Puddles and Whiskers, WDB The Meeting…

This used to be part of one long section of flying over Stroud, meeting Doctor Marlowe, and then rushing out like something important happened. And it kinda worked, until I started Washing and Dry Brushing the chapter. Now there is a chapter of them flying over Stroud. This chapter of the Meeting. And…I’m not sure, because the more I read the post meeting the more I see how it needs to change because assumptions are made/given that are not in evidence, at least not to the degree that Puddles and Whiskers infer. Then there is the whole Chuck reference as if they have not worked with him before. Ah, the joys of writing a story the way I do I’m loving the process of writing, I hope you are enjoying the story.

Previously.

The Meeting

Puddles set the auto-drive to the landing pad coordinates and turned to Whiskers, “What are we doing?”

“I hope we get answers from Doctor Marlowe.”

Holding up her paw, Puddles ticked off her points, “His daughters, the ganger with the bubble shield technology, and that room, right?”

“That sounds right,” he replied.

Approaching the landing pad, Whiskers pointed at the two Titan security guards in white and blue body armor waiting for them.

“Guess we’re getting an escort,” Puddles said sarcastically.

As their car landed, the security guards approached and waited. Whiskers secured his katana and pocketed his tablet. Puddles stowed her frying pan and pistol under her seat. Their car landed with a thud, the auto-drive flashing green.

“All good?” Puddles asked Whiskers.

Whiskers nodded.

“Follow us,” said a guard said in a monotone as they exited their car.

Without waiting, the guards turned on their heels and marched to door clearly labeled 33rd Floor Research Lobby. Puddles and Whiskers hurried across the landing pad to catch up to them. One guard glared at them as they approached. The other in a monotone said, “This way please.”

Following Monotone and Glare through the white lobby, Puddles counted ten pieces of bland corporate art, six white hallways branching off from the lobby and one express elevator. Glare summoned the elevator while Monotone stood silently with Puddles and Whiskers. A quick ride down two floors, the elevator opened onto a featureless white hallway ending in a security door labeled, Sterile Lab 2.

Monotone said, “Doctor Marlowe is inside.” As the thick door slide aside.

They walked past Glare standing outside the door, Monotone followed them inside waiting at the back of the white room with several tables covered in equipment and interface stations along the walls. Puddles gave Whiskers her “looks familiar look.” Whiskers returned the expression.

“I don’t see anyone,” Puddles announced.

“Behind the glass,” a monotone replied pointing to the large window at the rear of the room.

Approaching the glass, they saw a room packed with equipment and tables, but nobody inside. Whiskers turned to ask monotone where Doctor Marlowe was when a holo of an elderly human male in an oversized blue and white hazmat suit appeared on behind the glass.

“Good evening,” the holo addressed them.

“What is this!” Puddles ears back, fur raised, shouted while gesturing towards the holo.

“I think you mean who is this,” Whiskers responded while squinting at the man’s face. “Remarkable quality holo,” Whiskers mumbled.

“I don’t care about the quality. Where is…Doctor…Doctor…”

“Marlowe.”

“Yeah, that guy.”

The holo of the man raised his hand, “I am Doctor Cadius Marlowe.”

Pivoting on her heels to face Whiskers and Monotone, “That’s not Doctor Marlowe!”

“But I am Doctor Marlowe,” the holo pleaded.

“Excuse us a second, Doctor Marlowe,” Whiskers said to the holo while directing Puddles over to a corner of the room.

Ears less flat, fur still raised, and tail slashing through the air, Puddles allowed herself to be directed, “What?” she hissed.

“Let me handle this,” gesturing towards the holo of Doctor Marlowe who turned away from them and appeared to be working, “I might be able to get something of use out of him.”

“Fine,” Puddles fumed, “you go talk to Doctor Pixels. I’ll wait over here.”

Clearing his throat, Whiskers waited for the holo of Doctor Marlowe to turn around. A few seconds of waiting, Doctor Marlowe faced Whiskers his hands hidden behind a desk or table, Whiskers assumed.

“Sorry to bother you so late in the evening,” Whiskers began.

