Episode Nine

July 11, 2010

Over the Moonshine

Captain Tullis had never been so happy to see Hopewell as the day he reappeared after the kidnapping, which happened to coincide with the final day of the Moonshine festival.

He had spent most of the day interrogating the new girl, but unfortunately she wasn’t the culprit. She kept doing that pesky truth-telling thing where her story refused to change no matter now many times she told it. It was so frustrating. It was almost as if she wasn’t even trying to crack and confess to a crime she clearly hadn’t committed. The only logical conclusion was that there had to be someone else responsible for the kidnapping. Or maybe the girl was just crazy.

After the girl ran off, he took a walk through the festival grounds and barely even managed a smile as he watched a small child fall face first into the sand. Where there should have been cacophonous monkey guffaws, there was only silence. He could practically hear Hopewell’s snooty British accent remarking on the failed parenting skills of letting one’s five-year old get skunk-tank drunk. At the very least, he’d probably say, “Be a little more clandestine about your child’s blatant alcoholism than letting the little bugger roam ‘round the public fair grounds on their face.”

Captain Tullis felt overwhelmed with emotion. Nothing was quite as much fun without Hopewell. He was sick of being drunk and getting burned by the hot sun all day. The shade of his houseboat was barely taking the edge off the heat, but it was better than the fairgrounds.

Instead of joining in with the rest of the townsfolk, playing games and getting completely obliterated, Captain Tullis went home, worked on a letter to the editor of “Fishwife Bi-monthly” for what he perceived to be false advertising in the name of their magazine, and went to bed sober.

The next morning, he decided to wander the littered fairgrounds, as if there would be obvious clues left behind after the festival. He wasn’t sure what he expected to find, as ideas didn’t seem to be as forthcoming without a buzz in his brain. He wandered from empty booth to empty booth, and found nothing but a few stray pieces of litter and a couple of piles of stale vomit. Sadly, none of those things were talking.

As he wandered away from the fairgrounds and back to his houseboat, he kicked at a stray plastic cup as he passed it. He watched as it soared through the air and fell into the sand nearby. Something caught his attention in the distance. There was a park bench, and someone was sitting on it.

He ran over to question them, and as he approached, his shoulders sagged as he realized it was just one of the ghosts.

The ghost stood up at the sound of footsteps, and as he recognized the Captain, turned and sat back down. The Captain sat down next to him and sighed. It was just Guy Lafferty, the ghostly hobo who refused the constraints of the Boneyard, which his body lay under, so that he could haunt a nearby bench, which was a much more comfortable place for him to hover around.

“So I guess you’ve come to find out who took that dread monkey of yours?” Guy asked.

“Do you know who took him?” The Captain asked, eagerly.

“He was right here a few moments ago,” the ghost replied.

The Captain was not impressed. Moments were pretty much meaningless to a ghost.

“That is to say, just before the sun went down. Now that it’s back up, you can see, there’s a hole there, where he was buried.”

“Someone buried my monkey in the sand right here?” The Captain said, outraged. Cleaning the sand out of a monkey was such a pain in the ass. He slumped onto the sand and started digging.

“He’s not there now, stupid, and I didn’t see who buried him, I am afraid, but I did see who carried him away.”

“Oh?” The Captain said, as it finally seemed they were getting somewhere.

“It was a three-legged dog.”

“Let me get this straight,” the Captain said, trying to get a grasp on it. He didn’t usually try to carry on conversations when completely sober, so he was having a bit of trouble following.

He continued, “Someone buried Hopewell in the sand, and a dog unburied him and walked away with him?”

“Yup, a three-legged one. Ask that girl with the knit cap. She was sitting here when the dog came by. She saw the whole thing.”

“Then she did take my monkey!” He declared, slamming his fist futilely into the sand.

“Nope, I told you,” Guy said, exasperated, “some dog with only three legs sort of pogo sticked away with him.”

The Captain slammed his hand into the sand again because exercises in futility always felt awesome.

He almost asked what the dog was doing on a pogo stick, as it seemed difficult enough to get around on three legs, but realized what the ghost had meant before speaking, “Well, which way did the dog go?”

“Towards your house,” the ghost pointed, shrugging.

