(The ingredients for spiced rum according to Wood’s Gran’s recipe.)
Practically dancing in place waiting for Orin’s return I couldn’t work out which of the three fates would be worse if we were caught – becoming fodder for the police blotter. Explaining to the police (and Little Ben) what possessed us to bury rubber ducks in an empty field in the first place. Or the horror of calling Aunt Pearl to bail four pirates out of jail at one a.m.
The tree of humiliation bore rich fruit tonight.
Apparently, the Inebriated Three didn’t share my anxiety of capture (while they all still wore their tricorn hats, they currently embodied the philosophy of Yo-ho-ho And A Bottle Of Rum, thus their new nickname). The flasks of spiced rum they insisted on passing around each time we slowed down or stopped bore a portion of the responsibility for their lax attitudes (yet another one, or possibly two, made an appearance in my Orin inspired absence).
The joys of being the designated getaway driver.
Me (trying for calm): “Time to put that away, guys. We need to get ready to run.”
A scene from a Three Stooges movie ensued while they endeavored to comply with my request. Helpless I stood back and tried not to split a seam at their earnest efforts to simply stand.
Laney, the first to get up, stood on the tails of Beatrice’s greatcoat. This caused Beatrice to fall over when her ascent to an upright position was unexpectedly arrested. Wood was fine until Laney careened into him when Beatrice yanked her coat out from under Laney’s foot. All the while, trying to maintain radio silence, they pantomimed their displeasure to each other.
When they were upright and moderately stable (and trying to figure out exactly where they’d misplaced their dignity), I turned around to see if Orin had returned. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I discovered him standing inches away from the end of my nose.
Me (aggrieved): “Seriously, are doing that on purpose?”
The peanut gallery gathered behind Orin broke into a chorus of chortles at my demand. And judging by the number of Residents gathered on such short notice the Inebriated Three and I had managed to cause quite a brouhaha this evening. Their questions/comments solidified this idea; Wow you really are dressed as pirates./Did you miss us?/Did you know the police are here?/I’ve never seen Little Ben move so fast./I haven’t had this much fun in forever…. Their comments went on for a while.
The fact I was at the root of this uproar added to the Resident’s delight – the pirate costumes were just icing on the cake.
Wood: “Morticia are you talking to someone?”
Me (using the spirts they’d drunk in my favor): “Nope.”
Me (speaking to the Residents: keeping my voice low so hopefully the Inebriated Three wouldn’t hear): “Thanks…”
Orin (cutting in, turning to the Residents): “Here’s the plan. John, Peter, and Stu follow us to the west. Ruby, Sandra, and Iris the same to the east. Alice, you run ahead to the gate and call the all clear – if it is. I’ll lead them on. Everyone else fan out and keep a weather eye for incoming trouble. Ready?”
While Orin relayed orders to the Residents I eyed my friends – Wood looked to be holding his liquor well, Beatrice wove just slightly in place, and Laney was dancing to music only she could hear. Fantastic. The perfect illustration of the influence body mass played in drinking. With a sudden flare of inspiration (or perspiration or both) I knew how to navigate them through the marble maze which stood between us and the gates.
Me: “Laney take my hand, Beatrice you take Laneys, Wood you take Beatrice’s.”
Laney (in a slurring reworking of a Beatles’ song): “I want to hold Wood’s han-an-and.”
Me (trying to keep it together): “Ok, Wood switch with Beatrice.”
Me: “This way I can lead you through the headstones, and you won’t trip and break your necks.”
Orin (thoughtfully): “Well it has been a while since we’ve had a newcomer….”
Beatrice: “But I want to hold your hand.”
Ignoring both Orin and Beatrice, I lead our chain out from the safety of our hiding spot. With a few initial herks and jerks, we settled into a nice rhythm.
Laney (singing softly): “Following the leader. The leader. The leader. Following the leader where ever she may go. Tee dum. Tee dee…..”
Laney’s love of aliens is only eclipsed by Disney – figures she’d find a fitting song – from Peter Pan no less.
Why couldn’t our pursuers helpfully tick like the Crocodile? I ejected the analogy from my brain quickly. My heart didn’t care for it one bit since the Crocodile got Captain Hook in the end. Maybe we were one of the Lost Boys? In disguise? Stifling a giggle, I banished the picture of Orin zipping around us like Tinker Bell.
The Inebriated Three picked up the chorus (softly): “Following the Leader. The Leader…..”
We were a quarter mile away when I heard Alice’s faint all clear call – perhaps sensing my relief – the Fates threw a spanner in the works.