“BB” – Chapter 11b in the Panooksa Saga

Idea by Tom Austin                                                       Written by Tom Austin

                                           Revised by Tom Austin

The following day Milly and Brad walked to the hospital hand in hand. They looked so happy. They were on a mission to find Thelemondia Briana Banks, also known to her friends as “BB”.

However, earlier that morning when Brad asked Milly who she wanted as her maid of honor he was expecting somebody with a run of the mill name. Upon hearing the name Thelemondia Brad’s sense of humor got the best of him.

“Thelemondia. Isn’t that the patron saint of all brothels, or is that the person who guards the gates of hell?”.

Milly was not amused. She had been brushing her teeth when Brad made his comment and she stuck her head out of the bathroom with toothpaste drooling down one corner of her mouth.

“It was her great-grandmothers name. She’s very sensitive about it. You behave yourself or I’ll let your middle name “slip” out”

“You never asked me what it is”

“That’s because I already know you big falumpus.”

“You’re bluffing. You just saying you know it when you really don’t”

“Have it your way Rosebud”

Suddenly Brad got very, very angry.

“How in the hell did you find out? I never told you, and you never asked.”

“After you started trying to find me I did a background check on you. I didn’t know you from Adam. A girls got to protect herself.”

“What the hell happened to trust?”

“Well if you were a doctor who loved to mug women would you have said so?. I don’t think so. I can just imagine what your resume would look like. You might say you like stamp collecting, working on your car, but you’d definitely leave mugging young female doctors off your resume.”

“Oh, this is getting ridiculous. What if the shoe was on the other foot. How you feel if I had a background check done on you?”

Milly stuck her head out of the bathroom.

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Now I’m wondering what skeletons are lurking in your closet. I might have discovered you could have been some loony tune that frequented hospitals, liked to wear white lab coats, and collected innocent male doctors to use as sex slaves.”

“OK, I’m coming clean. I didn’t do a background on you. One of my old girlfriends showed me how to hack into hospital records. I wanted to get a better parking spot. Going to the parking level for interns and residents gave me the creeps. It’s so poorly lit. I don’t think the hospital will do anything until some poor girl gets raped or worse. Well, anyway, you were starting to show interest  –  a very mild interest I might add  –  and I just wanted to know more about you.”

“So did you get a better parking spot?”.

“Yup. Took me a while, but I got one. Did you know the hospital spends more money on light bulbs than it does for secure employee parking?”. She paused then continued. “So what’s with the name. I wouldn’t name anybody Rosebud if I was paid.”

“My father loved the film Citizen Kane. Just in case you’ve never seen the film they’re the last words Charles Foster Kane utters before he dies.”

All of a sudden Milly started laughing really hard and poked her head out the bathroom door.

“Hey, Rosebud. They’re going to mention it when we get married. Both times.”

Brad went white as a sheet, looked towards the floor and quietly said: “I’m doomed.”

Milly broke into hysterics.

As they walked into the main lobby they approached the information desk which was usually staffed by volunteers. Since this was Brad’s territory he did all the talking.

“Well if it isn’t Dr. Foster. We were about to send out the dogs to find you. Where did you go?” said a volunteer in a green smock.

“I had some personal matters to take of. I’m glad to be back. I was wondering if you could tell me the where I might find Dr. Briana Banks”

A volunteer consulted a computer and looked up her schedule. Milly who standing beside Brad wasn’t terribly fond of being classified as a “personal matter”. It sounded cold and impersonal. But the truth would only lead to endless questions and a very well padded room.

“According to her schedule, she should be somewhere in the cardiac wing. Try the doctor’s lounge”

“I’ll make that my first stop. Thank you”.

Milly pressed the elevator button. When it arrived it was crammed with four people, two women on gurneys and their attendants.

Brad said, “One of these days I’m going to get in one these things and it’s going to be empty.”

One of the hospital attendants got off on the main floor. As he was working his way from the rear of the elevator he found himself standing beside Brad. He whispered to him.

“I been here twelve years and they’re always like this. Bloody sardine cans.”

Milly and Brad looked at the illuminated floor numbers and their feet. The cardiac wing was on the twelfth floor. By the time they got there, it was even more crowded if that was physically possible. Hunting for the doctor’s lounge was relatively easy as this was Brad’s old stomping ground. When they two got there Brad opened the door for Milly.

“My, My. What’s with the manners?. Who are you trying to impress?” asked Milly.

“I’m showing off for the head nurse. He’s had a yen for me for years. Now tell me if Briana is in here.” said Brad

“Oh poo. You’re no fun.” Milly started looking for BB.