“No bother,” Doctor Marlowe interrupted obviously looking at something off holo, “Its only 8 am here.”

Whiskers masked his surprise as best he could, while making a “wait” gesture below the window to Puddles in the corner who looked ready to pounce on the holo, regardless of the window. “I’m sorry, did you say 8 am?”

“That is correct.” Doctor Marlowe chuckled, “You thought I was there? No, I’m in [static] working.”

“Where are you working?” Whiskers asked.

“The security filter prevents some information from transmitting. Suffice to say, I am off site. Is there a reason why you wanted to see me?”

“Before I answer that, how long have you been off site?”

“Weeks. Why?”

“Then you did not hire us to look into your missing daughters?” Whiskers asked, knowing the answer.

Shaking his head, “No I did not. What is this about?”

“A man claiming to be you hired our investigative firm to find his missing daughters. Following his information we tracked their location to Tumbledown.”

“I’m sorry I don’t have any daughters,” Doctor Marlowe replied. “Did you happen to find anyone?” He asked.

Whiskers thought he heard a nervous tone in Marlowe’s voice, “No one matching the descriptions we were given. We did encounter some gangers with some unusual tech.”

“Oh…,” Doctor Marlowe hesitated, obviously looking at something off-holo. “No, I did not hire you nor do I have any daughters. Tumbledown you say…I’m sorry but I must get back to my work. I’m sorry I could not be of more help.”

Without warning, the holo ended.

Model Growth

Building a model has plenty of things to teach the builder, especially when the builders are children. As part of Warhammer 40k armies have vehicles. Vehicles are two things, expensive and in many pieces. Thus, being a good parent I had each child earn the money to purchase their vehicles. Unexpectedly, they worked harder than I expected and earned the money in record time.

Expensive not out of the way, but covered by their diligent work.

Next up, many pieces.

Games Workshop models, all varities, have directions. The quality of the directions have changed over the years with the most recent directions being the best; high resolution images, multiple views, and easy to follow steps. Older instructions are bad. Just plain bad; low resolution images, single view, and often five of more steps giving with one illustration with no indication of what order the pieces are assembled.

Our children got kits with older instructions. I told them that I would be there to assist with the models expecting that I would be the one building the entire kit. A big reason I am pushing 40k on the kids are the numerous skills that they can learn, especially building models.

Patience, building a model takes patience. Rushing a build, as our son found out, can lead to some interesting problems, such as their not being enough space for the driver without breaking off some other parts.

Problem solving, reading and interpreting instructions is one thing, figuring out how pieces fit together another and when something goes wrong, see above, how you handle or solve the issue is another.

Creativity, they could build the kits as is or they could get creative. Our boy added parts from one kit to another and our girl worked out the look that appealed to her most.

Three skills I am more than happy for them to learn. Still I expected to end up building the models. Imagine my surprise when they built all of their kits with minimal assistance from me. Our boy learned the hard way that rush building leads to complications, such as the driver not fitting without some modification. He learned to interpret the instructions, such as when one image shows at least ten different parts going on the same piece at the same time. He learned how to problem solve when interpretation failed and he had to cut off a piece to get other pieces in place. Our girl watched her brother and decided not to rush the build. Good for her. She still had to learn to read the instructions. Interestingly enough she did not run into the same issues as he did.

When they finished I had offered suggestions and confirmed parts a few times, showed them how to use rubber bands to hold parts together, put decals on, and reinforce that they could indeed build their own vehicles. Now I have to deal with them on the tabletop. 🙂

Moments to Myself

Maintain heat, keep an eye on the food.

“Dad can you help me?”

A text from someone.

Back to the food, while one dish cooks, prep another.

“Dad…”

Two days of cooking, one long trip to bring someone replacement pants, and I finally have some time to myself. I know that sounds bad, as in, I have not had any time to myself…boo hoo. Nothing like that, more along the lines of feeling like I have been doing so much other stuff that I have not taken time to myself. Thus, no boo hoo, more of a whew, cooking and mowing the lawn have kicked the crap out of the still working off a winter of nothing me.

