Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Apparition of Wretchly Manor. A Ghost Story.

Wretchly Manor. Now Open for Tours.

Once upon a time in the hamlet of Cloverdale in the Shire of Cloverdale in the Confederacy of Dunces lived a very lazy, mischievous young man named William Wretchly of Wretchly Manor. His father was the Manor’s Lord. His mother, the Lady.

William loved his bed and struggled to pull himself from it’s warmth until well past mid day. The Lady Wretchly didn't understand her son's aversion to morning hours and his love of all things dark. She thought it a sickness. She ordered multiple examinations by the Shire's best doctors. Some claimed it was his poor diet and prescribed a variety of their own liquid cures to restore his constitution. Others insisted it was a blood malady and tried unsuccessfully to bleed him with cuts or leeches. William's sense of smell was acute. From his bed he could smell the blade in the doctor’s bag of tricks from far down the gravel drive. Needless to say, finding a hidden teen in a large manor house that knows he's about to be bled is as impossible as finding a Bishop in want of a good meal.

William got up and ate once the sun crossed the sky’s mid point. His demeanor changed once he was fed. He morphed from slothfulness to flamboyantly annoying, spending the rest of the day roaming the manor searching for mischief. Unfortunately, the servants were on the receiving end more times than not.

William Wretchly was the favorite topic of conversation at the servant’s table during mealtimes. His exploits were told and retold to educate the newly hired. Each servant took turns pulling up a pant leg or rolling up a shirt sleeve to show the others the horrors William was capable of inflicting when upset. He was truly a terror.

The local Priest was called to examine the boy for symptoms of demon possession. William tolerated the cross on his forehead. He recited the Lord’s prayer and took no notice when showered with holy water. The Bishop pronounced him clean. Before leaving, the Bishop recommended the Lord and Lady consider sending William to Dibley Castle to work as a page to one of the knights. The demanding physical duties of a page would strenghten his character. The Lord and Lady took an immediate liking to the suggestion.

William overhead the Bishop from behind his locked bedroom door and panicked. A scheme was hatched as he paced back and forth in front of his large window. He needed to teach his parents a lesson. He needed to remind them that sending him away would have severe consequences. Running away was the only logical thing left in his arsenal. This act of cowardness would embarrass his father.

William tied several of his bed’s sheets and blankets together, tossed them out the window and attempted to scale down the outside wall to the ground below. His balance was lost climbing out the window. William fell three stories to the rocky pavement below and died two hours later from a brain hemorrhage.

William, surrounded by his sisters (1693)

Three hundred years later, much of Wretchly Manor is gone, except for the family's living quarters and a section of the Banquet Room - all of which were in serious disrepair. Two years ago the Confederacy's Minister of Historical Preservation took control of the Manor in hopes of restoring it to its previous splendor. Work started and continued normally until it reached William's bedroom.

Several workman reported hearing strange noises just after noon on their first day in the bedroom. Many added strong smells to the list of unexplained mysteries. Soon afterword a frightened painter walked off the job after seeing a formless apparition hovering over the corner of the room where the bed once stood.

The Ministry normally ignores reports of ghosts, attributing them to the over active imaginations of the workman. But this was different. The sightings, smells, and sounds gained frequency as the work on the Manor house progressed. With his back to the wall and a deadline looming, the Minister was persuaded to seek professional help. Alminda Horver, a local psychic practicing at the Sea View Fun Park in Tamworth on Tide, was commissioned to exorcise the ghostly squatter.

She chose Friday the 13th as the day she would parlay with the ghost of Wretchly Manor. She arrived mid morning by Austin Mini, wearing a plain white blouse and skirt of many colors. Several strands of beads hung from her neck. Her fingers were decorated in multiple rings which matched her earrings. She walked to the entrance and stopped to take the air and get her bearings. With outstretched arms she hoped to capture the slightest psychic vibrations. Everyone, including the Minister, waited for her pronouncement.

“Yes, there is something here. I feel a disturbance,” she said. "Let's enter." Several of the workers nodded to each other, happy she was able to collaborate what they knew from experience. She held out both arms as she entered the House. She walked slowly, room to room mumbling to herself. Stopping at times to rub her arms, hands and shins as if to comfort nonexistent wounds. Ten minutes later she found William’s bedroom.

