed’. He’s very sensitive. So watch what say about ‘my’ cat.

Because Brad called Quincy crazed she dropped an iodine soaked cotton ball onto one of the more ugly wounds. Brad yowled in pain.

“Oh relax, you’ll live. I’m sorry I can’t say the same about Daffy”.

“What do you mean ?” there was a sudden seriousness in his voice.

“Well let’s put it this way. He’s not exactly DOA, but I think he’s going to spend a lot of time in the ICU”.

“These are my lucky boxers”. Milly rolled her eyes.

“Good lord, now I’ve heard it all. You guys have notches in your belt, and on your bedpost. Now you have lucky boxers. Good Lord. You’re sex maniacs”.

“I’ll have you know my lucky boxers have nothing to do with sex”.

“Then why are they lucky ?”

“I was wearing them when I met you, and I wore them today because I because I was going to ask you if I could move in with you”.

Milly leaned over Brad, hugged him as hard as she could, and knocked the bottle of Iodine over the wounds.


Further musings of Meg can be seen at https://megsorick.com

Check out all four of her books at Bucks County Books series

Including the award winning Three Empty Frames

Somewhere Else

Idea by Tom Austin    Edited by Meg Sorick    Improved by Meg Sorick, Author Part three in the story of Panooksa

As I sat on the stoop, watching, while Brad and Quincy walked toward me, I suddenly felt warm. It was all I could do to keep from fanning myself. Brad looked so… yummy. Yummy? Where had that come from? He was my boss after all. But now that I’d left the hospital and all that it had put in our way, we were free to explore our feelings and emotions. The trouble was that this was the first time I’d thought of anyone this way. Oh sure, I’d felt love before. I’d loved my parents, but clearly this wasn’t the same thing. After they had died, my emotions had simply shut down. Was I afraid of feeling something for someone? Someone like Dr. Brad Peters? He sure was making me feel something at this very moment…

With Quincy trailing behind, I led Brad by the hand to my apartment. I’m not sure why I took his hand, but I did. As we made our way along the dimly lit hallway, he made a remark about the lack of illumination. I, for one, was grateful for the low lighting —the paint was peeling in spots, mail was overflowing from slots that hadn’t been emptied, the carpet was so worn that it was shiny in places.

I kept holding his hand. I didn’t plan to do it, I just did it. Touching his hair wasn’t planned either. But I couldn’t seem to help myself. When he turned to look around the apartment, I noticed his broad shoulders and his strong arms. I wondered how it would feel to be held by them. Tucking his hands in the pockets of his jacket, he suddenly turned back to face me.

“Mildred, why did you leave the hospital ?” he asked.

“If you call me Milly, I’ll tell you.”

Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “Ok, Milly, why did you leave?”

“Have you ever just felt you were supposed to be somewhere else? That where you are, and what you’re doing is all wrong?” I asked.

He frowned and sat in the nearest chair. “Maybe?”

I began to pace in front of him. “That’s the way I felt at the hospital. Like I was supposed to be somewhere else. To do something else. Do you know what I mean?”

Brad leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and cradling his face in his hands as he recalled a long forgotten memory. After a moment, he said, “I think so. Once, when I was a boy, I was at my uncle’s place in the summer. For the whole time I was there, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was supposed to be somewhere else. Is that what you mean?”

“Yes, that’s it exactly!” I said. Thank God, he understood. I went on, “I can’t explain it, but I felt like I was drawn here. My heart just wasn’t in medicine. I know I had responsibilities at the hospital, and I know this apartment doesn’t look like much, but it’s more of a home than the apartment I had near the hospital. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do yet, but I know it’s not medicine.”

Brad smiled warmly. “I’m glad for you, Milly. Some people do the wrong thing for an entire lifetime and are miserable. That’s what happened to my dad. He spent his whole life as an accountant and he was lousy at it. AND he hated it.”

“Why didn’t he try something else?” I asked.

“He thought he was too old to start all over again. He was a whiz with electronics, but he kept plodding along crunching numbers. I’m sure that’s why he died of a heart attack at sixty.”

I realized he was still wearing his jacket, and offered to hang it up. As he handed it to me, there was a spark. An actual spark! Then he said, “You might want to get a humidifier. It’s pretty dry in here.”

We walked through to the tiny kitchen. “Would you like coffee?” I asked, cursing myself for not offering earlier.

“Thanks, Milly, but I’ve already had my fill for the day. If I have too much I get all jittery, and then I can’t sleep at all,” he said.

We sat at the table and talked for hours. About the mystery of Panooska and how he had become unstuck in time. We were both smart people, but neither of us could begin to explain it. We ended up with more questions than answers. As it grew late, Brad started talking about work the next day. I worried about him walking through the neighborhood at this hour.