The Captain got up and started running, shouting a half-hearted thanks to the ghost as he ran off. As he approached the house, he could see that Hopewell was somehow attached to the front door. He must have been there when he left that morning, but he simply hadn’t noticed as he left. After all, who really looks at their front door as they close it? Certainly not a dude like the Captain who didn’t actually bother closing it as he left for each morning’s adventures.

The Captain screamed out as he saw that Hopewell was attached to the front door with a giant butcher’s knife right through his midsection. Why the hell would some sick bastard gut a stuffed monkey, he wondered. That three-legged dog must have had some kind of accomplice.

Carefully, holding Hopewell’s hand as he did so, he removed the knife from his gut. Then he took the monkey in his arms like he was cradling a baby, and ran as fast as he could to Doc Popov’s hut of mad science, tattoos, and tailoring. The old Doc was quite the seamstress, and over the years, had helped the Captain and Hopewell in many the stitch, quite literally.

The Captain knocked on the door loudly because no one dared barge into the Doc’s house without an appointment. His secretary was standing in the yard, as usual. Bertie was quite the looker, if the Captain did say so himself.

It was amazing how she could stand there for hours in the hot sun holding the deli ticket machine the doc had acquired in a poker game years ago from the local butcher. There had been quite the chaotic uproar at the deli counter in the week following that poker game, but soon after they switched to drawing naked lady playing cards that the butcher had labeled 1-52 with a sharpie, in order of hotness of the ladies. Luckily, he had been smart enough not to barter away his “now serving” sign, and order was once again restored in his shop.

Bertie always wore the same outfit: super short blue shorts, a bright green halter t-shirt with a recycling logo on it, and bright green knee socks. If the Captain didn’t know better, he’d think that knit-cap girl had gotten all her fashion tips from the Doc’s mannequin, er, that is, secretary. If anyone even thought the word mannequin in the Doc’s presence, it was like he could hear their thoughts and and they’d get as sub-par treatment as the crazy old man could muster, which involved quite a bit of mustard most times, due to his fondness for homonyms.

Captain Tullis marched over to Bertie and pulled a number. It was a two and as the Captain giggled at the fact that he’d just pulled a deuce, the front door immediately opened, and the Doc popped out his head and announced that he was currently seeing client number two.

As the Captain tried to cross the threshold, the Doc put out a hand to stop him. He pointed at Hopewell and then at his secretary.

“Monkey need appointment, too,” he said in his thick Russian accent.

The Captain sighed as he marched back over to Bertie and took a number from her. In his still sober frame of mind, he mused how funny it was he was technically getting a number from a hot girl.

Doc Popov waved him into the house and quickly shut the door behind him, as if to keep the riffraff out, who of course weren’t loitering today so much as sleeping off their massive moonshine hangovers.

“So what is today’s trouble, Mr. Tullis?” The doctor asked.

The Captain wanted very badly to correct him and say that it wasn’t “Mister” it was “Captain,” but he knew better than to correct the “Doctor.”

“Well, someone has stabbed my monkey,” he replied, gently sitting Hopewell on the examination table.

“Put his feet in the stirrups,” the doctor instructed.

The Captain obliged, but wasn’t sure that a gynecological exam was really what Hopewell needed right now. But then again, he wasn’t the one with the convincing looking array of degrees from authentic sounding universities.

“Now leave us!” Doc Popov demanded.

Captain Tullis did as he was told, and spent the next thirty minutes pacing back and forth in the lobby. A few times, he tried to sit down, relax, and read some of the magazines in the waiting room, but most of the pages to the interesting ones were all stuck together.

Finally, the waiting was over, and Doc Popov came bursting through the double doors of the examination room, with Hopewell bouncing happily on his shoulder. It was almost like the entire ordeal had never happened, other than the fact that the Doc seemed to think purple was a proper color of thread for stitching up a monkey. Sheesh, it’s not like he was a stuffed unicorn or something.

The doc gently, and with great care, lifted Hopewell off his shoulder and placed him onto the Captain’s.

“How much do I owe you?” Captain Tullis asked.

“About a pint,” the ole doc replied, with a sinister yet sweet smile.

The Captain sighed and followed him back into the exam room. He sat in the chair, put his feet in the stirrups, and braced himself while the doctor fished around in the cabinet for the milking machine. It was going to be a long day, but with Hopewell back home and safe, at least it wouldn’t be quite as bad.

*****
This episode went live on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, when something will happen somewhere on the island.

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