“What a naughty young man,” she repeated multiple times to the stone walls.
“Explain what you mean,” the minister asked as he motioned to a workman to bring them both a chair.

“This manor is indeed haunted but not by a ghost, so to speak. What you have is an apparition - a spirit that refuses to move into the light and too lazy to take a recognizable form.” She stopped for a moment, then continued to walk to the exact spot where William’s bed once stood. “This apparition was once a teen age boy.”

She paused again, walking toward the window from which William fell. “Yes, I understand. This boy was temperamental and apparently very lazy. He fell from this window. I don’t know how but that is where he died.” She said pointed to the stone pavement three stories below.

Alminda Horver smiled as things cleared in her mind. “What a lazy little...... Minister, let me explain what I’m sensing. This boy was lazy and mischievous. Those personality traits continued with him in death. He is simply too lazy to transition into a proper ghost. In three hundred years all he’s managed to muster is an occasional whining and the odd smell or two. He is so lazy he can’t be bothered to coalesce his energy into human form. He prefers to hover here and there as a shapeless fog.”

Alminda Horver shook her head in disbelief. “In all my readings and investigations this takes the cake.” the psychic stood in the center of the room. The Minister sat beside her. A cool wind blew in from the missing stone in the walls. It was just past noon.

“He's aware of us. I think we’ve disturbed his sleep.” She closed her eyes to concentrate. “Are you awake? Can we bother you for a sign?” There was nothing heard but the wind. “Young man, I know you. I know you’re lazy. I know you see the light but can’t be bothered to transition toward it. I order you to go to the light. This world isn’t for you. Go to the light.”

Again, there was nothing but the wind. Alminda stretched out her arms. “He’s here but won’t make contact. I can’t believe what I’m sensing. This one will be difficult Minister. I’m going to take a different approach.”

She pulled up a chair and sat opposite the Minister. She leaned forward and whispered into his ear. “Play along with me. Make it convincing.”

“Minister,” Alminda said sitting back in her chair looking quite satisfied with herself. “May I propose we put this young man to work? You’re restoring this Manor into a National Landmark. That means hundreds of tourists per week. Now correct me if I’m wrong. National Landmarks are expected to earn a portion of their maintenance budget from tours. Imagine how popular this Manor will be when people learn it is haunted. Money will pour in. If we put this little spirit to work producing sounds and smells, and the occasional apparition, word will spread. Money will pour in and everyone wins. What do you think?”

The minister winked and jumped to his feet. “Wonderful idea. Spirit, you are now ordered to work by a Confederacy Minister. Failure to do so will lead to punishment.”

Suddenly the wind stopped. Both the minister and the psychic held their hands to their noses. The putrid smell of sulfur filled the open room causing both to nearly gag.
“Perfect!” Alminda shouted while holding back her breakfast from spilling onto the stone floor. “That’s what we’re looking for. What a good worker this spirit has become. Now, let’s hear a sound. What can you give us. Please try to frighten us. You will make us so much money. It is your duty. You must earn the privilege if you plan on living in this house."

The smell disappeared as quickly as it arrived. The sound of wind returned. Alminda walked the room several times with arms outstretched before pronouncing the Manor clean. The spirit transitioned into the light. The boy, in an effort to avoid any form of work, found his way into the other world.

Work on Wretchly Manor was finished and the restored Manor opened to the public. To this day, the story of the little lazy ghost is still told by the tour guides to the delight of all who visit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Week's Worth of Thoughts for all our Dunces Out There...

  • Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead?
  • Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is not enough money?
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
  • Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
  • Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
  • Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
  • Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
  • Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?
  • If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
  • Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
  • Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
  • Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
  • Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
  • Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?
  • How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?
  • When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, 'It's all right?' Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, 'That really hurt, why don't you watch where you're going?'
  • Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?
  • In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
  • How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?
  • And my FAVORITE...... The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.
OK Proud Citizens of the Confederacy of Dunces. Let's have a great weekend. Remember, the Harvest Festival and Fair is one week away. I'm looking forward to the Spamoff Competition - 1000 things you didn't know you could do with Spam.
The Spamoff culminates with SpamGiving. A Spam only version of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Velma Biscuit. Guilty of Hooliganism. The Pride of Cloverdale

Velma Biscuit is wanted by the Capital City Police for football hooliganism. This picture was taken of Velma shortly before the Capital City Ticks scored the winning goal against the Cloverdale Wasps, the team she supports, during last Friday’s game at Confederacy Stadium in Capital City.