As Milly scanned the room she found that little, if anything, had changed. The lounge still had those machines that dispensed something that was supposed to be coffee but all it did was give you an ulcer. Those actually sitting were either talking on their cell phones or hiding behind copies of the Wall Street Journal. Most of those in white lab coats had tenure. Student doctors were almost always dressed in scrubs. And she knew BB favored purple or lavender scrubs. So she looked for somebody in purple or lavender scrubs. Within seconds her snooping paid off. BB spotted Milly first.

“Dr. Milly Shine, as I live and breathe. Is that really you? And who is this handsome hunk of a man  –  oh, Dr. Foster? I didn’t know it was you. I meant to say-”

“Say, I have an idea. Why don’t we, you, Milly, and I go down to the food court and get some real food to eat and drink and talk.”

It was then BB noticed the ring on Milly’s finger. She let out the loudest squeal of delight the lounge had ever heard.

“I always wondered which one of us was going to get snagged first. Next stop the food court. And I want details, juicy details!”

Down in the food court, BB admired the ring while Brad was busy filling their orders. Milly was very happy to show off her ring. When Brad returned Milly wasted no time.

“Brad and I are getting married in two weeks and I was wondering, hoping really, if you’d be my maid of honor?”.

“Try and stop me. Now, who are the others?”

“We want a really small wedding. Nothing really elaborate, so it’ll just be you.”

Brad butted in. “I think this is the part of the conversation where I make myself scarce. I’ll be back in -” He looked at Milly.

“One hour,” said Milly.

“Like I was saying we just want to get married. It’s a long story but I’ll give you the short version. Remember when we had that really strange patient we couldn’t do any tests on?”

“Sure do”

“Well, I became ill. I lost all interest in medicine. And Brad looked for me for months. After he found me he lost his apartment due to a condo conversion. No suitable apartments were available at that time so I asked him to move in with me. We’ve been together for months. Feelings grew, emotions grew. Now we want to get married. It’s that simple.”

BB wanted to know more. “I don’t mean to be nosy, but this isn’t a rush wedding is it?”

“Of course not. We’re not –” Milly corrected herself.

“We simply want to be married. I need a maid of honor, and I want that person to be you.”

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“Reunion”-Chapter 9a in the Panooksa Saga

Idea by Tom Austin                                           Written by Tom Austin

The woman behind the counter took a second look at the cloth Milly handed her. “It’s definitely unique.” said the saleswoman. After pausing to think she said “I can’t see this causing any problems. I think it’s safe to say it’ll be ready in a week.”

“Great. I’ll see you in one week.” Milly waved goodbye and exited the store. She walked down the street with her hands in her pockets, her head looking this way and that. When she came to to the curb she came to a full stop out of reflex. On the other side of the road just in front of her was a familiar face. It was her father, Tyler Shine.

“Daddy?” she squealed.

“Milly? Is that really you?” he said slowly.

They ran toward each other, and collided with a force that would have knocked over a building. She didn’t have to worry about cars – The Town didn’t have any. They hugged, kissed, and cried. Milly hadn’t seen her father since she was a little girl.

Tyler Shine said “I’m never going to let you go. I’ve got you back” and rocked her gently from side to side. They hugged so long they started to block foot traffic. “Your mother’s is going to cry so much we’ll be able to water the garden for a week”. Milly kept hugging her father. “You have no idea how much I missed you” she replied.

Tyler brushed a tear from his face, composed himself, and asked “Where is that man of yours?” her father asked.

“Brad said he was going to check out the local hospital, but I suspect he’s doing exactly what I’m doing. Walking and snooping”.

Tyler put his arm around his daughters waist. “Tonight’s roast beef night and I’d like you and Brad stay for dinner and drinks. But first we have to find your man. Let’s see if he’s at the hospital”.

They looked for Brad at the hospital. They looked all over. They even asked Merlin. They finally found him teaching some kids how to play baseball. Milly knew how to get his attention instantly.

“Paging Dr. Peters, Dr. Peters, Dr. Bradley Peters”

Brad, who was leaning forward behind the catcher and playing the role of the umpire heard this rather unique request for his attention. He immediately stood up and looked in the direction the voice came from. He saw Milly and waved to her.

“I’ll be right there. One more batter to play in this inning.”

Tyler was standing right beside his daughter and saw her wave back enthusiastically. “I’m impressed. You have him well trained. I wasn’t that well trained until your mother and I had been married a couple of years”.

The next batter struck out and Brad ran over to Milly.

“Brad, I want you to meet my daddy, Dr.Tyler Shine” said Milly beaming with pride.

Brad stretched out his arm, and offered his hand in friendship.

“Pleasure to me you Dr. Shine. You have a gorgeous daughter”.

Dr. Tyler Shine smiled and shook Brad’s hand.

