Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Not to repeat myself from my Saturday post, but…
Happy Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Earth Pig!
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system. My chuckaboos, it’s time for Hidebound Hump Day! Our heroes are in a strange purple world. It reminded me of this image Rob Goldstein made for the virtual art show I held for him.
This chapter has Felicity pondering some issues of the heart. Some of you might think back to earlier chapters, and whether or not you were on “team Ignatius.” If you ask Cornelis, he’d say the Woman in Trousers was smitten. (Chapter 16)
People have always encouraged me to write romances, but I leave that to the experts — like Mary. The “random things” that drove today’s episode were sent by Mary J. McCoy-Dressel. She writes novels about “sweetly-sensual contemporary western romance with strong family ties.”
Cornelis Drebbel’s magical submarine is at our port. The klaxon sounds as the vessel rises to the surface, and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!
Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
Our trio was on the run from three different groups of bad guys, including huge and dangerous trained chimpanzees, one of which gestured in sign language the word daddy. Felicity recognized the leader of one group by her voice as a woman from Copper’s town, but she couldn’t recall which woman possessed that voice.
They hid out at the pavilion of Alastair Wong, where alchemy gone awry gave them a map with a clue to where they might find Copper’s missing father. Still on the run, they boarded Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine where they met Absinthe, the Green Fairy. Subsequently the submarine ran aground in an amethyst world.
Chapter 28 Our bricky friends met a very gentlemanly, large, chimpanzee. He also happened to be dressed in a suit and hat. Oh, and he was undeniably purple. The words of the “amethyst ape” stunned everyone when he met Cornelis Drebbel.
“Cornelis Drebbel, Lord of Alchemy, I welcome you to these shores. Please accept my humble apology for not recognizing you. No one has seen you for decades. It was feared that the purple people eater had… well… But how foolish of us to think you would have been bested by any beast, no matter how fearsome.”
Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
29 — Straitlaced, Queen Anne Style Architecture, Harper’s Bazaar
The suited, bespectacled purple primate was a willing listener for Cornelis Drebbel. I wouldn’t have expected an ape to speak our language, even if he could talk. Nor would I have thought we would understand him. When I was about to ask, a significant look from Cornelis caused me to realize it had to be one of the Dutchman’s tricks at work, allowing us to communicate with one another.
The alchemist gave the primate a full tour of the submarine. The amethyst ape soaked up every detail as Cornelis explained how the many inventions onboard were used in the navigation and other workings of the submarine. The ape seemed to have an astonishing scientific comprehension of what the Dutchman said in describing his inventions.
Cornelis had gone on about doppelgängers and was genuinely concerned about the consequences if one of us met our double in this perplexing purple place. I remembered Copper’s giggling exclamation comparing the straitlaced ape to her father.
I thought it simply childish fantasy, but then I recalled how the Dutchman reacted to her words. He curled his lips inward in a rueful grimace and raised his bushy blonde eyebrows. Then he pursed his lips and inclined his head pointedly toward the purple primate. At that moment the ape reminded me very much of the portrait of Calvin Hixon.
I studied the primate’s face and tried to imagine a human version. My eyes grew wide.
Daddy, but not Daddy,” I thought. “Well dash my wig! The amethyst ape is Calvin Hixon’s doppelgänger!”
Cornelis was quite adept at reading facial expressions, no matter how fleeting. When he glanced my way, he raised one eyebrow and gave half a nod to indicate he knew I had finally caught on to what he had figured out the first moment he saw the ape. It was no wonder he’d frozen in amazement when Copper and I had gotten out of the submarine. I finally understood why. I tried not to stare at the ape version of Copper’s daddy.
After Cornelis had shown off his favorite inventions, the ape invited us to tea. Cornelis wasn’t quick enough to hide his reluctance to disembark the submarine.
The ape tried to encourage him by describing the setting and the Queen Anne style architecture of his charming home. I couldn’t help wondering if this amethyst world had held a purple primate version of Queen Anne, and suspected that it actually had.
Though Cornelis was disinclined to accept the invitation, Copper was beside herself with excitement.