Bentoing is in full swing. Our refrigerator is packed full of goodies. I am not exaggerating either. Each time I make something else I have to spend five minutes arranging everything to make room. There are four types of chicken, three types of cauliflower, two types of carrots, a ton of rice and cold noodles, tamago, and at least a dozen other dishes in there waiting for hungry people or me to pack a bento for Barb. Once I find some place in the fridge 7.5 pounds of pork shoulder is getting turned into pickled pork for red beans and rice, pork for asian dishes, and pulled pork because pulled pork is yummy.

All of the cooking is tiring. And hot. I hope I have sweated off 10 pounds. I have not, but the summer is young. Between rounds of cooking, what is a round of cooking you ask? When I dirty up all of the cooking utensils the cleaning crew, kids, come in and clean up. While they clean, I figure out what is next, then back to the kitchen. They are tired of cleaning dishes. I told them they get a break…I lied, in a bit I will be making sauces. 🙂

Around the cooking, is cleaning, mostly mowing. With almost 2 acres the lawn must get mowed…when the lawn has been watered via rain and is not mostly brown or completely weed grown. This time, much to my chagrin, weed grown. I have a mowed almost 2 acres, took three days, and most of it is brown. I am not a lawn person, in fact if the weeds didn’t look so weedy I would let the lawn grow for the whole season in the hope that next year there really was green grass. Alas, mostly weeds until rain arrives in force. Scattered rain for three days is not what our lawn needs. Just the humidity.

Here I am after two days, sore, tired, happy belly, awesome smelling house, a fridge full of food, and I have not done much for myself. What is stuff for me? Writing, painting, and reading. Oh I forgot, a few smaller projects, such as the list of games I would like to sell or trade which I keep meaning to do…but…you read the last few days. Once I get that out of the way, back to working on Puddles and Whiskers and painting some miniatures for the new version of Warhammer 40k.

 

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB On The Drive…

This Chapter used to be long. Now this Chapter is shorter. In exchange for splitting the Chapter apart I added more detail about the City. I’m not sure if this is enough detail for me, but for now this gives a much better view of where they are and where they are going.

Previously.

On the Drive…

Letting the car auto-fly following City mandated flight paths, Puddles settled back into her seat and watched Stroud turn from dark and dreary to bright and hopeful. Dark and dreary Eastern Stroud quickly became the rear view as the lights and glitter of Central Stroud came into view.

Immense building taller than the clouds, lit up with moving holo-advertisements, lights, and old-fashioned billboards looked like a crowded forest of metal, steel, and lights fighting to be best looking. Large squat block buildings created clear zones where the block buildings dominated the space, pushing the tall buildings to the edges. All around the City signs and moving holo-ads bigger than the building their office was located in advertised the latest brands of fad foods, beverages, mechanical augmentation, and more. Puddles stared at the hundred foot tall moving holo-ad of a human female wearing the latest clothing fad dancing and twirling along the sides of three buildings, her clothing morphing into a new outfit seamlessly with each dance step. As they passed the holo-ad, eyes bigger than the car illuminated the interior enough the auto-shade feature of the windows activated.

Flying traffic moved all around them in a computer coordinated dance. Vehicles of shapes, sizes, and colors flew about. The newest models of luxury and sports vehicles flying to the latest hotspots while slower moving cargo vehicles transported goods all over the city. Leaning in her seat, Puddles watched ground traffic on the elevated roads move around the city.

“Is that new?” Puddles asked pointing to a tall tower wrapped in a moving holo of vines growing to the top, sprouting vivid multicolor flowers that blew apart, the colorful petals falling to the ground starting the pattern.

Looking up from his tablet, Whiskers replied with a non-committal grunt.

Titan Industries located on an edge of the business distract stood apart from other buildings due to the building’s size and appearance. Taller and wider than any other building the entire structure white with blue stripes on the corners. The only exterior decoration small windows, land pads, and the iconic blue with white bordered T on each face of the building. At this hour, little traffic flew around Titan Industries.

“Titan control,” a flight controller said, “to approaching vehicle.”

Looking up from his data-pad, Whiskers said, “You should answer them.”

“Titan control, we are here to see Doctor Dan,” Puddles said.

“Do you have an appointment?”