“I most certainly do. And its indeed a pleasure to meet the fellow who’s made my little girl so very happy. As I was telling Milly tonight is roast beef in the Shine household and I’d like it if you and Milly would join my wife and I for dinner and drinks. Plus it will give us a chance to ask some questions and hopefully answer some questions. Now is it Brad or Bradley?

“I’d appreciate if you just call me Brad sir. Milly is the only person I allow to call me Bradley. To be honest I really dislike the name. If I could change to  Brad I would, but the mountain of paperwork involved in changing my name makes me change my mind about the entire matter”.

Tyler clapped his hands together and starting rubbing them together. “I better call Milly’s mother or I’ll be in more trouble than you two can imagine”.

One thing about The Town is there were telephones on every other city block. Tyler picked up the phone nearest him, and started dialing. His wife answered.

“Would it be all right if I brought two guests over for dinner? I met this couple who are down on their luck, and they look like they haven’t eaten in a month.”

There was a pause. Then a distinctly female voice responded.

“I really dislike it when we have unexpected guests, especially strays, and you know how I feel about that. The roast beef is only for three people, but I suppose we could make it stretch. I’m not making any promises, but these people better be very special”. She didn’t say goodbye like she always did, just a loud click at the end of the phone. She was not pleased.

Milly looked at her fathers expression and came to the conclusion that something was wrong.

“What’s going on daddy?. You’ve got a look in your eye that tells me mother isn’t very happy with you”.

“She not happy with me at all, and that “look in my eye” is commonly know as fear. Your mother could get the Almighty to tremble in his boots with a single sentence”.

Brad who had been trying suppress laughing just couldn’t contain himself any longer. He burst out laughing.

“I’m not laughing at you sir, but now I know where Milly got that ability. Milly can sometimes get me quivering in my boots too”.

Milly rolled her eyes, crossed her arms and looked at Brad . “Oh I cannot! You’re exaggerating”

Tyler didn’t want to start any disagreements so he put one arm on his daughters shoulders, and his other arm on Brads shoulders. “Ok kiddies. Lets play nice. Anybody else smell roast beef?”.

Brad and Milly locked hands and began the journey to the Shine household with Tyler leading the way. But it wasn’t long before Milly whispered “You and I are going to talk” to Brad. Brad secretly hoped she would forget.

It wasn’t long before they reached the Shine house. It was on the edge of town, away from the hustle and bustle of The Town proper.

Tyler turned towards Brad. “Now Milly’s mother are expecting a couple of strays. We used to call them hobos or bums when I was your age. So try to look the part”.

Milly whispered that her dad was secretly a frustrated actor.

As they approached the house Tyler had one last bit of stage direction for Brad. “And don’t forget to mumble”.

Tilly was at the kitchen sink with her back to the door. When the front door was opened Tyler announced he was home. Brad followed head down. Tilly still faced away from her guests.

“Howdy ma’am” said Brad with all the enthusiasm of a man walking to the electric chair.

Milly gripped the door frame and stuck her head just inside the door. “Hello there mom”.

Tilly went white as a sheet, a plate slipped from her grasp, and crashed in the sink. Slowly she turned around and saw her daughter.

“Milly, is that really you,” she said quietly.

“In the flesh” said Milly who now stood inside the house, arms out stretched, and tears in her eyes.

Tilly wiped her hands on the apron she was wearing, then ran through the living room and into the arms of her daughter. Tilly cried. Milly cried. Even Brad got a little misty-eyed. Tyler poured himself a Scotch, sat in his favorite chair, and bawled his brains out.

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“Fire and Ice” Chap. 8B in the Panooksa Saga

Idea by Tom Austin                               Written by Tom Austin

Revised and improved by award-winning author Meg Sorick

“I beg your pardon. What did you say, Merlin?” Milly yelled up to him.

“I said I am a Troll. Are you going deef? You’re too perty for that,” replied Merlin.

Just then Milly had an idea. “Can you put your hand on the ground please?”

“Can do. But what do you want with my hand?” asked Merlin, as he reached down.

When Merlin’s hand lay flat on the ground Milly and Brad climbed into his palm.

“Oh, I see what you’re doing.” Merlin raised his hand so it was level with his face.

“Yeah!” said Milly, clapping her hands together. “Now we can a face to face talk without having to shout. That really is better.”

“Sure is. And you look even more perty now!”

But one thing was evident. Merlin had really bad breath. Milly and Brad looked at each other and grimaced. As discreetly as she could, Milly covered her nose with her hand. “Merlin, do you have any celery, by chance?” she asked.

“I sure do. It’s in my garden.”

“Can we see it Merlin?”

“You sure can, perty lady.”

Merlin put Milly and Brad in the chest pockets of his overalls. “It’s a good thing I have two pockets. Since yer not married, it would be wrong to put you both in one pocket.”