Velma was on her feet during the Tick’s drive down the field. Her shouting wasn’t any louder or more abusive than the fans surrounding her until the winning goal was made. The Ticks fans rose to their feet singing and chanting in wild celebration of their victory. One man, sitting with his two teenage children two rows below Velma, had a voice that stood out over the rest. He bellowed out his description of the Cloverdale team and their loyal fans.

"#$@# inbred Potato Eaters," was his final verbal assault. Velma couldn't let the insult hang out there in mid air without a response. Her little frame shook, her face turned violet and Mt. Velma erupted, spewing molten profanity in every direction. Her outburst brought silence to hundreds around her. Every head turned toward this grandmother of 34 and great grandmother of 12. Finally, the man two rows beneath her gave the official Capital City Tick's response.

“Shut your #$%$# mouth or we will do it for you.” He was upset because Velma's tirade included a description of three of his team's best players. He later told police his response was said in protection of his two teenage children's innocence.
"They were greatly disturbed by language she used," he said.

His daughter was quoted as saying, “Flip and I was disturbed by what that #^$#$% old @#$##@’was saying. She was using words neither of us had never heard especially from someone so #$#@#$ old. Why isn't that old prune home doing what old people are suppose to do - die?”

Velma went mad. No one tells Velma to shut her #$Q@# mouth, especially a Capital City fan. She waited for him to finish and turn around. She held her cane from one end and used the curved other end to lasso his neck. Once his neck was firmly in her cane’s crook she pulled with all the weight her 102 pound frame could generate. The man was caught off guard and fell backwards off the bench into the lap of 300 pound Lois Pilch, another Capital City fan. Lois's 32 ounce Diet Coke emptied over her dress and her Polish dog fell to the sticky, grimy floor.

What happened next started one of the biggest football riots in Confederacy history. Lois Pilch pushed the man off her lap, stood up sending the ice from her drink tinkling to the floor, grabbed Velma’s cane and broke it over her knee. Velma responded the only way someone with such a weight disadvantaged could - she spit into Lois’s face with such force her dentures dislodged and slipped their moorings right onto the head of another Capital City fan.

Police rushed to Section 23 Portal A to stop the fighting but it was too late. Just like a melt down in a nuclear reactor, a chain reaction started and soon escalated to the point of fusion and rampant anti social behavior ensued. Scores of people were arrested and many were injured. Velma survived with severe bruising requiring one night in the hospital for observation and five nights in jail for her part in the disturbance.

Yesterday Velma returned to a hero’s welcome at Cloverdale's train station. In his welcoming home speech, the Lord Mayor announced Velma's appointment as this year’s Harvest Festival and Fair’s Grand Marshall.
Velma waved to the crowd with one hand while using her other to cover her mouth. She politely refused to speak. It seems her dentures were never found and without them Velma couldn't be understood.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Valerie Veal Waters the Weeds.

Valerie Veal will stay outside for awhile longer. She won’t go in for supper. She won’t go in for tele. She won’t go in even if called. She hates her brother. She hates her parents. But most of all Valerie Veal hates her boyfriend Tony.

Valerie goes to Cloverdale’s Comprehensive School. Her friends call her the drama queen of the 10th grade. Her nickname isn’t because she excels in the school’s drama club. It is because everything in her life relating to Tony, and boys in general sends our little diva into fits of passion that if bottled and sold on the movie sets of Hollywood would inspire performances so inspiring movie audiences world wide would weep and laugh with each word spoken, each eyebrow raised, each glance and half smile delivered in a dark room illuminated by a single candle. Such is the passion of Miss Valerie Veal.

Her tears, delivered over a black rusted pipe onto a weed springing forth from a crack in ancient concrete are the result of something seen during her 4th period lunch. Tony entered the cafeteria and Valerie’s world stopped. Her increased blood pressure brought a a rosy blush to her cheeks. Tony walked toward the serving line. Valerie watched, knowing Tony’s walk was the essence of perfection delivered to mortals through the grace of evolution and natural selection. He was the perfect example of male perfection seen not only in his confident stride but in his perfect proportions.