“It’s really late,” I began. “Look, I don’t want you to think I’m cheap or easy, but if you want, you can stay here tonight. You could sleep on the couch. What do you say?” I really hoped he would stay. I really hoped.

“If you’re sure…” he said. “It’s not too much trouble?”

“Trouble? You? Dr. Brad Peters? No, no trouble at all!” I replied, smiling.

He returned the smile. “Milly, can we set a few ground rules? If we’re going to be friends, why don’t we leave the Doctor titles at the door. What do you think ?” he asked, putting just a touch of emphasis on the word ‘you’. He gave me a sheepish grin. “You seem a little nervous. Well, you’re not the only one. I feel like a long tail cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs.”

He still hadn’t told me if he was going to stay. I held my breath.

He held out his hand. “Let’s try this again. So, how do you do Milly? Mind if I crash on your couch?”

I let out my breath in a relieved laugh. “I’m very well, thank you. And you are welcome to crash on my couch.”

                                           ____________________

Further musings of Meg Sorick can be found at https://megsorick.com/

 

Unstuck In A Pocket

She up and left. She left the hospital, but didn’t take her car home. The staff in the parking garage below the hospital knew Mildred’s car on sight. It was a bright yellow Honda Civic. It was nicknamed “The Yellow Peril”. It was not given this particular nickname because its oriental heritage, or the car itself. Dr. Mildred Shine, graduate of Yale Medical School, who graduated twelfth in her class out a total three hundred and thirty-five people, was simply one the worst drivers in the world. Once Mildred got in the car it was not uncommon to see other people in the garage dive for cover, or hug the walls. During the last strike the personnel who manned the parking garage asked for danger pay due to Mildred’s habit of leaving the car in gear. She had the car for two years, and went through twenty-seven bumpers. Her favorite garage named her customer of the month eleven times, but she never figured out why. Normally she was smart as a whip, but in some cases, such as driving, certain principles went right over her head.

After “Panooksa” passed away, or whatever he did, Mildred vanished. She didn’t go back to her apartment, or care for her cat Quincy. Mail for her slowly piled up inside the apartment door. Dishes went unwashed. Rent went unpaid. Eventually most of her belongings were given to stores that sold second hand goods to those down on their luck. Then Quincy vanished. I always thought the superintendent of her building had “adopted” Quincy, but no such luck. I went to Mildred’s apartment hoping she might re-surface, and to feed Quincy. The super asked me if I had seen her, and told me her “dumb lookin’ cat is gone too”. Slowly all trace of her was gone. She didn’t have any bothers or sisters, so I was listed as an emergency contact.

After a few months had passed the Police gave up looking for her. They had no significant leads. But I kept up my own little search. She wasn’t an employee of the hospital anymore, so I was free to look for her.

There was a sleepy part of town that had some of the most delicious Chinese food. The didn’t charge an arm and a leg for something some restaurant in the city would. In was like going back in time. The price for gas was what it was fifty years ago. I thought those folks were going to lose their shirts, but somehow they managed to keep on going. There was something about Mildred too. She belonged, but at the same time was so out of place. When she got her tablet she didn’t have a clue what to do with it. An orderly in the IT department took pity on her, and gave her lessons. I think he was hoping for something else, but all he got was very polite “Thank You”.

The other day when I was in that really good Chinese restaurant a cat greeted me at the door as I entered. And I swear the fur-ball looked just like Quincy. It even had a tartan colored collar on. After I sat down at a table the marmalade colored critter jumped right into my lap !. When I left it followed me out. Then it quickened its pace, and walked in front of me. I couldn’t help but think that it was leading me somewhere.  When we rounded a corner I swear the street lamps were just like they were when I was a kid. And a street cleaner rolled slowly down the street with water gushing out from its sides. We walked toward an old tenement. There was someone sitting on the stoop. Quincy or whatever its name was ran towards the person on the stoop. “Enjoy your Chinese food Doctor ?” the person said. The voice sounded familiar. Then they stood up, and looked at me. It was Mildred !. Every time I asked a question she answered with a question, which drives me up the wall. It was like talking to a walking, talking, fortune cookie. Only I think this particular fortune cookie was a little cracked. Then she did something I’ll never forget. She took me by the hand, brushed my hair with her hand, and lead me to a ramshackle apartment that had definitely seen better days. She showed me a still from an old black and white movie. I looked at the grainy still with amazement for “Panooksa” was in the photo. Somehow he had become unstuck in time, and had journeyed to my present, and his future.

When Mildred watched the DVD of the movie she must have recognized one of the actors as being the man in the hospital. Not all of had him made the journey which accounted for the inability of any medical tests to be done. The discovery so unhinged Mildred she forgot who she was. Dr. Mildred Shine had at last been found. But she wasn’t the same person. Nor was I.