Grabbing the tip of her nostril, Puddles shook her head, “No. This is an emergency meeting.”

Silence.

Puddles looked at Whiskers who shrugged.

“There is no Doctor Dan in the building at this time.”

“Shit. Wait…what was his name?” Puddles irritatedly said.

“Remember you left his name on the desk,” Whiskers sarcastically replied.

Shooting Whiskers an exasperated expression, Puddles gestured towards the approaching building.

Whiskers waved her expression and gesture off, “Titan control, our mistake. We are here to see Doctor Marlowe. He should be expecting us, PW Investigations.”

More silence.

“Coordinates to the 33rd floor landing pad have been sent to your vehicle. Do not alter flight path.”

Father’s Day Surprise In Song and Bento

I went to bed worn out from the drama of before Father’s Day. I woke up expecting next to nothing. Not because nobody cares, but because Father’s Day is a low key event around here. Imagine my surprise.

I woke up feeling like I had been drinking, odd given that no drinking happened. Possibly rain, oh well most of the night before was spent discussing opening up the bento kitchen. I am all for that given how much I love to cook. The biggest stop to cooking around here has been Barb’s schedule and the fact that most of the stores she works at don’t have fridge or a microwave. However a solution was found and the bento kitchen is open.

Meaning my morning was spent in the kitchen.

  • Honey curry carrots
  • Curry smashed potatoes
  • Sweet and spicy bell pepper slices
  • Cold noodles
  • Rice
  • Tamago rolls
  • Garlic and butter mushroom quarters
  • Burnt onions, sounds wrong, but really good

If that had been the extent of my day, I would have been happy as the kids were being pretty good.

A quick trip to an over crowded store for additional ingredients and storage solutions for all of the food where my favorite meat counter lady knew exactly what I was looking for when I said smocked ham hock for red beans and rice. Not bad at all.

Then at home I get the real surprise.

Ever since an off-hand lengthy joke about the kids forming a band named Curb Service after an ill placed sign seen during C4*, our girl has been practicing the guitar. Almost everyday.

I don’t think about her practicing other than, “good she is practicing” and “good she is getting better.” So when I was pulled out of the bedroom where I was working on the recipe list for more bento stuff I was unprepared to find our girl sitting on a stool, music stand in front of her, guitar in her lap, ready to sing.

She wrote me a song.

“Violets are purple. Roses are red. I love you so Happy Father’s Day dad. Rhinos are grey same with rocks. Have a fun Father’s Day dad. I love you more than purple pie. So Happy Father’s Day dad.”

I have the video. I would share it with you, but I am saving it for when she becomes famous and is out of control. You know how famous people get.

Then to top it off, I was given a pair of plaid shorts. I saw a pair on an elderly man and commented I would like a pair too because he, like me, didn’t seem to give a shit and people gave him what he wanted and were nice to him to boot. My thought, the plaid shorts have magical powers otherwise why wear them when not on a golf course.

And that is why I cannot play the piano and had an awesome Father’s Day.

* This curb service sign was at least 200 feet away from the restaurant on the busiest road imaginable. My story was someone parking alongside the curb and yelling to the people outside about wanting service. This triggered an hour long bout of laughing, a band, their number one song “I want my wiener,” and numerous other good memories.

A Handful of Vomit & Pork Belly

I don’t make plans. See here if you don’t believe me or understand why.

I have children. Children derail anything and everything.

Got that?

A trip to Grand Rapids was necessary today. A long trip. Going to Grand Rapids is not something I do lightly, as I hate all of the traffic. The people are a mixed bag, but I can deal with the crowds. The traffic though, hate it. On top of my list for the long trip, find pork belly.

Despite living around several farms, I cannot for the life of me find pork belly. Lots of people who swear they sell pork belly, but to date nope. Thus I have to travel to Grand Rapids to the Downtown Market. I like the Market, a reasonable butcher and fish monger. Good cheese shop and other goodies. Problem for me is that the Market is not really a market, but what people with too little knowledge, too much time and money think is a market. Everything is too packaged and too clean to be a real market, more like a different kind of grocery store. But they have pork belly.