And then, as he stood making a choice between pizza and a roast beef sandwich her world ended in fire. Tony was bumped from behind by Elizabeth Ward, a busty blond tart who has sniffed around Tony since the first grade at Confederacy Primary School. Valerie couldn’t hear the words exchanged but she saw the result. Tony put his arm around her waste. She leaned forward and rested her head every so slightly on his shoulder. For the brief second or two her cheek and his shoulder were united, Elizabeth had Valerie in her sight. Her eyes telegraphed a declaration of war.

Valerie stood up holding her tray. Her three best friends stood with her. She waited until Tony reached the cashier then the four marched toward the trash can, which happened to be opposite the bar beside the cash register. She bumped Tony and went out of her way to cut in front of Elizabeth. They slammed their trays down and marched out. Valerie bust into hysterics in the girl’s restroom afterwards. She was inconsolable.

Tony phoned multiple times while she stood outside her home on District Lane. She wanted to take his calls but couldn’t, knowing the words she needed to use to adequately deliver her feelings would be overheard by her family or the neighbors. She wasn’t prepared to add being grounded to her troubles. Her friends would be over soon. The four of them would scheme. There would be hell to pay for Elizabeth. And as for Tony, Valerie knew just what the occasion called for. Tomorrow will be a day Tony will never forget.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Pumpkin Pitch. Highlight of the Festival and Fair.

Sunday in Cloverdale.
Got up.
Rearranged the pictures once again. Still not happy with my selection. Luckily I've got a few days to make the final decision. Oh, I caught my nosey neighbor with her face pressed up against my kitchen window. I'm surprised she didn't break the glass with the pressure she was exerting against the glass in her vain attempt to see what I had hanging over the fireplace. She disappeared the instant she saw me, leaving a beautiful skin oil face print on the glass. This entire situation must be driving her around the bend. I'm expected a knock at my door any hour now. I'll open the door and she will thrust a measuring cup in my face asking if she could borrow a cup of sugar.

The upcoming festival was all everyone talked about at church. In Sunday School the missionaries took the entire time running us through simulations on how to approach fair goers in hopes of striking up a conversation that would lead to missionary discussions. They distributed a prompt sheet for every booth listed on the Fair Notice. This is an example for the Ice Cold Well Water Booth.
"Ice Cold Well Water Booth. Wait for someone to start drinking the ice cold water. Walk up to them and say, "I see you are really thirsty. I'll bet that cold water really quenches your thirst. Have you ever thought about giving living water to your soul?"

During the pig judging contest the missionary prompt sheet says:
"As the pigs are being judged walk up to someone and say. "I see you're interested in the pig judging. Did you know that the Lord once said that we should not throw our pearls before swine? Do you know what that means. Can we share a short message with you that could change your life?

After church it was home, a nice lunch and a quick nap before catching the train for the border and back to The Other World for another week of work. I'm taking the pictures with me to ponder over as we go clickity Clack down the Railroad Track for Fernwood on the Moor and then The Other World.

Would you like to know about another Harvest Festival and Fair event that is sure to draw a huge crowd?
Its the event I wouldn't miss for the world.
The One and Only Cloverdale Harvest Festival and Fair's Pumpkin Throwing Contest sponsored by Reggie Fulton and the Army of the Forlorn (See the post of January 18, 2009) and the Dibley in the Dale's Legionaries. These two war gaming clubs will be pitting the Forlorn's air cannon against the Legionaries'
Trebuchet. Pumpkins will be supplied by Cloverdale's very own Piggly Wiggly. What a mess they make but wickedly funny as they hurdle pumpkins up and over Highway 1 and into the Comprehensive School's soccer pitch. Everyone is welcome to stand on the school's pitch and collect what's left of the pumpkins after touch down. Some land in tact - very few.

You kind readers that live in The Other World really need to come to Cloverdale for the Fair and Festival. You know how to get here. Take the Coastal Express to Fernwood on the Moor and then on to Cloverdale. Don't forget your passport. We don't let just anybody in don't you know. Spend a great deal of money for worthy causes, enjoy delicious food and the best company we Dunces can provide. A day in Cloverdale is a day not taken off the total allocated days in your life making that day - a free day. Can anything be grander?

And now I'll be saying goodbye. I hear someone knocking at the front door. You know who it is. Nosey Nettle.

Cloverdale Weekend Television. Carmen!