In a very discrete way, the alchemist worked the conversation around to inquire about the ape’s family life and whether he lived alone. Abruptly the purple primate puckered his face, looking very contrite. He bumped his palm to his brow and apologized profusely.
“I was so amazed and excited that I forgot to introduce myself. Can you ever forgive my lacking manners? Cal Hicks — at your service,” he said with a bow. “Penny will be devastated not to have met you. That’s my daughter. She’s away for the week, visiting her brother Nate and his wife.”
When the ape — or I should say Cal Hicks, mentioned his daughter-in-law he gave me the strangest, quizzical look.
“Something in your manner puts me very much in mind of my delightful daughter-in-law,” he told me with a twinkle in his eye.
I was speechless. Could there be a purple ape version of me? And was she married to simian version of Ignatius Belle? Surely not, it was incomprehensible! Even one of those ideas was too much, but both? I suddenly had a headache.
Was my future preordained? Ignatius Belle was a dashing figure of a man, but he was exceedingly proper. While I, on the other hand, liked to wear trousers, and flatly refused to wear a corset.
However, as the purple primate spoke about his family, I realized the doppelgänger had made different choices than Calvin Hixon. The course of his life did not predict or ordain the path of his human counterpart.
The ape didn’t know the reason behind the alchemist’s concern, but what he disclosed about his family reassured Cornelis that it was unlikely for any of us to run into our doppelgängers. With a little more please-pretty-please urging from Copper, Cronelis finally agreed. So we set out with Cal Hicks, the primate equivalent of Copper’s daddy, to have tea at his home.
The facial expression of a violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper attested to even more astonishment than Cal Hicks showed at our arrival. However, she graciously served tea with all the trimmings. She seemed delighted to have a chance to show off her skills, and served the perfect pot of tea to complement each course.
“Thank you, Candy. It looks as delicious as ever,” our host told her.
The aromas of the food arranged before us abruptly brought to mind Cookie, the cook at the Belle Inn. I turned my gaze to the well-rounded form of the housekeeper. Seen from behind, she looked remarkably like Cookie.
Such an afternoonified setting, hosted by primates wearing human clothes, and speaking proper English… Quite frankly, it unnerved me. I was ready to call it call it eight bells!
My cup rattled against its saucer. I was embarrassed to spill my tea. Charming and hospitable as Cal Hicks was, I almost wished I had stayed behind at the submarine with Absinthe. Cornelis was downright twitchy — probably still worried about doppelgängers. Copper was the only one who took everything in stride.
After we finished tea, I noticed several portraits hung in the hallway. The life of Cal Hicks truly did seem to include a much happier, devoted family life than Calvin Hixon experienced. The son was presumable born out of wedlock, since this place seemed to reflect our own world. But unlike Ignatius Belle, Nate Hicks agreed to become a true part of the family. Since Penny was visiting Nate and his wife for a week, I assumed that she did not share Copper’s dislike and mistrust of her half-brother.
A purple primate version of Harper’s Bazaar magazine lay on a beautifully crafted mahogany table. The deep color of the wood had dark purple highlights. On the magazine cover was a woman-ape wearing a fashionable ensemble. A painting hung above the table. It was a portrait of Cal Hicks’ son and daughter-in-law. I had to admit the young ape in the portrait bore a vague resemblance to Ignatius Belle. However the female looked nothing like me whatsoever.
“Look Felicity! She looks like you,” Copper enthused.
Looking away, I tried not to let Cal Hicks see how aghast I was at the girl’s comment. With narrowed eyes I watched Corenlis. His mouth twisted in any number of ways as he tried to stifle his laughter. I knew it was our host he didn’t want to offend. He certainly wouldn’t be concerned about my pricked ego.
To hide his mirth, the Dutchman tapped his fist to his breastbone, pretending to stifle a burp. Then Cornelis asked our host if we might stroll around the grounds to help the fine repast Hicks provided settle. The amethyst ape was happy to oblige.
As we toured the property we came upon a church.
“That doesn’t look like it’s been used in quite some time,” I commented about the chapel.