Brad rolled his eyes and Milly gestured for him to be quiet, so he wouldn’t say anything stupid. And off they went to Merlin’s house. It soon became clear that this trip would have been too far for Milly and Brad to make on foot, but with Merlin walking, the journey lasted only half an hour. When they got to the house, Merlin gently took them out of his pockets and placed them on a small table outside his front door. From there, they could see the entire vegetable patch.

Merlin leaned down so that his face was level with the table top. “OK, perty lady, what do you want with the celery?”

“Here’s the thing…” How does one explain to a huge troll that his breath is offensive? “Um, Merlin? Where we come from, that is to say… at our size… er…” Milly stammered.

“Your breath stinks, man,” Brad finished for her. “It’s killing us!”

Milly clapped her hands to her cheeks in horror but, instead of being insulted, the troll roared with laughter. “Aha! So the celery is for me!” he said, still laughing. “So what do I do with it?”

After shooting a dirty look at Brad, Milly instructed Merlin to place a stalk of celery in glass of water, and to leave it there at least a day. At the end of the day, he’d have celery water, which would taste good as well as do wonders for his breath.

“Alright, whatever you say, perty lady.”

Milly raised an eyebrow. “Merlin, why don’t ever call me by my name?”

“Well, you never told me yer name, now, did ya?”

“I’m called Milly,” she said and then pointed at Brad. “And his name is Brad.”

“I’m glad to know you Milly. And that goes for you, too, Brad. I didn’t know there were itty bitty Trolls”

Brad answered this time. “Maybe that’s because we’re not Trolls.”

“Yer not? Well, what the heck are ya?”

Again Brad answered. “I’m a man, and Milly is a woman. You know, a bit like your mom.” Milly crossed her arms, and shot Brad a disapproving look. She didn’t care to be compared to a Troll. But Brad turned to Milly and made curvy gestures with his hands. Milly smiled and nodded in understanding.

Merlin seemed to be satisfied with their answers. “Have you been to The Town?” he asked.

“This is our first time in The Second Realm. We haven’t seen anything, yet,” said Brad.

“There are lots of itty bitty people in The Town. Would you like to go?”

“Sure thing, Merlin, let’s go!” said Milly enthusiastically.

Merlin gently picked them up one at a time, and deposited them in his pockets. “You may be special to each other, but you’re not married. So no funny stuff,” he said with a chuckle.

When Merlin walked, each stride was about one hundred yards long, so the trip to The Town only took about an hour. Brad called over to Milly, “I guess it’s a good thing we can travel by “Merlin Power” or else we’d never get anywhere in this place.”

Soon, they saw the spires and steeples of The Town off in the distance. Milly and Brad hung out of the pockets as far as they dared so they could enjoy this experience as much as possible.

After an hour of bouncing around, and laughing till their sides hurt, Milly asked, “Merlin, why is this place just called the The Town? Did no one ever think to give it a proper name?”

“There were so many ideas that people fought and bickered. A short Troll, one of my cousins really, suggested simply calling it The Town. That made sense to a lot of people, and they stopped the arguing.”

When they got to The Town, Merlin set his passengers on the ground. Milly immediately went to inspect the stores, a practice Brad called “snooping.” Milly’s first stop was a store that specialized in picture frames. When she entered, a woman was making a big fuss about something.

“Do you nitwits have any idea who I am?” she asked haughtily.

“Yes. You’re a spoiled brat and a twit,” said the woman waiting on her.

“I’ve never been so insulted in my entire life! I’m going to take my business elsewhere.”

“And when you do, I’ll phone them and let them know what a lousy human being —not to mention customer— you are.” She sighed heavily. “Look Sirena, we go through this grief every time you come here. You know we’re the only store in The Town that does this work.”

“Hmph.” With that, the woman turned and started for the door. Milly couldn’t help but notice the nearly floor-length, conical-shaped gown she wore. She was curious about this woman, and asked about her.

“I’m new here in The Town. Who was that?”

“Her name is Sirena Telford. She’s The Town’s resident pain in the backside. No doubt you noticed you her gown. It was specially made to help her move. The gown almost touches the ground, so as to hide her disfigured feet. She doesn’t walk. She glides. She’s bitter about her feet, and takes out her anger on other people.” She waved a hand dismissively. “But enough about her, what can I do for you?”

Milly explained she had a small piece of cloth, and she was wondering if they could frame it.

“That all depends. Just how small is this piece of cloth?”

“Its about eight inches square”

“Do you mind if I see it?”

Milly rifled through the pocket where she usually kept her mad money, and produced a small piece of cloth. “This used to belong to my boyfriend. He thinks it was destroyed in an accident.”

“How…interesting. Your boyfriend certainly has unique taste.”


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