Friday, September 27, 2013
Pippa's easels were held together more with tape and hope than solid welds or professional care. The yellow warning light on number two disappointed, but didn't surprise her. The directional fans stuck. The 250-liter water tank had a bright orange rust stain from a slow leak. One docking cradle was missing its sculpting drone. This, even after she had drained her account for the parts to get both units flying again. At least they had passed the safety inspection, she thought as she called up number two's control display on her tablet.
The port fan's heating circuit said the air temperature was seventeen degrees Centigrade below zero, when it should have read about ten above. Pippa frowned, and smacked her hand against the housing. The temperature didn't change. She keyed the controls on her tablet and pulsed the heater. The feedback tracked up with the pulse, so maybe it was only out of calibration. She'd have to check into it later, there wasn't enough time to fix it here. When she won today, she promised herself, she would pay someone to fix it for her. If not, well, she'd think of something.
“Problems, Senhora?” a voice said. Pippa turned and saw Carlos Maya, looking over her shoulder at the tablet.
“Flaky heater circuit in one of my easels.”
“Bad luck for you, Senhora. You pulling out?”
Friday, September 20, 2013
By Bettyann Moore
Long before the sun came up on the morning after Porpoise had his talk with his uncle, he looked groggily up from his pillow to find his father staring down at him.
“Get up!” he commanded the boy.
“Wha ..., what?”
“Out of bed, now. Meet me in the barn in five minutes!” Brian turned on his heel and marched out of the room, switching on the overhead light as he left.
Porpoise scrambled from his tangled sheets and rooted through the pile of clothes on the floor. He yanked on a t-shirt and overalls, grabbed a pair of socks, gave them a sniff and scurried barefoot down the stairs. He pulled on his boots, then realized he’d forgotten to put on his socks, so he stuffed them into his pockets and ran out to the barn where Brian waited.
Fully expecting to have some emergency task to see to, Porpoise was surprised to see his dad standing stock-still in the center of the barn. Porpoise approached him slowly.
“Dad?” he said.
Friday, September 13, 2013
By Bettyann Moore
The basement never really existed for Porpoise. When he was little, his parents told him, he took a scary tumble down the rickety stairs and ever since, the door had been locked. When he got older and perfectly capable of navigating any kind of surface, they told him that it was his dad’s “special place,” the only area in the house that he could truly call his own, and therefore off limits for everyone, including Thea.
So, when mother and son were enjoying a rare moment alone at the breakfast table and Thea dangled a well-worn key in front of his eyes, Porpoise had no idea what he was looking at. He knew it wasn’t a car key, though having a car and getting away from his obsessive father was foremost on his mind lately.
“What’s that?” he asked his mother.
“A key, silly.”
“Okay, okay, Mr. Grouchy Pants,” Thea said, placing the key in his hand. “It’s your ticket to sanity.”
Thea sat in the chair opposite her son and closed the boy’s fingers over the key. “Meaning,” she said, “that I – we, your dad and I – know things have been rough for you lately. This is the key to the basement.”
Porpoise was even more confused.
Friday, September 6, 2013
By Bettyann Moore
When Porpoise saw the white, half-moon on his dad’s upper lip that morning, he knew it would be a long day. Brian McAllister was chugging antacid again. He’d put his family through holy hell the last time, during the weeks leading up to April 15. Tax time was long past, but Porpoise knew he needed to lay low until this new crisis – whatever it was – passed.
It wasn’t easy. Father and son worked side-by-side on the family’s crop farm. Porpoise’s only reprieve came during school hours and the long bus ride to school and back through flat Wisconsin farm land. Today, though, today was Sunday and spring to boot; it would take an act of God to keep Brian out of the fields today.
“Go change your clothes,” Brian said, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
“But ...” Porpoise looked down at what he was wearing. Coveralls, check. Stained, but clean t-shirt, check. Seed cap, check. Barn boots by the door, check.
“No ‘buts’, we’re going to church.”
It was then Porpoise noticed that his dad was wearing a crisply-ironed white shirt and black creased trousers. You could cut yourself on that crease. His mother, cooking something at the stove, was wearing her good blue dress and – holy mother of God – high heels. She turned then and he saw that she was wearing one of his dad’s barbequing aprons. “COME AND GET IT!” was emblazoned across the chest. Porpoise winced. She gave him one of her looks.
It either said: “Humor your dad, this, too, shall pass”, or “These high heels are a bitch!”