Then the child vomited. All of a sudden. No warning signs at all. Standing near the meat counter…BARF. Being a parent, I do the following:

  • try to comfort my child which is where the screen of my “military grade” phone cracked
  • try to contain the mess, which is how I ended up with a handful of vomit
  • try to, and I shit you not, get ANYONE from behind the counter to do something more than ask, “Can I help you with something in our display?” No shit. Tried to sell me meat while my kid is puking.

To many perfect people and families walk by with that look of “oh my look at those poor (not poor as in sympathetic, but poor as in not dressed like us, people.” Finally, an adult behind the counter sees the problem and assists, but by then the kid was off to a bathroom and I cleaned up the mess. Fuckers!

But I got pork belly.

A trip to the nearest pharmacy for some stomach meds hoping that it takes care of the problem and we are off to the next stop, Rider’s Hobby Shop. Way to much money and one almost vomit incident later we, the adults, debate the merits of returning home or heading to Momma Lee’s. Consulting with the child, go to Mama Lee’s because I need ingredients to cook a lot of stuff. In case you are curious why we didn’t go home after pork belly, the sick child had been looking forward all week to Rider’s and would not be deterred…not even by a second almost vomit.

Momma Lee’s, like clock work. Let’s put food in all of us. What happened next is not a testament to Denny’s…the car stopped, the child bolted, the parents said wait, the child exploded all over the empty parking lot.

Now we head home. Something I haven’t mentioned is that we need rain. Very dry around here. Want to guess when it rained?

If you guessed when the kid had to vomit, we pull off the road, I join him outside the car, and then the sky opens up. Soaked and feeling miserable, the child fell asleep less than a mile later. The rain stopped a half-mile after that.

At home the child feels better, which really is the important part of the whole story.

 

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB Later That Evening…

The only tweaks, to the dialog. I may, on the last run through, tighten up the dialog, however at the moment their voices shine through.

Previously.

Later that evening…

DB’s Bar, a three-story bar across the street from Puddles and Whiskers office. Local watering hole on the lower floor, trendy afterhours club on the middle floor, and hopping nightclub on the top floor and after short drive, two long showers, and a change of clothes later where Puddles and Whiskers regrouped.

“This really rubs my fur the wrong way,” Puddles mumbled, slamming an empty glass on the bar top.

“Hey!” the human bar tender exclaimed.

Puddles shot him her best “do not mess with me, but please serve me another drink look.” Returning from the bathroom, Whiskers sat next to her, waving the bar tender over.

“All I can say about the bathroom, is there is some interesting reading on the walls,” Whiskers said.

“Yeah?”

“A variation on a herg warmarch where every instance of birds above was replaced with various slang for male genitalia. Pretty funny and clever, if you are familiar with the warmarch.”

“Sounds fun,” she responded sarcastically.

Setting two new drinks in front of them, the bar tender eyeing Puddles for an extra second before moving to other customers. Lifting the drinks Puddles and Whiskers toasted themselves.

“What a mess,” Puddles began. “A bunch more dead people. No clues. No pay. No nothing.”

“I will agree that there is not a lot to go on,” Whiskers replied taking a sip and making a face at his drink. “What is this?”

“Something local.”

“Oh,” Whiskers replied, taking another sip and making another face.

“Think we will get anything off of the recordings?”

“We know a few people who should be able to tell us what the rooms were set up for. The daughters,” Whiskers made air quotes around daughters, “bothers me.”

“I thought I saw one woman matching the vague description the Doc, gave us,” Puddles jumped in.

“I watched the one you are talking about run out, not a daughter.”

“There were no daughters. We were set up.”

“You are probably correct about the daughters, but I would like to make sure before moving onto the clean room.”

“We need to set up another meeting with Doctor Dan. What is his real name?”

“You still do not know his name?” Whiskers snorted, “A meeting is a good idea. We can ask him about his missing daughters, the clean room, and the gang protecting the room.”

Downing the last of her drink and slamming the glass on the counter again, Puddles said, “Those are some valid points. Morning call?”

“Why not now?”

Shrugging, Puddles gestured at the bar tender again, giving the universal sign for tab, “I’ll pay. You get the car.”