“Ah yes. That was indeed a tragedy,” Cal Hicks replied sadly, and Copper was quick to push for details on a topic we adults may have deemed too delicate.
“It happened during the last confrontation with the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater,” the ape said then turned to Cornelis as if concerned. “Do you not remember it?”
“Err…” Cornelis hesitated, but a spark in his eyes told me he was about to dissemble. “I must confess,” he said looking so sad and sincere that I almost rolled my eyes. “An accident of alchemy brought my submarine back to these shores. Sadly I have no memory of the events that happened here,” he explained. “Oh now, there’s no need for concern, I’m sure the memories will return in due time. Such is the way of alchemy,” he assured our worried looking host.
“Well, perhaps a refresher will help it along then,” Cal Hicks replied with a hopeful nod. “I mentioned that we had thought all of your species,” he said turning to me, but hesitating when he looked at Copper’s wide eyes. “Well, um, that the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater had, um gotten them,” Cal told us, and seeing that Copper didn’t look frightened, he continued. “However, there was one more confrontation with that huge purple fae creature. You, Cornelis Drebbel, cornered the magical beast, and with your alchemy intended to transfigure it to something harmless.”
“Let me guess,” I said with a wry grin. “The alchemy went awry.”
Cornelis glared at me, but the ape remained perfectly serious, continuing his narrative.
“The Lord of Alchemy insisted that everyone take refuge in the chapel while he confronted the monster alone. Meanwhile, I ran to retrieve his harmonic tuner. It’s a magical device decorated with a carving of a trio in the classic mystic people pose — hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”
The ape suddenly looked overwhelmed with regret. He moved his spectacles to wipe a tear.
“In my haste, I tripped. The harmonic tuner flew from my grasp. It rang as it flew through the air. However, you, Cornelis Drebbel, caught it before it fell. So I thought all would be well, and that my mishap had done no harm,” Cal Hicks told us in an apologetic voice.
The ape dabbed his nose with a silk handkerchief and took a deep breath before continuing.
“The purple people eater vanished, presumably vanquished. You, Lord of Alchemy popped off, as was your habit, to make sure the beast was gone for good. But you never returned,” he said, looking like a repentant child caught in mischief. His expression gladdened as he looked up and added, “Until today that is.”
“And the church?” I prompted.
Cal Hicks turned somber eyes to the chapel. He shook his head slowly.
“When the loud harmonic noise of the misused tuner dissipated, I realized there were no sounds whatsoever coming from the church. To my horror, I found it empty. Everyone inside had vanished along with the purple people eater,” he said.
I gasped despite myself. The ape seemed to think I found his telling of the story that shocking, and he seemed gratified to have at least told it well. Although it was obvious that he blamed himself to a degree for what happened. So I tried not to let on that the story wasn’t the reason for my gasp.
“Cornelis!” I whispered to the alchemist. “That army of chimpanzees back at the Hixon estate. What if they weren’t trained,” I said but paused, looking for the right word. “What if instead, they were actually translocated?”
Real World Notes
Harper’s Bazaar. Harper’s Bazaar is an American women’s fashion magazine, first published in 1867. Published by Hearst, it considered itself to be the style resource for “women who are the first to buy the best, from casual to couture.” It was aimed at what it calls “discerning ladies.” In this story those ladies included simians in tones of purple.
Olive oil: Slang pronunciation of “Au revoir.”
On the make: Flirting, making advances on people. “She was really on the make last night.”
Orf Chump: No appetite.
Felicity has figured out at least part of the mystery of the “trained” chimpanzees, but we still don’t know who was using them. Can the ape version of Calvin Hixon somehow help our trio reach Copper’s real daddy? Will seeing the portrait of primate doubles of herself and Ignatius Belle influence Felicity’s capricious feelings about him?
Next time when the “three random things” are from Christoph Fischer. Be at the steampunk submarine port to find out what happens when Babylon, Toothpick, and Alpine drive the chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!
My chuckaboos, it’s sure to be an adventure, and that’s no kruger-spoof!
Now some shameless self-promotion.
Universal link to my Amazon Author Page
USA: Atonement in Bloom
USA: Atonement, Tennessee
(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.